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.
Question No. 5 withdrawn.
Questions Nos. 6 to 9, inclusive, answered orally.

Marine Safety.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

10 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport the number of passenger ships and boats certified by his Department for each year since 2000; the number of breaches, of such certificates for each year; the action taken and results of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9707/08]

In answering this question I would like to draw a distinction between passenger boats and passenger ships.

A passenger boat is a vessel, which carries less than twelve passengers for hire or reward or which carries passengers to or from their place of work. All passenger boats are engaged on domestic voyages within the State either on inland lakes or rivers or to sea. Passenger boats are required to comply with Statutory Instrument No. 273 of 2002 Merchant Shipping (Passenger Boat) Regulations, which entered into force in June of 2002 and passenger boat certification/licensing was provided for on a regulated basis therein.

A passenger ship is a vessel, which carries more than twelve passengers. Passenger ships include both international and domestic passenger ships. There are no international passenger ships flying the Irish flag and all Irish passenger ships currently operate on domestic voyages both on inland waters and to sea. Passenger ships are required to comply with a very extensive body of merchant shipping legislation, which is being further developed by the Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, which will be published this year.

I am in a position to provide numbers of passenger boats and ships that were certified from 2000 to date.

Year

Boats

Ships

2000

196

123

2001

212

125

2002

200

120

2003

200

130

2004

180

112

2005

235

114

2006

164

99

2007

240

79

In relation to the number of breaches of such certificates for each year, actions taken and the results of same I must point out that this is a complicated matter which involves the other enforcement agencies of the State in addition to the officers of my Department. These other organisations include amongst others An Garda Síochána and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs who fund a number of the passenger ships under their PSO provision.

In general, Irish passenger ships and boats are operated to a high standard. However, all domestic passenger ships are subject to unannounced inspections by Surveyors from my Department during the year to ensure continued compliance with the requirements and that they are being operated safely. Enforcement actions can include the Surveyor issuing deficiency notices against the ship with set deadlines for rectification, more serious deficiencies may result in the detention of a ship and in some serious cases a prosecution may be taken against the skipper and/or owner of the vessel. Additionally, complaints may be received from members of the public and my officials follow-up on all of these and take additional action as necessary. For example in 2007 all of the domestic passenger ships were subject to the unannounced inspections, and one prosecution was taken for overloading of a passenger ship.

Should he so wish, I will have my officials contact the Deputy directly and they can explain the detail of the certification and enforcement regime and provide clarifications and further detail as required.

Road Safety.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

11 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport if he has reviewed the recent study by the European Transport Safety Council which indicated that deaths on motorways here increased by 11% between 2000 and 2006 and ranked Ireland in seventh place with 2.39 deaths per billion kilometres travelled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9617/08]

I understand that, according to the recent report on motorway deaths published by the European Transport Safety Council, Ireland is ranked seventh of nineteen European countries surveyed. The survey shows that in Ireland the deaths per billion vehicle-kilometres for 2006 at 2.39 was better than the EU average, which was 4 deaths per billion vehicle-kilometres.

This is, of course, a welcome finding although we must continue our efforts to reduce fatalities on our roads to as low a level as possible.

The report itself sounds a note of caution relating to trends drawn from fatalities on motorway in countries such as Ireland where the annual number of such fatalities is below 20. The report points out that in countries with such low motorway death rates, the number of fatalities from one year to the next year is subject to substantial random fluctuation.

It is a core objective of the Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012 to reduce the level of fatalities on our roads to no more than 60 fatalities per million, which is 252 fatalities per annum or 21 per month.

Question No. 12 answered with Question No. 7.

Michael Noonan

Question:

13 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Transport if he has had contact with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to discuss and consider altering traffic laws to allow the quicker clearing of minor road vehicle collisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9731/08]

The statutory position in relation to this matter is as follows. The obligations of persons on the occurrence of an accident involving a vehicle where injury is caused to person or property are set out in section 106 of the Road Traffic Act 1961. These outline requirements to keep a vehicle at the scene and in relation to the reporting of the accident. There are no proposals under consideration to amend the present provisions.

The carrying out of investigations in relation to a collision that has occurred is a matter for the Garda Síochána. Operational procedures for investigations are not prescribed in section 106 so any decision to close off a public road or part of a public road at the scene while investigations are undertaken or the setting up of detour routes for traffic are operational matters for the Gardaí in each situation.

On a non-statutory basis, however, I have asked my officials to consult with the Gardaí, the NRA, the City and County Managers Association and the Road Safety Authority to see whether there are any measures which could be taken from a traffic management point of view to mitigate the effects on traffic of collisions or other accidents or incidents which occur on our roads network, particularly in urban areas.

Willie Penrose

Question:

14 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Transport the proposed completion date of the Dublin rail interconnector; when CIÉ and Irish Rail will apply for an railway order to commence construction; when boring is proposed to begin on the project; his Department’s preferred route for the interconnector; the estimated cost of the interconnector project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9634/08]

The implementation of the Interconnector is matter for Iarnród Éireann in the first instance. Transport 21 provides for completion of the Interconnector by 2015.

I understand from Iarnród Éireann that it has completed the preliminary design of the project, including public consultation in July 2007 on route options and is now proceeding to detailed design and the preparation of an application for a Railway Order. The company aims to submit the application to An Bord Pleanála in 2009 with a view to the commencement of work in 2010, subject to an enforceable Railway Order.

With regard to costs, in the interest of the taxpayer and in ensuring that Transport 21 is achieved within budget, it is Government policy that the cost of individual projects should not be released until the public procurement processes have been completed.

Road Network.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

15 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the progress on the development of a network of motorway service and rest areas on the national road network; the number of motorway service and rest areas proposed in total; the completion date for each of the rest and service areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9608/08]

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. The detailed planning, design and implementation of national road projects, including the possible provision of service and/or rest areas on or near these routes, is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act 1993, as amended by the Roads Act 2007, in conjunction with the relevant local authorities concerned.

In recognition of the important role service area facilities can play in improving the safety of the national road network, my predecessor asked the NRA in late 2005 to review their service area policy. Arising from this review, the NRA announced a strategy to provide service areas at intervals (where feasible and practicable) of approximately 50-60kms along national routes. They identified optimum locations for up to 12 service areas on the Major Inter-urban Routes (M1, M4/N4, N6, M7/N7, N8, N9) as well as the N6/N18 and N11 routes.

I understand from the NRA that these service areas will offer a full range of services including retail services as well as extensive car and HGV parking facilities.

The NRA had initially considered developing service and rest areas separately. However, having considered the matter further in consultation with local authorities, they have decided that service areas with extensive parking facilities available for both cars and HGVs offer a more attractive product and a more secure environment for all drivers. In addition, they will allow a more comprehensive enforcement of transport law and regulation.

My role is to ensure that the necessary legislative framework is in place to provide for such areas. I am pleased to inform the House that last Thursday, 28 February 2008, I signed the necessary regulations giving effect to provisions in the Road Act 2007 to facilitate service areas along national routes. As a result, the NRA expects this week to submit Service Area Schemes to An Bord Pleanála for the first tranche of three services areas on currently constructed sections of the motorway (two on the M1 and one on the M4).

The NRA has already begun the PPP procurement processes for these service areas. They are also actively pursing site acquisition for other proposed areas on the rest of the national road network. Subject to An Bord Pleanála approval, completion of the first three service areas is anticipated in 2009.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

16 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Transport if he will bring in a comprehensive Departmental drug testing policy for the alcohol and drug testing of safety critical transport workers in both public and private transport companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9618/08]

Section 88 of the Railway Safety Act 2005 requires rail companies to draw up a code of conduct for safety critical workers in relation to intoxicants (i.e. drugs and alcohol) and sampling procedures in that regard.

Veolia (as operator of the Luas) has a code of conduct in place and the Railway Safety Commission has accepted this as part of the approval of the Safety Case for Luas.

Iarnród Éireann is implementing its draft code of conduct pending clarification of some outstanding issues with the Railway Safety Commission.

With regard to bus services, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle. Section 49 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 prohibits the driving of a mechanically propelled vehicle by a person while under the influence of an intoxicant. Enforcement of the law on drink and drug driving is a matter for An Garda Síochána. When a member of the Gardaí suspects that a driver of a vehicle is driving under the influence of any intoxicant, the Garda may arrest the suspect under Section 49 of the Road Traffic Act 1961.

In addition to this, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann are considering the introduction of drink and drug testing as envisaged in Section 13(1) of the Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

The position applying to shipping transport has two perspectives. Internationally trading ships are required to comply with the International Maritime Organisation's ISM (International Safety Management) Code. This requires the company to identify all hazards and to manage the associated risks. Consequently most shipping companies do assess risks and may develop company specific drug and alcohol policies.

Domestic passenger ships proceeding to sea, and cargo ships in excess of 500 gross tonnage, will be required to have an ISM system in place from the 24th March 2008. They will need to assess the necessity for drug and alcohol policies as part of this obligation.

In addition the Merchant Shipping (Medical Examinations) Regulations 2005 requires seafarers, employed or engaged in any capacity on board every seagoing ship, whether publicly or privately owned, to hold a valid certificate attesting to their medical fitness for the work for which they are employed. The medical fitness standards applying in Ireland include addiction disorders. Doctors may require a drug and alcohol test at the time of certification of a seafarer.

With regard to aviation, Irish, European, and International requirements and regulations require an air operator to establish policies and procedures with regard to the consumption of alcohol and psychoactive substances. These policies and procedures are published in air operators' Operations Manuals, with which all air crew are obliged to comply, and the air operator is required to monitor compliance with these policies and procedures.

Specifically, Irish Aviation Authority (Operations) Order, S.I. No. 61 of 2006 and Irish Aviation Authority (Personnel Licensing) Order, S.I. No. 333 of 2000 and subsequent amendment Orders, available on the IAA website www.iaa.ie address these matters.

Road Safety.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

17 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Transport the progress in delivering the 126 actions contained in the Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012; the other actions in the Road Safety Strategy that will not be achieved on deadline; the reason for the delay in implementing each of these actions; the way he monitors the implementation of the Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012; if he has made a decision on the request from the Road Safety Authority to increase the penalty points awarded for not wearing a seat belt and speeding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9612/08]

The Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012 was prepared by the Road Safety Authority, and one of the actions in the Strategy is for that agency to report to me in the second quarter of each year on the implementation of the 126 actions in the Strategy, all of which identify the agency responsible for implementation and a target implementation date.

I expect to have the first report in the second quarter of this year, and anticipate that the report will emphasise road safety outcomes achieved, cost benefit analysis and value for money.

I will of course bring that report to the Cabinet Sub-Committee which I chair, as it is important that the implementation of the Strategy is co-ordinated at the highest level.

The RSA has confirmed to me that all actions in the Strategy identified for completion in 2007 have been completed in full. These include publication of a revised Rules of the Road, road safety awareness events, integration of RSA enforcement activity with An Garda Síochána, Customs and the HSA, and publication of various consultation documents including one on compulsory training for motor cyclists.

It is of course the case that work has already begun on other actions in the Strategy which have a longer timeframe for completion, for example the introduction of a lower blood alcohol level for drivers, which is currently being examined by the Road Safety Authority with a view to making a recommendation to me in the next month or so.

In relation to penalty points, the position is that while fixed charges can be changed by way of amending Regulations, any increase in the number of penalty points applying to specific offences requires primary legislation. It is my intention to introduce a new Road Safety Bill later this year, and the issue of penalty points and the recommendations of the RSA on the matter will be considered in that context.

The new Road Safety Bill will also include provisions relating to a reduced blood alcohol level and to mandatory alcohol testing of drivers at collisions.

Question No. 18 answered with Question No. 6.

Coast Guard Service.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

19 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Transport if he will decentralise his Department’s Coast Guard and Maritime Administration to Drogheda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9691/08]

John Perry

Question:

21 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Transport his proposals in relation to staff presently employed by his Department at Malin Head; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9741/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

45 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Transport his position on the reform of the marine rescue coordination centres; if he will maintain marine rescue coordination centres at Valentia and Malin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9636/08]

John Perry

Question:

49 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Transport his proposals in relation to staff presently employed by his Department at Valentia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9742/08]

Joe McHugh

Question:

68 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport if he has read the Inishowen development partnership’s rebuttal to the 16 page Coast Guard report; his views on the points made in the document; if his Department will accept the findings in this document and agree that the Irish Coast Guard report is flawed, in view of the fact that two experts have backed up the claims that the report is not based on concrete evidence; if any location on the west coast has been identified for a new Coast Guard station; the reason this location has been chosen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8902/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos.19, 21, 45, 49 and 68 together.

It is my intention that the Irish Coast Guard and Maritime Administration will be strengthened to meet the needs of this country well in the 21st century.

I have confirmed that investment in a new Integrated Communications System equipment should proceed as quickly as possible. There has been some delay in recent years in proceeding with this upgrade due to uncertainty about the number and nature of Centres to be provided for and where they should be located. The development of the Centres is being considered in the context of not only replacing the existing hardware but, if possible, an overall upgrade of the Centre's building, offices, meeting room, ergonomics, telecommunications systems and facilities for staff. What is envisaged is a modern, efficient and flexible national coordination centre in line with best international standards.

The issue of the number of centres was raised in a 2002 Deloitte and Touche Irish Coast Guard Study. This report has provided a backdrop to ongoing improvements and developments in the Coast Guard over the last 6 years. A number of recommendations are strategic in nature; including reducing the number of rescue co-ordination centres from the current three to two enhanced Centres. The most economical option identified by the consultants was one Coordination Centre to run the entire country, with a reserve centre nearby, which could be quickly activated if the main centre was out of commission and would also double as a training facility. However the need for strengthened resilience in the event of a severe localised incident, which could make the one Centre and its close by reserve centre inoperable, has led to the focus on a two-centre operation. The consultants did not identify where the two centres should be located.

In relation to the west coast I consider that the site should provide a technically robust location, well served by transport and technical and social infrastructure and also be situated where all staff can live within close proximity to enable them to be called on in an emergency. I have not finalised where that location should be but expect to be in a position to do so shortly. The review of locations is currently underway and the possibilities have narrowed to a choice between a site in the Limerick/Shannon area or Malin or Valentia.

Should the decision be to move from Malin or Valentia the possibility of keeping existing staff running combined radio watches from their existing stations is also under evaluation in order to fully utilise the professional knowledge of current staff whilst not asking them to move.

In relation to the East Coast, at least 37 posts are to move to the Drogheda area. Should the restructuring I envisage take place it is possible that an increased number could relocate over time.

Deputies will understand that the Coast Guard restructuring that is being worked on is aimed at improving the overall quality and efficiency of a key public service. The proposals will be considered in the context of the many comments I have received and also taking account of the Tánaiste's Budget Day request to each Department to undertake an efficiency review of expenditure. I have also met Government and Opposition representatives, members of local communities, including the Inishowen Development Partnership Group, to discuss the issue.

All the views that have been expressed will be taken into account before final decisions are taken.

Congestion Charges.

Billy Timmins

Question:

20 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Transport if he will ensure that no congestion charges will be imposed anywhere in Ireland before significant public transport infrastructure projects become operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9738/08]

I recently restated my position in relation to the introduction of congestion charges, on the occasion of the launch of the public consultation on my Department's sustainable travel and transport document — ‘2020 Vision: Sustainable Travel and Transport'. As part of my announcement, I made it clear that I see congestion charging as part of a package of traffic management measures to support and complement the major capital investment in public transport that is taking place under Transport 21. Transport 21 is addressing significant investment needs in both roads and public transport and will put in place a modern integrated transport network. When completed it will give car users real choice in their modes of transport. I consider that congestion charging becomes an appropriate policy option only when real choice is available to car users who might be subject to some form of road charging.

Question No. 21 answered with Question No. 19.

Transport Action Plan.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

22 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Transport his views on a review of speed limits on the national motorway network in view of the role that lower speed limits can play in reducing transport carbon emissions and in cutting road deaths and serious injuries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9620/08]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

27 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Transport his views on the inclusion of a recommendation for mandatory eco cars for the ministerial and State vehicle fleet in the proposed sustainable travel and transport action plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9621/08]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

42 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Transport the timeline for the publication of the sustainable transport and travel action plan after the conclusion of the consultation process; his views on whether accompanying legislation will be necessary; the carbon emissions and car ownership targets that will be necessary to achieve the 2020 vision outlined in the consultation document; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9605/08]

Mary Upton

Question:

67 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Transport if he will clarify his position on congestion charges for Dublin; his views on the introduction of charges once Transport 21 has come on stream; when he estimates is the earliest time that public transport alternatives will be present throughout the mid-east region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9622/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 22, 27, 42 and 67 together.

On 25 February 2008, I commenced a public consultation exercise that will lead, during 2008, to the adoption by Government of a sustainable travel and transport action plan.

Pending completion of the consultation exercise, I am open to suggestions from all quarters in relation to the content of the proposed action plan. Accordingly, at this stage, it would be premature for me to set targets or make decisions, in the context of sustainable travel and transport, on issues such as modal shift, vehicle specification or revisions to speed limits. The outcome of the consultation exercise will ultimately determine whether or not legislation will be required for the implementation of the sustainable travel and transport action plan.

In relation to congestion charging in Dublin, I have no ideological problem with such a proposal. However, I consider that adequate alternative transportation options, including measures envisaged under Transport 21, must be available to commuters before such charging could be viewed as feasible.

Marine Safety.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

23 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport the recommendations made to his Department by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board for each year since 2000; if each such recommendation has been put into effect; if not the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9715/08]

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) was established on 5 June 2002. Since its establishment the MCIB has published 74 reports, which contain approximately 300 recommendations. These recommendations have made a significant contribution to the development of a range of maritime safety measures.

The measures cover safety at sea for all those who venture on to the water, most particularly for those seafarers and others who earn their living from domestic waters, whether by coastal trade or fishing or when engaging in various leisure activities. In relation to fishing vessels a safety regime was put in place for all fishing vessels over 24 metres in length by the introduction, in August 2002, of the Fishing Vessel (Safety Provisions) Regulations 2002. A Safety Code of Practice was introduced in 2004 for fishing vessels less than 15 metres in length. The Merchant Shipping (Fishing Vessel) (15-24 metres) Regulations came into effect for new vessels on 1 October 2007. This represents a phased approach aimed at improving safety measures across all categories of fishing vessels.

For the leisure sector new measures have centred on lifejackets, licensing requirements, enforcement and increased safety awareness. New regulations in relation to the wearing of lifejackets were introduced in June 2004. The Regulations contain national requirements governing all types of pleasure craft relating to the carrying and wearing of lifejackets, age restrictions on the operation of pleasure craft including personal watercraft and controls on the use of alcohol and drugs while operating such craft.

It is now compulsory for all children up to the age of 16 years to wear a life jacket/personal flotation device (PFD) while on board a pleasure craft and for everyone on board small pleasure craft, under 7 metres, to wear a lifejacket/PFD. All passenger boats are required to have a licence with effect from 1st January 2003 and passenger boat manning regulations came into force from 1st April 2006. The latter regulations introduced competency requirements for masters of passenger boats. There has been a crackdown on non-compliance by passenger boat safety involving a campaign of random spot checks over the last number of summers. Closer liaison with the Garda Síochána and an active policy of prosecution for offenders is also being pursued.

A safety awareness campaign was launched as part of an ongoing programme being promoted by the Irish Coast Guard and Maritime Administration. The campaign involves amongst other things, a series of radio and on-line safety awareness advertisements and intensified targeted publicity campaigns over the summer months. Where measures have not yet been implemented they continue provide an input into the ongoing development of the maritime safety agenda.

Air Traffic Management.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

24 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Transport his views on whether a safety critical sector such as the air traffic control system can be run on an ongoing basis of heavy overtime levels; the level of overtime for air traffic control officers his Department finds acceptable; if he will provide additional funding to the Irish Aviation Authority for the training of more air traffic control officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9630/08]

The Irish Aviation Authority is a commercial semi-state company established under the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993. It is responsible for the provision of air traffic management, engineering and related air traffic technological infrastructure in Irish controlled airspace; for communications and associated technological infrastructure on the North Atlantic; and for safety regulation of Ireland's Civil Aviation Industry.

I have no function in relation to the deployment and working arrangements of air traffic controllers, which are operational matters for the IAA. The IAA is self-financing and does not receive any State funding, therefore the question of providing additional funding for training air traffic control personnel does not arise.

As regards the safety of the air traffic control system overall, it should be noted that, uniquely in Europe, the IAA is subject to a safety audit carried out by an independent entity, appointed by the Minister pursuant to Section 32 of the Irish Aviation Act 1993, to ensure that the IAA continues to maintain the highest possible safety standards. The next such audit is scheduled to take place this year. The effectiveness of the safety arrangements has been consistently confirmed in the audits carried out and I am satisfied that the IAA operates to a safety standard that ranks among industry leaders.

Road Safety.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

25 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if he has received the recommendations of the Road Safety Authority’s Policy Advisory Group on the lowering of the blood alcohol level; if so, when he will publish the recommendations and make a decision on lowering the blood alcohol limit to 50mg; his views on imposing a total ban or very low blood alcohol limit on provisional and learner drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9604/08]

The Road Safety Strategy for 2007 to 2012, which was launched in October last year, identifies the need to legislate for and introduce a reduction in the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level for drivers, but it does not specify what that level should be.

The Government has decided that the BAC level should be reduced. The precise level to which the BAC will be lowered will follow consideration by me of the advice of the Road Safety Authority (RSA). I expect to receive that advice in the next month or so. A number of issues will inform the recommendations of the RSA, including known driver behaviour, past offending rates, analysis of data held by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, enforcement practicalities and best international practice.

Proposed Legislation.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

26 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Transport the nature of the delay in drafting the legislation for the Dublin Transportation Authority Bill; if there are private consultants involved in the process of drafting the legislation; the cost of such consultants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9724/08]

I indicated previously that I was undertaking a review of the existing legislative proposals for the Dublin Transport Authority, looking particularly at:

strengthening the provisions of the Bill generally to ensure that the Authority is as effective as possible;

improving the arrangements for co-ordination of land use and transport;

ensuring that the provisions governing the procurement of public transport services and public service obligations take full account of the recently agreed EU Public Service Obligation Regulation and EU law generally.

That review has now been completed. I will now consult with Government colleagues on the changes that have been made and very shortly thereafter I will seek Government approval for the Dublin Transport Authority Bill. I will publish the Bill as this process is complete.

Solicitors Matheson Ormsby Prentice were engaged on two separate occasions during 2006 to provide legal advice on company and EU law issues that arose during the preparation of the Dublin Transport Authority Bill. The total cost of both consultancies was €39,880 (including VAT).

