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 17, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 18 to 81, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 82 to 92, inclusive, answered orally.

Proposed Legislation.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

93 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will introduce legislation to facilitate 24 hour surveillance of known criminals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21148/08]

I want to make it clear at the outset that intensive surveillance operations by the Gardaí, covert and otherwise, are and will continue to be, a most effective tool in the fight against serious crime, including, in particular, gangland crime.

It is clearly evident that Garda surveillance is one of the tools of crime prevention and detection. Information obtained through surveillance allows the Gardaí to disrupt planned activities or obtain evidence which can help to secure convictions in criminal trials.

However, we have to recognise that those involved in criminality are constantly altering their modus operandi with the aim of frustrating Garda actions to counter their activities. Everyone here would agree that the Gardaí must be properly equipped, in legislative terms, to enable them to act against all forms of criminality. It is in this context that the question of improving Garda surveillance capacity and techniques must be viewed.

Accordingly, my Department, in close consultation with the Garda Commissioner, has begun drafting the heads of a Bill in this area. The principal aims of this Bill will be to provide a clear statutory basis for certain forms of Garda surveillance and to deal, as appropriate, with issues arising in relation to the use of the results of such surveillance as evidence.

The Deputy and the House will appreciate that the issue of the use of such evidence in criminal proceedings is not straightforward. On the one hand the use of such evidence may in some cases help secure convictions. On the other hand it is vital to avoid as much as possible a situation arising where Garda techniques for intelligence gathering may, as a result, be compromised. These opposing outcomes must be properly balanced if any scheme is to improve the position of the Gardaí in tackling criminality in all its forms.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

94 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the introduction of a judicial council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21118/08]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

170 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made in the talks between his Department and representatives of the judiciary regarding the introduction of a judicial council; when the Judicial Council Bill will be published and enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21098/08]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

201 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made on the introduction of a judicial council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21119/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 94, 170 and 201 together.

As my predecessor informed the House in response to Parliamentary Question No. 10 on 17 April last, work on the scheme of the Judicial Council Bill, which builds on the report of the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Ethics, is at an advanced stage of development in my Department.

Consultations on the proposed Bill have, as is usual in the development of any legislative proposals, taken place with the Office of the Attorney General. It was also considered prudent, given the particular nature of the subject, to consult with the Chief Justice.

Following contacts with the Chief Justice a working group has now been established to advance the Bill. The Group comprises a nominee each of my Department and of the Chief Justice. I am confident that this approach will ensure that the details of the proposed Bill can be finalised in the reasonably near future.

Juvenile Liaison Service.

Willie Penrose

Question:

95 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí operating as juvenile liaison officers; if he has plans to increase the numbers having regard to the success of schemes operated by JLOs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21097/08]

As of 30 April 2008, the number of Gardaí assigned to the Juvenile Liaison Service was 102. The Garda Commissioner has given a commitment to appoint an additional 21 personnel by 2010.

The Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme has proven to be highly successful in diverting young persons away from crime by offering guidance and support to juveniles and their families. It also enables referral to the Garda Youth Diversion Projects which operate separately from the Programme and aim to divert young people away from crime and anti social behaviour. These Projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people from becoming involved, or further involved, in anti-social or criminal behaviour. There are currently 100 of these type of projects operating throughout the country and this number will be extended to 168 in line with the commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government.

Inquiries into Garda Activities.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

96 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received any of the outstanding reports from the Morris tribunal; if not, when he expects to receive them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21076/08]

The Morris Tribunal has completed its oral hearings in relation to all modules of its terms of reference and is now finalising its two final reports. One of these reports will deal with allegations that two senior members of An Garda Síochána acted with impropriety. The other will deal with allegations of ongoing harassment of the McBreartys and their extended family and how their complaints to the Garda Síochána Complaints Board were dealt with.

The Chairman has previously indicated to my predecessor in writing that he hopes to submit his two remaining reports to the Minister by mid June 2008. Under the terms of the resolution passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas on 28 March 2002, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is obliged, save in exceptional circumstances relating to potential criminal prosecutions, to lay any report before the Houses of the Oireachtas within 14 days of its receipt.

State Memorials.

Noel Coonan

Question:

97 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the State erecting memorials to gardaí killed in the line of duty at the scene of their deaths; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21141/08]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that there are no plans to erect memorials to Gardaí killed in the line of duty at the scene of their deaths. However a working group, established by the Commissioner, is examining the commemoration of members of An Garda Síochána who died in active service. I have been informed by the Commissioner that he is considering a proposal to construct a memorial garden in the grounds of Dublin Castle and I look forward to seeing the detailed plans for it. Of course, the cenotaph in the Garda Depot also commemorates the members of the force who have given their lives in the service of the country.

Garda Ombudsman.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

98 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is confident that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is adequately resourced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21125/08]

The Garda Ombudsman Commission has a budget this year of over €11.6 million and an approved staff complement of just over 100.

For a number of months now my Department has been in discussion with the Ombudsman Commission on proposals for legislative change which the Commission believes would make it more efficient and effective in managing its workload of complaints. I expect to bring proposals on this to Cabinet shortly.

In recent days, at a meeting between the Ombudsman Commission and my Department at a senior level, the Commission discussed the benefits of some legislative change in their area and the level of staffing necessary to enable them to efficiently manage their workload.

I will of course carefully consider any specific proposals the Ombudsman Commission may make, taking into account the developing experience of their workload and the new efficiencies expected to result from legislative change. My officials will stay in dialogue with the Ombudsman Commission on how best to continue to fulfil their functions.

Road Traffic Offences.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

99 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has plans to review the procedures for the delivery of summonses in view of reports that more than 33,000 drivers had their cases for speeding struck out in court in view of claims that the appropriate summons had not been delivered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21087/08]

When a case of speeding is detected, the registered owner of the vehicle involved receives a fixed charge notice. This notice informs the owner that he or she may during the period of 28 days pay a specified fixed charge and that in the following period of 28 days they may pay the specified fixed charge, increased by 50%. In either case the driver receives a certain number of penalty points. If the registered owner was not the driver of the vehicle at the time the speeding offence was committed, he or she must nominate the actual driver. If the driver, either the registered owner or the nominated driver, does not pay the fixed charge, he or she will be prosecuted for the offence.

If a prosecution takes place in a speeding case, when it comes to court it can be struck out for a number of reasons. One reason is that the original fixed charge notice was not received. Other reasons are that the person alleged to be the registered owner of the vehicle is not in fact the owner or it is at the request of the prosecuting Garda. A case cannot be struck out by a court unless a summons has been received.

The District Court rules provide a number of methods for service of summonses. These include service by registered post, personal service on the defendant and service at the defendant's home or place of business. With a view to ensuring the standard of service is as high as possible, I am informed that An Garda Síochána is currently reviewing the practices and procedures operating within An Garda Síochána for the service of summonses.

I am informed that, in line with the Interpretation Act 2005, An Garda Síochána currently uses ordinary post to serve fixed charge notices. In addition, the Road Traffic Acts 2002 and 2004 provide that, in a prosecution for an offence for which a fixed charge notice issued, it shall be presumed until the contrary is shown that the relevant notice has been served or caused to be served.

The giving of false evidence by a driver in court, for example asserting that he or she had not received a fixed charge notice when it fact he or she had, is a serious offence, punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both.

My colleague the Minister for Transport, who has responsible for road traffic legislation, intends to progress a new Road Traffic Bill in the latter half of this year. His Department is undertaking consultations with other Departments and agencies involved in the enforcement of road traffic law on matters for possible inclusion in the Bill, including steps which could lead to improvements in the service of fixed charge notices.

Firearms Licences.

Frank Feighan

Question:

100 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied that the number of licensed handguns here has been steadily increasing in the past four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21130/08]

I have been informed by the Garda Authorities that there has been an increase in the number of handguns licensed in this jurisdiction since 2004 following a legal challenge taken on the temporary custody order made in 1972 by the then Minister for Justice. The following table shows the number of such firearms licensed each year since 2004.

Year

Total (cumulative number)

2007/08*

1,787

2006/07

1,367

2005/06

946

2004/05

305

*2007/08 figures are operational, provisional and liable to change.

It should be noted that the total number of hand guns licensed is less than one per cent of all licensed firearms in the State. The House may be interested to know that in this State, in the region of 200,000 people own approx. 231,000 firearms. I should also add, to put the matter in context, that our definition of what is a firearm is among the most stringent to be found in any jurisdiction. Under the Firearms Act 1925, any device with a muzzle energy greater that one joule is regarded as a firearm. Many countries, for example, do not require a licence for a wide range of sporting firearms which are all treated as part of the firearms regime here.

Obviously, the key concern of my Department is public safety. The Criminal Justice Act 2006, when fully brought into force, will modernise and tighten up the law in relation to firearms certificates. Section 32 provides that a number of conditions must be met before a firearms certificate can be granted, which include the applicant having a good reason for requiring the firearm in respect of which a certificate is applied for and that the person can be permitted to possess the firearm without danger to public safety or security. A further condition is that the person has provided secure accommodation for the firearm and ammunition. Under the section the applicant has to provide the names and addresses of two referees who may be contacted to attest to the applicant's character. An applicant must also provide written consent for any enquiries in relation to the applicant's medical history that may be made from a health professional. The section also provides for the making of regulations providing for secure accommodation for firearms and these will be made at the earliest possible date.

I intend to bring the remaining parts of the Act 2006 into force as quickly as possible and I will bring forward some technical amendments to enable their commencement, in the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which will be published in the coming weeks.

I am also conscious that some recent court judgements may have a bearing in this matter and will have them examined in this context.

Departmental Statistics.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

101 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of drivers who have been prosecuted for drug driving offences each year since 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17328/08]

Following the submission of a report and recommendations by an expert group on crime statistics, it was decided that the compilation and publication of crime statistics should be taken over by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, from the Garda Síochána. The Garda Síochána Act 2005 consequently makes provision for this, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. The CSO has published crime statistics since the third quarter of 2006. I have requested the CSO to provide the statistics sought by the Deputy directly to him.

Sexual Offences.

Simon Coveney

Question:

102 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the review of the programme for prisoners who have committed sexual offences will be completed; if he will publish same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21159/08]

Simon Coveney

Question:

188 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the therapy options available for sex offenders in prisons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21158/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 188 together.

Every effort is made to assist sex offenders in custody who are willing to participate at any level in rehabilitation and relapse prevention. There are three main forms of direct therapeutic intervention for sex offenders currently operating within the Irish prison system. These are as follows:

An intensive sex offender programme which has been in operation since 1994 and is delivered currently in Arbour Hill Prison,

Individual counselling from the Irish Prison Service's Psychology Service and from the Probation Service, and

One to one interventions by visiting psychiatrists who provide support to prisoners.

The intensive programme is a group programme managed and delivered by the Irish Prison Service's Psychology Service in partnership with the Probation Service. It caters for eight offenders at a time, taking eleven months to complete. The programme is voluntary. Although delivered in Arbour Hill Prison, it is available to sex offenders in other prisons. The practice has been to invite all eligible sex offenders to apply for a place on the programme when a new group programme is being set up.

The programme is a structured, offence focused programme, employing a cognitive behavioural approach with a relapse prevention component. The programme places considerable emphasis on the therapeutic process within the group and on supporting each participant in gaining the knowledge, skills, attitudes and self confidence necessary to live life differently and more constructively in the future. The programme seeks to address the behaviour that leads to offending.

In general the criteria for suitability for participation in the Sex Offender Programme are:

Participants are convicted and sentenced;

Participants accept responsibility for their offending;

Participants are physically and emotionally capable of working on offending and personal issues in a group setting (age / physical health / mental & emotional health);

Participants have basic literacy skills;

Participants have a level of learning ability to understand the processes of the programme;

Preferably, participants are within 24 months of release;

Preferably participants have engaged in individual work on their offending with either the Psychology or Probation Services prior to participating in the Sex Offender Programme.

A total of 128 sex offenders have completed the sex offender programme to date. A further eight men are currently undertaking the programme. There is no waiting list in operation in respect of participation on the programme.

Some individuals engage with the therapeutic services initially to seek assistance in adjusting to imprisonment or to address their mental health needs. Following such interventions, offenders are often more open to looking at their sexual offending and a concentrated period of motivational work is conducted to help them address their offending behaviour and related issues. In response to such counselling, many offenders who initially might deny responsibility for their crime or deny any need for treatment, are motivated towards some process of change. For some offenders this results in them undertaking the more intensive sex offender programme, for others it results in sustained individual therapy around their offending or engagement in some other programme available in the prison system.

Probation Officers working in a prison context provide individual counselling to sex offenders as part of their generic role in relation to offence focused work and as part of the Parole Board Process. This counselling can vary from one session addressing a particular problem to intensive ongoing counselling.

A number of offenders undergo one-to-one counselling in relation to their sexual offending with the Irish Prison Service's Psychology Service. The Probation Service also engages with prisoners on a one-to-one basis.

The Sex Offender Programme is currently under review and the recommendations from this will be incorporated in the new Sex Offender Management Policy currently being drafted. The purpose of the policy statement is to outline the steps that the Irish Prison Service will take to reduce, to the greatest extent possible, the risk of offenders re-offending after their release. Options under consideration include more flexible delivery of programmes based on individual offender's risks, needs and capacity. The likely outcome is a package of sex offender interventions comprising group and individual programmes for a significantly larger group of offenders.

Two community based intervention programmes are currently operated by the Probation Service in conjunction with the Granada Institute under the name of Lighthouse. These group based programmes operate in Dublin and target those who have been convicted of sexual offences against children. Each programme operates over an eleven month period. These programmes are also currently being reviewed.

Electronic Monitoring.

Billy Timmins

Question:

103 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in respect of electronic tagging for offenders on bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21113/08]

Andrew Doyle

Question:

200 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he proposes to enact legislative provision in respect of the use of electronic tagging; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21112/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 200 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that enabling provisions are already in place in the Criminal Justice Acts, 2006 and 2007, in relation to Electronic Monitoring. As the House will appreciate the merits of Electronic Monitoring require careful consideration not least from a cost effectiveness perspective developments in technology, most suitable offender group(s) and the likely impact on crime prevention.

In this regard my Department is keeping developments in other jurisdictions under constant review. Experience abroad indicates that there are technical, operational and cost limitations. There has been instances where people have committed serious crimes while subject to electronic monitoring and I would have reservations about its application in bail cases.

I would emphasise that Electronic Monitoring is just one response among a range of community based sanctions in managing offenders. It is therefore necessary to look at the merits of the full range of options available before coming to any final judgment on Electronic Monitoring.

Departmental Funding.

Phil Hogan

Question:

104 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is confident that the State Forensic Science Laboratory is adequately resourced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21154/08]

Phil Hogan

Question:

168 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in respect of the report of Professor Kopp in respect of the resource needs of the Forensic Science Laboratory; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21155/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 104 and 168 together.

I can inform the Deputy that more than 30 additional posts have been sanctioned for the Forensic Science Laboratory since December 2006, representing an increase of approximately 40% in approved staffing. This substantial extension of the Laboratory's capacity takes into account the findings of Professor Kopp as to current demands on the organisation, as well as the need to plan for the implementation of the proposed DNA database.

Prison Education Service.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

105 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the percentage of offenders who participate in educational programmes in juvenile detention centres; his plans to expand increased participation on these courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21182/08]

Responsibility for managing the children detention schools transferred to my Department from 1st March 2007. It is, however, the responsibility of the Department of Education and Science, in accordance with the provisions of section 159A of the Children Act 2001, as amended, to provide the education service within the children detention schools, through the relevant Vocational Education Committees.

I can, however, confirm that young people in the centres follow the standard school curriculum and courses leading to FETAC accreditation. In addition, as part of the care programme, young people take part in a range of activities which assist in their personal development.

Restorative Justice.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

106 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the recently published interim report by the national commission on restorative justice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21133/08]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

202 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will to mainstream and roll out nationally the restorative justice programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21132/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 202 together.

The concept of Restorative Justice does have a place in how we deal with offending behaviour. To date we have two such projects funded by my Department, through the Probation Service. We must, of course, learn from the experience of how restorative justice has worked both here in Ireland and in other jurisdictions so that future expansion of the restorative justice model will be guided by best practice.

It was on that basis, that my Department established a National Commission on Restorative Justice in March, 2007. In welcoming the Commission's Interim Report on Restorative Justice, published on 21 May, I indicated that we must optimise all our polices and resources in the unrelenting fight against crime, so that the citizen is protected, the offender is helped to rehabilitate and the best mix of policies is implemented.

The Interim Report looks at how restorative justice is currently applied here and in other jurisdictions and examines research-based evidence abroad on the potential of restorative justice as an additional measure to combat crime and respond to the needs of victims. The Commission will now continue with its in-depth examination of the issue and I expect to receive its final report and recommendations by June 2009. The Final Report will inform future decisions on making greater use of the concept of Restorative Justice here.

Community Policing.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

107 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received, from the Garda Commissioner, the report of the working group developing proposals for a comprehensive model of rural and urban community policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21092/08]

I am informed by Garda authorities that the Commissioner established an internal working group to develop a model of community policing for both urban and rural community policing. The report is now at final draft stage and it is anticipated that it will be completed shortly.

Engagement with the community is a key priority of An Garda Síochána. Community policing is constantly being reviewed and developed and the enhanced liaison structures between Garda management and local authorities through Joint Policing Committees and Community Policing Fora will continue to be of significant benefit to the policing of both urban and rural areas.

Important partnerships in which the Gardaí are involved are the Community Alert Programme and Neighbourhood Watch. National strategies for Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch for the period 2007-2011 were launched in Autumn 2007. The new strategies include a number of significant improvements. Training has been provided to the sergeants and inspectors most closely involved with the Programmes. In addition, the holding of information seminars is continuing for all liaison Gardaí and scheme coordinators for Garda Districts and Divisions.

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

Restorative Justice.

Frank Feighan

Question:

108 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in respect of restorative justice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21131/08]

The concept of Restorative Justice does have a place in how we deal with offending behaviour. To date we have two such projects funded by my Department, through the Probation Service. We must, of course, learn from the experience of how restorative justice has worked both here in Ireland and in other jurisdictions so that future expansion of the restorative justice model will be guided by best practice.

It was on that basis, that my Department established a National Commission on Restorative Justice in March, 2007. In welcoming the Commission's Interim Report on Restorative Justice, published on 21 May, I indicated that we must optimise all our polices and resources in the unrelenting fight against crime, so that the citizen is protected, the offender is helped to rehabilitate and the best mix of policies is implemented.

The Interim Report looks at how restorative justice is currently applied here and in other jurisdictions and examines research-based evidence abroad on the potential of restorative justice as an additional measure to combat crime and respond to the needs of victims. The Commission will now continue with its in-depth examination of the issue and I expect to receive its final report and recommendations by June 2009. The Final Report will inform future decisions on making greater use of the concept of Restorative Justice here.

Victims Commission.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

109 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement on the recently published third annual report of the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime. [21084/08]

The Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime (CSVC) were appointed by the then Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform for a three year period with effect from March, 2005.

The Commission was tasked with disbursing funding for victim support measures and devising an appropriate support framework for victims into the future. In this regard, the Commission has over the past three years disbursed €2.5 m to over 40 organisations who support victims of crime. The Commission recently submitted to me its Framework Document — Recommendations for the Future Structure and Services for Victims of Crime. In the course of preparing their Report the Commission was in contact with the major stakeholders with a view to embodying these opinions in the Framework Document. This Document is now being considered within my Department with a view to developing the best possible structures for the support of victims of crime into the future and thus honouring the commitment given in the Programme for Government.

The Third Annual Report of the Commission as in their previous Annual Reports sets out the work the Commission undertook during 2007. It outlines its role as ensuring the provision of a high quality service across the country to victims of crime. It notes the importance of a coherent strategy of victim support and that this can only be achieved through co-operation and co-ordination between all the criminal justice agencies.

Since their appointment, the Commission have performed a valuable public service function for which I am grateful.

Missing Persons.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

110 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on recent comments that the gardaí had refused to use new technology in respect of missing persons cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21152/08]

Liz McManus

Question:

159 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the latest position in regard to Garda Operation Trace into the disappearance of six women in the Leinster area who are feared to have been murdered; if he shares the views expressed by Minister of State, Mr. John McGuinness, who has described the Garda operation as nothing short of a national disgrace; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21085/08]

Tom Sheahan

Question:

196 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied that the gardaí are adequately resourced and have sufficient access to modern technologies to address missing persons cases including cold case files; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21153/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 110, 159 and 196 together.

Operation Trace was established in October, 1998. The original objectives of the investigation team under this dedicated initiative were to trace, review and collate all evidence pertaining to the separate Garda investigations into the disappearance of six women in the Leinster area. Subsequently the investigations into the disappearance of four other missing women were also reviewed.

The Investigation Team was originally and principally tasked with establishing if any commonality existed between the various disappearances. To date no such linkage or commonality has been established between the cases.

Information and intelligence relative to the Operation continues to be collated and assimilated on a dedicated stand-alone database maintained for the purpose of this Operation. A Detective Superintendent retains operational responsibility for ensuring that all such information and queries received are identified, catalogued and actioned to a conclusion. The Detective Superintendent also ensures that liaison is maintained with the families of these missing women, ensuring that they are kept apprised of any progress or developments arising from further information received or lines of enquiry being pursued.

Operation Trace will continue its role of collating, reviewing and examining all evidence based on enquiries and investigations conducted under the direction of the respective District Officers.

I am confident that An Garda Síochána has devoted significant resources, time and investigative skills to investigate these disappearances. The cases have been subject to numerous reviews to ensure that the Gardaí maximise any new investigative opportunities and that they employ the most up to date techniques and methods in line with the best international practice.

The Missing Persons Bureau in Garda Headquarters is responsible for maintaining data relating to missing persons. All cases of a person reported missing in suspicious circumstances remain open and under ongoing review and investigation until the person is located or, in the case of a missing person who is presumed drowned, a verdict to that effect by the coroner. District Officers in the area where persons have gone missing take direct responsibility for all investigations and searches carried out. Local investigation teams are appointed by the District Officer and all means necessary, including the services of specialist units, are deployed to assist in these investigation. The services of Europol and Interpol are also availed of during such investigations.

Appropriate training is provided to Garda personnel to facilitate them in effectively carrying out their functions in relation to missing persons. The investigation of missing persons is a dedicated subject on the curriculum at the Garda College, Templemore, and is also a subject covered in in-service training. Further training initiatives have been undertaken over the years. A Search Planning and Management Course conducted by the PSNI was attended by representatives of An Garda Síochána in 2005. In addition a delegation from An Garda Síochána visited the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, the FBI Academy, the New York Missing Persons Bureau and the New York City Coroners Department with a view to examining techniques used in the US. The experience gained by An Garda Síochána in these areas has been invaluable in their work in dealing with missing persons.

In 2005 the ViCLAS (Violent Linkage System) was installed in the Criminal Intelligence Section of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. This installation, by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, provides a database to capture, collate and compare violent crimes within and across several jurisdictions. ViCLAS is a valuable tool in the investigation of serious and complex cases and encourages and facilitates communication between investigation teams in pursuit of a common goal that might not otherwise occur.

