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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 9 Oct 2007

Vol. 639 No. 1

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 4, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 5 to 92, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 93 to 100, inclusive, answered orally.

Garda Deployment.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

101 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of members of An Garda Síochána; the number of juvenile liaison officers and the percentage of the force this represents in respect of each year since 2002 and to date in 2007; the reason there has been no increase in the number of JLOs despite the increase in the overall strength of the force; his plans to increase the number of JLOs in view of the proven success of their work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22502/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

482 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to augment or upgrade the juvenile liaison officer service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22856/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 482 together.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of Juvenile Liaison Officers in An Garda Síochána as of 30th June 2007 was 86 Gardaí and 8 Sergeants which represents .7% of the strength of the force. Of course, while these officers are dedicated to this service, a great many other Gardaí are engaged in liaising with juveniles on a day to day basis.

The number of dedicated Juvenile Liaison Officers as of 31st December in each of the years 2002-2006 was as follows:

Year

Gardaí

Sergeants

2006

87 Gardaí

8 Sergeants = .73%

2005

87 Gardaí

8 Sergeants = .77%

2004

86 Gardaí

8 Sergeants = .77%

2003

85 Gardaí

8 Sergeants = .77%

2002

85 Gardaí

8 Sergeants = .78%

The Commissioner has approved an additional 28 posts for Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLO) to be phased in over the next 4 years, commencing with the allocation of 7 JLOs planned for this year.

Garda personnel assignments throughout the Country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are continually monitored and reviewed by Garda management. The purpose of this is to ensure that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public.

National Drugs Strategy.

James Reilly

Question:

102 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make representations to the relevant Garda authorities and put in place new Garda manpower and a dedicated drugs squad to tackle the increasing drugs problem in towns in north Fingal (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22160/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that in the Louth/Meath Garda Division there are 7 drug units one of which is based in the Balbriggan Garda District whose area of remit includes the areas referred to by the Deputy.

The detection and prevention of drug related crime is, of course, a matter for all members of An Garda Síochána.

Uniform and plain-clothes personnel, including the District Detective and Drug Units, as well as Community Policing and Mountain Bike Units supplemented as required by Divisional Traffic Corps personnel, conduct regular patrols in the areas referred to by the Deputy to prevent and detect criminal activity including that related to drugs.

Ongoing liaison is also maintained with the Garda National Drugs Unit in respect of persons suspected of being involved in the illegal importation and/or distribution of drugs. The Deputy will be aware that resources such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Criminal Assets Bureau are also deployed extensively in dealing with drug crime.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that the allocation of additional resources in the areas referred to by the Deputy remains under constant review by local senior Garda management who also continuously monitor District and Divisional crime trends.

As the Deputy will appreciate, policing operations and the deployment of Garda resources are matters for the Garda Commissioner. It is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel within the Garda organisation on a priority basis in accordance with overall policing requirements.

The assignment of Garda personnel 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. This takes place against the background of the unprecedented expansion of An Garda Síochána which has taken and will continue to take place increasing the overall strength of the Gardaí to 16,000.

Finally I can assure the Deputy that the enforcement of the law relating to drugs very much continues to be a key element in the Government's policing priorities.

Garda Strength.

Billy Timmins

Question:

103 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the breakdown of the number of Gardaí in each Garda division; the number of Gardaí per head of population in each division; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22580/07]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of each operational Garda Division as at the 31 August, 2007 was as set out in the table below. I understand that the Central Statistics Office is currently preparing the Small Area Population Statistics (SAPS) based on the 2006 census. It is not expected that these SAPS figures will be available until mid-November 2007. It is, therefore, not yet possible to provide the number of Gardaí per head of population in each division based on the 2006 Census figures.

Garda personnel assignments throughout the Country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are constantly monitored and reviewed by Garda Management. The purpose of this is to ensure that optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public.

Division

Strength

Carlow/Kildare

393

Cavan/Monaghan

396

Clare

299

Cork City

639

Cork North

276

Cork West

284

D.M.R. East

599

D.M.R. N.C.

677

D.M.R. North

656

D.M.R. S.C.

740

D.M.R. South

597

D.M.R. West

727

Donegal

472

Galway West

412

Kerry

304

Laois/Offaly

306

Longford/Westmeath

303

Louth/Meath

570

Mayo

301

Roscommon/Galway East

265

Sligo/Leitrim

289

Tipperary

351

Waterford/Kilkenny

407

Wexford/Wicklow

360

Prison Accommodation.

Frank Feighan

Question:

104 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the operational capacity of Mountjoy Prison; the number of prisoners incarcerated in Mountjoy at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22536/07]

I am informed by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that Mountjoy Prison currently has a bed capacity for 540 prisoners. As at 4 October, 2007, there were 514 prisoners in custody in Mountjoy out of a total prisoner population of 3,444. Every effort continues to be made to keep Mountjoy numbers at or below 540 by means of transfers to other prisons and the judicious use of temporary release.

By way of comparison, in 2004 Mountjoy had a bed capacity for 454 prisoners. On 4 October 2004, there were 472 prisoners in Mountjoy out of a total prisoner population of 3,406.

Garda Training.

Shane McEntee

Question:

105 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the adequacy or otherwise of firearm training for members of An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22556/07]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that he is satisfied with the level of training provided for members of An Garda Síochána who are authorised to carry firearms. It compares favourably with similar training provided internationally by other Police Services.

Firearms Authorisation Card Holders, who are designated personnel permitted to carry firearms in An Garda Síochána, are required to attend for firearms refresher training at least three times per calendar year. Two of the refresher training courses are for ‘live fire' and one course takes place on the recently acquired Firearms Automated Training System (FATS).

An Garda Síochána has two full-time Firearms Training Units, based at Garda Headquarters and the Garda College.

Significant developments in An Garda Síochána Firearms Training over the last 18 months have included:

The purchase of three FATS units took place in January 2006. FATS refresher training commenced immediately thereafter and has since proved to be a very successful development. FATS facilitates judgmental training by posing armed scenarios on screen which the Firearms Authorisation Card Holders must contend with in a real time situation.

The FATS facility allows playback where the Firearms Authorisation Card Holders can then evaluate their actions and decisions with Firearms Training Instructors.

FATS training has allowed development of judgmental firearm training as well as traditional marksmanship training.

Two Prefabricated Modular Firearms ranges have been ordered by An Garda Síochána and delivery and installation is expected before the year end. One range will be located at the former disused range at the Garda College and the second at a new site in Airton Road, Tallaght.

These Prefabricated Modular Firearms ranges are newly designed products recently brought to the market that will facilitate live fire shooting for up to four persons in a carefully contained environment which adheres to all range safety requirements. The delivery of the two prefabricated Modular Firearms ranges will reduce An Garda Síochána dependency on using army ranges and furthermore will provide access to firearms ranges at all times without causing noise pollution to neighbouring areas.

Garda Firearms training is constantly reviewed to ensure that sufficient training is provided and that training compares favourably with international best practice.

Garda Inspectorate Reports.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

106 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the actions he proposes to take in respect of implementing the recommendations of the recently published Report of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, Policing in Ireland: Looking Forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22551/07]

I welcome the third report of the Garda Inspectorate entitled, "Policing in Ireland — Looking Forward". It is a comprehensive examination of administration and operation of the Garda Síochána and I would like to record my gratitude to the Chief Inspector Kathleen O'Toole and her colleagues Bob Olson and Gwen Boniface for their work. As the members of the House know, the Garda Síochána has been undergoing a programme of quite fundamental change in recent years. Many of the changes were brought about by the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007 and these involved fundamental structural changes such as the establishment of the Garda Ombudsman Commission and the Inspectorate; the transfer of responsibility to the Commissioner for matters such as expenditure and the employment of civilians; and the specification in statute of the role of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in setting the broad strategic direction of the Force. Now that the legislative environment has been reshaped, the focus for the programme of change and modernisation is moving to the internal administration and operation of the Garda Síochána. This is where the Garda Inspectorate has a key role in ensuring that the resources of the Garda Síochána are used as efficiently and effectively as possible. It is my role as Minister and that of my Department to support the Garda Síochána in achieving that goal of continued efficient and effective policing. The Inspectorate in its report has made a number of recommendations covering a broad range of issues ranging from the devolution of greater autonomy to regional Assistant Commissioners to the need to review recruit training. The Inspectorate has not suggested deadlines for the implementation of all its recommendations and understandably so. Some of the recommendations are already being implemented while others such as a review of recruit training will require further work on the part of the Inspectorate in the first instance. I expect to see early implementation of the Inspectorate's recommendations and my Department with the assistance of the Inspectorate will monitor their implementation.

Garda Communications.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

107 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of members of An Garda Síochána who have corporate e-mail addresses; the factors impeding greater use of corporate e-mail by Gardaí; if measures are in place to increase the usage of corporate e-mail by An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22532/07]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that all members who have access to the Garda Information System (GIS) which incorporates PULSE and the Garda National Immigration Bureau Systems have access to Email for internal use.

Access to external email is available to all Gardaí from the rank of Inspector upwards. I am also advised that external email is also available to Sergeants, Gardaí and civilian staff as operational needs require. A total of 1,066 external email addresses are currently being utilised by Gardaí and civilian staff.

I am further informed by the Garda Authorities that a pilot project to facilitate email communications between An Garda Síochána and members of the public using mailboxes assigned to individual sections and stations is currently underway. The pilot will assess the various factors that need to be addressed with regard to greater use of external email by An Garda Síochána, including the type and volume of Garda business that can be transacted using email, the potential uses for Section and Station emails and the security and resource implications for the Garda network.

Following the pilot project external email facilities will be rolled out on a phased basis to all stations in the DMR and to District HQ stations and other stations outside the DMR where the necessary network infrastructure is in place. The roll-out will also include making external email facilities available for all members of Sergeant rank of whom there are over 2,100 in active service.

Inquiries into Garda Activities.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

108 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the operation of the Garda Ombudsman’s office in view of recent events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22565/07]

I presume that the question relates to a recent application by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to the Coroner for the adjournment of an inquest.

The Coroner is an independent office holder who acts in the public interest in the investigation of certain deaths. The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is a newly established independent office which also operates in the public interest in the investigation of complaints made against members of an Garda Síochána. The functions of both the Coroner and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission are guided by statute and neither is answerable to me in respect of actions taken in individual cases.

It is incumbent on me as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to respect the independence and the distinct roles of both the Ombudsman Commission and the Coroner in our system of democratic accountability. Consequently, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the circumstances of this or any other individual case.

Prison Accommodation.

David Stanton

Question:

109 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his future plans for Spike Island; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22570/07]

I wish to inform the deputy that plans for the future of Spike Island are being considered by an Interdepartmental Group comprising of representatives from my Department and the Departments of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Finance and Defence. This group has begun its deliberations and I await its findings.

Forensic Science Laboratory.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

110 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans for the upgrading of the Garda Forensic Science Laboratory; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22575/07]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the Forensic Science Laboratory which, although located within the Garda Headquarters complex at Phoenix Park, is a separate civilian led service coming under the aegis of my Department.

My Department works closely with the Laboratory in assessing and responding to its needs. To this end an additional 10 staff were sanctioned for the Laboratory in December of last year and, on foot of an analysis carried out by an independent international expert, it is expected that staffing will be increased further in the near future. It is also proposed to provide a new building for the Laboratory and this project will proceed as a matter of urgency.

Garda Equipment.

Joe Costello

Question:

111 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will act on the call from the Garda Inspectorate that all members of the force be given appropriate protection vests in view of the increased dangers faced by members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22483/07]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

143 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the percentage of An Garda Síochána that has access to bullet proof vests on a daily basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22531/07]

Tom Hayes

Question:

173 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the average time Gardaí have to wait for stab-proof vests once a decision has been taken to procure same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22539/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

493 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to ensure improved protection for Gardaí such as personal armour protection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22867/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 111, 143, 173 and 493 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the detailed allocation of Garda resources, including equipment, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner to be decided on the basis of his identified operational requirements. I am advised by the Garda authorities that two types of protective body armour are in use. Detectives are issued with protective vests that have bullet and stab proof properties. All Detectives have access to these vests. Uniform Personnel are issued with protection vests which incorporate bullet and stab proof properties. The uniform vest is lighter and more flexible.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that a contract for the supply and delivery of over 12,500 protective body vests (with an option to purchase additional vests, if required) has been put in place. A fitting and delivery programme commenced early this year. I am further advised that to date 79% of operational members, students undergoing training and reserves have received their personal issue vest. It is expected to complete the current roll out phase before the end of the year. Further rollouts will take place as ongoing recruitment progresses.

The standard and quality of the protective vests are kept under constant review by the Garda authorities.

Rural Policing.

Denis Naughten

Question:

112 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps which he will take to improve rural policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22156/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that engagement with the rural community and rural policing is one of the priorities of An Garda Síochána. Senior Garda management continually monitor resources and policing initiatives to ensure that the service being provided is continuously improving and the recent comments by the Inspectorate in this regard will be taken on board. Rural Policing is continually being reviewed and developed and the enhanced liaison structures between Garda Management and Local Authorities through Joint Policing Committees and Community Policing Fora will be of enormous benefit to the policing of rural areas when these are fully up and running.

There are now Detective Inspectors appointed in each Division with specific responsibility for the investigation of serious crime in rural areas. The quality of criminal intelligence becoming available to An Garda Síochána is continually being improved and it was as a result of such intelligence that a Cork-based gang targeting the elderly in rural areas of Cork and Limerick was identified early this year and a number of suspected members of the group are currently before the Courts.

In order to enhance rural policing a number of initiatives have been implemented in Garda Divisions nationally. Checkpoints are held at strategic locations in rural villages in order to detect criminals travelling to commit crime outside the areas where they live and to prevent the commission of crimes and offences.

Crime Prevention Officers are available to offer crime prevention and security advice to residential and business groups and regularly provide such advice through local media outlets, newspaper and radio broadcasts. In addition, residents in rural areas are encouraged to establish and rejuvenate Community Alert Schemes assisted by members of local Community Policing Units.

Staffing levels at Garda stations are monitored by local Garda management to ensure that adequate coverage is provided and where vacancies arise within the rural community they are filled as expeditiously as possible to ensure continuity in the service being provided by An Garda Síochána to the local community.

Initiatives under Operation ‘Anvil' have been implemented in every Garda District in the country incorporating special crime prevention/ detection patrols in rural areas which have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to crime. Such patrols include all available Garda resources including uniform and plain-clothes personnel, District Detective and Drug Units as well as Divisional Crime Task Forces and Traffic Corps personnel. Patrol times are also varied in order to maximise coverage in such areas.

In conjunction with Muintir na Tire, I will launch the Community Alert Strategy document for 2007-2011 on the 26 October 2007. This new strategy will inform how best Community Alert can be implemented over the next five years.

An internal Garda working group has been established to develop a comprehensive model of Community Policing. This model is being informed by an extensive public consultation process.

Garda personnel assignments throughout the country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are continually monitored and reviewed by Garda management. The purpose of such monitoring is to ensure that optimum use is made of Garda resources and that the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public.

Garda Investigations.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

113 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date with regard to the Garda investigation into the shooting of a Garda in the North Strand area of Dublin on 25 September 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22477/07]

The reprehensible gun attack on Garda Paul Sherlock is a stark reminder of the dangers facing members of the Garda Síochána as they go about their daily task of protecting us all.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation into the shooting of Garda Sherlock in the North Strand area of Dublin on 25 September, 2007 is ongoing. To date the investigating team has undertaken a number of lines of enquiry, including the examination of CCTV footage and making door-to-door enquiries. An extensive investigation team has been assembled comprising Gardaí attached to the DMR North Central Garda Division and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, supported by members from Crime and Security Section, Garda Headquarters. This investigation is progressing and a number of persons have been arrested and questioned in connection with this incident.

I am further informed that Garda management is satisfied with the progress being made in this investigation.

I would like to reiterate my call for all members of the community to support An Garda Síochána in their efforts and provide any assistance they can to bring those responsible for this appalling crime to justice.

Garda Reserve.

Joe McHugh

Question:

114 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of civilians working as part of the Garda reserve force at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22537/07]

There are two civilian staff members attached to the Reserve Section of the Garda Síochána. The total personnel strength of the Garda Reserve is 248 including trainees. A total of 113 members are fully attested.

Criminal Assets Bureau.

Michael Creed

Question:

115 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps that have been taken to organise the Criminal Assets Bureau to tackle drug crime at local level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22548/07]

Shane McEntee

Question:

126 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if plans are in place to enhance the resources and powers allocated to the Criminal Assets Bureau in view of the rise of gangland crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22555/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 115 and 126 together.

The Criminal Assets Bureau has been at the forefront of the fight against organised crime, including drug trafficking, in this jurisdiction since its inception in 1996. The significant successes that the Bureau continues to achieve by its operations demonstrates the effectiveness of its approach in pursuing illegally gotten gains.

The manner in which the Bureau operates has, in the eleven-year period of its existence, come to be viewed, both domestically and internationally, as a very successful model for targeting persons seeking to derive profits from criminal activities.

The Bureau keeps the allocation of personnel under constant review in light of its workload and where there is a requirement, additional resources are allocated to the Bureau.

The staff of the Bureau will be augmented as required. For example, two additional financial crime analysts posts have been recently sanctioned and recruitment is under way.

Furthermore two additional members of staff from the Revenue Commissioners will also be shortly assigned to the Bureau.

In relation to the issue of the Bureau's work at local levels, I can inform the Deputy that in order to maximise the benefit that can be derived from local knowledge, officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau work closely with gardaí from specific regions and localities in order to ensure that the efforts of the Bureau are targeted in the most effective manner possible.

In particular, profilers trained by CAB are now in place in each Garda Division and the number of profilers in particular Divisions is being increased. This will enable drug dealers at whatever level in communities to be pursued.

In this context, I have previously advised this House that I intend to include in the Government's policing priorities for An Garda Síochána a specific reference to enhanced liaison arrangements between Garda Divisions and the Criminal Assets Bureau in the pursuit of those engaged in drug dealing at all levels.

The use of local Garda officers in this way ensures that preparatory groundwork can be carried out in advance of a full investigation by the Bureau. Asset profilers have at all times recourse to the expertise and advice of the Bureau. Essentially a key function of these profilers is to ascertain and build up information at local levels and point out individuals at whom the Bureau's work can be targeted. Such information is then investigated and followed up further by CAB.

I can assure the House that any individuals in local communities who believe they can openly flaunt wealth or assets secured through illegal activities, including drug dealing, will be vigorously pursued by the Gardaí either through the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 or through the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau under its statutory remit.

Finally, I can assure the House that whatever resources are required by CAB will continue to be provided by the Government.

Garda Communications.

Martin Ferris

Question:

116 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the secure digital radio communications system which has been piloted and promised will be rolled out for all Gardaí. [22512/07]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

145 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the digital communication network for Gardaí currently being piloted in the Dublin Metropolitan Area will be rolled out nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22550/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 145 together.

A preferred bidder, TETRA Ireland Ltd, has been selected for the provision of a digital radio service for An Garda Síochána and other emergency services.

As part of the procurement process, the preferred bidder was required to carry out a service performance evaluation in an area covering parts of Dublin and Meath including the Port and Airport. The aim is to ensure that the preferred supplier demonstrates its capability, both from a technical and organisational perspective, to deliver this key service for the emergency services. I understand that the service performance evaluation is nearing completion.

Nationwide rollout will commence on completion of the service performance evaluation and the signing of contracts by the Department of Finance. It is planned that nationwide rollout for the Gardaí will commence in the first quarter of next year and is expected to be completed over a 2 year period.

Civilianisation Programme.

Joan Burton

Question:

117 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals for further civilianisation of the Gardaí in order to free trained members for front line duty; his views on the view expressed in the final report of the Advisory Group on Garda Management and Leadership Development that progress in regard to civilianisation has been risible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22482/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of full time and part time civilian staff assigned to An Garda Síochána as at the 1st October 2007 was 2,247. 250 Clerical Officers have been recruited and assigned positions within the Garda Síochána since 1st January 2007. The Government has authorised the Garda Commissioner to recruit a further 350 civilians to release trained members of the force for front-line duty.

The civilianisation of middle and senior positions in An Garda Síochána has commenced. Currently, there is a Chief Administrative Officer, Director of Finance, Head of Internal Audit, HR Manager, Housing Officer, Transport Manager and a civilian of Principal Officer grade in the Information Technology section. A Civilian Director of Communications will take up her post this month. Recruitment for the following positions will start in the coming weeks — Director of Information and Communications Technology, Director of Change Management, Head of Legal Affairs and Executive Director of Human Resources. This will be in addition to the recruitment of a number of civilian crime analysts.

The current campaign to recruit the balance of the authorised additional civilian support staff for An Garda Síochána is well underway and interviews are being held by the Public Appointments Service to recruit these Clerical Officers.

A dedicated Human Resource Directorate has been established within An Garda Síochána to serve the needs of the civilian administrative, professional, technical and industrial staff in An Garda Síochána and to promote an extensive programme of civilianisation.

I am assured by the Commissioner that An Garda Síochána is committed to achieving the greatest level of civilianisation consistent with the effective and efficient functioning of the Force and will continue to work to drive the civilianisation programme forward.

Recidivism Rate.

Dan Neville

Question:

118 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the rate of re-offending in criminal matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22560/07]

The results of the first major study of prisoner re-offending was published in December, 2006 by the UCD Institute of Criminology. The study, which received the full co-operation of the Irish Prison Service, was based on 19,955 prisoner releases that took place between 1 January, 2001, and 30 November, 2004.

The study found that 27.4% of released prisoners were serving a new prison sentence within one year. This rose to 39.2% after two years, 45.1% after three years, and 49.2% after four years. Recidivism was highest amongst property offenders and lowest for sex offenders.

The findings are in line with international experience, and I understand that they may in fact be considered to fall in the mid to lower range internationally. I can assure the Deputy that every effort is being made by my Department to continue to address and reduce the rate of recidivism.

Garda Operations.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

119 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost of the policing operation at the proposed Shell refinery site at Bellanaboy, County Mayo; and if there is currently a policing plan in place in that divisional area. [22515/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the total cost to date, including salaries, of the Garda policing operation at the proposed Shell refinery site at Bellanaboy, Co. Mayo, is approximately €8.1 million.

I am further informed that there is in place a Garda policing plan within the Garda Division in respect of the Garda Síochána's statutory duty to prevent breaches of the criminal law at Bellanaboy. The allocation of resources to this policing plan is closely monitored and kept under constant review by local senior Garda management.

Prison Building Programme.

Ulick Burke

Question:

120 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the project to construct a new prison at Thornton Hall, County Dublin; the amount of money that has been spent on the Thornton Hall project to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22533/07]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

136 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the proposed Thornton Hall Prison plan; the latest estimate available to his Department of the expected cost, including the cost of the site, the provision of infrastructure and ancillary services; the cost of construction and fitting out of the prison; the implications for the overall timing of the prison project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22487/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 136 together.

The current status of the Thornton Hall Prison project is as follows. Negotiations are currently underway with a preferred bidder, who was selected following an EU public tender procedure in relation to the construction and maintenance of the prison complex at the Thornton Hall site. It is intended that these facilities will provide a modern and cost effective replacement for the prison complex currently located at the Mountjoy Complex which, as is widely acknowledged, is in urgent need of replacement.

The contract under negotiation is a Public Private Partnership model which will include the construction of the required prison facilities along with the ancillary infrastructure including services etc. The relevant planning procedure for this development is set out in Part 4 of the Prisons Act, 2007 and in this regard it is planned to publish the necessary notices etc. including details of the proposed development along with a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment within the next month or so. The procedures for public consultation regarding the proposed development are set out in the Act and as can be seen, these afford all interested parties ample opportunity to make their views known and have them fully considered prior to a decision to proceed with the development. It is intended, subject to the statutory planning phase and the successful conclusion of the contract negotiations, to commence construction next spring and to begin operation of the new facilities in early 2010.

A section of the Thornton Hall site has been set aside as a location for a replacement for the Central Mental Hospital. That project, including the relevant planning requirements, is being dealt with by the Department for Health and Children and it will have no bearing on the timing of the prison project.

It is not, for commercial and procurement reasons, possible to provide details as to the likely costs of the project. The disclosure of such information is, in any event, not allowed under Department of Finance PPP procedures.

I can however confirm the following expenditure which has taken place to date on the project. The cost of the site acquisition was €29,900,000. An additional 8.7 acres has also been acquired to provide a dedicated access road to the main site. This was done following representations from the local community which reflected concern in relation to the effect of increased traffic generated by the prison project. In addition to allaying these concerns, the new roadway will provide significant additional benefits both during the construction and operational phases of the project. The cost of this additional land was €1,305,000.

A total of €4,808,475 has been expended to date on preliminary site works including surveys, landscaping, security and maintenance of the property, studies such as archaeological, topographical, etc., and professional fees including legal and specialist technical advice.

Firearms Offences.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

121 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide data in respect of the number of recorded robberies of legally held firearms in the State during the period 2002 to 2007; the number of recorded robberies of legally held firearms to date in 2007; if sufficient measures are in place to minimise such robberies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22566/07]

Following the submission in 2004 of a report and recommendations by an expert group on crime statistics, it was 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, the CSO is now compiling and publishing criminal statistics and has published provisional headline crime statistics since the third quarter 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 statistics sought by the Deputy directly to him.

Every effort is made in the licensing process and otherwise to ensure that all licensed firearm holders are conscious of their obligations in relation to the safe storage of their firearm. To this end all firearm certificates are accompanied by recommendations and advice in relation to the safe storage and security of firearms.

The Criminal Justice Act, 2006 provides for increased fines and penalties for firearm offences. A person found in possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances or with criminal intent is liable to imprisonment for up to 14 years with a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.

I recently established a Firearms Consultative Panel to assist with the introduction of a new firearms licensing system which is provided for in the Criminal Justice Act, 2006. The Panel will comprise representatives of the various shooting interest groups, relevant Government Departments and An Garda Síochána. I will make details of the panel and its terms of reference known in the near future.

Illegal Immigrants.

Bernard Allen

Question:

122 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps being taken at European level to tackle illegal immigration and the trafficking of human beings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18720/07]

Bernard Allen

Question:

142 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action being taken at European level to prevent human trafficking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18718/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 142 together.

The stated objective of the European Union is to develop a comprehensive migration policy which covers both legal and illegal migration. The Deputy will find a statement of the Commission's current priorities in combating illegal immigration of third-country nationals in Commission document COM (2006) 402. The Communication addresses nine priority areas and proposes a number of practical and action focused measures. These priorities are:

Co-operation with third countries;

Secure Borders — Integrated management of external borders;

Fight against human trafficking;

Secure travel and ID documents;

Addressing regularisations (the discretionary decision to grant a legal stay on the territory);

Tackling a key pull factor: illegal employment;

Return policy;

Improving exchange of information through existing channels.

Carriers liability.

These measures are intended to build upon the Hague programme which contains a special emphasis on immigration and asylum and which sets out a five-year programme for closer co-operation in Justice and Home Affairs at EU level from 2005 to 2010.

In December 2005, the European Council adopted the EU Action Plan on best practices, standards and procedures for combatting and preventing trafficking in human beings. The Action Plan is divided under a number of headings:

Co-ordination of EU Action.

Scoping the problem.

Preventing trafficking.

Reducing demand.

Investigating and prosecuting.

Protecting and supporting victims.

Returns and reintegration.

External relations.

Under the heading of preventing trafficking, the EU Action Plan has three specific objectives:

Addressing the root causes of trafficking;

Raising awareness of the dangers involved in trafficking and publicising successful prosecutions to deter traffickers;

Enabling early identification of victims to prevent exploitation.

There are a number of actions currently being taken by the EU under the Action Plan. A network of contact points in Member States is being established. The first EU Anti-Trafficking Day will take place on 18 October 2007 and both An Garda Síochána and officials of my Department will participate in a Seminar organised by the European Commission on that day examining what steps should be taken next at European level.

The Portuguese Presidency are currently holding a conference in Porto on human trafficking and gender specific issues. The European Commission has prioritised trafficking in human beings prevention projects for funding under the "Prevention of and fight against crime" programme for 2007. These are just some of the actions taking place this year, at EU level, as it would not be possible, by way of parliamentary question, to mention all of them.

The Council of Europe convention on action against trafficking in human beings was adopted by the committee of Ministers on 3 May 2005 and opened for signature in Warsaw on 16 May 2005. The Convention is regarded widely as a comprehensive Treaty that effectively focuses on the protection of victims and the safeguarding of their rights. In 2006, the Council of Europe launched a campaign "Human Beings — Not for Sale" to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking and to promote the widest possible accession to the convention. My officials and An Garda Síochána have actively participated in the campaign and Ireland signed the Convention in April 2007. Developing a timetable for ratification of the Convention will be an early priority for this Government.

My Department will continue to participate in all relevant EU, UN and Council of Europe fora on human trafficking and both my officials and An Garda Síochána will continue to work on a bilateral basis with other governments on both operational and policy development issues. My Department is also participating in the UN Global Initiative to fight human trafficking which is a two year programme launched by the UN earlier this year with the support of the United Arab Emirates.

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that Liaison at an international level between the Garda Síochána and the European / international law enforcement community is part of the approach to the issue of human trafficking taken by An Garda Síochána. Representatives of An Garda Síochána, at senior management level, regularly participate at both European and international meetings to facilitate the exchange of information and best practice between EU Member States in particular, and on a more global basis, with countries of origin of suspected victims of human trafficking, including meetings hosted by Europol, Interpol and Frontex.

Members of An Garda Síochána have attended courses held at CEPOL — European Police College, relating to the subject of "Trafficking in Human Beings", which are targeted at senior police officers who are responsible for prosecution services, countering trafficking cases or organized crime cases, members of lecturing staff in police training and development units, heads of police forces or government officials at Ministerial level, who deal with questions of human trafficking.

As part of the EU AGIS programme the GNIB held a conference in Dublin in November 2005 titled: "Forum to Improve Best Practice in the Prevention, Detection, & Investigation of Trafficking in Human Beings and Examine Best Practice in Fighting and preventing Corruption of Public Figures in the Administration of Immigration Regulations." The conference was funded by the European Commission (Directorate General Justice and Home Affairs) and the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform and was attended by representatives from a number of other EU Member States.

Earlier this month, Operation Pentameter II was launched in London. This is a coordinated campaign of police activity to tackle the trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation within Ireland and the UK. An Garda Síochána and Department officials are working with their British counterparts to ensure that the whole common travel area becomes a hostile environment for those who intend to engage in this nefarious crime. I hope to be in a position to announce further international co-operation on a wider European scale in the coming weeks.

In addition, legislation providing for the criminalisation of trafficking in persons for the purpose of exploitation is expected to be published in the very near future. This legislation will criminalise trafficking in human beings as provided for in EU Council Framework Decision on combating trafficking in persons. The criminal law provisions in other international instruments, including the Council of Europe Convention on action against trafficking in human beings, are also being taken into account in the legislation.

I can also inform the Deputy that it is my intention to make further announcements in relation to the issue of human trafficking later this week.

Garda Deployment.