Question No. 27 answered with Question No. 22.

Road Safety.

Liz McManus

Question:

28 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Transport the amount of funding currently allocated to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety for driver drug testing; his response to the MBRS request two years ago for additional funding in order to expand the drugs analysis programme; his views on the introduction of a roadside drug testing initiative; the international driver drug testing programmes his Department are currently reviewing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9615/08]

While my Department provides annual funding to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS), the allocation of resources to the various programmes is a matter for the Bureau itself.With regard to drug testing of drivers, the Road Traffic Acts already provide that a member of the Garda Síochána may, where he or she is of the opinion that a person in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place is under the influence of a drug or drugs to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of that vehicle, require that person to go to a Garda station and further require that person to submit to a blood test or to provide a urine sample.

There is no feasible basis as yet in Ireland or in Europe for the introduction of a preliminary roadside test for drugs, as testing devices are still in the prototype stages. However, the MBRS is keeping abreast of developments in this area and is keeping me informed on the matter.

Joe Carey

Question:

29 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport if the proposed roll out of speed cameras will have an impact on road safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9675/08]

Analysis of recent road collision data by the RSA confirms that speeding is a serious issue in relation to road safety. Inappropriate speeding has been identified as one of the primary causes of death and injuries on Irish roads. The introduction of the Safety Camera Network to provide 6,000 hours of enforcement per month is a specific action identified in the 2007 — 2012 Road Safety Strategy.

This has been targeted as a very significant addition to the existing enforcement programme and of vital importance not only in achieving increased levels of compliance with road traffic law but also in saving lives. The Government decision last week to proceed with the safety camera project, notwithstanding the significantly increased costs since the original estimate, is an indication of the Government's seriousness in addressing road safety.

Driving Tests.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

30 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Transport the amount of money his Department has transferred to the Road Safety Authority in 2008 for increased driver testing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9677/08]

In accordance with the Revised Estimates for Public Services for 2008 an amount of €39.704 million has been allocated by my Department to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in respect of 2008. It is a matter for the RSA to operate and manage its affairs within the financial resources available to it.

Road Traffic Offences.

Denis Naughten

Question:

31 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport his plans to extend penalty points to foreign nationals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8955/08]

Liz McManus

Question:

54 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Transport his views on the establishment of a non-Irish registered vehicle driver file to ensure that all vehicles on roads here are subject to the same laws, regulations and penalties and that any fines or penalties accrued by a driver of a foreign registered vehicle are realised; the progress made on the mutual recognition of penalty points between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9616/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 54 together.

All drivers are subject to road traffic law and enforcement is a matter for An Garda Síochána. The realisation of any fines or penalties imposed by the Courts is a matter for the Courts Service.

The enforcement on foreign registered drivers of penalties for road traffic offences is a complex legal and administrative matter for many States, and my Department is pursuing this question at European, British/Irish and North/South levels.

We are working with the United Kingdom with the objective of having a bilateral agreement on mutual recognition of driving disqualifications in place later this year, under the framework of the relevant EU Convention.

The mutual recognition of penalty points is however a much more difficult matter which is not covered by the EU Convention. In particular it involves complex legal questions which have yet to be determined and which will require the passage of primary legislation both here and in the United Kingdom in due course. While both jurisdictions are working on this, it will be some time before a bilateral agreement can be put in place on this particular issue.

Proposed Legislation.

Willie Penrose

Question:

32 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Transport when he will publish the legislation establishing the Dublin Transport Authority; the proposed heads of the Dublin Transport Authority Bill; when he will publish the Public Transport Regulation Bill, the Bus Licensing Bill and the Road Traffic Bill; the purpose and heads of each of these bills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9633/08]

It is my intention to publish the Dublin Transport Authority Bill, to provide for the establishment of a transport authority for the Greater Dublin Area, in April 2008.

The primary focus of the proposed Public Transport Regulation Bill will be to deliver on the Programme for Government commitment to improving bus services under ‘Transport 21' by reforming the bus licensing provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932 and the Transport Act 1958 to facilitate the optimum provision of services by providing a level playing field for all bus market participants, both public and private. At this stage it is too early to be precise on the detail of the proposals except to confirm that any new licensing regime will be designed in a manner consistent with the new EU Regulation on Public Service Obligations in the transport sector, which was adopted in 2007 and will come into force in December 2009.

Work is at an early stage on the drafting of a Road Traffic Bill 2008. It is hoped to bring proposals to Government in the summer. The Bill will deal with a number of road safety issues including a reduction in the blood alcohol level.

Carbon Emissions.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

33 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Transport his estimate of what his Department have made of the contribution of the maritime and shipping sector to transport emissions here particularly in view of the recent report carried out an organisation (detail supplied) for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that shipping emissions are expected to be as much as three times higher than currently thought; if he has proposals to tackle the level of Irish shipping emissions; his views on whether shipping should be part of the reformed EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9626/08]

The issue of emissions from ships receives continued attention at national, EU and international level. While there is some evidence that the level of emissions from ships is greater than previously estimated it remains well below those of other transport modes.

Annex VI to the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) was adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 1997 to control emissions with a view to preventing air pollution from ships.

Annex VI which has applied internationally since 2005 is currently under review at IMO with a view to further reducing emissions from ships. The organisation to which the Deputy refers has contributed to the review process by means of a detailed submission. My Department is fully engaged in the review process both at EU level and at IMO and fully supports many of the points made in the submission. This matter is to be next discussed at IMO during the week commencing 31 March 2008.

Should a proposal be made to include shipping as part of the reformed EU Trading Scheme I would welcome discussion to enable an informed discussion to be made in due course.

Marine Searches.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

34 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport the arrangements being put in place to discharge the commitment to reimburse the fishing boat owners for the huge costs involved in the search to locate the MFV Honeydew. [9110/08]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

50 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport the reason there has been such a long delay in discharging the commitment to reimburse the fishing boat owners for the huge costs involved in the search to locate the MFV Honeydew; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9111/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 34 and 50 together.

Several fishing vessels joined the search for the Fishing Vessel Honeydew 11, which got into difficulty on 11th January 2007. These vessels were not tasked by the Irish Coast Guard but joined the search voluntarily. The Department of Transport made no commitment to compensate boat owners for the fuel expended during the course of the search. As a general rule vessels at sea are under an obligation to respond to a distress call at sea. The Department of Transport does not normally compensate vessels or craft of opportunity for the fuel that they have used nor is it international practice to do so.

Question No. 35 answered with Question No. 6.

Marine Safety.

Brian Hayes

Question:

36 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Transport if any application for a certified passenger boat or ship has been refused by his Department since 2000; the reasons given for such refusal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9709/08]

My Department receives a large number of applications for certification of passenger boats and ships each year and Surveyors from my Department engage in discussions with the applicants. Apart from being successfully issued with a certificate there are a number of other possible outcomes from such discussions including changing the initial class of passenger ship for which an application was made. In some cases a passenger ship may be issued with a restricted certificate. In others a passenger ship may be changed to a passenger boat and in other cases an applicant may decide not to proceed with the process. The reasons for these changes are related to safety and environmental protection considerations only. However, as the applicant always has the option to re-apply for a certificate following any work carried out on their vessel the concept of out-right refusal, as such, does not exist.

It is not a straightforward matter to provide the answer to this part of the enquiry. However, should he so wish, I will have my officials contact the Deputy directly and they can explain the detail of the certification and enforcement regime and provide clarifications and further detail as required.

Road Network.

Pat Breen

Question:

37 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport the amount of money that has been spent on the construction of the Dublin Port Tunnel to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9668/08]

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. As the Deputy is aware, the implementation of individual national road projects and the allocation of funding in relation to the construction or maintenance of such projects are matters for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act, 1993 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. I understand from the NRA that the estimated final outturn cost of the Tunnel remains at €751 million.

Railway Stations.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

38 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the redevelopment of Ceannt Station; if he has reviewed proposals by CIÉ to dispose of publicly held land at Ceannt Station; the reason Ceannt Station’s upgrading and refurbishment continues to be excluded from capital provision in Transport 21; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9637/08]

The redevelopment of Ceannt Station, Galway, including the disposal of property as part of the redevelopment, is a matter for CIÉ subject to compliance with planning legislation. I have no role in relation to the disposal of property by CIÉ.

Transport 21 does not provide funding for the redevelopment of Ceannt or other stations having regard to the scale and extent of other priority demands for funding, and the potential available to CIÉ to fund station developments from its own resources. Transport 21 does, however, provide funding for accessibility works at existing stations.

Marine Accidents.

Enda Kenny

Question:

39 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Transport the actions he has taken on recommendations made, specifically 8.2 and 8.3, in the report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board on the sinking of the Rising Sun; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9717/08]

The recommendations referred to by the Deputy are contained in a report published by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) on 28th May 2007. The report relates to the tragic capsizing and sinking of the fishing vessel the "Rising Sun" in fishing grounds off the Co. Wexford coast on 29th November 2005, with the loss of two lives.

I would at the outset like to convey again my sympathies to the families on their tragic losses.

The Department has examined the MCIB recommendations with a view to addressing any shortcomings in either the statutory basis of the regimes covering fishing vessels or in relation to enforcement arrangements.

With regard to Recommendation 8.2 referred to by the Deputy surveys of fishing vessels that are less than 15 metres long are carried out on behalf of the Department of Transport by an approved panel of surveyors. The Department updated and renewed this panel in 2007, during which the Department interviewed applicant surveyors.

As part of the interview process applicants were required to show an understanding of the importance of informing the fishing vessel owners of the necessity to immediately notify the surveying authority of any alterations in equipment or structure or the intended use of their vessel.

Recommendation 8.3 makes reference to the Declaration of Compliance, recommending that this should include a report of the type of fishing equipment fitted at the time of the survey of the vessel and the intended purpose of the vessel. The Declaration of Compliance is contained in an annex to the Code of Practice in respect of fishing vessels less than 15 metres.

The Department published the Code of Practise for the design, construction and equipment of small fishing vessels in 2004. This Code sets minimum standards of safety for the vessel to protect all persons on board. It covers vessel design, construction, machinery, safety equipment and stability issues.

In 2007 the emphasis was on bringing in safety regulations covering 15-24 metre vessels where previously there had been no regulatory regime. However, now that that has been done the Code for under 15 metre vessels is being reviewed when both recommendations 8.2 and 8.3 will be fully covered in any amendments or improvements to the Declaration of Compliance.

In relation to fishing vessel safety generally it is important to emphasise that the Department has implemented a comprehensive regulatory framework for fishing vessels to ensure a higher level of safety over time. This is being achieved over time through an approach that separates the fleet into three categories. The first is less than 15 metres in length, and would include the Rising Sun, where a non-statutory Code of Practice is in operation, the other two are 15 to 24 metres and over 24 metres and in both cases there is now a statutory regime in place.

As I have indicated previously, fishing vessel safety must rely not only on the introduction of regulations but on compliance with them. This in turn may require not only specific training but also an increasingly rigorous enforcement regime.

End-of-Life Vehicles.

Joan Burton

Question:

40 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport when he will publish the report into the presence of car write-offs on roads here; the recommendations of the investigative to tackle the car write-off problem; if he will introduce a compulsory reporting system by insurance companies to his Department and the National Vehicle Driver File; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9624/08]

My Department has been informed of the initial deliberations of an informal review group established to examine this issue chaired by the RSA and representative of the Revenue Commissioners, An Garda Síochána, and the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF).

Priority is being given to obtaining details of vehicles which have been written off in recent years for comparison against the NVDF to seek to determine the extent to which written off vehicles may still be in circulation. I have accepted an offer of support from the Irish Insurance Federation and its constituent members to have the necessary data made available voluntarily and this approach is now being progressed.

Establishment of a framework going forward so that there is an effective system in place which ensures that all write off instances are notified and properly recorded is also an important constituent of an overall solution. Further consultation with relevant stakeholders is required in this respect.

Road Traffic Accidents.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

41 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the number of road accidents in each of the past three years both fatal and non-fatal; the extent to which statistics have been retained relating to the cause or causes of such accidents; the efforts made to address the issues arising therefrom; the budgetary provisions made to implement these measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9747/08]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No 477 of 2006) responsibility for the collection and analysis of structured information on road collisions now lies with the Road Safety Authority.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 22.

EU Directives.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

43 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport when he will implement the EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval Directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9640/08]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No 477 of 2006) responsibility for matters relating to motor vehicle type-approval including the preparation of necessary implementing regulators now lies with the Road Safety Authority.

Decentralisation Programme.

James Reilly

Question:

44 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Transport his Departments progress in relation to decentralisation to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9743/08]

Work was completed in respect of the decentralisation of both Departmental and Road Safety Authority staff in July, 2007. The decentralisation of 50 staff to Loughrea was among the priority moves in the Government's programme. Decentralisation of an additional 62 Road Safety Authority posts (which were not part of the original Government decision) to Ballina was also achieved.

The transfer of 37 Maritime Safety Posts to Drogheda is progressing. The immediate priority is to finalise a suitable location and construction of a premises. This work is being undertaken by the Office of Public Works.

Decentralisation of the National Roads Authority and Railway Safety Commission to Ballinasloe, Bus Eireann to Mitchelstown, and the Irish Aviation Authority to Shannon was not identified as priority moves. However, Progress is now being made on this element of the programme.

Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 19.

Road Safety.

Alan Shatter

Question:

46 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Transport the progress to date in introducing mandatory breath or blood testing at the scene of road traffic accidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9745/08]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

69 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport the status of the proposed legislation for the mandatory blood testing of all drivers involved in accidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9613/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 69 together.

Following representations received from various bodies, my Department has consulted the Office of the Attorney General on the amendment of current legislation to achieve compulsory roadside testing for intoxicants of drivers involved in collisions.

The current position is that a member of An Garda Síochána may require a driver involved in a collision to provide a preliminary breath specimen. This discretion is provided in acknowledgement of the fact that urgent medical attention for seriously injured victims must take precedence over breath testing.

The Attorney General has now advised on possible amendments to legislation, which continue to take overriding medical circumstances into account. This issue will be included in the next Road Traffic Bill, which I hope to bring to Government later this year.

Public Transport.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

47 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport his Department’s view on the use by public transport of the Port Tunnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9697/08]

My Department supports the use of the Port Tunnel by any bus operator, whether it is Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann or a private operator, as a means of obtaining faster journey times for commuters.

The provision of public bus services on specific routes to serve particular areas is an operational matter for the companies themselves.

The Road Transport Act, 1932, as amended, provides the statutory basis for regulating the provision of public bus services by private bus operators. In accordance with the legislation, private bus operators apply to my Department for licences to operate scheduled bus passenger services within the State.

Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann are not subject to licensing in accordance with the provisions of the 1932 Road Transport Act, as amended. However, the initiation or alteration of a bus service by either Company is subject to compliance with the necessary regulatory requirement of giving advance notice to my Department and to compliance with the provisions of Section 25 of the Transport Act 1958 concerning competition with licensed private operators.

Departmental Advertising.

Mary Upton

Question:

48 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Transport the amount spent in total on the One Small Step campaign; the amount spent per annum on the campaign since its inception; the targets and monitoring systems in place to assess the successful delivery of the objectives of the campaign; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9623/08]

€402,705.65 was paid by this Department to the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO) in 2007 in respect of the One Small Step campaign. €500,000 is budgeted for the campaign in 2008.

It is a matter, in the first instance, for the DTO, which initiated and is responsible for the running of the campaign, to monitor and ensure its successful delivery. The DTO has commissioned research, the results of which are expected shortly, to gauge changes in public attitudes and behaviours on foot of the campaign.

Question No. 49 answered with Question No. 19.
Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 34.

Road Safety.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

51 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Transport the legal speed limit on the Fermoy to Watergrasshill road; if he has contacted local authorities around Ireland to identify discrepancies between local authority determined speed limits and his Department issued motorway orders on speed limits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9619/08]

Under the Road Traffic Act 2004 the default speed limit on a rural national road is 100km/h and the default speed limit on a rural regional & local road is 80km/h. A county council or a city council can intervene through the making of special speed limit bye-laws to apply a higher or lower speed limit value in lieu of the default speed limit.

When a new national road by-pass or motorway road opens, the former national road that is now by-passed automatically reverts to the status of local road and the default speed limit of 80km/h applies. No order is required to remove the former national road (‘N' route) status or to apply local road status.

If the road authority wishes to have that local road classified as a regional road (and assigned an ‘R' route number) they must submit a proposal to my Department seeking to have that route re-classified through the making of a regional road classification order.

A single default speed limit of 80km/h applies to regional & local roads so classification as a regional road from being a local road does not affect the default speed limit.

Local authorities have been written to over recent years in relation to the need to ensure that the speed limits that are posted on the public roads have a valid legal basis.

State Airports.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

52 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the negotiations that have taken place with US authorities in relation to creating a customs and border protection facility in Shannon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4985/08]

Since 2006 my Department has held a number of informal meetings with the US authorities exploring the scope for establishing pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports for U.S. bound passengers. In December last I met with the Secretary and senior officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to discuss the issue further.

Formal negotiations on pre-clearance proposals submitted by the U.S. authorities commenced on 29 January and further meetings are envisaged.

Road Network.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

53 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he has sought or received information relating to the operation or safety factors at the Port Tunnel; when he first received such information and from whom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9748/08]

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. As the Deputy is aware, the implementation of individual national road projects, including the Dublin Port Tunnel, is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act, 1993 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 31.

Road Safety.

Denis Naughten

Question:

55 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport the steps he is taking to improve the road safety standards of foreign national drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8954/08]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No 477 of 2006) responsibility for driver awareness and education measures now lies with the Road Safety Authority.

Air Services.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

56 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Transport the reason he has not liaised with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to request the National Consumer Agency, the Competition Authority and the Commission on Aviation Regulation to initiate an urgent investigation into the series of new extra charges on airline passengers; if he will bring forward legislation specifically to protect consumers of airline services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9629/08]

The market for air services in the Community was liberalized in the 1990s. The internal market has removed all commercial restrictions for airlines flying within the EU, such as restrictions on the routes, the number of flights or the setting of fares. Under the provisions of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2409/92 Community air carriers can freely set their air fares.

The broader issue of consumer protection legislation falls within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment.

Rural Transport Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

57 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Transport if the recent extra funding provided for the rural transport programme is a once-off extra allocation of funding; if he will carry out an audit of the transport needs of rural communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9627/08]

The Government's continued commitment to the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) is reflected in Towards 2016 which includes phased increases in the annual RTP allocation over time to about Euro 18 million. In addition, the National Development Plan 2007-2013 — Transforming Ireland, commits some Euro 90 million to the Programme over its full term.

I was delighted to announce recently an additional Euro 2 million for the RTP in 2008, bringing the total allocation for the Programme this year to €11 million. For future years, the specific year-on-year allocations for the RTP will, as is the norm, be determined in the context of the overall annual estimates process each year.

I am satisfied that arising from the review of the Rural Transport Initiative in 2006 that a further review of the programme is not warranted at this stage. My role continues to be one of facilitator, helping local communities to address their transport needs through financial and administrative support, while communities themselves take the lead in identifying their needs and developing co-ordinated transport services to fulfil those needs.

Air Services.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

58 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport if he has abandoned plans to develop a public service obligation for the Shannon-Heathrow route; if he has had further contacts with his UK and EU counterparts on the development of the Shannon-Heathrow PSO; his views on establishing a PSO on the Waterford-Dublin route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9628/08]

Under the terms of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2408/92 of 23 July 1992, a Member State may, in limited circumstances, impose a Public Service Obligation in respect of an air service and may subvent that service if no airline is prepared to operate it on a commercial basis.

My Department had discussions recently with the EU Commission about air connectivity from the West of Ireland and in particular about the possible imposition of a Public Service Obligation (PSO) on the Shannon-Heathrow route.

The Commission's position, as clarified following those discussions, is that the EU Regulation governing PSOs is an exception to the general rule of free provision of air services and that any such exception should be considered as restrictively as possible and applied only as far as necessary. In order for a route to be eligible for a PSO under the Regulation, not only must it be vital for the economic development of the region concerned but the existing services must be inadequate. In assessing whether services are adequate, account has to be taken of all existing air transport services, direct and indirect.

In relation to the Shannon to London route, the Commission has noted that there are already regular direct air services between Shannon and the London airports of Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. Allowing for these connections, the Commission has indicated that it would be difficult to justify a PSO on the Shannon to London route. Accordingly, I do not propose to pursue the question of a Shannon-Heathrow PSO any further.

When the question of introducing a PSO service on the Waterford-Dublin route was raised in 1993, I understand that the E.U. Commission refused to sanction the proposal because the route is relatively short and because Waterford was already adequately served by other transport modes. In the interim, the relevant surface transport links have been upgraded and continue to be improved. In the circumstances, I have no proposals to revive the question of including the airport in the Irish PSO air service programme.

Rail Services.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

59 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Transport if he plans to introduce measures to protect rail commuters from unscheduled and last minute train cancellations under the new Public Transport Regulation Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9639/08]

The issue of train service delays is currently dealt with under Iarnród Éireann's customer charter, which is available on the company's website. It is my intention that the forthcoming Dublin Transport Authority Bill and the Public Transport Regulation Bill will introduce a contracting regime governing a range of customer and operational issues.

Road Safety.

James Reilly

Question:

60 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Transport if he will make a statement on the outcome of his recent meeting with PARC representatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9744/08]

I met with representatives of the PARC group on 27 February 2008. The principal issue discussed was the proposed amendment to Road Traffic legislation to make it mandatory for drivers involved in collisions to be tested for alcohol consumption subject to medical circumstances. I confirmed that this issue would be included in a Road Traffic Bill that I will be progressing in the latter half of this year.

Proposed Legislation.

Jack Wall

Question:

61 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Transport when he will publish his proposals to amend the Harbours Act 1996 to facilitate the development of Bremore Port; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9635/08]

My Department has prepared the heads of a Harbours Bill to support further implementation of national ports policy and to update existing legislation, the main body of which dates from 1996. The Bill will, inter alia, facilitate development of a proposed new port facility at Bremore in Fingal County.

I have received Government approval for the drafting of the Bill, which has been referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for that purpose. I intend to pursue enactment of the Bill at the earliest opportunity.

Road Safety.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

62 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport when the new regulations for reforming the commercial vehicle roadworthiness testing system will be implemented; the number of extra inspectors that will be assigned to the Road Safety Authority for monitoring the safety and standards of HGVs and other commercial vehicles; the timeline for the implementation of the centralised enforcement system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9614/08]

Responsibility for vehicle testing and enforcement of safety requirements was transferred to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006).