In September 2004 the missing children's website www.missingkids.ie was inaugurated. It is a joint initiative between An Garda Síochána and the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington. This website enables the Garda Síochána to circulate instantaneously and internationally to other police forces written details and high quality photographs of children reported missing.

The Garda Serious Crime Review Team was established as part of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations in 2007. The purpose of the Unit, which is managed by a Detective Superintendent, is primarily to assist Senior Investigating Officers in the investigation of serious crime, by identifying new and potential investigative opportunities and operational practices, based on lessons learned and identification of good practice for dissemination to the investigative and operational units. To date the main types of incident subject of such review have been murders recorded, primarily since 1980, for which no person has been made amenable.

The Garda authorities are satisfied that adequate resources, including technological resources, are in place and being used to deal with missing persons cases and are in line with best international practices. The Garda authorities continue to monitor international developments in this area with a view to introducing any further initiatives which they consider useful.

Data Protection.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

111 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will bring forward standardised guidelines on the protection of sensitive data in view of the fact that over 120 data storage devices have been lost or stolen from departmental staff since 2002 and in view of the loss of lap-tops containing highly sensitive personal information on individuals lost by private institutions also. [21067/08]

My Department is not responsible for the development of general guidelines for the public service on this issue and a very small number only of data storage devices have been lost or stolen from my Department. The Department will however be participating on an inter-Departmental working group chaired by the Department of Finance which will develop guidelines in relation to protecting the confidentiality of personal data within Departments.

I am satisfied that my Department has sufficient perimeter and internal access controls in place to ensure reasonable protection of any personal information it holds relating to members of the public. Insofar as data devices are concerned, the Department's IT system is designed to allow staff who need access to official information off-site to access the Department's information via a secure portal. This means that they are working on the Department's IT network and no Departmental data rests on the device they are using to access the portal. The capability to download information on to devices such as USB keys is heavily restricted and there have been no reports of such data being lost or compromised.

The general position with respect to data protection law is set out in the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003. The Acts require that adequate security measures be taken by data controllers against unauthorised access to, destruction or loss of personal data. The Data Protection Commissioner has a number of enforcement instruments available to him under the Act to assist him in his functions and to ensure compliance.

Garda Divisional Boundaries.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

112 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the recent changes to Garda divisional boundaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21145/08]

In accordance with the provisions of the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007 proposals, inter alia, to alter the boundaries of a divisional geographical area are a matter in the first instance for the Garda Commissioner in the context of the Annual Policing Plan. The 2008 Policing Plan, which was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, contains the Commissioner's proposals to realign Garda boundaries in a number of areas around the country to make them coterminous with the functional boundaries of local authorities.

The planned changes will bring about greater efficiencies and effectiveness in facilitating the establishment and functioning of Joint Policing Committees. The revision of the Divisional Boundaries is taking place in conjunction with a realignment of the Garda Regions leading to a more streamlined operation. For example, the Eastern Region will now encircle the Dublin Metropolitan Region and all border counties will become part of the Northern Region and will fall within the remit of Assistant Commissioner, Northern Region. This will more easily facilitate dialogue with the Police Service of Northern Ireland on matters of a policing nature. I am advised by the Garda authorities that project boards have been established in each division to develop implementation plans to create and rollout the new divisions. The relevant Project Boards are managing all tasks associated with each individual rollout.

The Commissioner has also indicated in the Policing Plan that an examination of Divisions and Districts within the Dublin Metropolitan Region will be conducted in 2008 for the purposes of alignment with the local authority areas and in light of demographic and infrastructural changes in the region

Garda Recruitment.

Damien English

Question:

113 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied that recruitment to the Garda Reserve is progressing at a satisfactory rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21120/08]

Damien English

Question:

154 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his vision of the role of the Garda Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21121/08]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

156 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the assessment of both the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors that the Garda Reserve is a failed and costly exercise which should be scrapped. [21069/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113, 154 and 156 together.

I believe that the establishment of the Garda Reserve, with the support of the vast majority of the members of this House, is one of the most important innovations in policing in Ireland in recent years. It has strengthened the links with local communities and is a source of local support and knowledge. It brings new life to the organisation through its members. They bring a fresh and innovative approach to policing as they approach their duties with the different perspectives and skills developed in their everyday jobs and lives. The establishment of the Reserve allows committed individuals from a great diversity of professional, social, cultural and ethnic groups to take part in policing.

The Garda Reserve is far from a failed and costly exercise. The expenditure directly incurred in the recruitment and training of the Garda Reserve has been modest. The benefits accrued to date far outweigh this expenditure. At this point the Garda Reserve has members in all Garda divisions in the country. Reserve members are being well received by full-time members and making a significant contribution to policing in their communities.

I would hope that the Garda Representative Association and the association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors will focus on helping to make the Reserve work. This is in the interests of their members who voted to accept the initiative and the country as a whole.

There are currently 261 attested Reserve Gardaí and 46 Reserve trainees. The Agreed Programme for Government has set a target strength for the Reserve at 10% of the full-time strength of the force. Recruitment is continuing and regular promotional efforts to attract potential Reserve members are being undertaken. Garda Reserve members undertake their training and other duties on a voluntary basis during their free time. As a result it is not possible to predict how many people will commence training in any particular period. In the Annual Policing Plan for 2008 the Garda Commissioner has set a target of recruiting 270 members this year. The next class of Reserve trainees will commence training on the 7th of June.

I cannot predict exactly when the full complement of Garda Reserve members will be reached but I can assure the Deputy that the Garda Commissioner is making every effort to reach it.

Proposed Legislation.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

114 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the Government’s promised legislation on same sex unions will be published; if the heads of a Bill have been submitted to Government; if he will publish the heads of the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21099/08]

As I stated in my reply to Question No. 402 of 27 May 2008, I expect to bring proposals for a Scheme of a Civil Partnership Bill to Government shortly.

Community Policing.

Denis Naughten

Question:

115 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he will take to improve rural policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19789/08]

As previously indicated to the Deputy in my answer to PQ No. 8 of 17th April 2008, engagement with the rural community and rural policing are key priorities of An Garda Síochána. Rural Policing is continually being reviewed and developed and the enhanced liaison structures between Garda Management and Local Authorities through Joint Policing Committees and Community Policing Fora will be of significant benefit to the policing of rural areas.

Detective Inspectors are now appointed in each Division with specific responsibility for the investigation of serious crime in rural areas. The quality of criminal intelligence is continually improving and in early 2007, for example, such intelligence resulted in the identification of a Cork-based gang targeting the elderly in rural areas of Cork and Limerick. A number of persons are currently before the Courts arising from this.

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

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

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

Initiatives under Operation ‘Anvil' have been implemented in every Garda District in the country incorporating special crime prevention and detection patrols in rural areas which have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to crime. Patrol times are varied in order to maximise coverage in such areas.

It is of course the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to decide on the prioritisation and allocation of resources within the Force. Against this background, he is currently reviewing arrangements within the Garda Síochána for urban and rural community policing. I very much welcome this, and I look forward to its outcome and to receiving the Commissioner's proposals for the future development of community policing in Ireland.

Commissions of Investigation.

Jack Wall

Question:

116 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date with regard to implementation of the recommendations of the report of the commission of investigation into the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21078/08]

The Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Dean Lyons case offered a thorough independent analysis of the facts surrounding the false confession made by Dean Lyons based on the evidence of all relevant witnesses. It concluded that there was no deliberate attempt to undermine the rights of Dean Lyons. At page 12 of his Report Mr Birmingham (now Judge Birmingham) makes it clear that the Commission had no role in making recommendations on future safeguards and procedures. Instead an Expert Group was established by the then Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform for that purpose.

The Group will be reporting on the adequacy of Garda training, protocols, regulations and procedures, in assessing the fitness of persons to be interviewed and on the recording of any bona fide reservations of an individual member of a Garda investigation team as to the truthfulness or accuracy of self — incriminating statements. As has been indicated in this House previously the Group took time to allow it to comprehend the work associated with the most recently published Sixth report of the Morris Tribunal which, as Deputies will be aware, dealt extensively with the question of detention of vulnerable suspects. The Group is now considering that Report with a view to finalising their work. As the Deputies will be aware, these matters have already been decided by the Government and the position in that respect is as indicated in response to PQ No. 2 of 17 April 2008.

In the short period since taking up office I have not had the opportunity to consider in great detail how to best advance progress with these complex issues. I do intend to move quickly on these matters and I am also conscious of the need to ensure that the widest possible range of views is canvassed and brought to bear on settling public policy in this area.

Proposed Legislation.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

117 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will publish the legislation that will allow gardaí, with appropriate safeguards, to use the result of surveillance of high profile criminal gangs to be used in court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21079/08]

As I indicated in my reply to an earlier question, I intend to bring before the Government shortly proposals in relation to covert surveillance by the Garda Síochána. These measures will include provisions dealing with the use of information or material obtained in evidence in these cases.

I should point out that the use in Court of the results of surveillance is already permissible under common law rules. The Bill will, inter alia, place the existing practice on a statutory basis.

Martin Ferris

Question:

118 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the absence of legislation or guidelines governing covert surveillance by gardaí highlighted as a serious shortcoming by Justice Morris in his sixth report; the timeframe within which he will introduce legislation rectifying this deficit; and if his legislative proposals will include a requirement for judicial authorisation. [21065/08]

As indicated, I intend to bring proposals before the Government shortly dealing with the matter. In line with the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission, the proposed measure will include provisions relating to judicial oversight and a complaints mechanism.

Garda Operations.

Noel Coonan

Question:

119 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the steps that need to be taken to address gangland criminality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21140/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

122 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to counter the activities of criminal gangs with particular reference to their wide range of activities such as intimidation, protection, racketeering and money laundering; if he will introduce particular or specific measures to counter inter-gang violence and the apparent ease with which such organisations appear to be able to conduct business internationally and from prison in defiance of the law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21186/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 and 122 together.

I have been informed by the Garda Authorities that they remain committed to targeting violent crime and to tackling those who engage or facilitate persons involved in such activity.

The Garda Commissioner's Policing Plan for 2008 sets out strategic goals for the Force and includes a commitment to significantly reduce the impact of crime and criminal behaviour. These goals are backed up by strategic actions which include a commitment to continue and intensify intelligence-led operations against groups and individuals engaged in the trafficking of illegal drugs, guns and immigrants into and within the State. Witness intimidation and the laundering of money are integral parts of the activities of these criminal activities and will be targeted as part of the overall strategy against these groups.

Where information comes into the possession of An Garda Síochána indicating the involvement of criminals in the type of activity suggested by the Deputy, it is subject to thorough investigation and an investigation file will be submitted to the Law Officers where appropriate. Where there is justification and a legal basis, those suspected of involvement in criminal activity are arrested, detained and questioned in relation to specific crime.

An Garda Síochána utilises intelligence-led operations to target organised crime gangs. All available intelligence is fully analysed and used in the strategic deployment of both local and specialised operational Garda units to target particular gangs.

A large proportion of organised criminal activity in Ireland is associated with the illicit trade in drugs. Organised Crime is targeted on a number of fronts, involving uniform and plain-clothes Gardaí overtly and covertly disrupting known criminals in the course of criminal activities. Specialist units from National Support Services also assist in these operations and deal with the different aspects of this type of criminal activity. A number of organised crime groups have been targeted in this manner recently, with firearms being recovered and drugs seized resulting in a number of people being prosecuted and convicted before the Courts.

An Garda Síochána liaises on an ongoing basis with international law enforcement agencies and the Irish Prison Service to counteract the activities of persons who attempt to continue their criminal endeavours from outside the jurisdiction, or while serving prison sentences.

In January of this year the Garda Commissioner announced the establishment of the Organised Crime Unit on a permanent basis. This Unit was created on a temporary basis in November 2005 to pro-actively target organised criminal gangs. Since then the Organised Crime Unit has pro-actively targeted criminal gangs engaged in diverse types of criminality. The main forms of criminality being committed by these gangs include activities such as armed robberies, the hi-jacking of valuable loads and commodities, ‘tiger' kidnappings, bank robberies involving firearms and the importation of large quantities of controlled drugs.

Through focused, intelligence-led operations success has been achieved and the activities of many of the organised crime groups have been disrupted and a number of persons suspected of involvement in this type of criminality have been apprehended on serious charges. Many are now before the Courts and face lengthy sentences upon conviction.

Gardaí have a wide range of legislative options available to them in the investigation of crime. For example, Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 provides that a person who knowingly participates in, or contributes to, any activity of a criminal organisation for the purpose of enhancing the ability of the criminal organisation to commit a serious offence, whether in or outside the State, is guilty of an offence.

Section 16 of this Act provides the circumstances in which certain statements can be admitted in criminal proceedings. A person refusing to give evidence by virtue of the fact that they have been intimidated may have their statement admitted in evidence at the discretion of the Courts.

Further legislation exists to deal with witness intimidation in the provision of Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999 which makes it an offence to harm or threaten, or, in any other way, intimidate or put in fear another person who is assisting in the investigation by the Garda Síochána of an offence. This provision provides protection for those who may be a witness or potential witness or a juror or potential juror in proceedings relating to an offence. The penalty upon conviction on indictment is to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or both.

An Garda Síochána considers every criminal case where the possibility of intimidation of civilian witnesses may be an issue and the case is closely monitored throughout the investigation, up to and including any criminal proceedings. In circumstances where the Senior Investigation Officer has identified a witness who is crucial to the case and the evidence to be preferred is not available elsewhere and there is a serious threat to the life of the witness or his or her family an application can be made, with the consent of the witness, to have them included in the Witness Security Programme. This Programme was established in 1997 under the direct operational control and administration of the Garda Commissioner. The programme was established in response to attempts by criminal and other groups to prevent the normal functioning of the criminal justice system through the use of threats of violence and the systematic intimidation of witnesses.

Where an Investigation Team becomes aware of any threat to, or intimidation of witnesses or potential witnesses, such incidents may be addressed through the trial judge, who may decided to revoke bail or put some other sanction on the suspect. The incident will be subject of thorough investigation by An Garda Síochána and an investigation file will be submitted to the Law Officers.

Effective measures have been put in place to deal with serious crime, including Operation Anvil, in which intelligence-led operations have been used to target specific individuals. This Operation commenced in May 2005 in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and was extended countrywide in 2006. The primary focus of Operation Anvil is the disruption of serious and organised criminal activity. In this regard Operation Anvil consists of intelligence-led targeted operations on the one hand, and an increased overt visible Garda presence on the other. The Garda Commissioner has publicly re-affirmed his absolute commitment to the objectives of Operation Anvil, which is but one tool used by members of An Garda Síochána in endeavouring to combat crime.

An allocation of €20 million has been ring-fenced from the Garda Budget 2008 to ensure that ongoing operations of Anvil, which are augmented by other operations and initiatives, both locally and nationally, continue to be undertaken by all units and sections of An Garda Síochána.

Multi-agency approaches have been and continue to be used where all of the National Units from National Support Services such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Garda Technical Bureau are used to combat serious crime. These Units are also supported by the Security and Intelligence Section who assist with intelligence briefings and timely information. The Emergency Response Unit has also been deployed in areas where there is a propensity to use firearms.

The Criminal Assets Bureau is being actively utilised to identify and target assets accumulated by criminals, in order to seize such assets and to deprive the criminals of the profits of their criminal activity. The Garda National Drugs Unit liaises closely with the Criminal Assets Bureau to target those criminals and criminal groupings believed to be deriving profits and assets from drug-related criminal activity.

This integrated approach adopts best practice in implementing a coordinated use of Garda resources and using available criminal legislation to its fullest extent. Operations are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure their effectiveness. An Garda Síochána will continue with intelligence-led operations against selected targets to combat the criminal activities of these groups.

Garda Deployment.

Joe McHugh

Question:

120 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he is taking to ensure adequate Garda presence at the Border following another example of dissident activity; and the further steps he is taking to ensure that towns on the outskirts of large cities such as Derry city are given adequate Garda resources in view of persons engaged in criminal activity using the Border to their advantage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20724/08]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the policing of the border area is constantly monitored and reviewed by senior Garda Management and their Regional Management Team. These reviews cover crime analysis, crime trends, policing requirements and resource allocation.

An Garda Síochána in co-operation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland is engaging in high-visibility policing along the border. Additional patrols by uniform and plain-clothes personnel have been put in place. Furthermore, initiatives under Operation ‘Anvil' have also been put in place to target those involved in criminality, particularly with a cross-border element. The level of threat from dissident groups is also constantly monitored and assessed.

The allocation of Garda personnel is determined by a number of factors including population, crime trends and the policing needs of each Division.

The next allocation of Probationer Gardaí will take place on the 13th of June 2008. The needs of all Garda Divisions, including all Border areas, will be fully considered by the Garda Commissioner in this allocation within the overall context of the needs of Garda Divisions throughout the country.

The Commissioner in his Annual Policing Plan 2008 proposes establishing some new Garda divisions, the boundaries of which will be coterminous with local authority boundaries. The reason for these changes is to facilitate both local Garda management and local authority management in the management of Joint Policing Committee as provided for under Section 22(1) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

As part of the boundary realignment project, the Commissioner is creating a Division of County Louth to make it coterminous with the local authority boundary. County Louth Division will become part of the Northern Region and will fall within the remit of Assistant Commissioner, Northern Region. This will more easily facilitate dialogue with the Police Service of Northern Ireland on matters of a policing nature.

Prison Education Service.

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

121 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the measures he proposes to take to address the high levels of illiteracy among the prison population here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21136/08]

The Irish Prison Service publication entitled "The Prison Adult Literacy Survey — Results and Implications" published in September 2003 showed that a significant number of prisoners have very low levels of literacy — 52% of them were at Level 1 or Pre-Level 1 literacy levels. In other words, more than twice as many prisoners are at the lowest level as compared with the general population.

Literacy work has been a strong element of the Prison Education curriculum since the early 1980's and continues to be a priority element of the Prison Education curriculum. A number of significant initiatives commenced or were strengthened since the publication of that report which paralleled efforts to address adult literacy in the community.

The literacy curriculum concentrates on the needs of the individual and respects the adult status of the student, his/her prior knowledge, skills and life experience. It is also concerned with improving self-esteem and building confidence.

An Adult Basic Education Development Worker is employed with specific responsibility for implementing and supporting developments and initiatives in the area of literacy, numeracy, English for speakers of other languages and basic education. Because of the literacy deficit of the prisoner population, literacy work forms an element of more than just the timetabled literacy classes. All teachers are aware of the literacy needs and these are dealt with as part of the general coursework of prisoners. This is a very effective method of linking the literacy learning programme of prisoners to an area they can engage with and is widely used in adult education.

The Irish Prison Service is implementing the new assessment framework devised by the National Adult Literacy Agency; "Mapping the Learning Journey", an assessment framework that identifies learner progress, provides tangible feedback and indicates areas on which to focus. It is a useful tool for both learning and teaching.

Progress has been made linking the education and training needs of prisoners in recent years, with the literacy action plan prepared by the prison education unit of each prison becoming one vehicle for integrating the efforts of the education and training sectors in prisons. Peer tutoring, promoting family literacy and developing post-release support for prisoners who undertake literacy tuition in prison are also promoted by the Prison Education staff wherever feasible.

Each student coming into the Prison Education Centre will have an individual interview to assess his/her educational needs and interests. Those with literacy difficulties are prioritised and slotted into class almost immediately. Every effort is made to publicise literacy classes and encourage as many prisoners as possible to avail of classes.

While the Irish Prison Service recognises the progress that has been achieved to date, it also accepts that further work is required. To this end the Irish Prison Service are in the process of appointing a dedicated Literacy and Numeracy Development Officer. The Officer will be responsible for developing and implementing a strategy, including an action plan to address literacy needs. This appointment will drive the development and implementation of adult literacy policy and practice within the prison environment.

Question No. 122 answered with Question No. 119.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

123 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status and mode of operation of the special inquiry into the findings of the Stardust tribunal of 1982. [15399/08]

I understand that there are ongoing discussions with the Stardust Victims Committee's legal representative concerning the arrangements for the independent examination.

Proposed Legislation.

Joan Burton

Question:

124 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has plans to introduce legislation on on-line gambling here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15612/08]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

194 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when it is intended to publish the report of the casino regulation committee, which was submitted to Government in April 2007; if it is intended to proceed with the plan to establish an informal committee of Houses of the Oireachtas Members to consider the report and related matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21074/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 and 194 together.

As the Deputies will be aware, these matters have already been decided by the Government and the position in that respect is as indicated in response to PQ No. 2 of 17 April 2008. In the short period since taking up office I have not had the opportunity to consider in great detail how to best advance progress with these complex issues. I do intend to move quickly on these matters and I am also conscious of the need to ensure that the widest possible range of views is canvassed and brought to bear on settling public policy in this area.

Sexual Offences.

Alan Shatter

Question:

125 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason his Department did not furnish to the Department of Health and Children, the Health Service Executive or any other State agency information received by it on 27 July 2004 relating to Dr. A sexually harassing American girls as detailed in the final report of the review inquiry pertaining to child protection issues as published on 15 April 2008 nor having arranged for a summons to be served on Dr. A for a court session in Amsterdam on 13 September 2005 made an inquiry as to the outcome of the prosecution taken against Dr. A by the Dutch authorities; and the steps he is taking to ensure that information furnished to his Department relating to child protection issues is promptly communicated to the appropriate Departments and State agencies. [16178/08]

A letter from the Dutch Ministry of Justice was received by the Central Authority for Mutual Legal Assistance based in my Department on 27 July, 2004. The substance of the letter related to whether or not a prosecution against Dr. A could be instituted here rather than in the Netherlands. The letter was furnished to the Gardaí, the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions advised that the prosecution would more appropriately be dealt with by the Dutch authorities and the Dutch Ministry of Justice was advised accordingly on 22 October, 2004.

The letter did not contain any information about Dr. A's background and in particular did not contain any information concerning his occupation. Accordingly, the question of notifying the Department of Health and Children or other bodies based on the correspondence received could not have arisen.

A request for the service of a summons, under the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, was subsequently received from the Dutch authorities by the Central Authority for Mutual Legal Assistance. The summons was forwarded to the Garda authorities with a direction for the summons to be served on Dr. A personally in accordance with section 49 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994. The Dutch authorities were subsequently informed that the summons had been personally served on Dr. A.

The role of the Central Authority for Mutual Legal Assistance based in my Department is to transmit and receive requests for legal assistance for the purposes of criminal investigations or criminal proceedings. It does not have a role in relation to the monitoring for other purposes of the ultimate outcome of cases in which mutual assistance requests have been received. This would be neither practical nor within its remit.

The Sex Offenders Act, 2001 contains a comprehensive series of provisions aimed at protecting children and other vulnerable persons against sexual abuse and attack. It sets out the obligations on persons convicted of a range of sexual offences, making them subject to notification requirements under Part 2 of the Act. The provisions of the Act also extend to any sex offenders who enter the State.

As soon as the Domestic Violence and Assault Investigation Unit of the Garda Síochána is advised by a relevant authority, which could include a foreign law enforcement agency, of the impending release or movement of a sex offender this information is passed to the relevant nominated Garda Inspector. Should they arise, child protection issues are raised with the health authorities.

A Senior Officials Group has been established to examine a range of issues related to child protection. This Group, on which my Department is represented, will review adherence to the Children First Guidelines, training about the Guidelines and processes and protocols for information exchange.