Willie Penrose

Question:

123 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Gardaí currently assigned to community policing; if he will confirm that this represents less than 4% of the overall strength of the force; his plans to increase the number of community Gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22498/07]

On 30th June 2007 (the latest date for which Community Policing figures are readily available), the total personnel strength of An Garda Síochána was 13,361. The total personnel strength attached to Community Policing at that time was 565. This represents a percentage of 4.22% of the total strength of the Force.

Of course community policing involves more than a single unit within An Garda Síochána. All Gardaí have a role to play in addressing community policing issues. I agree with the view of the Garda Inspectorate, expressed in its most recent report, that community policing is a fundamental policing philosophy and that there is a strong foundation of it in Ireland. I welcome the review of community policing currently underway in the Garda Síochána and I look forward to its outcome.

Garda Management.

Joan Burton

Question:

124 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the final report of the Advisory Group on Garda Management and Leadership Development; his further views on the recommendations of the report including the proposal of a greater civilian role in the running of the force; if a timetable has been set for the implementation of the recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22481/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

174 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made in implementing the recent report of An Garda Síochána Advisory Groups published on 7 November 2006; if a timetable has been set for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22499/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 and 174 together.

The interim and final reports of the Advisory Group on Garda Management and Leadership Development contain many excellent recommendations on how management of the force can be further improved. I am very grateful to Dr. Maurice Hayes and the other members of the group for bringing their expertise from business, academic and public administration circles to bear on the issues of leadership in policing. Significant progress has been made on the issues raised in the reports. A civilian Chief Administrative Officer at Deputy Commissioner level has already been appointed and a civilian Director of Communications will shortly be in place. A number of other senior civilian posts in human resources, information and communications technology, finance, change management and legal affairs will be filled in the near future. Since December 2006 approval has been given for the recruitment of 600 civilian staff of whom over 300 have been assigned already, releasing Gardaí for operational duties. The Garda Information Services Centre at Castlebar, Co. Mayo now eliminates the need for Gardaí to return to their stations to report incidents thereby freeing up more Gardaí for operational duties. It has a staff of over 180 civilians who input data on the PULSE system, freeing up significant amounts of Garda time for continued operational duty. I will fully support the Garda Commissioner in the continued implementation of organisational reform which is supported by the analysis and recommendations of the Hayes Group.

Prison Building Programme.

Simon Coveney

Question:

125 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the details of the plan to build a new children’s prison to accommodate juvenile prisoners in the future. [22609/07]

I refer the Deputy to the reply I gave to priority Question No. 97 of today's date.

Question No. 126 answered with QuestionNo. 115.

Probation and Welfare Service.

Joe Carey

Question:

127 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the probation and welfare service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22564/07]

I can inform the Deputy that in 1998 the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. John O'Donoghue, T.D., following a Government decision, set up an expert group to examine the Probation Service under the chairmanship of Mr. Brian McCarthy. This group produced its first report in November 1998. The final report of the Group was published in May 1999 and made several recommendations. Many of the recommendations of the Expert Group report have been implemented by my Department.

A further Review of the Probation Service was undertaken by the Comptroller and Auditor General in 2002, the Review entitled "Comptroller and Auditor General Report on Value for Money Examination of the Probation Service" was published in 2004. Following the publication of the Report a small working group involving Departmental and Probation officials was set up to build on existing work including the Expert Group Report and the Value for Money audit of the Service.

In September, 2005, following an open competition, a new Director was appointed to the Probation Service. To support the Director and strengthen the management of the Service, a new senior management structure for the Service has been put in place comprising three Deputy Directors and 2 Assistant Deputy Directors.

The Probation Service Strategy Statement and Work Plan of Strategic Actions 2006-2007, set out the strategic goals of the Service for the period which include:

Creating new management structures;

Carrying out an administrative review of the Service and making appropriate organisational and resourcing changes as required;

Developing a strategic plan for the Young Person's Probation; and

Maximising the potential benefit of Community Service to local communities.

In keeping with the objectives of the Strategy Statement:

An administrative review of the Service commenced in March, 2007 and, I am advised that this is now nearing completion. The main focus of this review is to look at the administrative structure of the Service nationally. The findings of that report will inform decisions regarding any administrative change deemed necessary.

A dedicated Young Persons Probation Division (YPP) was recently established within the Probation Service which has responsibility for the full implementation of the sections of the Children Act, 2001 relating to the Probation Service.

An external consultant was also recently appointed to conduct a review of the Community Service Scheme. I expect the finding of that Review to be presented to me by mid 2008.

In addition to the foregoing, I can also advise the Deputy that a Review of the Systems of Internal Financial Control in the Probation Service was completed in June, 2007. This Report made a recommendation, inter alia, on the establishment of a dedicated financial management unit within the Probation Service. All recommendations of that Report are currently being implemented and a professional accountant will be appointed very shortly to head up the Financial Management Unit.

I am also pleased to inform the Deputy that on foot of a Government Decision dated 18 April, 2007, approving a "Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Package", provided for 71 additional professional and administrative posts for the Probation Service. The recruitment of these additional staff is ongoing.

I am confident that the Probation Service has benefited from the aforementioned comprehensive reviews and it now has the necessary resources to carry out its work in an effective and efficient manner under the guidance of its senior management team.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

128 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons given anti-social behaviour warnings since the new system came into operation on 1 January 2007; the number of anti-social behaviour orders sought in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22494/07]

Brian Hayes

Question:

450 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of anti-social behaviour orders that have been issued by An Garda Síochána in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22436/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 and 450 together.

Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults, was commenced on 1 January, 2007. Part 13 of the Act relating to anti-social behaviour by children was commenced on 1 March, 2007. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by adults and children. With regard to children, these range from a warning from a member of An Garda Síochána, to a good behaviour contract involving the child and his or her parents or guardian, to referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and to the making of a behaviour order by the Children Court.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that 202 behaviour warnings have issued to adults up to 31 August, 2007 and 59 behaviour warnings issued to children in the same period. There was one good behaviour contract issued to a child in this period.

No anti-social behaviour orders have been issued by the courts up to 31 August, 2007.

Some inaccurate conclusions have been drawn from the fact no ASBOs have yet been applied for by the Garda authorities. The regime involves a series of procedures including behaviour warnings and, in the case of children, good behaviour contracts. In setting up the regime, the intention was that these warnings or good behaviour contracts would themselves address the problem behaviour. It is only if they fail that an ASBO will be applied. In any case, it inevitably takes time to reach the stage where an ASBO itself might be sought. Where these do not succeed in altering a person's behaviour, they will culminate in ASBOs being sought by the Garda authorities from the courts.

Criminal Proceedings.

Damien English

Question:

129 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the concept of allowing the Director of Public Prosecutions or the prosecutor make oral submissions during a court sentencing hearing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22558/07]

The Deputy will be aware that the Agreed Programme for Government contains a commitment to allow the Director of Public Prosecutions to make submissions at the sentencing stage in criminal cases. In considering how to proceed with this issue, we are fortunate to have the Report of the Review Group on the Balance in the Criminal Law, which was chaired by Dr Gerard Hogan, SC and which was published in March this year. The question of prosecution submissions was one of the topics considered by the Review Group. At the outset of its considerations, the Group noted the perceived anomaly which arises in the context of the existing right of the prosecution to apply for a review of sentence which the Director of Public Prosecutions believes to be unduly lenient, on foot of section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993. In essence, in reviewing an unduly lenient sentence the prosecuting counsel are called upon at an appeal under section 2 to make a submission in order to influence the sentencing decision. It might appear to some that there is a contradiction in allowing such submissions at the appeal stage but not at the original sentencing stage.

However, this issue is not quite as clear cut as one might think. As the Review Group highlighted in its report, it is incorrect to suggest that under the current regime prosecution counsel have only a limited role in the sentencing decision of the court. At present there is a restriction on delivering an actual sentencing submission to the court. However, prosecuting counsel have ample opportunities to present evidence to the court during the course of the trial that would constitute an aggravating factor in the sentencing decision. Conversely, prosecuting counsel may also challenge evidence presented by the defence side regarding mitigating factors.

Indeed the Director of Public Prosecutions' most recent Guidelines for Prosecutors (June 2006) states that prosecuting counsel have a duty to ensure that the court has before it all available evidence relevant to sentencing, all submissions concerning the impact on the victim in accordance with the provisions of section 5 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993 and all relevant evidence relating to the accused's background, circumstances and previous convictions.

The Review Group examined five options on the role of the prosecutor in the sentencing decision of the court. These options are as follows:

1.A purely declaratory provision which restates the current position, permitting the prosecutor to adduce and challenge evidence at the sentencing stage and to give information to the court regarding sentencing precedents at the request of the court.

2.A slightly more expanded version of option 1 which would allow the prosecutor to also volunteer information regarding sentencing precedents whether this was requested by the court or not.

3.The prosecutor would be permitted to volunteer previous precedents and to make submissions to the court as to the aggravating factors, but without advocating a particular sentence or range of sentences.

4.The prosecutor would advocate a range of sentences.

5.This envisages a completely permissive regime whereby the prosecutor would be allowed to advocate a particular sentence.

Option 1 reflects the position as stated in the DPP's Guidelines for Prosecutors while Option 5 represents the other end of the spectrum whereby prosecuting counsel would advocate a defined sentence.

The Review Group favoured option 2, to allow the prosecutor to volunteer information regarding sentencing precedents whether requested or not by the court. The Group also recommended that option 3 be kept under review by my Department in consultation with the DPP.

Reflecting the complexity of the issues involved, the Group stressed the need for the availability of greater information regarding sentencing. To this end, the report expressed support for the developments being carried out by the Irish Sentencing Information System project under the chairmanship of Ms Justice Susan Denham of the Supreme Court. The Group was also clearly of the view that there would be some benefit from the Court of Criminal Appeal or the Supreme Court developing guideline judgements, where a number of appeals concerning the same offence would be heard together and a general guideline judgement given, indicating the approximate median on the scale of severity and the factors that might influence an upward or downward adjustment.

The issue of sentencing submissions by prosecuting counsel is complex and will require further careful consideration and consultation by me in advance of any legislative action.

National Drugs Strategy.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

130 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will take steps or raise the matter with the Garda Commissioner in an effort to ensure that the resources available to national and local drugs units are doubled, in particular, in view of the UN reported 34% increase in opium production in Afghanistan in 2007 and the resulting increase in heroin flowing into the market here and the head of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s further confirmation that more Europeans are using cocaine. [22517/07]

As the Deputy points, out the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime Annual Drug Report 2007 identifies that the level of heroin production in Afghanistan significantly increased in 2006 and that the consumption of cocaine grew in Europe last year.

The Government views with concern such global developments and any potential rise in the level of any illegal drugs being trafficked into this country. The drugs situation is dynamic and ever changing and we must ensure that our policies are flexible to meet those changes.

I assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána will continue to direct its drug law enforcement activities in a focused way through intelligence driven operations at national, regional, divisional and district level.

Underpinning this approach, An Garda Síochána will continue to invoke a number of broad strategic responses in addressing the issue. These include the following:

identifying, targeting and dismantling national and international drug trafficking networks which supply and distribute illegal drugs within this State;

conducting intelligence driven operations focusing on all aspects of the illicit drugs trade including commodity, logistics, distribution and financing;

working with other national and international law enforcement agencies on joint actions designed to reduce the availability of drugs and the proceeds derived from the drugs trade; and

working in partnership with statutory, community and voluntary groups to reduce both the supply and demand for drugs within society.

The Garda National Drugs Unit co-ordinates large scale operations against drug dealing-trafficking and unit personnel either investigate such cases themselves or assist local investigation teams. Additional assistance is also available from other specialised Garda support units, such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Criminal Assets Bureau. A joint Garda National Drugs Unit-Criminal Assets Bureau initiative is in place which targets local dealers. Furthermore, the detection and prevention of drug related crime is, of course, a matter for all members of An Garda Síochána.

Significant drug seizures, including the considerable amounts of heroin and cocaine continuing to be seized in recent times, have been made as a result of these operations. The operations, which are ongoing, continue to dismantle drug trafficking networks and have led to the arrest in recent times of major criminals both based here and abroad who are involved in the drugs trade.and such measures will continue to be vigorously pursued by An Garda Síochána.

With regard to resources, the extent of resources both in financial and personnel terms, which continues to be made available to An Garda Síochána is proof of the Government's commitment and determination to ensure that the Garda authorities will continue to implement targeted, intelligence and high intensity operations against organised crime with a special focus on drugs crime.

As the Deputy will appreciate, policing operations and the deployment of Garda resources are matters for the Garda Commissioner. It is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel within the Garda organisation on a priority basis in accordance with overall policing requirements.

The assignment of Garda personnel 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. This takes place against the background of the unprecedented expansion of An Garda Síochána which has taken and will continue to take place increasing the overall strength of the Garda to 16,000.

I assure the Deputy that additional Garda resources are coming on stream all the time. These additional human resources will facilitate the Garda Commissioner in the allocation of additional manpower to areas most in need, including areas with a significant drug problem.

In conjunction with this, the Government are ensuring that our law enforcement agencies continue to have a strong legislative platform from which to operate in their work in tackling those involved in such criminal activity. While we already have a strong legislative package in place for tackling drug trafficking, the Criminal Justice Acts 2006 and 2007 provides for further measures which will enhance the powers of the Garda in the investigation and prosecution of drug offences.

Undoubtedly, drug misuse remains one of the most complex social ills faced globally. Our drug law enforcement response is a vital feature of our overall response in addressing the issue but we cannot just look at the issue from a supply reduction perspective only.

Rather, we must examine the drugs problem in the wider context in which it takes place and take cognisance of the fact that the demand for and the use of illegal drugs is what fuels the drugs trade. The measures that we have in place to address the problem must take account of this.

The Government remains resolutely committed to tackling the problem through our National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008. The national strategy addresses the problem under pillar headings of education and prevention, supply reduction, treatment and rehabilitation and research and is firmly founded on the principle that drug misuse needs to be addressed in an integrated manner across these headings through a co-operative approach involving the statutory, community and voluntary treatment sectors.

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, under the stewardship of my colleague and Minister of State, Deputy Pat Carey, is the lead Government Department in co-ordinating the implementation of the national drugs strategy. My Department's remit in this area, while not exclusively, is primarily in the area of drug supply reduction, and drug law enforcement remains a key feature of the Government's drug policy framework. Finally, I assure the Deputy that the Government is very clear that there is no room for complacency in our response to the issue of drug misuse. Under my own area of remit, I would stress again that the enforcement of the law relating to drugs continues to be a key element in the Government's policing priorities.

Garda Investigations.

Tony Gregory

Question:

131 Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a comprehensive statement on the case of a person (details supplied) and the family’s request for an enquiry. [22155/07]

The person in question was arrested around midday on 2 June 2005 in relation to the theft of a motor vehicle and taken to Store Street Garda Station, Dublin. He was found hanging in his cell later that afternoon. He was removed to hospital where he died a little more than three months later.

A Detective Superintendent from outside the relevant Garda Division was appointed immediately after the incident to carry out a detailed investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the deceased person's arrest, detention and removal to hospital. A file in the matter was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions who issued instructions that no prosecution should ensue. On 13 July of this year an inquest into the death returned a verdict of suicide. The deceased person's family were represented at the Inquest and financial assistance was offered to them by my Department in relation to their associated legal costs. Most recently the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission have informed me that they have decided in the public interest to carry out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death as provided for in section 102(4) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

The capacity for independent investigation in the public interest of such tragic deaths was a key objective in the establishment of the Ombudsman Commission and I believe that the Commission must now be left to carry out its independent investigation as speedily and thoroughly as possible.

Finally, I should also mention that a civil action has been initiated by the deceased person's family and this is currently being dealt with by the Garda Síochána in conjunction with my Department.

Garda Interview Records.

Joe Carey

Question:

132 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to deal with the problem of the free availability of Garda questioning videos resulting in serious intimidation of young persons in particular; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22563/07]

I would direct the Deputy's attention to section 56 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 which was commenced on 18 May 2007, which restricts the availability of Garda interview recordings.

Housing Management Companies.

Alan Shatter

Question:

133 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he proposes to publish legislation to govern the operation of property management firms of apartment complexes and other multi unit developments; and his views on whether existing legislation is inadequate to provide to apartment and home owners essential legislation to which they should be entitled. [22162/07]

James Reilly

Question:

191 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals to address the many urgent problems associated with the operation of management companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22161/07]

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

198 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects to introduce much needed legislation to regulate estate management companies. [22297/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133, 191 and 198 together.

Property management companies are legal entities incorporated under company law and are subject to its provisions. In December last, the Law Reform Commission published a Consultation Paper on Multi-Unit Developments which drew attention to a broad range of issues arising in relation to the governance and operation of such developments, including problems arising from the manner in which company law currently applies to property management companies. The Paper makes it clear that action to address these problems will be required across several policy fields, including company law, consumer protection law and the development of regulatory structures.

In recognition of the cross-cutting nature of many of the issues identified by the Law Reform Commission in its Paper, a high-level interdepartmental committee has been established to assist in the development of a coherent and comprehensive response to the problems arising in this area. A key task of this committee will be to identify the legislative and administrative actions to be taken in response to definitive recommendations for legislative reforms which, following a lengthy consultation process, will be set out in the Law Reform Commission's forthcoming Report on Multi-Unit Developments and to determine a timescale for their implementation. I expect that this Report will be published later this year.

Prison Drug Treatment Services.

Frank Feighan

Question:

134 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the drugs rehabilitation programmes in place in prisons (details supplied); the success rates such programmes have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22535/07]

The Irish Prison Service continues to work to implement the commitments contained in its Drugs Policy & Strategy, entitled Keeping Drugs Out of Prisons, which was launched last year. Working to fulfil these commitments involves the implementation of stringent measures to prevent drugs from getting into prisons while, at the same time, continuing to invest in services within prisons to reduce the demand for illicit drugs in the prisoner population as well as meeting prisoners' treatment and rehabilitative needs.

Drug rehabilitation programmes for prisoners involve a significant multidimensional input by a diverse range of general and specialist services provided both by the Irish Prison Service and visiting statutory and non-statutory organisations. Measures to reduce the demand for drugs within the prison system include education, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicted offenders. These programmes and interventions are delivered on an individual and co-ordinated basis by the Prison Healthcare Teams, Psychology Service, Probation Service, Prison Education Service and prison officers. Particular initiatives put in place include Drug Free Areas, Drug Misuse Awareness Programmes, Support Programmes and appropriate health interventions, Substitution Therapies, Vaccination Programmes and treatment for viral illnesses. In addition, the Irish Prison Service provides prisoners with a range of opportunities to encourage them to aspire to a substance-free lifestyle, before and after release, thereby reducing demand for illicit substances. An important aim of the new Policy & Strategy is the operation of all treatment programmes within a coherent policy framework, understood and supported by all agencies involved in drug treatment within the prison system, with the ultimate aim being to provide access to drug treatment and rehabilitation programmes for all prisoners who wish to avail of them.

The Policy and Strategy outlines the range of treatment services that the Irish Prison Service seeks to make available throughout the prisons estates; these are:

Assessment and Throughcare Planning.

Information, education and awareness programmes, etc.

Opiate replacement therapies (where clinically indicated).

Detox, maintenance and reduction programmes.

Symptomatic treatment options.

Support services, to include mental health.

Supported Voluntary Drug Testing Units.

Motivational interventions.

Extended treatment options will be provided in specific sites based on assessed risk or needs of the prison population there. These will include:

Evidence informed programmes regarding drug misuse and offending behaviour.

Cognitive Behavioural Treatment programmes.

12 Step programmes.

Appropriate peer support programmes.

In line with community provision many of these services are already available in prisons situated in the Dublin region but are not available in prisons situated outside of the Dublin region. Initial focus in enhancing the range and quality of treatment services available has been on those prisons which are assessed as having the greatest client need; this has involved the recruitment of nurses, a psychologist focusing on addictions and prison officers.

The most significant development has been the awarding of a contract for the provision of addiction counselling services for all prisons in the country to Merchants Quay Ireland, a leading drug treatment provider. This contract is currently being rolled out, and all prisoners wherever they may be imprisoned will have access to addiction counselling services by the end of this year.

Finally, in relation to the success of treatment services, in line with evidence from community treatment services there is clear evidence that where treatment structures are adequately and appropriately resourced, drug use, particularly unsafe use involving injection, decreases. Reports from within the prisons would confirm that the advent and development of substitution based programmes within the prison system has significantly decreased illicit drug use. Any resources devoted to drug treatment are far outweighed by the various personal (lower health risk, improved family and social function, etc.) and community (reduced street crime associated with drug use, lower incidence of potentially costly communicable diseases) benefits arising. In view of the particular difficulties associated with the prisoner population (e.g. social exclusion and isolation, multiple social and health problems, long histories of polysubstance abuse, etc.) the resources applied in prisons should garner a disproportionate health and social benefit.

The Probation Service, in partnership with the IPS and other agencies, provides a range of individual and group programmes in prisons to address rehabilitation and resettlement issues including those related to drug misuse. The Department through the Probation Service also provide funding to a number of Community-based Organisations which enter prisons to support and motivate prisoners in addressing their substance misuse.

The main drug rehabilitation programme, which has been in operation since 1996, is operated in Mountjoy Prison complex. That programme includes drug awareness and methadone support modules.

Eleven programmes have been facilitated in the Mountjoy complex since the beginning of 2006. Of the 99 prisoners who participated in these programmes, 43 graduated (completed successfully) and 4 remain on the current programme.

Sexual Offences.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

135 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he has taken in response to calls for an EU-wide sex offenders database; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22554/07]

At its meeting on 12-13 June, 2007 the Council of the European Union reached an agreement on a general approach on a proposal for a Council Framework Decision on the organisation and content of the exchange of information extracted from criminal records between Member States. Discussions are ongoing with a view to formal adoption of the Framework Decision as soon as possible. This agreement follows the adoption in 2005 by the Council of a Decision on the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record, which supplements the relevant provisions of the Council of Europe 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

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

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

As a result of the MOU, the exchange of such information between the Garda Síochána and British police forces, which of course has already been taking place for some time, is now being put on a formal footing. The information will now be shared as a matter of course.

This Memorandum of Understanding is another example of the close relationship between Ireland and the UK and in particular between the two parts of this island. It is also the most recent example of the benefits which accrue to both sides through co-operation and co-ordination in the areas of criminal justice and law enforcement.

As the MOU provides, its use and effectiveness will be kept under review, and I am confident that full use will be made of its potential by the police forces of all our jurisdictions.

A Registered Sex Offender Advisory Group has been established consisting of representatives of An Garda Síochána, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Northern Ireland Office. As part of its work, this Group evaluates the potential for sharing information, examining the registration criteria in both jurisdictions for sex offenders and identifying areas for further co-operation.

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.

The provisions of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 are kept under constant review by my Department with a view to ensuring the Act is operating in an efficient and effective manner.

Question No. 136 answered with QuestionNo. 120.

Crime Levels.

Willie Penrose

Question:

137 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of cases of murder in which firearms were used in respect of each year from 1998 to date in 2007; the number of such cases in which prosecutions for murder were initiated; the number of such cases where convictions were secured; if he is satisfied with the level of detection and conviction in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22497/07]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

186 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gun murders recorded in 2006; the way this compares with the figures for 2005; the number of gun murders recorded to date in 2007; the steps being taken to deal with these crimes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22496/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 137 and 186 together.

The following table shows the number of murders recorded, detected, proceedings commenced and convictions which involved the use of a firearm for the years 1998 to 2006 and in 2007.

The number of murders recorded, detected, proceedings commenced and convictions in which a firearm was used for the years 1998 to 2006 and in 2007 up to 3 October

Year

Recorded

Detected

Proceeding Commenced

Convictions

2007 (to 3 October)

13

3

1

0

2006

27

10

5

0

2005

21

4

2

2

2004

9

8

5

4

2003

20

11

4

2

2002

10

5

4

3

2001

9

6

2

1

2000

12

7

6

2

1999

12

7

7

5

1998

4

3

2

1

Figures for 2007 are provisional, operational and liable to change.

All incidents of murder 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 by the Gardaí in the investigation process.

Operation Anvil is central to the strategy of the Garda Síochána in combating serious crime and in particular murder. Operation Anvil continues to provide successes in this area. Figures which I received from the Garda Commissioner recently show that from its beginning in May 2005 to 9 September last, 768 firearms have been recovered, 37,437 searches for drugs have taken place and over 70,000 checkpoints established. These figures make clear the unrelenting nature of the activity being undertaken by the Garda Síochána to deal with these crimes.

In addition the Organised Crime Unit at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been strengthened to 70 persons and is tasked with targeting organised criminals and disrupting criminal networks by providing armed assistance during planned operations and searches against those persons suspected of being involved in organised criminal activities.

A package of crime investigation initiatives was recently launched by senior Garda management. These include the establishment of a crime training faculty at the Garda College, Templemore to provide a professional, comprehensive training programme for those charged with the management of serious crime investigations. Senior Investigating Officers will also be appointed. These will be key personnel who will take charge of serious crime investigations. Incident Room Co-ordinators will manage serious crime investigation incident rooms, and specialist victim interviewers will interview persons under 14 years of age or with special needs who are victims of sexual crime.

Additional Divisional Detective Inspectors will be appointed and will be allocated on the basis of one per District in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and one per Division outside the DMR. The appointments of Regional Detective Superintendents, who will be responsible for the investigation of serious crime, were also announced. Pre-screening and competency based interviewing have been commenced as part of the selection process for Detective Gardaí and Sergeants. This will enhance best practice and procedures in the investigation of serious crime.

A Major Investigation Management System will also be developed to provide a PULSE based management system for all serious investigations.

As a result of the enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 the Garda Síochána are in a much better position to ensure that those involved in gun crime will be made accountable for their actions. The Act intensifies further the fight against gangland activity by:

making it more difficult to get bail in drug trafficking, firearms and other serious cases;

having tighter controls to monitor post-release activity by introducing monitoring orders and protection of persons orders;

having enhanced penalties for those who reoffend within 7 years of a previous offence;

giving further guidance on the application of mandatory minimum sentences in cases of drug trafficking and firearm offences, while fully respecting the discretion and independence of the judiciary;

providing for indefinite retention of fingerprint samples;

extending detention periods in the case of certain very serious offences; and updating the law on the right to silence.

Yesterday I met senior Garda management who briefed me on ongoing intensive operations to counteract the menace of gun crime, including Operation Anvil and CAB's efforts against drug dealers. I assured the Commissioner that unprecedented resources would continue to be provided to support them in their efforts. I wish to reiterate my call for all members of the community to support An Garda Síochána in their efforts to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.

Garda Recruitment.

Joe McHugh

Question:

138 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will assign crime analysts to the six Garda regions as recommended by the Garda Inspectorate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22538/07]

Three senior analysts were recently recruited forming the management team for the Garda Síochána Analysis Service (G.S.A.S.). A substantial body of work is underway in order to select suitable staff; develop training needs; and service all of the information technology and infrastructural requirements of the analysis function. The structure of the analysis function and deployment of analysts throughout the organisation has yet to be finalised. However, the optimum use of the analysis function will be made in order to deliver the maximum possible benefit to An Garda Siochana in fulfilling all its responsibilities.

Crime Levels.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

139 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps that have been taken by his Department to tackle gun crime following the recent shooting of a member of An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22549/07]

The reprehensible gun attack on Garda Paul Sherlock last week was a stark reminder of the dangers facing members of the Garda Síochána as they go about their daily task of protecting us all. An extensive investigation team has been assembled comprising Gardaí attached to the DMR North Central Garda Division and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, supported by members from Crime and Security Section, Garda Headquarters. This investigation is progressing and a number of arrests have been made in the case.

Operation Anvil is central to the strategy of the Garda Síochána in combating serious crime and in particular murder. Operation Anvil continues to provide successes in this area. Figures which I received from the Garda Commissioner recently show that from its beginning in May 2005 to 9 September last, 768 firearms have been recovered, 37,437 searches for drugs have taken place and over 70,000 checkpoints established. These figures make clear the unrelenting nature of the activity being undertaken by the Garda Síochána to deal with these crimes.

In addition the Organised Crime Unit at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been strengthened to 70 persons and is tasked with targeting organised criminals and disrupting criminal networks by providing armed assistance during planned operations and searches against those persons suspected of being involved in organised criminal activities.

A package of crime investigation initiatives was recently launched by senior Garda management. These include the establishment of a crime training faculty at the Garda College, Templemore to provide a professional, comprehensive training programme for those charged with the management of serious crime investigations. Senior Investigating Officers will also be appointed. These will be key personnel who will take charge of serious crime investigations. Incident Room Co-ordinators will manage serious crime investigation incident rooms, and specialist victim interviewers will interview persons under 14 years of age or with special needs who are victims of sexual crime.

Additional Divisional Detective Inspectors will be appointed and will be allocated on the basis one per District in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and one per Division outside the DMR. Regional Detective Superintendents will be responsible for the investigation of serious crime were also announced. Pre-screening and competency based interviewing have been commenced as part of the selection process for Detective Gardaí and Sergeants. This will enhance best practice and procedures in the investigation of serious crime.

A Major Investigation Management System will also be developed to provide a PULSE based management system for all serious investigations.

As a result of the enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 the Garda Síochána are in a much better position to ensure that those involved in gun crime will be made accountable for their actions. The Act intensifies further the fight against gangland activity by:

making it more difficult to get bail in drug trafficking, firearms and other serious cases;

having tighter controls to monitor post-release activity by introducing monitoring orders and protection of persons orders;

having enhanced penalties for those who reoffend within 7 years of a previous offence;

giving further guidance on the application of mandatory minimum sentences in cases of drug trafficking and firearm offences, while fully respecting the discretion and independence of the judiciary;

providing for indefinite retention of fingerprint samples;

extending detention periods in the case of certain very serious offences; and

updating the law on the right to silence.

Garda Complaints Board.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

140 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is concerned regarding the views expressed by the chairman of the Garda Complaints Board, in his final report, regarding what he described at the total inability of the Gardaí to apologise for mistakes and the lack of action by the Garda Commissioner in regard to minor breaches of discipline referred to him; the action being taken to deal with this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22479/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Siochana Complaints Board Annual Report for the year 2006 has been considered by the Garda Commissioner and his senior management team and its recommendations will inform policy in the relevant areas.

The Deputy raises two separate issues one of which relates to an alleged lack of action on the part of the Commissioner in relation to possible minor breaches of the Garda discipline regulations brought to his attention under the procedures set out in section 7(4)of the Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986.

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that on receipt of a referral under section 7(4) the Commissioner considers himself legally obliged to cause a review of the investigation to be undertaken including affording the member concerned an opportunity to make further submissions — whether or not submissions had been made to the Complaints Board as part of its investigation. At the end of the process the Commissioner makes a final determination on whether there has been a breach of discipline. Where such a breach has occurred it is dealt with by way of advice, admonition or warning.

Of 63 such cases referred to the Commissioner in 2006 disciplinary action was taken in 35 cases, in 20 cases the Commissioner decided that no breach of discipline had occurred and 8 cases were outstanding at the end of the year.

The second issue raised by the Complaints Board relates to an alleged inability on the part of members of the Garda Síochána to apologise for mistakes. Where the incident is of a minor nature there is provision under the Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986 (and indeed analogous provisions of the Garda Síochána Act 2005) for informal resolution. This avenue can be availed of to resolve disputes in some instances.