I have accepted recommendations from the RSA for reforming the roadworthiness testing regime and for addressing a number of other related issues. Details of the approved reform agenda were published by the RSA on 8 February 2008.

The next step in the reform process is the drawing up by the RSA of an implementation plan which will set out the specific actions to be taken to give effect to the reform programme. This plan will address such matters as the legislative changes required as well as specifying timelines for the completion of the various actions. An Implementation Group, comprising the RSA (chair), my Department, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the County and City Managers Association and An Garda Síochána, has been established to oversee implementation of the reform programme as quickly as possible.

Road Network.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

63 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the recent allocation of €618 million for the regional and local roads programme 2008; the annual level of funding for the regional and local roads programme by year since 1997 to date in 2008; if he has written to all local authorities to ask them to increase their current level of funding for road maintenance and enhancement in their local authority area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9607/08]

State grants for regional and local roads paid to local authorities in each of the years 1997 to 2007, and the allocation for 2008, are set out in the following table:

Year

Grant

€ Million

1997

225.82

1998

261.11

1999

307.51

2000

341.23

2001

400.92

2002

435.46

2003

436.59

2004

480.20

2005

501.27

2006

557.73

2007

607.52

2008 (Allocation)

618.71

The Memorandum on road grants, which defines the conditions governing the payment of grants to local authorities in respect of improvement and maintenance works on regional and local roads, advised local authorities that State grants for works on those roads are provided on the basis that they supplement realistic contributions from local authorities own resources; that it is imperative that local authorities continue to commit significant resources to these works; and that increased Exchequer support should not be used as a reason to reduce local authorities' own resources expenditure. Local authorities are regularly reminded of this requirement; most recently on 15 February 2008, when notifying local authorities of their 2008 grant allocations.

Carbon Emissions.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

64 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Transport the level of transport emissions the aviation sector here is currently responsible for; if he is supporting the inclusion of the aviation sector in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme; if he plans measures in the upcoming sustainable travel action plan specifically to target aviation emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9638/08]

Figures in respect of carbon emissions from aviation can be accessed on the following website: Sustainable Energy Ireland: http://www.sei.ie

Sustainable Energy Ireland estimate that aviation in Ireland accounted for 2,953.4 kilotonnes CO2 or 18.3% of total transport emissions in 2006. The level of emissions from aviation is calculated using aviation kerosene sales in the State as a proxy.

The Government supports, in principle, having regard to Ireland's peripheral status, the inclusion of aviation emissions in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). My colleague, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government is working with other EU Member States in the Environment Council of Ministers to include aviation in the EU ETS on the basis of the draft legislative proposal presented by the European Commission in 2006.

I have embarked on a public consultation process in relation to a Sustainable Travel and Transport Action Plan and have referred to aviation emissions in the issues document, which is available on www.sustainabletravel.ie. I want to evaluate all responses received before making any commitment on the final Action Plan which I expect will be considered by Government in 2008.

Parking Regulations.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

65 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Transport if there is a legal prohibition on the re-introduction of parking tickets by those local authorities which have scrapped them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8049/08]

There is no legal prohibition on any local authority in relation to the engagement of traffic wardens to enforce parking law and other functions through the affixing to vehicles or issue to registered owners of fixed charge notices under the Local Authorities (Traffic Wardens) Act 1975 to 2006. The mode of enforcement selected for any area is a matter for the local authority to determine.

Driving Tests.

Joe Costello

Question:

66 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Transport when he will publish the legislation necessary for rolling out the graduated driving licence programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9609/08]

Responsibility for driver testing was transferred to the Road Safety Authority in September 2006, under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006). The arrangements in relation to testing and the number of applicants for tests are therefore a matter for that authority.

A recent statement to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport by the RSA may be of interest to the Deputy in this regard and can be consulted on the RSA's website.

One of the actions in the Road Safety Strategy 2007 — 2012 is to legislate for a graduated driver licensing system in the 3rd quarter of 2008. The first step towards this has already been taken in the Regulations made in October 2007 providing for the introduction of a driver learner permit for all new applicants for driver licences.

Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 22.
Question No. 68 answered with Question No. 19.
Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 46.

Departmental Offices.

James Bannon

Question:

70 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the reason for the communication problems at the vehicle registration office in Tullamore, County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9856/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the question from the Deputy is not specific in relation to dates and times during which the difficulty was experienced. However, apart from a power cut in the Tullamore office on 5 February 2008 during which all the telephone lines were down from midday to close of business, I am advised that there are no ongoing difficulties with regard to telephone communications in the operation of the Vehicle Registration Office in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

The office deals with all Vehicle Registration Tax matters, including personal and telephone callers for the Westmeath / Offaly District. In addition, some callers and telephone queries emanate and are dealt with from Counties Longford, Roscommon, Galway and Laois customers.

The office is staffed by six officers including a full-time telephone receptionist. The office includes a busy public area, which deals with personal callers five days a week from 9am to 4pm (including lunchtime). Telephone callers are dealt with from 9am to 5pm daily (again including lunchtime). I am advised that staff take telephone calls from customers right through the day. In view of the presence of a full-time receptionist, voicemail facilities in the office are not considered necessary.

If the Deputy has more specific information about the communication problems experienced, he may wish to take the matter up directly with the District Manager, Mr Ciarán Toohey, who can be contacted at 090 6421860.

Tax Code.

Dan Neville

Question:

71 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the reason home caring spouse credit was not given as a tax credit to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9818/08]

Dan Neville

Question:

72 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Limerick is not getting the home caring credit on their husbands tax free allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9819/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 71 and 72 together.

The position is that while the carers allowance, payable by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, is disregarded in determining the total income of the home carer for the purposes of claiming the home carer tax credit, it is a taxable source of income.

Taking account of the most up to date information available to them, the Revenue Commissioners have determined that it would appear to be more beneficial for the couple to be taxed as a married two-earner couple rather than a married one-earner couple. As a result, the home carer credit has been withdrawn for 2008 and the standard rate band for the couple increased from €44,400 to €70,800 with transferability limited to €44,400. This increase in the value of the standard rate band will be more than sufficient to offset the loss of the home carer credit in the calculation of the couple's tax liability. Given the information available, this will ensure that the couple will not be liable to tax at the higher rate in 2008.

However, the Limerick Revenue Office will contact the taxpayer to ascertain if any further information is available and will revise the position if necessary, ensuring that the couple receive the most beneficial tax treatment appropriate to their situation.

Michael Ring

Question:

73 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if a voluntary community group (details supplied) in County Roscommon can reclaim the VAT paid on defibrillators for their community. [9846/08]

The position is that in matters relating to the VAT rating of goods and services, I am constrained by the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. In this regard, I would point out that the rate of VAT that applies to a particular good or service depends on the nature of the good or service and not on the status of the consumer. In this case, there is no provision in EU law that would permit the removal or reduction of VAT based on the social or economic status of the consumer.

In relation to the VAT rate that applies to defibrillators, the position is that under the VAT Directive, Member States may retain the zero rates on goods and services which were in place on 1 January 1991, but cannot extend the zero rate to new goods and services. The zero VAT rate cannot therefore be applied to defibrillators which are subject to the standard rate.

In addition, Member States may only apply the reduced VAT rate to those goods and services which are listed under Annex III of the VAT Directive. While Annex III does include the supply of medical equipment for the exclusive personal use of a disabled person, it does not include defibrillators for general use. The reduced rate cannot be applied to the supply of defibrillators.

Therefore the only rate of VAT that can apply to the supply of defibrillators is the standard VAT rate which in Ireland is 21%.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

74 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he or his Department have received correspondence from a group (details supplied) in County Wexford; his plans to address same in early date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9867/08]

I have recently received the correspondence referred to by the Deputy. In this regard, I would point out that matters relating to the VAT rating of goods and services, I am constrained by the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. In this regard, I would point out that the rate of VAT that applies to a particular good or service depends on the nature of the good or service and not on the status of the consumer. In this case, there is no provision in EU law that would permit the removal or reduction of VAT based on the social or economic status of the consumer.

In relation to the VAT rate that applies to defibrillators, the position is that under the VAT Directive, Member States may retain the zero rates on goods and services which were in place on 1 January 1991, but cannot extend the zero rate to new goods and services. The zero VAT rate cannot therefore be applied to defibrillators which are subject to the standard rate.

In addition, Member States may only apply the reduced VAT rate to those goods and services which are listed under Annex III of the VAT Directive. While Annex III does include the supply of medical equipment for the exclusive personal use of a disabled person, it does not include defibrillators for general use. The reduced rate cannot be applied to the supply of defibrillators.

National Monuments.

Tom Hayes

Question:

75 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance his plans to provide a visitor centre for the Rock of Cashel; if he will confirm the funding for the visitor centre; the amount of funding for same; and the planned start date for the work. [9895/08]

The provision of a new visitor centre for the Rock of Cashel is dependent on the acquisition of a suitable site that will permit a managed visitor access route. A recent feasibility study identified certain lands that could satisfy access to and management of the National Monument and negotiations for the purchase of this site are in train.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

76 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9924/08]

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of bodies under the aegis of my Department is outlined in the tables below. In some cases, the functions undertaken by the agency are new functions not previously undertaken by my Department.

Special EU Programmes Body

Devolved responsibility

Arrangements in place in the case of each agency listed to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann

The central secretariat, monitoring, research, evaluation, technical assistance and development roles in respect of INTERREG and PEACE programmes exercised by the Department of Finance

The SEUPB is a North South Implementation Body set up under the Good Friday agreement. It is the Managing Authority for two cross border EU Programmes and I have been informed it operates to the highest standards of service delivery and has a policy of openness and transparency in all its dealings with stakeholders and the general public. It also has a policy to respond as speedily as possible to queries from elected representatives from both jurisdictions North and South.

National Treasury Management Agency

Devolved responsibility

Arrangements in place in the case of each agency listed to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann

Management of the National Debt Manager of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Central Treasury Service Management of certain personal injury and property damage claims against the State through the State Claims Agency and State authorities. The National Development Finance Agency (see below) performs its functions through the National Treasury Management Agency

The National Treasury Management Agency is also the State Claims Agency, the manager of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and the body through which the National Development Finance Agency performs its functions. The NTMA has advised me that the majority of enquiries from members of Dáil Éireann are in the form of Parliamentary Questions referred to them and are always answered before the deadline set by the referring Department. In the event that there is late notification to the NTMA of a PQ, they will answer within the timeframe on a best efforts basis. To date the NTMA has always met the deadline for such responses.

National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission

Devolved responsibility

Arrangements in place in the case of each agency listed to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann

Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund

As per NTMA

National Development Finance Agency

Devolved responsibility

Arrangements in place in the case of each agency listed to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann

(a) To advise any State authority of what, in the opinion of the Agency, are the optimal means of financing the cost of public investment projects in order to achieve value for money (b) to advance moneys (including repayable loans and equity) and to enter into other financial arrangements in respect of projects approved by any State authority (c) to provide advice to any State authority on all aspects of financing, refinancing and insurance of public investment projects to be duly undertaken by means of public private partnership arrangements or within the public sector (d) to form, or cause to be formed, companies . . . for the purpose of securing finance for public investment projects (e) to enter into a public private partnership arrangement with a view to transferring the rights and obligations under such an arrangement to any State authority, and (f) to act as agent for any State authority in connection with the entry or proposed entry by that State authority into a public private partnership arrangement.

As per NTMA

Health Services.

Mary White

Question:

77 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he has plans to review protocol 16/97 regarding CMOD approval of all expenditure above €500 on health information technology in view of the problems arising from it in relation to delays in approving IT maintenance projects in hospitals. [10009/08]

The sanctioning process established under the terms of Department of Finance Circular 16/97 has been put in place to assist Departments and Offices deal with their ICT related expenditure in a delegated and controlled way.

Each organisation is responsible for identifying, agreeing and prioritising its development and maintenance needs in order to meet its current and anticipated business requirements. This must be done in a framework which takes account of the overall business and ICT strategy for the organisation. The Circular 16/97 delegated sanctioning process is streamlined in respect of those organisations which have, inter alia, agreed ICT Plans and established ICT priorities. In the event that these are not in place, a more rigorous assessment of proposals that necessitates increased contact between my Department and the sponsoring organisation is required.

There have been no delays in my Department with regard to the sanctioning of ICT-related expenditure by the HSE as a result of the procedures put in place under the terms of Department of Finance Circular 16/97. This delegation process is continually monitored in order to ensure that it meets the continuing needs of all organisations, and there are no current plans to further review the sanctioning process.

Health Service Allowances.

Phil Hogan

Question:

78 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children when arrears will be awarded in respect of domiciliary care allowance for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9840/08]

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.

Ambulance Service.

Pat Breen

Question:

79 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if in conjunction with the Health Service Executive, she has plans to put in place a public or private air ambulance service for the people of west Clare, in view of the decision to bypass Ennis General Hospital and transfer all future trauma cases to Limerick. [9783/08]

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.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Tom Hayes

Question:

80 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the building of additional resources in Cashel Hospital, County Tipperary. [9785/08]

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.

Suicide Prevention.

Dan Neville

Question:

81 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review her decision to freeze in Budget 2008 the implementation of the recommendations of Reach Out, the national strategy for action on suicide prevention. [9794/08]

Since the establishment of the HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention in 2005, additional funding of €3.55 million has been provided for the implementation of "Reach Out" — the National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention, 2005-2014. This brought the total funding available to support suicide prevention initiatives to €8 million and this level of funding continues into 2008.

It should also be emphasised that a range of services such as mental health and primary care services are important in helping to prevent suicide. These services play a vital role in the drive to reduce the incidence of suicide, and should be taken into account when considering the level of expenditure devoted to suicide prevention.

Mental Health Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

82 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for change in Government policy leading to the widespread asset stripping of the Victorian asylums and lands without corresponding provision and development of modern and high quality psychiatric facilities envisaged in a A Vision for Change. [9795/08]

"A Vision for Change" the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, which was launched in January 2006, has been accepted by Government as the basis for the future development of our mental health services. The vision embodied in this policy is to create a mental health system that addresses the needs of the population through a focus on the requirements of the individual.

The Report recommends inter alia that a plan to bring about the closure of all mental hospitals should be drawn up and implemented, and that the resources released by these closures should be protected for reinvestment in the mental health service. "A Vision for Change" is very clear that resources, both capital and revenue, should be retained in the mental health service, with the reconfigured mental health services having priority in their disposal. It also recommends that the full economic value of psychiatric hospital buildings and lands should be professionally assessed towards identifying appropriate future use and maximum value and benefit. The value of these assets significantly counter balances the capital cost of the new mental health services infrastructure requirement.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has primary responsibility for the implementation of "A Vision for Change". The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney has made it clear to the HSE, in the context of their Service Plan for 2008, that there can be no question of diverting capital or development funds to meet expenditure pressures arising in relation to core services.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Damien English

Question:

83 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in County Meath will have an appointment to see an ENT consultant; if she is satisfied that this child has been waiting 30 months for this service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9817/08]

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

Medical Cards.

Billy Timmins

Question:

84 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to medical card holders who are patients of dental clinics which have decided that they are no longer treating medical holders and the patients are not informed until they telephone for an appointment; her plans to introduce a system to inform patients of changes in practices; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9823/08]

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

Hospital Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

85 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can receive an earlier appointment date for a clinic at Tallaght Hospital due to their deteriorating medical condition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9824/08]

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

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

86 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the claim for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford under the nursing home repayment scheme; when this decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9832/08]

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.

Finian McGrath

Question:

87 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of persons (details supplied). [9834/08]

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.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Michael Ring

Question:

88 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the grant aid available to voluntary community groups for the provision of a service (details supplied). [9847/08]

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

Health Services.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

89 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will request the Health Service Executive to make physiotherapy available to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [9851/08]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

90 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a special needs assistant will be provided for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who requires same to enable them to start preschool as per the occupational therapist report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9868/08]

The Deputy's specific 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 these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Organ Retention.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

91 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason funding has been withdrawn from a group (details supplied); her views on restoring the funding. [9870/08]

Under the Health Act 2004, it is a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE) to determine whether to fund a voluntary organisation. The HSE is also responsible for setting the terms and conditions which apply to such funding.

Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to reply directly to the Deputy regarding funding for the group in question.

Pharmacy Regulations.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

92 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children further to a previous parliamentary question that it is open to any party to make a submission to the Competition Authority under Section 4(5) of the Competition Act 2002 to request that the Authority make a declaration under Section 4(3) of the Act in relation to negotiations between parties which may be in breach of the Act, the reason she has not made a submission to the Competition Authority seeking such to enable the Health Service Executive to negotiate an agreement on fees and services with self-employed undertakings such as pharmacists and general practitioners; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9875/08]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

93 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children further to a previous parliamentary question, if she will make a submission to the Competition Authority under Section 4 (5) of the Competition Act 2002 seeking that the Authority make a declaration under Section 4(3) of the Act in respect of negotiations by the Health Service Executive with pharmacists and general practitioners; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9876/08]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

94 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children further to a previous parliamentary question, if she will instruct the Health Service Executive to make a submission to the Competition Authority under Section 4 (5) of the Competition Act 2002 seeking that the Authority make a declaration under Section 4(3) of the Act in respect of negotiations by the HSE with pharmacists and general practitioners; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9877/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 92 to 94, inclusive, together.

I have no plans to approach the Competition Authority in the manner proposed by the Deputy or to instruct the Health Service Executive to do so.

As I indicated in my reply to question numbers 97 and 77 of 28 February 2008, my Department is at present working, in consultation with relevant Government Departments and with the HSE, to devise appropriate new arrangements for the development and the pricing of contracts with self-employed professionals for the provision of key health services in the community.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Pat Breen

Question:

95 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if an appointment for a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be brought forward; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9892/08]

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

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Pat Breen

Question:

96 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. [9894/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive (HSE) under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. The HSE's responsibility includes the operation of the Housing Aid Scheme for the Elderly, on behalf of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. The 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.

John McGuinness

Question:

97 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if orthodontic treatment will be provided for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if an early date will be set for assessment. [9905/08]

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

Maternity Services.

David Stanton

Question:

98 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of community midwives working under the home birth scheme in County Cork; when this scheme was established; if she will ensure the continuation of this scheme and resolve any issues in relation to insurance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9914/08]

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 the matter investigated and have a reply issued directly to the Deputy in relation to the number of community midwives working under the home births scheme in Cork, the date of establishment of the scheme and plans for its continuance.

I am aware of concerns in relation to indemnity insurance for independent midwives. The Irish Nurses Organisation provides a certain level of insurance cover to independent midwives who are members of the organisation. The INO had indicated that they would not be providing insurance cover after 31st March, however, I understand that it has been in touch with its insurer about extending this cover until the end of September.

I support choice for women in childbirth. The option of domiciliary births must only be provided in a safe and secure manner. My officials are working with the HSE to put in place a robust national clinical governance framework in order to ensure that the practice of independent midwives is brought into close working relationships with maternity services currently delivered by the HSE and the voluntary maternity hospitals. Subject to this being achieved it would then be the intention to bring the independent midwives within the scope of the Clinical Indemnity Scheme by means of an extension of the cover under the scheme to the HSE.

David Stanton

Question:

99 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of births under the home birth scheme each year for the past five years respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9915/08]

My Department and the ESRI publish an annual report on perinatal statistics. The most recent published statistics relate to 2004. The table below sets out the number of home births attended by independent domiciliary midwives and births under the hospital administered home birth schemes for the years 2000 to 2004.

Year

Home Births attended by Independent Domiciliary Midwives

Births under Hospital Administered Home Birth Schemes

Total

2000

216

27

243

2001

245

22

267

2002

288

48

336

2003

236

37

273

2004

202

48

250

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

100 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from her to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9926/08]

As Minister for Health and Children I am responsible for the legislative, policy and resource framework for our system of health and social services. Broadly speaking, in addition to discharging overall responsibilities on behalf of the Government for the resourcing of these services, this involves setting, evaluating and developing policies for the sector. I am supported in the discharge of these responsibilities by my Department.

Policies in the health sector are implemented by a range of bodies, particularly the Health Service Executive (HSE). Each body carries out its functions in accordance with the relevant statutory provision, as set out in the following table, and has its own governance arrangements covering operational policy, management, administration, service delivery and accountability.

Agency

Legislative Basis

Adoption Board

Adoption Act, 1952 (No. 25 of 1952)

An Bord Altranais

Section 6 of Nurses Act 1985 (No. 18 of 1985)

Children Acts Advisory Board

Child Care (Amendment) Act, 2007 (No. 26 of 2007)

Agency

Legislative Basis

Consultative Council on Hepatitis C

Section 98 (3) of the Health Act, 1947 (No. 28 of 1947) (as amended by Section 41 of the Health Act, 1953 (No. 26 of 1953)The Consultative Council on Hepatitis C (Establishment) Order 1996 [S.I. No. 339 of 1996].

Crisis Pregnancy Agency

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961) Crisis Pregnancy Agency (Establishment) Order 2001 [S.I. No. 446 of 2001]. Crisis Pregnancy Agency (Establishment) Order 2001 (Amendment) Order 2007 [S.I.No. 175 of 2007]*

Dental Council

Section 6 of Dentists Act 1985 (No. 9 of 1985)

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Section 11 of Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act, 1998 (No.29 of 1998) and Section 16 British Irish Agreement Act, 1999 (No.1 of 1999).

Food Safety Consultative Council

Section 14 of Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act, 1998 (No.29 of 1998) and Section 17 of British Irish Agreement Act, 1999 (No.1 of 1999).

Food Safety Promotions Board

Section 16 of British Irish Agreement Act, 1999 (No.1 of 1999).

Health Information Quality Authority

Health Act 2007 (No. 23 of 2007)

Health Insurance Authority

Health Insurance Act 1994 (No. 16 of 1994)

Health Research Board

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961). The Health Research Board (Establishment) Order, 1986 [S.I. 452 of 1986].*

Health and Social Care Professional Council

Health & Social Care Professional Act 2005 (No.27 of 2005).

Health Service Executive

Health Act 2004 (No. 42 of 2004)

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961) — The Blood Transfusion Service Board (Establishment) Order, 1965. [S.I. No. 78 of 1965].*

Irish Medicines Board

Irish Medicines Board Act, 1995 as amended by the Irish Medicines Board (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006 (No. 3 of 2006).