Proposed Legislation.

Joe Costello

Question:

126 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the discussions he has had with the Garda Ombudsman Commission regarding possible amendments to the legislation under which it operates; the principal amendments planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21081/08]

I am in discussion with the Garda Ombudsman Commission on possible amendments to the Garda Síochána Act 2005 aimed at further improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations. I intend to bring proposals to Government in relation to the drafting of those amendments shortly.

An outline of amendments proposed by the Ombudsman Commission is set out in their two year progress report, a copy of which has been placed in the Oireachtas library or can be accessed on the Commission's website at www.gardaombudsman.ie.

Juvenile Offenders.

James Bannon

Question:

127 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans for juvenile detention centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21161/08]

Following the commencement of provisions of the Children Act 2001, as amended, responsibility for children detention schools transferred from the Minister for Education and Science to the remit of my Department on 1st March 2007. There are currently 4 schools in operation, 3 at Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin and 1 at Finglas, Dublin 11. As the Deputy may be aware the development of new children detention facilities has been included as a priority of the National Development Plan 2007 to 2013.

In March this year, having considered the report of the interdepartmental Expert Group on Children Detention Schools, the Government agreed that all developments of the new detention school service should take place on the Oberstown campus. This development will include the replacement of older building stock and the creation of sufficient new places to accommodate 16 and 17 year old boys, who will then no longer be detained in St. Patrick's Institution. The Irish Youth Justice Service is consulting relevant stakeholders in preparation for the design phase of the project and is at an early stage in developing its plans.

The Government has also agreed to set up a working group to consider a possible future role for the centre on the Finglas site (Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre) which will cease to operate as a children detention school when the new development is completed.

Detention is a measure of last resort in responding to youth crime. It is, however, a necessary measure for the protection of society and to meet the needs of a small number of young people. The development of detention school services will be based on international best practice and will provide modern, safe and secure facilities for the protection of our communities and to support the rehabilitation of young offenders.

Garda Strength.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

128 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has in mind particular proposals to further enhance the strength and facilities available to the gardaí in the fight against drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21187/08]

The Garda National Drugs Unit is the primary unit within An Garda Síochána charged with responsibility for drug supply law enforcement. As at 30 April 2008, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of the Unit was 62.

Since the publication of the Government's National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008, Garda resources in the fight against illicit drugs have increased. This is particularly evident with the creation of additional Divisional Drug Units in areas of particular need. These Drugs Units operate in Divisions throughout the country with a primary focus on local drugs activities. In addition, the total strength of the Divisional Drug Units as at the same date was 340.

Both the Garda National Drugs Unit and the Divisional units are also supported in their work by officers from other national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. Furthermore, all Gardaí have responsibility, inter alia, to deal with drug related issues as and when they arise.

It is of course the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to allocate personnel throughout the Force taking everything into account. The situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next become available the needs of the Drugs Units will be fully considered by him within the overall context of the needs of Garda Divisions throughout the country. The Deputy will be aware that in today's world the effective use of resources is contingent on intelligence led operations and in this regard Revenue are currently engaged in assigning a Customs officer to Europol's headquarters in The Hague and to the recently developed Maritime and Operational Analysis Centre–Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon.

Customs also continue to manage and increase intelligence development by way of the National Drugswatch Programme and liaison with national and international law enforcement colleagues.

Revenue's dedicated Customs Drugs Law Enforcement Branch co-ordinates its national and international drugs enforcement operations and implements numerous joint investigations and controlled deliveries of illicit drugs. In the past three years a total of 73 controlled delivery operations have been carried out in conjunction with An Garda Síochána resulting in substantial supply detections of drugs and numerous arrests and prosecutions of those involved.

Finally, on the supply reduction side, the best methods of detecting drug smuggling include intelligence sharing, multi-agency and international co-operation and I can assure the House that both the Garda Síochána and the Customs Service are fully committed to working together in continuing to tackle this societal problem.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

129 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in respect of anti-social behaviour orders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21149/08]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

172 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons given anti-social behaviour warnings since the new system came into operation on 1 January 2007; the number of anti-social behaviour orders sought in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21106/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 129 and 172.

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

I am informed by the Garda authorities that up to 30 April, 2008, 624 behaviour warnings were issued to adults and 279 to children. There have been nine formal good behaviour contracts, which are used only in the case of children, agreed.

There were four applications by An Garda Síochána to the courts over the same period — two for a civil order (adult) and two for a behaviour order (child). These applications remain before the courts.

In setting up the regime, the intention was that these warnings or good behaviour contracts would themselves address the problem behaviour. It is only if they fail that a court order will be applied for. In any case, it inevitably takes time to reach the stage where a court order itself might be sought. No significance therefore should be attached to the fact that the stage has not yet been reached in the process where a court order has been issued. Where warnings or good behaviour contracts do not succeed in altering a person's behaviour, however, they will culminate in a court order being sought by the Garda authorities from the courts.

Crime Levels.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

130 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in relation to the ease of access to alcohol and the link to a dramatic increase in teenager crime; his plans to tackle this growing problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21183/08]

The Government Alcohol Advisory Group which was established in January last to examine the public order aspects of the sale and consumption of alcohol submitted its Report on 31 March. It contains 31 recommendations for legislative and other reforms in areas covered by its terms of reference. On 22 April, the Government approved the drafting of the Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2008 which contains proposals for urgent reforms to licensing law and public order legislation in response to certain recommendations in the Report. Both the Report and details of the proposed legislation were subsequently published.

Publication of the Bill was approved by the Government yesterday and I intend to present it to the Dail in the very near future. I am confident that this legislation will, when enacted, assist the Gardaí in combatting anti-social behaviour and public disorder.

The increase in the number of public disorder and anti-social behaviour offences is mainly due to more pro-active policing and the Garda Commissioner's vigorous enforcement policy in respect of such offences. In particular, it is due to pro-active policing of public parks and the targeting of public disorder ‘hot-spots' in a concerted effort to tackle the concerns expressed by local residents. Extra foot, bicycle and mobile patrols have been directed by local Garda management in these areas.

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 it is open to me to set policing priorities for the Gardaí. One of the priorities I have set for 2008 is to combat, particularly in cooperation with other agencies and the community generally, the problems of public disorder. I have specified that there should be particular emphasis on alcohol — related offences, including under age consumption of alcohol.

Statutory provisions are already in place to combat anti-social behaviour and public disorder. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 and the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 contains provisions dealing with drunkenness and disorderly conduct in public places and within licensed premises.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides for the establishment of a joint policing committee in each local authority area. The purpose of these committees is to provide a forum where members of the local authority and senior Garda officers may, with the participation of Oireachtas members and community interests, consult, discuss and make recommendations on matters affecting the policing of the area. There are currently 29 such committees in operation in a pilot phase. In general, the experience to date has been positive with committees identifying and seeking to meet local needs. Following consultation with my colleagues, the Ministers for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, I intend to issue revised guidelines to enable the roll out of the committees to take place shortly.

Witness Protection Programme.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

131 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the fact that the gardaí have spent less than half the moneys allocated for the witness protection programme over the past decade; if he is satisfied that the scheme is being used to the maximum extent possible; his views on placing the programme on a statutory basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21080/08]

Brian Hayes

Question:

162 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the measures he proposes to take to enhance the witness protection programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21117/08]

Brian Hayes

Question:

178 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied that the witness protection programme is functioning effectively and that the State is maximising its potential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21116/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

342 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action being taken to combat witness intimidation; the number or instances of such intimidation known to the gardaí in each of the past five years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21407/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131, 162, 178 and 342 together.

The intimidation of witnesses is an offence pursuant to Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999. Section 41 specifies the offence as harming, threatening or menacing or in any other way intimidating or putting in fear another person who is assisting in the investigation of an offence by the Garda Síochána, with the intention of causing the investigation or course of justice to be obstructed, perverted or interfered with. The offence is punishable upon indictment by a fine or a term of imprisonment of up to ten years.

Since 1997 the Garda Síochána has operated a Witness Security Programme in response to attempts by criminal and other groups to prevent the normal functioning of the criminal justice system, including threats of violence and systematic intimidation of witnesses. Legislation was not required to establish this Programme, but its operation is supported by complementary legislative provisions in Section 40 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999. Section 40 makes it an offence for any person, without lawful authority, to try to identify the whereabouts or any new identity of a witness who has been relocated under the Programme. The offence is punishable upon indictment by a fine or a term of imprisonment of up to five years.

An Garda Síochána rigorously enforces the provisions relating to witness intimidation and protection contained in the Criminal Justice Act 1999. In particular, where the possibility of intimidation of witnesses may be an issue, the case is closely monitored throughout the investigation, up to and including any criminal proceedings. In circumstances where the Senior Investigation Officer in a case has identified a witness who is crucial to the case and the evidence to be preferred is not available elsewhere, and there is a serious threat to the life of the witness or his/her family an application can be made, with the consent of the witness, to have him/her included in the Witness Security Programme.

Where a threat to or intimidation of a witness or a potential witness arises during the course of criminal proceedings, the matter may be addressed through the trial judge, who has discretion to revoke bail or place other sanctions on the accused/suspect. Any such incident would also be the subject of a thorough investigation by the Garda Síochána, with a view to seeking directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Deputies will appreciate that I cannot go into details about particular cases but I am informed that the Witness Security Programme is being operated in a number of cases at present. The Garda authorities advise that, not only is it unnecessary to place the existing Witness Security Programme on a statutory basis, but to do so could introduce an element of inflexibility which could hinder Garda efforts. The operation of the Witness Security Programme should not be measured by the extent to which the funds available have been expended. Rather it is operated according to the operational needs identified by the Garda Síochána.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of proceedings commenced in respect of the offence created pursuant to Section 41 of the 1999 Act for the years 2003 to date are as follows.

Year

Proceedings commenced

2008*

1

2007*

12

2006

42

2005

22

2004

30

2003

30

*The 2007 and 2008 figures are provisional.

Garda Operations.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

132 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will introduce the Garda charter, promised in the programme for Government, setting out targeted Garda response times and levels of service which the public can expect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21108/08]

The Garda Commissioner has committed in his Policing Plan 2008 to commence the development of a Garda Charter during the third and fourth quarters of 2008.

The aim of a Garda Charter is to improve customer service and responsiveness. The Charter will set out targeted response times and levels of service the public can expect, including the frequency of high visibility patrols in urban and rural communities.

The Garda Inspectorate has been requested to examine the allocation of Garda resources and also to provide advice on the development of a Garda Charter as proposed in the Programme for Government and I look forward to receiving its advice.

Proposed Legislation.

Mary Upton

Question:

133 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when it is intended to increase the Garda search powers, promised in the programme for Government, in relation to drug crime along the lines of the new random breath-testing model for drink driving to allow random searches at particular places, times and events where senior gardaí believe there is a risk of drugs being present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21109/08]

I refer to replies to Question Nos. 505, 39 and 487 of 4 March, 17 April and 20 May 2008 respectively. The position is unchanged.

Garda Employee Assistance Service.

Pat Breen

Question:

134 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied that adequate State support is provided to the families of gardaí who are killed in the line of duty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21143/08]

Pat Breen

Question:

195 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the response of the State on occasions when gardaí are killed in the line of duty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21142/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 195 together.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the Employee Assistance Programme in An Garda Síochána provides a confidential support and referral service to both serving and former members of An Garda Síochána, their immediate families, and to students. The service is available to help resolve work or personal issues that are causing stress, worry or disruption to an individual's life, including death and bereavement. Part of the role of the Employee Assistance Programme is to liaise with and arrange follow up visits with the next of kin of recently deceased members.

The Garda Employee Assistance Service also provides a referral service to specialist agencies, where appropriate, and where necessary in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer or the individual's G.P. The service is available to families of members for referral purposes.

Special provisions are also in place for financial support for families of Gardaí killed in the line of duty, including death gratuities, transitional payments, spouses pensions and children's allowances. The Garda Síochána Compensation Acts 1941-1945 also apply to the families of members who have died as a result of injuries maliciously received in the course of their duty.

I am sure that the Commissioner will keep under continuing review the adequacy of the arrangements for the support of families of Gardaí who are killed in the line of duty and I will listen carefully to any further advice he may have in the future.

Freedom of Information.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

135 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will take steps to bring the Garda Síochána under the Freedom of Information Act 1997 in view of recent recommendations from the Information Commissioner and in view of positive international precedents. [21063/08]

As part of a general review of the operation of the Freedom of Information Act last year, the extension of the Act to An Garda Síochána was considered. That consideration involved an examination of all factors relevant to the governance, oversight and accountability of An Garda Síochána.

Since the passage of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 An Garda Síochána and the regulatory and administrative landscape in which it operates has been undergoing massive change. The Garda Ombudsman Commission has been established. The Garda Inspectorate has been established and has produced three reports with major implications for the structure and operation of the Garda Síochána. In the past year the senior civilian management positions of Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Communications have been created. Further civilians are currently being recruited for key posts as Legal Advisor, Director of Information and Communications Technology and Director of Change Management. At the same time the ranks of attested members and the numbers of civilian staff have been expanding.

In light of this extensive and fast-moving change it was decided that to extend the FOI Act to the Gardaí at this time would place an excessive administrative burden on the resources of An Garda Síochána as the Force continues to discharge its challenging core duties, in particular that of tackling crime. For all these reasons it was decided not to extend the FOI Act to An Garda Síochána at this time, but to keep the matter under review. In this regard, I intend to be guided by the overall public interest which lies in maintaining an appropriately accountable police force which is not distracted from its key tasks of safeguarding public safety and security.

Public Order Offences.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

136 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the increase of almost 60% in the number of public order offences between 2003 and 2007; when he will take steps to reduce the number of such offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21090/08]

Shane McEntee

Question:

139 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his vision in respect of tackling antisocial behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21150/08]

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

It is the nature of many public order offences that they are only recorded and detected because of the presence of Gardaí. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the increase in the number of public order offences detected reflects the significant increase in the level of Garda activity in this respect under Operation Encounter.

Operation Encounter was commenced by the Commissioner in February 2002. The operation specifically targets offences contrary to the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 and the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 which include the sale and consumption of alcohol by underage persons.

All members of An Garda Síochána proactively target public disorder and anti-social behaviour. Areas subject to such behaviour have been identified as hot-spots by local Garda management and additional foot and mobile patrols are directed at these areas during times when these offences are more likely to occur. All such incidents detected by members on patrol or reported to An Garda Síochána are dealt with immediately and the suspected offenders are dealt with in accordance with the law. Almost 465,000 offences have been detected since the commencement of Operation Encounter.

One of the policing priorities set for An Garda Síochána for 2008 under the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 is to combat, particularly in cooperation with other agencies and the community generally, the problems of public disorder with a particular emphasis being placed on alcohol related behaviour (including under age drinking) and socially disadvantaged communities.

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

Binge drinking is what lies behind many incidents of public disorder and violence. The problem is not restricted to teenagers or young people and it is fuelling public order problems on the streets. The Government Alcohol Advisory Group which was established in January last to examine the public order aspects of the sale and consumption of alcohol submitted its Report on 31 March. It contains 31 recommendations for legislative and other reforms in areas covered by its terms of reference. On 22 April, the Government approved the drafting of the Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2008 which contains proposals for urgent reforms to licensing law and public order legislation in response to certain recommendations in the Report. Both the Report and details of the proposed legislation were subsequently published.

Drafting of the Bill is at an advanced stage and I intend to present it to the Dáil in the very near future. I am confident that this legislation will, when enacted, assist the Gardaí in combating anti-social behaviour and public disorder.

The Criminal Justice Act, 2006 provides for fixed charge notices to be used for certain drink-related public order offences. I am informed by the Garda authorities that work on the necessary arrangements for the introduction of these provisions is under way with a view to their introduction as soon as possible this year.

The Criminal Justice Act, 2006 also enacted provisions to combat anti-social behaviour by adults and children. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by adults and children. A significant number of behaviour warnings have been issued under the legislation — 624 behaviour warnings to adults up to the end of April and 279 to children. There have also been nine formal good behaviour contracts, which are used only in the case of children, agreed.

In addition to the criminal law, a wide range of initiatives is in place to get at the root causes of this type of behaviour. The Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme has proven to be highly successful in diverting young persons away from crime by offering guidance and support to juveniles and their families. Under the provisions of the Children Act, 2001 the Programme has a statutory basis.

Garda Youth Diversion Projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people from becoming involved, or further involved, in anti-social or criminal behaviour. There are currently 100 projects operating throughout the country, and it is intended to establish a further 68 projects in the lifetime of this Government, bringing the total number of projects to 168 nationwide.

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

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides for the establishment of a joint policing committee in each local authority administrative area. The purpose of these committees is to provide a forum where members of a local authority and senior Garda officers, with the participation of Oireachtas members and community interests, can consult, discuss and make recommendations on matters affecting the policing of the area. There are currently 29 committees in operation in a pilot phase to gain experience rolling the committees out to all local authority areas in the State. In general the outcome to date has been positive, and the committees are meeting definite local needs. Issues of public disorder are high on the agenda of the committees.

Following on from a consultation seminar last November, work is underway on revising the guidelines under which the committees operate in the light of the experience gained to date. Following consultation with my Ministerial colleagues, I intend to issue revised guidelines to enable the roll out of the committees to take place as soon as possible.

National Disability Strategy.

David Stanton

Question:

137 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 138 of 4 March 2008, the reason the three reports on the National Disability Strategy have not been published; if he will publish same without delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21070/08]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 138 of 4 March 2008 which indicated that the National Disability Strategy Stakeholder Monitoring Group — comprising representatives of stakeholder groups, senior officials of the relevant Government Departments and the National Disability Authority — received a third report on the National Disability Strategy by senior officials in January 2008. The reports provided to date were presented to the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability and Mental Health and to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion. The three reports to date were not prepared on the basis that they would be published.

I might add that the social partnership agreement Towards 2016 contains a commitment to publish a strategic document on the National Disability Strategy which will outline the vision, mission and strategic objectives under the Strategy. The preparation of this document is currently underway.

Garda Compensation Tribunal.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

138 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in respect of the proposed Garda compensation tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21144/08]

Currently, Gardaí who sustain injuries maliciously inflicted upon them in the performance of their duties are entitled in accordance with the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Acts 1941 and 1945 to apply for an authorisation from my Department to seek compensation in the High Court. Those Acts oblige me, as the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, to refuse to authorise an application for compensation to the High Court where I am of opinion that the injury is of a minor character and was sustained in the performance of a duty not involving special risk.

I intend to bring legislative proposals to Government in the near future with the objective of establishing a Garda Compensation Tribunal which will deal with both minor and non minor injuries in an efficient manner and to the satisfaction of all interested parties.

Question No. 139 answered with Question No. 136.

EU Directives.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

140 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the latest position with regard to consultation with interested groups regarding implementation of Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on the retention of data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21093/08]

Proposals to transpose Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and Council on the retention of telephony and internet data are being drafted at present.

Groups with an interest in the Directive have been given an opportunity to examine the draft Statutory Instrument that will transpose the Directive into Irish law and any views they have on it will form the basis for further discussions.

Crime Prevention.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

141 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his vision in respect of the role to the Garda canine unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21126/08]

The Garda Dog Unit performs a valuable service for the Garda Síochána in a range of different policing roles including drug detection and crowd control incidents. I refer the Deputy to a comprehensive reply to Question 91 on the matter also down for answer today.

State Bodies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

142 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his Department will complete an efficiency review and audit of all State agencies and bodies under the responsibility of his Department; if he has plans to merge or abolish any State agencies or bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20591/08]

My Department recognises the critical importance of maintaining a continuous focus on driving both efficiency and effectiveness from its expenditure and a key initiative in this regard is the Department's Value for Money (VFM) review programme.

This programme has already completed VFM reviews in respect of the Asylum/Immigration field, Prisons Capital Projects and the Probation Service's Assistance to Voluntary Bodies. As part of this programme, my Department has also decided to examine individual organisations to ensure they are delivering an economic and effective service. The review will cover areas of strategic, financial and operational management and the outcomes that these organisations deliver under the criteria of economic, efficient and effective use of resources.

The terms of reference generally follow those outlined by the Department of Finance in their guidance on conducting value for money reviews. My Department is currently finalising the terms of reference for at least two VFM reviews in organisations under its remit. The Department will carry out these reviews in 2008.

Recidivism Rate.

Enda Kenny

Question:

143 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the measures he proposes to take to address the high levels of recidivism here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21135/08]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service facilitated a major study of prisoner re-offending by the UCD Institute of Criminology. The study found that 27.4% of released prisoners were serving a new prison sentence with one year. This rose to 39.2% after two years, 45.1% after three years, and 49.2% after four years. The fact that over 50% of prisoners do not re-offend within four years of release, compares well internationally.

The Prisons and Probation Services provide a range of rehabilitative programmes which have the dual purpose of providing prisoners with purposeful activity while serving their sentences and encouraging and equipping them to lead productive lives on release. Prisoner rehabilitation involves significant multi-dimensional input by a diverse range of general and specialist services provided both by the Irish Prison Service and in-reach statutory and non-statutory services. Amongst these are healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, educational, work and training, vocational, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These services are important in addressing offending behaviour, drug and alcohol addiction, missed educational and vocational opportunities, anger management, and self management in the interest of encouraging positive personal development in prisoners, and preparing them for re-integration and resettlement on release from custody.

In addition, the Probation Service has an active role during the course of the prisoner's sentence in helping maintain links with family and community agencies, encouraging prisoners to address their offending behaviour and engaging prisoners in individual counselling and group counselling programmes such as offending behaviour, addiction, violence and sex offending. The Service also provides supervision in certain cases under temporary release provisions.

The Irish Prison Service places a strong emphasis on access to educational services and on the provision of work and training activities for prisoners. As a result of the Programme for Organisational Change, there has been a significant expansion and development of vocational training programmes. The Work Training Service comprises an authorised complement of over 250 prison service posts and there are over 90 workshops operating in our prisons actively catering for in excess of 800 prisoners each day.

Educational services are now available at all institutions and are provided in partnership with a range of educational agencies in the community including the VECs, Public Library Services, Colleges and the Arts Council. Broad programmes of education are made available which generally follow an adult education approach. During the academic year 2007/08, 220 whole-time-equivalent VEC teachers were the main providers of these education programmes.

The Irish Prison Service is also delivering programmes aimed at reducing the demand for drugs within the prison system through enhanced security measures as well as education, treatment and rehabilitation services for drug-addicted prisoners. The Irish Prison Service Drugs Policy & Strategy — Keeping Drugs Out of Prisons — caters for the expansion of existing drug treatment programmes and further recruitment of dedicated staff working in partnership with community based services in the prisons. Particular initiatives include the provision of detoxification, methadone maintenance, education programmes, an information forum, addiction counselling, drug therapy programmes and the operation of drug free units.

Every effort is made to assist sex offenders in custody who are willing to participate at any level in their personal rehabilitation and relapse prevention. In this regard, there are three forms of direct therapeutic intervention currently available — i.e., individual counselling from the Irish Prison Service's Psychology Service and from the Probation Service; the Sex Offender Programme which has been in operation since 1994, and the Psychiatric Service which provides some support to prisoners in this category.