However it is worth noting that the Morris Tribunal expressed the view that Garda disciplinary procedures which operated prior to 1 June of this year were characterised by an "overlay of legal formalism". The new Garda disciplinary regulations will address that issue.

More generally, I accept of course that apologies should be made where appropriate, but equally the Garda Síochána as an organisation must be guided in such matters by its legal advisers. Apologies can be made provided such an apology does not affect future legal proceedings. Where such proceedings are taken an apology or statement of regret can affect the extent to which the State is liable in any possible settlement of the case, and this must be taken into account.

Garda Recruitment.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

141 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action that has been taken by his Department to ensure that An Garda Síochána attracts more recruits from ethnic minorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22545/07]

In 2005 the Garda Síochána Admissions and Appointments Regulations 1988 were amended to remove the requirement to hold a qualification in both Irish and English in the Leaving Certificate or equivalent and was replaced with a requirement to hold a qualification in two languages, at least one of which must be Irish or English.

In addition the amendment provided that entry to An Garda Síochána would be open to:

(i)nationals of an EU Member State, an EEA State or the Swiss Confederation and

(ii)nationals of any other State who are lawfully present in Ireland and have a period of five years legal residence in Ireland.

Ethnic communities have been proactively targeted in recent recruitment campaigns and equally so in the latest recruitment campaign which began last month. Details of this campaign can be found at www.garda.ie or www.publicjobs.ie

Question No. 142 answered with QuestionNo. 122.
Question No. 143 answered with QuestionNo. 111.

Garda Inspectorate Reports.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

144 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement on the third report of the Garda Inspectorate detailing a time-frame for the implementation of its key recommendations. [22513/07]

154.Deputy Joe Costello asked ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in the report of the Garda Inspectorate, Policing in Ireland, Looking Forward, published on 26 September 2007; his further views on the recommendations of the report, particularly the call for an increase in the size of the transport fleet and the number of marked vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 144 and 154 together.

I welcome the third report of the Garda Inspectorate entitled, "Policing in Ireland — Looking Forward". It is a comprehensive examination of administration and operation of the Garda Síochána and I would like to record my gratitude to the Chief Inspector Kathleen O'Toole and her colleagues Bob Olson and Gwen Boniface for their work. As the members of the House know the Garda Síochána has been undergoing a programme of quite fundamental change in recent years. Many of the changes were brought about by the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007 and these involved fundamental structural changes such as the establishment of the Garda Ombudsman Commission and the Inspectorate; the transfer of responsibility to the Commissioner for matters such as expenditure and the employment of civilians; and the specification in statute of the role of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in setting the broad strategic direction of the Force. Now that the legislative environment has been reshaped, the focus for the programme of change and modernisation is moving to the internal administration and operation of the Garda Síochána. This is where the Garda Inspectorate has a key role in ensuring that the resources of the Garda Síochána are used as efficiently and effectively as possible. It is my role as Minister and that of my Department to support the Garda Síochána in achieving that goal of continued efficient and effective policing. The Inspectorate in its report has made a number of recommendations covering a broad range of issues ranging from the devolution of greater autonomy to regional Assistant Commissioners to the need to review recruit training. The Inspectorate has not suggested deadlines for the implementation of all its recommendations and understandably so. Some of the recommendations are already being implemented while others such as a review of recruit training will require further work on the part of the Inspectorate in the first instance. I expect to see early implementation of the Inspectorate's recommendations and my Department with the assistance of the Inspectorate will monitor their implementation.

The remit of the Inspectorate under the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007 is to ensure that the resources available to An Garda Síochána are used so as to achieve and maintain the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness both in its operation and administration when compared against the best practices and standards of comparable police forces. As regards the Garda transport fleet the Inspectorate has called for a more strategic approach to transport policy to ensure that it meets the business needs of the Force. The Inspectorate has said it will bring forward proposals to benchmark Garda transport to determine a fleet size and composition that will best support policing needs and optimise visibility in the community. I look forward to receiving those proposals. As the Inspectorate has acknowledged the Garda fleet is undergoing a major investment programme and an expansion in specific areas which will target organised crime, public order and traffic in particular. 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 fleet). Further investment is taking place this year (including the purchase of additional motorbikes which will make a significant contribution to traffic law enforcement).

Question No. 145 answered with QuestionNo. 116.

Garda Investigations.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

146 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the investigation that has been held into the release in error of a prisoner serving a six year sentence in mistake for another prisoner of the same name; the outcome of such investigation; if changes have been introduced to procedures to ensure that a similar error is not made in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22505/07]

The incident referred to by the Deputy occurred in Mountjoy Prison in June, 2007. This prisoner was returned to custody by Gardaí at the end of August 2007. His release date has been adjusted accordingly.

Following an investigation by the Governor of Mountjoy Prison, disciplinary procedures have been initiated against a number of staff under the Code of Discipline. The Deputy will therefore appreciate that I am precluded from commenting further at this time in relation to this matter.

I can confirm that a Governor's Order which sets out the correct procedures to be followed in the case of prisoner releases was re-issued to all staff in Mountjoy Prison.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

147 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Garda Superintendent appointed to carry out an investigation into the circumstances in which the Gardaí failed to act on information supplied through Interpol from the Austrian authorities regarding the alleged involvement of people based here in a global child pornography ring has been concluded; if it is intended to publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22488/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation into this matter is ongoing and nearing completion. The Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Custodial Sentences.

Dan Neville

Question:

148 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will propose changes to the remission of the custodial sentences regime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22559/07]

I hope to be in a position to bring the matter before the Government in the near future and I will not be making any statements on the issue before then.

Criminal Legal Aid.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

149 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the nature of the means test applicable when members or principals of organised criminal gangs apply for free legal aid; if such funding is provided directly by his Department or through the Courts Service; the number of cases in which such criminals have been refused legal aid in each of the past five years; if free legal aid has been made available in serious criminal cases where the accused is on bail on foot of previous charges and where it might be concluded that the individual had access to adequate resources from whatever source; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22522/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

479 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which free legal aid has been made available through funding provided by his Department and the Courts Service to those involved in organised criminal gangs known to have considerable assets; his plans to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22851/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 and 479 together.

I take it the Deputy is enquiring about criminal legal aid. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that persons before the courts on criminal charges are dealt with on the basis of the presumption of innocence.

The Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 provides that free legal aid may be granted in certain circumstances for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. Funds are provided through my Department's vote for the administration of the Scheme with a sum of €43.5m allocated for this purpose in 2007. Expenditure for each of the past 4 years is set out below:

Year

Expenditure

€m

2003

37.353

2004

34.140

2005

40.208

2006

42.093

Under the 1962 Act, the courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. An applicant for legal aid must establish to the satisfaction of the court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal representation for him/herself. The court must also be satisfied that, by reason of the "gravity of the charge" or "exceptional circumstances", it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid. I have no function in these matters which are determined by the judiciary. The provision of information on the courts system such as the number of persons refused legal aid certificates is a function of the Courts Service under the Courts Service Act 1998.

The Deputy may wish to note that, under the 1962 Act, an applicant for free legal aid may be required by the court to complete a statement of means. It is an offence for an applicant to knowingly make a false statement or conceal a material fact for the purpose of obtaining legal aid. This is currently under review in my Department.

Prison Education Service.

Billy Timmins

Question:

150 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the education centre for young offenders at Mountjoy was opened; the persons who work at same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22579/07]

I take it the Deputy is referring to the Special School in St Patrick's Institution, which is located in the Mountjoy Complex, and was opened on 14 April 2007.

All staff are trained in Adolescent Behaviour Management before they commence working in this new unit. The staffing levels are 13 prison staff Monday to Friday and 9 prison staff at weekends. Prison staff comprise prison officers performing general security duties, prison officers trained as NCEF Fitness Instructors and Assistant Industrial Supervisors providing instruction in both Home Economics and Industrial Skills.

There are also between 2 and 4 teachers operating in the new school during any teaching period. General education subjects include English, Irish, Maths, History and Geography, Arts & Crafts, and Computer Skills. Fitness and exercise programmes, and Domestic Science including hygiene and cooking skills programmes are also provided. Programmes such as alcohol awareness and drug awareness courses are also run regularly.

Support services are provided by 2 Probation Officers and Psychology, Medical and Chaplaincy Services. These personnel are available to inmates on a daily basis.

All inmates are given a timetable for their activities and participation in the activities is actively encouraged. Enhanced regimes such as communal dining, recreational games, sports hall and additional visits are provided.

A typical day consists of school during the morning and afternoon, or alternatively vocational workshop training. Recreation is provided in the evening. At weekends sports competitions, football tournaments, etc., are provided during daytime and recreation is provided in the evening.

National Drugs Strategy.

John O'Mahony

Question:

151 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans he has to set up a permanent drugs unit at Ireland West Airport, Knock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22159/07]

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Customs Service of the Office of the Revenue Commissioners which has primary responsibility for the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of controlled drugs at importation.

The Customs Service has particular responsibility for implementing import controls at points of entry to the State, including airports.

I have been informed by the Customs authorities that in 2007, the Revenue Commissioners completed an extensive review of customs controls at all licensed aerodromes including Knock.

Following on the review and with increased flights from EU and non-EU countries into Knock, the level of customs control has been increased and has been applied on a risk-analysis basis. This is based on analysis and evaluation of general seizure trends, traffic frequency, route and similar risk indicators.

These controls have included over sixty visits to Ireland West Airport, Knock since the start of 2007 by a drugs detector dog team based in Sligo. Extra staff have also been assigned to the area which will further assist in increasing drugs detection at the airport.

Attendance by staff is selective and targeted and covers the full range of flight times and these are kept under constant review to take particular account of emerging smuggling trends and any traffic increase at the airport.

In relation to Garda strategies for dealing with drug offences, such strategies are designed to undermine the activities of organised criminal networks involved in the trafficking and distribution of illicit drugs. These strategies include gathering intelligence on individuals and organisations involved in the distribution of drugs, conducting targeted operations on criminal networks based on intelligence gathered and working in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies within and outside the jurisdiction to address the national as well as international aspects of drug trafficking and distribution. These strategies continue to result in operational successes as evidenced by the ongoing levels of drugs seized by the Garda.

The trafficking and distribution of all illicit drugs at local, national and international level is constantly monitored by the Garda.

There continues to be excellent co-operation between the Garda and the Customs and Excise service under the terms of the memorandum of understanding in place between both agencies in the proactive investigation of persons suspected to be involved in international drug trafficking and ongoing liaison with various law enforcement agencies throughout Europe through Europol and Interpol.

Human Trafficking.

Simon Coveney

Question:

152 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action the Gardaí will be taking as a result of the announcement that Great Britain and Ireland are to work together to combat human trafficking through a new operation called Pentameter two. [22610/07]

Operation Pentameter II was launched in London by the UK Home Secretary on 3 October 2007. Officials from my Department and senior Garda officers have been participating in planning meetings since earlier this year and it is intended that An Garda Síochána will run complementary enforcement operations in this jurisdiction at the same time as the United Kingdom.

The operation which is led by Gloucestershire Constabulary is a proactive and co-ordinated campaign of activity to tackle the trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation throughout the common travel area of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The sharing of intelligence between police in both jurisdictions is occurring on a regular basis, and co-operation in investigating suspected cases of human trafficking which impact on both the UK and Ireland is ongoing.

Through Operation Pentameter, a significant level of co-operation has developed, particularly in the area of training, with input from the UK authorities into training courses run by staff from the Garda Training College.

A senior officer at Detective Superintendent rank from An Garda Síochána has been appointed as a liaison officer with Operation Pentameter and he continues to meet with his counterparts in the UK on a regular basis with a view to ensuring that co-ordination of activity between the two jurisdictions in tackling human trafficking is in place.

Furthermore, a member of the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) is also currently seconded to the Garda National Immigration Bureau in relation to this issue and this will maximise the co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI with regard to the problem of human trafficking.

Operation Pentameter II is linked to a larger initiative on human trafficking being undertaken in a number of European countries including Ireland and this larger initiative will be launched in Brussels soon.

The operation is currently in an intelligence-gathering phase. It is my intention that the Criminal Law Bill, which I will publish shortly, will be enacted in time for the enforcement phase of the operation. It would be inappropriate to give any further information that might jeopardise what is now a live policing operation.

While there is no evidence of a substantial human trafficking problem in Ireland, the Government is determined that all necessary actions are taken to ensure that it does not become a significant problem in the future.

Finally, as part of Operation Pentameter 1, a poster campaign was launched in both Ireland and the UK to encourage victims of human trafficking to report their plight to State authorities. The undertaking of additional awareness raising initiatives in both the UK and Ireland during Operation Pentameter II has been discussed and plans are being formulated in this regard.

Crime Prevention.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

153 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the number of organised criminal gangs currently operating here have been located or identified; the extent to which each or all have been associated with drugs, gun crime or murder; if the necessary resources have been made available or are expected to be made available to ensure that such perpetrators are brought to justice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22521/07]

An Garda Síochána, as part of its contribution to the Europol Organised Crime Report which was refined to become the Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA), undertakes an annual assessment of organised crime in Ireland. The most recent assessment was completed in November 2006.

The analysis carried out for this report concludes that the nature of organised crime gangs continues to be the same as in previous years. There are two categories of organised crime groups operating in this jurisdiction.

The first category consists of individuals/groups that are well established and tightly structured involved in drug trafficking, armed robbery and firearms offences. The second category involves groups whose activities are characterised by less cohesive group structures and criminal activities which are mainly confined to Ireland.

Because of the relative fluid nature of those involved in serious/organised crime in Ireland it is not possible to easily place them in a particular group. While it is difficult therefore to provide an accurate and definitive number for the various groups operating here, gangs operating in this jurisdiction are targeted on an ongoing basis and profiles regarding the personnel of such groups are continually updated. Their membership, operating methods, criminal interests and financial assets are likewise proactively targeted.

Intelligence-led operations, primarily undertaken by specialist units of An Garda Síochána, under the remit of the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services, including the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda National Drugs Unit, and the Organised Crime Unit are regularly undertaken, targeting those suspected of being involved in organised crime.

The Criminal Assets Bureau, under the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services, works closely with other national units and senior investigating officers in all Garda Divisions to ensure, wherever possible, that assets derived from criminal activity, including drug-related crime, are subject to post-conviction confiscation, pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act 1993, civil restraint pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Acts 1996-2005 and the relevant Revenue and Social Welfare legislation.

An Garda Síochána will continue to use intelligence-led operations against selected targets to combat the criminal activities of these groups.

In relation to the resources available to the Gardai, the Deputy will be aware that An Garda Síochána has never been better resourced than it is now. The personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána as on 31 August 2007, was 13,288.

As the Deputy will also know, there is an unprecedented expansion of An Garda Síochána currently taking place which is increasing the overall strength of the Gardaí to 16,000.

The Garda budget now stands at €1.44 billion; this compares to just over €0.9 billion five years ago. Garda overtime this year will total about €140 million; this compares to €66 million five years ago. The Garda fleet is undergoing major modernisation. Last year €24.7 million was used to purchase 1,378 vehicles for the Force, renewing over half the entire fleet.

The National Development Plan provides €260 million over the next five years for Garda stations and other accommodation. This level of resources translates into tangible improvements with increased and improved levels of policing on the ground.

Finally, I repeat the assurance that I gave to the House last week during the lengthy debate on crime that it is my intention to continue to prioritise areas such as gun crime, organised crime and drugs, and public order.

Question No. 154 answered with QuestionNo. 144.

Illegal Immigrants.

Mary Upton

Question:

155 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the Government has decided to opt out, along with the UK, from a new EU directive which proposes to make it a criminal offence for employers to employ illegal migrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22510/07]

The Treaty of Amsterdam which came into force on 1 May, 1999, added to the EC Treaty a new Title IV which deals with measures in the area of visas, immigration and other policies related to free movement of persons. The proposal in question is subject to Title IV of the Treaty, the application of which to Ireland is subject to the provisions of the Protocol on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland annexed to the Treaties.

It is not correct to say that Ireland has decided to "opt-out" of this proposed Directive. Under the Protocol Ireland has three months from the date a proposal is presented to Council to notify our intention to take part in the adoption and the application of such a measure. Ireland may also accept a measure any time after it has been adopted. While Ireland did not within the initial 3 months exercise its option the matter remains open.

Ireland continues to participate actively in the current discussions on the proposal at European level and my Department, in conjunction with other relevant Departments, is currently examining the issues raised by the proposal. The question of Ireland's participation in this measure will be determined following adoption of the Directive and Ireland's participation would require Oireachtas approval at that stage.

Ireland exercises its option to participate in Title IV measures to the maximum extent compatible with the maintenance of the Common Travel Area with the United Kingdom. Any proposals arising under Title IV are considered on their own merits.

Prison Staff.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

156 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a group of senior prisoner officers are under threat from criminal gangs as reported; the steps being taken to ensure the safety and security of prisoner officers under such threat; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22506/07]

For obvious security reasons, I am not in a position to comment on the particular report referred to by the Deputy. However, I can confirm that certain staff were recently rendered appropriate assistance in relation to security matters. The Deputy will understand that I am not willing to elaborate at this time on the specifics of any threats that may have been made.

Garda Investigations.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

157 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Gardaí have concluded their investigations initiated as a result of a complaint made by the Secretary General of his Department into the alleged leaking of a draft copy of a report (details supplied); if a file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22489/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Director of Public Prosecutions has directed a prosecution in this matter and a person is currently before the Courts charged with offences contrary to sections 37 and 50 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.

Proposed Legislation.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

158 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the long promised Judicial Council Bill is expected to be published; the consultation he has had with members of the judiciary regarding the contents of the Bill; his views, in view of a recent case, that there is still no procedure for dealing with breaches of conduct by judges apart from the impeachment process provided for under the constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22485/07]

Work on the Scheme of a Judicial Council Bill to build on the report of the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Ethics is currently under way in my Department.

That Report recognised the need for a procedure for dealing with complaints of judicial misconduct which, while serious in itself, might not warrant the ultimate sanction of impeachment by the Oireachtas.

Consultations on the proposed Bill have, as is usual in the development of any legislative proposals, taken place with the Office of the Attorney General. It was also considered prudent, given the nature of the subject, to consult with the Chief Justice. While some preliminary views were received, the Chief Justice requested an opportunity to offer further views at a later stage. I await the final observations of the Chief Justice.

Garda Reserve.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

159 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of members of the Garda Reserve recruited to date; the stations to which they have been allocated; the number of applicants for the reserve currently in training; when he expects that the full complement of 1,500 will be in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22493/07]

The total personnel strength of the Garda Reserve including trainees is 248. A total of 113 members are fully attested.

The 113 attested members are attached to the following Stations:Dublin Metropolitan Region Stations:

DMR SOUTH CENTRAL DIVISION — Pearse St, Kevin Street and Donnybrook.

DMR NORTH CENTRAL DIVISION — Store St, Bridewell and Fitzgibbon Street.

DMR WEST DIVISION — Clondalkin, Finglas, Lucan and Blanchardstown.

DMR NORTH DIVISION — Santry, Raheny, Swords, Clontarf and Coolock.

DMR SOUTH DIVISION — Crumlin, Sundrive Road, Rathmines and Terenure.

DMR EAST DIVISION — Bray, Dun Laoghaire and Blackrock.

STATIONS OUTSIDE DMR — Anglesea Street, Cork, Sligo, Galway, Henry Street, Limerick, Ennis, Clare, Tralee, Kerry, Waterford.

The recruitment of members to the Garda Reserve is ongoing with intakes going into the Garda College every 4-6 weeks. The latest intake occurred on the 6th and 7th October 2007.

Reserve members undertake their training and other duties on a voluntary basis during their free time. As a result it is not possible to predict how many people will commence training in any particular month. I cannot predict exactly when the 10% target will be reached but I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána are making every effort to reach it as soon as possible.

Gambling Regulations.

Pat Breen

Question:

160 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress that has been made by his Department in its review of the Gaming and Lotteries Acts, 1956 to 1986; the action he proposes to take to regulate newer gambling practices including on-line gambling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22542/07]

I wish to advise the Deputy that my predecessor received the final Report of the Casino Committee in April 2007. The Report is a detailed and comprehensive document dealing with all the issues placed before the Committee including the internet. After due consideration of these issues, I will be bringing the Report before the Government.

Citizenship Applications.

Brian Hayes

Question:

161 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on a proposal to grant to all new members of An Garda Síochána on commission the automatic entitlement to be made an Irish citizen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22246/07]

I am aware that the Deputy sponsored a Bill on this issue in July, 2006.

The granting of Irish citizenship is, I believe, a decision not to be taken lightly and should only apply to a person who has demonstrated over an extended period of time close links with Ireland, for example by way of legal residence in the State and a degree of real participation in Irish society. While, clearly, joining An Garda Síochána is a very positive act in this respect I would be concerned that a proposal of this nature could result in demands from other persons working in a variety of State services for a similar exemption from the legal criteria for citizenship.

It is my intention to review, over the coming months, the existing criteria for obtaining citizenship through naturalisation and the issue raised by the Deputy can be considered as part of that process.

Sexual Offences.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

162 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps that have been taken to implement the recommendation of the 2006 report of the committee on child protection that a system be developed as soon as possible for computerised storage and dissemination of information received in accordance with the Sex Offenders Act, 2001; and his proposals in relation to the recommendation for the further study of the circumstances in which the persons to whom information contained in the Sex Offenders Register might be released. [22419/07]

The Garda Síochána has in place a system for the monitoring of persons subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act, 2001. The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit monitor and manage the notification provisions. The information on persons who are subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act, 2001 is maintained at a central location. Only specified nominated Garda personnel have access to this information. I am advised by the Garda authorities that they are currently assessing requirement regarding access to this information by other units within the Force. I have no plans to amend the legislation to allow for access by others to this information.

There are nominated Garda Inspectors in each Garda Division who are notified by the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit when a sex offender, who is subject to the requirements of the Act, is resident in their Division. These inspectors are responsible for the monitoring of such offenders.

The Garda authorities are currently preparing to integrate the system for recording persons subject to the requirements of the Act into the PULSE system.

The provisions of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 are kept under constant review in my Department with a view to ensuring the Act is operating in an efficient and effective manner. I am currently reviewing provisions to strengthen the monitoring of registered sex offenders.

Sale of Alcohol.

Liz McManus

Question:

163 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will use the powers available to him under Section 22 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2003 to provide for the traceability of alcohol sold for consumption off premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22491/07]

The position is that section 22 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 provides for the making of regulations specifying particulars to be affixed to containers in which intoxicating liquor is sold for consumption off licensed premises which are adequate to enable the licensee and the licensed premises concerned to be identified.

However, while the labelling of containers in which alcohol is sold with a view to combating under-age consumption is an attractive idea, significant challenges would need to be overcome in order to render it effective in practice. These challenges arise under two headings.

Firstly, practical difficulties will be encountered at retail level where several individual containers are packaged together for sale, e.g. an enclosed six-pack of bottles; a plastic-wrapped tray of cans; or a nailed wooden box containing bottles of wine. This raises the important issue of whether the label should be attached earlier in the supply or distribution chains rather than at the point of sale. Attaching labels to the containers at an early stage might be simpler but it would create logistical difficulties for importers and distributors and lead in turn to increased distribution costs. Moreover, in the case of imports from EU countries, such additional labelling requirements could be regarded as infringing internal market rules relating to free movement of goods. Also, it would be naive to overlook the possibility of labels being removed, or rendered non-legible, after sale. The possible transfer of the alcohol from a labelled container to another unmarked container cannot be ruled out either.

Secondly, from an enforcement perspective it is clear that possession by an underage person of a labelled container will not in itself constitute proof that the alcohol in the container has been illegally supplied to that person by the licensee whose particulars appear on the container. It may have been taken from the family home or have been sold to a person over the age of 18 in good faith before being passed on to the underage person. Indeed, a labelled container may have passed through several hands before finding its way into the hands of an underage person.

Issues relating to the evidential value of being found in possession of a labelled container were raised during consultations on implementation of section 22 of the 2003 Act and the matter was subsequently raised with the Office of the Attorney General. That Office has expressed serious doubts about the evidential value of possession of a labelled container and doubt is, therefore, cast on the utility of any regulations that might be made under section 22 of the 2003 Act.

One option that could possibly be considered in the context of future legislation would be a presumption that any alcohol container found in the possession of an under-age person had been purchased by that person from the licensee identified on the container until the contrary was proved. However, the Attorney General's Office has also advised that such a proposal would raise serious constitutional issues and would run the significant risk of being found to be inconsistent with Article 38 of the Constitution.

For these reasons, I do not intend to make regulations under section 22 of the 2003 Act at this time. I will, however, give serious consideration in the context of future legislation to any reasonable and workable proposal that would deal with this matter without giving rise to the difficulties that I have outlined.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

164 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the towns and urban centres in which Garda closed circuit television systems are in place at present; the proposals in place to extend the Garda CCTV system; the number of locations that will have Garda CCTV systems in place by the end of 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22546/07]

CCTV Systems play an important part in support of policing and the maintenance of public safety. They also act as a useful deterrent to street crime and public disorder. The Garda town centre CCTV systems are planned and implemented on the basis of operational needs identified by An Garda Síochána.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the following locations have CCTV systems that are fully operational: Dublin City centre (north and south); Tralee; Cork City; Bray; Dun Laoghaire; Dundalk; Limerick; Galway and Tullamore. The contractors for the system to be installed in Finglas have been requested to commence installation and that will be subject to the usual requirements of the planning process, permission for wayleaves and the completion of any necessary civil works.

I have been further informed by the Garda authorities that work is ongoing on the installation of CCTV systems in Clondalkin and Ballyfermot and these systems will be operational in the near future.

Contracts for the supply and installation of Garda CCTV systems will be issued shortly for the following nine locations: Drogheda, Tallaght, Mullingar, Waterford, Portlaoise, Kilkenny, Sligo, Castlebar and Ennis. It is expected that installation of these systems will commence early in 2008.

A tender process has also taken place for a further five locations: Athlone, Carlow, Clonmel, Dungarvan and Kinsale. Responses to the tender are currently being evaluated by the Garda authorities. It is expected that works on these systems will commence during the first quarter of 2008.

Data Protection.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

165 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the fact that more than 10,000 requests were made by the Gardaí during 2006 under the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 for access to personal telephone records; if he accepts the view of the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner that such a number of applications suggests that innocent people are having their private records pored over; the breakdown of the requests submitted in regard to those arising from investigation into terrorist offences,drugs offences and other serious offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22486/07]

In the first instance, the figure of 10,000 requests for access to telecommunications traffic and location data made by the Garda Síochána in 2006, as claimed by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, is a self-described ‘estimate' and not a factual description. In this regard, it is not the practice and it would be contrary to the public interest to disclose the details of data access requests, including their number or the types of offences to which they relate.

The retention of and access to such data are governed by the provisions of Part 7 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005. Part 7 provides that access requests to telecommunications service providers may only be made for the purposes of:

the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of crime; or

the safeguarding of the security of the State.

The Garda Síochána makes such requests only where these conditions apply and only after they have been filtered by senior Garda officers; not all requests by investigating Gardaí result in requests to the telecommunications service providers.

I categorically reject any suggestion that these provisions are being or have been used to improperly intrude upon the privacy of any person, innocent or otherwise.

Part 7 of the 2005 Act also introduced — for the first time — robust accountability arrangements and counter-balancing safeguards to protect personal data. These arrangements include a statutory complaints procedure overseen by a Judge of the Circuit Court, as well as a statutory oversight procedure overseen by a ‘designated judge', who must be a serving Judge of the High Court.

The designated judge's first annual report into the operation of Part 7, dated 20 March, 2007, as laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, found ‘that the provisions of the legislation are being maintained and in particular that the provisions of the Act of 2005 are not being used for routine Garda inquiries and investigations'.

Prisoner Transfers.

Martin Ferris

Question:

166 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received correspondence in relation to a person (details supplied); and the reason they were denied repatriation. [22511/07]

The person referred to by the Deputy has made four separate applications for transfer to a prison in this jurisdiction under the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, all of which have been refused after careful consideration. In refusing the person's latest application for transfer, I believed that, on balance, he had closer ties to the United Kingdom than to this jurisdiction. In particular, I was not satisfied that he would not normally be resident in this jurisdiction, were it not for his imprisonment. In addition, I was of the opinion that he does not have sufficient family support residing in this jurisdiction.

The Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons does not confer an automatic right on any prisoner to be transferred nor does it confer an obligation on any state to comply with a transfer request. This is clearly set out in the Explanatory Report to the Convention.

Garda Discipline Regulations.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

167 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the new draft Garda Discipline Regulations which he originally said would be introduced prior to the Dáil Éireann summer recess in 2006 regarding their consideration by the Garda Conciliation Council; when it is expected that the new regulations will be in operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22501/07]

The Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 214 of 2007) were signed on 2nd May 2007 following discussions at the Garda Conciliation Council and at numerous meetings under the auspices of that council involving the representative associations of the members of the Garda Síochána. The regulations became effective on 1st June 2007 and have been in full operation since that date.

Restorative Justice.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

168 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he supports the recommendations of the committee on restorative justice in its report of January 2007; and his proposals to implement those recommendations. [22420/07]

Following on from the publication of the report on restorative justice by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights in January 2007, the National Commission on Restorative Justice was established in March 2007.

Recommendation 5 of the Joint Oireachtas Committee suggested that a cross-sectoral working group should be created to develop a national strategy for restorative justice that is based on international best practice. The National Commission on Restorative Justice has been established on this basis, with a member of the judiciary appointed to chair the Commission on a full-time basis. The membership of the Commission includes representatives of An Garda Síochána, the Probation Service, the Courts Service, the Director of Public Prosecution's office and two independent members.

The terms of reference of the Commission are wide-ranging. They require the Commission to examine both national and international practice in the area, to consider the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee, to consider what model or models of restorative justice might be appropriate to Irish circumstances and to issue a final report on these and on other matters by the end of 2008. The Commission recently commenced its deliberations and I look forward to receiving an interim report in the coming months.

The restorative justice process seeks to address the fall-out from criminal behaviour by making the offenders more directly accountable for their actions and by giving a greater voice to victims of crime. This is an issue I have prioritised since taking up office and I await the Commission's deliberations with interest.

Garda Technical Bureau.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

169 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans for the upgrading of the Garda Technical Bureau; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22574/07]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that, in 2007, approximately €200,000 was expended on upgrading the premises at Garda HQ currently occupied by the Garda Technical Bureau. Future accommodation plans for the Garda Technical Bureau are linked to the Forensic Science Laboratory which is also based at Garda HQ and with which the Bureau works in close partnership.

Treatment of Prisoners.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

170 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in order to ensure full human rights compliance and to prevent further abuse and in view of the high cost to the taxpayer of Garda abuse recently highlighted in media reports, he will arrange for the regulations governing the treatment of persons in Garda custody to be reviewed and human rights proofed and updated. [22514/07]

The need to human rights proof Garda policies is fully accepted by Garda management and the organisation has been particularly proactive in that regard.

A Human Rights audit has been conducted and the findings of this audit and the associated action plan are currently being implemented under the supervision of the Strategic Human Rights Advisory Committee which is chaired by an Assistant Commissioner and includes a representative from the Irish Human Rights Commission.