Medical Council

Section 6 of Medical Practitioners Act, 1978 (No.4 of 1978) and The Medical Practitioners Act 2007 (No.25 of 2007) as amended by Part 3 of the Health Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2007 (No.42 of 2007).

Mental Health Commission

Mental Health Act, 2001 (No.25 of 2001).

National Cancer Screening Services Board

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961) as amended by Section 22 of the Health (Amendment) (No.3) Act 1996. (No. 32 of 1996). National Cancer Screening Service Board (Establishment) Order 2006. [S.I. 632 of 2006].*

National Cancer Registry Board

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961) National Cancer Registry Board (Establishment) Order, 1991, [S.I. No. 19 of 1991], amended by National Cancer Registry Board (Establishment) Order, 1991 (Amendment) Order, 1996 [SI No. 293 of 1996]. *

National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing & Midwifery

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961) as amended by Section 22 of the Health (Amendment) (No.3) Act 1996. (No. 32 of 1996). The National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery (Establishment) Order, 1999 [S.I. No. 376 of 1999].*

National Council on Ageing and Older People

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961). The National Council on Ageing and Older People (Establishment) Order, 1997 — [S.I. No. 120 of 1997]. *

National Paediatric Hospital Development Board

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961). National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (Establishment) Order, 2007. [S.I. 246 of 2007].*

National Social Work Qualifications Board

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961). The National Social Work Qualifications Board (Establishment) Order, 1997 — [S.I. 97 of 1997].*

National Treatment Purchase Fund

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961). National Treatment Purchase Fund Board (Establishment) Order, 2004 [S.I. 179 of 2004].*

Office for Tobacco Control

Section 9 of Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 (No. 6 of 2002).

Chief Inspector of Social Services

Section 40 of the Health Act 2007 (No. 23 of 2007).

Office of the Ombudsman for Children

Ombudsman for Children Act (No. 22 of 2002)

Opticians Board

Section 55 of Opticians Act 1956 (No. 17 of 1956).

Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland

Pharmacy Act 2007. (No.20 of 2007)

Poisons Council

Section 2 of Poisons Act 1961. (No. 12 of 1961).Comhairle Na Nimheanna Order, 1962. [S.I. No. 44 of 1962].

Postgraduate Medical and Dental Board

Section 39 of Medical Practitioners Act 1978 (No. 4 of 1978).

Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961) The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (Establishment) Order, 2000 — [S.I. 109 of 2000] The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (Establishment) Order, 2000 (Amendment) Order 2004 [S.I. No. 575 of 2004].*

Voluntary Health Insurance Board

Voluntary Health Insurance Act 1957. (No. 1 of 1957).

Women’s Health Council

Health (Corporate Bodies) Act, 1961 (No. 27 of 1961). The Women’s Health Council (Establishment) Order, 1997 — [S.I. No. 278 of 1997] The Women’s Health Council (Establishment) Order, 1997 (Amendment) Order 2001) — [S.I. No. 92 of 2001].*

[*The provisions of Section 5 of the Health Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2007 (No. 42 of 2007) apply.]

The vast majority of enquiries to agencies concerning operational matters arise in relation to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are within the statutory responsibility of the HSE. Accordingly, extensive arrangements have been put in place by the HSE to meet the information needs of members of the Oireachtas. The Parliamentary Affairs Division of the HSE (PAD) provides a central contact for all requests from Oireachtas members for information relating to its activities. The PAD also allows for the centralised receipt, assignment and tracking of Parliamentary Questions within the HSE's extensive network of operations and monitors overall performance in relation to the timely issue of replies. The HSE provides specified information to members of the Houses of the Oireachtas in accordance with the Health Act 2004 (Dealings with members of either House of the Oireachtas) Regulations 2005, S.I. No 798 of 2005. In addition the PAD provides a dedicated email address for enquiries from Oireachtas members, provides briefings for Oireachtas members and routinely emails press releases to Oireachtas members.

In relation to the other agencies mentioned above, it is open to Oireachtas members to write to the Chief Executive Officer of thebody concerned. It may also be of interest to note that all of these bodies have websites which provide useful information.

Hospital Services.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

101 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is a full-time children’s physiotherapist in a hospital (details supplied) in County Wexford for the months of January, February, March, April, May, June and July 2008; if not, the locations where children can receive physiotherapy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9942/08]

Almost 130,000 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 its annual National 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.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

102 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wexford is not receiving physiotherapy, who has been referred for and is in need of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9943/08]

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 Funding.

Mary White

Question:

103 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Health and Children the assurances she will give that the Irish Osteoporosis Society will have sufficient funding and support from the Health Service Executive to survive in the long term and be in position to increase its staff beyond its current level of two employees. [10008/08]

As the Deputy is aware the Health Act, 2004 provides the HSE with responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services. As a Statutory body, the provision of these services, including the delivery of services by agreement with voluntary and community organisations such as the Irish Osteoporosis Society, is a matter for the Executive.

I am satisfied that the HSE recognises the valuable work undertaken by the Irish Osteoporosis Society and makes every effort to assist them in line with resources available. This is reflected in a practical way in the funding given to the IOS by the Executive in recent years. The question of any revised funding arrangements would be a matter, in the first instance, for the Executive in the light of its overall competing demands and through any new agreement with the Society on future service provision.

In the circumstances, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. The Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Mary White

Question:

104 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Health and Children if Health Service Executive plans to introduce a programme of computerising all x-ray images on a national basis will mean the decommissioning of 25 radiology management systems throughout the country; and if so, the rationale behind same. [10010/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested that the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive investigate the matter and issue a reply directly to the Deputy.

Road Network.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

105 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the amount of public money spent on the construction of the Dublin Port Tunnel to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10005/08]

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. As the Deputy is aware, the implementation of individual national road projects and the allocation of funding in relation to the construction or maintenance of such projects are matters for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act, 1993 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

The construction of the Dublin Port Tunnel project was procured by Dublin City Council and funded through the NRA. I understand from the NRA that the estimated final outturn cost of the Tunnel remains at €751 million.

The two-fold purpose of the Port Tunnel and the HGV Management Strategy which goes with it are to improve the flow of goods to and from Dublin Port, and to remove heavy goods vehicles from the streets of the city. To date, the operation of both the tunnel and the strategy have made good progress in terms of both of these objectives.

The Dublin Port Tunnel was closed on Wednesday 27th February for approximately nine hours because of an electronic equipment failure. This is the latest in a sequence of electronic equipment failures to cause a temporary closure of the Tunnel.

The NRA and Dublin City Council have repeatedly taken up the issue of electronic equipment failure with the contractors.

Arising from last Wednesday's incident, I have urged both organisations to intensify their efforts to remedy the equipment failures and indeed any other causes for occasional tunnel closures.

The responsibility for the design, installation and provision of the various tunnel systems was that of Nishimatsu-Mowlem-Irishenco (NMI) under the terms of their contract to Dublin City Council. During the delivery of the project, both the NRA and Dublin City Council were repeatedly reassured and guaranteed that the tunnel systems would be fully fit for their intended purpose and that the installed equipment would be both durable and resilient. Since the handover of the tunnel just over one year ago there have been a number of individual equipment malfunctions such that this is clearly not the case in all circumstances.

The issue, therefore is with the durability and reliability of the equipment provided by the contractor

The contractors have been put on notice of legal action to recover all costs arising from deficiencies in the equipment provided. In addition further legal action will be pursued for any further failure on the part of the contractor to urgently carry out all necessary works and equipment replacements to deliver the full tunnel systems to the standard required and contracted for. Where the contractor does not immediately deal with any deficiency in systems or equipment the NRA will do so itself and pursue recovery of the costs from the contractor, so that costs will lie where they contractually should.

Public Transport.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

106 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport his plans to introduce competition in the Dublin bus market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10006/08]

Plans to introduce competition into the Dublin bus market have not been abandoned. The Government is committed to seeing the further expansion and enhancement of public bus services and wants to see a world class service delivered to all citizens.

Moreover, the Government is wholeheartedly committed to getting best value for the travelling public and the taxpayer from significant subsidies being invested by the Exchequer in public bus services operated by Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann.

In order to achieve this, the Government has identified in the Programme for Government a number of priorities.

Firstly, the Programme for Government contains a commitment to expedite the establishment of a Dublin Transport Authority, which will have the necessary powers to ensure the delivery of the integrated public transport system envisioned under Transport 21.

It is my intention to bring the Dublin Transport Authority Bill to Cabinet shortly for approval and approval to publish.

In terms of the subvented bus market, the DTA Bill will set out the mechanisms for the award of contracts for this subvention in line with the new regime introduced under the new EU PSO Regulation, which will become mandatory from next year. These mechanisms will support the continued operation of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann services in the GDA and provide for the option of new services being provided on foot of open tendering which will allow private operators to compete for the delivery of services.

The Programme for Government also includes a commitment to improving bus services under 'Transport 21' by reforming the bus licensing provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, to facilitate the optimum provision of services by providing a level playing field for all market participants, both public and private.

It is my intention that proposals for a new bus licensing regime will follow in subsequent legislative proposals. Any new licensing regime will be designed in a manner consistent with the new EU Regulation on Public Service Obligations in the transport sector, which was adopted in 2007 and will come into force next year.

While it is not possible at this time to indicate a precise time as to when the legislative proposals on regulatory reform of the bus market will be published, applications for new bus licences and notifications from State bus operators will continue to be processed under the provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, as amended, and the notification system with reference to the Transport Act 1958, as appropriate.

Road Safety.

Shane McEntee

Question:

107 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Transport the contact he has had with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform regarding the proposed roll out of speed cameras; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10007/08]

The safety camera project is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, but I have been closely involved because of my responsibility for road safety.

In particular we have been in close contact in the context of the recent Government decision to proceed with the safety camera project, notwithstanding the significantly higher Exchequer costs that those originally estimated. The decision to proceed is a further indication of the Government's seriousness in addressing road safety.

Officials of my Department were also involved in the project team to tender for and select a contractor to implement and operate the safety camera network under close Garda supervision.

Railway Stations.

Joe Carey

Question:

108 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport the plans he has for introducing a train stop at Crusheen, County Clare in the proposed upgrade of the western rail corridor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9813/08]

The provision of a railway station at Crusheen on the Western Rail Corridor is a matter for consideration by Iarnród Éireann in the first instance taking account of actual and projected demand, the costs involved, and the impact on train services.

Park and Ride Facilities.

Áine Brady

Question:

109 Deputy Áine Brady asked the Minister for Transport the amount of money made available for park and ride facilities on an annual basis since 2005 to date in 2008; the procedures for obtaining such funding; the amount of money allocated to or drawn down by County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9861/08]

Áine Brady

Question:

110 Deputy Áine Brady asked the Minister for Transport the plans the Dublin Transportation Office or his Department have to provide park and ride facilities in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9862/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 109 and 110 together.

Public investment in park and ride facilities in the Greater Dublin Area including Co. Kildare is based on the DTO strategy for rail-based park and ride, adopted by my Department in 2005. The strategy recommends new or expanded parking facilities at 22 locations on the existing and planned rail network in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). Two of these sites are on the Maynooth line, and three on the Kildare line.

Following adoption of the DTO strategy, my Department made funding of €5 million available to local authorities in the GDA in 2006 for the development of park and ride facilities, followed by €1 million in each of 2007 and 2008. It is a matter for the local authorities to develop proposals and apply to my Department for funding. My Department has recently been in touch with the City and County Managers Association about accelerating the bringing forward of proposals for expenditure.

Iarnród Éireann provides car-parking facilities at its stations in County Kildare, and my Department has asked the company to forward details of current and planned car-parking capacity to the Deputy.

My Department has allocated over 2006 and 2007 €15,015,000 in Exchequer funding to Iarnród Éireann towards the cost of upgraded and enlarged car parking facilities at train stations throughout the country — €10,915,000 approved in 2006 and €4,100,000 approved in 2007. This funding included €1.2 million for Leixlip Louisa Bridge station car park, €1.4 million for Newbridge station car park, and €95,000 to link Sallins Station with a new car park.

In addition, feasibility studies for the upgrade of car parks at Kildare, Kilcock and Athy were funded as part of a countrywide programme of feasibility studies.

Taxi Regulations.

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

111 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Transport when a decision will be made in relation to a proposal by the Commission for Taxi Regulation to provide a direct subsidy to assist people with the purchase of and running of taxis or hackneys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9873/08]

The Commission for Taxi Regulation published new National Vehicle Standards — Requirements for Small Public Service Vehicles on 26 November 2007, which include new accessible vehicle standards for licensing as wheelchair accessible taxis and wheelchair accessible hackneys.

My Department is in discussion with the Commission for Taxi Regulation in relation to a proposal from the Commission for the introduction of a financial support arrangement to assist taxi and hackney operators with the purchase of wheelchair accessible vehicles.

A revised proposal was received from the Commission on 30 January 2008 and a final decision will be made on the proposal as soon as possible.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

112 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Transport the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9929/08]

The following table lists the bodies and organisations under the aegis of my Department and their responsibilities. Since my appointment as Minister for Transport, I have not devolved any additional responsibilities to any of these bodies and organisations.

In response to any enquiries received, I am satisfied that the bodies concerned generally abide by the quality customer service principles of timeliness and courtesy.

Table of Bodies under the aegis of the Department of Transport

Body

Functions

Dublin Airport Authority

Dublin Airport Authority is responsible for the management and development of Dublin Airport and for Shannon and Cork airports pending the completion of the restructuring of the company as provided for in the State Airports Act 2004. On the implementation of the Act, both the Cork and Shannon Airport Authorities will operate their respective airports. At present the boards of both airports are charged with preparing to assume responsibility for the management and development of the airports as well as being empowered to undertake any functions delegated to them by, and in agreement with, Dublin Airport Authority during the interim period.

Shannon Airport Authority

Cork Airport Authority

Irish Aviation Authority

The Irish Aviation Authority carries out a range of operational and regulatory functions and services relating to the safety and technical aspects of civil aviation.The Authority ensures that Irish civil aviation operates to international and European safety standards and systems in accordance with international agreements.

Commission for Aviation Regulation

The principal function of the Commission for Aviation Regulation is to regulate airport charges at Dublin Airport and to regulate aviation terminal services charges at Irish airports, which have an annual throughput in excess of one million passengers. The Commission also has responsibility for discharging Ireland’s responsibilities under EU legislation on slot allocation, the licensing of air carriers, the regulation of the groundhandling market and the enforcement of air passenger rights. Additionally, the Commission is the competent authority for the licensing of travel agents and tour operators.

C.I.E. Group

Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) is charged with the provision of bus and rail public transport for passengers as well as rail freight transport within the State and the operation of Rosslare Europort and CIÉ Tours. CIÉ has three wholly owned subsidiary limited liability companies: Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Eireann.

Bus Átha Cliath

Bus Átha Cliath provides bus services in Dublin city and county and contiguous areas.

Bus Éireann

Bus Éireann provides bus services throughout Ireland with the exception of Dublin City. Bus Éireann is also responsible for the operation and administration of the national school transport scheme on behalf of the Department of Education and Science.

Iarnród Éireann

Iarnród Éireann manages, maintains and develops the rail network infrastructure. It provides a railway service and a road freight service.

Railway Safety Commission

The Railway Safety Commission, established on 1 January 2006 under the Railway Safety Act 2005, has responsibility for regulating the safety of railway systems carrying fare-paying passengers and commercial freight and of other railways where they interface with public roads. The Commission also has responsibility for safety approval of new and modified passenger carrying cable railways, cable cars and drag lifts. The Railway Incident Investigation Unit, which is a functionally independent unit of the Commission, has responsibility for investigating accidents on railway systems and for making recommendations in that regard.

Railway Procurement Agency

The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) is responsible for the procurement of such light rail and metro infrastructure as may be determined from time to time by the Minister. It is also responsible for the delivery of integrated ticketing systems as may be determined by the Minister. The Agency may also exploit commercial opportunities arising from its functions.

National Roads Authority

The National Roads Authority has overall responsibility for the planning and supervision of works for the construction and maintenance of national roads, including the management of the national roads programme and for the allocation of grants to specific projects on the national roads network.

Dublin Transportation Office

The Dublin Transportation Office (DTO) was established to coordinate the implementation by relevant agencies of an agreed integrated transport strategy for the Greater Dublin Area, the Dublin Transportation Initiative. The DTO is also responsible for carrying out ongoing strategic transportation planning work, including the regular updating of the transport strategy. It also administers a traffic management grants scheme on behalf of the Department.

Road Safety Authority

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is responsible for promotion of road safety including, driver testing and licensing, registration of driving instructors, driver vocational training, compulsory basic training for motorcyclists, accident and road safety research, vehicle standards and road haulage enforcement functions. The RSA is also responsible for promoting public awareness of road safety and measures, including the advancement of education, relating to the promotion of the safe use of roads.

Medical Bureau of Road Safety

The Medical Bureau of Road Safety’s principal functions are to carry out analyses, for their drug or alcohol content, of specimens of blood and urine, provided for the Gardaí by people suspected of drink or drugs driving offences. The Bureau issues certificates in respect of the results of these analyses, which may be used as evidence in prosecutions for offences. The Bureau also participates in the Evidential Breath Testing Programme, providing Evidential Breath Testing instruments and training to Gardai.

Commission for Taxi Regulation

The Commission for Taxi Regulation was established under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003 and is responsible for the development and maintenance of the regulatory framework for the control and operation of small public service vehicles (taxis, hackneys and limousines) and their drivers.

Marine Casualty Investigation Board

The Function of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board is to carry out investigations into marine casualties that take place in Irish waters or involve Irish Registered vessels.

Port Companies: Port of Cork Company, Drogheda Port Company, Dublin Port Company, Dundalk Port Company, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Galway Harbour Company, New Ross Port Company, Shannon/Foynes Port Company, Port of Waterford Company, Wicklow Port Company.

The port companies are State-owned companies established under the Harbours Act 1996. The Act provides that the principal objects of the companies include the provision of such facilities, services and lands in their harbours for ships, goods and passengers, as it considers necessary. The companies are required to take all proper measures for the management, control, operation and development of their harbour.

Park and Ride Facilities.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

113 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the car parking available for commuters at Sallins Rail Station, Sallins, County Kildare; his plans to increase this capacity in order to encourage the use of rail transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9981/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport his proposals for the development of the rail transport system with particular reference to the urgent need to provide an available acceptable and attractive alternative for commuters; his plans to accelerate the programme to put in place a complimentary parking and bus feeder service with a view to dramatically increasing rail use by daily commuters in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9982/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

115 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which free car parking is available for rail commuters in County Kildare with a view to encouraging rail transport; his plans to enhance, expand or otherwise this service in 2008. [9983/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

116 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which he will increase the number of car parking spaces at each rail station in County Kildare; the existing number of places in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9984/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

124 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the car parking available for commuters at Leixlip Rail Station, Leixlip, County Kildare; his plans to increase this capacity in order to encourage the use of rail transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9995/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the full extent of extra car parking spaces expected to be provided at Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip, Confey, Hazelhatch and Sallins rail stations in County Kildare with the objective of making rail travel more readily available to commuters; when he expects the extra spaces to be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9999/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 to 116, inclusive, 124 and 126 together.

The provision of car parking at railway stations is a matter for Iarnrod Eireann working in conjunction with the local authority. I understand that Iarnrod Eireann, in response to a request from my Department in December 2007 in followup to a PQ from the Deputy, has provided the Deputy with details of existing and planned car parking capacity at railway stations on the Kildare and Maynooth railway lines.

The provision of feeder bus services to and from commuter rail stations is an operational matter for Iarnrod Eireann and local bus operators and I have no function in relation to this matter.

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

117 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he is satisfied that Transport 21 can and will be delivered on time and within cost; the areas least likely to meet these targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9985/08]

At the launch of Transport 21, the Government identified the projects in the national roads, public transport and regional airports sectors that it wishes to see prioritised for development in the ten-year period from 2006 to 2015 and provided indicative completion dates for the major projects contained.

Significant progress has been made on Transport 21 in its first two years and a number of projects have been completed, are under construction or are well advanced in planning terms.

Most national road projects are now being completed ahead of schedule and almost all of the projects opened in 2007 were on or ahead of time, while significant advances have been made on the development of public transport projects. While the majority of projects will be delivered ahead of or in accordance with the indicative timetable published at the launch of Transport 21, the huge scale of the programme is such that adjustments to the timescale for individual projects is inevitable. The value of the ten-year financial framework is that it gives us the flexibility to deal with this in an effective way. The necessary revisions to completion dates have arisen for a range of reasons including changes to the scope of projects arising from public consultation, planning issues, procurement issues and archaeological difficulties.

The overall budget for Transport 21 is €34 billion and I am satisfied that the projects identified will be delivered within this budget.

Road Traffic Accidents.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

118 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the reason a central unit is not appointed to correlate statistics on road traffic accidents with reference to obtaining information from the Garda, the local authorities and the health services with a view to precise identification of the cause or causes with the objective of taking appropriate action to reduce the number of such accidents, particularly those ending in fatalities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9987/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport when he expects, in conjunction with other Government Departments, to be in a position to collate the data relating to fatal motor accidents; if he will put in place the necessary structures to facilitate this procedure in an effort to determine precisely the cause or causes of road traffic deaths; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9988/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 118 and 119 together.

Responsibility for the collection, analysis and publication of structured information on road collisions now lies with the Road Safety Authority (RSA), under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006). The Road Collision Factbook for 2006 was published by the RSA last month and is available on the RSA's website at www.rsa.ie.

Rail Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

120 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the need to further increase the frequency and capacity of commuter trains serving Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip, Confey, Hazelhatch, Sallins, Newbridge, Kildare and Monasterevin, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9990/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

125 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which it is intended to improve or increase the number of scheduled commuter rail services from Sallins, Hazelhatch, Confey, Leixlip, Maynooth and Kilcock, County Kildare morning and evening, with a view to providing greater and accessible choice for commuters with the objective of alleviating road traffic congestion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9996/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 125 together.

The day to day scheduling of train services including the frequency of services are operational matters for Iarnrod Eireann and I have no function in this matter.

Road Safety.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

121 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he proposes to take steps to enhance safety on the motorways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9992/08]

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. As the Deputy is aware, the implementation of individual national road projects or initiatives, including those with specific safety objectives, is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act, 1993 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Road Network.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

122 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he will take action to eliminate roadside verge erosion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9993/08]

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. As the Deputy is aware, the implementation of individual national road projects including the matter referred to by the Deputy is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act, 1993 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in their area is a matter for individual road authorities to be funded from their own resources supplemented by State road grants provided by my Department. In 2008, a total of €618.714 million has been allocated to local authorities for works on those roads. This includes a sum of €310 million allocated under the Pavement Restoration Programme to be applied towards road reconstruction, road pavement improvements and restoration maintenance works.