Significant progress is also being made in the development of programmes based on risk assessment and rehabilitation needs. The Irish Prison Service is developing and rolling-out, between now and 2012, a fully coordinated Integrated Sentence Management System (ISM) across all prisons and places of detention.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides for the establishment of a joint policing committee in each local authority administrative area. There are currently 29 Committees in operation in a pilot phase to gain experience rolling the Committees out to all local authority areas in the State. In general the outcome to date has been positive, and the Committees are meeting definite local needs.

With regard to youth offending the Irish Youth Justice Service is committed to developing information and data on youth offending in line with its Strategy for 2008-2010. The Irish Youth Justice Service is also currently contributing to a research project on recidivism and young offenders. This study follows from the aforementioned study of prisoner re-offending by the Institute of Criminology at UCD. It will be a valuable addition to the existing research available on recidivism, with particular reference to young offenders.

As the Deputy will be aware Garda Youth Diversion Projects are a scheme of community based, youth oriented, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people away from becoming involved — or further involved — in criminal and/or anti-social behaviour. The projects are funded through the Irish Youth Justice Service and administered by the Community Relations Section of An Garda Síochána.

The aims of the Garda Youth Diversion Projects are:

To divert young people away from becoming involved — or further involved in criminal and/or anti-social behaviour,

To provide suitable activities to facilitate personal development and encourage civic responsibility and social inclusion and

To work towards improving the long term employability prospects of the participants.

Projects offer opportunities for education, employment training, sport, art, music and other activities. Many operate outside of school hours. In areas with a high proportion of early school-leavers, activities may also be planned during the daytime.

Participation in Garda Youth Diversion Projects is voluntary. The primary project target group, which forms the majority of project participants, is comprised of young people who have entered the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and are considered at risk of remaining within the justice system. The secondary project target group is comprised of young people who, although they have not been officially cautioned, have come to the attention of the Gardaí, the community or local agencies as a result of their behaviour and are considered at risk of entering the justice system at a future date. The number of participants in each project differs according to local circumstances and resources.

I am also glad to tell the Deputy that the policing priorities which have been set for An Garda Síochána for 2008 under the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 have been reflected in the Policing Plan for 2008. The first priority deals with targeting gun crime, organised crime and drug trafficking. It refers to the use, in particular, of specialist units and targeted operations such as Operation Anvil; profiling, intelligence gathering and threat assessments in relation to individuals and groups involved in this type of crime; and the pursuit by the Criminal Assets Bureau of the proceeds of crime including through the presence of enhanced liaison arrangements between CAB and Garda Divisions.

Garda Complaints Procedures.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

144 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether all complaints made by members of the public to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission should be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21124/08]

Dan Neville

Question:

174 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether the remit of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission should be narrowed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21123/08]

Dan Neville

Question:

189 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the work of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21122/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 144, 174 and 189 together.

The Ombudsman Commission is an integral part of the new Garda regulatory system introduced by the Garda Síochána Act 2005. Not alone does the Act set out the role of the Garda Síochána in policing the State and the Garda Síochána Inspectorate in benchmarking performance by reference to standards internationally, it establishes the Ombudsman Commission as a key element of the new policing framework. This role is essential in ensuring that public confidence in the Gardaí is safeguarded. The independent police ombudsman model which we have here is a relatively new one internationally. As a result there is a learning process for all the parties involved. However I am encouraged by the content of their two year report on their effectiveness and the adequacy of the functions assigned to them which concludes that they can report good progress in respect of all of their functions and objectives.

I will of course carefully consider any specific proposal the Ombudsman Commission may make, taking into account the developing experience of their workload and the new efficiencies expected to result from legislative change. I will stay in dialogue with the Ombudsman Commission on how best to continue to meet their needs. It is not my intention to seek to narrow their remit although I am of course open to the possibility of legislative change to enable them to streamline their processes with a view to optimising their resources.

Customs and Excise.

Tom Hayes

Question:

145 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to work with the Department of Finance to ensure that the customs service is adequately resourced to stem the flow of narcotics into the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21128/08]

Our drug law enforcement response remains a vital feature of our overall response in addressing the drugs issue under the Government's National Drugs Strategy.

As the Deputy will appreciate, under the National Strategy it is the Customs Service which has primary responsibility for the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of controlled drugs at the point of importation. Given the nature of drug trafficking, the Customs Service work very closely on an ongoing basis with An Garda Síochána in carrying out this drug law enforcement.

In this respect, a framework for co-operation between the Customs and Excise Service of the Revenue Commissioners and the Garda Síochána with regard to drugs law enforcement is set out in a Memorandum of Understanding which is in place between both agencies.

This document was agreed and endorsed by Ministerial approval by the respective parent Departments of both agencies in January 1996.

The Memorandum also provided for the creation of operational guidelines implementing the Government decision for the Customs and Excise Service and the Garda Síochána, and in consultation with the Naval Service, to operate a Joint Task Force to deal with intelligence driven drug smuggling operations and "controlled deliveries."

In October 2000, the signing and implementation of an operational protocol for co-operation between the three agencies further developed this framework.

Under this framework, the Customs and Excise Service and the Garda Síochána support and co-operate fully with each other in connection with the interdiction of illegal drugs intended to be smuggled into the State.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the specific issue of resources for the Customs Service is one which comes under the direct remit of the Department of Finance.

With regard to this, I have been advised by my colleague, Brian Lenihan, T.D., the Minister for Finance, that he is satisfied that Revenue's Customs Service is properly resourced to tackle drug smuggling.

I have been further informed that in recent years there has been considerable increased investment in Customs detection resources. For example, the number of detector dog teams has increased from 6 in 1996 to 9 in 2003 and currently stands at 12.

There has been a significant investment in both maritime resources and x-ray scanning equipment and further investment has already been committed. The Irish Navy also plays a key maritime operational support role in assisting Customs in drugs surveillance and interdictions at sea.

Operational resources are deployed by Revenue using best practice risk management techniques coupled with the latest information emanating from organised crime drug threat assessments.

The Deputy will be aware that in today's world the effective use of resources is contingent on intelligence led operations and in this regard Revenue are currently engaged in assigning a Customs officer to Europol's headquarters in The Hague and to the recently developed Maritime and Operational Analysis Centre –Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon.

Customs also continue to manage and increase intelligence development by way of the National Drugswatch Programme and liaison with national and international law enforcement colleagues.

Revenue's dedicated Customs Drugs Law Enforcement Branch co-ordinates its national and international drugs enforcement operations and implements numerous joint investigations and controlled deliveries of illicit drugs. In the past three years a total of 73 controlled delivery operations have been carried out in conjunction with An Garda Síochána resulting in substantial supply detections of drugs and numerous arrests and prosecutions of those involved.

Finally, on the supply reduction side, the best methods of detecting drug smuggling include intelligence sharing, multi-agency and international co-operation and I can assure the House that both the Garda Síochána and the Customs Service are fully committed to working together in continuing to tackle this societal problem.

Firearms Licences.

Tom Hayes

Question:

146 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether it is satisfactory that Garda superintendents can not refuse firearm licenses on grounds of risks to public safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21129/08]

I can inform the House that Section 4, Firearms Act 1925 addresses conditions of grant of a firearm certificate and specifies that the Superintendent shall, before granting a firearm certificate, be satisfied that the applicant:

(a) has a good reason for requiring the certificate,

(b) can be permitted to have in his possession, use, and carry a firearm or ammunition without danger to the public safety or to the peace, and

(c) is not a person declared by this Act to be disentitled to hold a firearms certificate.

It is, therefore, clear that a Superintendent must always consider public safety when determining the granting of any firearm certificate.

Inquiries into Garda Activities.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

147 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is confident that all the recommendations of the Morris tribunal will be implemented; and the timeframe within which this can be expected. [21066/08]

Joan Burton

Question:

160 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date with regard to implementation of the recommendations of the first five reports of the Morris tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21077/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 160 together.

The work of the Morris Tribunal has greatly influenced the policy underpinning the Garda Síochána Act 2005 which constituted the most fundamental review of the Garda Síochána in the history of the State. The extent of those reforms and the speed with which they were implemented are indicative of the level of commitment the Government, my predecessors and the Commissioner attach to the reports of the Morris Tribunal.

The Act gave rise to:

the establishment of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission,

the establishment of the Garda Inspectorate as a source of independent and expert advice for the Minister,

a statutory obligation on members to account for their actions on duty without delay,

new streamlined discipline procedures,

the empowerment of the Garda Commissioner, with the consent of the Government, to dismiss a member of Garda, sergeant or inspector rank where he has lost confidence in the capacity of the member to discharge his or her duty and where dismissal is considered necessary to maintain public confidence in the Force, and

new whistleblowers regulations and the appointment of an eminent former senior civil servant as a Confidential Recipient.

A new system of promotions has been put in place. A civilian Chief Administrative Officer (at Deputy Commissioner level) and Director of Communications have been appointed and three further senior civilian posts — Legal Advisor, Director of Information and Communications Technology and Director of Change Management are being recruited at present.

The Garda Commissioner has implemented a significant programme of change in response to the findings and conclusions of the Tribunal including for example a new covert human intelligence handling system. He is also currently engaged in the preparation of a new code of ethics under section 17 of the Act of 2005.

The findings of the sixth report are under consideration at present but Deputies can rest assured on the basis of the Government's track record in these matters that they will not be ignored either by myself or the Garda Commissioner.

Crime Levels.

Joe Carey

Question:

148 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans he will put in place to tackle the dramatic increase in knife crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21179/08]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Priority Question No. 1 of today's date.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

149 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to address criminality by offenders on bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21111/08]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Question No. 90 of today's date.

Prison Building Programme.

David Stanton

Question:

150 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on recent developments in Government plans to construct a prison in Kilworth, County Cork; if he has had contact with groups who have concerns in relation to the new prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21071/08]

The Government decided to assign a site owned by the Department of Defence to the Irish Prison Service as the location for the development of a prison facility to replace Cork Prison and serve the Munster region. A preliminary site suitability report has been carried out on the site and this has confirmed that there are no significant constraints to the development of this site.

I can confirm also that the Prison Service Interim Board, in accordance with Department of Finance Guidelines, has approved a preliminary Business Case for this project and has forwarded it to my Department for sanction to proceed to the next stage of the process. I see the Prison Service moving to the next stage of the process, the preparation of a detailed Business Case, in the near future. There have been meetings with the local community and future meetings in relation to the proposed development will be held as the project progresses.

Legal Aid Service.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

151 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied with the arrangements for means testing applicants for the criminal legal aid scheme; if he proposes to review the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21139/08]

The Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 provides that free legal aid may be granted in certain circumstances for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. Under the 1962 Act, the courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. An applicant must establish to the satisfaction of the court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal representation him/herself. The court must also be satisfied that, by reason of the "gravity of the charge" or "exceptional circumstances", it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid. I have no function in these matters which are determined by the judiciary.

The Act further provides that the court may require an applicant to complete a statement of means. It is an offence for an applicant to knowingly make a false statement or conceal a material fact for the purpose of obtaining legal aid. My Department, in consultation with the Courts Service, is currently reviewing the operation of this aspect of the Scheme.

Inquiries into Garda Activities.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

152 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he has taken or plans to take arising from the report of the Hartnett inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied) who died in Garda custody in Clonmel in 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21088/08]

The report of the Hartnett Inquiry constitutes a detailed examination of the circumstances surrounding the arrest and detention of Brian Rossiter. The Inquiry found that, while the arrest of Brian Rossiter was lawful, his detention was unlawful, notwithstanding that his father consented to it. The Inquiry found that there was a failure to observe properly certain procedural requirements of regulations governing custody in Garda stations, in particular a failure to record accurately the time at which Brian Rossiter was given information relating to his rights while in custody. The Inquiry was not satisfied, however, that Brian Rossiter was assaulted in the course of arrest or while he was in custody. On the question of the information given to ambulance and medical personnel, including the State Pathologist, the Inquiry found no evidence that there was an attempt made to mislead medical personnel wrongfully with incorrect information. The Inquiry did find, however, that there was a failure to investigate all the circumstances surrounding the death of Brian Rossiter.

The Inquiry made no recommendations on future safeguards and procedures. Nonetheless I am considering the findings of the report carefully to see what lessons need to be learned, and how best to deal with any similar circumstances in the future. In addition the disciplinary aspects of the matter are under consideration by the Garda Commissioner.

Proposed Legislation.

Willie Penrose

Question:

153 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will publish the promised Property Services Regulatory Authority Bill; if the Bill will include provisions to regulate the operation of management companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21096/08]

The Government Legislative Programme published on 1 April 2008 provides for publication of the Property Services Regulatory Authority Bill during the current Dail session. The Authority is currently operating on a non-statutory basis but will be put on a statutory footing by the Bill. Property management agents will, together with auctioneers and estate agents, be covered by the licensing system to be operated by the new Authority.

The Law Reform Commission has indicated that it will publish, in the coming weeks, its Report on Multi-Unit Developments which, following an extensive consultation process, will contain definitive reform proposals concerning the regulation and governance of property management companies. The Government has already directed that early action be taken by the relevant Departments to address the Commission's reform recommendations; the types of action to be taken will, of course, be dependent on the form that the recommendations take.

Question No. 154 answered with Question No. 113.

Planning Issues.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

155 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on a proposal to build a private underground firing range in Limerick. [21062/08]

I understand from the Garda Authorities that they are aware that an application for planning permission for an underground firing range was received by Limerick County Council in March 2008. To date no application has been received by An Garda Síochána for authorisation of this range. As of now, neither I nor my Department has any role in the matter and I have not received any representations with regard to this range.

Question No. 156 answered with Question No. 113.

Garda Recruitment.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

157 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of people from ethnic minorities who have been recruited to the Garda Síochána; the number of people from ethnic minorities who have been recruited to the Garda reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20605/08]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of persons from ethnic minorities recruited to An Garda Síochána is 4 with a further 21 members in training. I am also informed that there are 8 attested members of the Garda Reserve from ethnic minorities with a further 5 in training. There is an ongoing recruitment campaign in place for recruitment to An Garda Síochána and there are targeted campaigns aimed at recruiting people from ethnic minorities with advertisements in several different languages in ethnic newspapers. The language requirements were changed in 2005 so that the absolute requirement to have English and Irish prior to entry to the force was removed and replaced with a requirement to have two languages, one of which was Irish or English.

Garda Operations.

Billy Timmins

Question:

158 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of outstanding warrants in the process of execution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21114/08]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the numbers of bench warrants, penal warrants and committal warrants which were recorded on the PULSE system as being on hand on 23 May, 2008 are set out in the following table. It is inevitable in any criminal justice system that at any given time there will be a significant number of warrants awaiting execution. It should be borne in mind too that the vast majority of the outstanding warrants relate to financial penalties, and not to violent crime. The Gardaí continue to give priority to the enforcement of warrants arising in serious cases. Aside from the large volume of warrants being issued, there can also be unavoidable reasons why warrants can take time to execute or, indeed, prove ultimately unenforceable. It is the case that many individuals would be subject to multiple warrants, and many are trying to evade Garda attention through moving to different addresses.

Of its nature, it is difficult to be precise as to what level of outstanding warrants at any point in time represents the optimal situation. The amount of warrants outstanding has to be seen partly from the perspective that the strength of An Garda Síochána is now over 13,800.

I am further informed that the Garda authorities are committed to strengthening the warrants enforcement process. The Commissioner has raised the issue of the execution of warrants with each Regional Assistant Commissioner and a range of measures, aimed at reducing the number of warrants on hand, have been identified and are being implemented. These measures include the re-assignment of additional Gardaí to this function. I understand that the position is being closely monitored by senior Garda management and consideration is also being given, at an organisational level, to further measures to address the situation.

I am also taking a number of steps to deal with this issue. A particular difficulty is that cases relating to the non-payment of fines clog up the courts system, since the Gardaí have to seek warrants to enforce their payment. A pilot project was introduced by my Department, under which outstanding fines were in effect pursued in terms of debt collection by an outside agency, rather than moving directly to the stage where the Gardaí seek a warrant. The result of the pilot suggests that as an alternative method of fine collection this proved successful. The Department, in consultation with the Gardaí and the Courts Service, is considering how best to take this forward.

The Third Programme of Law Reform of the Law Reform Commission has been approved by Government and is now underway. It includes an examination of the enforcement of court orders and the service of proceedings in both civil and criminal cases, in particular the procedure for the execution of bench warrants and search warrants. This topic was included because it is recognised that there are significant difficulties in this area at present and that the procedural problems in this area have resulted in inefficient use of resources.

The Garda Commissioner and I are aware of the importance of an efficient warrants process and will continue to monitor the operation of the system particularly with a view to making whatever changes may be necessary to improve its operation.

Committal Warrants, Bench Warrants and Penal Warrants on Hand on 23 May 2008

Number

Committal Warrants

4,016

Bench Warrants

36,002

Penal Warrants

77,738

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 110.
Question No. 160 answered with Question No. 147.

Garda Stations.

Ulick Burke

Question:

161 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the co-ordination that exists between his Department and the Office of Public Works in respect of capital projects at Garda stations; his views in this context on the fact that Portlaoise Garda Station has been waiting for a modern building for over 15 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21157/08]

A total of €260 million has been provided in the National Development Plan for the provision of new and upgraded Garda accommodation. The Garda accommodation programme is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána and it is brought forward in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works (OPW), who have responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. Officials from my Department, the Office of Public Works and the Garda Síochána have regular meetings to oversee the various projects. In addition, a high-level strategic Garda Accommodation Board with members drawn from my Department, the OPW and An Garda Síochána has been established to carry out a review of Garda accommodation with a view to preparing a short and longer term strategy for all accommodation. On a practical level, and with the introduction of various provisions of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, project management matters and regular maintenance issues are dealt with directly between the agencies involved which has led to improved efficiencies and reduced administrative overheads.

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that a site has been identified for the new Divisional Headquarters in Portlaoise. Progress is being made in finalising the necessary legal arrangements and these must be concluded before the development phase of the project can commence. I am also advised by the Garda authorities that, in the interim, some remedial works are being provided at the existing station.

Question No. 162 answered with Question No. 131.

Proposed Legislation.

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

163 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he plans to introduce legislation in respect of spent convictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21137/08]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that earlier this year the Government accepted a proposal from my predecessor that it should take over the Spent Convictions Bill 2007, introduced into the Dáil in October 2007 as a Private Members Bill by (prior to his recent promotion) Minister of State Barry Andrews, TD, and adopt it as a Government Bill. Certain procedural requirements, as laid down in the Standing Orders of this House, must first be followed before the Bill can be debated in Government time. It is my intention to bring the necessary motion to the House at the appropriate time to address those requirements and to give effect to the Government's decision.

The Bill reflects the recommendations contained in the Law Reform Commission's report on spent convictions which was published in July 2007. The report recognises that securing employment can be a very effective way of achieving the rehabilitation of convicted persons and it seeks to facilitate that objective by the introduction of a procedure whereby certain convictions may be regarded as ‘spent'. As a result, the report recommends the establishment of a procedure that will allow for the non-disclosure of certain convictions where certain conditions are met, i.e. the convictions may, in those circumstances, be regarded as ‘spent'. It is important to note that the procedure proposed by the Commission and reflected in the Bill is a non-disclosure procedure that does not entail a deletion of the conviction from the Garda records.

The report recommends that:

The following categories of offences should be excluded completely from any proposed legislation on spent convictions (i.e. details must always be disclosed): (i) any offence triable by the Central Criminal Court; (ii) any offence under the Sexual Offenders Act 2001; (iii) any offence where a sentence of 6 months imprisonment or more (including suspended sentences) has been imposed by a court.

A conviction may be regard as ‘spent' 7 years from the date of conviction where a custodial sentence of less than 6 months was imposed and where the person has not re-offended in the meantime, or after 5 years in the case of a non-custodial sentence.

All convictions, including spent convictions, must be disclosed at a sentencing hearing for any subsequent offence and in some non-criminal procedures (e.g. adoption proceedings, vetting procedures involving access to children).

The procedure should operate on an automatic basis. This means that convictions become ‘spent' automatically after the requirements of the scheme have been met, i.e. a person will not have to make an application to qualify for ‘conviction free status'.

The report also makes specific recommendations regarding the issue of vetting and disclosure of criminal history for certain purposes. The Commission recommends that the current Garda vetting system be put on a statutory footing. The report also recommends that certain sensitive posts would require full disclosure of all convictions, including spent convictions. It lists the following posts:

Any post involving care of children or vulnerable adults,

Any healthcare post,

Judges, barristers, solicitors, court clerks, court registrars and employees of the Courts Service,

Members of the Defence Forces, Prison Officers, members of the Probation Service and An Garda Síochána,

Accountants,

Director, controller or manager of a financial institution or of any financial service provider which is regulated by the Financial Regulator.

Pending the enactment of the Bill, there is, currently, no general provision in Irish law allowing for the deletion or otherwise of criminal convictions from the Garda criminal records. However, section 258 of the Children Act 2001 (which came into effect on 1 May 2002) provides a limited but significant procedure in respect of most offences committed by persons under 18, once certain conditions have been met. As a result, the effects of a conviction are limited where the relevant conditions have been met. The person in question is regarded for all purposes in law as a person who has not committed, been charged with, prosecuted for, found guilty or dealt with for an offence. Any individual who comes within the terms of section 258 is not required to disclose the criminal conviction under any circumstances even if asked to do so. The section is fully retrospective so that it applies whether the offence occurred before or after the coming into force of the section. It is envisaged that the Spent Convictions Bill would operate in broadly similar terms to section 258 in the case of adult offenders.

Inquiries into Garda Activities.

James Bannon

Question:

164 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the measures he proposes to take following the recent publication of the Morris report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21160/08]

The sixth report of the Morris tribunal deals with the arrest and treatment in custody of twelve persons arrested in connection with the death of Richard Barron in 1996. It finds that those persons were unlawfully arrested and detained, and that some were mistreated in custody, through verbal and, in some cases, physical abuse. These arrests followed directly or indirectly from the investigation into the death of Mr Barron, which itself was dealt with comprehensively in the Tribunal's second report published in June 2005.

The report also deals with allegations that interview rooms in Letterkenny Garda Station were bugged and that conversations between solicitors and persons detained in Letterkenny Garda station were secretly recorded by members of the Garda Síochána. The report concludes that these allegations are false.

The Garda Commissioner has unambiguously apologised to those who were found by the Tribunal to have been mistreated. He has appointed an Assistant Commissioner to examine the Report with a view to addressing the findings as they relate to individual members.

The report makes a number of recommendations arising from its findings, mainly centred on how improvements could be made to the law and practice relating to the conduct of interviews with persons in Garda custody, but also touching on other aspects of Garda investigations. The Commissioner has appointed a Working Group to examine any areas of policy, structures, practices and procedures in the Garda Síochána that warrant action arising from the recommendations of the Report. I will also be giving very careful consideration to these recommendations, and I will consult with the Garda Commissioner on emerging proposals for change.

Garda Operations.

Joe Costello

Question:

165 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the claims made by the Garda Representative Association that the Garda Ombudsman Commission contaminated forensic evidence necessary for the prosecution of a particular case due to the manner of conduct of its inquiry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21082/08]

There is no information available to me, either from the Garda authorities or the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, to support the allegation contained in the Deputy's Question. I am informed that the search which gave rise to the allegation was authorised in accordance with Section 99(1) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. The intention to search was signalled in advance to senior Garda management who appointed nominated liaison officers in the relevant station to assist with, and to monitor, the search. Designated Officers of the Commission were accompanied at all times during the search by a member of An Garda Síochána.