In addition, the Garda Síochána are currently engaged in a pilot process with the Honorable Society of the Kings Inns to progress the Human Rights proofing of Garda policies and to develop relevant protocols.

In addition of course the new more streamlined Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 214 of 2007) became effective on 1st June 2007 and have been in full operation since that date.

Finally, the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 (Treatment of Persons in Custody Regulations) strongly affirm the human rights of detained persons and were most recently amended in 2006. As the Deputy may be aware, under the Criminal Justice Act 1984 regulations on the treatment of persons in custody in Garda stations must be approved in advance by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Garda Deployment.

Tom Hayes

Question:

171 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda stations in rural areas without a full-time Garda presence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22540/07]

The information requested in relation to the number of Garda Stations in rural areas without a full time Garda presence is not immediately available. I have requested it from the Garda Commissioner and I will provide it to the Deputy on receipt.

Illegal Immigrants.

John O'Mahony

Question:

172 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans he has to provide a permanent immigration unit at Ireland West Airport, Knock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22158/07]

Members of An Garda Siochana from Swinford Garda District are deployed on immigration duty at Ireland West Airport every day and local Garda Management has arrangements in place to ensure that Immigration Officers monitor all flights into the airport and the situation remains under constant review.

In deciding 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.

While local Garda management is satisfied that the immigration service being provided at present at Ireland West Airport is adequate to meet current demands, the establishment of a full-time immigration Unit at Ireland West Airport is also being considered by the Garda authorities.

Question No. 173 answered with QuestionNo. 111.
Question No. 174 answered with QuestionNo. 124.

Garda Investigations.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

175 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received the report he sought from the Garda authorities into the handling of a case (details supplied); the terms of reference of the inquiry he has asked to be carried out; when he expects to receive this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22490/07]

A report on the matter referred to by the Deputy was received by my Department from the Garda Síochána.

Following consideration of the report and submissions made by legal representatives of a person concerned, my predecessor as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform appointed a Senior Counsel to conduct an independent review and thorough examination of the Garda Síochána papers and any other available relevant material relating to the case and related complaints made, with a view to ascertaining the adequacy and completeness of the handling of the complaints and of the case.

Following his review, the Senior Counsel recently submitted his report. The report is currently under consideration and I expect to be in a position to make a statement about its findings in the near future.

Prison Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

176 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on concerns raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General regarding the continued high level of sick leave in the Prison Service; the steps being taken to deal with this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22507/07]

The Deputy will be aware that the Comptroller and Auditor General, whilst outlining his concerns about the level of sick leave in the Prison Service over the period 2002 -2006, has acknowledged that the figures provided by the Prison Service for January to April 2007 show an overall reduction of 10% in per capita sick leave days and that this would represent the first major reversal of the trend of recent years, if maintained. The most recent figures available to end of July 2007 show a reduction of 15.8% in per capita sick leave days compared with the same period last year confirming the downward trend. This is a very welcome development.

The Comptroller and Auditor General's report also acknowledged that any examination of sick leave, or indeed any other aspect of the management of the Prison Service over the period in question, must be seen in the context of the particular circumstances within which the Service was operating during the period under review. The period 2002-2006 was a time of major change with the negotiation and implementation of new working arrangements to replace overtime, and decentralisation of the Prison Service's headquarters initially to Clondalkin and later to Longford. These major organisational changes, which have been successfully rolled out, impacted on the capacity of the Prison Service to address the sick leave problem.

It must be borne in mind also that central to the new working arrangements negotiated with staff representatives is a unique system, based on the concept of annualised hours, which is designed to encourage smart working and to reduce absenteeism. The indications are that the new working arrangements, combined with other measures, are contributing to the downward trend in sick leave.

Alongside the introduction of the new working arrangements, a determined effort continues to be made to reduce sick leave through a range of initiatives and all of those efforts are reflected in the significant improvement in the level of sick leave in the first seven months of this year.

Work is ongoing in relation to improving the management of sick leave in a consistent manner across all prisons and reflecting best practice in this area. Governors are encouraged to pursue a policy of early intervention and to hold return to work interviews that ensure that the appropriate steps are taken whether through support or sanction.

As regards support, prison staff have access to psychological services. There is also support available for Officers through the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). In support of the EAP, a Chief Welfare Officer was appointed in April, 2007 and two Employee Welfare Officers will also be available to support and advise staff with difficulties arising inside or outside the workplace which may have an impact on their ability to provide regular effective service. The principal providers of the EAP services are a network of Staff Support Officers. Most prisons have Staff Support Officers and where there are vacancies these will be filled shortly.

The Prison Service is also committed to promoting a positive working environment which will assist in reducing absenteeism. One such initiative is the introduction in March, 2007 of a formal anti Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Bullying Policy for the Prison Service.

The Prison Service is also exploring with the Department of Finance and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer the possibility of establishing an Occupational Health facility dedicated to the particular occupational needs of prison staff.

Where sanction is appropriate, Officers are issued with warnings about their level of absences and if there is no significant improvement in their attendance level a number of measures are available, including the withdrawal of payment for sick leave or even dismissal where there is persistent absenteeism.

Whilst the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General did highlight concerns about the period 2002-2006, I am encouraged by the fact that there is a marked improvement in the level of sick leave in this current year. It is my view that with the support and cooperation of management and staff, the new working arrangements and initiatives outlined will continue to produce positive results for sick leave levels across the Prison Service.

National Drugs Strategy.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

177 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps being taken to reduce the supply of cocaine to Ireland in view of its increased usage and the recent report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which suggested that cocaine use is increasing at a higher rate in Ireland than in any other developed countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22495/07]

The Government is well aware of the increased prevalence of cocaine usage in Ireland in recent times and as the Deputy points out the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime Annual Drug Report 2007 identifies that the consumption of cocaine grew in Europe including in Ireland last year.

Of course the Government views with concern such global developments and any potential rise in the level of any illegal drugs being trafficked into this country. The drugs situation is dynamic and ever changing and we must ensure that our policies are flexible to meet those changes.

Since 2000 there has been a noticeable increase in both the number of seizures and the quantity of cocaine seized by the Garda authorities as demonstrated by the table below.

The precise availability and usage of cocaine in this country is difficult to determine with any degree of certainty, due to the hidden nature of all illegal drug usage including cocaine.

A joint research report on cocaine use by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and the National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST), was also recently published which identified the increased prevalence of cocaine usage in recent times in Ireland.

The Interdepartmental Drugs Group, chaired by my colleague Minister of State Pat Carey T.D., is currently liaising with the relevant Departments and Agencies in relation to the recommendations contained in the report.

Efforts to tackle the problem are broadly based to include measures aimed at both supply and demand reduction, including awareness initiatives. The new National Drug Awareness campaign which is currently being finalised under the remit of the HSE will be particularly concerned with, inter alia, dispelling any perceptions of cocaine as a safe recreational drug.

This increasing use of cocaine is, of course, a matter of concern and the Garda authorities have taken a number of measures to address the problem on the supply reduction side.

The Garda National Drugs Unit and local drugs units conduct intelligence-driven operations to target individuals suspected of involvement in the distribution of cocaine. Drug units and community policing personnel are engaged in intelligence gathering on individuals and groups suspected of involvement in the sale and distribution of the drug. There is also targeted patrolling by uniform and plain-clothes personnel of problem areas in order to detect and disrupt persons involved in such activity. The continuing high level of cocaine seizures by the Gardaí demonstrates the operational success of these strategies.

Finally, Ireland is one of the participants of the recently established Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (Narcotics) MAOC(N) in Lisbon, which has the specific objective of intercepting narcotic shipments, in particular cocaine, to the European Union from Latin America.

As well as having officers assigned to Interpol and Europol, An Garda Síochána also has Liaison Officers posted in London, The Hague, Paris and Madrid whose primary function is to liaise with the authorities in those and adjoining jurisdictions on drugs and other criminal matters.

I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána will continue to direct its drug law enforcement activities in a focused way through intelligence driven operations at national, regional, divisional and district level.

Cocaine seizures by An Garda Síochána 2000-2006

Year

Quantity

No. of Cases

Value

kgs

2006

190

1,324

13.3m

2005

229

968

16.030m

2004

167.3

753

11.711m

2003

107.4

566

7.518m

2002

31.7

429

2.219m

2001

5.3

300

371,000

2000

18

206

1.26m

Victims Commission.

Damien English

Question:

178 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the best way the perpetrators of crime might compensate their victims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22557/07]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

197 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will ensure that victims of crime are compensated for criminal wrongs committed against them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22561/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 197 together.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the question of how offenders might best compensate their victims is not a straightforward one. The Courts may on occasion make orders requiring that compensation be paid to a victim and a civil action for damages can also in principle be taken. The reality, however, is that it will rarely be straightforward to obtain financial redress in this fashion. It is in large part for this reason that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme exists. The Compensation Tribunal is in a position to provide compensation to victims of violent crime and has a budget of €4.388 million in 2007.

The Programme for Government contains a number of commitments in respect of advancing compensation arrangements for victims and it is my intention to pursue these undertakings following further study over the course of my term of office. These steps will be taken against the backdrop of a range of complementary measures to improve supports for the victims of crime. I should also mention that the National Commission for Restorative Justice, established earlier this year to consider the application of the concept of restorative justice in the Irish Criminal Justice System, is due to submit an interim report in the coming months and a final report in 2008. Its findings will also of course be of relevance in considering how best to deal with the aftermath of an offence.

Human Rights Issues.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

179 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the concern recently expressed by the president of the Irish Human Rights Commission, (details supplied) that the Gardaí were slow to introduce changes that would make the force fully compliant with its human rights obligations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22480/07]

The Irish Human Rights Commission Annual Report for 2006 greatly welcomed the developments happening with the Garda Síochána, such as the Garda Inspectorate and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission introduced as a result of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. It noted that the degree and quality of Garda Síochána communication on human rights matters has vastly improved. It acknowledged that the Garda Human Rights Action Plan has been widely published and in its view "this new level of transparency makes it much easier for bodies such as the IHRC to keep a watching brief".

Like the IHRC, the Commissioner and I both consider this to be the beginning of a process rather than an end result. The Commissioner has established a Strategic Human Rights Advisory Committee (SHRAC) chaired by an Assistant Commissioner to implement the findings of the Garda Síochána commissioned Human Rights Audit and the Human Rights Action Plan.

It is worth noting that the Irish Human Rights Commission are represented on the Committee and in its 2006 report the IHRC acknowledged that it was pleased to participate on this Committee.

Commemorative Events.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

180 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to mark European Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22508/07]

The Council of Europe has recently decided to declare 10 October to be ‘‘European Day against the Death Penalty". This is a development Ireland has supported and we will continue to work to achieve the abolition of capital punishment internationally.

In that regard, I believe it is very encouraging that all of the Member States of the Council of Europe have either abolished the death penalty or imposed a moratorium on executions.

Illegal Immigrants.

Ulick Burke

Question:

181 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps that have been taken by his Department to reduce the incidence of human trafficking through Irish ports in view of recent revelations which highlighted the absence of appropriate legislation here to tackle human trafficking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22534/07]

An Garda Síochána has put in place a number of initiatives designed to prevent and detect a range of criminal activity, including human trafficking, at the frontiers of the State. Robust immigration controls have been adopted at ports of entry to the State, two of which, Operations ‘Gull' and ‘Sonnett', were commenced to target criminality which has a cross-border dimension. Both operations have uncovered suspected cases of trafficking of persons and smuggling of illegal immigrants.

Ireland participates in the activities of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX). Among the objectives of such activity, is the disruption of the flow of trafficked persons.

The Garda National Immigration Bureau Information System (GNIB IS) provides access to databases of information which have the capacity to identify persons who have a criminal intent as they attempt to enter the State. Access to an Interpol database of stolen/forged travel documents has resulted in the detection of persons in possession of stolen passports and who are suspected of involvement in trafficking and/or smuggling of people into the State.

The Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) has appointed a number of Airline Liaison Officers (ALOs) who are deployed as appropriately to airports in EU Member States that have been identified as convenient departure points for travel to Ireland and which are suspected of being utilised by criminals involved in the smuggling of immigrants and trafficking of human beings.

The provisions of the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act, 2000 are enforced by Immigration Officers operating at ports of entry. The following cases are recent examples of this enforcement.

On 26 July 2007, at Dublin Circuit Court, a person was convicted of twelve (12) counts of trafficking of illegal immigrants contrary to the provisions of section 2 of the Act involving the arrival of twelve Mauritian nationals in the State, through Dublin Airport. A four year custodial sentence was imposed in that case.

On 30 August 2007, at Dublin District Court, an Egyptian national was also convicted of a breach of the provisions of section 2 of the Act and had a twelve month term of imprisonment imposed on him, in a case involving the arrival of six Egyptian nationals in the State, through Dublin Airport. The sentence was suspended following the Judge being satisfied that his departure from the State to Egypt had been confirmed.

Operation ‘Pentameter 2' which is being launched with the UK Authorities continues to recognise the vulnerability of the Common Travel Area (CTA) to abuse by persons engaged in illegal immigration and is targeting those suspected of involvement in the trafficking of human beings, as well as liaising with those persons directly affected by this type of criminality.

I can assure the Deputy that the Government is not complacent on the issue of human trafficking into Ireland or into other jurisdictions via Ireland. Legislation creating an offence of recruiting, transporting, transferring to another person, harbouring or knowingly arranging or facilitating the entry into, travel within or departure from the State of a person for the specific purpose of the trafficked person's sexual or labour exploitation or removal of his or her organs will be published shortly.

In addition, it is intended that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill will, subject to enactment, provide the necessary framework for addressing the immigration aspects of trafficking so as to comply with the relevant protection provisions in the Council of Europe Convention.

In particular, in the context of the treatment of victims, it is intended that a framework will be put in place whereby a victim of trafficking can 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 to enable him or her to do so.

The legislation will be the first in a series of measures to be rolled out over the next year and I intend to make a further public announcement in relation to the issue of human trafficking later on this week.

Commissions of Investigation.

Jack Wall

Question:

182 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received the report of a person (details supplied); the main findings of the report; if he has not received the report, when he expects to do so; the reason for the delay in completing the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22500/07]

I wish to advise the House that the report in question relates to an inquiry by Mr Michael Mellett into the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Mr Gary Douch while in custody in Mountjoy Prison. The report was submitted to my predecessor in March, 2007 and was carried out in a totally independent manner.

As with the case of all deaths in custody, the Garda Síochána were called to Mountjoy Prison and initiated a criminal investigation into the death of Gary Douch. A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions and as a result an individual has been charged with causing the death of Gary Douch. The progressing of those criminal proceedings is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the judicial arm of the State. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has no role in those proceedings but does have a duty not to do anything or reveal any information that might prejudice those criminal proceedings. Although it was the original intention to publish the report of Mr Mellett, the strong advice from the Attorney General was to the effect that the report should not be published.

In general terms I can say that Mr Mellett in his report identified a number of systems failures within the prisons system which may have contributed to the death of Mr Douch. The findings of the Report have serious implications for the future management of our prisons and the Government took the view that a full statutory Commission of Investigation was required to address the matter.

Following the passing of resolutions in both Houses of the Oireachtas and the making of a Government Order, my predecessor appointed Ms Gráinne McMorrow, Senior Counsel, as the sole member of a Commission of Investigation into the death of Mr Douch. The report of a commission of investigation must, pursuant to section 38 of the Commission of Investigations Act 2004, be published as soon as possible after it has been received unless a court directs otherwise.

Equality Issues.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

183 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to ensure full gender pay equality; the reasons his work on this matter to date has failed; the action he is taking within his Department and its agencies to ensure that full gender pay equality exists; if independent surveys have been undertaken of his Department or its agencies on this subject; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18606/07]

Latest data show a very significant decrease in the gender pay gap in Ireland in recent years with a gap of 11 per cent in 2004 and 9 per cent in 2005. These figures compare favourably with a gender pay gap of 22 per cent in Ireland only five years earlier and indicate that steady progress is being made towards the abolition of the gender pay gap.

However, as these are new data series, gathered by Eurostat as part of its annual review of social indicators, they are subject to ongoing quality review and must therefore be treated with some caution at this stage. In addition, the Eurostat calculations exclude part time workers who work fewer than 15 hours per week, a group more likely to comprise lower paid women workers and as a result, the data may be distorted.

Despite these reservations, it is considered that the introduction of the National Minimum Wage would probably have impacted very positively on women's earning capacity and on the narrowing of the gender pay gap. Prior to the introduction of the minimum wage, women were traditionally more likely to receive very low wages, particularly if they were working in the sectors which were predominantly female.

While the narrowing of the gender pay gap cannot be attributed solely to the introduction of the National Minimum Wage, the narrowing is noteworthy. Other positive influences on the narrowing of the gender pay gap include an improvement in maternity leave provision and a much-increased provision of childcare.

However, as the gender pay gap shows, women still earn less than men on average and there are variations in the pay of male and female employees in many economic sectors. It is widely considered that the single biggest factor behind the gender pay gap is the time which women take out of the labour force for child bearing and caring but there are a number of other factors. These include occupational segregation, educational and training differences, promotion policies within firms, availability of childcare, availability of maternity and parental leave and of family-friendly work practices.

Addressing the gender pay gap continues to require a multi-faceted approach across a number of areas. The recently published National Women's Strategy 2007-2016 has put in place a suite of key actions designed to reduce the gender pay gap which will be delivered on a cross departmental basis.

In tandem with these specific actions there are a number of other actions across the Strategy which encompass the broad spectrum of women's lives in relation to socio economic opportunity, the wellbeing of women and engaging women as equal and active citizens which will also contribute to the reduction of the gender pay gap in the coming years. No single survey has been carried out by my Department or its agencies on the subject of the gender pay gap.

Crime Levels.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

184 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on Central Statistics Office crime statistics for the second quarter of 2007 published on 20 July 2007; his further views on the continuing high level of crime and anti-social behaviour; the steps he will take to deal with this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22478/07]

The latest figures available from the Central Statistics Office, which now has responsibility for compiling crime statistics, cover the 12 month period ending 30 June 2007. They show a drop in headline crime of just over 1% on the previous 12 months. The number of murders and cases of manslaughter have remained stable, with an increase of two in the number of murders and an increase of one in the number of manslaughter cases.

I was pleased to note that the detections of persons in possession of drugs for sale or supply increased by 29% in the year and 25% in the quarter. While these detections add to the crime figures, they reflect vigorous enforcement by An Garda Síochána, including through Operation Anvil. I was also pleased to note the decrease in the high volume crimes of theft by 1.2%, burglary by 12.5 % and robbery by 7.3%.

The 12.5% decrease in traffic fatalities can be attributed to the continuing high levels of road traffic law enforcement by the Garda Síochána, particularly the use of mandatory alcohol testing, which commenced in July of last year and has made a significant contribution to this decrease.

Garda figures show a detection rate of 40% for 2006 which compares favourably with rates internationally and with rates here of 36% in 2003 and 35% in 2004 and 2005. The crime rates must, of course, be seen against the background of the rises taking place in population. The crime rate per 1,000 of population dropped from 26 in 2003 to 24.5 in 2006.

While the figures are encouraging, I am not suggesting that these crime rates are acceptable. It is right that we acknowledge the achievements of the Garda Síochána and the other criminal justice agencies, which week in, week out bring individuals to justice for their crimes.

I have discussed these figures with the Garda Commissioner, particularly the increase of 3.2% in the second quarter of 2007 compared to the second quarter last year. He has advised me that the Garda authorities are undertaking a number of specific targeted operations directed against particular types of crime in areas where increases have taken place.

In relation to anti-social behaviour, I have the power under the Garda Síochána Act to set policing priorities for the Garda Síochána. I am in the course of determining these priorities for 2008. One of the areas I intend to prioritise is the combating, particularly in cooperation with other agencies and the community generally, of the problems of public disorder with particular emphasis on alcohol related behaviour (including under age drinking) and socially disadvantaged communities especially through utilization of the legal mechanisms being made available viz. ASBOs and behaviour warnings and closure orders.

Prison Accommodation.

David Stanton

Question:

185 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 144 of 24 April 2007, the progress in relation to the development of a prison at Kilworth, County Cork; if the preliminary studies have been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22569/07]

The Government decided earlier this year to assign a site owned by the Minister of Defence to the Prison Service as the location for the development of a prison facility to replace Cork Prison and serve the Munster region.

A preliminary site suitability report has been carried out on the site and this has confirmed that there are no significant constraints to the development of this site.

I can confirm also that the Prison Service Interim Board, in accordance with the Department of Finance Guidelines, has recently approved a preliminary Business Case for this project and has forwarded it to my Department for consideration.

Question No. 186 answered with QuestionNo. 137.

Departmental Agencies.

Seán Barrett

Question:

187 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will postpone further development of the COSC Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to address the serious concerns of the Irish Violence against Women non-governmental sector in relation to COSC’s limited remit; if it is proposed to address all forms of violence against women in an integrated and cohesive way, focusing on the three key elements of protection, provision and prevention, as required by the 1995 UN Beijing Platform for Action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22154/07]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos. 212 and 213 of Thursday, 28 June 2007.

Cosc — The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence was established on 25 June 2007. I am aware that some concern was expressed about the remit of the newly established Cosc office. I would like to reiterate that as announced on 18 April, 2007 and on several occasions since that date, the remit of the office very emphatically includes violence against women. The wider remit of the office covers (i) domestic and sexual violence against women, (ii) domestic and sexual violence against men and (iii) elder abuse. The State/Non-governmental structures already in place to deal with violence against women will continue and will be strongly supported by the new office. Prior to the establishment of the Cosc, responsibility for this area within my Department was assigned to Divisions with a wide number of other responsibilities. The appointment of the Executive Director to Cosc, raises the profile and the focus on this work within my Department. Responsibility for this area was further dispersed across a number of Government Departments and agencies. For the first time there is now in prospect a dedicated, resourced office at Government level, with the key responsibility to ensure the delivery of a well co-ordinated "whole of Government" response to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

Cosc is to collaborate closely with the service providers who support victims and treat perpetrators. It has already begun work to achieve its tasks, which are: to work with Government Departments, Agencies and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the sector to ensure the delivery of a well co-ordinated service to support victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence; to develop and deliver awareness raising strategies to ensure that victims are aware of the availability of services in their locality and that society is made aware of the extent and impact of behaviours and crimes of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence; to develop strategies to address the issues of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in line with best international practice; to further develop standards for service delivery and for training programmes which address domestic, sexual and gender-based violence; to put in place strategically based positive actions which work with perpetrators of domestic violence; to provide leadership and support to the National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women (NSC) and its sub-committees; to continue to implement the recommendations of the 1997 Task Force on Violence against Women; to consider and where relevant facilitate the implementation of internationally established best practice throughout the sector; to work with the National Crime Council and external bodies as appropriate to establish a body of research to inform future policy directions for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence; to represent Ireland at international fora which have a remit in relation to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

I am happy to inform the Deputy that the Secretary General and some officials of my Department met with representatives of the non-governmental organisations working in the Violence Against Women sector in June and discussed their concerns. The recently appointed head of Cosc participated in that meeting. Since then she has met with many of the State and non-governmental organisations on a bilateral basis, in addition to chairing the two quarterly meetings of the National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women (NSC) where she provided further clarity in relation to the remit of Cosc. I am informed that all of these meetings were held in a positive and collaborative atmosphere and that a good foundation has been laid for work into the future.

I would assure the Deputy, unequivocally, that the establishment of Cosc is to ensure the delivery of a well co-ordinated "whole of Government" response to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence which includes the key features — protection, provision and prevention.

Garda Disciplinary Proceedings.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

188 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount paid out either in respect of court awards or out of court settlements for claims taken against members of the Gardaí in respect of assault, unlawful arrest, or other breach of a citizens right in respect of each year since 2002 to date in 2007; the number of cases in which awards were made by the Courts; the number of cases which were settled out of court; the number of such cases pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22503/07]

The information requested by the Deputy concerning the amounts paid out in Court awards and out of court settlements in relation to actions taken against members of An Garda Síochána in respect of assault, unlawful arrest or other breaches of citizens' rights is set out in the table below.

Claims by Civilians following actions by Gardaí in the performance of their duties

Year

Total Amount

Assault

Unlawful Arrest

Other

2002

1,240,388.40

Awards

1,270 (1)

3,809.21 (1)

56,500 (2)

Settlements

166,924.48 (6)

106,835.58 (10)

185,078.82 (11)

Costs

230,769.67

148,714.19

340,486.45

Total

398,964.15

259,358.98

582,065.27

2003

1,276,127.55

Awards

11,000 (1)

10,000 (2)

4,870 (2)

Settlements

75,000 (4)

303,011 (5)

112,814.84 (4)

Costs

145,561.70

71,794.28

542,075.73

Total

231,561.70

384,805.28

659,760.57

2004

938,799.09

Awards

15,000 (1)

3,215.06 (1)

Settlements

198,697.48 (5)

73,007 (5)

50,500 (3)

Costs

231,646.62

100,019.36

266,713.57

Total

445,344.10

173,026.36

320,428.63

2005

4,870,233.53

Awards

1,000.00 (1)

2,025,321.00 (3)

85,125.00 (2)

Settlements

130,250.00 (7)

1,569,114.00 (9)

58,000 (2)

Costs

137,447.90 (10)

658,508.78 (10)

205,466.85 (15)

Total

268,697.90

4,252,943.78

348,591.85

2006

1,951,984.9*

Awards

18,076.32 (1)

41,443.80 (3)

Settlements

386,200.00 (17)

622,000 (15)

606,500.00 (8)

Costs

187,797.28 (11)

60,983.61 (10)

28,983.93 (3)

Total

592,073.60

724,427.41

635,483.93

2007 as at 30/09/07

5,816,184.80*

Awards

72,500.00 (1)

2,771,000.00 (2)

Settlements

180,500.00 (5)

27,500.00 (3)

1,165,000.00 (6)

Costs

443,249.90 (9)

584,788.08 (7)

571,646.90 (19)

Total

696,249.90

612,288.08

4,507,646.90

*Provisional

The number of cases settled / or awards by the Courts are shown in brackets.

As of today there are approximately 1030 cases on hand. It is not possible to give a definitive detailed breakdown of the types of cases as requested by the Deputy within the time available. However, based on a representative sample of cases, the breakdown is assault (33%), unlawful arrest (21%) and other (46%).

Witness Intimidation.

Alan Shatter

Question:

189 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the changes he considers appropriate for the witness protection programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22562/07]

The Witness Security Programme was established in 1997 under the direct operational control and administration of the Garda Commissioner in response to attempts by criminal and other groups to prevent the normal functioning of the criminal justice system, including threats of violence and systematic intimidation of witnesses.

The Programme has been demonstrably successful and it has withstood legal challenge in both the Court of the Criminal Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, in response to some criticisms, the Garda Commissioner appointed an Assistant Commissioner to review the Programme in its entirety. This review was substantively completed in 2005, and enhancements to the Programme's administration and operation have since been implemented by the Garda Síochána. For obvious reasons, it is not the practice to comment upon the details of operating the Programme.

I am aware of suggestions which have been made that the Witness Security Programme should be placed on a statutory basis. The Garda Commissioner has informed me that he would not favour this approach, and I have no plans in that regard. It seems clear, in particular, that placing the Programme on a statutory basis would have no effect whatsoever on the willingness or otherwise of people to enter the Programme.

Garda Stations.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

190 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on the fitness of accommodation at all Garda locations including plans in place to renovate or replace all stations where conditions are unacceptable. [22516/07]

There is a significant ongoing programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda stations and other Garda accommodation around the country. The Garda Building Programme is based on agreed priorities which are established by An Garda Síochána. The programme is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close co-operation with the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda stations and other accommodation.

Approximately €37 million a year from 2005 to this year has been spent on a wide range of Garda building projects. Building projects for new stations in Bantry, Ballyshannon, Roscrea, New Ross, Ballina and Oranmore, among others, have been completed. In addition, a major building programme was completed in the Garda College in Templemore and a 252 acre site outside Templemore has been purchased for the development of a new tactical training centre for An Garda Síochána.

In addition to the capital funding outlined above, a total of €8.36 million is provided for maintenance of existing stations under the Garda Vote Estimate for 2007 — an increase of €2.1 million on last year's allocation.

Major funding of the Garda Building Programme will continue with €260 million allocated for the refurbishment of Garda stations under the National Development Plan. The Garda authorities under the new civilian accommodation manager are working on the development of a strategic multi-annual development plan as recommended in the recent report from the Garda Inspectorate.

Question No. 191 answered with QuestionNo. 133.

Decentralisation Programme.

John Perry

Question:

192 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of staff from his Department who have been decentralised to locations outside Dublin to date; the cost to the Exchequer to date of his Department’s decentralisation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22544/07]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department's Decentralisation Programme is firmly on target. Under the Programme, over 900 posts from my Department and its agencies are scheduled to relocate to seven provincial locations. To date, over 400 assignments have been made and it is anticipated that close to 500 posts will have moved out of Dublin by the end of this year. With over two years of the programme yet to run, we will have a presence in all seven locations by the end of 2007 and this represents more than 50% of the overall number of posts scheduled to move.

As the Deputy will be aware, the costs in respect of property solutions under decentralisation are primarily a matter for the Office of Public Works and these costs account for the bulk of the expenditure. The non-property costs incurred by my Department up until the middle of this year, in areas such as IT, office equipment and training, amounted to just over €1 million.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

193 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when it is intended to reconstitute the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22553/07]

Martin Ferris

Question:

439 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will appoint a new board to constitute the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22302/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 193 and 439 together.

I can inform the Deputies that I have recently appointed a new Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal for the period ending 30 April 2010. The membership of the new tribunal is as follows: Ms. Sinéad Behan, BL (Chairperson); Mr. Conor Bowman, BL; Ms. Fiona Gallagher, BL; Mr. Michael Gilvarry, BL; Ms. Rosemary Healy Rae, BL; Mr. Eamon Murray, Solicitor; Mr. Micheál D. O'Connell, BL.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Denis Naughten

Question:

194 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps which he will take to address the issue of anti-social behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22157/07]

Strong provisions are already in place to combat anti-social behaviour. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 modernised the law in this regard. The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 contains provisions to deal with alcohol abuse and its effect on public order. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 provides the Garda with powers to deal with late night street violence and anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking.

In addition to the criminal law, there is a range of initiatives in place to get at the root causes of this type of behaviour. The Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme has proven to be highly successful in diverting young persons away from crime by offering guidance and support to juveniles and their families. It operates on a nationwide basis under the supervision and direction of the Garda National Juvenile Office. The Programme provides that, in certain circumstances, a juvenile under 18 years of age, who freely accepts responsibility for a criminal incident, may be cautioned as an alternative to prosecution. In the more serious cases, juveniles are placed under the supervision of Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers, who are responsible for administering the Programme at the local level. It has proven to be highly successful in diverting young people away from crime by offering guidance and support to juveniles and their families. The Children Act, 2001 gives a statutory basis to the Programme.

Garda Youth Diversion Projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people from becoming involved, or further involved, in anti-social or criminal behaviour. By doing so, the projects also contribute to improving the quality of life within communities and enhancing Garda/community relations. The Government is committed to doubling the number of projects to 168. I recently approved the establishment of an additional 12 projects, bringing the current total to 93 throughout the country. I hope to establish a further seven projects before the end of 2007, bringing the total number of projects to 100 nationwide.