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

123 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if it is intended to enhance bus services to include new urban developments not currently in receipt of services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9994/08]

The provision of public bus services on specific routes to serve particular areas is an operational matter for the State bus companies or the private bus operators themselves. Private bus operators are required to obtain licences under the Road Transport Act 1932 to operate scheduled bus passenger services.

Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann are not subject to the 1932 Act. However they must notify my Department about the initiation or alteration of a bus service and they must obtain my specific consent under section 25 of the Transport Act 1958 where a proposed new service or an alteration to an existing service would give rise to competition with a service licensed under the 1932 Act.

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 113.
Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 120.
Question No. 126 answered with Question No. 113.

Overseas Development Aid.

Richard Bruton

Question:

127 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the key projections of his strategy to meet the millennium development goals and the measurable targets he uses to evaluate progress; and the performance to date in respect of those targets. [9827/08]

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which represent a measurable framework for development up to the year 2015, are at the heart of Ireland's development cooperation programme as set out in the 2006 White Paper on Irish Aid. They inform both our bilateral work in Programme Countries and our support for and dialogue with multilateral development bodies.

Irish Aid's focus on reducing poverty and supporting the provision of basic services to the poorest people is wholly consistent with the attainment of the MDGs. By delivering on the commitment to reach the 0.7% UN target for development funding by 2012, Ireland is also perceived as being at the forefront of international efforts to reach the Goals.

We continue to focus over 80% of our bilateral country assistance on sub-Saharan Africa where needs are greatest. The overarching objectives of the aid programme are poverty reduction and sustainable development. We address fundamental human needs such as food security, basic education, primary health care and safe water supplies, areas which are essential to achieving the MDGs. Irish Aid works closely with partner Governments and civil society in our Programme Countries to monitor progress in relation to the MDGs.

In addition to an overall target for poverty reduction, we work with other donors and partner Governments in sectors such as health and education to identify clear targets to be achieved. These targets, for instance, include the number of schools built, the number of girls in education and so forth. In such cases, a joint review is held annually and, where problems are identified, measures to address these are included in the following year's annual planning process.

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has assigned the task of monitoring implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The latest MDG progress report, issued in July 2007, gave us a snapshot of the progress achieved as we head towards the 2015 MDG target date, broken down by Goal and by region.

Overall, there has been good progress on some targets, with more intensive effort required on others. The indications are that, if current trends continue, we are on target to reach the MDG on poverty reduction for the world as a whole, while progress has also been made globally in relation to reducing child mortality and increasing school enrolment rates.

However sub-Saharan Africa unfortunately continues to lag behind other parts of the world. We are therefore very supportive of efforts to strengthen Africa's efforts to meet the Goals such as the MDG Africa Steering Group convened by the Secretary General last September. The Taoiseach has also indicated his support for a meeting at Heads of Government level in September 2008, with the aim of intensifying MDG efforts in the period leading up to 2015.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

128 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9925/08]

My Department has not devolved responsibilities or functions to any State or statutory agency.

Community Employment Schemes.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

129 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to state the criteria relating to persons on community employment schemes; if those aged between 55 and 65 years can qualify; if not, his views on including that category within the community employment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9784/08]

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

In November 2004, to cater for older workers in particular, I revised the 3 year CE participation limit to allow those of 55 years of age and over to avail of a 6-year period on CE. Subsequently, the participation limit for persons eligible for CE based on a Social Welfare disability linked payment (including those under 55 years) was increased by 1 year. These measures were introduced in recognition of the fact that older participants and participants with a disability may find it more difficult to progress into the open labour market.

The criteria for participating on the Community Employment programme are based on age and length of time in receipt of various social welfare payments. In general, the Part-time Integration Option is for people of 25 or over who are receiving social welfare payments for 1 year or more, and people of 18 years or over in receipt of disability-related payments. The Part-time Job Option is for people who are 35 or over and in receipt of social welfare payments for 3 years or longer.

Certain groups such as travellers and refugees aged 18 or over are eligible for both options. If you qualify under the criteria but do not wish to take up the option yourself, there are certain conditions under which you can do a spousal swap.

In line with Government policy, participation on employment schemes for all participants has an upper age limit of 65 years of age i.e. FÁS may provide funds to community based employers to cover participant costs until the day before their 66th birthday.

Any individual, including widows over 55, can participate on CE up to their 66th birthday provided they have not reached their participation limit in terms of years spent on the programme.

The aim of CE still remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment. The programme is managed within this context, with consideration to the availability of resources and the needs of participants and the community. However, it should be remembered that, in so far as participants remain on CE, they are precluding someone else from benefiting from the programme. FÁS makes every effort to ensure that differing levels of demand between neighbouring schemes are equalised. FÁS also operates the programme flexibly as far as possible to ensure the continuation of community projects.

In conclusion then, I would say that this Government will continue to support the positive role of CE in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. In this regard, we are keeping the operation of the Scheme under constant review.

Regional Aid.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

130 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the levels of regional aid available in the south east region from 1 January 2008; and the level of aid available in the greater Dublin area from 1 January 2008. [9800/08]

The European Commission approved the Regional Aid Map for Ireland 2007–2013 on 24th October 2006. The level of regional aid available to companies in the Southern and Eastern region generally, and more specifically the South-East area, from 1 January 2008, is outlined in the following Table. The rates for 2008 remain unchanged from those applicable in 2007.

While the Greater Dublin area does not qualify for regional aid it continues to qualify for other forms of State aid, including SME aid, aid for Research and Development, and Training aid, which are available to all areas, including the areas referred to by the Deputy.

Southern & Eastern Region

Designated Areas

Large Firms

Medium Firms

Small Firms

South East sub-Region

2008-2013

2008-2013

2008-2013

(Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, South Tipperary) and designated islands1

10%

20%

30%

Large Firms

Medium Firms

Small Firms

Mid West

2008-2013

2009-2013

2008-2013

2008-2013

(Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary) Kerry, Cork Urban Regeneration Area

10%

0%

20%2

30%2

Large Firms

Medium Firms

Small Firms

2008

2009-2013

2008

2009-2013

2008

2009-2013

Cork

10%

0%

20%

0%

30%

0%

Lower aid rates apply to Large Investment Projects (i. e. > €50m).

1 Bere, Cleire, Dursey, Heir, Long, Sherkin, Whiddy.

2 From 2009-2013 no aid may be awarded for investment projects with eligible expenditure exceeding EUR 25 million.

Community Employment Schemes.

Tom Hayes

Question:

131 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will make a statement dealing with the concerns of persons over 55 who are currently on a FÁS scheme and who are being let go; and if he will clarify the position. [9805/08]

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

To cater for older workers in particular, in November 2004 I revised the 3 year CE capping to allow those of 55 years of age and over to avail of a 6-year period on CE (based on participation since 3rd April 2000). Subsequently, the participation limit for persons eligible for CE, based on a Social Welfare disability-linked payment, was increased by 1 year to 7 years. These measures were introduced in recognition of the fact that older participants and participants with a disability may find it more difficult to progress into the open labour market.

The aim of CE still remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment. The programme is managed within this context, with consideration to the availability of resources and the needs of participants and the community. However, it should be remembered that, in so far as participants remain on CE, they are precluding someone else from benefiting from the programme. FÁS makes every effort to ensure that differing levels of demand between neighbouring schemes are equalised. FÁS also operates the programme flexibly as far as possible to ensure the continuation of community projects.

I would like to highlight that FÁS and Local Employment Service Offices are available to provide information on other employment and training opportunities which may be available to those exiting CE.

In conclusion then, I would say that this Government will continue to support the positive role of CE in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. In this regard, we are keeping the operation of the Scheme under constant review.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

132 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9922/08]

The following Bodies, which exercise statutory functions, are deemed "Offices" of my Department, whereby the staff of each Office is drawn, primarily, from the staffing complement of my Department:

1. Companies Registration Office (CRO)

2. Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT)

3. Labour Relations Commission (LRC)

4. Labour Court

5. National Employment Rights Authority (NERA)

6. Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE)

7. Patents Office

8. Registrar of Friendly Societies (RFS)

In the case of each "Office", the Head of that Office is responsible for exercising the statutory functions reposed in that Office under legislation passed by the Oireachtas. Although I remain accountable to the Oireachtas for the legislation and policy governing the role and functions of these Offices, responsibility for the day-to-day administration of that Office's statutory functions are a matter for the Head of each Office. Details of the role and functions of each Office is available on my Department's website — www.entemp.ie.

In addition, there are fourteen statutory Agencies working under the remit of my Department as follows:

1. Competition Authority

2. Enterprise Ireland

3. FÁS

4. Forfás

5. Health and Safety Authority

6. IDA Ireland

7. InterTradeIreland (established under the British-Irish Agreement Act, 1999 and under the remit of both the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment in Dublin and the Department for Enterprise Trade and Investment in Belfast)

8. Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA)

9. National Consumer Agency

10. National Standards Authority of Ireland

11. Personal Injuries Assessment Board

12. Science Foundation Ireland

13. Shannon Development

14. The County & City Enterprise Boards (35 in total)

The role and functions of each Agency is well known and set out in the individual pieces of legislation governing that Agency as passed by the Oireachtas. A summary of the role and functions of each Agency can be found on my Department's website as well as on each Agency's website. In accordance with each Agency's remit, I remain accountable to the Oireachtas for the legislative base and general policy direction for each of these Agencies, whereas the Agency itself is responsible for day-to-day decision-making on programme implementation and, where appropriate, property development, for which, I am not accountable to the Oireachtas. I am satisfied that each Agency has in place systems to allow it respond expeditiously and comprehensively to enquiries from Oireachtas Members and should the Deputy have concerns regarding the speed with which any of these Bodies deals with enquiries from Oireachtas Members, or the quality of their responses, I will be happy to bring them to the attention of the Agency's CEO for appropriate action. In this regard, Agency CEOs are generally available to appear before Oireachtas Committees to account for the running of their Agencies.

Additionally, there are three other Bodies which exercise certain statutory functions under legislation for which I am the responsible Minister and these are:

1. The Company Law Review Group (CLRG),

2. The Patents Agents Board, and

3. The Trade Mark Agents Board.

As the CLRG was established under the Companies Acts, I am answerable to the Oireachtas for its work, however, given the specialist nature of the work of the other two Bodies, enquiries from Oireachtas Members do not generally arise.

Finally, the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA), which operates under the aegis of the Minister for Finance, has been appointed as the "competent authority" to authorise collective investment funds and to supervise the activities of fund managers to ensure they comply with the requirements contained in relevant legislation. In its decision-making as "competent authority", IFSRA acts independently of me as Minister.

Sports Capital Programme.

Phil Hogan

Question:

133 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has received an application under the sports and recreational grants scheme from a council (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and when a decision will be made. [9839/08]

Under the Sports Capital Programme, which is administered by my Department, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The 2008 programme was advertised on 13th and 14th of January and the deadline for receipt of applications is 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for online applications. Application forms are available from my Department or directly from the Department's website at www.dast.gov.ie.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the deadline for online applications for the 2008 programme has not yet passed and I am not in a position to confirm receipt of individual applications.

Arts Funding.

David Stanton

Question:

134 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the details of the programmes or supports available from his Department or bodies under the aegis of his Department for the development and support of small private museums; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9913/08]

I do not have direct responsibility for small private museums, or for museums generally, with the exception of the National Cultural Institutions. In line, however, with my remit to create an environment, which enables culture to flourish, I commenced a scheme last year to support designated County museums and museums within the Museums Standards Programme administered by the Heritage Council of Ireland. The objectives of the scheme are to assist in the enhancement of the exhibition experience; encourage the use of local and regional museums by a larger segment of society; and promote museums as a focal point in the community for social purposes. Grants totalling over €101,000 were paid in 2007 under that scheme.

It is the intention to run a similar scheme this year and funding of €125,000 is available.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

135 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9917/08]

As Minister, I have overall responsibility for the formulation of national policy in the areas of Arts, Sport and Tourism and, through my Department, for monitoring its implementation. The statutory bodies under the aegis of my Department which have responsibility for the execution of policy are listed in my Department's Statement of Strategy and Annual Reports which are available on my Department's website. The functions of these bodies are set out in the relevant Acts, Articles of Association or constitutions under which they were established.

My Department has written, in the context of its overall corporate governance role in relation to the bodies under its aegis, regarding the need to have effective systems in place to respond to queries from Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas. They have confirmed that appropriate arrangements are in place in this regard.

Child Support.

Michael Ring

Question:

136 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of early childcare supplement paid to a sector (details supplied) in 2007; and the number of children claimed for. [9806/08]

Michael Ring

Question:

139 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of child benefit paid to a sector (details supplied) in 2007; and the number of children claimed for. [9810/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 139 together.

In 2007, Child Benefit (CB) payments totaling some €4.78m were made for 2,300 families, in respect of 4,300 children living outside the Republic of Ireland in another EU/EEA country.

In addition, Early Childcare Supplement (ECS) payments to the value of €1.12m were made in respect of 1,700 non-resident children under the age of 6.

Detailed statistics on the amounts of Child Benefit and Early Childcare Supplement paid in respect of children resident in individual EU/EEA member states are not held; however at December 2007 some 70% of Child Benefit/ECS payments in respect of non-resident children were in respect of children living in Poland; a further 26% were in respect of children living in the UK; payments in respect of the remaining 4% of non-resident children were spread across a further 16 EU/EEA states.

Social Welfare Appeals.

John McGuinness

Question:

137 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if clothing allowance will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny on appeal under the supplementary welfare appeals scheme in view of the difficult circumstances of their case. [9904/08]

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which is administered on my behalf by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive, an exceptional needs payment (ENP) may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources. There is no automatic entitlement to this payment. Each application is determined by the Executive based on the particular circumstances of the case. Eligible people would normally be in receipt of a social welfare or health service executive payment. The South-Eastern Area of the Executive has advised that the person concerned applied to the local Community Welfare Office (CWO) for an ENP for clothing in November 2007. The CWO has advised that the person concerned had already received a number of exceptional needs payments in 2007 and her request was refused as an exceptional need was not in evidence. The person concerned appealed the decision to the designated officer of the HSE Appeals Office in December 2007 and the decision was upheld on appeal. The person concerned has been notified of the decision. The person concerned was further advised that if there are changes in her circumstances she should make a formal application for an ENP that will be considered under the terms of the scheme.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

138 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the way persons (details supplied) in County Mayo are expected to survive financially with no income coming in to the household and his Department stating that their means has to be taken from the year 2006. [9808/08]

Michael Ring

Question:

140 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if it is reasonable to expect persons (detail supplied) in County Mayo to live on an income in March 2008 which was earned in 2006. [9811/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 140 together.

The person concerned, who is self-employed in the construction industry, applied for jobseeker's allowance on 21 January 2008. A Deciding Officer assessed his weekly means at €385.00 and awarded the allowance to him at the weekly rate of €40.00 from 21 January 2008. A first payment, including arrears, issued to him on 25 February 2008. The means assessment in this case is based on information supplied in relation to earnings in 2006. If the person concerned provides my Department with more recent evidence of his earnings his means will be reviewed. It is also open to him to appeal the Deciding Officer's decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office and a form for this purpose was issued to him on 29 February 2008. Under Social Welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by Deciding Officers and Appeal Officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Question No. 139 answered with Question No. 136.
Question No. 140 answered with Question No. 138.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

141 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9928/08]

The information requested is currently being compiled within the Department and will be made available to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

142 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (detail supplied) in County Kildare emphatically rejects the suggestion that they are not a separated spouse which was the criteria used to refuse their application for one parent family allowance and if he will therefore re-examine the case. [9948/08]

The person concerned came to Ireland, from Nigeria, in February 2003 and first applied for One Parent Family Payment in July 2005. Her circumstances were investigated by a Social Welfare Inspector who reported that, in her view, the person concerned had not established that she is a separated person within the meaning of the Social Welfare legislation and that there is evidence of an ongoing relationship with her husband. On the basis of the Inspector's report, the Deciding Officer disallowed her application to One Parent Family Payment.

The person concerned appealed the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Following an oral hearing on 20 September 2006 the Appeals Officer disallowed her appeal on the grounds that she had not shown that the marriage tie had been broken and he considered the separation to be geographic in nature. On 17 April 2007 the person concerned again applied for One Parent Family Payment. Her application was investigated by a Social Welfare Inspector who reported that her circumstances were basically unchanged from the previous investigation. On the basis of a further Inspector's report the Deciding Officer disallowed her application to One Parent Family Payment. The person concerned appealed the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Following an oral hearing on 8 January 2008 the Appeals Officer, having considered all the appellant's evidence including that adduced at the oral hearing, concluded that he was not satisfied that the appellant had established that she is a separated person within the meaning of the legislation. The appeal was disallowed. An Appeal Officer's decision is final in the absence of new facts and fresh evidence.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

143 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9919/08]

Since my Department was established in June 2002, no cases have occurred of the nature referred to by the Deputy.

Foreshore Licences.

Liz McManus

Question:

144 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps she will take in regarding planning of offshore wind facilities following concerns expressed by a group (detail supplied); her views on calls for a reform of the Foreshore Act 1933 governing construction at sea; if she will ensure strategic environmental assessment of the Irish coastline; her policy on the issue of integrated coastal zone management; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9802/08]

The Government decided on 2 October 2007 that responsibility for foreshore licensing functions under the Foreshore Act 1933 in respect of port companies and harbour authorities governed by the Harbours Acts 1946, 1996 and 2000 and any other harbour or harbour related developments intended for commercial trade, and for all energy developments (including oil, gas, wave, wind and tidal energy) and aggregate and mineral extraction developments on the foreshore would transfer to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. My Department is currently putting in place the necessary arrangements to ensure the efficient and effective transfer of the appropriate legislation and associated functions.

In the interim, all foreshore functions under the Foreshore Acts 1933 to 2005 rest with my Department. My Department will carry forward responsibility for all other foreshore licensing functions under the Foreshore Act 1933, including in respect of all aquaculture developments and piers and harbours, other than in respect of port companies and harbour authorities governed by the Harbours Acts 1946, 1996 and 2000 and any other harbour or harbour related developments intended for commercial trade. Under the existing interim foreshore management procedures, the construction of an offshore electricity generating station on the foreshore is governed by the Foreshore Act 1933. Applications for offshore electricity generating stations are subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment and the views are sought from in excess of 100 consultees, both statutory and non-statutory. Applications are subject to a two-month public consultation phase, advertised both locally and nationally.

The application is assessed within the Department and by the Marine Licence Vetting Committee, which comprise a number of professionals, suitably qualified to assess the application. When it has been determined that all the issues in the consultation process have been properly addressed, the application is sent to the Minister for a decision as to whether the lease should be granted. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will clearly assume the critical role in relation to future aspects of foreshore management for offshore wind facilities. My Department will continue to work closely with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the context of progressing the various elements required to develop the appropriate coastal zone legislative framework.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Damien English

Question:

145 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food her views on Irish farmers efforts to reduce carbon emissions through their workings of the land, for example hedge maintenance and tree planting that aid the absorption of carbon-based gases and so on; if she is supportive of these efforts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9814/08]

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a challenging national issue which faces all sectors of Irish society. Farmers are playing their part in meeting this challenge and my Department supports their efforts by funding and promoting various schemes which contribute to the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases. These include the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), the Organic Farming Scheme and the Scheme of Grant Aid for the Development of the Organic Sector, the Bioenergy Scheme for Willow and Miscanthus and the Afforestation Scheme.

REPS rewards farmers for adhering to environmentally sustainable farming practices and contributes significantly to the selective planting of broadleaf tree species and to the planting and rejuvenation of hedgerows. Other measures in REPS which are expected to have a positive impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are those designed to improve the management of organic manures and to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers. In terms of reduced fertiliser use and consequent emissions, organic farming too has a role to play. The forestry sector is very important in addressing climate change, as it removes CO2 from the atmosphere, in addition to being a valuable source of renewable energy, thus replacing fossil fuels. Over the past twenty years, close to 300,000 hectares of new forestry has been established in Ireland, the majority of this by the private sector. In recent years over 90% of new planting has been by farmers. My Department also supports the development of other renewable energy sources through its Bioenergy Scheme.

Decentralisation Programme.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

146 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when civil servants from An Bord Bia and Bord Glas will be relocating to Enniscorthy, County Wexford under the decentralisation programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9944/08]

Bord Bia has a Decentralisation Implementation Plan in place and continues to work with the Government's Decentralisation Implementation Group and the Department of Finance to ensure the achievement of that Plan. Issues relating to transferability of staff between agencies and with the Civil Service generally are being examined centrally by the Department of Finance. Bord Bia is also liaising with OPW regarding its future accommodation in Enniscorthy. A precise timeframe has not yet been established.

Farm Household Incomes.

Damien English

Question:

147 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food her views on introducing measures to alleviate the situation whereby increasing numbers of farmers are engaging in off farm employment that inevitably leads to increasing churn rates away from agriculture, in order to increase on farm investment, to include new on farm enterprise developments whereby farmers, can achieve higher returns for use of the land; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9816/08]

The on-going trend towards part-time farming reflects a combination of factors including the increased availability of off-farm employment. Many small-scale producers find that combining farming with off-farm employment is an effective way to ensure their continued viability in farming. At the same time, full-time farmers are looking to the new flexibility offered to them under decoupling to develop and intensify their commercial farm enterprises. In this regard, the Government is providing considerable funding through the National Development Plan 2007-2013 to encourage increased investment and market driven production. This Government is focused on ensuring that farming families have the best possible options available for them to stay on the land. That may mean as full-time farmers, if their farm size and resources are sufficient, and if they choose that option. Alternatively it may be through the combination of on-farm and off-farm income, which many smaller farmers are finding as the best route to a viable life on the land. The commitment of this Government is to support and encourage our farm families in whichever option they choose.

Grant Payments.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

148 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position of the dairy hygiene grant for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9831/08]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the application by the person concerned for grant-aid under the Farm Improvement Scheme. Applications received under that Scheme are being processed by my Department up to the level of funding provided for the Scheme in the 2006 partnership agreement, Towards 2016.