Crime Prevention.

Martin Ferris

Question:

166 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the assessment of COSC by the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency that the office has not made the impact it promised and the Government have not displayed a commitment to effecting real change; and if he will take on board and roll-out the model for dealing with cases of domestic violence developed by the NDVIA without further unnecessary delay. [21064/08]

The NDVIA is a non governmental organisation which has been campaigning for Government funding for its operations for some years past. Despite its title, the NDVIA does not actually exercise a nationwide co-ordination role on this matter.

Prior to the establishment of Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, responsibility for matters related to domestic violence within the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform was assigned to Divisions with a wide number of other responsibilities. Responsibility for this area was further dispersed across a number of Government Departments and agencies. I can inform the Deputy that since its establishment by the Government on 25th June, 2007, Cosc has made significant progress on its remit. For the first time there is now a dedicated, resourced office at Government level with the key responsibility to ensure the delivery of a well co-ordinated "whole of Government" response to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. The establishment of Cosc was a clear and unambiguous demonstration of the commitment of the Government to the improvement of measures to prevent and respond to these heinous crimes.

Less than twelve months since it began its work Cosc has succeeded in strengthening the partnership structures for the development of effective action. Through a series of projects working in close collaboration with government and non-governmental organisations, Cosc is laying a strong evidence-based foundation for a major priority, the first National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.

The Deputy may wish to note that, following a negative recommendation by an external reviewer in addition to a thorough in-house examination, Cosc informed the NDVIA it could not support a proposal it had made for funding. Cosc is already working with all the key agencies mentioned in the NDVIA's proposal in addition to the broader stakeholders in the field. Cosc intends that the documents produced by the NDVIA will help inform that work and has advised the NDVIA of this.

Alcohol Policy.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

167 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement on the report of the alcohol advisory group; the main recommendations of the report which he has accepted and those he decided not to implement. [21101/08]

The Government Alcohol Advisory Group submitted its Report on 31 March. It contains 31 recommendations for legislative and other reforms in areas covered by its terms of reference. On 22 April, the Government approved the drafting of the Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2008 which contains proposals for urgent reforms to licensing law and public order legislation in response to certain recommendations in the Report. Both the Report and details of the proposed legislation were subsequently published. Publication of the Bill was approved by the government yesterday and I intend to present it to the Dail in the very near future.

Apart from this Bill, the Government Legislative Programme provides for publication of a comprehensive Sale of Alcohol Bill later this year. This Bill will modernise and simplify the laws relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol by repealing the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2004, as well as the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2004, and replacing them with updated and streamlined provisions. Further reforms to licensing law will be considered in that context.

Preparatory work on implementation of recommendations of the Advisory Group which do not require a legislative response has also commenced.

Question No. 168 answered with Question No. 104.

Garda Stations.

Ulick Burke

Question:

169 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in respect of recent reports that sensitive evidence is being stored in Garda station lockers due to a lack of designated storage space within stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21156/08]

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that the introduction of Divisional Property Stores is being overseen by an Implementation Group, established to progress the Property and Exhibits Management System (PEMS) in the Garda Síochána. The purpose of the Property and Exhibits Management System is to establish a Divisional Property Store in each Garda Division which will manage all property coming into the possession of the Garda Síochána in that Division with a small number of exceptions such as items immediately required for the proper investigation of an offence, items where the owner is likely to be quickly identified or, for health & safety reasons, items that cannot be reasonably stored at the Divisional Property Store, e.g. large machinery. These items will necessitate secure retention at local Garda stations.

The PEMS system is being introduced on a phased basis in every Garda Division and two pilot locations at Store Street and Athlone Garda Stations are now fully operational. The scheme is currently being extended to a further six locations with a further seven locations planned as stores become available for use. Pending this, property coming into the possession of the Garda Síochána will continue to be handled in the manner prescribed in the Garda Regulations, which is subject to audit and inspection.

Question No. 170 answered with Question No. 94.

Regulation of Legal Profession.

Mary Upton

Question:

171 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals for the effective regulation of solicitors having regard to the statement made to Dáil Eireann on 21 November 2007 that he was not satisfied with the system of self-regulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21107/08]

I refer the Deputy to the replies to questions 86 of 17 April 2008 and 89 of 13 December 2007. I have nothing further to add to the details of those replies other than to say that the Legal Services Ombudsman Bill 2008 is scheduled to commence Dáil Second Stage today.

Question No. 172 answered with Question No. 129.

Garda Operations.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

173 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the serious concern expressed by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors regarding proposals from the Commissioner that certain uniformed gardaí would be required to carry firearms in their Garda vehicles as part of the new regional response units planned for around the country; his views on the concerns raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21083/08]

Following the recommendations contained in the Garda Inspectorate's report into barricade incidents, the Garda Commissioner is establishing Regional Support Units (RSU's) in the Garda regions outside Dublin to act as a primary response to critical incidents, pending the arrival of the Emergency Response Unit. The operational procedures for the Units are matters for the Garda Commissioner.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that under the procedures laid down, RSU members will operate in regular Garda uniform and in marked Garda vehicles. Where appropriate, RSUs will have the capacity to respond with firearms and less lethal devices and in armed response mode will wear apparel appropriate to that role.

Question No. 174 answered with Question No. 144.

Asylum Applications.

Denis Naughten

Question:

175 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of asylum applications which have been deemed withdrawn in the past five years due to their failure to inform INIS of their change of address; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19790/08]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 530 of Tuesday, 20 May 2008 which sets out the position in relation to this question and other matters concerning asylum applications which have been deemed withdrawn.

Garda Stations.

John O'Mahony

Question:

176 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether sufficient resources are in place in respect of station facilities to allow the effective changeover of Garda divisional boundaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21146/08]

In accordance with the provisions of the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007 proposals, inter alia, to alter the boundaries of a divisional geographical area are a matter in the first instance for the Garda Commissioner in the context of the Annual Policing Plan. The 2008 Policing Plan, which was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, contains the Commissioner’s proposals to realign Garda boundaries in a number of areas around the country to make them coterminous with the functional boundaries of local authorities. The planned changes will bring about greater efficiencies and effectiveness in facilitating the establishment and functioning of Joint Policing Committees.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that project boards have been established in each division to develop an implementation plan to create and roll-out the new divisions. The relevant Project Boards are managing all tasks associated with the roll-out including the identification of any accommodation requirements at individual stations.

The detailed allocation of resources, including accommodation, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner to decide in accordance with operational requirements. Any additional accommodation requirements will be managed in conjunction with the Office of Public Works, who have responsibility for the provision, refurbishment and maintenance of Garda buildings.

Garda Operations.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

177 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to expedite the processing of bench warrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21115/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, bench warrants are issued when a defendant or witness fails to appear in court. I am informed that the Garda authorities are committed to strengthening the warrants enforcement process. The Commissioner has raised the issue of the execution of warrants, particularly bench warrants, with each Regional Assistant Commissioner and a range of measures have been identified and are being implemented aimed at reducing the number of warrants on hand. These measures include the re-assignment of additional Gardaí from other core-duties to this function. I understand that the position is being closely monitored by senior Garda management and consideration is also being given to further measures to address the situation.

The Third Programme of Law Reform of the Law Reform Commission is now underway. It includes an examination of the enforcement of court orders and the service of proceedings in both civil and criminal cases, in particular the procedure for the execution of bench warrants and search warrants.

Question No. 178 answered with Question No. 131.

Prison Building Programme.

Enda Kenny

Question:

179 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in respect of the proposed prison at Thornton Hall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21134/08]

The development of the prison facility centred at Thornton Hall will be the single biggest step in improving standards for prisoners since the foundation of the State. Its main purpose is to replace existing sub standard accommodation and allow greater capacity to avoid overcrowding. It will do away with the practice of slopping out and other conditions that have been criticised severely both by the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment (CPT) and the former Inspector of Prisons. It will address the pressures on prison capacity in the Dublin area and will have a wide range of educational, workshop and other facilities so that all prisoners can be productively engaged. In addition by reducing existing pressure on prison capacity in the Dublin area it will give greater flexibility in developing other prisons and its modern design and structure will make a significant contribution in seeking to eliminate the supply of drugs into our prisons. Accordingly, I am very much in favour of this project.

Garda Operations.

Shane McEntee

Question:

180 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to deal with so called joy riding and the boy racer culture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21184/08]

One of the strategic goals set out in the Garda Síochána Corporate Strategy 2007-2009 is to significantly reduce the incidence of fatal and serious injuries and improve road safety. One of the actions identified in the Garda Policing Plan 2008 in support of this goal is targeted intelligence-led operations against offending young drivers.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that specific operations are conducted to improve the compliance culture among such drivers and reduce the level of death and injuries in that age group. An Garda Síochána is working with other agencies, in particular the Road Safety Authority, in this regard. Specific areas identified as places where young drivers congregate are targeted to prevent breaches of the criminal law and gather intelligence on those involved in this type of criminality. As a result, uniform members of An Garda Síochána, supported by Divisional Traffic Corps personnel, establish checkpoints and enforce in a highly visible manner the provisions of the Road Traffic Acts.

These initiatives have resulted in detections being made for a wide range of road traffic offences, including offences relating to dangerous driving, careless driving, no silencer fitted, L-plates not displayed, identification plates not conforming with legislation, road tax offences, insurance and driving licence offences, speeding offences, dangerously defective vehicles and modified vehicles. Offences detected are dealt with by way of prosecution, fixed charge notice or, where appropriate, through the Juvenile Diversion Programme.

In addition to these intelligence-led operations, all uniform members of An Garda Síochána are tasked with enforcing the relevant legislative provisions. Regular mobile patrols take place and roving checkpoints are conducted in areas where young drivers tend to congregate.

In addition websites are monitored in order to establish where such anti-social activities are taking place with a view to providing an appropriate response. Garda road safety awareness programmes are conducted in schools, third level colleges, factories, workplaces and other facilities, with the aim of educating road users of the obligations on all road users under the Road Traffic Acts and to promote road safety among the target group.

Any changes to road traffic legislation, including the introduction of new penalties, is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Transport.

Garda Deployment.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

181 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans in place to deploy manpower to ensure that no rural area suffers a downgrade in coverage as a result of the Wicklow-Wexford Garda division being split into two separate divisions particularly in areas like Askamore currently policed from Carnew-Bunclody and currently within the Gorey area coverage, Coolgreany and Inch which are looked after by the Arklow Garda Division and the Ballythomas area which is currently policed by the Tinahely Garda Station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20606/08]

In accordance with the provisions of the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007 proposals, inter alia, to alter the boundaries of a divisional geographical area are a matter in the first instance for the Garda Commissioner in the context of the Annual Policing Plan. The 2008 Policing Plan contains the Commissioner’s proposals to realign Garda boundaries in a number of areas around the country to make them coterminous with local authority boundaries. This includes the separation of the existing Wicklow/Wexford Division into two new Garda Divisions of Wicklow and Wexford with Bray and Wexford as the respective Divisional Headquarters.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that a detailed programme of work has been developed to implement these planned changes which includes plans for the distribution of personnel resources. Additional resources for the new Divisions are being considered in this regard. I am further advised by the Garda authorities that plans have been developed locally to ensure that the Garda service delivery is maintained to a high standard throughout the new Divisions including the areas referred to by the Deputy.

Deportation Orders.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

182 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the judgment of the Supreme Court given on 1 May 2008 rejecting an attempt by him to uphold deportation orders against the parents of two children born here before 1 January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21089/08]

I have noted the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case to which the Deputy refers. The Court has set out useful guidelines on how the position of an Irish citizen child, whose parents are being considered for deportation, should be considered.

As it happens, my Department's current practices in this area are broadly in line with the guidelines set out by the Court. Accordingly, the judgment has not had any significant implications in relation to the way that these types of cases are currently considered in my Department. Any technical changes needed to bring our procedures fully into line with the requirements, as set out in the Supreme Court judgment, are currently being implemented in my Department.

Equal Opportunities Employment.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

183 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the obligation there is on local authorities to have in place equality policies for both staff and in serving the public; the number of local authorities that have such policies in place; if checks are carried out by his Department to determine if such policies are in place and operating satisfactorily; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20940/08]

The Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2007 and the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004 provide a legislative and administrative framework for equality in Ireland. There is no legal obligation on local authorities under these Acts to have equality policies in place. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has no statutory powers or obligation to check whether such policies exist. Such measures are not compulsory but are encouraged as good practice by the Equality Authority through its Employment Equality Review and Action Plan Scheme.

The Equality Authority has a broad mandate under equality legislation to combat discrimination and promote equality of opportunity in the areas covered by the Acts. The Equality Authority may invite a particular business, group of businesses or the businesses making up a particular industry to carry out an equality review in relation to their business, or businesses. It may also invite them to prepare and implement an equality action plan in respect of that business or those businesses.

The Equality Authority may, if it thinks it appropriate, carry out an equality review and prepare an equality action plan in relation to a particular business, group of businesses or the businesses making up a particular industry or sector thereof. For the purpose of assisting in the conduct of such an audit or examination, the Authority may, with the approval of the Minister, employ one or more persons having qualifications which, in the opinion of the Authority, relate to that examination.

The Equality Authority has supported an employment equality review of Leitrim County Council and a similar review of Cavan County Council is currently being completed. A survey undertaken by the Local Government Management Services Board in 2007 indicated that all local authorities had employment equality policies in place and that 62% of local authorities had equal status policies governing their dealings with clients.

The Equality Authority is currently working with the Local Government Management Services Board to promote equal status policies for local authorities and to support them to put such policies in place.

Garda Stations.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

184 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will close further Garda stations; if so, the stations involved; the timescale involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21075/08]

The formulation of proposals in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations is a matter, in the first instance, for the Garda Commissioner in the context of the annual policing plan, as provided for in section 22 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. The 2008 Annual Policing Plan includes the Commissioner's proposal to merge Watercourse Road and the Mallow Road Garda Stations as a new Garda Station in Blackpool which will provide improved facilities for the future policing in these areas of Cork city.

Sentencing Policy.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

185 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he proposes to extend the integrated sentence management scheme to all prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21138/08]

Sentence management processes have operated in the prison system for many years to the benefit of prisoners and the community. I am advised that as a result of new regulatory, organisational and working arrangements, together with the ongoing programme of modernisation of the prison estate and the addition of new programmes and services, the Irish Prison Service will be in a position to develop and roll-out a fully coordinated Integrated Sentence Management System (ISM) across all prisons and places of detention.

Work is ongoing on a range of necessary system supports to facilitate pilot ISM projects at Wheatfield and Arbour Hill prisons during the course of 2008. Between now and 2012, ISM will be progressively rolled out by the Irish Prison Service across all prisons and places of detention.

ISM will involve a new orientation in the delivery of services to prisoners and a new emphasis on prisoners taking greater personal responsibility for their own development through active engagement with both specialist and non-specialist services in the prisons. The end result will be a prisoner-centred, multidisciplinary approach to working with prisoners with provision for initial assessment, goal setting and periodic review to measure progress.

Garda Equipment.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

186 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received a recommendation from the Garda Commissioner as to whether members of the gardaí should be supplied with pepper sprays to help fend off attacks; when he expects that a decision will be made on this proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21091/08]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that a Working Group has been established to examine the use of incapacitant sprays. The Group is chaired by the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Crime & Security and is researching: the effectiveness of incapacitant sprays; the medical implications involved; the development of a policy for the use of such devices and its implications; and operational and training implications. The Working Group will report to the Commissioner on completion of this examination.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

187 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he has taken to ensure the more effective enforcement of the law in regard to the sale of alcohol and particularly the sale of alcohol to persons under age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21104/08]

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has the power to set policing priorities for An Garda Síochána. One of the priorities set for 2008 is to combat, in cooperation with other agencies and the community generally, the problems of public disorder with particular emphasis on alcohol related behaviour (including under age drinking) and socially disadvantaged communities especially through utilisation of the legal mechanisms being made available, including behaviour warnings and closure orders.

Operation Encounter, which was commenced in February 2002, specifically targets offences contrary to the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 and the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988, which include the sale and consumption of alcohol by underage persons. All members of An Garda Síochána proactively target public disorder and anti-social behaviour, including offences relating to underage drinking. Areas subject to such behaviour have been identified as hot-spots by local Garda management and additional foot and mobile patrols are directed in these areas during such times when these offences are more likely to occur. All such incidents, detected by members on patrol or reported to An Garda Síochána, are dealt with immediately and the suspected offenders are dealt with in accordance with the law. Almost 475,000 offences have been detected since the commencement of Operation Encounter.

I am also informed by the Garda authorities that at a recent crime conference for senior Garda operational officers, measures were discussed and identified to ensure enhanced and more uniformed enforcement of liquor laws, particularly in regard to the sale and supply of alcohol to young persons.

The national age card scheme of An Garda Síochána has facilitated the Force, in co-operation with the licensed trade, in addressing and combating the problem of underage drinking. The age card scheme allows any person who has attained 18 years of age to apply for an age card at his/her local Garda Station in order to confirm that they have attained the legal age for the purchase of intoxicating liquor. The new age card introduced in 2006 has state of the art security features.

Provisions for controlling supply to and consumption of intoxicating liquor by persons under the age of 18 years are contained in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 and subsequent legislation. The Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2008, which I intend to bring before the Oireachtas shortly, will further strengthen provisions relating to underage drinking. For example, it will provide a statutory basis for test purchasing of alcohol which will assist the Gardaí in their enforcement activities. Parental approval will of course be required in all cases and appropriate safeguards will also be taken to protect the welfare of the young person concerned. The Bill will also provide for increases in fines for certain offences under the Licensing Acts, including the sale and supply of alcohol to persons under 18 years. Moreover, a minimum closure period of two days will apply in future in cases where a temporary closure order is imposed by the court.

The Bill will also contain provisions permitting the Gardaí to seize alcohol from persons under 18 years where the Garda believes the alcohol is being or is to be consumed by persons under 18 years. In addition, the Gardaí will have new powers to seize alcohol and to move on persons found with alcohol where there is an apprehension of nuisance or fear for other persons or a likelihood of a breach of the peace. I am also taking the opportunity presented by this Bill to increase the fine levels in the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994. The Bill when enacted, will significantly increase the powers available to An Garda Síochána in tackling the problems caused by consumption of alcohol.

Section 184 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 amends the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 to provide for a fixed penalty procedure in relation to the public order offences of intoxication in a public place (section 4) and disorderly conduct in a public place (section 5) as an alternative to proceedings being taken in the first instance. I am informed by the Garda authorities that work on the necessary arrangements for the introduction of these provisions is under way with a view to their introduction as soon as possible this year.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are satisfied that adequate resources are available to enforce the laws in relation to the sale of alcohol.

Question No. 188 answered with Question No. 102.
Question No. 189 answered with Question No. 144.

Prison Searches.

Liz McManus

Question:

190 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if nine plasma screen televisions were confiscated from prisoners during a search of cells in Portlaoise Prison in 2007; if his attention has been drawn to the claims made at the recent annual conference of the Irish Prison Officers Association that these televisions had been allowed in with the support of the prison authorities; his views on whether this was appropriate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21086/08]

I am informed by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that a number of flat-screen televisions were removed from cells during a planned search operation at Portlaoise Prison in May, 2007. At that time, an incident at the prison was under investigation at the request of the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and a review of security at the jail had been initiated. The investigation and review reports are being considered by the Irish Prison Service who have, in the meantime, introduced a number of changes including one which stopped the practice whereby prisoners were allowed purchase televisions, through the prison shop, for use in their cells.

Prison Building Programme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

191 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the proposed Thornton Hall Prison plan; the latest estimate available to his Department of the expected cost, including the cost of the site, the provision of infrastructure and ancillary services; the cost of construction and fitting out of the prison; the costs incurred to date; the estimated date for the completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21095/08]

Negotiations are currently underway with a commercial consortium, which was selected following an E.U. tender procedure as the preferred tender for the design, construction, finance and maintenance of the proposed prison facilities at Thornton Hall, North County Dublin. The project includes the construction of the prison facilities along with the ancillary infrastructure including services. The development consent procedure for the development is set out in Part 4 of the Prisons Act 2007. The Notice of Development and Environmental Impact Assessment in respect of the project was published on Friday 29 February 2008. The closing date for receipt of observations or submissions in respect of the Environmental Impact Assessment was 11 April.

A copy of the Notice of Development has been lodged in the Oireachtas library. The publication of the Environmental Impact Assessment afforded all interested parties ample opportunity to make their views known and have them fully considered prior to a decision to proceed with the development. The report of the Rapporteur has been published and the statutory process under which the Oireachtas may grant approval for the development has been initiated.

It is intended, subject to Oireachtas approval for the development and the successful conclusion of the contract negotiations, to commence construction later this year. It is envisaged that the development will take approximately three years to complete.

For commercial and procurement reasons it is not possible to provide details as to the likely costs of the construction and fit out costs. The disclosure of such information is, in any event, not allowed under Department of Finance PPP guidelines. I can, however, confirm the expenditure which has taken place to date on the project. The cost of the site acquisition was €29,900,000. An additional 8.7 acres has also been acquired to provide a dedicated access road to the main site. This was done following representations from the local community which reflected concern in relation to the effect of increased traffic generated by the prison project. In addition to allaying these concerns, the new roadway will provide significant additional benefits both during the construction and operational phases of the project. The cost of this additional land was €1,305,000.

A total of €5,863,895 has been expended to date on preliminary site works including surveys, landscaping, security and maintenance of the property, studies such as archaeological, topographical, etc., and professional fees including legal and specialist technical advice.

Proposed Legislation.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

192 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in relation to the proposed Judicial Council Bill to provide effective remedies for complaints regarding judicial misbehaviour, it is intended to include lay participation in the investigation of such complaints; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21035/08]

The proposals for a Judicial Council, in the Judicial Council Bill at present being developed in my Department, are based on the recommendations contained in the Report of the Committee on Judicial Ethics, chaired by the then Chief Justice, the Honourable Mr Justice Ronan Keane. That Report included the following recommendation, at p. 54: "To ensure that the public would have confidence in any process established in relation to the inquiry into complaints of judicial conduct and to bring to the process the benefit of a lay person's perspective, we have concluded that there should be lay members participating in the process."

I concur in that recommendation, and can inform the Deputy that it is my intention that the Scheme of the Bill, when submitted to Government for approval to draft, will contain suitable provisions to give effect to that recommendation.

Garda Vetting Procedures.

Alan Shatter

Question:

193 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the arrangements in place to enable the central Garda vetting unit to contact the British authorities to carry out child protection checks on prospective employees; the reciprocal vetting arrangements in place throughout the European Union among European Union jurisdictions; and the steps being taken to provide such arrangements. [15329/08]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting for a number of organisations in Ireland which are registered with the GCVU and which employ people to work with children and/or vulnerable adults.