More broadly, a number of reforms have taken place in recent years to bring about a more effective youth justice system and these have been enshrined in legislation in the Children Act 2001, as amended. The Act is based on the principles of diversion from crime and anti-social behaviour, restorative justice, the expanded use of community-based sanctions and measures by the courts, and the use of detention only as a last resort.

Recent measures have reformed our entire approach to youth justice. The Irish youth justice service, an executive office of my Department which is co-located in the Office of the Minister for Children, now has responsibility for developing youth justice policy and operating the children detention schools.

Ultimately, offenders have to pay a price for engaging in anti-social behaviour. I have therefore asked my Department to look at the question of what the Programme for Government refers to as community payback. This involves those who have transgressed providing real services for the communities they have damaged. It is the case that community service orders already mean some offenders make reparation to society generally, but I now want to examine the possibility of making a more direct connection between the offence and reparation to the community against whom the offence has been committed.

CCTV schemes are a strong deterrent in fighting crime and anti-social behaviour as well as giving communities greater peace of mind. Both Garda operated and community based CCTV schemes have been set up, and such schemes will continue to be set up.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides for the establishment of a joint policing committee in each local authority administrative area. The purpose of these committees is to provide a forum where members of a local authority and the senior Garda officers responsible for the policing of that area, with the participation of Oireachtas members and community interests, can consult, discuss and make recommendations on matters affecting the policing of the area including the levels and patterns of anti-social behaviour such as the misuse of alcohol and drugs.

Twenty nine committees are now operating on a pilot basis. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, and I are examining what lessons can be learned from the operation of the pilot committees, and we intend to have committees up and running in all local authority areas as early as possible in 2008.

Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006, which provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults, was commenced on 1 January, 2007. Part 13 of the Act relating to anti-social behaviour by children was commenced on 1 March, 2007. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by adults and children.

Under the Garda Síochána Act it is open to me to set policing priorities for the Garda Síochána. I am in the course of determining these priorities for 2008. One of the priorities I intend to set for the Garda Síochána is to combat, particularly in cooperation with other agencies and the community generally, the problems of public disorder with particular emphasis on alcohol related behaviour (including under age drinking) and socially disadvantaged communities especially through utilisation of the legal mechanisms being made available, viz. ASBOs and behaviour warnings and closure orders.

Inspector of Prisons.

Michael Creed

Question:

195 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress that has been made in appointing a new Inspector of Prisons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22547/07]

The appointment of a new Inspector of Prisons is under active consideration and an announcement will be made in due course.

Parental Rights.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

196 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he will take to recognise the rights of unmarried fathers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21087/07]

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

449 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to deal with the position of unmarried fathers following the recent Judge McKechnie judgement. [22430/07]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 196 and 449 together.

Existing legislation already makes extensive provision for unmarried fathers with respect to their children. Under the law as it stands — section 6A of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, as inserted by section 12 of the Status of Children Act 1987 — an unmarried father may apply to the court to be appointed a guardian of his child. Alternatively, where there is agreement between the parents, they can make a statutory declaration under section 2(4) of the Guardianship of Infants Act, as inserted by section 4 of the Children Act 1997, conferring on the father the status of guardian.

Under section 11 of the 1964 Act, a guardian may apply to the court for its direction on any question affecting the welfare of the child. Examples of such proceedings are applications for custody and access orders. In making such orders and, in determining whether an unmarried father should be appointed guardian, the court has to regard the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration. Where appropriate and practicable, the Court in making any order takes into account the child's wishes in the matter having regard to the age and understanding of the child. In considering whether to make an order under section 6A or 11 the court is directed — under provision in the Act of 1997 — to have regard to whether the child's best interests would be served by maintaining personal relations and direct contact with both his or her father and mother on a regular basis.

The Act of 1964 (by way of amendment in the Act of 1997) encourages parties to a dispute in relation to a child to agree on the custody or guardianship of or access to a child. Prior to institution of proceedings the legal representatives of the parties must discuss with them the possibility of agreement. The Court may adjourn any proceedings to assist agreement between the parties.

These legislative provisions are extensive. They permit the court in cases of disagreement to decide on arrangements for the child's care and upbringing having regard to the child's best interests. The courts have consistently recognised the wide variety of situations of unmarried fathers and have necessarily determined the question of their constitutional rights on a case by case basis. The judgement in the recent G. case reaffirmed this position.

I am aware of the concerns of unmarried fathers regarding guardianship, custody and access rights and the issue of enforcement of these rights. Operation of the law in this whole area is being kept under review in my Department.

Question No. 197 answered with QuestionNo. 178.
Question No. 198 answered with QuestionNo. 133.

Tuberculosis Incidence.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

199 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the number of deer on the Office of Public Works lands; the number being culled; the number of deer being tested for tuberculosis and the results of the testing programme; and the measures in place to minimise or prevent road accidents as a result of deer crossing the road. [22413/07]

The Office of Public Works manages two sites with wild deer herds, Doneraile Park in County Cork and the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

The wild deer herd at Doneraile currently consists of 172 animals. The last cull was carried out two years ago. An average cull would consist of about 30 animals. The question of traffic accidents involving deer is not an issue in Doneraile Park. Tuberculosis has not been identified as a problem at Doneraile.

The wild deer herd in the Phoenix Park currently consists of 570 animals. Culling is carried out annually in close consultation with the UCD School of Biological and Environmental Science, with the objective of maintaining the herd at a reasonable level from the viewpoints of both the herd and the Park environment. An average cull would consist of about 60 animals. A number of measures have been taken to reduce the risk of traffic accidents involving deer, including warning signs on the roads to indicate the presence of deer and the closure of minor roads. A study carried out on 150 deer carcasses from the Phoenix Park at the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Abbotstown, over the past four years has revealed no trace of tuberculosis in any of the animals. These results tend to suggest that no significant problem exists with tuberculosis in this deer herd.

Tax Collection.

Richard Bruton

Question:

200 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the tax paid on air trips is not refunded in the event of cancellation; if he will state what happens to this revenue; and if he has approved the non-refund policy operated by airlines. [22520/07]

Since the £5 travel tax was abolished in Budget 2000 there have been no Irish Government taxes levied on flights into, out of or within Ireland.

Vehicle Registration.

Joe McHugh

Question:

201 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he will explain the mechanism involved in re-registering cars bought in Northern Ireland, outlining the cost and time frame involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22732/07]

The Revenue Commissioners are the vehicle registration authority in the State.

Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) may be payable on the importation of a vehicle from Northern Ireland into the State. As a general rule all vehicles imported permanently into the State from Northern Ireland or elsewhere must register for VRT purposes at any vehicle registration office within one week of their arrival in the State.

VRT is charged on the open market selling price (OMSP) of a vehicle in the State on registration and is defined in Section 133 of the Finance Act 1992 as the price inclusive of all taxes and duties which a vehicle may reasonably be expected to fetch on a first arm's length sale in the open market in the State by retail. The OMSP of new vehicles is declared to the Revenue Commissioners by a wholesale distributor, while the OMSP of imported second hand vehicles is determined by the Revenue Commissioners based on factors such as age, mileage and vehicle condition.

Cars such as saloons, estates, hatchbacks, minibuses, etc. with less than 12 permanently fitted passenger seats are classified as Category A vehicles for VRT purposes and as such are charged VRT based on the engine size of the car using the following calculation: less than 1400cc @ 22.5% of OMSP; from 1401 to 1900cc @ 25% of OMSP; 1901cc and over @ 30% of OMSP; subject to a minimum payment of €315.00. Car-derived vans and crew cabs of less than 3,500 kg gross vehicle weight are charged at 13.3% of OMSP, while commercial and agricultural vehicles pay a flat rate of €50.00 regardless of OMSP.

The Deputy may wish to note that VAT is chargeable at the rate of 21% of the invoice price and is payable by a private individual at the time of registration for VRT purposes on all new cars brought into the State. For VAT purposes, a new car is one which is less than six months old or which has travelled less than 6,000 kilometres.

Regarding the cost of administration, the Revenue Commissioners take an integrated cross-taxhead approach to the collection of taxes. Consequently the cost of collecting VRT on the registration of vehicles sourced solely in Northern Ireland is not readily available. However, the total cost of administration of all taxes as a percentage of gross tax receipts for 2006 was 0.77%.

The total VRT yield was almost €1.3 billion in 2006. During 2006, the last full year for which figures are available, 11,236 second hand vehicles were imported from Northern Ireland, providing a VRT yield of €25.7 million.

Departmental Properties.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

202 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the properties owned by the Office of Public Works in Dublin 15; if he has plans to sell or lease these properties or to change their current use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22262/07]

The properties in the ownership of the Commissioner of Public Works/Minister for Finance in Dublin 15 are scheduled in the table below.

Property Code

Name

Address

Comment

P4241

Blanchardstown former Garda Station and Telephone Exchange

Main Street, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

This property is being looked at with a view to future use by the Garda Authorities

P4693

Blanchardstown Garda Station

Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Operational Garda Station

P8017

Farmleigh Estate

Castleknock, Dublin 15

Currently utilised by the State

P8140

17A/17B Main Street, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

This building has been allocated to the Department of Transport for use as a Driving Test Centre. A planning application has recently been lodged with the local Planning Authority.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

203 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he still intends the Office of Public Works to use the former AIB building in Main Street, Blanchardstown as a driving test centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22263/07]

The building referred to has been allocated to the Department of Transport for use as a Driving Test Centre. A planning application has recently been lodged with the local Planning Authority.

Tax Code.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

204 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance his plans to review the rent a room scheme particularly where it relates to directly related individuals such as siblings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22274/07]

I have no plans to review the rent-a-room scheme in the way suggested by the Deputy.

The position is that section 14 of Finance Act 2007 amended section 216A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, which exempts from income tax, income received from the letting of rooms in a person's private residence provided the income does not exceed €7,620 per annum. The amendment provided that the exemption does not apply where a child pays the rent to a parent. However, the amendment made no change to the manner in which the exemption applies to any other directly related individuals, who may avail of the rent-a-room scheme as before.

Higher Education Grants.

Jack Wall

Question:

205 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners will supply a P21 form to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22303/07]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no record of receiving a request from the taxpayer for a form P21. Following the Deputy's request a review has been processed for 2006 and a form P21 issued to the taxpayer on 4 October 2007.

Decentralisation Programme.

Michael Ring

Question:

206 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the position in relation to the decentralisation of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to County Mayo; if a site has been selected; and when a planning application will be submitted for the new headquarters of the Department. [21167/07]

The Commissioners of Public Works have received a number of proposals offering potentially suitable sites for the new Headquarters of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in Charlestown, County Mayo. These proposals are currently being technically assessed. When this process is completed, negotiations will commence with the owners of the preferred site options.

When a suitable site has been acquired, tenders will be invited from interested parties to build the new Department Headquarters. It will be a matter for the successful tenderer to apply for planning permission at that stage.

Budget Submissions.

Jack Wall

Question:

207 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance his views in regard to a submission (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22388/07]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

213 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance his proposals to provide increased funding for eating disorders in Budget 2008 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22627/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 and 213 together.

I have received a number of submissions on behalf of this group. I will keep the Deputies' representations in mind in the context of the forthcoming budget.

National Lottery.

Finian McGrath

Question:

208 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if there is evidence to back up allegations regarding the National Lottery (details supplied). [22404/07]

The National Lottery Company has informed me that it has received no allegations of the kind referred to by the Deputy. The Company has also informed me that should any allegations be made to it, they would be thoroughly investigated and, if sustained, appropriate action would be taken.

Disabled Drivers.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

209 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the position regarding an appeal under the disabled drivers and passengers tax concession scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22422/07]

The initial application for a Primary Medical Certificate under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994, is made to the Senior Medical Officer of the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area.

If the Primary Medical Certificate has been refused in this case, the named person may appeal the refusal to the Medical Board of Appeal, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin. I would point out that the medical Board of Appeal is independent in the exercise of its functions.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

210 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the position regarding an application for the disabled drivers and passengers tax concession scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22423/07]

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

A claim under the above regulations can only be considered by the Revenue Commissioners from a person who has qualified for a Primary Medical Certificate which is issued by the Senior Area Medical Officer of their local Health Service Executive administrative area.

If the Primary Medical Certificate has been refused in this case, the named person may appeal the refusal to the Medical Board of Appeal, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin.

Decentralisation Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the expected timeframe for the planning process to be completed and contracts signed for the site on foot of the decentralisation programme for the Department of Defence to Newbridge County Kildare; when building work is expected to commence and the targeted completion date; if the Office of Public Works will source rented accommodation or other suitable temporary accommodation for the staff in question; if ongoing delays continue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22524/07]

The Commissioners of Public Works have agreed terms to purchase a site comprising 1.76 hectares/4.5 acres at Station Road, Newbridge from Kildare County Council. The terms agreed were approved by Kildare County Council in January 07. The site is currently being used as a soccer pitch by a local sports club. The Commissioners will shortly complete the planning process which has been conducted under Part 9 of the Planning and Development Regulations, 2001.

The Contract for Sale will be executed by the Commissioners as soon as a number of related issues are resolved. The key issue is obtaining vacant possession of the site. In this regard, the Commissioners have been informed recently by Kildare County Council that it is likely to be early in the new year before the site will be vacated by the soccer club.

Another issue is the provision of a footbridge to provide safe pedestrian access to the railway station and Newbridge town. The Commissioners are awaiting confirmation as to when a planning application for the construction of the bridge will be lodged by a private developer with Kildare County Council.

As soon as the Commissioners are given a firm date for vacant possession of the site, and are satisfied that the construction of the footbridge will proceed, the Contract for Sale will be completed and the construction of the new headquarters building for the Department of Defence will commence. It is expected that the building will be ready for occupation approximately 18 months after the commencement date.

The Commissioners are satisfied that all of the issues related to the site purchase and adjoining developments in the Station Road area are very close to being resolved. In the circumstances, the Commissioners have not been requested to provide temporary accommodation in Newbridge pending completion of the permanent headquarters building.

Cross-Border Projects.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

212 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he will report on the work of the North-South unit in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22598/07]

There is a North/South dimension to the work of a number of areas in my Department. The lead North-South section in my Department is mainly involved in the process of agreeing corporate plans, business plans and annual budgets for the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), one of the North/South Bodies established under the Good Friday Agreement. In co-operation with sponsor Departments, it is also involved in agreeing guidance for the bodies on various matters such as proper financial procedures. This work involves regular attendance at joint North/South meetings and liaison at official level with the administration in Northern Ireland. For example, the recent plenary meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) which took place at Armagh in July.

My Department actively assists cross border co-operation through supporting the SEUPB in its role as managing authority to two EU funded cross-Border programmes. The SEUPB is one of six North-South Implementation Bodies set up under Strand II of the Good Friday Agreement. It operates under the political direction of the North South Ministerial Council. The operating costs are met by my Department (50%) and the Department of Finance and Personnel, Northern Ireland (50%).

The two North-South EU programmes for the period 2000-2006 are PEACE II and INTERREG IIIA. Successor programmes for the period 2007-2013 were successfully negotiated by the two member states and will, pending EU Commission approval, commence before the end of 2007.

The aim of the unique EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation is to promote reconciliation and help to build a more peaceful and stable society in Northern Ireland and the six southern bordering counties, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. It has a strong cross-Border focus; a minimum of €87 million of funds, including the national contribution, will be allocated to southern Border counties in the public, private and community sectors, for the purpose of engaging in mutually beneficial cross-border peace and reconciliation activities. The total value of the overall PEACE effort since its commencement in 1995 is €1,504m.

The value of the Peace III programme (2007-2013), including national contributions, will be €333 million. I am very aware of the importance of the work of the programme to the peace process.

The INTERREG programmes aim to address the economic and social disadvantage that can result from the existence of a border. Previous INTERREG programmes covered most of Northern Ireland and the six southern bordering counties. However, the INTERREG IV programme (2007-2013) includes a new dimension as it also covers western parts of Scotland. All projects must include a North-South element and the priorities in this area will be transport, business, and the environment. A minimum of €70 million of funds will be allocated to southern Border counties with a view to promoting a more prosperous and sustainable cross-Border region. The total value of the INTERREG IV programme (2007-2013), including national contributions, will be €256 million.

With regard to the INTERREG Programmes, I am pleased to say that my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland (DFPNI), is hosting an INTERREG Information Seminar which will shortly be held at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin, on Tuesday 23 October and which will provide a full day's programme of information on all aspects of EU-funded INTERREG programmes in Ireland both North and South. In addition to the Ireland-Northern Ireland-Scotland INTERREG Programme, this seminar will also focus on the increased potential for North-South cooperation in the INTERREG Transnational programmes and the INTERREG Inter-regional Programme of which Ireland and Northern-Ireland, the UK and other EU member states are joint members. The list of speakers will include representatives of the Irish Regional Assemblies and the SEUPB.

There are on-going contacts between my Department and the DFPNI and the critical importance of these ongoing contacts is well understood. So also is the significance of the all-Ireland economy, and the National Development Plan for 2007-2013, the drafting of which has been coordinated by my Department, reflects the Government's stress on the importance of the all-Ireland dimension.

Last week on Wednesday 3 October, officials of my Department together with officials from a number of other Government departments, attended the Northern Ireland Economic Conference 2007 in Belfast and participated in the Conference workshops. Therefore, I can assure the Deputy that the North-South unit of my Department is fully aware of the importance of the North/South dimension and is actively engaged in the planning and the implementation of activities in this regard.

Question No. 213 answered with QuestionNo. 207.

Decentralisation Programme.

Jack Wall

Question:

214 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the position on the transfer of his Department to Athy; the timescale involved; the number of staff transferring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22658/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the Office of Public Works are currently assessing a number of possibilities for a permanent accommodation solution for the Revenue staff, who will be decentralised to Athy. In all it is intended to decentralise 250 Revenue staff to Athy.

The Office of Public Works have also completed negotiations for the provision of premises to accommodate an advance party of up to 80 staff. Fitting out of these premises is nearing completion and Revenue expect to be in a position to occupy the premises towards the end of November 2007.

Tax Code.

Damien English

Question:

215 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance his plans, following a notice of motion passed at the September 2007 monthly meeting of Navan Town Council, to include Navan in future tax incentives for derelict properties in the town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22706/07]

Navan was among the 42 towns and cities that had integrated areas designated for tax relief under the 1999 Urban Renewal Scheme and still benefits from this designation.

Following a major review of various property and area based tax incentive schemes I announced in Budget 2006 that most of the existing reliefs were being terminated subject to certain transitional provisions. These included the Urban Renewal and Town Renewal Schemes. There are no plans to re-introduce schemes along the lines of those terminated in Budget 2006.

Richard Bruton

Question:

216 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the anomalous treatment of live poultry in the VAT code whereby live poultry is taxed at 13.5%, eggs are taxed at 0% rate and other livestock are taxed at 4.8%; if it is possible to amend the definition of livestock in order that live poultry would be included in the same category as other live animals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22728/07]

Michael McGrath

Question:

217 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if his Department will address the competitive disadvantage imposed on the poultry business arising from the 13.5% VAT rate which applies to live poultry in this jurisdiction as opposed to the zero rating in Northern Ireland. [22772/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 216 and 217 together.

The position is that the VAT regime and indeed the rating of all goods and services are subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. While we can retain the zero and livestock rating provisions which were in existence on 1 January 1991, we cannot introduce any new ones. Therefore, it is not possible to apply either a zero or livestock rate to the supply of live poultry.

Under Annex III of the VAT Directive, VAT registered hatcheries are liable to VAT at the 13.5 per cent rate on their supplies of live poultry. VAT registered farmers are entitled to claim VAT on their input costs which would include VAT paid on live poultry.

In relation to unregistered farmers, the Deputy will be aware that such farmers receive compensation for VAT paid on their inputs through the farmers flat rate addition. The flat-rate scheme, which is provided for under the VAT Directive, is a simplified and practical method of applying value-added tax to farming. It compensates unregistered farmers on an overall basis for the VAT charged to them on their purchases of goods and services. This is achieved without applying the normal VAT rules on registration and returns. The farmers VAT flat-rate addition for un-registered farmers was increased in my last Budget from 4.8 per cent to 5.2 per cent. In this regard, the Government's position of maintaining the farmers flat rate addition at the appropriate rate has not changed.

Michael Ring

Question:

218 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the measures planned to make the VRT system barrier aligned towards reducing Ireland’s CO2 emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22792/07]

In Budget 2007, I announced that it was planned to introduce changes to the current VRT system to take greater account of environmental issues, and in particular Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions, with a target date of 1 January 2008. The Programme for Government re-affirms the commitment to introduce measures to further weight VRT in favour of cars with lower emissions.

A public consultation in this regard has taken place. Work on the matter is ongoing and a range of possible options are being considered.

Cycle Facilities.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

219 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to complaints that the cycle lanes in the Phoenix Park are regularly mistaken for footpaths and are therefore unsafe both for cyclists and pedestrians; his views on redesigning the cycle lanes in the park or providing adequate signage to direct users to the appropriate path; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22845/07]

The Office of Public Works is aware that a number of pedestrians tend to use the cycle lanes in the Phoenix park despite the fact that the cycle lanes are clearly indicated both by bicycle symbols imprinted on them and a unique green colour which clearly distinguishes them from the separate black pedestrian paths. A number of initiatives have been introduced to promote greater public awareness.

Tax Code.

David Stanton

Question:

220 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 238 of 26 September 2007 and No. 155 of 3 October 2007 the five most recent hospitals, nursing houses or other institutions approved by him under Section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 which qualify for tax relief in respect of health expenses and which are not located in the State; the date when each institution was approved; the criteria used in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22876/07]

The five hospitals, nursing homes or others institutions which are not located in the State and which were most recently approved of for the purpose of heath expenses relief are as follows:

Name of Institution

Date of Approval

Gillett’s Children’s Hospital, Minesota, USA

10 May 2007

AZ Sint-Jan AV, Brugge, Belgium

3 January 2007

Avenues Clinic, Harare, Zimbabwe

14 September 2006

North Shore University Hospital, New York, USA

23 August 2006

F.I.V. Center, Madrid, Spain

26 April 2006

In each case, as required by section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, the Department of Health and Children was consulted before the decision to approve of the institution. Each of the institutions now falls within the definition of "hospital" as contained in section 469.

Child Care Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

221 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when full information packs on the proposed NCIP community childcare subvention scheme 2008 to 2010 will be made available to community based childcare operators; if she will extend the deadline for applications to the new scheme in view of the lack of information currently available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22359/07]

As signalled at the launch of the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), the successor programme to the EOCP, a new scheme to support community childcare services with a focus on disadvantage will be introduced on 1 January 2008 and will continue to complement the universal supports in place for all parents in the form of Child Benefit and the Early Childcare Supplement. The Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) has been allocated €153 million over the next 3 years representing a 16% increase in funding over the EOCP staffing scheme. Under the new scheme, services will be grant aided according to the service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their service. In turn, the subvention received by the services will be reflected in the reduced fees for parents who qualify as disadvantaged under the scheme.

Following the Government decision in July 2007 to adopt the new Scheme, officials in my Office wrote to all of the community childcare services in receipt of existing grant support to advise them of the changes being introduced and inviting them to attend information seminars which were arranged in a number of venues around the country for late September and early October. These have taken place and have provided very useful feedback. The details of the new scheme, the rates of subvention which will be available to community childcare services in respect of disadvantaged parents, and the timeframe within which the new arrangements are being implemented, were also outlined. The information seminars are being followed up by updated information packs, which take account of some of the issues raised and responded to at the seminars. These are expected to issue shortly along with the forms which the services will need to complete as part of the application process.

Under the new scheme, parents with children in such services and in receipt of most social welfare payments (or participating in a scheme such as Community Employment which demonstrates an underlying entitlement to same) will see a €80 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions in respect of shorter hour services). Parents in receipt of Family Income Supplement (FIS), will see a €30 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions). A further subvention of €30 per week will be paid where the subvented child is a baby, in recognition of the higher costs associated with the care of children aged under 1 year. Parents who do not qualify under either of these categories will be charged the cost price for their childcare service, however, as community not-for-profit services will, generally, have availed of capital grant aid under the EOCP or NCIP removing the requirement to cover rent and/or a mortgage, and as the services are run on a not-for-profit basis, this should still be significantly below the market price.

It is considered that the new scheme will provide an effective framework for the continued targeting of additional resources towards disadvantaged parents and their children while continuing to support community childcare services generally. The scheme has been informed by and takes account of a number of enhancements recommended by the report of the Value for Money Review of the EOCP. These include the fact that the subvention to services will be more responsive to the level of service provided as well as the degree of parental disadvantage supported and the ceiling for funding, which existed under the previous scheme, is being removed. Account will also be taken of all of the operational costs of the service rather than staffing costs alone. Services, including full-time, part-time and sessional ones, which at present are, in some cases, inaccessibly priced for disadvantaged parents, will be available to them at more appropriate rates under the new scheme.

The transitional arrangements which accompany the introduction of the new scheme, will ensure that existing grant recipients can continue to be funded at their current levels until 1st July 2008. This is to ensure that existing childcare services are facilitated to adjust to the new scheme, including making any adjustments necessary to their fee structures. As signalled when I announced the new scheme in July this year, the transitional period between now and 1 July 2008 will also be used to monitor and review the impact it will have on individual groups, on the basis of the more detailed and comprehensive data which is due to be received from applicants in November. If appropriate, any adjustments necessary to the scheme to secure the best outcomes for childcare services and for disadvantaged parents and their children will be considered on the basis of this data and well in advance of the commencement of the new funding levels in July 2008.

Michael Ring

Question:

222 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of community based childcare providers currently availing of the staffing grants available under the equal opportunities childcare programme, on a county basis. [22360/07]

Under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP), which is co-funded under the EU Social Fund (ESF), targeted support was provided through the staffing support grant scheme whereby community based not-for-profit childcare providers with a focus on disadvantage were awarded grant aid towards their staffing costs to allow them provide services to families which otherwise would not have been able to afford the full economic cost of the service. The following table shows the number of childcare providers in receipt of staffing grants, on a county basis.

County

Number of Facilties in Receipt of Staffing Grants

Carlow

12

Cavan

24

Clare

16

Cork

97

Donegal

44

Dublin

188

Galway

70

Kerry

43

Kildare

7

Kilkenny

20

Laois

13

Leitrim

24

Limerick

36

Longford

14

Louth

17

Mayo

49

Meath

10

Monaghan

25

Offaly

13

Roscommon

20

Sligo

20

Tipperary

33

Waterford

19

Westmeath

18

Wexford

29

Wicklow

16

Total

877

Michael Ring

Question:

223 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reverse the abolition of the staffing grants for community based childcare providers with the proposed introduction of the NCIP community childcare subvention scheme 2008 to 2010, due to the serious effect this will have on childcare places in rural Ireland particularly for the smaller community childcare providers in rural areas. [22361/07]

Michael Ring

Question:

224 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the possible effect on community based childcare providers particularly the smaller providers based in rural areas, with the introduction of the new subvention scheme under the NCIP community childcare subvention Scheme 2008 to 2010. [22362/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 and 224 together.

The main supports the Government makes available to parents to assist them with their childcare costs are Child Benefit and the Early Childcare Supplement. The latter payment, which is in recognition of the higher childcare costs of pre-school children, is the responsibility of my Office, and it alone amounts to expenditure of over €400m in a full year. These payments are universal and benefit all parents, regardless of their income, labour market status or the type of childcare they choose and regardless of whether they live in urban or rural areas. In addition to these universal supports, Government childcare policy has also recognised the need to target additional supports towards disadvantaged families.

Under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP), which is co-funded under the EU Social Fund (ESF), targeted support was provided through the staffing support grant scheme whereby community based not-for-profit childcare providers with a strong focus on disadvantage were awarded grant aid towards their staffing costs to allow them to operate reduced fees to disadvantaged parents. Funding under this scheme was originally awarded for a limited period during which services were expected to move towards sustainability. This funding was subsequently continued to the end of 2007, where it was considered necessary to enable services to continue to make their services accessible to disadvantaged parents. This continuation funding was subject to the condition that tiered fee structures were implemented by the services in question.

As signalled at the launch of the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), the successor programme to the EOCP, a new scheme to support community childcare services with a focus on disadvantage will be introduced on 1 January 2008 and will continue to complement the universal supports in place for all parents. The Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) has been allocated €153 million over the next 3 years representing a 16% increase in funding over the EOCP staffing scheme. Under the new scheme, services will be grant aided according to the service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their service. In turn, the subvention received by the services will be reflected in the reduced fees for parents who qualify as disadvantaged under the scheme.

In practice, this will mean that parents with children in such services and in receipt of most social welfare payments (or participating in a scheme such as Community Employment which demonstrates an underlying entitlement to same) will see a €80 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions in respect of shorter hour services). Parents in receipt of Family Income Supplement (FIS), will see a €30 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions). A further subvention of €30 per week will be paid where the subvented child is a baby, in recognition of the higher costs associated with the care of children aged under 1 year. Parents who do not qualify under either of these categories will be charged the cost price for their childcare service, however, as community not-for-profit services will, generally, have availed of capital grant aid under the EOCP or NCIP removing the requirement to cover rent and/or a mortgage, and as the services are run on a not-for-profit basis, this should still be significantly below the market price.

It is considered that the new scheme will provide an effective framework for the continued targeting of additional resources towards disadvantaged parents and their children while continuing to support community childcare services generally. The scheme has been informed by and takes account of a number of enhancements recommended by the report of the Value for Money Review of the EOCP. These include the fact that the subvention to services will be more responsive to the level of service provided as well as the degree of parental disadvantage supported and the ceiling for funding, which existed under the previous scheme, is being removed. Account will also be taken of all of the operational costs of the service rather than staffing costs alone. Services, including full-time, part-time and sessional ones, which at present are, in some cases, inaccessibly priced for disadvantaged parents, will be available to them at more appropriate rates under the new scheme.

The Community Childcare Subvention Scheme will not discriminate against rural services and the number of parents in rural areas supported by the new scheme is not expected to be lower than in urban areas. Per capita, the majority of the social welfare benefits which are referenced by the new schemes are availed of by more people outside the Dublin area than in it and parents in receipt of Farm Assist will attract the higher level of subvention. Data available from EOCP grant applications also suggests that the costs of running a rural service, and therefore the costs charged to parents, are lower than those for services in urban areas.

Transitional arrangements have been made under which existing grant recipients will continue to be funded at their current levels until 1st July 2008. This is to ensure that existing childcare services are facilitated to adjust to the new scheme, including making any adjustments necessary to their fee structures. As signalled when I announced the new scheme in July this year, the transitional period between now and 1 July 2008 will also be used to monitor and review the impact it will have on individual groups, on the basis of the more detailed and comprehensive data which is due to be received from applicants in November. If appropriate, any adjustments necessary to the scheme to secure the best outcomes for childcare services and for disadvantaged parents and their children will be considered on the basis of this data and well in advance of the commencement of the new funding levels in July 2008.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

225 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the concerns raised regarding his proposal to restructure community childcare under the National Childcare Investment Programme Community Childcare Subvention Scheme 2008 to 2010; her views on whether the proposed restructuring will result in additional charges being placed on parents, additional operating costs for community childcare providers that will have to be recouped locally and a reduction of service and the possible closure of some community childcare centres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22380/07]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

251 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the concerns raised regarding the proposal to restructure community childcare under the NCIP community childcare subvention scheme 2008 to 2010; if the proposed restructuring will result in additional charges being placed on parents and additional operating costs for community childcare providers that will have to be recouped locally and a reduction of service and the possible closure of some community childcare centres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22426/07]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

260 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the concerns that community childcare facilities have expressed regarding the new NCIP community childcare subvention scheme; her views on whether many community childcare facilities will experience considerable financial shortfalls under the new funding guidelines and that this could lead to the closures of some facilities; her further views on whether working parents on low incomes will be penalised through the ending of the equal opportunities childcare programme as the new NCIP subvention scheme is only available to social welfare recipients or those on family income supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22468/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 225, 251 and 260 together.