John McGuinness

Question:

149 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when full payment will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [9906/08]

An application was received on 20 April 2007 requesting the transfer of 43.02 standard entitlements from the joint names of the person named and his deceased brother by way of inheritance to the person named. While the person named, as joint owner of the entitlements in question, is automatically entitled to fifty percent, the remaining entitlements form part of the estate of his deceased brother. The person named was asked to forward a copy of the Will of the deceased person, or other testamentary documentation. The person named was also requested to complete essential elements of the Transfer application form that were incomplete. In addition, the person named does not hold a herd number in his own right nor has the existing herd number been transferred into the sole name of the person named. No further communication has been received from the person named in relation to the issues outlined above. It should also be noted that no 2007 Single Payment application was received under this herdnumber for the 2007 scheme year. Therefore, even if the transfer of entitlements is completed under the 2007 Scheme year, no payment may issue to the person named for that Scheme year.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

150 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from her to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9916/08]

Responsibility has been devolved to the following agencies:

Teagasc

Responsibility for the procurement or provision of education, training and advisory services in agriculture as well as responsibility to undertake, promote, encourage, assist, co- ordinate, facilitate and review agricultural research and development including research and development in relation to food processing and the food processing industry was devolved to Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, under the Agriculture (Research, Training and Advice) Act, 1988.

Irish National Stud Company Ltd

Responsibility for the national stud farm in Tully Co. Kildare was devolved to the Irish National Stud Company Ltd (INS) under the National Stud Act, 1945. The Act also gave the INS the power to operate special schemes for the improvement of thoroughbred horse breeding. The Stud also engages in farming activities and trains people for employment in the bloodstock sector.

Bord Bia

Bord Bia was established under the Bord Bia Act 1994 and its primary function is to promote, assist and develop the marketing of Irish Food and livestock and the production, marketing and consumption of horticultural produce.

Coillte Teoranta

Coillte Teoranta was established under the Forestry Act, 1998 as a private limited company, which operates in forestry and related activities on a commercial basis. The principal objectives of the company are:

To carry on the business of forestry and related activities on a commercial basis and in accordance with efficient silvicultural practices,

To establish and carry on woodland industries,

To participate with others in forestry and related activities consistent with its objects, designed to enhance the effective and profitable operation of the company, and

To utilise and manage the resources available to it in a manner consistent with the above objects

National Council for Forest Research and Development (COFORD)

COFORD's remit is to fund and co-ordinate forest research and development projects with the aim of developing the forestry industry through technical innovation and good silvicultural practice. COFORD's role, in recent years, has expanded to include services and advice in areas such as climate change, wood energy and forest products.

Veterinary Council of Ireland

The Veterinary Council of Ireland was established under the Veterinary Practice Act 2005 (No 22 of 2005). Its function assigned under the Act is to regulate the veterinary profession in Ireland.

The Irish Medicines Board

The Irish Medicines Board was established under the Irish Medicines Board Act 1995 (No 29 of 1995), which was sponsored by the Minister for Health and Children. One of the functions assigned under the European Communities (Animal Remedies) (No 2) Regulations 2007 (SI 786/2007) is the licensing of animal remedies and plants manufacturing such products and associated functions.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM)

BIM was established under the Sea Fisheries Act, 1952 and is the State agency with responsibility for developing the Irish Sea Fishing and Aquaculture industries. It provides a range of services including advisory, financial, technical, marketing and training supports to all sectors of the Irish seafood industry.

The Marine Institute

The Marine Institute was set up under the 1991 Marine Institute Act. It is the State agency responsible for marine research delivery and is the implementing body for Marine Research Technology Development and Innovation Measures under the National Development Plan 2007-2013.

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA)

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority was established under the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006 and is the competent authority for the enforcement of National and EU Regulations on Sea-Fisheries protection and Seafood Safety.

As to arrangements to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from members of Dail Eireann, these are operational matters for the bodies concerned. Ministerial responsibility to Dáil Éireann in relation to the bodies is confined to matters of policy.

Alternative Farm Enterprises.

Tony Gregory

Question:

151 Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of licensed mink farms operating in each county; the number of fox farms operating in each county; and if there are other types of fur farms operating here at present. [9931/08]

Under the Musk Rats Act, 1933 (Application to Mink) Order 1965, the keeping of mink is prohibited except under licence, obtained from my Department. Licences are issued under this legislation only if the applicant, following an inspection, is found to be compliant with a number of key conditions. There are five licensed fur farms in Ireland. There is no legislation requiring the licensing of fox farms. There is one known fox farm, which is operated in conjunction with a mink farm. I am not aware of any other types of fur farms operating in Ireland at present. Due to on-going security concerns, the publication, by county, of the locations of fur farms is not deemed to be appropriate.

Tony Gregory

Question:

152 Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if fox farming here is being phased out for economic reasons (details supplied). [9932/08]

As with any other farming enterprise, fox farming is subject to the laws of economics. I am not aware of any plans to close the one known fox farm operating in Ireland.

Fishing Industry Development.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

153 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps that have been taken by her Department to implement the recommendations of the seafood industry strategy review group on the training of fishermen; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9938/08]

In February 2008, Minister John Browne T.D., officially launched Bord Iascaigh Mhara's (BIM's) mobile Engineering Coastal Training Unit (CTU), at Kilmore Quay Pier, Co. Wexford as part of BIM's response to a recommendation in the Seafood Industry Strategy — Steering A New Course 2007-2013 to increase training to the inshore sector in view of the significantly higher rates of accidents and machinery failure on inshore and coastal vessels affecting safety, profitability and crew retention. This follows the replacement of BIM's two highly successful mobile Coastal Training Units. The new units have a 16% increased floor area due to a unique expandable pod, considerably expanding their training potential. They are equipped with the most up-to-date computer, navigation, multimedia training technology, as well as radio and safety demonstration equipment and separate fire demonstration trailers accompanies them. The new Coastal Training Units are self-contained having their own generators and are designed to host video conferences through satellite Broadband and facilitate contact with training facilities in other BIM training centres and abroad. The CTU's main customer base is situated in remote fishing coastal communities where they deliver safety and skills training programmes to the industry, visiting on average 30 coastal communities each year.

BIM is also installing a new firefighting unit in the National Fisheries College Greencastle, County Donegal this year to deliver three and five day Firefighting courses to fishermen studying for their Department of Transport Certificates of Competency. This unit will also be availed of by fishermen from Northern Ireland, where similar facilities are not available. It is worth noting that all fishermen are eligible to undertake BIM training programmes including those serving on vessels that are decommissioning. In this regard, BIM and FÁS have agreed to co-operate to provide training for fishing vessel crew members that find themselves without a job when their fishing vessel is decommissioned. Both agencies will work closely together to provide retraining, upskilling or diversification opportunities in the seafood industry or elsewhere in the economy as required.

Special Educational Needs.

Enda Kenny

Question:

154 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science if persons qualified in ABA teaching methods who have received their training from an organisation (details supplied) in County Louth are recognised by her Department; her proposals for such persons to achieve official recognition if that be required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9787/08]

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government commits to the long-term funding for the centres that are currently in the ABA pilot programme, including the centre to which he refers, subject to agreement with my Department on standards, including qualifications, that will enable them to be supported as primary schools for children with autism. I am pleased to advise that the issue is being actively progressed and officials from my Department have met with the Irish Autism Action group on several occasions to advance the matter.

Schools Building Projects.

Noel Coonan

Question:

155 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Science when a decision will be made for an application for additional funding for a school (detail supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9788/08]

As part of the expansion of the Small Schools Scheme, a grant was sanctioned to enable the Board of Management of the school in question to extend/refurbish their school. The Scheme allows Boards of Management to address their accommodation and building priorities with a guaranteed amount of funding and gives Boards of Management control of the building project. The intention of the scheme is to provide funding to schools to enable them to undertake wanted building projects. The scheme is not intended to leave schools with significant fund-raising needs but for the school to tailor the scope of capital works commissioned to the available funding. A central tenet of the scheme is that the schools, granted discretion and funding, must equally accept responsibility for prioritisation, adherence to statutory regulations, control of costs and ensuring value for money. The decision on whether to continue participating in the scheme or to drop out, if the scope of build is more than the funding envelope permits, is a matter for each school authority.

The school authorities have received planning permission for their project and are at tender stage at present. 70% of the grant will be paid to the school's bank account when the contractor is on site and has commenced construction. An application for additional funding in respect of the provision of a PE facility has recently been received from the school. This will be considered by the Department's Review Group shortly. The school will be informed of the decision in due course.

Departmental Funding.

John Deasy

Question:

156 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has had discussions with the Department of Finance regarding the provision of grant aid to schools who could sink their own water wells thus eliminating water rate bills; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9801/08]

I have not had discussions with my colleague the Minister for Finance in the matter. I am anxious however to enable schools to conserve water and keep their bills as low as possible. An information package is currently being prepared for schools on the most appropriate measures to minimise excess consumption of water and to reduce wastage where it exists. As part of this exercise, technical guidance and specifications for the most common problems that are likely to arise in this area will be provided.

Rainwater harvesting systems have real potential to reduce schools future water bills in conjunction with other technologies. The demand for water in schools must be minimised firstly through push type spray taps, low flushing toilets, urinal controls, repairing leaks, etc, then the potential for rainwater harvesting can be maximised by reducing the amount of mains water used to flush toilets. (Typically this would be about two thirds of the water used in a school).

In that context my Department has selected Stamullen National School, Co Meath where a new 16 classroom GRD school is under construction to trial a rainwater harvesting system and are reviewing the suitability of other potential locations currently at early construction stage for such systems. While fitting the systems in new schools during construction is relatively straight forward, retrofitting them in existing schools is much more difficult and very expensive because of the various dedicated pipe work systems and the amount of builders work and making good that would be required in each instance.

In November 2007 the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. John Gormley TD, through Dublin City Council, launched a "Conserve Water in Schools" campaign which involved giving all schools in Dublin City a present of a water butt to collect rain water for use in school gardens and free "hippo bags" to put in toilet cisterns that will automatically reduce the amount of water used with each flush. A "Conserve Water in Schools Resource Pack" was launched which shows children how they can get involved in conserving water and put a stop to water wastage in their schools. The school pack shows children how to audit the amount of water used in their school and how to devise a plan of action to reduce water usage and to stop wastage.

Action sheets in the pack encourage pupils to keep up their good water conservation habits and show them how to monitor and evaluate their own school's Plan of Action on an ongoing basis. All schools everywhere can get involved by downloading the schools' pack from the council's website,www.dublincity.ie.

School Transport.

Tom Hayes

Question:

157 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science her proposals in relation to having an independent review of the post-primary school transport system; when such a review will take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9804/08]

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to review the school transport system including catchment boundaries. The Department is currently developing proposals for progressing this commitment and the intention is to make substantial progress during the current year.

Water Charges.

Joe Carey

Question:

158 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the proposed charges on water usage within national schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9812/08]

On 4th January 2008, details were announced by Government of the transitional arrangements which will apply for schools water services as part of the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. This statement reiterated the Governments commitment to full implementation of the Directive, which has as its objective the promotion of water conservation and the efficient use of water as an important and scarce natural resource.

The legal advice available to the Government is that under the EU Framework Directive all non-domestic users must pay for water used. Schools, like other non-domestic water services users, must pay water charges. This advice also confirms that schools will be required to pay the full cost of water services used on a metered basis with effect from 1st January 2010. The Directive also requires that measures are put in place up to 2010 to move towards full cost recovery.

For the transition period the Government agreed that non-fee paying recognised schools will pay a flat rate per pupil fee as follows:— 2007 — €3 per pupil, 2008 — €3.50 per pupil and 2009 — €4 per pupil enrolled. For 2007, charges applied based on metering will be recalculated on the transitional flat rate with a credit given for any excess payment.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will advise local authorities of the detailed arrangements which will be put in place to implement this decision. These new arrangements afford schools the opportunity to put in place the necessary water conservation arrangements and practices and undertake necessary works to ensure that when full water charges are introduced in two years time schools will have significantly reduced their water usage and, by virtue of good water conservation, be in a much stronger position to meet their water charges. Those schools with very high water consumption will be identified and contacted with a view to introducing measures to help them reduce water usage.

An information package is currently being prepared for schools on the most appropriate measures to minimise excess consumption of water and to reduce wastage where it exists. As part of this exercise, technical guidance and specifications for the most common problems that are likely to arise in this area will be provided. In addition, water conservation issues will continue to be addressed by my Department as a matter of routine where new schools are being built or where major renovations are being carried out to existing schools under the schools modernisation programme.

Schools Building Projects.

David Stanton

Question:

159 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 161 of 28 February 2008, regarding the allocation of a band two rating to a school, the subdivision or subset in which the school has been included; her views on whether the school meets the criteria of band 1.1 rating; if not the criteria of band 1.1 the school does not meet; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9821/08]

The application from the school to which the Deputy refers was assessed as a band 2.2. Band 2.2 constitutes a school with a deficit of mainstream accommodation which constitutes a substantial and significant proportion of the school's overall accommodation needs, while the condition of the existing accommodation is adequate.

As the Deputy may be aware a Developing Areas Unit was set up in the Department of Education and Science to focus on the school accommodation needs of rapidly developing areas including Midleton. The main emphasis in 2008 is on providing sufficient school places in these developing areas, as well as delivering improvements in the quality of existing primary and post-primary school accommodation throughout the country.

In this context, the status of the project to which the Deputy refers will be re-assessed and banded according. The project will be considered in the context of the school building and modernisation programme.

Schools Refurbishment.

Billy Timmins

Question:

160 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the summer works scheme 2008 at the time of her suspension of applications that were already in progress and under the Department’s rules it had been necessary, in order to apply for the funding at all, for schools to employ the appropriate professional consultants as advisors; the way she will reimburse the schools for these costs as if it had been known that her Department was not going to provide funding they would not have gone ahead with the consultations and many schools are not aware of the suspension of this scheme and will now find that they are left with bills for the consultations already carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9822/08]

My Department's circular 0043/2007 regarding the Summer Works Scheme 2008 clearly outlines that the appointment of a consultant to prepare a Technical report must be met in full from a school's own resources. Such a report may be of benefit in the event of future applications for funding.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Summer Works Scheme was introduced in 2004. Since then, over 3,000 projects costing in excess of €300 million have been completed. Considerable investment has been provided in the Budget with almost €600 million this year for investment in school building infrastructure. With so many small projects having been completed over the past few years, I am focusing on delivering as many large scale projects as possible in 2008 with an emphasis on providing additional pupil places in developing areas. There is not, therefore, a new Summer Works Scheme as part of our building programme this year.

Psychological Service.

Finian McGrath

Question:

161 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding a project (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [9835/08]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the centre in question is a privately run diagnostic, treatment and assessment facility. My Department is committed to the maintenance of a robust psychological service based on international practice.

My Department is currently continuing to develop and expand the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and resources allocated to my Department for psychological purposes are being invested for this purpose. Since May 2007 the number of psychologists employed within the NEPS service has increased from 128 to 138 and during 2008 this complement will increase to 169.

In this regard, following a national recruitment process put in place in late 2007 by the Public Appointments Service, interviews are currently being held to form regional panels from which appointments to priority regions. In line with Government commitments under the T2016 agreement, it is further my intention to increase NEPS psychologist personnel to 200 during 2009.

School Accommodation.

Phil Hogan

Question:

162 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the need for permanent accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9838/08]

John McGuinness

Question:

177 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Science if appropriate accommodation will be provided for a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny on the existing site or a new site; and if the engineer’s report will be made available. [9902/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 177 together.

My Department is aware of the accommodation situation of the school referred to by the Deputies. The further progression of this project from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's multi annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Michael Kennedy

Question:

163 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress on a temporary school (details supplied) in Dublin north; if it will be finished by September 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9844/08]

Michael Kennedy

Question:

164 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will provide a progress report on the permanent building for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9845/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 164 together.

My Department is committed to providing a permanent building for the new post-primary school in Donabate. The school will be delivered along with new schools in Phibblestown, Co Dublin and Laytown, Co. Meath under a design and build contract that is aimed at delivering 3,000 school places for these rapidly developing areas. The Department has appointed a Project Manager to oversee the delivery of these projects and the procurement process is well advanced for a Design Team to do the initial design of these 3 new schools.

The School Planning Section of my Department has approved temporary accommodation for the school to commence operation in September 2008. Applications for enrolment in the new school is a matter for County Dublin Vocational Education Committee, who are the patron body.

Schools Refurbishment.

James Bannon

Question:

165 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to additional funding for the extension and renovation project for a national school (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9858/08]

As part of the expansion of the Small Schools Scheme, a grant of €484,000 was sanctioned to enable the management authority of the school in question to extend and modernise their school.

The Scheme allows Boards of Management to address their accommodation and building priorities with a guaranteed amount of funding and gives Boards of Management control of the building project.

The intention of the scheme is to provide funding to schools to enable them to undertake wanted building projects. The scheme is not intended to leave schools with significant fundraising needs but for the school to tailor the scope of capital works commissioned to the available funding. A central tenet of the scheme is that the schools, granted discretion and funding, must equally accept responsibility for prioritisation, adherence to statutory regulations, control of costs and ensuring value for money. The decision on whether to continue participating in the scheme or to drop out, if the scope of build is more than the funding envelope permits, is a matter for each school authority.

The current position is that the school management have applied for planning permission and are awaiting a decision. They have submitted an application for additional funding which is being considered by the Department's Review Group. The school will be informed of the decision in due course.

School Placements.

Áine Brady

Question:

166 Deputy Áine Brady asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to provide secondary school places for the areas of Kill, Johnstown and Sallins in County Kildare in view of the rapid rise in population in these areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9863/08]

I am aware that many areas located within close proximity to Dublin, similar to those referred to by the Deputy, continue to experience population growth, a position that almost inevitably places some strain on existing educational provision.

In order to proactively plan for such areas of increased growth, my Department is included among the prescribed authorities to whom local authorities are statutorily obliged to send draft development plans or proposed variations to development plans for comment.

As a matter of course, meetings are arranged with local authorities to establish the location, scale and pace of any major proposed developments and their possible implications for school provision so as to ensure, as far as possible, the timely delivery of the required education infrastructure.

The primary schools in Kill, Johnstown and Sallins are in the catchment area of Naas for post-primary purposes. In Naas at post primary level, the management authority of St. Patrick's Post Primary School, Co. Kildare V.E.C., is currently progressing plans to re-locate the school and extend capacity to 1000 pupil places.

Additionally, an extension project is completed at St. Mary's College, Naas which increases capacity at the school to 900 pupils. A similar extension was recently completed at Meanscoil Iognaid Rís, Naas and a further extension at the school is currently in architectural planning.

Schools Building Projects.

Jack Wall

Question:

167 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the guidelines laid down by her Department in relation to the defined ratio of toilet cubicles to students; if this is similar to the guidelines as laid down by the Health and Safety Authority; if so, if a school (details supplied) in County Kildare is within such guidelines; if not, her plans to ensure that such guidelines are adhered to; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9864/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

168 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the guidelines laid down by her Department in relation to acceptable heating standards for schools within its remit; if these guidelines are similar to the standards of the Health and Safety Authority; if so, if a school (details supplied) in County Kildare meets the criteria; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9883/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

169 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the guidelines laid down by her Department to acceptable heating standards for schools within its remit; if these guidelines are similar to the standards of the Health and Safety Authority; if so, if a school (details supplied) in County Kildare meets the criteria; if not her plans to address the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9884/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

171 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if her Department’s guidelines in relation to school buildings determine that hot water is available in classrooms; if this is in line with Health and Safety Authority guidelines; if so, her plans to address the problems of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare in relation to such a provision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9886/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

172 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the guidelines laid down by her Department in relation to the defined ratio of toilet cubicles to students; if this is similar to the guidelines as laid down by the Health and Safety Authority; if so, if a school (details supplied) in County Kildare is within such guidelines; if not, her plans to ensure that such guidelines are adhered to; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9887/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

173 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science her Department’s guidelines that determine the supply of drinking water in schools; if it is in line with the Health and Safety Authority Guidelines; if a school (details supplied) in County Kildare meets such guidelines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9888/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

174 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science her Department’s guidelines in relation to safety of electrical systems within schools; if such guidelines are within the guidelines of the Health and Safety Authority; if her Department’s safety officers or building inspectors carry out inspections to ensure that such guidelines are adhered to; if her Department funds the cost attached to adhering to the results of such inspection recommendations; if her Department has received or is considering an application for a school (details supplied) in County Kildare in relation to such matters; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9889/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

175 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the community loss that adult education classes can not be enacted due to poor heating conditions of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; her plans to address the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9890/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

176 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in County Kildare is deprived of facilities for physical education or games due to the fact that a building project has been delayed and in order to meet the demand for space the school has had to provide prefabs thus removing valuable space; her plans to address the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9891/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 167 to 169, inclusive, and 171 to 176, inclusive, together.

The design guidelines and specifications for new school buildings are very technical and detailed and are available on the Department's website at www.education.ie. I assure the Deputy that the Government is aware of the need for a new post primary school in Athy and is committed to providing this on a greenfield site. Progression of all projects to tender and construction, including the project in question, will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Physical Education Facilities.

Jack Wall

Question:

170 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in County Kildare has not been in a position to draw down a sports grant to provide an all-weather pitch for its students due to delays with a new school project; her plans to address this very important matter; if she has had or is proposing to have meetings with the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in relation to Pobal’s involvement with the grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9885/08]

The Department is aware of the need for a new post primary school in town to which the Deputy refers.

In that context, a new school building on a greenfield site is planned for that town. Progression of all projects to tender and construction, including the project in question, will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Questions Nos. 171 to 176, inclusive, answered with Question No. 167.
Question No. 177 answered with Question No. 162.

Schools Building Projects.

John McGuinness

Question:

178 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Science if the architectural report is available relative to a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny in view of the fact that the inspection was carried out in summer 2007; and if funding will be made available for the health and safety works required. [9903/08]

The development of a building project for the school in question is at an early stage. The further progression of this project from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered on an ongoing basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Michael McGrath

Question:

179 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if her Department will sanction a new school (detail supplied) in County Cork to commence in September 2008. [9907/08]

The New School Advisory Committee (NSAC) has received an application for the recognition of a new primary school for September, 2008 in the location referred to by the Deputy. The NSAC is an independent advisory group established to process applications for the recognition of new primary schools and to make recommendations to the Minister for Education and Science. I expect to be in a position to make an announcement on the outcome of all applications before the NSAC, including this application, in April.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

180 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the urgent need for a permanent school building for a school (detail supplied) in Dublin 22 which has been in temporary prefabs for over a decade. [9908/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, agreement has been reached to provide permanent accommodation for the school to which she refers on a V.E.C. owned site. The site was recently master planned to ascertain if it would be feasible to facilitate both this school and two other all-Irish schools on the site. With the completion of the masterplan, progress on the project can now be considered in the context of the multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Site Acquisitions.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

181 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the efforts to identify a new site for a school building for a school (detail supplied) in County Dublin; if her Department is considering acquiring any of the sites that were notified to the Office of Public Works following the advertisement it placed seeking sites for the school in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9909/08]

I can confirm that the Property Management Section of the Office of Public Works, which generally acts on behalf of the Department in relation to site acquisitions, was asked to source a site for the school to which the Deputy refers. A report was received from the Office of Public Works which outlined a number of site options and these are still under consideration in my Department.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

182 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from her to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9921/08]

The Deputy will be aware that while individual institutions in the education sector have varying degrees of autonomy according to their status and statutory provisions, the Minister has an overarching responsibility for education policy across all levels of the education system and responsibility for funding provided from the Education Vote.