In respect of vetting applications which contain addresses in Northern Ireland a reciprocal arrangement is in place with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and results received are disclosed to the relevant registered organisation concerned. A Memorandum of Understanding is currently being negotiated with the Disclosure Scotland agency with a view to putting in place a reciprocal arrangement for vetting requests. Discussions are also ongoing with the Criminal Records Bureau of England and Wales to agree a similar Memorandum of Understanding.

Details of foreign convictions received from EU States within the framework of European mutual assistance in criminal matters are entered on the Garda criminal records database and they are disclosed in the vetting process of the individual concerned. Earlier this month the Houses of the Oireachtas agreed that Ireland may take part in the adoption of a proposed EU Council Framework Decision on the organisation and content of the exchange of information extracted from criminal records between Member States. It is expected that this proposal will be submitted for adoption by the Council over the coming months.

The proposed Council Framework Decision follows on from the adoption in 2005 by the Council of a Decision on the exchange of information extracted from criminal records which supplements the relevant provisions of the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

Question No. 194 answered with Question No. 124.
Question No. 195 answered with Question No. 134.
Question No. 196 answered with Question No. 110.

Crime Levels.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

197 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number, in respect of each year from 1998 to date in 2008, of the cases of murder in which firearms were used; the number of such cases in which prosecutions for murder were initiated; the number of such cases where convictions were secured; if he is satisfied with the level of detection and conviction in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21100/08]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following table contains the number of cases of murder recorded in which firearms were used, the number of prosecutions initiated and the number of convictions secured in each year from 1998 to 2007 and in 2008 up to 27 May. Figures provided for 2008 are provisional, operational and liable to change.

The detection rate for murders by its nature increases over time as Garda investigations progress. It is expected that in respect of each year the number of convictions obtained will increase as Garda investigations are concluded and the number of proceedings commenced are finalised by the courts. This applies particularly to murders committed in the most recent years. In addition, directions may be received from the Law Officers to charge persons arrested in connection with such incidents with offences other than murder. Furthermore such persons charged and brought before the courts may be convicted of offences other than murder.

There can be considerable difficulties for the Gardaí in obtaining evidence in shootings which are the result of gangland activities. This arises not least because none of the associates of such victims will co-operate with the Garda investigate. Nevertheless, the Gardaí are determined to pursue rigorously all killings, whatever their background. In this context I would refer specifically to measures which the Commissioner has introduced to strengthen the investigation of crime.

The number of murders recorded in which a firearm was used, proceedings commenced and convictions.

Year

Recorded

Proceedings Commenced

Convictions

2008*

9

3

0

2007

21

2

0

2006

26

5

2

2005

22

2

2

2004

8

4

3

2003

19

3

1

2002

10

4

2

2001

9

2

1

2000

12

3

1

1999

12

7

5

1998

4

2

1

*Figures provided for 2008 to 27 May are provisional, operational and liable to change.

Drug Seizures.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

198 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the quantity and values of seizures of heroin, cocaine, cannabis, and other drugs within the State during 2007 and to date in 2008; the proportion of the overall flow of drugs into Ireland believed to be represented by these seizures; the new initiatives he is planning to control the flow of illegal drugs into the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21094/08]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the quantity and monetary value of the seizures made of the main categories of illegal drugs for 2007 and to date in 2008 is set out in the following tables:

Drug Seizures 2007

Year

Drug Type

Quantity

Estimated Value

2007*

Cannabis

757 Kg

1,514,000

Cannabis Resin

1,228 Kg

8,596,000

Cocaine

1,749 Kg

122,430,000

Diamorphine (Heroin)

146 Kg

29,200,000

MDMA

13 Kg + 190,331 Tablets

2,033,310

Amphetamine

58 Kg + 10,471 Tablets

1,027,065

LSD

86 Tablets

860

Drug Seizures 2008

Year

Drug Type

Quantity

Estimated Value

2008*

Cannabis

323 Kgs

646,000

Cannabis Resin

2,819 Kgs

19,733,000

Cocaine

96 Kgs

16,720,000

Diamorphine

71 Kgs

14,200,000

MDMA

83,315 Tablets

833,150

*These figures are operational, provisional and may change.

In terms of estimating the proportion of drug seizures made in this jurisdiction by our law enforcement authorities in relation to the overall volumes of drugs being trafficked, obviously given the clandestine nature of this illegal activity, this is extremely difficult to quantify with any degree of certainty and is therefore speculative. However, to assist the Deputy, what can be said in this regard is that the global illicit drug trade is, according to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), reputed to exceed billions of US$ annually. That UN office estimated in 2005 that global seizures for that year accounted for 44% of cocaine production, 28% of cannabis resin, 25% of opium production, 7% of amphetamines and 4.7% of ecstasy.

As I am sure the Deputy appreciates, drug misuse remains one of the most complex social ills faced globally. Our drug law enforcement response remains a vital feature of our overall response in addressing the drug issue but we cannot just look at the issue from a supply reduction perspective only. Rather, we must examine the drugs problem in the wider context in which it takes place and take cognisance of the fact that the demand for and the use of illegal drugs is what fuels the drugs trade. The measures which we have in place to address the problem must take account of this.

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

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, under the stewardship of my colleague and Minister of State Mr. John Curran, T.D., is the lead Government Department in co-ordinating the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy and has earlier this year begun the process of developing our new Strategy for the years 2009-2016. This work is currently involving a wide ranging and public consultative process, in which my Department is actively participating, which will fully inform the development of our new Strategy. My Department's remit in this area, while not exclusively, is primarily in the area of drug supply interdiction, and drug law enforcement remains a key feature of the Government's drug policy framework.

An Garda Síochána invokes a number of broad strategic responses in addressing the issue. These include the following:

Identifying, targeting and dismantling national and international drug trafficking networks which supply and distribute illegal drugs within this state.

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

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

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

This work is ongoing and An Garda Síochána will continue to pursue these strategies and continue to tackle organised crime and drug trafficking primarily through the use of specialist units and targeted intelligence led operations.

To further assist in our law enforcement efforts against drug trafficking, a number of new initiatives have been recently introduced. Some examples of this includes the following:

The establishment in January 2008 of the Organised Crime Unit onto a permanent footing with full time staff assigned to it. The Unit now has a personnel strength of 70 and in conjunction with the Garda National Drugs Unit and local Gardaí, will continue to implement initiatives such as Operations Anvil and Oak which target criminals involved in the trafficking of drugs.

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

A number of provisions introduced in the Criminal Justice Acts 2006 and 2007 provided for further measures which are enhancing the powers of the Gardaí in the investigation and prosecution of drug offences.

I can assure the Deputy that I will continue to keep the measures and resources for tackling all forms of drug trafficking under review. The enforcement of the law relating to drugs continues to be a key element in the Government's policing priorities and this is reflected in An Garda Síochána's Policing Plan for 2008.

Garda Strength.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

199 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made with regard to the commitment given in the programme for Government to increase Garda numbers to 15,000 by 2010 and 16,000 by 2012; if he is satisfied that these targets will be met; the strength of the Garda force as of 1 June 2007 and at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21103/08]

The current intake of 1,100 Garda recruits per annum is on course to meet the Government's recruitment target. On 31 May 2007, the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána was 13,140. As of 30 April 2008, the latest date for which figures are readily available, there were 13,874 attested members of An Garda Síochána with more than 1,000 recruits in training.

Question No. 200 answered with Question No. 103.
Question No. 201 answered with Question No. 94.
Question No. 202 answered with Question No. 106.

Legislative Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

203 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will implement the commitment given in the programme for Government to increase penalties under the Public Order Act particularly for alcohol related disorder and increase the fines for supplying alcohol to persons under 18 from €1,500 to €5,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21102/08]

The Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2008, which will be presented in the Dail in the very near future, will contain proposals for increasing certain fines in the Licensing Acts, including those relating to the sale and supply of alcohol to persons under 18 years, and in the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.

Financial Services Regulation.

Finian McGrath

Question:

204 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will investigate reports of financial exploitation of elderly people by a group (details supplied). [21503/08]

In my role as Minister for Finance I am responsible for the legislative and policy framework for the regulation of financial services, including the safeguarding of the interests of consumers. Within that framework the Financial Regulator is responsible for the regulation of individual financial institutions and for protecting the interests of consumers in line with its statutory consumer protection mandate.

Any complaint about the conduct of any individual financial institution which is believed to contravene the Financial Regulator's Consumer Protection Code (CPC) should be brought to the attention of the Financial Regulator for further investigation. Regulated financial service providers who are found to have breached the CPC may be subject to financial or other sanctions imposed by the Financial Regulator. In addition, the Deputy may wish to note that the Financial Services Ombudsman can investigate complaints from individual customers who have unresolved disputes with regulated financial services providers.

Departmental Expenditure.

Ulick Burke

Question:

205 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Finance the expenditure incurred under each operational programme in the Border midlands western region for each of the years 2000 to date in 2008; the original commitment by him to these programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21228/08]

The National Development Plan/Community Support Framework (NDP/CSF) 2000-2006 was an integrated investment plan and strategy for economic and social development for Ireland. It involved significant investment in infrastructure — such as roads, public transport, water and waste services — in health services, social housing, education, industry and rural development.

The Plan was implemented through six operational programmes in the Border, Midlands and Western Region. These were the Economic and Social Investment Operational Programme (ESIOP), Employment and Human Resources Development Operational Programme (EHRDOP), Productive Sector Operational Programme (PSOP), Border, Midlands and Western Operational Programme (BMW OP), PEACE Operational Programme and Technical Assistance (administrative support) Operational Programme (TA OP). It should be noted that expenditure under the Plan has in the main been completed except for EU Co-financed measures which can continue until the end of 2008 under EU Rules. Therefore, a complete picture of expenditure in the BMW region will not be available until the full year expenditure data for 2008 is reported in the second quarter of 2009.

The following table sets out the original forecasts and the expenditure incurred in each operational programme in the region. As can be seen from the table, total expenditure incurred in the BMW region to the end of 2007 under the NDP/CSF 2000-2006 was over €15.3 billion. However, there has been some over-performance and under-performance of expenditure taking place within and between the programmes. The main difficulties being a large demand led component that did not materialise and a lower than expected private sector involvement rather than a lack of Exchequer resources. The principal reasons are well known at this stage and reflect a slower rate of expenditure as a result of the impact of the slowdown in economic activity in 2000-02 — the early years of the Programmes — and the outbreak of foot and mouth disease which meant that businesses and the agriculture sector were not in a position to put forward sufficient, suitable investment plans in those early years to avail of funding and a lower drawdown of funding for Research and Development projects.

It should be noted that national development planning is an ongoing process with investment on regional development continuing under the NDP 2007-13. The BMW region will also receive an EU Structural Funds allocation of €458 million under the programming round for 2007-2013.

Table 1: Expenditure by Operational Programme per year BMW region, figures in € millions.

ESIOP

EHRDOP

PSOP

BMW OP

PEACE

TA OP

TOTAL

2000

Original Forecast

704

656

237

421

27

0.9

2,045

Expenditure

641

499

68

231

0

0

1,439

2001

Original Forecast

900

658

346

531

28

0.8

2,463

Expenditure

855

597

121

291

5

0.5

1,869

2002

Original Forecast

1,048

652

375

643

28

0.7

2,747

Expenditure

886

614

134

385

8

1.2

2,028

2003

Original Forecast

1,066

580

413

650

29

0.7

2,740

Expenditure

909

613

118

443

27

1

2,111

2004

Original Forecast

1,057

556

425

636

29

0.8

2,704

Expenditure

1,044

594

161

427

39

0.7

2,265

2005

Original Forecast

1,088

552

470

636

24

1.2

2,772

Expenditure

1,142

702

157

489

36

0.7

2,526

2006

Original Forecast

1,136

621

444

578

24

1

2,804

Expenditure

1,352

737

155

559

26

0.6

2,830

2007

Original Forecast

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Expenditure

4

37

43

134

17

1.5

237

2000-2007

Original Forecast

7,000

4,275

2,709

4,094

189

6

18,275

Expenditure

6,831

4,392

957

2,958

158

6

15,303

Note: Figures have been rounded. PEACE 2007 figures relate to end November 07.

Ministerial Powers.

Joan Burton

Question:

206 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the general and specific powers available to him to guarantee the due repayment by a public limited company of the principal or any moneys borrowed by that company or the payment of interest on such moneys or both the repayment of the principal and the payment of interest; the statutory provisions that are applicable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21248/08]

There are no general powers available to the Minister for Finance to provide guarantees for the borrowings of a public limited company. The State Guarantees Act, 1954 gives the Minister for Finance the power to guarantee the borrowings of bodies which are listed in the Schedule to that act. However, current legal opinion indicates that the mechanism for adding bodies to the Schedule by order may not be in accord with recent court judgements on the need for substantive legislation in such cases.

The Minister for Finance also has powers to guarantee the borrowings of State owned bodies, including state owned public limited companies, where such a power is set out in the relevant Acts of the Oireachtas as, e.g. in section 11 of the Housing Finance Agency Act, 1981. In this context, if the Deputy wishes to establish whether such a power exists in respect of a specific State body, I would be happy to provide the information required.

State guarantees may also be subject to approval by the EU Commission under the Treaty rules on State aid. In recent years State guarantees have been given only in respect of borrowing by the Housing Finance Agency plc and Córas Iompair Éireann both of which have been approved under EC state aid rules.

As at end 2007, the total amount of principle outstanding under State Guarantees stood at €4,498 million of which €4,289 million was in respect of borrowing by the Housing Finance Agency plc. The amounts outstanding under State Guarantees are published annually in the Finance Accounts.

State Property.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

207 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide this Deputy with full information regarding a centre (detail supplied) in Dublin 5; the amount the site is worth; the percentage of the building that remains unoccupied; the number of children this crèche will cater for; the person whose responsibility it is to manage the building; the person the contract is with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21314/08]

As part of the negotiations for the transfer of the overall site from Dublin City Council to the Office of Public Works (OPW) in 2003, the site was valued at €1.5 million. The centre building proper is almost fully occupied. However, the crèche, which is housed in a separate smaller building on the site, is currently unoccupied, pending the execution of agreed works to upgrade it to current operating standards in child care.

The actual number of children to be catered for in the crèche when it opens will be a decision for the crèche operator. However, we are advised that the crèche could provide 37 full-time places for children, although the number of places could be increased, if some or all of the children were to be cared for on a part-time basis.

A facilities management company has been employed by the OPW to manage the day-to-day maintenance, associated utilities, security etc. of the premises but the allocation of space within the premises, is a function which has been retained by OPW.

Legal procedures are currently in train for the completion of a licence with a qualified child care operator for the operation of the crèche, and legal procedures are also in train for the transfer of the overall site from Dublin City Council to OPW.

Public Private Partnerships.

Brian Hayes

Question:

208 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the number of public private partnership infrastructural projects due to be commenced between present and 2012; the cost of these projects; the target completion time for each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21315/08]

The most recently published multi-annual capital investment framework for the period 2008 to 2012 provides targets for Public Private Partnership (PPP) investment of €9.3bn of which €7.7bn is to be met through future unitary payments and €1.6bn is to be financed from tolls. These allocations cover all Departments for the period 2008 to 2012 and are set out on page 91 of the Public Capital Programme 2008.

Under the system of delegated sanction it is a matter for the relevant Department or Agency in the first instance to plan for the delivery of infrastructural projects within these targets. Questions on individual projects and plans should be referred to the relevant Departments.

Full details of National Development Plan (NDP) projected expenditure for 2007 and 2008 (both current and capital, and covering both Exchequer and PPP funded projects) were set out in Appendix 3 of the Revised Estimates Volumes for 2007 and 2008. The first Annual Report on NDP Implementation, covering 2007, will shortly be submitted to the Oireachtas. Information provided by the relevant Departments/Agencies is available on the Public Private Partnership website (www.ppp.gov.ie) in relation to PPP projects projected to cost in excess of €20 million and already in train. For ease of reference, I will send the Deputy a copy of the relevant pages of each of the documents referred to above.

Toll Charges.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

209 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if Ministers of State are required to pay tolls; if so, the cost to Exchequer of such for each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21334/08]

There are no arrangements to exempt Ministers of State from toll charges. Ministers of State recoup motor travel expenses from the relevant Department in accordance with mileage rates determined by the Minister for Finance. Those rates do not make explicit provision for road tolls. There is no centralised system for counting what tolls are paid.

Site Acquisitions.

Michael Creed

Question:

210 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the outcome of his Department’s advertisement for sites for a development (details supplied) in County Cork; if suitable lands have been identified for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21338/08]

The Office of Public Works in Ireland act as agents for the Department of Education & Science in the acquisition of sites for schools, and solely on their instruction. The Department requested that the Commissioners source a site for a development in Co. Cork. The requirement was advertised on 3 occasions, most recently in September 2007. Following the September advertisement, a number of options were proposed; these options were technically assessed, and a Technical Report was prepared and forwarded to the Department for consideration.

Tax Collection.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

211 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (detailed supplied) in County Offaly has not received a repayment of emergency tax paid between September 2007 and February 2008; the further reason they have not received a tax credit certificate; the action the person must take to rectify the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21351/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that in relation to the tax year 2007, the emergency tax suffered by the person in question cannot be repaid until such time as their total income tax liability (including their non-PAYE income) for that year is reviewed. An income tax return (Form 11) was issued to the person on 15 December 2007. The completed form should now be submitted to Revenue and any overpayment of tax arising from the review of that year will be refunded by Revenue.

In relation to the tax year 2008, I am advised that the correct tax credit certificate is in operation, and that this certificate issued to the employer on 24 January 2008. The correct operation of PAYE should result in a refund, by the employer (not by Revenue) of the emergency tax deducted in the early months of 2008.

Phoenix Park Development.

Joe Costello

Question:

212 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the plans in train for the development of the Phoenix Park; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21381/08]

As the Deputy is aware, the Phoenix Park Transportation Study dated September 2006, recommended a number of measures aimed at reducing the significant traffic pressures on the Park, and, at the same time, enhancing the visitor experience of the Park. Several of these measures have already been implemented. A decision on a Planning Application for complete renewal of Chesterfield Avenue is expected shortly.

On a broader front, formulation by the Office of Public Works, of a new long-term Conservation Management Plan for the Phoenix Park is progressing well. To assist OPW in this regard, the process entails first, wide-ranging consultation with the public, interest groups, and relevant State Agencies, and, secondly, engaging with a number of experts from the private sector to assist with drafting of the Plan.

OPW expect to be in a position to undertake the next phase of the public consultation shortly when the draft plan, which is well advanced, is completed. The feedback from this will then be assimilated and the draft Conservation Management Plan finalised, with the objective of publishing it later this year.

Health Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

213 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if the diabetes expert advisory group has determined its work plan for 2008; the progress on the development of a national strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21215/08]

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.

Noel Coonan

Question:

214 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to provide the staff necessary to administer the CT scanner lying idle in Nenagh Hospital in view of the fact that the Health Service Executive recruitment freeze is over; when she envisions the scanner will be operating; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21222/08]

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

Ulick Burke

Question:

215 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children if there will be a Mayo Clinic within Galway’s University College Hospital to provide for the proposed withdrawal of cancer services at Castlebar Hospital; if this involves an extension of the existing facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21229/08]

The specific questions raised by the Deputy relate to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the HSE under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in this regard.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Michael Ring

Question:

216 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo can expect to be called for vital surgery in view of the fact that it has been cancelled twice. [21236/08]

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.

Michael Ring

Question:

217 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called to Dublin for an MRI scan. [21237/08]

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.

Michael Ring

Question:

218 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called to Galway in relation to their thyroid problems. [21238/08]

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.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

219 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist in having an out-patient appointment arranged for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [21254/08]

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.

Hospital Staff.

Dan Neville

Question:

220 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the hospitals which do not have special psychiatric nurses for patients who self-harm in acute hospitals. [21313/08]

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. It is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

221 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is the case that the Health Service Executive allocation for funding for people with disabilities for 2008 has not been received in the mid-west region; if so, if it applies to other regions; when the money will be released in order that services can be delivered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21324/08]

As part of the Multi-Annual Investment Programme 2006-2009 under the Disability Strategy, the Government provided the Health Service Executive with an additional €75m in both 2006 and 2007. This funding included monies to provide new and enhanced services for people with disabilities, to implement Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005, which came into effect on June 1st 2007 for the under 5's and also for the continuation of the implementation of the transfer of persons with intellectual disability from psychiatric hospitals and other inappropriate placements. A further €50m investment was announced in the 2008 Budget.

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

Hospital Services.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

222 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if beds have been closed in the National Rehabilitation Hospital; if so, the reason for same; the effect this is having on people who urgently need to be admitted to the hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21325/08]

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.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Dan Neville

Question:

223 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the position of an application made under the health repayment scheme by persons (details supplied) in County Limerick. [21326/08]

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.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

224 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a project (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [21342/08]

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 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 Care Associated Infections.

Pat Breen

Question:

225 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress in implementing the recommendations of the Health Service Executive’s recent report into the incidents of C. difficile at Ennis General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21379/08]

I consider the findings of the recent report of the review carried out by the HSE into an outbreak of C. difficile at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Ennis to be a serious matter and I would like to express my sympathy to any patient and/or family who was affected by the outbreak.

I have been informed by the HSE that most of the recommendations in the report have already been implemented and the HSE will continue to monitor their implementation so as to ensure that the incidence of HCAIs is reduced to an absolute minimum and, particularly, that significant outbreaks such as this do not occur again.

The recommendation that the Department make C. difficile a notifiable disease has been acted upon and the Chief Medical Officer has instructed the HSE in this regard. Since 4th May 2008, this infection became a notifiable disease under the Acute Infectious Gastroenteritis category and from that date all cases are required to be notified to the relevant Department of Public Health.

Guidelines for the Surveillance, Management and Control of C. difficile-associated disease were published on 22nd May by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in the HSE. They give national guidance and deal with the isolation of C. difficile ribotype 027 for the first time in Irish hospitals. They will be a valuable resource in assisting in the prevention, management and control of this infectious disease.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

226 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if social welfare or alternative payment will be arranged for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21414/08]

In relation to any possible alternative payment to social welfare provision, the Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and 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 to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

227 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if medication required by a person (details supplied) in County Offaly will be provided under the GMS in respect of their child; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21415/08]

Following a previous question on this matter from the Deputy on the 8th April, 2008, my Department requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Health Service Executive (HSE) to arrange to address the operational aspects of this particular case and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy. My Department has made inquiries of the HSE regarding the status of its reply and I understand that the Executive plans to issue a reply today to the Deputy on this matter.

Health Care Associated Infections.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

228 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the immediate action she will take to implement in full the recommendations of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre on the alarming spread of C. difficile and other hospital based infections. [21505/08]

I would like to assure the Deputy that tackling Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs), including Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), continues to be a priority for the Government and for the Health Service Executive (HSE).

I assume the recommendations that the Deputy is referring to are the Guidelines for the Surveillance, Management and Control of C. difficile-associated disease which were published on 22nd May by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in the HSE. They give national guidance and deal with the isolation of C. difficile ribotype 027 for the first time in Irish hospitals. They will be a valuable resource in assisting in the prevention, management and control of this infectious disease. The HSE is considering the Report at present to decide on its implementation.