Under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP), which is co-funded under the EU Social Fund (ESF), targeted support was provided through the staffing support grant scheme whereby community based not-for-profit childcare providers with a strong focus on disadvantage were awarded grant aid towards their staffing costs to allow them to operate reduced fees to disadvantaged parents. Funding under this scheme was originally awarded for a limited period during which services were expected to move towards sustainability. This funding was subsequently continued to the end of 2007, where it was considered necessary to enable services to continue to make their services accessible to disadvantaged parents. This continuation funding was conditional on a strong focus on disadvantage and that tiered fee structures were implemented by the services in question which ensured that childcare places subsidised were targeted towards those most in need.

As signalled at the launch of the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), the successor programme to the EOCP, a new scheme to support community childcare services with a focus on disadvantage will be introduced on 1 January 2008 and will continue to complement the universal supports in place for all parents. The Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) has been allocated €153 million over the next 3 years representing a 16% increase in funding over the EOCP staffing scheme. Under the new scheme, services will be grant aided according to the service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their service. In turn, the subvention received by the services will be reflected in the reduced fees for parents who qualify as disadvantaged under the scheme.

In practice, this will mean that parents with children in such services and in receipt of most social welfare payments (or participating in a scheme such as Community Employment which demonstrates an underlying entitlement to same) will see a €80 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions in respect of shorter hour services). Parents in receipt of Family Income Supplement (FIS), will see a €30 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions). A further subvention of €30 per week will be paid where the subvented child is a baby, in recognition of the higher costs associated with the care of children aged under 1 year. Parents who do not qualify under either of these categories will be charged the cost price for their childcare service, however, as community not-for-profit services will, generally, have availed of capital grant aid under the EOCP or NCIP removing the requirement to cover rent and/or a mortgage, and as the services are run on a not-for-profit basis, this should still be significantly below the market price.

It is considered that the new scheme will provide an effective framework for the continued targeting of additional resources towards disadvantaged parents and their children while continuing to support community childcare services generally. The scheme has been informed by and takes account of a number of enhancements recommended by the report of the Value for Money Review of the EOCP. These include the fact that the subvention to services will be more responsive to the level of service provided as well as the degree of parental disadvantage supported and the ceiling for funding, which existed under the previous scheme, is being removed. Account will also be taken of all of the operational costs of the service rather than staffing costs alone. Services, including full-time, part-time and sessional ones, which at present are, in some cases, inaccessibly priced for disadvantaged parents, will be available to them at more appropriate rates under the new scheme.

The new scheme has clear advantages over its predecessor. There is an increase in the level of funding available under it, and a majority of services will benefit from the changes it introduces. Transitional arrangements have been made under which existing grant recipients will continue to be funded at their current levels until 1st July 2008. This is to ensure that existing childcare services are facilitated to adjust to the new scheme, including making any adjustments necessary to their fee structures. As signalled when I announced the new scheme in July this year, the transitional period between now and 1 July 2008 will also be used to monitor and review the impact it will have on individual groups, on the basis of the more detailed and comprehensive data which is due to be received from applicants in November. If appropriate, any adjustments necessary to secure the best outcomes for childcare services and for disadvantaged parents and their children will be considered on the basis of this data and well in advance of the commencement of the new funding levels in July 2008.

Enda Kenny

Question:

226 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the change in the funding mechanism for community crèches; if she will provide details of the timing, rationale and the impact of these changes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22631/07]

Michael Creed

Question:

227 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children the changes envisaged in the funding of community childcare facilities; if he will elaborate on the NCIP subvention scheme; the consultations that have taken place with community organisations in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22668/07]

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

Under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP), which is co-funded under the EU Social Fund (ESF), targeted support was provided through the staffing support grant scheme whereby community based not-for-profit childcare providers with a strong focus on disadvantage were awarded grant aid towards their staffing costs to allow them to operate reduced fees to disadvantaged parents. Funding under this scheme was originally awarded for a limited period during which services were expected to move towards sustainability. This funding was subsequently continued to the end of 2007, where it was considered necessary to enable services to continue to make their services accessible to disadvantaged parents. This continuation funding was subject to the condition that tiered fee structures were implemented by the services in question.

As signalled at the launch of the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), the successor programme to the EOCP, a new scheme to support community childcare services with a focus on disadvantage will be introduced on 1 January 2008 and will continue to complement the universal supports in place for all parents. The Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) has been allocated €153 million over the next 3 years representing a 16% increase in funding over the EOCP staffing scheme. Under the new scheme, services will be grant aided according to the service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their service. In turn, the subvention received by the services will be reflected in the reduced fees for parents who qualify as disadvantaged under the scheme.

In practice, this will mean that parents with children in such services and in receipt of most social welfare payments (or participating in a scheme such as Community Employment which demonstrates an underlying entitlement to same) will see a €80 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions in respect of shorter hour services). Parents in receipt of Family Income Supplement (FIS), will see a €30 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions). A further subvention of €30 per week will be paid where the subvented child is a baby, in recognition of the higher costs associated with the care of children aged under 1 year. Parents who do not qualify under either of these categories will be charged the cost price for their childcare service, however, as community not-for-profit services will, generally, have availed of capital grant aid under the EOCP or NCIP removing the requirement to cover rent or a mortgage, and as the services are run on a not-for-profit basis, this should still be significantly below the market price.

It is considered that the new scheme will provide an effective framework for the continued targeting of additional resources towards disadvantaged parents and their children while continuing to support community childcare services generally. The scheme has been informed by and takes account of a number of enhancements recommended by the report of the Value for Money Review of the EOCP. These include the fact that the subvention to services will be more responsive to the level of service provided as well as the degree of parental disadvantage supported and the ceiling for funding, which existed under the previous scheme, is being removed. Account will also be taken of all of the operational costs of the service rather than staffing costs alone. Services, including full-time, part-time and sessional ones, which at present are, in some cases, inaccessibly priced for disadvantaged parents, will be available to them at more appropriate rates under the new scheme.

The new scheme has clear advantages over its predecessor. There is an increase in the level of funding available under it, and a majority of services will benefit from the changes it introduces. Existing EOCP staffing grant recipients who enter the new scheme will continue to be funded at their current levels until July 2008. My Office has engaged in a series of meetings with existing grant recipients to outline to them the details of the new scheme and to gather feedback from the services themselves. A meeting with representatives of the City and County Childcare Committees has also taken place.

Transitional arrangements have been made under which existing grant recipients will continue to be funded at their current levels until 1st July 2008. This is to ensure that existing childcare services are facilitated to adjust to the new scheme, including making any adjustments necessary to their fee structures. As signalled when I announced the new scheme in July this year, the transitional period between now and 1 July 2008 will also be used to monitor and review the impact it will have on individual groups, on the basis of the more detailed and comprehensive data which is due to be received from applicants in November. If appropriate, any adjustments necessary to the scheme to secure the best outcomes for childcare services and for disadvantaged parents and their children will be considered on the basis of this data and well in advance of the commencement of the new funding levels in July 2008.

Medical Cards.

John Perry

Question:

228 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of a medical card appeal for a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22782/07]

Medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services. In 2005 the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on moderate and lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who do not qualify for a medical card would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP.

Since the beginning of 2005 substantial changes have been made to the way in which people's eligibility for a medical card is assessed and these apply equally to the assessment process for a GP visit card. The income guidelines have been increased by a cumulative 29% and in addition allowance is now made for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of mortgage/rent, childcare and travel to work costs. In June 2006 I agreed a further adjustment to the income guidelines for GP visit cards. These are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards.

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

Hospital Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

229 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the cat scanner in the Louth County Hospital; the date it was purchased; the date installed and made operational; the use of this machine since then and the dates thereof; the number of staff needed to operate this unit and their qualifications and cost to date; the maintenance cost to date of this machine; the nature of contracts entered into in relation to the scanner; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22926/07]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

287 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the cat scanner in the Louth County Hospital; the date it was purchased; the date installed and made operational; the use of this machine since then and the dates thereof; the number of staff needed to operate this unit and their qualifications and cost to date; the maintenance cost to date of this machine; the nature of contracts entered into in relation to the scanner; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22881/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 and 287 together.

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

General Medical Services Scheme.

James Bannon

Question:

230 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the Health Service Executive can justify the reduction in profit margins in relation to medicines purchased from wholesalers and supplied under the GMS and community drugs schemes which is impacting adversely on community pharmacists and which will force many of them to close and those that remain open would be dispensing the medical card system at a loss; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23071/07]

Billy Timmins

Question:

231 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to the Health Service Executive and the Irish Pharmaceutical Union; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23134/07]

Finian McGrath

Question:

240 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist the pharmacies in respect of their GMS problems. [22365/07]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

243 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the State’s position in relation to the proposals to reduce payments to pharmacists by 8% for items dispensed under the GMS and by 13% for items dispensed on all other schemes; the analysis that has been conducted on the negative implications of this for the availability of drugs to GMS patients in view the fact that pharmacists claim they will now have to operate these schemes at a loss; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22372/07]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

246 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason she is not engaging in discussions with the Irish Pharmaceutical Union on the issue of contracts between pharmacists and the Health Service Executive; her views on the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22385/07]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

254 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she is taking to prevent the threatened withdrawal of pharmacists from methadone dispensing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22431/07]

Tony Gregory

Question:

258 Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied) from community pharmacists regarding dispensing methadone and medical card reimbursement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22462/07]

Mary Upton

Question:

273 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the effect the Health Service Executive’s unilateral decision to reduce the payments it makes to pharmacists for the purchase on medicines will have on the continuation of the medical card scheme; the impact this will have on medical card holders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22678/07]

Liz McManus

Question:

293 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to the serious concerns of pharmacists at a decision made to reduce the reimbursed value of GMS services; the number of pharmacies now withdrawing certain services from the public; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that many pharmacies are ceasing dispensing methadone; the steps she will take to ensure pharmacies are given the support to continue this vital methadone dispensing service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22894/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 230, 231, 240, 243, 246, 254, 258, 273 and 293 together.

My Department and the HSE have been reviewing the pharmaceutical supply chain, with a view to seeking value for money in the State's drugs bill in order to better fund existing and innovative therapies without compromising continuity of supply or patient safety. An HSE-led negotiating team, including officials from my Department, engaged with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) and the Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of Ireland (APMI), representing the proprietary and generic supplier representative bodies, and completed new agreements with these bodies in mid-2006. These agreements are in place.

As wholesale margins are not addressed in the new IPHA and APMI Agreements, it was intended to negotiate direct formal arrangements with the wholesale sector. Following completion of the manufacturer agreements, the negotiating team entered talks with the wholesaler representative body, the Pharmaceutical Distributor's Federation (PDF).

Early in discussions, PDF refused to negotiate a new margin for community supply, based on its own legal advice that this was a contractual matter between individual wholesalers and retailers. Subsequent legal advice to the HSE, confirmed by legal advice to my Department, indicated that, under section 4 of the 2002 Competition Act, PDF as an association of undertakings may not collectively negotiate fees, prices or margins on behalf of its members. Given the fact that the Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU) is also an association of undertakings, it is not possible for the State to negotiate with PDF or the IPU on fees or margins as such negotiations would place these bodies at risk of prosecution.

In light of the legal position arising from the wholesaler legal advice, the negotiating team re-considered how best to address the review of pharmaceutical supply. Based on the legal advice, a consultation process accompanied by independent economic analysis was considered the most appropriate means to allow for the determination of new reimbursement arrangements. The consultation process involved direct discussion with wholesaler companies and a call for public submissions, published on 20th December 2006, in response to which a total of 161 submissions (including 143 from community pharmacy contractors) were received.

Following the completion of public consultation, and informed by independent economic analysis, new reimbursement arrangements were announced by the HSE on 17th September 2007. The new price arrangements involved revised rates for community and hospital supply as follows:

Community supply — existing 17.66% wholesale margin reduced to 8% from 1st January 2008 and 7% from 1st January 2009;

Hospital supply — new interim margin of 5% from 1st January 2008 with further discounts for efficient ordering and supply in that sector.

The new arrangements apply equally to the GMS (medical card) and the community drugs schemes (DPS, LTI). The new arrangements do not apply to the Methadone scheme, which is a separate dispensing arrangement with pharmacists for the treatment of a particularly vulnerable group of patients. No formal notifications have been received that individual pharmacists are terminating either their GMS/community pharmacy contracts or their agreements under the Methodone scheme.

In its examination of the issues involved, the negotiating team considered a reimbursement level that reflects the market value of pharmaceutical wholesale services, and security and continuity of supply at current levels to patients. The evidence on which the decision is based, following examination of the issues, direct consultation and independent economic analysis, all indicates that the State is currently paying a premium for the services in question. It is possible and necessary for revised arrangements to be put in place without a substantial impact on the delivery of such services.

Information available to the negotiating team indicates that small and rural pharmacies typically receive discounts of 2-3% on the existing wholesale margin, while larger urban pharmacies and chains typically receive discounts of up to 12%. Therefore, smaller and rural pharmacies would be proportionately less affected by the revised arrangements.

In the light of the legal advice received, and following consultation with the IPU, a separate procedure was also agreed to examine available options for advancing contractual negotiations in compliance with Irish and EU competition law. This process is being chaired by Mr Bill Shipsey, SC.

The negotiating team met with the IPU on the 3rd October to discuss implementation issues arising from the recent announcement of new wholesaler arrangements. Both sides agreed to continue to meet under the auspices of Bill Shipsey SC, to discuss the IPU's concerns on contractual matters, within the legal constraints.

The negotiating team also had a constructive meeting with PDF on 8th October to discuss implementation issues arising from the new wholesaler arrangements.

Medical Cards.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

232 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm receipt of a medical card application by persons (details supplied) in County Laois; when a decision will be made on the application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22265/07]

Medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services. In 2005 the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on moderate and lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who do not qualify for a medical card would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP.

Since the beginning of 2005 substantial changes have been made to the way in which people's eligibility for a medical card is assessed and these apply equally to the assessment process for a GP visit card. The income guidelines have been increased by a cumulative 29% and in addition allowance is now made for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of mortgage/rent, childcare and travel to work costs. In June 2006 I agreed a further adjustment to the income guidelines for GP visit cards. These are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards.

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

Hospital Services.

John O'Mahony

Question:

233 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the situation regarding the building of a specialised cystic fibrosis unit at Saint Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin; the position in relation to the staffing of that unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22266/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances.

Shane McEntee

Question:

234 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason an appeal for domiciliary care allowance by a person (details supplied) in County Meath was turned down; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22301/07]

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

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Pat Breen

Question:

235 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application will be processed for a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22345/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive.

My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Eating Disorders.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

236 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress to date on the implementation of each of the eight specific recommendations in relation to improving service provision for those affected by eating disorders contained within A Vision for Change; and her plans and timescale for their full implementation. [22348/07]

The Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, entitled "A Vision for Change", was launched in January 2006. It provides a framework for action to develop a modern, high quality mental health service over a 7 to 10 year period. "A Vision for Change" acknowledges gaps in the current provision of services for people with eating disorders and makes several recommendations for the further improvement of these services.

Recommendations include support for health promotion initiatives that encourage greater community and family awareness of eating disorders, the further development of primary and community care services and the provision of a full multidisciplinary team in a National Centre for Eating Disorders for complex cases that cannot be managed by local child and adolescent community mental health teams. Responsibility for the implementation of these recommendations rests with the HSE.

In 2006, €26.2 million was allocated for the development of mental health services in line with "A Vision for Change". An additional €25 million has been provided to the HSE in 2007, €750,000 of which is for developing services for eating disorders.

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the HSE under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. The Executive, therefore, is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

John Deasy

Question:

237 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties that have arisen as a result of the dispute between private dentists and the Health Service Executive where medical card holders can no longer access dental treatment on their medical cards and the financial strain this has placed on people in need of treatment; the action she is taking to ensure that this dispute is resolved quickly; when she expects the matter to be resolved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22355/07]

The Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS) provides for a range of dental services for adult medical card holders from participating dentists holding contracts with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The DTSS Review Group was established in May 2006 to undertake a comprehensive review of Primary Care Oral Health Services provided under the DTSS. Represented on the Review Group are the HSE, the Health Service Employers Agency, the Department of Health and Children, the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the Department of Finance and the Irish Dental Association (IDA). The Group is chaired by Mr Finbar Flood.

Since the Group was established, a legal issue has arisen with regard to the Competition Act 2002 as it relates to the negotiation of professional fees. The issues involved are complex and my officials are working with the Attorney General's office to clarify the way forward.

The existing contractual arrangements with private dental practitioners under the DTSS for provision of dental services to eligible patients remain in place although I am aware that some dentists have indicated that they wish to resign from this scheme. It should be noted that dentists withdrawing from the scheme are obliged to work a three months notice period.

If an eligible patient cannot access the services of a dentist because the dentist has resigned from the DTSS, that patient may approach any dentist within the Scheme for treatment.

Health Services.

John Deasy

Question:

238 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will grant approval for funding to the Health Service Executive to allow the development of a five station haemodialysis satellite treatment facility at Tramore, County Waterford which will facilitate holidaymakers and can be used year round for the treatment of patients living in the locality; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22356/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Staff.

Seán Barrett

Question:

239 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children the number employed in her Department; the amount expended on their salaries and its percentage of overall Departmental spending from a value for money perspective; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22357/07]

The whole time equivalent number of staff employed in my Department at the end of September 2007 was 592.92. This figure includes staff employed in: my Department, including the Office of the Minister for Children, the General Register Office, the Adoption Board, Office of the Ombudsman for Children, Office of the Disability Appeals Officer.

My Department estimates that €36.163 million will be spent on salaries, wages and other allowances during 2007. This figure represents 3.5% of the total Vote for my Department and the Office of the Minister for Children. My Department is constantly reviewing and monitoring such costs in order to ensure that the best value for money is obtained. Change management initiatives are on-going in order to continue to meet the modernisation and flexibility agenda required of my Department. This is specifically encompassed by the Partnership Agreement Towards 2016.

Question No. 240 answered with QuestionNo. 230.

Medical Cards.

Liz McManus

Question:

241 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if she plans to double the income threshold limits for the full medical card for families with children under six in Budget 2008 as agreed in the Programme for Government; the estimated cost of this measure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22366/07]

The Programme for Government commits to:

Indexing the income thresholds for medical cards to increases in the average industrial wage;

Doubling of the income limit eligibility of parents of children under 6 years of age, and trebling them for parents of children under 18 years of age with an intellectual disability;

Implementation of an annual publicity campaign and making applications easier so as to increase uptake amongst those who are eligible for medical cards and GP visit cards;

Allowing people with disabilities to work without losing key essential medical card cover after 3 years.

My Department is at present considering the steps required to enable these commitments to be implemented. This work includes consideration of the timescale for implementation and the costs involved.

Liz McManus

Question:

242 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on doubling the income threshold limits for the full medical card for families with children between seven and seventeen years of age; the estimated cost of this measure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22367/07]

The Programme for Government commits to doubling the income limit eligibility of parents of children under 6 years of age and trebling them for parents of children under 18 years of age with an intellectual disability. It commits also to an indexing of the income thresholds for medical cards to increases in the average industrial wage. My Department is at present considering the steps required to enable these commitments to be implemented. I have no plans at present to double the income threshold limits for families with children between seven and seventeen years of age generally and accordingly such a measure has not been costed by my Department.

My Department is also examining the steps necessary to give effect to the Towards 2016 commitment to review the eligibility criteria for the assessment of medical cards in the context of medical, social and economic/financial need with a view to clarifying entitlement to a medical card.

Question No. 243 answered with QuestionNo. 230.

Medicinal Products.

Liz McManus

Question:

244 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive have refused to purchase a new drug produced in Clondalkin, Dublin 22 that may prevent meningitis and septicaemia; if her attention has been drawn to fact that this drug is being exported to the North of Ireland, to Britain and to the USA; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22377/07]

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

Health and Safety Issues.

Liz McManus

Question:

245 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the regulations that exist to ensure standards in tattoo businesses; if there is an age restriction that applies to a tattooist giving tattoos to young children; the measures she will take to ensure public safety in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22378/07]

There is no legislation in Ireland specifically regulating tattooing businesses. However, these businesses are required to comply with general public health and safety legislation in the same way as any other business. The responsibilities of business operators include taking all reasonable precautions for the safety of persons using the premises. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 imposes a duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of employees. Employers are also obliged to manage and conduct their undertakings in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that in the course of the work being carried on, individuals at the place of work, (not being employees), are not exposed to risks to their safety, health and welfare. In addition, under the Infectious Diseases Regulations 1981, a medical officer of health, or a health officer on the advice of a medical officer of health, is empowered where there is reason to believe that a suspected case of an infectious disease or a probable source of infection exists, to take such steps as are necessary or desirable for investigating the nature and source of such infection, for preventing the spread of such infection and for removing conditions favourable to infection.

The European Commission has initiated a project to assess the need for regulatory control of tattooing and body piercing and related activities. The Council of Europe has also adopted a resolution on tattoos and permanent make-up (PMU) which recommends the principles that member states should take into account in their national laws and regulations. The principles relate to the composition, microbiological purity and labelling of products used for tattooing and PMU, the conditions in which they are applied, and the need to inform the public and consumers of the health risks involved.

My Department is reviewing policy regarding tattooing and body piercing in the light of these developments. In the first instance, the focus is on the development of "good practice" guidelines for practitioners rather than regulation. The main objective of these guidelines is to encourage best hygiene practice by tattooists and piercers, thereby minimising the risk of infection and so protecting both the artists and clients. It is also intended to produce information for the general public about the possible risks attached to body-piercing and tattooing.

As tattooing is not regulated, there is no age restriction in place. However, this issue is being addressed in the context of the good practice guidelines for both tattooists and piercers. Draft guidelines have been produced and these drafts have been the subject of consultation within the health sector and the wider public sector. Further consideration of the issues involved is necessary before my Department will be in a position to bring the guidelines to completion. The intention is to have this work completed by the end of this year.

Question No. 246 answered with QuestionNo. 230.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

247 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the provision of dental services in a health centre in Ballinrobe; if the Health Service Executive have advertised this position; if a designated school dentist will be appointed in the Ballinrobe area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22394/07]

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

Health Service Staff.

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

248 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of community dentists currently serving the population of an area (details supplied) in County Donegal; the efforts being made to expand the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22396/07]

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

Andrew Doyle

Question:

249 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the recent embargo on recruitment into the health services, she will reassure the Houses of the Oireachtas and the public that this embargo will not have an adverse effect on frontline emergency services in particular the ambulance service. [22411/07]

The HSE National Management Team has developed a financial break-even plan aimed at remaining within its Vote for 2007. The plan includes a temporary pause in recruitment. Other features of this plan include cancelling all foreign travel for the remainder of the year, cancelling all domestic hotel bookings for the remainder of the year, and reviewing all non front-line expenditure to ensure that it is authorized at an appropriately senior level.

This pause in recruitment was reviewed by the HSE National Management Team on October 1st. Based on this review, the HSE has decided that the financial situation is such that it is necessary and prudent to continue the overall pause in recruitment to the end of October. However, the HSE recognises that there are some limited critical or exceptional circumstances where appointment of staff may be necessary in front-line services. Accordingly, the HSE has established a small group, chaired by a representative of the National Employment Monitoring Unit, and representatives of the National Hospitals Office, PCCC and other Directorates to evaluate, monitor and approve requests for derogation from the general recruitment pause. This group will consider such applications on a weekly basis during October 2007.

Additionally, as an interim measure, it has been decided that a derogation of the suspension in appointments should be made to facilitate the following service enhancements: staff recruited to establish and operate Cherry Orchard Community Nursing Units in Dublin; staff recruited as Case/Liaison Officers in respect of services for people with a disability; staff required to open a new Admissions Unit/Community Hostel for the Central Mental Hospital; and staff required to introduce the ‘Fair Deal' arrangements relating to Nursing Home Subventions for Older people. There are almost 130,000 people working in the public health system and the temporary pause in recruitment must be viewed in that context. The Board of the HSE is committed to ensuring that staff costs are controlled and managed to best effect, that an appropriate balance is achieved between clinical and non-clinical posts, that there is a better skill mix within the clinical areas and that staffing levels provide cost-effective and safe/quality care to patients. I share the concern of the HSE to ensure that patient care is not affected during the recruitment suspension. It is the HSE's clear intention that these measures, which involve 200-300 posts, will not impact on ‘front line' services, and it has made provision for critical or essential vacancies to be filled by re-deployment of existing staff.

The Deputy may wish to note that employment in the health service has already increased significantly in 2007. In fact, 2,500 new posts have been authorised by the HSE so far this year arising from new service developments contained in the National Service Plan 2007.

Ambulance Service.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

250 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the fact the ambulance service has been obliged to cancel the recruitment programme for 300 vacancies that have arisen due to retirement, she will justify the pressure this places on the overworked staff that are providing this essential front line service. [22412/07]

Over 120,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government's ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant increases in the number of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals employed in the public health services. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the healthcare needs of the population into the future.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of the Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Question No. 251 answered with QuestionNo. 225.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

252 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason that a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has been waiting over a year for a further operation; the reason they have to wait for Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda to operate on them; the reason they cannot have the operation at Castlebar Hospital; and if she will intervene urgently to secure an operation for them. [22428/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this case investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Patients waiting more than three months on a surgical waiting list may qualify for treatment under the National Treatment Purchase Fund. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Child Care Services.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

253 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Health and Children the remaining difficulties with a childcare facility (details supplied) in County Westmeath which are preventing this facility receiving much needed finance; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is a new committee in place and in charge of this facility and that this is a community facility serving a disadvantaged area; and if she will ensure that in the next round of funding much needed finance will be provided. [22429/07]

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

In relation to the Group in question, an interim staffing grant application under the NCIP was recently declined by the Secretary General as the proposal did not demonstrate a strong focus on disadvantage. In addition, there is an outstanding decommittal issue with the previous committee who operated from the same location. The Group have sought a review of this decision, however given the EOCP staffing scheme ends later this year and will be succeeded by the NCIP's Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCIS) on 1st January 2008, it may be that the best interests of the Group would be served by applying under the new scheme. I understand that contact has been made with the Group advising them of this option, and seeking guidance on how they would wish to proceed.

Question No. 254 answered with QuestionNo. 230.

Health Services.

Noel Grealish

Question:

255 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money that has been awarded to each county in Health Service Executive west for home care packages via the HSE or through non statutory agencies; the number of cash grants that have been awarded in each county; the measures in place to follow-up on those who have received cash care grants in order to prevent and address the abuse of vulnerable older people, and to ensure that proper PRSI and PAYE statutory obligations have been met for employed carers through the home care package cash grant scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22453/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Community Care.

Chris Andrews

Question:

256 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the decision to transfer cancer services from St Lukes to St James, she will give a commitment to maintain St Lukes as a community health care facility and an assurance that it will not be sold off; the time frame within which the future of St Luke’s will be made clear; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22455/07]

The transfer of services from St. Luke's Hospital to new facilities at St. James's Hospital is not due to take place for a number of years.

In the meantime, two additional linear accelerators will be commissioned at St. Luke's in early 2008 and two replacement linear accelerators will be commissioned later in 2008. These will provide much needed interim capacity pending the roll out of the National Plan for Radiation Oncology.

No decisions have yet been taken in relation to the future use of the site and facilities at St. Luke's. However, I intend to ensure that these resources are utilised in the best interest of the health services. .

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Chris Andrews

Question:

257 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the delayed repayment under the Health Service Executive health repayments scheme for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8. [22459/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Question No. 258 answered with QuestionNo. 230.

Health Services.

James Bannon

Question:

259 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide funding for the provision of an Alzheimer’s residential unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Dublin Road, County Longford to provide facilities for the 385 people who have been diagnosed with the disease in Longford as currently the only facility available to them in the psychiatric hospital in Mullingar; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22464/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 260 answered with QuestionNo. 225.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Niall Collins

Question:

261 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application for nursing home charges refund by a person (details supplied) in County Limerick will be processed and the applicant refunded. [22472/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Pat Breen

Question:

262 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the cutbacks that took place at Ennis General Hospital for the month of September 2007; the cutbacks envisaged for the month of October 2007; if the embargo on temporary recruitment will remain in place until the end of December 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22581/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issues raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

263 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when the wash unit will be installed at the ambulance centre at Ennis General Hospital, County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22582/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Child Care Services.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

264 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details of funding allocated under the equal opportunities childcare programme 2000 to 2006 to schemes in Cork City and county; the funding allocated to date in the same area under the national childcare investment programme 2006 to 2010; the projected NCIP spend to 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22586/07]

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-10 (NCIP), which are being implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children.

The EOCP has both an equal opportunities and a social inclusion focus and aimed to increase the supply of centre based childcare places by 55 per cent (or 31,300 additional places) over the course of the Programme. This target has already been exceeded, with some 35,500 additional places already created under the Programme. The NCIP has a funding allocation of €575 million and aims to create an additional 50,000 new childcare places. It is expected that approximately 22,000 of these places will be in the private sector and 28,000 in the community/not for profit sector. Twenty per cent of the overall places will be for children in the 3 to 4 age group and will provide an early childhood care and education focus. As with the EOCP, the NCIP is a demand led scheme, with groups open to apply for funding from the Department through their local City/County Childcare Committees.

Experience gained under the EOCP has shown that it can be very difficult to accurately project how funding will be disbursed on a geographical basis over the duration of a programme. A number of factors come to bear in this regard, for example, the mix of private/community services in the locality, delays in acquiring planning permission or engaging building contractors, difficulties in securing other strands of funding and the general capacity of voluntary and community groups to deliver on large and often complicated projects.

However, the NCIP has a particular focus on identifying service gaps and matching supply and demand for services at the local level. In this regard, the City/County Childcare Committees have an important emerging role in planning and prioritising services in their locality. This new approach is intended to maximise the impact of funding at a local level delivering valuable services to families and better value for money.

The following tables provide details of funding allocated in Cork City and County under the EOCP and NCIP to date. It also includes funding for a number of regionally focused projects, commitments to National Voluntary Childcare Organisations and City and County Childcare Committees. As will be seen the total value of the funding allocated in Cork City and County amounts to €42.75 million under the EOCP and €13.4 million under the NCIP.