My Department and all of the agencies under its remit are fully committed to providing a Quality Customer Service to all of our customers and to continually improving the standard of services provided. The arrangements in place in the agencies to respond to enquiries from members of Dail Eireann is a matter for the individual agencies.

There are a number of agencies that carry out functions or services provided for under statutory instruments:

Further Education & Training Awards Council — Qualifications (Education & Training) Act, 1999

Higher Education and Training Awards Council — Qualifications (Education & Training) Act, 1999

National Qualifications Authority of Ireland — Qualifications (Education & Training) Act, 1999

Higher Education Authority — HEA Act 1971 National Council for Curriculum and Assessment — Education Act 1998

National Council for Special Education — Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004

National Education Welfare Board — Education (Welfare) Act 2000

State Examinations Commission — State Examinations Commission (Establishment) Order 2003

Grangegorman Development Agency — Grangegorman Development Agency Act 2005

An Chomhairle um Oideachais Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta — Education Act 1998

The Teaching Council — Teaching Council Act 2001

Vocational Education Committees — VEC Act 1930

Capitation Grants.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

183 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science if, in view of the over reliance of primary schools on fundraising by parents and communities, she will support the reversal of the Government’s decision not to double the primary capitation grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9930/08]

I would like to assure the Deputy that it is a key priority for the Government to improve funding for the day-to-day running costs of schools. For that reason specific commitments in relation to improving school funding form a central part of the education provisions in the Programme for Government. These commitments are a direct follow on from the clear thrust of Government policy over recent years to improve the position of primary schools in particular. In 2008 alone my Department will be paying around €167m to primary schools to meet their day to day running costs. The improvements announced in the last budget mean that the combined day-to-day funding for primary schools will increase by €21 to €330 per pupil. As a result, a primary school with 300 pupils will receive almost €100,000 to meet their running costs.

The primary school capitation grant has been increased substantially in recent years. Since 1997 the standard rate of capitation grant has been increased from €57.14 per pupil to €178.58 from 1st January, 2008. This represents an increase of 212% in the standard rate of capitation grant since 1997.

Furthermore enhanced rates of capitation funding are paid in respect of children with special educational needs who attend special schools or special classes attached to mainstream schools. The current rates range from €457.00 to €880 per pupil — an increase of 42% from the rate in 2006.

I agree that increases in primary capitation must be a priority and that is why we are committed to doubling it by 2012. This year, despite the overall difficult economic environment I delivered an increase of €15 per pupil on capitation levels in 2008. I want to assure the Deputy that this Government has a track record of significantly increasing funding for schools and we will continue to build on this and deliver on our Programme for Government commitment.

Schools Building Projects.

Michael McGrath

Question:

184 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to an application for an extension to a primary school (details supplied) in County Cork. [9941/08]

An application for capital funding towards the provision of an extension has been received from the school referred to by the Deputy. An assessment of projected enrolment trends, demographic trends and housing developments in the area was carried out in order to inform the determination of the long term projected staffing on which the school's accommodation needs will be based. This has been finalised and notified to the school. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Higher Education Grants.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

185 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if persons (detail supplied) in County Dublin qualify for a scholarship under Dublin VEC rules having regard to their residency status; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9947/08]

The decision on eligibility for third level grants is a matter for the relevant assessing authority — i.e. the local authority or VEC. These bodies do not refer individual applications to my Department except, in exceptional cases, where, for example, advice or instruction regarding a particular clause in the relevant scheme is required. If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a maintenance grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to the relevant local authority or VEC.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by the relevant local authority or VEC, and remains of the view that the body has not interpreted the schemes correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to my Department.

Site Acquisitions.

Michael McGrath

Question:

186 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the acquisition of a site for a new school building for a school (details supplied) in County Cork. [10000/08]

I wish to advise the Deputy that a suitable site has been identified for the school in question. The site comprises three plots of land with three separate vendors. My Department are continuing to progress any outstanding issues. When the site acquisition is complete, a building project for the school will be considered in the context of my Department's 2008 budget allocation and the School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

187 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Defence the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9920/08]

The relevant bodies under the aegis of my Department are the Civil Defence Board and Coiste an Asgard.

The Civil Defence Board which was established under the Civil Defence Act 2002, has responsibility for the management and development of the Civil Defence Organisation at national level.

Coiste an Asgard is a company limited by guarantee set up under the Companies Acts in February 1987. The basic purpose of Coiste an Asgard is to promote the training of young people over the age of 16 in sailing and seamanship, particularly by the use of the sail-training vessel Asgard II.

Apart from Parliamentary Questions (for which special arrangements apply),the number of enquiries from members of Dáil Éireann received by either the Civil Defence Board or Coiste an Asgard is very small. However, any enquiry received is dealt with promptly.

Garda Strength.

Richard Bruton

Question:

188 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Garda strength in the years 2002, 2006, and 2007 in each of the eighteen Garda districts within the Dublin metropolitan areas and of the central units of the DMA. [9786/08]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the total personnel strength of each Garda District in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (D.M.R.) on 31 December, 2002, 2006 and 2007 was as set out in the table hereunder:

Division/District

31/12/02

31/12/06

31/12/07

DMR South Central

Pearse Street

293

345

355

Kevin Street

193

214

226

Donnybrook

163

179

192

DMR Southern

Crumlin

145

171

186

Tallaght

233

250

261

Rathmines

151

174

176

DMR Northern

Santry

214

247

265

Coolock

184

211

242

Raheny

169

182

181

Balbriggan*

(56)

(57)

73

DMR North Central

Store Street

225

281

296

Fitzgibbon Street

198

210

216

Bridewell

157

171

182

DMR Eastern

Dún Laoghaire

210

195

210

Bray

165

206

214

Blackrock

171

190

194

DMR Western

Blanchardstown

286

329

348

Lucan

169

187

195

Clondalkin

176

203

215

* Balbriggan District was part of the Louth/Meath Division at these dates and is now part of the DMR North Division.

It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to allocate personnel throughout the Force taking everything into account. The next allocation of Probationer Gardaí is due to take place on 13 March next. In that regard, the needs of the Garda Divisions referred to by the Deputy will be fully considered by the Commissioner within the overall context of the needs of Garda Divisions throughout the country.

Sentencing Policy.

Richard Bruton

Question:

189 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the offences where mandatory sentences currently exists; if he is satisfied that judges are applying these mandatory sentences appropriately; and if he has proposals to extend the range of offences where mandatory penalties exist or to otherwise revise the terms of the legislation to reduce the frequency when mandatory penalties are not applied. [9793/08]

There are a number of different types of mandatory sentences.

Firstly, mandatory life sentences apply to the most serious of offences including murder, treason and the offence of genocide in cases where the offence involves the killing of any person. Secondly, mandatory minimum sentences apply where a person is convicted of a second or subsequent offence under section 15A or 15B of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 as amended. These are the offences of possession or importation of controlled drugs for sale or supply with a value of over of €13,000. Mandatory minimum sentences also apply to certain firearms offences.

Finally, presumptive minimum sentences apply where: a person is convicted of a first offence under section 15A or 15B of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 as amended; a person is convicted on indictment of a second or subsequent offence being a scheduled offence under section 25 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 within a period of 7 years of a previous conviction on indictment for a scheduled offence.

In order for the provision to be triggered, the sentence imposed for the previous conviction must have been 5 years or more. The scheduled offences include serious non-fatal offences against the person, aggravated burglary, firearms and explosives offences, drug trafficking offences, and organised crime offences.

Presumptive minimum sentences also apply to certain firearms offences. Unlike mandatory or mandatory minimum sentences, presumptive minimum sentences allow a judge, who is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist, to depart from the mandatory or mandatory minimum sentence specified in statute and impose a lesser sentence. As the Deputy will be aware, the Oireachtas revisited this sentencing approach in the Criminal Justice Acts 2006 and 2007 in order to refine the statutory provisions to ensure that they adequately captured the intention of the Oireachtas and also to extend its application to certain firearms offences and repeat offenders. As set out in the Programme for Government, I intend to introduce a formal review process to assess the effects of these changes.

Visa Applications.

Dan Neville

Question:

190 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will speed up the processing of a holiday visa application on behalf of a person (detail supplied). [9820/08]

The application referred to by the Deputy was lodged in the Honorary Consulate of Ireland, Manilla. The application form submitted when making the visa request was incorrect. The applicant has been advised of this and documentation, including the correct form, has been returned to them.

The applicant must now submit a fresh application along with supporting documentation to the Consulate in Manilla. The normal processing time for ‘Visit' visa applications is 6 — 8 weeks.

Citizenship Applications.

Michael Creed

Question:

191 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received an application from persons (details supplied) in County Cork for naturalisation; and when this application will be approved. [9830/08]

Applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship section of my Department in July 2006.

Officials in that section are currently processing applications received in mid 2005 and have approximately 6,200 applications on hand to be dealt with before that of the persons in question. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants.

However, I understand that the persons concerned are refugees. In accordance with the Government's obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951, every effort is made to ensure that applications from persons with refugee status are dealt with as quickly as possible, having regard to the general volume of applications on hand. It is likely, therefore, that further processing of the applications will commence in the coming months.

I will inform the Deputy and the individuals in question when I have reached a decision on the matter.

Garda Deployment.

James Bannon

Question:

192 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will increase the number of Gardaí in Granard, County Longford in view of the benefits accruing from the presence of Gardaí in deterring anti-social and criminal behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9859/08]

On 31 January 2008, (the latest date for which figures are readily available), the personnel strength of Granard Garda Station and District was 29 and 42 respectively.

The Deputy will appreciate that, as with any large organisation, on any given day, personnel strengths of individual districts may fluctuate due, for example, to promotions, retirements and transfers. It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to allocate personnel throughout the Force taking everything into account. The next allocation of Probationer Gardaí is due to take place on 13 March next. In that regard, the needs of the Garda station referred to by the Deputy will be fully considered by the Commissioner within the overall context of the needs of Garda stations throughout the country.

Garda Recruitment.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

193 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there are grounds for persons to enter the Gardaí if they have not achieved the leaving certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9860/08]

Recruitment to An Garda Síochána is a matter in the first instance for the Public Appointments Service and then for the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána. While I have no function in the process, I can advise that the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 1988 as amended, set out the requirements for entry to An Garda Síochána.

The educational requirements, as set out in the most recent Garda Trainee recruitment competition in January 2008, can be viewed on both the Garda website (www.garda.ie) and the Public Appointments Service website (www.publicjobs.ie). Applicants holding international or other qualification(s) are advised to contact the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland to ascertain if the qualification(s) they hold can be recognised as being acceptable for entry. They can be contacted at info@nqai.ie. The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland also has a fact sheet and an application form available on its website at: http://www.nqai.ie/en/International/RecognitionofInternationalAwards/.

It is possible for a person who does not meet the educational requirements to apply to become a reserve member of An Garda Síochána.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

194 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if leave to remain will be extended in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9869/08]

An application for renewal of permission to remain in the State under the revised arrangements for non-EEA parents of children born in Ireland prior to 1st January, 2005, commonly referred to as the IBC/05 scheme, was received from the person concerned, on 16th May, 2007.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the permission to remain for the person in question was renewed until 21st June, 2010.

Asylum Applications.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

195 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when decisions will be reached on the applications of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford for leave to remain in the State and subsidiary protection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9871/08]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 31 March 2006 on her own behalf and on behalf of her two children. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), she was informed, by letter dated 16 June 2007, that the Minister proposed to make deportation orders in respect of her and her children. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of deportation orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she and her children should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. This communication also advised the person concerned of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with regulations known as the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the individual case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned will be passed to me for decision.

Legal Aid Service.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

196 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide the services of a solicitor to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9872/08]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Questions No. 193 of Thursday 21 February 2008 and No. 326 of Tuesday 9 May 2006 and the written Replies to those Questions.

As stated in the earlier Reply, the person concerned, accompanied by his two children, arrived in the State on 3 September 2004 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. The person concerned was advised of his entitlement to appeal this recommendation to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal but did not do so.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 6 December 2005, that the Minister proposed to make deportation orders in respect of him and his children. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of submitting written representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he and his children should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations were received on behalf of the person concerned.

On 10 October 2006, regulations known as the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006), came into force. The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned will be passed to me for decision.

With regard to the issue raised by the Deputy about the provision of legal services to the person concerned, an examination of the case file of the person concerned indicates that he has engaged the services of a legal representative at all stages of the asylum and immigration processes. As a result, I see no justification for an intervention of the nature referred to by the Deputy.

Asylum Applications.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

197 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will expedite a decision on leave to remain on humanitarian grounds for a person (details supplied) in County Dublin as they have had a kidney transplant and need to return to their consultant on a regular basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9874/08]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 434 of Tuesday, 28 February 2006 and 538 of Tuesday, 14 February 2006 and the written Replies to those Questions.

The person concerned arrived in the State on 9 August 2003 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 9 March 2004, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been submitted by and on behalf of the person concerned. I understand that these representations include a reference to the medical condition of the person concerned. I can assure the Deputy that all representations submitted will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Parliamentary Questions.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

198 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 656 of 5 February 2008 with regard to the increase of the number of parliamentary questions asked of him, if he will present in tabular form the number of questions that have been asked of him about individual immigration, asylum, long-term residency and naturalisation cases for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9878/08]

I can inform the Deputy that the information he has requested is not readily available at this juncture. However, I am having enquiries made in the matter and will revert to the Deputy when relevant data is to hand.

Proposed Legislation.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

199 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way the Immigration and Residency Bill will affect Irish citizens with non-EEA spouses with regard to notification or permission to marry, recognition of foreign marriages and the right of non-EEA spouses to enter, live, work, study or carry out business in this State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9879/08]

To give a detailed response to the Question would anticipate the will of the Oireachtas on the Bill. I do not propose to do so by way of response to Parliamentary Questions. I have already indicated that I am open to further suggestions, in the context of debate at Committee Stage on the Bill, as to how it should address the immigration-related aspects of marriage.

Citizenship Applications.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

200 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the circumstances under which a non-EEA national spouse of an Irish citizen may gain long-term residence or become a naturalised citizen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9880/08]

Long term residence is an administrative scheme introduced in May 2004. Persons who have been legally resident in the State for over five years on the basis of work permit/work authorisation/work visa conditions may apply to the Immigration Division of my Department for a five year residency extension. In that context they may also apply to be exempt from employment permit requirements. Persons who have been granted permission to remain in the State on the basis of marriage to an Irish national do not qualify for consideration under this scheme.

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. In the case of a non-national applicant who is the spouse of an Irish citizen those conditions are that the applicant must:

be of full age

be of good character

be married to the Irish citizen for at least 3 years

be in a marriage recognised under the laws of the State as subsisting

be living together as husband and wife with the Irish spouse

have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the island of Ireland immediately before the date of the application, and during the four years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the island of Ireland amounting to two years.

intend in good faith to continue to reside in the island of Ireland after naturalisation

have made, either before a judge of the District Court in open Court or in such a manner as the Minister, for special reasons allows, a declaration in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.

It is open to any non-EEA national to lodge an application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements.

Residency Permits.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

201 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the rights the non-EEA national spouses of Irish citizens have to enter Ireland and to live, work and study here. [9881/08]

There is no automatic entitlement to entry or residence in the State for a non-EEA national spouse on the basis of marriage to an Irish national.

Visa required non-EEA national spouses are subject to pre-entry clearance before travelling to the State and are required to apply for a visa on the basis of marriage to an Irish national.

Once in the State, a non-EEA national spouse must attend the local Registration Office, Garda National Immigration Bureau to apply for residence status and he/she must be accompanied by their Irish national spouse at that time. A stamp 4 is normally granted to successful applications and this entitles a non-EEA national spouse to reside in the State, work without the requirement of a work permit, operate a business without applying for business permission from my Department or study within the State without the requirement for further permission. Such permission is not granted automatically and cases which require further investigation are referred to my Department.

Civil Registrations.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

202 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Indonesian marriage of an Irish citizen to an Indonesian citizen is recognised here; the process to be undergone to have it recognised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9882/08]

I have no functions as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in relation to the subject matter of the question.

Citizenship Applications.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

203 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a decision on an application for naturalisation will be made as soon as possible in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick who has been living here for seven years, has residency status and who applied for naturalisation in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9896/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship section of my Department in November 2006.

Officials in that section are currently processing applications received in mid 2005 and have approximately 8,200 applications on hand to be dealt with before that of the person in question. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The Deputy has not provided any information which would warrant taking this application out of sequence.

It is likely, therefore, that further processing of the application will commence towards the middle of 2009.

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

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

204 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to enquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9927/08]

I wish to inform the Deputy that no areas or functions have been devolved from me to a State or statutory agency since my appointment as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Tax and Social Welfare Codes.

Phil Hogan

Question:

205 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is proposing to change the law to confer status under the social welfare and tax codes in respect of spouses of women who gave birth to children in this jurisdiction in order to allow the couple to qualify under those codes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9937/08]

I have no functions as Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform in relation to the subject matter of this Question.

Refugee Status.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

206 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will reply in detail to Parliamentary Question No. 210 of 21 February 2008 which warrants a response other than that provided to the previous questions and where strong evidence exists that the person in question is expected to be in serious danger if returned to their homeland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9949/08]

I presume when the Deputy referred in his Dáil Question No. 210 of Thursday 21 February 2008 toresidency status he was in fact referring to refugee status. That being the case, the Deputy might wish to note the process undergone by each asylum applicant as follows:

An application for asylum is considered at first instance by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, in the event of an appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The statutory brief of both of those bodies, as set out in the Refugee Act, 1996, as amended, is, inter alia, to make recommendations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, in each individual case, as to whether each applicant should, or should not, be declared to be a refugee. I, as Minister, decide whether to grant or refuse refugee status.

Similarly, following consideration of an application from a person who has been refused refugee status for consideration under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, for temporary leave to remain in the State, I as Minister, decide whether to grant or refuse such leave to remain. Further, when temporary leave to remain in the State is refused by me pursuant to my statutory powers as Minister, this results in the signing of a deportation order by me.

The person concerned had his asylum claims examined by both the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, both of whom concluded that he did not meet the criteria for recognition as a refugee. The Deputy will appreciate that these bodies, as stated earlier, are not charged with responsibility for considering applications for permission to remain in the State pursuant to the provisions of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended).

Furthermore, the Deputy should note that the Refugee Appeals Tribunal is a statutory body, independent in the performance of its functions under the provisions of sections 15 and 16 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended). The effective management of the Tribunal is the responsibility of the Chairperson who in accordance with the section 14 of the second schedule of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) "shall endeavour to ensure that the business of the Tribunal is managed efficiently and that the business assigned to each division is disposed of as expeditiously as may be consistent with fairness and natural justice”. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment further on the matter.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

207 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if alternative acceptable documentation may be supplied in lieu of passports or birth certificates which do not exist in respect of a person (detail supplied) in County Dublin who has applied for family reunification in respect of their children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9950/08]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that a request was issued to the person referred to by the Deputy for birth certificates and passports in relation to her application for Family Reunification.

The onus is on the applicant to provide this documentation in support of the Family Reunification application.

The application will be further processed on receipt of this documentation.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

208 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected position in the matter of residency in the case of a person (detail supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9951/08]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 27 July 2003 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 24 April 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

209 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will use his discretion to defer, pending further investigation, the order to deport in the case of a person (detail supplied) in County Kildare in view of the fact that evidence exists suggesting danger to life and well-being in the event of deportation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9952/08]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 7 May 2002. He claimed asylum on 31 May 2002 and his application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

The person concerned was informed by letter dated 24 May 2004 that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him and afforded him three options in accordance with Section 3(3)(b)(ii) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), namely to leave the State voluntarily, to consent to the making of a Deportation Order or to submit, within 15 working days, written representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State i.e why he should not be deported.

His case was examined under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the Prohibition of Refoulement. Consideration was given to all representations submitted on his behalf for permission to remain in the State. On 21 July 2005 my predecessor refused permission to remain temporarily in the State and instead signed a Deportation Order in respect of him. Notice of this order was served by registered post requiring the person concerned to present himself at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB),13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 on Thursday 4 August 2005 in order to make travel arrangements for his removal from the State. He presented as required and was given further presentation dates which he kept. He is due to present again on Thursday 6 March 2008.

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State.

The Deputy might wish to note that, in addition to the eleven factors contained in Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), I must, as stated earlier, also have regard for Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the Prohibition of Refoulement before making a deportation order. This essentially means that the safety of returning a person, or refoulement as it is commonly referred to, is fully considered in every case when deciding whether or not to make a deportation order i.e. that a person shall not be expelled from the State or returned in any manner whatsoever to a State where, in my opinion, the life or freedom of that person would be threatened on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. My Department uses extensive country of origin information drawn from different independent sources, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in evaluating the safety of making returns to Guinea and other third countries. In this case, I am entirely satisfied that there are no refoulement related reasons to prevent the deportation of the person concerned.

Further, I am satisfied that the applications made by the person concerned for asylum and subsequently for temporary leave to remain in the State, together with all refoulement issues, were fairly and comprehensively examined and, as such, the decision to deport him is justified.

The enforcement of the deportation order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

210 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or proposed residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9953/08]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 20 December 2004 and applied for asylum. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 24 March 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency position in the case of a person (detail supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9954/08]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 20 August 2003 and applied for asylum. His asylum application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 14 January 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

212 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9955/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department on 31 July 2006.