As the Deputy will be aware, the HSE launched a National Infection Control Action Plan in March 2007. An Infection Control Steering Group, chaired by Dr. Pat Doorley, National Director (Population Health) is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the plan. Over the next five years, the HSE aims to reduce HCAIs by 20%, MRSA infections by 30% and antibiotic consumption by 20%. Achievement of these targets will benefit all patients who are at risk. These targets will be achieved through the development of national and local level action plans to reduce the potential for spread of infections between persons in healthcare settings, and, in addition, will focus on reducing antibiotic use in Ireland. The Steering Group is supported by eight Local Implementation Teams which will ensure that all local facilities are focused on achieving the national targets.

C. difficile was not, up to now, a notifiable disease and, as a result, it was difficult to quantify the extent of infection in the health care system. However, it was examined in the Third Prevalence Survey of Health Care Associated Infections (HCAIs) in acute hospitals in 2006. The survey found that thirty-six patients had C. difficile representing 0.5% of patients studied. In March 2008, the Chief Medical Officer of my Department instructed the HSE to make C. difficile a notifiable disease and since May 4th all cases are required to be notified to the relevant Department of Public Health. The number of cases reported to date is within the range identified in the 2006 Survey.

While accepting that not all HCAIs are preventable, I am satisfied that significant steps are being taken to reduce the rates of HCAIs generally and to treat them promptly when they occur.

Health Services.

James Reilly

Question:

229 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason it was decided to stop referrals to the hospital in the home scheme when the Health Service Executive evaluation of the contract recommended that this model of service should be extended; the future plans for the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21506/08]

One of the key challenges facing the health service is the need to ensure that services are planned and provided in line with the clinical need of the patient.

A number of experimental initiatives have been put in place by the Health Service Executive with a view to providing care in community based rather than hospital based settings where clinically appropriate. The Hospital in the Home Service is one such initiative, along with the introduction of Primary Care Teams, Community Intervention Teams, a Rapid Access Service for the Elderly and the GP Out of Hours service.

The Hospital in the Home Service was delivered by a private service provider on the basis of a service level agreement with the HSE and was for a period of one year. This agreement came to an end on the 16th March and was extended by agreement until 11th May 2008. During the year, the service treated in the region of 2,000 patients at an annual cost of €6.83m.

A review of the service was carried out between January and March of this year under an independent Chairperson. The review made a number of recommendations. The main recommendation, which has been adopted by the HSE, is that the concept of the "Hospital in the Home" be retained and that the service should be repatriated within existing HSE post-acute care and community services.

The HSE is considering the manner in which it can best mainstream the service previously offered by the service provider into the Executive. In this context the scope and capacity of the Community Intervention Teams in the Greater Dublin Area is being examined by the HSE with a view to absorbing the service.

The HSE has emphasised that no patient will be disadvantaged by this decision.

Accident and Emergency Services.

James Reilly

Question:

230 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the 100 plus scheme; the number of approved posts under this scheme; the specialties allocated within this scheme; the location of these posts; the number of appointments made to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21507/08]

The "100 +" Scheme was introduced by the Health Service Executive to reward hospitals where the Emergency Department met performance targets.

Phase 1 of the Scheme was announced last year and involved the approval of 60 consultant posts across 24 hospitals. The additional consultants were approved across a range of specialties including emergency medicine, radiology, general medicine, general surgery and geriatric medicine.

The initiative is designed to improve the operation of emergency departments by increasing the number of senior decision makers. The initiative should also help to improve GP access to diagnostics and speed up the availability of diagnostic results.

The HSE's Service Plan for 2008 includes provision for the progression of applications in line with available development funding.

Last month the HSE recommenced the recruitment process for new consultants across a range of specialties. In excess of 120 posts in total have been advertised. This includes the 60 consultant posts approved in Phase 1 of the 100+ Initiative.

My Department has asked the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to revert to the Deputy on the specific operational issues raised.

Hospital Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

231 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the new consultants contract; the number of posts available under the revised contract; when she expects appointments will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21508/08]

On 6 May 2008 the Irish Hospital Consultants Association voted to accept the terms of the new contract for medical consultants. I am advised that the Irish Medical Organisation has also balloted its members and that the result will be known in early June. The Deputy will be aware that it has taken almost five years to complete these negotiations and it is therefore vitally important that the new contract is implemented progressively from the 1 September next and that patients quickly see the benefits of the new working arrangements for consultants in tangible ways.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. Details concerning the number of posts available under the revised contract and when appointments will be made are therefore appropriate to the Executive. 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.

Hospital Procedures.

James Reilly

Question:

232 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the official protocol and procedure in the storing and archiving of hospital medical records; the procedures that apply in the disposal of hospital medical records after a period of time; the reason medical records were discovered at Glounthaune landfill site in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21509/08]

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.

Road Safety.

Noel Coonan

Question:

233 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Transport his plans to decrease the death toll and number of people who become seriously injured on the N62 from Roscrea to Templemore, following the latest European Road Assessment Programme report which revealed that this national secondary road in north Tipperary has one of the highest number of people killed or seriously injured between 2002 and 2006 here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21223/08]

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 maintenance of those national roads, is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act, 1993 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Specifically, Section 17(1) of the Roads Act 1993 states that it is the general duty of the NRA to ‘secure the provision of a safe and efficient network of national roads'.

Road Network.

Ulick Burke

Question:

234 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Transport the underspend on national roads for each year from 2000 to the present behind expenditure committed under the national development plan in the Border midlands and western region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21230/08]

The following table outlines the information sought by the Deputy for the years 2000 — 2006 inclusive. 2007 figures are presently unavailable.

During the earlier years of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2000 –2006 there were not sufficient numbers of projects fully through the planning process to absorb the funding forecast for each of those years. As more projects progressed through planning, construction accelerated and expenditure reached and surpassed the forecast levels in the later years. This trend, which will continue with the accelerated development of the Atlantic Road Corridor this year, will ensure that all the funding provided under the NDP will be spent over the lifetime of the NDP.

Spend on National Roads in the Border Midlands and Western (BMW) Region

Year

National Roads Expenditure forecast under NDP

National Roads Actual Expenditure

€m

€m

2000

190.80

188.10

2001

293.23

236.90

2002

374.34

182.31

2003

382.38

186.50

2004

389.66

375.15

2005

415.49

436.27

2006

433.46

580.06

2007

Unavailable

Unavailable

Total

2,479.36

2,185.29

Source: NDP forecast expenditure/NRA current outturn annual figures (may be subject to change).

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

235 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the amount of revenue which is expected to be generated from road tolling over the next ten years; the percentage and value of that figure which will accrue to the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21232/08]

The statutory power to levy tolls on national roads, to make toll bye-laws, and to enter into toll agreements with private investors in respect of national roads is vested in the National Roads Authority (NRA) under Part V of the Roads Act 1993 (as amended by the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Roads Act 2007).

The NRA has been asked to forward the information sought to the Deputy.

Public Transport.

John O'Mahony

Question:

236 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Transport if it is his Department’s policy to consult with Bus Éireann when it is considering applications for licences from private bus operators. [21371/08]

I can confirm to the Deputy that all licence applications are confidential and that my Department does not consult with Bus Éireann when it is considering applications for licences from private bus operators. Copies of licences are sent to the company for their information once they are issued and available to the public to ensure that Bus Éireann is in compliance with their obligations under Section 25 of the Transport Act 1958, which states that Bus Éireann should not introduce a new service or amend an existing service that would compete with a licensed operator without the consent of the Minister.

Diplomatic Representation.

Finian McGrath

Question:

237 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will develop further the relationship between Ireland and Cuba; and if he will welcome the political dialogue between Spain and Cuba that has been re-established. [21504/08]

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Cuba in 1999, Ireland has been accredited to Cuba through our Embassy in Mexico City. Ambassador Dermot Brangan most recently travelled to Cuba last month for meetings with a wide range of interlocutors. In 2001, Cuba established a resident Embassy in Dublin, which has been headed by a resident Ambassador since October 2005. The Cuban Ambassador has been very active in seeking to promote links between our two countries based, inter alia, on people-to-people contact and cultural activities.

My Department and our Embassy in Mexico City also support the development of such links. In July 2005, the International Joyce exhibition, commissioned by my Department, was opened for display at the National Library in Havana. And of course, an increasing number of Irish people have visited Cuba in recent years. I welcome these developments and I would certainly wish to see the bilateral relationship between Ireland and Cuba develop further.

As the Deputy will be aware, the European Union's 1996 Common Position on Cuba remains the basis of both the European Union's and Ireland's approach to relations with that country. The Common Position was most recently reviewed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 18 June 2007 and will be discussed again at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in June. The overriding objective of Ireland and our European Union partners in our relations with Cuba is to encourage, but not to enforce by any external coercion, a process of transition to pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In the past year, Spain has engaged Cuba in a Human Rights Dialogue. Spain has pursued this bilateral dialogue in accordance with the European Union's Common Position on Cuba.

In addition to pursuing its dialogue with Cuba's civil society, the Council also emphasised the Union's willingness to resume a comprehensive and open political dialogue with the Cuban authorities in all areas of mutual interest. In order to sound out the potential for such a dialogue, which should take place on a reciprocal and non-discriminatory basis, the Council decided to invite a Cuban delegation to Brussels. To date, the Cuban authorities have not taken up this offer. However, we remain hopeful that such a dialogue will be established in the future. In this regard, I welcome the fact that a Ministerial-level meeting between the European Union Troika and Cuba was held en marge of the 62nd United Nations General Assembly in New York on 24 September 2007.

Finally, the EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Assistance, Louis Michel, visited Havana from 7 to 9 March 2008 following an invitation by the Cuban Minister for Foreign Affairs, Felipe Pérez Roque. Discussions were held on a range of issues, including human rights and the question of dialogue between Cuba and the European Union.

Hazardous Substances.

Michael Creed

Question:

238 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in view of the increasing level of road haulage here and the transportation of a wide variety of product a substantial amount of which is hazardous, she is satisfied with the level of required training for drivers, particularly of articulated trucks, in matters other than their driving qualifications; the plans her Department has to oblige such operators to avail of required training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21339/08]

The Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Regulations 2007 [S.I. No. 288 of 2007] include the rules for the training of drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods and the obligation on such drivers to hold valid driver training certificates. The rules are based on the United Nations' European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road ("the ADR Agreement"), which is updated every two years.

The Regulations stipulate, by reference to the ADR Agreement, different levels of driver training, depending on whether the goods they are transporting are packaged or are in bulk, and on the ADR Class of substance being transported. The training covers safety in operational and emergency situations.

Apart from ADR Class 1, explosives, which are the responsibility of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and ADR Class 7, radioactive substances, which are the responsibility of Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority is responsible as regards driver training. This training is provided by specialised training providers approved by the Health and Safety Authority, in accordance with the Regulations, and the examinations are administered by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport of Ireland. Drivers of dangerous goods are obliged to hold a valid certificate to prove that they have passed the relevant examinations.

Separately, under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, employers are obliged to carry out a risk assessment and provide job specific training addressing identified hazards to all employees. Driver duties must be assessed, and this would include identifying the type and nature of work, hours of work and shift patterns, and assessing the risk posed by the demands this type of work places on individuals. The employer is obliged to put in place control measures to alleviate stressors in this work activity, e.g. scheduled breaks. If identified, specific training courses may be employed such as defensive driving courses and advanced driving skills courses.

The enforcement of those aspects of the Regulations, in relation to which the Health and Safety Authority is a competent Authority, is an operational matter for the Authority.

Job Creation.

Jack Wall

Question:

239 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of meetings she is proposing or has had with the State agencies within her remit since taking office on the Governments commitment to create new employment opportunities; if at such meetings consideration was given to an area (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21240/08]

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

The industrial development agencies have a range of strategies, programmes and financial incentives in place to promote economic development that will give rise to sustainable employment throughout the country, including County Kildare.

The strategies and programmes of the development agencies are very much in line with the National Development Plan and the National Spatial Strategy, which have been specifically designed to overcome any impediments that may exist to economic development and job creation across the country as a whole.

Upon taking up office in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, I did meet with the Chief Executive Officers of the industrial development agencies who gave me a general briefing on the work of the agencies. Meetings are held on a regular basis between the C.E.Os of the development agencies and the Minister of the day to discuss the implementation of Government policy.

Departmental Agencies.

Jack Wall

Question:

240 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of grant applications repealed by her Department due to the fact that the relevant company did not achieve the agreed criteria laid down by her Department or its agencies in the original agreement with companies (details supplied); the funding involved; the number of employment positions involved in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21241/08]

Decisions on applications for assistance are made by the agencies of my Department following established procedures. My Department has no role in granting funding or any follow-up actions such as the revocation of grants. In any case, such information is considered to be commercially sensitive in many cases.

The detail of grant aid that is no longer deemed to be commercially sensitive is available in the annual reports and on the websites of the relevant agencies.

Work Permits.

Jack Wall

Question:

241 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of work permits allocated in each of the past three years; the headings under which the applications were made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21242/08]

The Employment Permits Section of my Department has set out the following figures as requested by the Deputy.

Employment Permits Issued by Job Category 2005-2007

New

Renewals

Group

Issued

2007

10,095

13,415

13

23,523

Associate Professional & Technical Occupations

2,819

937

13

3,769

Clerical and Secretarial Occupations

97

175

0

272

Craft and Related Occupations

625

1,982

0

2607

Managers & Administrators

584

696

0

1,280

Other Occupations

1572

3,689

0

5,261

Personal & Protective Service Occupations

1,583

4025

0

5,608

Plant and Machine Operatives

150

363

0

513

Professional Occupations

2,493

990

0

3,483

Sales Occupations

172

293

0

465

Not categorised

0

265

0

265

2006

7,296

16,570

956

24,822

Associate Professional & Technical Occupations

1,024

714

956

2,694

Clerical and Secretarial Occupations

80

168

0

248

Craft and Related Occupations

663

2,509

0

3172

Managers & Administrators

377

867

0

1,244

Other Occupations

1,769

5,431

0

7,200

Personal & Protective Service Occupations

1,441

4,999

0

6,440

Plant and Machine Operatives

159

461

0

620

Professional Occupations

1,691

1,178

0

2,869

Sales Occupations

92

243

0

335

Not categorised

0

0

0

0

2005

7,618

19,505

815

27,938

Associate Professional & Technical Occupations

903

753

815

2,471

Clerical and Secretarial Occupations

77

184

0

261

Craft and Related Occupations

620

2,480

0

3,100

Managers & Administrators

342

793

0

1,135

Other Occupations

1,919

7019

0

8,938

Personal & Protective Service Occupations

1,943

6,500

0

8,443

Plant and Machine Operatives

194

441

0

635

Professional Occupations

1,562

1097

0

2,659

Sales Occupations

58

237

0

295

Not categorised

0

1

0

1

County Enterprise Boards.

Jack Wall

Question:

242 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of applications received by each county enterprise board for each of the past five years; the number of successful applications; the amount of grants allocated by each board; the number of employment places created; the plans she has to review the boards and the amount of funding available; if there will be a review of the maximum grant ceiling; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21243/08]

My Department does not have any role in determining which applications receive assistance from any of the thirty-five County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and does not collect or retain information concerning the number of applications received by each CEB. Decisions on applications for assistance are made independently by the CEBs on the advice of their Evaluation Committees. In making recommendations to the Boards the Evaluation Committees are required to have regard to the quality, local relevance, cost effectiveness and viability of proposals as well as issues of deadweight and displacement. Information on the individual activities of the CEBs are available in their Annual Reports which are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas annually.

The information concerning the amounts of grants approved, the number of projects approved and the employment places created for the period 2003 to 2007 is attached in tabular format. The employment data is available on the yearly net increase or decrease in the number of full-time equivalent jobs created in CEB assisted companies. These figures are collated on an annual basis at year-end and accordingly 2008 figures are not yet available.

The specific types of formal CEB assistance available to micro-enterprise is broken down between financial assistance such as grants for feasibility studies, employment grants and capital grants and non-financial assistance ("soft supports") such as Programmes covering Business Management, Mentoring, E-commerce, Enterprise Education and Women in Business networks. The general levels of available financial assistance are as follows:

Capital grants up to a maximum of 50% of the cost of capital and other investment or €75,000, whichever is the lesser; a portion of the grant in excess of 40%( in the BMW Region) or 35% (in the S&E Region) to be in refundable form.

Employment grants a grant of up €7,500 per new job, to a maximum of 10 new jobs.

Feasibility study grants up to a maximum of 60% (in the BMW Region) or 50% (in the S&E Region), of the cost of a feasibility study and business plan, subject to an overall limit of €6,350 (in the BMW Region) or €5,100 (in the S&E Region).

A fundamental review of the role and functions of the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) in the development of micro-enterprises, including the level of financial assistance which they have available to them, was conducted during 2004 on behalf of the Department by Fitzpatricks and Associates, Economic Consultants. The Review recommended that, in providing assistance to micro-enterprises, CEBs should focus more on economic, rather than social or local development, objectives; that there should be a renewed focus on the core enterprise mission; that the issues of potential deadweight, displacement and duplication should be more systematically and rigorously addressed and that there should be a move away from direct grant aid to repayable finance as well as a greater provision of soft supports as an alternative to grant aid. My Department continues to work with the CEBs and the newly established CEB Central Co-ordination Unit in respect of the reorientation of their focus in line with these recommendations. The forms of assistance, both financial and non-financial, available from the CEBs to their client base continues to be monitored in this context.

County and City Enterprise Boards Grants Approved 2003 to 2007 (inclusive of grants approved from CEB Measure 1 allocation and refundable-aid)

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

CEB Approvals

Grants Approved

Grants Approved

Grants Approved

Grants Approved

Grants Approved

Totals

Carlow

297,372.00

155,268.00

300,600.00

351,142.00

298,853.45

1,403,235.45

Cavan

270,075.00

189,750.00

368,000.00

362,945.00

439,850.00

1,630,620.00

Clare

333,101.00

360,830.00

318,570.00

335,275.00

321,610.00

1,669,386.00

Cork City

221,047.00

284,567.00

218,322.00

357,444.00

345,343.00

1,426,723.00

Cork North

135,000.00

135,000.00

Cork South

225,596.00

330,804.00

286,500.00

446,000.00

593,775.00

1,882,675.00

Cork West

120,605.00

221,257.00

403,402.00

239,062.00

327,632.00

1,311,958.00

Donegal

346,767.00

645,120.00

593,405.30

667,072.00

638,475.00

2,890,839.30

Dublin City

675,000.00

520,500.00

707,100.00

821,986.00

1,010,485.36

3,735,071.36

Dublin Fingal

423,194.00

600,100.00

434,000.00

601,400.00

498,500.00

2,557,194.00

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

459,065.00

700,713.00

554,014.00

701,529.00

814,290.19

3,229,611.19

Galway City & Co.

510,056.00

505,975.00

498,700.00

457,107.00

521,393.00

2,493,231.00

Kerry

532,807.00

249,433.00

460,281.00

508,759.00

575,037.00

2,326,317.00

Kildare

277,220.00

200,174.00

319,058.00

387,986.00

426,100.00

1,610,538.00

Kilkenny

285,288.00

341,100.00

466,473.28

412,870.00

366,237.92

1,871,969.20

Laois

242,072.00

243,094.00

199,929.00

434,126.00

283,658.05

1,402,879.05

Leitrim

211,589.00

179,202.00

209,012.00

304,275.00

298,969.00

1,203,047.00

Limerick City

253,609.00

193,600.00

306,189.00

378,125.00

227,690.50

1,359,213.50

Limerick County

571,900.00

299,450.00

437,724.00

437,756.00

297,388.00

2,044,218.00

Longford

328,216.00

199,500.00

235,000.00

319,000.00

221,183.00

1,302,899.00

Louth

242,055.00

200,500.00

357,740.00

319,600.00

307,430.00

1,427,325.00

Mayo

291,068.00

280,898.00

437,965.00

619,375.00

483,250.00

2,112,556.00

Meath

182,818.00

275,508.00

407,664.00

317,720.00

364,391.53

1,548,101.53

Monaghan

251,014.00

196,900.00

137,300.00

317,000.00

255,604.00

1,157,818.00

Offaly

399,163.00

171,990.00

420,554.00

476,731.00

450,299.00

1,918,737.00

Roscommon

363,378.00

184,975.00

361,529.00

396,076.00

318,973.40

1,624,931.40

Sligo

293,825.00

267,905.00

329,534.00

448,537.00

418,169.00

1,757,970.00

South Dublin

493,329.00

587,979.00

384,500.00

510,000.00

650,000.00

2,625,808.00

Tipperary NR

244,900.00

211,490.00

315,051.00

295,389.00

438,171.00

1,505,001.00

Tipperary SR

314,525.00

211,550.00

261,148.00

366,550.00

311,550.00

1,465,323.00

Waterford City

372,109.00

192,949.00

265,132.00

255,842.00

386,140.00

1,472,172.00

Waterford Co.

157,475.00

324,005.00

368,758.00

329,062.00

359,975.00

1,539,275.00

Westmeath

386,152.00

228,931.00

354,071.00

444,653.00

506,285.05

1,920,092.05

Wexford

401,419.00

426,174.00

526,043.00

466,949.00

695,439.45

2,516,024.45

Wicklow

794,629.00

189,316.00

263,773.00

284,883.00

349,166.00

1,881,767.00

Total

11,772,438.00

10,506,507.00

12,507,041.58

14,372,226.00

14,801,313.90

63,959,526.48

County and City Enterprise Boards — Number of Approved Projects 2003 to 2007

CEB projects approved

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Totals

Carlow

21

20

24

22

17

104

Cavan

23

20

36

27

28

134

Clare

38

36

38

29

32

173

Cork City

17

18

23

26

20

104

Cork North

0

2

0

0

0

2

Cork South

13

15

12

12

14

66

Cork West

13

18

24

16

18

89

Donegal

17

28

26

29

25

125

Dublin City

61

47

48

63

66

285

Dublin Fingal

35

51

23

25

24

158

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown

26

46

32

31

43

178

Galway County and City Council

68

42

66

61

63

300

Kerry

54

37

54

42

49

236

Kildare

23

19

18

22

16

98

Kilkenny

30

30

32

27

31

150

Laois

21

21

21

25

34

122

Leitrim

26

22

24

24

27

123

Limerick City

25

20

24

21

19

109

Limerick County

27

18

21

24

15

105

Longford

44

24

36

34

22

160

Louth

28

29

41

24

28

150

Mayo

25

23

23

30

21

122

Meath

20

23

20

22

27

112

Monaghan

14

18

26

13

22

93

Offaly

39

23

27

19

34

142

Roscommon

24

11

24

24

26

109

Sligo

34

25

24

30

36

149

South Dublin

44

27

14

11

15

111

Tipperary NR

16

15

17

16

21

85

Tipperary SR

24

21

21

23

31

120

Waterford City

28

22

20

26

24

120

Waterford County

16

21

20

21

22

100

Westmeath

43

12

34

26

24

139

Wexford

38

39

32

27

34

170

Wicklow

16

21

23

22

17

99

TOTAL

991

864

948

894

945

4,642

Employment Places Created 2003 to 2007

CEB

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Totals

Carlow

50

-24

60

86.5

32.5

205

Cavan

-57

133

64

56.5

125.5

322

Clare

275

36

86

82.5

114.5

594

Cork City

76

11

-24

10

231

304

Cork North

-4

-4

12

8

67.5

79.5

Cork South

5

27

-25

-14.5

94

86.5

Cork West

-80

53

60

22.5

7

62.5

Donegal

223

407

-34

175.5

245

1,016.5

Dublin City

323

-17

198

273.5

33.5

811

Dublin Fingal

44

95

13

74

125.5

351.5

DunLaoghaire/Rathdown

-247

84

-48

52

171.5

12.5

Galway City & County

242

48

130

32

223

675

Kerry

-29

16

26

31

59

103

Kildare

-59

25

62

42

147.5

217.5

Kilkenny

-108

63

109

127.5

-81

110.5

Laois

34

56

69

66

3

228

Leitrim

53

44

54

28.5

-34.5

145

Limerick City

28

-39

42

34.5

105.5

171

Limerick County

30

72

20

15

-23.5

113.5

Longford

-12

9

52

36.5

55

140.5

Louth

45

78

220

54

-95

302

Mayo

16

91

52

110

46

315

Meath

-128

46

92

84.5

2

96.5

Monaghan

138

-13

90

164.5

68

447.5

Offaly

86

86

50

-34

97.5

285.5

Roscommon

68

32

54

85

59

298

Sligo

26

-20

-41

62.5

43

70.5

South Dublin

8

-117

18

78

24.5

11.5

Tipperary NR

25

35

19

20.5

25

124.5

Tipperary SR

96

65

-40

47.5

122

290.5

Waterford City

120

-132

62

42.5

-34.5

58

Waterford County

-19

45

41

63

29.5

159.5

Westmeath

-61

163

100

4

81

287

Wexford

147

7

210

35

87.5

486.5

Wicklow

63

-67

82

-18.5

9.5

69

Totals

1,459

1,341

1,938

2,045

2,266.5

9,049.5

Industrial Development.