Funding Approved for Cork City and County under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP)

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Cork City

An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese / An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese

Pairc Bhaile ’n Easpaig, Baile ’n Easpaig, i gCorcaigh

Staffing

5,714

An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese / An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese

46 Corraheen Drive, Corraheen, Bishopstown, Cork

Capital

19,046

An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese / An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese

Scoil Therese, Bishopstown Park, Bishopstown, Cork

Staffing

21,091

An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese / An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese

Scoil Therese, Bishopstown Park, Bishopstown, Cork

Staffing

29,000

An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese / An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese

Scoil Therese, Bishopstown Park, Bishopstown, Cork

Staffing

85,200

An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese / An Bord Bainistiochta Scoil Therese

46 Corraheen Drive, Corraheen Estate, Bishopstown, Cork

Staffing

89,517

Ballyphehane/Togher Community Development Project Ltd. / Ballyphelane/Togher Community Development Project Ltd.

Community Resource Centre & Crèche, Lower Friar’s Walk, Ballyphehane, Cork City

Capital

40,000

Ballyphehane/Togher Community Development Project Ltd. / Ballyphelane/Togher Community Development Project Ltd.

Community Resource Centre & Crèche, Lower Friar’s Walk, Ballyphehane, Cork City

Staffing

128,800

Ballyphehane/Togher Community Development Project Ltd. / Ballyphelane/Togher Community Development Project Ltd.

Community Resource Centre & Crèche, Lower Friar’s Walk, Ballyphelane, Cork City

Staffing

158,717

Barnardos Ireland Ltd, Southern Region / Barnardos Ireland Ltd, Southern Region

The Bowling Green, White St.

Staffing

32,585

Barnardos Ireland Ltd, Southern Region / Barnardos Ireland Ltd, Southern Region

The Bowling Green, White St., Cork

Capital

1,188,236

Bee Happy Day Nursery / Bee Happy Day Nursery

47 Sarsfield Terrace, Old Youghal Road, Cork City

Capital

14,958

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre / Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre, Churchfield Hill, Cork City

Capital

6,968

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre / Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre

Churchfield Hill, Cork City

Staffing

40,068

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre / Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre, Churchfield Hill, Cork City

Capital

57,138

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre / Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre

Churchfield Hill, Cork City

Staffing

80,136

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre / Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre

Churchfield Hill, Cork City, Cork

Staffing

82,321

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre / Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre

Before 5 Nursery, Churchfield Hill, Cork

Staffing

87,824

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre / Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre, Churchfield Hill, Cork City

Capital

172,287

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre / Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre

Churchfield Hill, Cork City

Staffing

190,461

Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre / Before 5 Nursery & Family Centre

Churchfield Hill, Cork City

Staffing

322,600

Bessborough Centre / Bessborough Centre

Bessborough, Blackrock, Cork

Staffing

42,667

Bessborough Centre / Bessborough Centre

Bessborough, Blackrock, Cork

Staffing

48,000

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Bessborough Centre / Bessborough Centre

Bessborough, Blackrock

Staffing

170,400

Bessborough Centre / Bessborough Centre

Bessborough, Blackrock, Cork

Staffing

190,461

Bessborough Centre / Bessborough Centre

Bessborough Centre, Blackrock, Cork

Capital

1,210,385

Bishopstown Community Playgroup / Bishopstown Community Playgroup

Scoil Therese, Bishopstown, Cork

Capital

11,047

Bishopstown Community Playgroup / Bishopstown Community Playgroup

Scoil Therese, Bishopstown, Cork

Staffing

15,733

Bishopstown Community Playgroup / Bishopstown Community Playgroup

Scoil Therese, Bishopstown, Cork

Staffing

17,700

Bishopstown Community Playgroup / Bishopstown Community Playgroup

Scoil Therese, Bishopstown, Cork

Staffing

63,400

Bishopstown Community Playgroup / Bishopstown Community Playgroup

Scoil Therese, Bishopstown, Cork

Staffing

70,851

Blarney Street & Surrounding Areas Community Association / Blarney Street & Surrounding Areas Community Association

189 Blarney Street, Cork

Capital

19,046

Blarney Street & Surrounding Areas Community Association / Blarney Street & Surrounding Areas Community Association

Rock Community Centre, Blarney Street, Cork

Staffing

42,855

Blarney Street & Surrounding Areas Community Association / Blarney Street & Surrounding Areas Community Association

189 Blarney Street, Cork

Staffing

95,230

Bright Beginnings Montessori School / Bright Beginnings Montessori School

8 Carrigmahon, Monkstown, Cork

Capital

50,790

Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa / Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa

Bothar na mBuaircini, Baile Feithean, Corcaigh

Staffing

8,000

Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa / Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa

Bothar na mBuaircini, Baile Feithean, Corcaigh

Capital

12,399

Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa / Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa

Bothar na mBuaircini, Baile Feithean, Corcaigh

Staffing

16,507

Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa / Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa

Bothar na mBuaircini, Baile Feithean, Corcaigh

Staffing

21,333

Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa / Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa

Bothar na mBuaircini, Baile Feithean, Corcaigh

Staffing

32,000

Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa / Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa

Bothar na mBuaircini, Baile Feithean, Corcaigh

Staffing

85,900

Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa / Coiste Naionra an Teaghlaigh Naofa

Bothar na mBuaircini, Baile Feithean, Corcaigh

Staffing

173,954

Colaiste Stiofan Naofa / Colaiste Stiofan Naofa

Tramore Road, Cork

Staffing

31,746

Colaiste Stiofan Naofa / Colaiste Stiofan Naofa

Tramore Road, Cork

Staffing

42,328

Colaiste Stiofan Naofa / Colaiste Stiofan Naofa

Tramore Road, Cork

Staffing

170,400

Colaiste Stiofan Naofa / Colaiste Stiofan Naofa

Colaiste Stiofan Naofa, Tramore Road, Cork

Staffing

190,461

Colaiste Stiofan Naofa / Colaiste Stiofan Naofa

Tramore Road, Cork

Capital

771,995

Comhair Chathair Chorcai / Comhair Chathair Chorcai

Sunbeam Industrial Park, Millfield, Mallow Rd., Cork

Other

27,617

Community Women’s Education Initiatives Ltd. / Community Women’s Education Initiatives Ltd.

19 Lower John Street, Cork

Staffing

55,900

Community Women’s Education Initiatives Ltd. / Community Women’s Education Initiatives Ltd.

Ionad na Mban, 24 North Mall, Cork

Capital

104,036

Community Women’s Education Initiatives Ltd. / Community Women’s Education Initiatives Ltd.

19 Lower John Street, Cork

Staffing

152,369

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork City

Other

3,000

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

8,675

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

17,500

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork City

Other

29,900

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

35,000

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

35,000

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

35,000

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork City

Other

35,000

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork City

Other

35,000

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

46,770

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

48,900

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork City

Other

59,800

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

63,000

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork City

Other

114,219

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

177,763

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

196,200

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

222,411

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork City

Other

228,781

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork City

Other

238,500

Cork City Childcare Committee / Cork City Childcare Committee

29 Penrose Wharf, Cork

Other

249,200

Cork Institute of Technology / Cork Institute of Technology

Rossa Avenue, Bishopstown, Cork

Capital

700,000

Cork Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten / Cork Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten

C/o Quaker Meeting House, Summerhill South

Staffing

79,900

Cork Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten / Cork Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten

20 The Maples, Bridgemount, Carrigaline, Cork

Staffing

95,230

Cro na nOg / Cro na nOg

7 The Maples, Ballinure Road, Mahon, Cork

Staffing

38,000

Cro na nOg / Cro na nOg

7 The Maples, Ballinure Road, Mahon, Cork

Staffing

64,000

Cro na nOg / Cro na nOg

7 The Maples, Ballinure Road, Mahon, Cork

Staffing

88,400

Cuddles Crèche / Cuddles Crèche

College of Commerce & St. John’s Central College, Morrisons Island, Cork

Staffing

14,100

Cuddles Crèche / Cuddles Crèche

College of Commerce & St. John’s Central College, Morrisons Island, Cork

Staffing

28,200

Cuddles Crèche / Cuddles Crèche

College of Commerce & St. John’s Central College, Morrisons Island, Cork

Staffing

39,100

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Cuddles Crèche / Cuddles Crèche

College of Commerce & St. John’s Central College, Morrisons Island, Cork

Staffing

113,600

Cuddles Crèche / Cuddles Crèche

Cork College of Commerce, Morrisons Island, Cork

Staffing

126,974

Cuddles Crèche / Cuddles Crèche

College of Commerce & St. John’s Central College, Morrisons Island, Cork

Capital

1,000,000

Doodlebugs Crèche and Montessori Limited / Doodlebugs Crech and Montessori Limited

Pembroke Wood, Passage West, Cork

Capital

50,790

East Cork Area Development / East Cork Area Development

Knockgriffin Community Ent Centre, Mildeton, East Cork

Other

74,250

Farranree Childcare Unit / Farranree Childcare Unit

11 Park Dale, Parklands, Commons Rd, Cork

Staffing

10,810

Farranree Childcare Unit / Farranree Childcare Unit

11 Park Dale, Parklands, Commons Rd, Cork

Capital

46,277

Farranree Childcare Unit / Farranree Childcare Unit

11 Park Dale, Parklands, Commons Rd, Cork

Staffing

116,100

Farranree Childcare Unit / Farranree Childcare Unit

29 Bridevalley View, Fairhill, Cork City

Staffing

129,723

Farranree Development Company Ltd / Farranree Community Development Project & Resource Centre

98 Knockpogue Avenue, Farranree, Cork City

Capital

587,900

First Steps / First Steps

Kilcor, Castlelyons, Cork

Capital

15,544

First Steps / First Steps

4 Marrick, Halcon Drive, Silversprings, Cork

Capital

15,993

Gaelscoil Mhachan / Gaelscoil Mhachan

Avenue de Rennes, Machan, An Charraig Dhubh, Corcaigh

Capital

224,000

Good Shepherd Services Ltd / Good Shepherd Services Ltd

C/o. Good Shepherd Sisters, Sunday’s Well, Cork

Capital

728,000

Greenfields Community Childcare Ltd / Glenfield Community Childcare Limtied

Glenfields, Ballyvolane, Cork

Capital

63,874

Greenfields Community Childcare Ltd / Glenfield Community Childcare Limtied

Glenfields, Ballyvolane, Cork

Staffing

127,000

Greenmount Community Playgroup Limited / Greenmount Voluntary Playgroup

Scoil Nasiunta Muire na Gras, Green Street, Cork

Capital

12,369

Greenmount Community Playgroup Limited / Greenmount Voluntary Playgroup

Scoil Nasiunta Muire na Gras, Green Street, Cork

Staffing

24,689

Greenmount Community Playgroup Limited / Greenmount Voluntary Playgroup

Scoil Nasiunta Muire na Gras, Green Street, Cork

Staffing

113,600

Greenmount Community Playgroup Limited / Greenmount Voluntary Playgroup

Hill View, Lough Hill, The Lough, Cork

Staffing

126,974

Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre / Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre

Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork City

Staffing

26,900

Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre / Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre

Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork City

Staffing

53,800

Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre / Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre

Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork City

Staffing

216,300

Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre / Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre

Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork

Staffing

241,809

Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre / Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre

Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork City

Capital

487,784

Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre / Hollyhill/Knocknaheeny Family Centre

Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork City

Capital

1,100,000

Holy Cross Crèche /Drop in centre / Holy Cross Crèche /Drop in centre

Holy Cross B.N.S., Avenue do Rennes, Mahon

Staffing

30,400

Holy Cross Crèche /Drop in centre / Holy Cross Crèche /Drop in centre

Holy Cross B.N.S., Avenue do Rennes, Mahon, Cork

Staffing

60,000

Kinsale Community Playschool / Kinsale Community Playschool

C/o. St. John’s National School, Ballincubby, Kinsale

Staffing

43,300

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Little Imps Childcare Limited / Nurture Childcare (Douglas Rd)

Unit 4, Ardfallen Mall, Douglas Road, Cork

Capital

50,790

Little Lullaby Nursery / Little Lullaby Nursery

Ard Bhaile & Glenamoy Lawn Community Centre, Ard Bhaile, Mayfield

Staffing

12,700

Little Lullaby Nursery / Little Lullaby Nursery

Ard Bhaile & Glenamoy Lawn Community Centre, Ard Bhaile, Mayfield

Staffing

123,600

Little Lullaby Nursery / Little Lullaby Nursery

Ard Bhaile & Glenamoy Lawn Community Centre, Ard Bhaile, Mayfield, Cork

Staffing

152,369

Little Munchkins Childcare Academy / Little Munchkins Childcare Academy

6 The Mews, Riverway, South Douglas Road, Cork

Capital

50,790

Lotamore Family Resource Centre Group / Lotamore Family Resource Centre Group

20 Lotamore Park, Banduff, Mayfield, Cork

Staffing

32,000

Lotamore Family Resource Centre Group / Lotamore Family Resource Centre Group

20 Lotamore Park, Mayfield

Staffing

53,900

Lotamore Family Resource Centre Group / Lotamore Family Resource Centre Group

20 Lotamore Park, Mayfield

Staffing

64,000

Lotamore Family Resource Centre Group / Lotamore Family Resource Centre Group

20 Lotamore Park, Banduff, Mayfield, Co. Cork

Capital

104,395

Magnet / Magnet

C/o. St. Brendan’s School, The Glen, Cork

Staffing

30,900

Magnet / Magnet

C/o. St. Brendan’s School, The Glen, Cork

Capital

232,594

Mahon CDP Community Crèche / Mahon Community Crèche and Child Development Centre

Unit 5&6&7 Community Resource Centre, Avenue de Rennes, Mahon

Staffing

26,450

Mahon CDP Community Crèche / Mahon Community Crèche and Child Development Centre

Unit 5&6&7 Community Resource Centre, Avenue de Rennes, Mahon

Capital

166,693

Mahon CDP Community Crèche / Mahon Community Crèche and Child Development Centre

Unit 5&6&7 Community Resource Centre, Avenue de Rennes, Mahon

Staffing

170,400

Mahon CDP Community Crèche / Mahon Community Crèche and Child Development Centre

Unit 5&6&7 Community Resource Centre, Avenue de Rennes, Mahon, Cork

Staffing

190,461

Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre / Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre

The Orchard, Mahon

Staffing

37,000

Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre / Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre

The Orchard, Mahon

Staffing

42,286

Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre / Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre

The Orchard, Mahon

Capital

100,000

Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre / Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre

The Orchard, Mahon

Staffing

170,400

Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre / Mahon Community Preschool & Child Development Centre

Mahon Community Pre school, The Orchard, Mahon, Cork

Staffing

190,461

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Mahon Family Resource Centre Ltd. / Mahon Family Resource Centre Ltd.

Mahon Drive, Mahon, Cork

Staffing

151,700

Mahon Family Resource Centre Ltd. / Mahon Family Resource Centre Ltd.

Mahon Drive, Mahon, Cork

Capital

431,711

Mahon Family Resource Centre Ltd. / Mahon Family Resource Centre Ltd.

Mahon Drive, Mahon, Cork

Capital

463,454

Maria Assumpta Preschool / Maria Assumpta Preschool

Coolalta, Lower Friars Walk, Cork

Capital

23,794

Maria Assumpta Preschool / Maria Assumpta Preschool

Coolalta, Lower Friars Walk, Cork

Capital

26,776

Maria Assumpta Preschool / Maria Assumpta Preschool

Coolalta, Lower Friars Walk, Cork

Staffing

117,000

Maria Assumpta Preschool / Maria Assumpta Preschool

Collalta, Lower Friars Walk, Cork

Capital

130,986

Maria Assumpta Preschool / Maria Assumpta Preschool

6 Halldene Way, Bishopstown, Co. Cork

Staffing

190,461

Mayfield Integrated Community Development Project Ltd / Mayfield Integrated Community Development Project Ltd

Community Resource Centre, 328 Old Youghal Road, Mayfield

Capital

51,543

Mayfield Integrated Community Development Project Ltd / Mayfield Integrated Community Development Project Ltd

Community Resource Centre, 328 Old Youghal Road, Mayfield

Staffing

55,500

Mayfield Integrated Community Development Project Ltd / Mayfield Integrated Community Development Project Ltd

Community Resource Centre, 328 Old Youghal Road, Mayfield

Capital

94,822

Montessori An Spioraid Naoimh / Montessori Spioraid Naoimh

Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh, Curraheen Road, Bishopstown, Cork

Capital

22,415

Naionra Lus na Meala / Naionra Lus na Meala

67 Lus na Meala, Banduff, Mayfield, Cork

Staffing

16,000

Naionra Lus na Meala / Naionra Lus na Meala

67 Lus na Meala, Banduff, Mayfield, Cork

Staffing

87,700

Newbury House Family Centre Ltd. / Newbury House Family Centre Ltd.

Old Youghal Road, Mayfield, Cork

Capital

12,697

Newbury House Family Centre Ltd. / Newbury House Family Centre Ltd.

Old Youghal Road, Mayfield, Cork

Capital

15,237

Newbury House Family Centre Ltd. / Newbury House Family Centre Ltd.

Old Youghal Road, Mayfield

Staffing

16,250

Newbury House Family Centre Ltd. / Newbury House Family Centre Ltd.

Old Youghal Road, Mayfield

Staffing

43,328

Newbury House Family Centre Ltd. / Newbury House Family Centre Ltd.

Old Youghal Road, Mayfield

Staffing

65,000

Newbury House Family Centre Ltd. / Newbury House Family Centre Ltd.

Old Youghal Road, Mayfield

Staffing

174,500

Newbury House Family Centre Ltd. / Newbury House Family Centre Ltd.

Old Youghal Road, Mayfield, Cork

Staffing

304,737

Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd. / Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd.

Sunbeam Industrial Estate, Mallow Road, Cork

Capital

30,256

Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd. / Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd.

Sunbeam Industrial Park, Millfield, Mallow Road, Cork

Staffing

33,860

Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd. / Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd.

Sunbeam Industrial Park, Millfield, Mallow Road, Cork

Staffing

67,720

Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd. / Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd.

Sunbeam Industrial Estate, Mallow Road, Cork

Capital

86,596

Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd. / Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd.

Sunbeam Industrial Park, Millfield, Mallow Road, Cork

Staffing

272,600

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd. / Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd.

Sunbeam Industrial Park, Millfield, Mallow Road, Cork

Capital

300,000

Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd. / Northside Community Enterprise Ltd./ N.C.E. Outreach Ltd.

Sunbeam Industrial Estate, Mallow Road, Cork

Staffing

304,737

Playland / Playland

C/o. 10 Aisling Close, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

Staffing

32,000

Playland / Playland

St. Mary’s on the Hill National School, Knocknaheeny

Staffing

36,000

Playland / Playland

St. Mary’s on the Hill National School, Knocknaheeny

Staffing

45,000

Roseville House Family Resourse Centre / Mayfield Community Pre-School

Roseville House Family Resource Centre, Old Youghal Road, Mayfield, Cork

Staffing

20,000

Roseville House Family Resourse Centre / Mayfield Community Pre-School

Roseville House Family Resource Centre, Old Youghal Road, Mayfield, Cork

Capital

24,500

Roseville House Family Resourse Centre / Mayfield Community Pre-School

Roseville Family Resource Limited, Old Youghal Road, Mayfield, Cork

Staffing

29,300

Roseville House Family Resourse Centre / Mayfield Community Pre-School

Roseville House Family Resource Centre, Old Youghal Road, Mayfield, Cork

Staffing

108,521

Scoil Maria Assumpta Senior School / Scoil Maria Assumpta Senior School

Pearse Road, Ballyphehane, Cork

Staffing

27,200

Scoil Maria Assumpta Senior School / Scoil Maria Assumpta Senior School

Pearse Road, Ballyphehane, Cork

Capital

40,500

Scoil Maria Assumpta Senior School / Scoil Maria Assumpta Senior School

Pearse Road, Ballyphehane, Cork

Staffing

96,000

Scoil Ursula Crèche / Scoil Ursula Crèche

Scoil Ursula, Blackrock

Staffing

30,400

Scoil Ursula Crèche / Scoil Ursula Crèche

Scoil Ursula, Blackrock, Cork

Staffing

60,000

Shandon/North Cathedral Community Association Ltd. / Shandon/North Cathedral Community Association Ltd.

Jack Lynch Community Resource Centre, 11a Easons Avenue, Shandon, Cork

Capital

34,708

Silversprings Community Playschool / Silversprings Community Playschool

C/o. 21 Millbrook Close, Sallybrook, Glanmire, Cork

Staffing

135,000

St. Anne’s Day Nursery Ltd / Cork & Ross Family Centre

34 Paul Street, Cork

Staffing

8,417

St. Anne’s Day Nursery Ltd / Cork & Ross Family Centre

St. Anne’s Day Nursery Ltd.,, Sharman Crawford Street,, Cork

Capital

11,428

St. Anne’s Day Nursery Ltd / Cork & Ross Family Centre

34 Paul Street, Cork

Staffing

67,333

St. Anne’s Day Nursery Ltd / Cork & Ross Family Centre

34 Paul Street, Cork

Staffing

101,000

St. Anne’s Day Nursery Ltd / Cork & Ross Family Centre

34 Paul Street, Cork

Staffing

272,600

St. Anne’s Day Nursery Ltd / Cork & Ross Family Centre

St. Anne’s Day Nursery Ltd, Sharman Crawford Street, Cork

Staffing

304,737

St. Joseph’s (Mayfield) Community Association / St. Joseph’s (Mayfield) Community Association

Community Rooms, Old Youghal Road, Mayfield, Cork

Capital

116,000

St. Patrick’s Pre-school & After School Services / St. Patrick’s Pre-school & After School Services

St. Patrick’s Infant & Girls National School, Gardiner’s Hill, Cork

Staffing

51,750

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

St. Patrick’s Pre-school & After School Services / St. Patrick’s Pre-school & After School Services

St. Patrick’s Infant & Girls National School, Gardiner’s Hill, Cork

Capital

258,000

Susan Coughlan / Susan Coughlan

36 Moss Lane, Riverway, South Douglas Rd., Cork

Capital

36,593

The Glen Community Crèche Ltd. / Tir na nOg

109 Arderin Way, The Glen, Cork, Co. Cork

Staffing

42,333

The Glen Community Crèche Ltd. / Tir na nOg

109 Arderin Way, The Glen, Cork, Co. Cork

Staffing

63,500

The Glen Community Crèche Ltd. / Tir na nOg

109 Arderin Way, The Glen, Cork, Co. Cork

Staffing

170,400

Togher Family Centre Ltd. / Little Friar’s Pre-school

Lower Friar’s Walk, Ballyphehane, Cork City

Staffing

73,400

Togher Family Centre Ltd. / New Togher Childcare Initiative

Togher Boys & Girls Primary Schools, Togher Road, Cork City

Staffing

51,750

Togher Family Centre Ltd. / Togher Family Centre Ltd.

6 Maglin Grove, Deanrock Estate, Togher, Cork City

Staffing

67,667

Togher Family Centre Ltd. / Togher Family Centre Ltd.

6 Maglin Grove, Deanrock Estate, Togher, Cork City

Staffing

101,500

Togher Family Centre Ltd. / Togher Family Centre Ltd.

6 Maglin Grove, Deanrock Estate, Togher, Cork City

Staffing

272,600

Togher Family Centre Ltd. / Togher Family Centre Ltd.

6 Maglin Grove, Deanrock Estate, Togher, Cork City

Staffing

304,737

Traveller Visibility Group Limited / Traveller Visibility Group

11 Comeragh Park, The Glen, Cork

Staffing

85,000

Traveller Visibility Group Limited / Traveller Visibility Group

11 Comeragh Park, The Glen, Cork City

Capital

300,000

Traveller Visibility Group Limited / Traveller Visibility Group

25 Lower John Street, Cork City

Capital

428,537

Turners Cross Community Playgroup / Turner’s Cross Community Playgroup

25 Capwell Rd., Turner’s Cross, Cork

Staffing

10,000

Turners Cross Community Playgroup / Turner’s Cross Community Playgroup

25 Capwell Rd., Turner’s Cross, Cork

Staffing

26,667

Turners Cross Community Playgroup / Turner’s Cross Community Playgroup

25 Capwell Rd., Turner’s Cross, Cork

Capital

60,525

Turners Cross Community Playgroup / Turner’s Cross Community Playgroup

25 Capwell Rd., Turner’s Cross, Cork

Staffing

108,100

Turners Cross Community Playgroup / Turner’s Cross Community Playgroup

25 Capwell Rd., Turner’s Cross, Cork

Staffing

120,816

University College Cork / University College Cork

C/o Secretary’s Office, UCC, Western Rd., Cork

Capital

892,187

Vernon House Resource Centre / Vernon House Resource Centre

Mt. Vernon Cresent, South Douglas Rd., Cork

Capital

40,848

Vernon House Resource Centre / Vernon House Resource Centre

Mt. Vernon Cresent, South Douglas Rd., Cork

Staffing

50,000

Vernon House Resource Centre / Vernon House Resource Centre

Mount Vernon Cresent, South Douglas Rd.

Staffing

92,500

Vernon House Resource Centre / Vernon House Resource Centre

Mt. Vernon Cresent, South Douglas Rd., Cork

Staffing

100,000

Wallaroo Playschool Ltd. / Wallaroo Playschool Ltd.

10 Sunmount, Military Hill, Cork

Staffing

25,250

Wallaroo Playschool Ltd. / Wallaroo Playschool Ltd.

10 Sunmount, Military Hill, Cork

Staffing

33,595

Wallaroo Playschool Ltd. / Wallaroo Playschool Ltd.

10 Sunmount, Military Hill, Cork

Staffing

67,333

Wallaroo Playschool Ltd. / Wallaroo Playschool Ltd.

10 Sunmount, Military Hill, Cork

Staffing

101,000

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Wallaroo Playschool Ltd. / Wallaroo Playschool Ltd.

10 Sunmount, Military Hill, Cork

Staffing

271,120

Wallaroo Playschool Ltd. / Wallaroo Playschool Ltd.

10 Sunmount, Military Hill, Cork

Staffing

272,600

Wonderyears Kindergarten / Wonderyears Kindergarten

251 Eagle Valley, Sarsfield Road, Wilton

Capital

36,662

Young Women’s Group (A constituent member of Cork Anti-Poverty Resource Network Ltd) / Young Women’s Group (A constituent member of Cork Anti-Poverty Resource Network Ltd)

Ionad Na nDaoine, 36 Ardmore Avenue, Knocknaheeny

Capital

284,000

Cork City Total

27,888,669

A Breath of Fresh Air / A Breath of Fresh Air

Aghamarta, Carrigaline, Co. Cork

Capital

50,790

Aghada Community Playgroup / Aghada Community Playgroup

Scoil Iosagain, Upper Aghada, Midleton, Co. Cork

Staffing

33,700

Aghada Community Playgroup / Aghada Community Playgroup

Scoil Iosagain, Upper Aghada, Midleton, Co. Cork

Staffing

57,250

Aghada Community Playgroup / Aghada Community Playgroup

C/o. “Hadwell”, Lower Aghada, Midleton, Co Cork

Capital

84,931

Allihies Community Playgroup / Allihies Community Playgroup

Allihies Health Centre, Allihies, Beara, Co. Cork

Staffing

9,000

Allihies Community Playgroup / Allihies Community Playgroup

Allihies Health Centre, Allihies, Beara, Co. Cork

Staffing

45,000

ALPS (Ann Long’s Pre-school) / ALPS (Ann Long’s Pre-school)

Corbally Cross, Ballinora, Waterfall, Near Cork

Capital

50,790

Ardmore Family Resource Centre / Ardmore Family Resource Centre

Ardmore Estate, Passage West, Co. Cork

Capital

311,000

Avondhu Development Partnership / Avondhu Development Partnership

5-6 Park West, Mallow, Co Cork

Other

43,360

Ballygarvan ‘Tiny Tots’ Community Pre-school / Ballygarvan ‘Tiny Tots’ Community Pre-school

Ballygarvan GAA Hall, Ballygarvan

Capital

250,000

Ballyhass Community Childcare Facility / Ballyhass Community Childcare Facility

C/o Ballyrushion, Castlecor, Mallow

Capital

32,005

Ballyhass Community Childcare Facility / Ballyhass Community Childcare Facility

C/o Ballyrushion, Castlecor, Mallow, Co. Cork

Staffing

161,000

Ballyhass Community Childcare Facility / Ballyhass Community Childcare Facility

C/o Ballyrushion, Castlecor, Mallow, Co. Cork

Capital

1,475,379

Banteer Community Childcare Services Ltd / Banteer Community Childcare Services Ltd

Clonmeen Road, Banteer

Staffing

65,200

Banteer Community Childcare Services Ltd / Banteer Community Childcare Services Ltd

Clonmeen Road, Banteer, Co. Cork

Capital

1,300,000

Bantry Community Playgroup / Bantry Community Playgroup

Community Resource Centre, Glengarriff Road, Bantry, Co Cork

Staffing

39,887

Bantry Community Playgroup / Bantry Community Playgroup

Community Resource Centre, Glengarriff Road, Bantry

Staffing

127,500

Bantry Community Playgroup / Bantry Community Playgroup

Community Resource Centre, Glengarriff Road, Bantry

Staffing

129,000

Bantry Integrated Dev Group / Bantry Integrated Dev Group

Unit 13, IDA Centre, Ropewalk, Bantry, Co Cork

Other

48,953

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Beginners Corner / Beginners Corner

Lower Road (Demense), Newmarket

Capital

50,000

Blackwater Community Childcare Ltd / Blackwater Community Childcare Ltd

Resource Centre, McCurtin Street, Fermoy

Capital

242,592

Boherbue Educare Centre Ltd / Boherbue Educare Centre Ltd

The Village, Boherbue, Co. Cork

Staffing

47,437

Boherbue Educare Centre Ltd / Boherbue Educare Centre Ltd

The Village, Boherbue, Co. Cork

Staffing

48,000

Boherbue Educare Centre Ltd / Boherbue Educare Centre Ltd

C/o Doon, Kiskeam, Co. Cork

Staffing

90,000

Boherbue Educare Centre Ltd / Boherbue Educare Centre Ltd

C/o Doon, Kiskeam, Co. Cork

Capital

1,282,883

Caheragh Community Playgroup Ltd / Caheragh Community Playgroup Ltd

Bawnishal, Caheragh, Drimoleague

Staffing

12,000

Carrigtwohill Family Resource Centre / Carrigtwohill Family Resource Centre

Main Street, Carrigtwohill

Staffing

47,700

Carrigtwohill Family Resource Centre / Carrigtwohill Family Resource Centre

Main Street, Carrigtwohill

Staffing

115,744

Charleville & District Community Enterprise Ltd. / Charleville & District Community Enterprise

Broad Street, Charleville, Co Cork

Staffing

10,263

Charleville & District Community Enterprise Ltd. / Charleville & District Community Enterprise

Broad Street, Charleville, Co Cork

Staffing

70,000

Charleville & District Community Enterprise Ltd. / Charleville & District Community Enterprise

Broad Street, Charleville, Co Cork

Staffing

105,000

Charleville & District Community Enterprise Ltd. / Charleville & District Community Enterprise

Broad Street, Charleville, Co Cork

Staffing

114,276

Charleville & District Community Enterprise Ltd. / Charleville & District Community Enterprise

Broad Street, Charleville, Co Cork

Capital

123,231

Charleville & District Community Enterprise Ltd. / Charleville & District Community Enterprise

Broad Street, Charleville, Co Cork

Capital

190,370

Charleville & District Community Enterprise Ltd. / Charleville & District Community Enterprise