On examination of the application it was determined that the person concerned did not meet the statutory residency requirements as set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. A letter informing the applicant was issued on 16 January 2007. It is open to the individual concerned to lodge a new application if and when he is in a position to meet the statutory residency requirements.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

213 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9956/08]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 19 February 2003 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 15 July 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

214 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 who has provided proof of parentage of an Irish born child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9957/08]

On 4th April, 2005 the person in question applied for permission to remain in the State under the revised arrangements for non-EEA parents of children born in Ireland prior to 1st January, 2005, commonly referred to as the IBC/05 Scheme. This application was refused on 29th June, 2005, as the person concerned did not meet the criteria of the scheme.

On 1st November, 2006 the person submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection under the European Communities ( Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 S.I. No 518 of 2006. This application was refused on 14th November, 2006. Judgments related to the IBC/05 Scheme were delivered by the Supreme Court on 20th December, 2007. The implications of those judgments for individual applicants, and for the Judicial Review proceedings ongoing in this case, are currently being assessed.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9958/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, applications for refugee status in the State are determined by an independent process comprising the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, which make recommendations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on whether such status should be granted.

While it is not the practice to comment in detail on individual asylum applications, I would point out to the Deputy that delays in finalising cases can occur for a variety of reasons, including giving applicants and appellants the fullest opportunity possible to present their cases and the determination of Judicial Review proceedings, where appellants pursue such a course of action.

Where the latter is relevant, the time taken to discharge any proceedings is a matter for the Courts and is not something that I, as Minister, can comment on. It is, of course, open to the applicant or the appellant to withdraw any Judicial Review proceedings which they may have instigated and this would allow for their appeal to be processed in the normal manner. A final decision on this application will be made upon receipt of the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

216 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9959/08]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 11 April 2003 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 30 September 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

217 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for naturalisation will be determined in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9960/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department on 10 November 2005. Officials in that section inform me that processing of the application has commenced and the file will be forwarded to me for a decision in the near future. I will inform the Deputy and the person concerned when I have reached a decision on the matter.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

218 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position or progress regarding family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9961/08]

I refer the Deputy to my previous answer to Parliamentary Question No. 662 put down for answer on the 26th June 2007 and Parliamentary Question No. 948 put down for answer on the 26th September 2007. The person in question made an application for Family Reunification in May 2006.

The application was forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. This investigation is completed and the Commissioner has forwarded a report to my Department. This application will be considered by my Department and a decision will issue in due course. At the present time Family Reunification applications are taking up to 24 months to process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

219 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the residency status of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; if and when an Irish Passport will issue in respect of their son; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9962/08]

The person in question currently has permission to remain in the State until 2010. The issuance of passports is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

220 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9963/08]

The first named person arrived in the State on 28 July 2003 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), he was informed, by letter dated 22 August 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of submitting written representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

The second named person arrived in the State on 19 June 2005 and applied for asylum on her own behalf and on behalf of her two children. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, and on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), she was informed, by letter dated 11 October 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of submitting written representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she and her children should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

221 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision in the matter of family reunification for four children will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9964/08]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person in question made a Family Reunification application in respect of his wife and two children in June 2007.

This application was forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. This investigation is completed and the Commissioner has forwarded a report to my Department. This application will be considered by my Department and a decision will issue in due course.

A further application was received in January 2008 in respect of another child, this has been forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996.

At the present time Family Reunification applications are taking up to 24 months to process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

222 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9965/08]

The applicant arrived in the state in circa 1997 and applied for asylum on 21 June 1997. The applicant was deemed not to be a refugee in June 1998. The applicant applied for Naturalisation in 2004 and was refused. The applicant applied for Subsidiary Protection in January 2007 and instituted Judicial Review proceedings on 5 February 2008. As the matter issub judice, I do not propose to comment further.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

223 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current of expected residency status in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9966/08]

The first named person concerned arrived in the State on 23 November, 2001 and applied for asylum on 18 December, 2001. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the first named person concerned was informed, by letter dated 8 January, 2003, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned.

The first named person referred to by the Deputy also submitted an application for permission to remain in the State under the revised arrangements for non-EEA parents of children born in Ireland prior to 1st January, 2005, commonly referred to as the IBC/05 Scheme. The application was refused on 16th February, 2006 as the person in question did not meet the criteria of the scheme. My Department is currently considering a number of judgements delivered by the Supreme Court relating to the IBC/05 Scheme. The implications of these judgements for individual cases are currently being assessed.

The first named person's case, including all representations received, will be considered under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended. The case file of the person concerned will then be passed to me for decision.

The second named person concerned applied for asylum on 24th January, 2005. Her application was refused and a Deportation Order was made on 30 March, 2006.

On 9 March 2007 the second named person concerned submitted an application for subsidiary protection under the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 S.I. No 518 of 2006 ('the Regulations'). On 23 March 2007 my Department informed the person concerned that the Regulations are not applicable in cases where a deportation order was made before coming into operation of the Regulations on 10 October 2006.

The second named person concerned instituted Judicial Review proceedings on 11 April 2007 challenging the decision not to process an application for Subsidiary Protection and accordingly, as the matter issub judice, I do not propose to comment further.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

224 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if temporary residency status will be awarded while awaiting a decision, in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9967/08]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Questions No. 185 of Thursday 8 November 2007, No. 99 of Thursday 26 April 2007, No. 200 of Wednesday 22 November 2006, No. 93 of Thursday 9 November 2006, No. 440 of Wednesday 27 September 2006 and No. 240 of Thursday 25 May 2006 and the written Replies to those Questions.

The person concerned arrived in the State on 24 February 2003 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 13 September 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

225 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in the matter of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9968/08]

This applicant applied for asylum on 16 September 2002. His application was refused and a Deportation Order was made on 11 March 2005.

The applicant instituted Judicial Review proceedings on 18 April 2005 challenging the Deportation Order made in respect of him and accordingly, as the matter issub judice, I do not propose to comment further.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

226 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9969/08]

It is not the practice to comment in detail on individual asylum applications.

As the Deputy will be aware, applications for refugee status in the State are determined by an independent process comprising the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal which make recommendations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on whether such status should be granted.

A final decision on this application will be made upon receipt of the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

227 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied regarding the welfare, well-being and safety of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 in view of the substantial evidence regarding their vulnerability in the event of return to their homeland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9970/08]

I would refer the Deputy to the Reply I gave to his Dáil Question No. 253 of Thursday 5 July 2007 and to the two subsequent Replies I gave respectively to his Dáil Question No. 195 of Thursday 8 November 2007 and Dáil Question No. 189 of Thursday 28 February 2008. The status of the person concerned is as set out in those Replies.

Asylum Support Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

228 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will authorise transfer from Athlone accommodation to Mosney Centre in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9971/08]

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision. The accommodation centres at Athlone and Mosney referred to in the details supplied are operated under contract for the RIA.

By way of background to the case, the details supplied refer to a family of 4, comprising 2 parents and 2 children, all of whom are currently being accommodated at Athlone accommodation centre. The RIA received a transfer request from this family on 9 January 2008 and a reply issued to this request dated 16 January 2008 stating that the request had been considered and that the reasons and supporting documentation supplied with the transfer request were insufficient to warrant a transfer in this case.

The Deputy may wish to note that the RIA currently operates 63 centres across 23 counties providing accommodation to over 6,700 asylum seekers. There are high occupancy levels at all centres including both Athlone and Mosney. Transfers between centres where the basis is medical grounds require clear and compelling medical evidence which specifies the reason why a particular accommodation is not suitable having regard to those medical grounds. Once clear and compelling medical evidence is provided to the RIA, such evidence is referred to an independent medical referee for review and recommendation. Where grounds are found by the RIA to be compelling and where alternative appropriate accommodation is available, the RIA will grant and effect the transfer.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

229 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if and when the required residency will be achieved to make a valid application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9972/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department on 8 October 2003.

On examination of the application it was determined that the person concerned did not meet the statutory residency requirements as set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. A letter informing the applicant of this was issued on 29 May 2006.

It is open to the individual concerned to lodge a new application if and when he is in a position to meet the statutory residency requirements applicable at that time.

Refugee Status.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

230 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will accept late response in respect of an application for refugee status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9973/08]

It is not the practice to comment in detail on individual asylum applications.

As the Deputy will be aware, applications for refugee status in the State are determined by an independent process comprising the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal which make recommendations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on whether such status should be granted.

A final decision on this application will be made upon receipt of the recommendation of the Refugee Applications Commissioner.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

231 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress in the matter of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9974/08]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Questions No. 643 of Tuesday 25 April 2006 and No. 323 of Thursday 6 April 2006 and the written Replies to those Questions.

The person concerned arrived in the State on 24 January 2003 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 18 February 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

232 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will confirm receipt by the immigration section of his Department’s of birth certificates, sworn affidavits and other relevant documentation in the matter of family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if this authenticated information is sufficient to meet requirements in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9975/08]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person in question is the subject of a Family Reunification application which was refused in July 2006.

I refer the Deputy to my previous answers to Question No. 1044 on 26th September 2007, Question No. 1203 on 30th January 2008, and Question No. 209 on 21st February 2008.

Copies of birth certificates were submitted with the application. Original documentation was requested in September 2007, to date this has not been received.

I understand that the representatives of the person in question contacted the Immigration Division regarding this matter and a response was issued to them.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

233 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9976/08]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 212 of Thursday 14 February 2008 and the written Reply to that Question.

The person concerned arrived in the State on 5 July 2002 and applied for asylum. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), she was informed, by letter dated 19 August 2004, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of submitting written representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain in the State.

Following consideration of the case of the person concerned, under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, as an exceptional measure and subject to certain stated conditions, the person concerned was granted temporary Leave to Remain in the State for one year until 20 February 2009. The person concerned was notified of this decision by letter dated 20 February 2008.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

234 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected position in the matter of an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9977/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in July 2004.

On examination of the application it was determined that the person concerned did not meet the statutory residency requirements as set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. Letters informing the applicant of this were issued on 3 October 2005, 20 October 2005 and again on 15 February 2007.

A new application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person in question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in July 2007.

Officials in that Section are currently processing applications received in the middle of 2005 and have approximately 13,500 applications on hand to be dealt with before that of the person concerned. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed the fairest to all applicants.

However, I understand that the person concerned is a refugee and in accordance with the Government's obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, every effort is made to ensure that applications from persons with refugee status are dealt with as quickly as possible. I will inform the Deputy and the person in question when I have made a decision on the matter.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

235 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will ensure the issue of updated temporary residency documentation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; the current or expected long term residency in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9978/08]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Questions No. 85 of Thursday 12 October 2006 and No. 79 of Thursday 15 June 2006 and the written Replies to those Questions.

The person concerned arrived in the State on 30 January 2002 and applied for asylum. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 7 April 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and will be fully considered before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

236 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork was arrested and deported to Belgium whereupon they were returned to Ireland by the Belgium authorities; if he will re-examine their case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9979/08]

The person referred to by the Deputy applied for asylum on 9th October, 2006. Following investigation, it was established that the applicant had previously made an asylum application in Belgium. The appropriate authorities in Belgium agreed to take back the applicant. A Transfer Order was signed in respect of her on 22nd November, 2006. On 29 November, 2006, the applicant evaded her transfer. The applicant instituted Judicial Review proceedings on 6th February, 2008, challenging the Transfer Order made in respect of her and accordingly, as the matter issub judice, I do not propose to comment further.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

237 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the fact that if returned to their homeland a person (details supplied) in County Meath faces a serious threat to life and well-being; the progress to date in regard to this residency status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9980/08]

I refer the Deputy to Replies given to Parliamentary Questions No. 241 of Thursday 31 January 2008, No. 193 of Thursday 8 November 2007, No. 956 of Wednesday 26 September 2007, No. 139 of Thursday 28 September 2006, No. 70 of Thursday 15 June 2006 and No. 248 of Thursday 16 February 2006.

The person concerned arrived in the State on 26 February 2003 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), he was informed, by letter dated 15 February 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of submitting written representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations were received on behalf of the person concerned. Following the detailed examination of his case file, as an exceptional measure and subject to certain stated conditions, the person concerned was granted Leave to Remain in the State for a three year period. This decision was conveyed to the person concerned by letter dated 5 March 2008.

Carbon Credits.

Damien English

Question:

238 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the plans he has to introduce a scheme whereby allowances will be made to farmers or landowners for carbon credits if they provide for additional carbon gas absorption through their farming or land activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9815/08]

I have no proposals to introduce such a scheme at this time.

Domestic projects to reduce emissions are addressed in Chapter 10 of the National Climate Change Strategy 2007-2012. As Ireland has a challenging greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol, the economic effectiveness of any such project or scheme that issues carbon credits requires careful consideration. The key issues, which are set out in Chapter 10 of the Strategy, include the relevance of existing sectoral support mechanisms and whether any such project or scheme could achieve emissions reductions that are additional to reductions from existing measures.

In line with the commitment in the Strategy, the feasibility of domestic offsetting projects and schemes will be kept under review as international rules concerning such schemes evolve and in the light of experience in other countries. Having regard to all of the considerations set out in the Chapter 10 of the Strategy, I would be happy to examine any specific proposal for a project or scheme from any sector.

Fire Stations.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

239 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position in relation to a new fire station for Youghal, County Cork (details supplied). [9837/08]

Approval in principle was granted under the Department's 2005 fire service capital programme for the construction of a new two bay fire station in Youghal, County Cork. The fire authority submitted detailed design drawings and a cost plan in respect of the project to the Department in September 2006.

Based on the documentation submitted, in April 2007, the Department approved the fire authority's proposal to invite tenders for the construction of the station.

I understand that the fire authority is currently modifying the original design of the proposed station. As a consequence, new design drawings as well as a revised cost plan are being prepared for submission to the Department. I also understand that a site has been purchased for the proposed fire station.

Equal Opportunities Employment.

John Curran

Question:

240 Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the percentage of employees in each local authority that have a physical disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9853/08]

Based on information supplied by local authorities in the format required under the Disability Act 2005, the percentage of employees with a disability in each local authority for 2006 is set out in the table below. The 2006 National Disability Authority Report on Compliance with Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 in regard to employment of people with disabilities in the public service acknowledges that, because a different definition of disability, and in many cases a different data collection method, was used, the results presented in the report are not comparable with figures for previous years in respect of individual public bodies. It also recognises that differences between public bodies in how they collected the data make it difficult to compare results across these bodies.

Local Authority

%

County Council

Carlow

3.8

Cavan

4.0

Clare

3.3

Cork

0.7

Donegal

3.1

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown

2.9

Fingal

3.7

Galway

2.9

Kerry

3.7

Kildare

3.2

Kilkenny

3.0

Laois

3.8

Leitrim

3.2

Limerick

3.3

Longford

2.6

Louth

4.1

Mayo

5.1

Meath

3.2

Monaghan

3.2

Offaly

2.9

Roscommon

4.1

Sligo

3.1

South Dublin

3.2

North Tipperary

5.4

South Tipperary

3.1

Waterford

3.2

Westmeath

2.1

Wexford

3.2

Wicklow

3.4

City Councils

Cork

6.4

Dublin

1.0

Galway

2.5

Limerick

1.1

Waterford

4.7

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

James Bannon

Question:

241 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when it is envisaged that work on the urgently needed and long awaited Rathowen, County Westmeath sewerage scheme will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9854/08]

The Rathowen Sewerage Scheme is included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009 as a scheme to advance through planning at an estimated cost of €1.9 million.

My Department is examining correspondence received from Westmeath County Council in February 2008 in relation the level of Exchequer funding required for the scheme and will respond to the Council as soon as possible.

James Bannon

Question:

242 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when it is envisaged that work on the urgently needed and long awaited Coole, County Westmeath sewerage scheme will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9855/08]

The Coole Sewerage Scheme is included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009 as a scheme to advance through planning at an estimated cost of €2.6 million.

My Department's examination of Westmeath County Council's Preliminary Report and Water Services Pricing Policy Report for the scheme will be finalised shortly.

EU Directives.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

243 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he or his Department have received correspondence from a company (details supplied) in County Kildare; his plans to address this matter urgently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9866/08]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

248 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has responded to communications from a company (details supplied) with regard to the operation of the waste electronical and electric equipment scheme; his views on the concerns raised by that company with regard to the licensing system in operation by WEEE Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9939/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 248 together.

All correspondence received from the company referred to in the Question has been responded to. Under the terms of the WEEE Directive, financing the environmentally sound management, including recycling, of electrical and electronic equipment is solely a producer responsibility. Two collective compliance schemes, functioning under the responsibility of producers, are operating in Ireland.

These compliance schemes, WEEE Ireland and the European Recycling Platform, are responsible for ensuring that all recovered household WEEE is managed in an environmentally sound manner and for putting in place tracking and auditing systems for materials recovery in line with the requirements of the Directive. They do not, however, have a licensing function.

The compliance schemes are also responsible for the procurement of the environmentally sound management, including recycling, of all household WEEE deposited at designated collection points. These include civic amenity facilities and retail outlets.

It is up to each commercial enterprise to source its own feed stock for its recycling and/or refurbishment operations. It is not appropriate for Government to interfere in the market.

Strategic guidance on the implementation and operation of the WEEE Directive is being provided through the WEEE Monitoring Group which has identified the reuse of appliances, having regard to sustainable environmental best practice and/or health and safety requirements, as a priority objective.

In order to promote and maximise opportunities for the reuse of appliances, my Department brought a group of stakeholders together during 2007. This group included representatives of producers (some of whom have their own reuse programmes), retailers, the waste management sector, the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and the social economy sector. Following from this, a reuse protocol is being developed, which will set out the responsibilities of all stakeholders. It is envisaged that this process will be completed in 2008.

Community Wardens.

David Stanton

Question:

244 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the five local authority areas where the pilot community warden scheme was established; if he will extend the scheme to all other local authorities; the action local authorities need to take to introduce the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9911/08]

David Stanton

Question:

245 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the role and responsibilities of community wardens; the budget available to local authorities from his Department to operate the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9912/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 and 245 together.

The community warden scheme was established on a pilot basis in Wexford, Galway and Leitrim county councils, Galway city council and Naas town council in 2002. The scheme was subsequently placed on a permanent footing. As indicated in the reply to Question No. 187 of 27 February 2008, it is now open to local authorities to introduce community wardens having regard to local circumstances. While funding to a total of €9.49 million was provided by my Department to support the pilot programme, the financing of a community warden service is now a matter for individual local authorities, including those who took part in the pilot programme.

The duties of community wardens fall under three main headings, namely:

The enforcement of a range of local authority functions, including certain traffic offences, litter offences and casual trading;

The monitoring of housing estates, tourist attractions and public amenities and the reporting of breaches of environmental or planning legislation; and

Community liaison.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

246 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to inquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9923/08]

Since my appointment as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government I have not devolved any areas or functions to the state bodies and boards under the aegis of my Department. Day to day operational matters are a matter for the board or body concerned. In responding to inquiries, the Quality Customer Service Principles of timeliness and courtesy are relevant and appropriate to all state bodies and boards.

Planning Issues.

Phil Hogan

Question:

247 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the latest position in relation to regulation 261 in respect of quarry development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9933/08]

Section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, which was commenced with effect from 28 April, 2004, introduced a "once-off" system of registration for all quarries, except those for which planning permission was granted in the previous five years. Under the registration system, quarry operators were required to supply full details of their operations to the planning authorities by 27 April 2005. Planning authorities were also required to consult with local communities regarding the operation of any quarry registered with them.

The implementation of the provisions of Section 261 is a matter for each planning authority. The provisions are designed to enable authorities better to regulate the operation of quarries in their functional area by providing them with comprehensive information on such quarries and increasing their power of control over quarrying operations. Following registration, a planning authority could impose conditions on the operation of a pre-October 1964 quarry or could require such a quarry to apply for planning permission and submit an Environmental Impact Statement in certain circumstances. Authorities could also restate, modify or add to conditions on the operation of a quarry which had received planning permission more than 5 years before the commencement of section 261.

At the same time as the commencement of section 261, Ministerial Guidelines on Quarrying and Ancillary Activities were published under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, which requires both planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to have regard to such guidelines in the performance of their functions. These Guidelines (which are available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie) offer guidance to planning authorities, both in development planning and in determining applications for planning permission in respect of quarrying activity. They are intended to help planning authorities to assess the range of likely environmental effects, and to propose appropriate mitigation measures, particularly at the pre-application consultation stage. They also include a practical guide to the implementation of section 261.

Question No. 248 answered with Question No. 243.

Telecommunications Services.

James Bannon

Question:

249 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason for the substandard condition of the telephone line in County Longford, which is impacting on broadband roll-out and adversely affecting businesses and the economic development of the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9857/08]

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter for the private sector. Broadband service providers operate in a fully liberalised market, regulated, where appropriate, by the independent Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg.

There are a number of platforms for delivery of broadband, and service providers are now offering broadband by wireless, satellite, fibre or standard telephone cable and more recently, mobile, in many areas of the country. My Department operates a dedicated website, www.broadband.gov.ie where potential broadband customers can ascertain the availability of services in their area.

The widespread provision of broadband services continues to be a priority for the Government. In that regard my Department has undertaken initiatives to address the gaps in broadband coverage. These include providing grant-aid under the recently concluded Group Broadband Scheme and investment in Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs).

Although broadband is now widely available in Ireland there are still some parts of the country where the private sector will be unable to justify the commercial provision of broadband services. These areas are being addressed by the National Broadband Scheme (NBS), which will provide broadband services to areas that are currently unserved, including any unserved areas of County Longford and will ensure that all reasonable requests for broadband are met.

The first phase of the NBS procurement process (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)) is now complete, and four candidates pre-qualified to enter the next phase of the procurement process. It is anticipated that a preferred bidder will be selected and appointed in June 2008 and that implementation of services will commence as soon as possible thereafter.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

250 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 1469 and 1470 of 30 January 2008, if he will reply to the section of No. 1469 not replied to in his response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9865/08]

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos. 1469 and 1470 of 30 January 2008, on this matter. As I stated in that reply, details of the number of production units exporting biofuels would be a matter for the Revenue Commissioners and my Department has no such data available.

On the issue of Pure Plant Oil (PPO), I would advise that under the Biofuels Mineral Oil Tax Relief Scheme II, a total of 21m litres of excise relief was granted to three companies. As stated in my reply of 30 January last this relief was operated under a competitive process in accordance with EU State Aids Rules. While some individual applicants may not have been successful, significant support has been made available to the production and use of PPO in Ireland.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

251 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the areas and functions where responsibility has been devolved from him to a State or statutory agency; the agencies involved; the arrangements in each agency to respond on a priority basis to inquiries from Members of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9918/08]

In the time available it has not been possible to clarify and assemble all of the information requested. I will revert to the Deputy when I am in a position to issue a final reply.