Broad Street, Charleville, Co Cork

Staffing

190,461

Charleville & District Community Enterprise Ltd. / Charleville & District Community Enterprise

Broad Street, Charleville, Co Cork

Staffing

281,800

Charleville & District Community Enterprise Ltd. / Charleville & District Community Enterprise

Broad Street, Charleville, Co Cork

Capital

304,737

Claire Devaney Childcare Centre Ltd / Bright Sparks Childcare Centre

5 Mulberry Crest, Mitchelstown, Co Cork

Capital

50,790

Clogagh Pre-school / Clogagh Pre-school

Clogagh, Timoleague, Bandon

Capital

44,799

Clonakilty Crèche and Playschool / Clonkilty Crèche and Playschool

6 The Oaks, Bridgemount, Carrigaline, Co Cork

Capital

8,253

Clonakilty Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten / Clonakilty Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten

Ladies Cross, Clonakilty, Co Cork

Staffing

8,000

Clonakilty Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten / Clonakilty Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten

Ladies Cross, Clonakilty, Co. Cork

Staffing

19,200

Clonakilty Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten / Clonakilty Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten

Ladies Cross, Clonakilty, Co. Cork

Staffing

24,000

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Cobh Youth Services Ltd / Cobh Youth Services Ltd

16 Midleton Street, Cobh, Co. Cork

Staffing

12,300

Comhaltas Cosanta Gaeltachta Chuil Aodha Teo. / Ionad Oige Chuil Aodha

Cuil Aodha, Macroom, Cork

Capital

600,000

Conna Community Childcare Committee / Conna Community Childcare Committee

Conna Community Centre, Conna

Capital

255,000

Conna Community Childcare Committee / Conna Community Childcare Committee

Conna Community Centre, Conna

Capital

750,000

Dromina Community Council Ltd / Dromina Community Playgroup

Dromina, Charleville

Staffing

25,000

Dromina Community Council Ltd / Dromina Community Playgroup

Dromina, Charleville

Capital

158,800

Early Starters Playgroup / Early Starters Playgroup

Castletownroche National School, Castletownroche

Capital

31,500

First Steps Child Education Ltd / First Steps Child Education Ltd

49 Silver Hill, Heron’s Wood, Carrigaline

Capital

50,790

Gobnait Burke Playgroup / Gobnait Burke Playgroup

48 Willobank, Church Road, Blackrock, Cork

Capital

50,790

Innishmore Family Centre Limited / Inishmore Developement Group

Innishmore Family Centre, Innishmore, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

Staffing

34,367

Innishmore Family Centre Limited / Inishmore Developement Group

Innishmore Family Centre, Innishmore, Ballincollig

Staffing

34,367

Innishmore Family Centre Limited / Inishmore Developement Group

Innishmore Family Centre, Innishmore, Ballincollig

Staffing

138,400

Innishmore Family Centre Limited / Inishmore Developement Group

Innishmore Family Centre, Innishmore, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

Staffing

154,654

IRD Duhallow Limited / IRD Duhallow Ltd

James O’Keeffe Institute, Newmarket, Co Cork

Staffing

34,500

IRD Duhallow Limited / Newmarket Afterschool

James O’Keeffe Institute, Newmarket, Co Cork

Other

47,847

IRD Duhallow Limited / Youth & Education Working Group (IRD Dulhallow)

James O’Keeffe Institute, Newmarket, Co Cork

Capital

134,441

Kinsale Community Playschool / Kinsale Community Playschool

4 O’Brien’s Terrace, Kinsale, Kinsale, Co. Cork

Capital

33,960

Kinsale Community Playschool / Kinsale Community Playschool

C/o. 4 Haven Hill, Summercove, Kinsale, Co. Cork

Staffing

96,000

La Crèche / La Crèche

Colaiste an Chraoibhin, Duntaheen Road, Fermoy

Staffing

40,000

La Crèche / La Crèche

Colaiste an Chraoibhin, Duntaheen Road, Fermoy, Co. Cork

Capital

41,307

La Crèche / La Crèche

Colaiste an Chraoibhin, Duntaheen Road, Fermoy, Co. Cork

Staffing

109,000

Ladybird Crèche / Ladybird Crèche

Cloughmacsimon, Bandon, Co Cork

Capital

27,713

Le Cheile — Family Resource Centre (Mallow) Ltd / Le Cheile Family Resource Centre (Mallow) Ltd

33 Fair Street, Mallow, Co Cork

Capital

16,000

Le Cheile — Family Resource Centre (Mallow) Ltd / Le Cheile Family Resource Centre (Mallow) Ltd

33 Fair Street, Mallow, Co Cork

Staffing

153,900

Le Cheile — Family Resource Centre (Mallow) Ltd / Le Cheile Family Resource Centre (Mallow) Ltd

33 Fair Street, Mallow, Co Cork

Staffing

189,842

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Le Cheile — Family Resource Centre (Mallow) Ltd / Le Cheile Family Resource Centre (Mallow) Ltd

33 Fair Street, Mallow, Co Cork

Capital

1,200,000

Leslie Moore / Leslie Moore

13 Rosehill, Carrigaline, Co Cork

Capital

50,790

Little Cherubs Montessori Playschool / Little Cherubs Montessori Playschool

C/o 77 Brookdale, Mill Road, Midleton, Co Cork

Capital

13,000

Meadowlands Montessori / Meadowlands Montessori

31 Meadowlands, Cloughmacsimon, Bandon, Co. Cork

Capital

32,333

MFG Teo — Meitheal Mhuscrai / MFG Teo — Meitheal Mhuscrai

Reidh na nDoiri, Maigh Chromtha, Co Chorcai

Other

8,634

Midleton Community Forum / Midleton Community Forum

Community Building, Oakwood Lodge Estate, Youghal Road, Midleton

Capital

28,678

Midleton Community Forum / Midleton Community Forum

Community Building, Oakwood Lodge Estate, Youghal Road, Midleton

Capital

36,989

Midleton Community Forum / Midleton Community Forum

Community Building, Oakwood Lodge Estate, Youghal Road, Midleton

Staffing

61,678

Midleton Community Forum / Midleton Community Forum

Community Building, Oakwood Lodge, Youghal Road, Midleton

Staffing

66,100

Midleton Community Forum / Midleton Community Forum

Community Building, Oakwood Lodge Estate, Youghal Road, Midleton

Capital

76,130

Midleton Community Forum / Midleton Community Forum

Community Building, Oakwood Lodge Estate, Youghal Road, Midleton

Staffing

133,322

Millstreet Community Council / Millstreet Community Council

The Muilleann Og Project, Millstreet Amenity Centre, Millstreet, Co. Cork

Capital

9,088

Millstreet Community Council / Millstreet Community Council

The Muilleann Og Project, Millstreet Amenity Centre, Millstreet, Co. Cork

Capital

16,230

Millstreet Community Council / Millstreet Community Council

The Bridge, Millstreet, Co. Cork

Staffing

54,724

Millstreet Community Council / Millstreet Community Council

The Muilleann Og Project, Millstreet Amenity Centre, Millstreet, Co Cork

Staffing

114,276

Millstreet Community Council / Millstreet Community Council

The Bridge, Millstreet, Co. Cork

Capital

186,651

Mitchelstown Community Playgroup / Mitchelstown Community Playgroup

Presentation Convent Grounds, Mitchelstown

Capital

30,874

Mulberry Montessori Pre-school / Mulberry Montessori Pre-school

Mulberry, Mitchelstown

Capital

50,790

Naionra Mhuscrai / Naionra Mhuscrai

C/o Gaelscoil Mhuscrai, Blarney United Soccer Club, Riverview Estate, Tonor, Blarney

Capital

15,300

Oakfield Close Community Playgroup / Oakfield Close Community Playgroup

Oakfield Close, Summerhill, Mallow

Capital

15,818

Oakfield Close Community Playgroup / Oakfield Close Community Playgroup

Oakfield Close, Summerhill, Mallow, Co Cork

Staffing

32,000

Oakfield Close Community Playgroup / Oakfield Close Community Playgroup

Oakfield Close, Summerhill, Mallow

Capital

38,274

Oakfield Close Community Playgroup / Oakfield Close Community Playgroup

Oakfield Close, Summerhill, Mallow

Staffing

51,200

Applicant Name / Facility Name

Address

Grant Type

Amount Approved

Oakfield Close Community Playgroup / Oakfield Close Community Playgroup

Oakfield Close, Summerhill, Mallow

Staffing

64,000

Oaklands / Oaklands

Oakview, Derry, Berrings, Co. Cork

Capital

50,790

Patricia Treacy (Tir Na nOg Montessori School) / Tir Na nOg Montessori School

Dromdiah, Killeagh, Co. Cork

Capital

3,868

Patricia Treacy (Tir Na nOg Montessori School) / Tir Na nOg Montessori School

Dromdiah, Killeagh, Co. Cork

Capital

46,922

Rainbow Montessori / Rainbow Montessori

Main Street, Ballinacurra, Midleton

Capital

4,945

Ringlee House Day Nursery / Ringlee House Day Nursery

Ringlee House, Rushbrooke, Cobh

Capital

50,790

Rockchapel Community Playgroup / Rockchapel Community Playgroup

Rockchapel, Mallow, Co. Cork

Staffing

21,078

Rockchapel Community Playgroup / Rockchapel Community Playgroup

Rockchapel, Mallow, Co. Cork

Capital

23,998

Rockchapel Community Playgroup / Rockchapel Community Playgroup

Rockchapel, Mallow, Co. Cork

Staffing

32,505

Sherkin Island Development Society Ltd / Sherkin Island Development Society Ltd.

Sherkin Island, Skibbereen, Co. Cork

Other

3,809

Starting Point Montessori School / Starting Point Montessori School

1 Murphy Terrace, Carrigaline

Capital

30,499

Sunny Days Montessori School / Sunny Days Montessori School

7 Ashbourne Court, Carrigaline, Co Cork

Capital

40,551

The United Church of Ireland Parishes of Cobh and Glanmire / The United Church of Ireland Parishes of Cobh and Glanmire

Merville, Cobh, Co Cork

Capital

8,615

Tir na nOg Day Care & Montessori / Tir na nOg Day Care & Montessori

Riversdale, Rathcormac

Capital

50,790

Youthreach Bizzie Babies Nursery & Day Care Centre / Youthreach Bizzie Babies Nursery & Day Care Centre

Units 4 & 5, Great Island Enterprise Park, Innishmore, Ballincollig

Capital

37,799

Youthreach Mallow Childcare Committee / Youthreach Mallow Childcare Committee

County Cork VEC Youthreach, Ballyellis, Mallow

Capital

1,000,000

Yvonne Feehan / Wishing Well Montessori

Ballinrea, Carrigaline, Co. Cork

Capital

50,790

Cork County Total

14,861,387

Cork City and County Total

42,750,056

North-South Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

265 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the work of the North-South unit in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22599/07]

The Research, EU and International Unit in my Department has responsibility, inter alia, for managing and coordinating North/South cooperation in the health sector. This includes direct liaison with other government departments and with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland to ensure that the Department's responsibilities in relation to North/South cooperation are met. It also includes liaison with other bodies with a North/South remit such as the North South Ministerial Council, Special EU Programmes Body, Cooperation And Working Together (CAWT) etc. There are regular ongoing contacts between officials from the Unit and counterparts in Northern Ireland to ensure cooperation in the designated areas continues and to explore potential areas for further collaborative work.

Cancer Treatment Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

266 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the future availability of cancer treatment services at Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, in particular the future of the breast care unit, the oncology unit and the palliative care unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22602/07]

The HSE has designated four managed cancer control networks (coterminous with the four HSE administrative regions) and eight cancer centres nationally. The two designated cancer centres in the HSE Dublin North East Region are Beaumont Hospital and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin.

I recently approved National Quality Assurance Standards for Symptomatic Breast Disease Services under the Health Act 2007. Arising from the designation of cancer centres and in order to comply with the Standards, the Executive has directed thirteen hospitals, with low case volumes (less than twenty procedures per year) to cease breast cancer services immediately, to be followed by further staged reductions in the number of hospitals providing breast cancer services from twenty-two to the eight cancer centres. A number of the thirteen hospitals have in practice already discontinued symptomatic breast services. The National Hospitals Office has already planned the redirection of this symptomatic caseload. Additional groups of hospitals, including Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda will be similarly directed, in line with the further development of quality assured capacity in the eight designated centres.

The decisions of the HSE in relation to the designation of four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. The HSE plans to have completed 80-90% of the transition of services to the cancer centres by the end of 2009. It is possible to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while at the same time ensuring significant local access to services, where appropriate. Where diagnosis and treatment planning is directed and managed by multi-disciplinary teams based at the cancer centres, then it can be appropriate for much of the treatment (other than surgery) to be delivered in other more local locations. In such circumstances, it will be necessary that all cancer cases receiving care should be quality assured as part of the cancer centre's service.

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular questions raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy in relation to the matters raised.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

267 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm that the new BreatCheck unit in Cork will open on schedule and that the full complement of personnel to man the unit have been recruited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22604/07]

I am committed to ensuring that the BreastCheck service is rolled out to the remaining regions in the country as quickly as possible. I have allocated additional revenue funding of €8 million to the National Cancer Screening Service for this year to meet the additional costs involved. The full complement of 111 staff for roll-out has been approved. I have also made available an additional €26.7m capital funding for the construction of two new clinical units and the provision of seven additional mobile units and state of the art digital equipment. The static unit at the South Infirmary/Victoria Hospital in Cork is due to be completed in late Autumn and BreastCheck has confirmed that the roll-out will commence in October.

The Deputy's specific question in relation to recruitment of personnel is the responsibility of the National Cancer Screening Service. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Chief Executive Officer of the Service to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to this matter.

Medical Cards.

John Deasy

Question:

268 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that chiropody services are not available to medical card holders in County Waterford; the discussions she has had with the HSE regarding the provision of uniform chiropody services to medical card holders in all parts of the State; her plans to remedy this anomaly by legislating for specific eligibility of medical card holders for chiropody services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22615/07]

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

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

Health Services.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

269 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the chaos in behaviour which exists in a care home for young people (details supplied) in County Westmeath; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that the Health Service Executive is ignoring all correspondence, telephone calls, complaints and so on regarding this establishment; and her proposals to deal with this situation. [22621/07]

My Office have sought an urgent report in relation to this matter from the Health Service Executive (HSE). In addition, the Deputy's question has been forwarded to the HSE and I have requested that the HSE reply to the Deputy directly.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

270 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children her proposals to enhance services to meet the demands of an increasing number of people with diabetes (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22628/07]

An Expert Advisory Group on Diabetes was recently established by the HSE and is currently drawing up standards of care for diabetes. This process will take account of the Department of Health and Children's document ‘ Diabetes: Prevention and Model for Patient Care’. The group has identified as one of its priorities the development of an Integrated Care Model for the treatment of diabetes. This model will focus on the joint participation of hospital consultants and general practitioners in the planned delivery of care for patients. The Expert Advisory Group has also identified the other areas of diabetes care that need priority attention such as retinopathy screening, paediatric diabetes, patient education and empowerment, and podiatry. It should be noted that the diabetic retinopathy screening to prevent eye diseases in diabetes sufferers is currently being rolled out in the Western region and in North Dublin.

In addition, my Department and the HSE are currently finalising a series of measures to manage the health impacts of chronic disease generally in the population. These measures include:—

The development of a comprehensive, integrated chronic disease policy framework which will view chronic disease as a continuum with "upstream" action on the avoidable cause of disease, disability and premature death (including in particular inter-sectoral action to address the wider determinants of health) as well as "downstream" action to improve the health and quality of life of those already suffering from the condition;

Comprehensive patient registration systems;

The development of shared care models for each condition under a disease management programme;

The development and use of evidence-based clinical guidelines for each condition;

A Self-Care Management Programme; and

Quality assurance and evaluation Protocols.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

271 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for delays in making repayments under the scheme for repayments to those illegally charged for their stay in nursing homes; the reason in particular, that of the 70,000 persons estimated to be owed a refund and the 30,000 who have made applications, only 6,000 persons have received repayments; if she has satisfied herself with the operation of the scheme by the private sector consortium appointed for the purpose; if there are performance criteria included in the contract with that consortium by reference to which their fees can be reduced or penalty payments imposed; if not, the reason for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22661/07]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has responsibility for administering the health repayment scheme in conjunction with the appointed scheme administrator KPMG/McCann Fitzgerald. This contract between the HSE and the scheme administrator is for a two year period and expires in July 2008. The HSE has informed my Department that performance indicators and penalty provisions apply to the scheme administrator in respect of this contract and penalty provisions will be applied by the HSE as required.

The scheme is progressing as speedily as possible and every effort is being made to complete repayments. The HSE has indicated that the delays in making repayments under the scheme have been due to legal and technical issues. Firstly, over 13,400 estates who lodged claims to date had not extracted a grant of representation in respect of the estate of the deceased patient. In these instances the person entitled to extract the grant of representation has to be identified before an application can be processed and to date over 6,600 certificates of entitlement permitting individuals to apply for a repayment have issued. Secondly, there has been a high incidence of claimants providing insufficient information and these claims have taken longer to process as the scheme administrator must be provided with certain information in order to ensure that the correct person and correct amount is repaid. Thirdly, it has been necessary for the scheme administrator to visit over 330 HSE facilities to scan records which form the basis for the calculation of repayments. The format in which this information is held varies widely between institutions and usually includes a mixture of paper files, handwritten files and computer files.

The HSE is monitoring the operation of the repayment scheme and has agreed a range of initiatives with the scheme administrator to speed up the repayment process. The closing date for receipt of applications is 31st December 2007 and I have been informed by the HSE that final repayments should be made by mid 2008.

Health Services.

Niall Blaney

Question:

272 Deputy Niall Blaney asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will intervene on behalf of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22667/07]

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

Question No. 273 answered with QuestionNo. 230.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

274 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the services considered essential and front line in view of the commitment made by her in May 2007 that there will be no cutbacks in essential front line services; if the ambulance service qualifies as essential and front line; and if the embargo on the ambulance service recruitment programme will be lifted. [22685/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Damien English

Question:

275 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of operations cancelled in Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan for each of the years 2002 to 2007 in tabular form. [22700/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

276 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who applied for same over six months ago, who has complied with all requests including income details and so on and despite numerous correspondence and repeated phone calls from this Deputy’s office this matter has not reached a satisfactory conclusion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22762/07]

Medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services. In 2005 the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on moderate and lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who do not qualify for a medical card would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP.

Since the beginning of 2005 substantial changes have been made to the way in which people's eligibility for a medical card is assessed and these apply equally to the assessment process for a GP visit card. The income guidelines have been increased by a cumulative 29% and in addition allowance is now made for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of mortgage/rent, child care and travel to work costs. In June 2006 I agreed a further adjustment to the income guidelines for GP visit cards. These are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards.

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

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

John Perry

Question:

277 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a claim by a person (details supplied) under the long-stay patient repayment scheme on behalf of their deceased mother was turned down despite the fact that they were a patient in a public bed in a private nursing home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22779/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive.

My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

John Perry

Question:

278 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will receive their long-stay patient repayment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22780/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive.

My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

John Perry

Question:

279 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children when a long-stay patient repayment will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22781/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive.

My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Hospital Staff.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

280 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the situation in Crumlin Children’s Hospital where there is a secretarial vacancy in the cardiology department and where several out-patient clinics will have to be cancelled during the month of October 2007 unless this post is filled in view of the critical work of this department; if she will take steps to ensure that such a vacancy is filled as a matter of the utmost urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22795/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Joe Carey

Question:

281 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will fast track the provision of an occupational guidance counsellor at a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22826/07]

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

Health Services.

Joe Carey

Question:

282 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans she has to improve the delivery of orthodontic services in the mid west region in view of the fact that waiting lists and the strict criteria of assessing children and grading cases is causing grave hardship for children and their families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22827/07]

The Orthodontic Review Group, established by the HSE in 2006, finalised its report this year.

One of the recommendations contained in the report relates to the guidelines issued in 1985. The Review Group made a unanimous recommendation to the HSE to replace these guidelines with new assessment criteria based on Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN). The national implementation of the proposed guidelines will ensure equity of access to treatment for all patients deemed eligible.

The Review Group's report has been approved by the HSE's Management Team.

In regard to the Deputy's question in relation to waiting times to improve orthodontic services, the position is that the new Programme for Government contains a commitment that orthodontic cases can be referred to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) by creating an orthodontic fund to treat children who have been waiting the longest for treatment. Officials from my Department will examine the steps involved in advancing this issue while also having discussions with the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Hospital Services.

Joe Carey

Question:

283 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that post-mortem facilities in County Clare will continue regardless of the embargo on the employment of locums; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22828/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

284 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the length of time women in the mid-west have to wait to have a mammogram at the Regional Hospital in Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22846/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular questions raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Child Care Services.

John Perry

Question:

285 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that funding is allocated to an organisation (details supplied) under NCIP capital funding as otherwise they will be unable to offer the service in the local region due to financial shortfall; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22873/07]

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

With regard to the application for capital grant assistance under the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 referred to in the question, I understand that it is currently being assessed by Pobal, the agency engaged to administer the grants. Following the assessment of the application, a recommendation will be made by the Programme Appraisal Committee (PAC), prior to a decision being made by the Secretary General of the Department of Health and Children.

As the Deputy will be aware the NCIP came into effect from 1 January 2006, with an allocation of €357 million for capital projects during the 5 year period of 2006-2010. This funding is allocated for each year subject to the rules governing capital expenditure and the multi-annual investment framework, which are also conditions of the sanction given by the Department of Finance each year for capital expenditure including the NCIP. Due to the success of the scheme to date, the existing capital commitments under the programme has reached the approved ceiling of €132 million for this year and it is not possible for this Office to enter into further capital commitments under the NCIP before January 2008 when the ceiling will adjust. However, should the application in question be assessed by Pobal and recommended by the PAC before the end of this year, it will be submitted for consideration and approval by the Secretary General of the Department of Health and Children at the earliest opportunity in January 2008.

Medical Cards.

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

286 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans in relation to old age pensioners to ensure that they can avail of dental treatment on the medical card. [22874/07]

The Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS) provides for a range of dental services for adult medical card holders from participating dentists holding contracts with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The DTSS Review Group was established in May 2006 to undertake a comprehensive review of Primary Care Oral Health Services provided under the DTSS. Represented on the Review Group are the HSE, the Health Service Employers Agency, the Department of Health and Children, the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the Department of Finance and the Irish Dental Association (IDA). The Group is chaired by Mr Finbar Flood.

Since the Group was established, a legal issue has arisen with regard to the Competition Act 2002 as it relates to the negotiation of professional fees. The issues involved are complex and my officials are working with the Attorney General's office to clarify the way forward.

The existing contractual arrangements with private dental practitioners under the DTSS for provision of dental services to eligible patients remain in place although I am aware that some dentists have indicated that they wish to resign from this scheme. It should be noted that dentists withdrawing from the scheme are obliged to work a three months notice period.

If an eligible patient cannot access the services of a dentist because the dentist has resigned from the DTSS, that patient may approach any dentist within the Scheme for treatment.

Question No. 287 answered with QuestionNo. 229.

Services for People with Disabilities.

David Stanton

Question:

288 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of assessments which have been carried out to date following the commencement of Part 2 of the Disability Act, 2005 for children under five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22885/07]

David Stanton

Question:

289 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of assessment officers appointed to carry out assessments under Part 2 of the Disability Act, 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22886/07]

David Stanton

Question:

290 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications for an assessment of need that have been received following the commencement of Part 2 of the Disability Act, 2005 for children under five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22887/07]

David Stanton

Question:

291 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of liaison officers appointed to prepare service statements under Part 2 of the Disability Act, 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22888/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 288 to 291, inclusive, together.

A key element of the National Disability Strategy is the suite of six Sectoral Plans which were published by Government Departments last year. The Sectoral Plan for the Department of Health and Children sets out the actions to be taken to implement the Disability Act 2005.

The development of the Department's Sectoral Plan is an important opportunity to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are considered in all health policy planning and service delivery. The provision of health funded services to meet identified needs of people with disabilities continues to be a priority for the Government.

Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 was commenced on June 1st 2007 for children aged under 5. This gives people with disabilities an entitlement to an independent assessment of health and education needs and a service statement identifying the services to be delivered. A system of complaints and appeals has also been established. An assessment based on the needs of a client, independent of the costs of the provision of service, will be provided. The HSE will prepare a service statement outlining the services to be provided to the person. This is a very welcome significant step towards enhancing the level of support to people with disabilities.

It is the first time that an independent assessment of need, conducted according to standards laid down and monitored by an independent agency, the Health Information and Quality Authority, will be available. The Act will also give us an accurate picture of service provision and of areas for improvement across the system.

The assessment of need process is a matter for the HSE and I have referred this matter to the HSE who will be in a position to provide information in terms of the numbers involved, the appointment of assessment and liaison officers.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

292 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has proposals to change the eligibility criteria for qualification for the motorised transport grant as many people with severe disabilities are currently being denied this assistance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22892/07]

My Department issued a circular governing eligibility for the Motorised Transport Grant in March 2007. The grant may be paid by the Health Service Executive towards the purchase or adaptation of a car where a person with a disability requires it in order to retain employment. The current maximum rate of payment for this grant is €4,917.20 and is payable every three years.

If the Deputy has specific cases in mind perhaps she could contact the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the HSE at 6352527 or pad@hse.ie, who will examine the case and respond to the Deputy.

Question No. 293 answered with QuestionNo. 230.

Hospital Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

294 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the facts in relation to the two new modular theatres in the Louth County Hospital, Dundalk; the position regarding the cost of purchase and installation of same; the date installed and made operational; the use of each of these theatres to date and the dates thereof; the number of dedicated staff needed to operate these theatres and their qualifications and cost to date; the maintenance cost to date and the details of contracts entered into; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22895/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances.

Jack Wall

Question:

295 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application for a domiciliary care allowance will be processed for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the fact that the application is with her Department for some considerable time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22897/07]

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

Rural Transport Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

296 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine the plans he or his Department have to extend the rural transport initiative to the villages (details supplied) surrounding the town of Newbridge; the frequency of such transport; the time-frame involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22653/07]

Under the Rural Transport Programme, initiatives to expand and develop rural transport services are matters for local communities, in consultation with Pobal. Community groups in Newbridge seeking to establish a scheme should make contact with Pobal at Holbrook House, Holles Street, Dublin 2.

State Airports.

Richard Bruton

Question:

297 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine if final decisions have been reached on the division of assets and liabilities between the various airport authorities; when the separation will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22269/07]

The State Airports Act, 2004 provides the framework for the establishment of Shannon and Cork as independent airports. Under the Act, both the Minister for Finance and I will have to be satisfied as to the state of operational and financial readiness of the three airports before any vesting of assets can take place.

The actual timing of airport restructuring will continue to depend on the creation of the appropriate conditions that will ensure the financial sustainability of each State Airport.

Park and Ride Facilities.

Shane McEntee

Question:

298 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine his views on the introduction of parking charges by Iarnród Éireann at Gormanston Railway Station; if it is intended to introduce charges elsewhere on the Dublin to Drogheda line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22275/07]

The provision and management of car parking facilities at railway stations, including the imposition of charges, is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann.

However, I understand from Iarnród Éireann that as part of its upgrade of the railway system it has embarked on a major programme of upgrades to its park & ride facilities throughout the country. As new and upgraded car parks, such as Gormanston, are opened Iarnród Éireann has decided to introduce a pay and display facility, with nominal charges of €2 per day, or €5 per week to cover operational and security costs, to discourage non-rail users from taking spaces and to reserve spaces for those who have to use a car to access the station.

The modest charges are significantly lower than that charged by local authorities for on-street parking, for parking at local authority facilities adjacent to rail stations, or the fee for Luas commuters at €4 per day.

The charges are in line with the guiding principles for the implementation of rail-based park and ride sites developed by the Dublin Transportation Office. These provide, inter alia, that rail users only should use park and ride spaces, and may have to pay to use them and those who benefit from park and ride should contribute to the cost of it.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Michael Ring

Question:

299 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine the meetings that have taken place between his Department and any associated Departments in relation to the provision of patient transport in line with responsibilities contained in the sectoral plan for accessible transport under the Disability Act, 2005. [21166/07]

In my Department's Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act 2005, there is an emphasis on inclusiveness and, it does not, therefore, make specific provisions for any particular groups of people, such as hospital patients.

However, as part of the expansion of the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) to provide increased services and expand coverage, my Department initiated a meeting on 24th May last with the Health Service Executive (HSE), Pobal and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to examine the scope for closer cooperation between the various interests involved in community transport.

At that meeting, it was agreed that the HSE and Pobal would explore the potential for one or more pilot projects involving individual RTP groups and the HSE at local level. The HSE has now proposed a follow-up meeting on the matter for mid-November and I await the outcome of that meeting.

Air Accident Investigations.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

300 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine his views on the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied). [22407/07]

I am advised that the correspondence referred to does not contain material that would warrant any further review of the air accident to EI-ACF, which occurred in 1953, and which was reviewed in 2002 by Mr. Patrick Keane S.C. on behalf of this Department.

Public Transport.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

301 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 490 of 26 September 2007 which acknowledges the obligations of CIE in relation to their social role, the procedures by which CIE has calculated such assets as it considers surplus to public transport requirements in general; and the procedures in particular that were used to establish the regional integrated public transport needs that might be served at Ceannt Station in Galway City in view of the public interest in the policy issues that arise. [22416/07]

This is a day-to-day operational matter for CIÉ and not one in which I have any role.

Light Rail Project.

Brian Hayes

Question:

302 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine the estimated cost of the Metro North line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22441/07]

I am not in a position to publish the estimated capital cost of Metro North in advance of the completion of public procurement procedures. The publication of such commercially sensitive information prior to the completion of the competitive procurement process would prejudice the State's capacity to derive maximum value for money in respect of the project.

North-South Co-operation.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

303 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine if he will report on the work of the North-South unit in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22601/07]

My Department is currently following up on the progress made at the recent meeting of the NSMC Transport Sector in Enniskillen in September, in light of the decisions reached, which are described in the joint communiqué issued after the meeting. This is in preparation for the next meeting of the NSMC in December.

Road Traffic Offences.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

304 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine his views on an increase in penalty points for those caught not displaying L plates, particularly those not displaying L plates who drive on our motorways here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22640/07]

Enforcement of road traffic driving offences is a matter for the Garda Síochána. The non-display of L plates on a vehicle being driven by the holder of a provisional driving license is not scheduled as a penalty point offence under the Road Traffic Act 2002.

I have no proposals under consideration for amendment of the 2002 Act to provide that the non-display of L Plates would be brought within the penalty point system.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

305 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine when he will introduce penalty points to first time provisional drivers and third provisional licence holders who are breaking the law by driving unaccompanied on roads here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22641/07]

Proposals for reform of the regulatory provisions relating to driver licensing and testing are being developed at present in line with the provisions of the Road Safety Authority Act 2006.

Driving Tests.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

306 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport and the Marine when he will address the practice of allowing drivers who have failed their driving test to get into their cars and drive away from the test centre when it is not practised in many other countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22643/07]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006) the Road Safety Authority has respo