Jack Wall

Question:

243 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of proposed trade missions she along with the agencies within her remit are or have planned for the next two years; the consideration she is giving to the constitution of such missions; if invitations will be given to persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21244/08]

IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment to Ireland and its regions. The marketing of individual areas, including Kildare, for new or expansion FDI investments and jobs is a day-to-day operational matter for the Agency. While I may give general policy directives to the Agency, I am precluded under the Acts from giving directives regarding individual undertakings or from giving preference to one area over others.

The Minister of the day receives invitations on occasion from Enterprise Ireland to partake in trade missions abroad in order to promote Irish exports. The Minister is also invited to accompany IDA on itineraries abroad to assist in marketing Ireland as a location for new and expansion investments. These visits are usually focused on specific sectors.

Should a company express an interest in investing in Ireland it is ultimately their decision regarding where to visit and/or locate. However, IDA Ireland will assist all prospective investors with a range of incentives and supports, including finding the most appropriate property solution. Should a potential investor decide to visit a specific area there may be a role for the local County Manager to assist IDA in its marketing effort by also outlining the supports available from the local authority.

Job Creation.

Seán Connick

Question:

244 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her strategy to deliver new sources of employment to County Wexford. [21330/08]

Support for job creation and investment in individual counties and regions is a day-to-day operational matter for the development agencies as part of their responsibility under the Industrial Development Acts.

IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment to Ireland and its regions. In line with the National Spatial Strategy, IDA Ireland's strategy for Wexford is to promote the county as part of an integrated South East region and is focusing its efforts in the Hub & county town of Wexford.

IDA Ireland is also actively encouraging new investment in the services and knowledge-based industries and has achieved notable successes in Wexford, evidenced by the existing quality of the companies already located in the county, such as Equifax and PFPC.

IDA is currently developing its 26 hectare Wexford Business and Technology Park as part of a national property development programme to ensure the availability of international standard property solutions for potential investors into the future. IDA also has a further 4.5 hectares available in Wexford at sites in Gorey and Enniscorthy, as a means of continuing to build on the emerging international services and financial services activity in Wexford.

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

Another incentive available is the Enterprise Platform Programme, a one-year rapid incubation programme designed to provide hands-on support and management development for entrepreneurs who wish to start their own business. The Enterprise Start Programme, which was developed by Enterprise Ireland and FÁS to help potential entrepreneurs to develop their new business ideas into business plans. The programme is aimed at individuals with new business ideas in technology or knowledge intensive sectors that are capable of achieving export sales.

The development of community based enterprise centres is a crucial element in the drive to create new regional enterprise. On 19 November 2007, under the first round of this new €21m CEC Competitive Scheme, the then Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D. announced a €6.74m investment in 22 Community Enterprise Centre projects. In 2007 Enterprise Ireland approved grant aid of €300,000 for an extension to Enniscorthy Community Enterprise Centre.

The Spirit of Enterprise is a regional initiative that aims to bring all the agencies and bodies that have an interest in enterprise promotion in the South East together. There is a regional steering group in place for "Enterprise Week" and at county level there is an organising committee. The committee for county Wexford are currently putting their programme for this year's event in place. It is hoped that through this organized approach that greater dissemination of the message about the importance of entrepreneurship and the range of supports that are in place for new enterprises.

The Wexford County Enterprise Board (CEB), since its inception in 1993 to the end of 2007, has approved over €8.3m in grant assistance to 732 clients. This intervention has made a significant contribution to job creation in Wexford. Throughout 2008 the Wexford CEB will continue to support enterprise development in Wexford through the provision of both direct and indirect assistance and will ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development at county level.

FÁS offers a range of training courses and services to individuals in County Wexford who are seeking upskilling and employment. The Competency Development Programme, aims to raise the competency level of employees to ensure that the national skills match the national human resource requirements for continuous economic growth and enable employees to cope with frequent and on-going changes in work practices. FÁS are currently running two apprentice electrician courses in the Wexford Training Centre with a total of 26 participants, with additional classes planned to run from July to December this year. Adult training courses in basic computer applications, office skills and engineering multi-skills, are also in the pipeline for the near future.

I am satisfied that the policies being pursued by the agencies under of the aegis of my Department together with the Government's commitment to regional development will continue to bear fruit for the people of Wexford and the South East region as a whole.

Company Closures.

Michael Creed

Question:

245 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the closure of a company (details supplied) in County Cork; the assistance which she is in a position to give to employees therein regarding redundancy payments; the efforts she is making to secure alternative employment of a similar nature for the workers involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21336/08]

Freescale established its Irish design centre in Cork in 1998. The Cork Centre forms part of the Radio Products Division of Freescale's Wireless and Mobile Solutions Group (WMSG).

Freescale is a large global company that routinely makes adjustments to resources as a normal course of operations to meet changing business requirements in a very dynamic industry. Freescale has decided to streamline its cellular design and as part of this decision, is proposing that all programs in its Cork design facility be transferred to other locations and the facility be closed. The closure of the facility expected in September 2008, will result in 47 employees losing their jobs.

Freescale is entering into a consultation process with its employees in Cork this week where details of redundancy and options for employees will be outlined. A number of employees may be relocated to other global sites and it is understood that Freescale will offer an enhanced redundancy package to impacted employees.

IDA Ireland is working closely with local Freescale management in Cork to help secure alternative employment for impacted staff. FÁS will be in contact with the management of FreeScale this week and will make arrangements to register the employees. The full range of FÁS services will be made available to the employees.

IDA Ireland's Strategy for the South West Region and County Cork is to:

Work with Local Authorities and relevant infrastructure and service providers to influence the delivery of appropriate infrastructure in the region;

Progress the development of a knowledge economy so that the region can compete both nationally and internationally for foreign direct investment;

Work with the existing IDA client base and to help them to further develop their presence, and

Provide modern property solutions with supporting infrastructure.

Cork has a long industrial tradition and in recent years has grown into a strong gateway with a strong presence of international companies with significant operations located throughout Cork City and County. In particular there has been a large concentration in both the pharmaceutical/medical technology sectors and in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. Recently, there has been a shift towards software, customer support and shared services activities, collectively known as Globally Traded Business.

Over the past 10 years, direct employment in IDA supported companies in Cork City and County has grown from 14,838 in 1998 to 20,114 in 2007. The sectors contributing to this growth are ICT, Pharmaceuticals/Medical Technologies and Globally Traded Business. IDA Ireland has over the last three years approved new projects for the Cork area with a job potential of over 3,100 at full operation. There are currently 134 IDA supported enterprises in Cork City and County. Recent announcements of new overseas companies locating in Cork include Blizzard, SolarWinds and Apex. These projects will significantly add to the value and depth of the overseas industry in Cork. In addition to attracting new foreign direct investment, IDA continues to work closely with its existing clients in Cork to encourage the expansion of their operations. The success of this is demonstrated by the recent expansions of several companies in the county including Citco, Vmware, Eli Lilly, Trend Micro, GlaxoSmithKline, PepsiCo and Sanmina SCI.

National Minimum Wage.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

246 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way people who are not being paid the minimum wage can make a complaint against their employer; the recourse or action that can be taken by the person on the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21350/08]

The National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 and the Industrial Relations Acts, 1946 to 2004 provide for complaint and redress procedures in the case of allegations of non-payment of statutory minimum rates of pay.

The National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 provides that an employee who alleges that his or her employer has failed to pay the National Minimum Wage may request an inspector of the National Employment Rights Authority to investigate the allegation. Such a request may also, with the consent of the employee, be made by the employee's representative. NERA inspectors may also at their own discretion conduct such an investigation.

Where the investigation is at the request of or on behalf of an employee, the Inspector will advise the employee of the outcome of the investigation.

The Act also provides that an employee or employer, or the representative of either of them with their respective consent, may, subject to certain conditions, refer a dispute concerning an employee's National Minimum Wage entitlement to a Rights Commissioner. However, a dispute cannot be referred to or dealt with by a Rights Commissioner where the employer is or has already been the subject of an investigation by an inspector or prosecuted for non-payment in respect of the same alleged underpayment.

The Rights Commissioner will, as soon as practicable after hearing a dispute, advise the parties, in writing, of his or her decision. A decision by the Rights Commissioner may include an award of arrears and reasonable expenses of the employee in connection with the dispute and require an employer to remedy, within a specified time or in a specific manner, any breach of the National Minimum Wage Act. An appeal against a decision of a Rights Commissioner may be referred to the Labour Court.

An employer who refuses or fails to pay an employee the National Minimum Wage is guilty of an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,904.61 or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or to both the fine and the imprisonment. Conviction on indictment can lead to a fine not exceeding €12,697.38 or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, or to both the fine and the imprisonment.

If the offence of which a person was convicted is continued after conviction, the person shall be guilty of a further offence on every day on which the act or omission constituting the offence continues, and for each such further offence the person shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €253.95 or on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €1,269.74.

Where, in a prosecution for an offence, it appears to a court that money is due by an employer to an employee, and the employer is convicted of that offence, the court may, if it is satisfied that the employer is liable to pay to his or her employee an amount of money, order, in addition to any penalty which it may impose, that the employer pay the amount to the employee.

Proceedings in relation to summary offences under the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 may be prosecuted by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Any amount of money due to an employee from his or her employer under or in accordance with the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 is also recoverable by the employee as a simple contract debt in a court and action for its recovery may be instituted and maintained on behalf of the employee by the employee's trade union, if the employee is a member.

The Minister may also, in certain circumstances, institute civil proceedings in the name and on behalf of an employee for the recovery of arrears arising from a breach of the National Minimum Wage Act.

The minimum level of pay in respect of certain specific sectors or industries is provided for either in Employment Regulation Orders or Registered Employment Agreements made under the auspices of the Labour Court under the Industrial Relations Acts. These include such sectors as construction, catering, electrical contracting, hotels, security, contract cleaning, hairdressing, retail grocery and agriculture.

Complaints in relation to non-payment of the minimum rates of pay provided for under Employment Regulation Orders may be made to the National Employment Rights Authority's Inspection Services. An employee, the Minister or a NERA inspector may initiate proceedings in respect of failure to comply with the minimum wage conditions of an Employment Regulation Orders. Such proceedings may include provision for the recovery of associated arrears.

The enforcement of the provisions of a Registered Employment Agreement may be effected through the Labour Court under the Industrial Relations Acts. A trade union, an association of employers or an individual employer may complain to the Labour Court that a particular employer is not complying with the Agreement. If, after investigating a complaint, the Labour Court is satisfied that the employer is in breach of the Agreement it may by order direct compliance with the Agreement.

Failure to comply with an order of the Labour Court is an offence punishable by a fine. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment may bring proceedings in relation to such offences.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment may also bring proceedings in respect of, among other matters, non-compliance with the terms of a Registered Employment Agreement. NERA Inspectors may also bring civil proceedings on behalf of an employee to recover arrears arising from non-payment of the minimum rate of pay provided for in such agreements.

Departmental Investigations.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

247 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action that was taken on foot of a complaint made to the labour inspectorate by a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; the conclusion made by her Department to the complaint; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21394/08]

I can confirm that NERA Inspection Services (Labour Inspectorate) has undertaken an investigation into the complaint referred to by the Deputy. There has been correspondence with the parties and this investigation is continuing.

Sports Capital Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

248 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will approve funding for a club (details supplied) in County Roscommon under the sports capital programme 2008. [21308/08]

I refer the Deputy to the answer by my predecessor to Question No. 537 (PQ 11029/08) on the 13th March last. The position has not changed since the Deputy last tabled the same question.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Mary Upton

Question:

249 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when the Value for Money and Policy Review Report on the existing swimming pool programme will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21331/08]

A Value for Money and Policy Review Report of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme has been completed by my Department. The Report examined, among other things, how the programme has worked to date, and what changes are required to ensure its effective and efficient delivery in the future. The recommendations in the report will be used to assist in formulating future policy in this area and will be incorporated into any new round of the programme. The Report will be published shortly.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Lowry

Question:

250 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will allow pension recipients to continue to receive their pensions by means of pension book through their nominated post office and that she will not make it compulsory for pensioners to opt for either direct payment into a bank account or alternatively by means of swipe card in view of the fact that many older pensioners do not hold a bank account and request family members to collect their payment in the post office if they are unable to call in person to collect same themselves; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21234/08]

The Department supports government policy which aims to facilitate the greater use of electronic payment systems in the economy in the interests of developing a world class payments environment in Ireland. Our payment strategy is designed to ensure that cost effective arrangements are in place for making payments to social welfare customers by using a range of payment options and to ensure that new payment facilities are made available to customers as they arise.

The Department is implementing a three year strategy to change paper based payment instruments to electronic payments at post offices, banks and other financial institutions on a phased basis. Currently some 74% of customers receive their payment electronically direct to their post office or financial institution.

A range of measures are underway to inform customers of the change in payment methods and to address any concerns they may have regarding the use of the social services card to collect their payment at post offices.

Each person is being informed by personal letter of the change in their payment arrangement. A social services card, along with a covering letter explaining how to use the card, is also being issued to them. Posters are being displayed in all post offices, citizen's information centres and throughout the Department's local office network.

For those customers who cannot collect their payment in person, the Department has arrangements in place to allow a nominated person collect their payment using a Social Services Card.

I am confident that the planned range of measures to inform customers of the change to electronic payment will ensure a smooth transition for them.

Social Welfare Code.

Denis Naughten

Question:

251 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will review the policy whereby a person can not be in receipt of the back to work allowance as well as the carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21309/08]

One of the fundamental qualifying conditions for carer's allowance, carer's benefit and the respite care grant is that the person be providing full-time care and attention to a person who needs such care. The number of hours a person may engage in employment, self employment, training or education outside the home and still be considered to be providing full-time care and attention for the purposes of the schemes was increased from 10 to 15 hours per week in June 2006.

Budget 2007 provided for new arrangements whereby people can receive a maximum payment equivalent to a half rate carer's allowance while receiving certain other social welfare payments.

The back to work allowance scheme enables social welfare customers to return to the workforce in either paid employment or self-employment and retain a proportion of their social welfare payment over a number of years. One of the qualifying conditions for the back to work allowance is that the person must be engaged in full-time employment of at least 20 hours per week. For this reason the back to work allowance is not payable with half-rate carer's allowance.

Carer's allowance recipients who have ceased caring duties may be eligible to apply for the back to work allowance.

I have no plans to change the position in relation to the back to work allowance scheme. However, I will keep the supports for carers available from my Department under review in order to continue to improve the schemes and ensure that commitments in relation to income support are delivered.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

252 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the way a person (details supplied) in County Mayo was assessed for disability allowance; the way their payment rate was calculated; and if this person is entitled to a higher rate of disability allowance. [21341/08]

The person concerned applied for Disability Allowance on 3 July 2007. He was awarded Disability Allowance from 11 July 2007 at a personal rate of €43.30 per week as he was assessed with means of €144.92 per week from an Incapacity Benefit Claim from the United Kingdom (UK).

His claim was reviewed in February 2008 and he was awarded an increase in his personal rate to €60.80 per week from 19 September 2007 and €72.80 per week from 2 January 2008.

His claim was further reviewed in May 2008. He was assessed with means of €119.31 from his UK Retirement Pension and has been awarded an increase in his personal rate to €80.30 per week from 28 may 2008.

Where persons are paid in foreign currency, the means are assessed by reference to the value in Euro currency. If the payment is in a currency of a member state of the EU, it is dealt with in accordance with EU law. Social security schemes in the European Community and the European Economic Areas are co-ordinated by Council Regulations (EEC) No. 1408/71 and 574/72.

Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1408/71 contains detailed rules which co-ordinate rights granted under the different National legislation while Regulation (EEC) No. 574/72 contains detailed rules for implementing Regulations No. 1408/71.

Article 107.1.b of Regulation (EEC) No. 574/72 states that the rate for conversion into a national currency of amounts denominated in another national currency shall be the rate calculated by the Commission and based on the monthly average, during the "reference period" of rates of exchange of currencies published by the European Central Bank. There are four reference periods each year on which conversion rates are calculated, these are:

January for rates of conversion applicable from 01 April following

April for rate of conversion applicable from 01 July following

July for rates of conversion applicable from 01 October following

October for rates of conversion applicable from 01 Jan. following

Disability Allowance is a means tested scheme. The mechanism used in assessing the means in this case, which were derived from a British Pension, is as outlined above.

The person concerned may request a review of his claim at any stage by submitting up to date payslips for his UK Retirement Pension, however, he may gain or lose, depending on the circumstances.

Pension Provisions.

Willie Penrose

Question:

253 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if Ireland has a bilateral agreement with Canada for pension purposes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21345/08]

Ireland has a bilateral Agreement on social security with Canada and it came into force on 1st January 1992. The main purpose of the agreement is to protect the social security pension rights of people who have worked in Ireland and who have worked and/or resided in Canada. The agreement also deals with the social security status of workers who are sent on temporary assignments from Ireland to Canada.

The agreement is currently in operation and working satisfactorily.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

254 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if social welfare or alternative payment will be arranged for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21413/08]

Responsibility forhomeless persons under 18 years of age lies with the Health Service Executive under the Child Care Act, 1991. While supplementary welfare allowance is not generally paid to persons under 18 years, payment may be made to young people who have left home for valid reasons and who are not being maintained by their family but who have the ability to live independently and where intervention under the Child Care Act is not considered appropriate or necessary.

The Health Service Executive has advised that it has allowed payment of a basic supplementary welfare allowance to the person concerned in this case on an interim basis pending a decision by the social worker on her domestic status.

Departmental Programmes.

Denis Naughten

Question:

255 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the contract for an organisation (details supplied) will be renewed after 31 May 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21214/08]

As part of the current programme support, the Department publicly tendered for the provision of support services to Projects in 2004. Six companies, including the agency referred to by the Deputy, were contracted following a public tender process to provide services on a regional basis for the period June 2004 to end May 2007. These contracts were extended, initially, to the end of 2007, and then, to the end of May 2008, in order to complete a consultation process with Projects on the future of the Programme. My Department cannot extend these publicly procured contracts on an indefinite basis and tenders for support services will be advertised publicly in the very near future as part of the development of future support services for the Programme.

In the interim, projects have been afforded some flexibility by providing them with the opportunity to procure services that best meet their own training and development need.

Rail Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

256 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will report on his recent meetings with interested groups regarding a rail stop at Crusheen, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21349/08]

I met a delegation regarding Crusheen station on Friday 16th May. I indicated that in discussions with Iarnród Éireann, further proposals had been requested from them in relation to the Western Rail Corridor under the CLÁR programme. I also indicated that, in this context, if proposals for Crusheen Station were included, they would be considered in respect of CLÁR funding, subject to such funding being available.

Consumer Protection.

Michael Creed

Question:

257 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the purpose and terms of reference of the consumer liaison panel; the way this panel differs in function from other State and semi-State agencies with a consumer focus; the budget available for the liaison panel; the number of meetings envisaged for the panel on a yearly basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21335/08]

The Consumer Liaison Panel was established in 2002. Its purpose is to liaise on an ongoing basis on general consumer and client base issues in relation to the activities of my Department and to comment on the flow of information both to and from the public. The Consumer Liaison Panel does not have a statutory basis and operates as a consumer focus group for the Department. The Budget available for the Panel is €10,000 per year, and it is anticipated that the Panel will meet at least every three months.

Special Educational Needs.

Denis Naughten

Question:

258 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review the criteria for the appointment of special needs assistants in primary schools; if he will extend the criteria to include the education needs of children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21220/08]

At the outset, I wish to advise the Deputy that there are now over 19,000 staff in our schools working solely with children with special needs. This includes almost 10,000 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) — compared with just 300 in 1997.

SNAs are sanctioned by special education needs organisers to schools specifically to assist in the care of pupils and students with disabilities in an educational context, in line with my Department's circulars.

The Deputy will be aware that SNAs and teachers have separate yet complementary roles. SNAs provide care support to pupils with special educational needs who have been assessed as having such needs while teachers deliver education to the pupils. I have no plans, at present, to formally extend the SNA role to be that of a para-educator.

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department has recently commenced a value for money and policy review of the special needs assistant scheme. It is expected that the review will be completed during 2009.

Site Acquisitions.

Tom Hayes

Question:

259 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to a transfer of land (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [21221/08]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Office of Public Works (OPW), which acts on behalf of my Department in relation to site acquisitions generally, has been asked to source a suitable site for the school in question. My Department is advised that the Health Service Executive (HSE) have formally conveyed its approval to dispose of lands either to South Tipperary County Council or directly to the OPW. The OPW are currently awaiting written confirmation from the HSE that they are prepared to sell a site to them.

The further consideration of the site acquisition will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Special Educational Needs.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

260 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 478 of 13 May 2008 if he will clarify whether the hours allocated to the school in question will remain in place for the school year 2008-09; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21224/08]

In April, my Department notified the school referred to by the Deputy that based on the School's enrolment it had an over-allocation of 5 hours under the General Allocation model. As this is a recent development it is not intended to reduce the school's allocation for this school year.

All primary schools have recently been asked to complete an application form for the allocation of Learning Support/Resource Teaching posts for the 2008/2009 school year. This school has been asked to omit these hours from the school's application. The school has been informed that if it did not have sufficient hours within the cluster to retain the 2nd post, that my Department will review the schools case at that stage.

A full review of the schools allocation for the 2008/2009 school year will be carried out on receipt of the school's completed application for the Learning Support/ Resource Teacher posts (LS/RT1 form).

Higher Education Grants.

Ulick Burke

Question:

261 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science when he will publish details of higher education grants income thresholds for the 2008-09 scheme; if the details have been finalised and published in order to avoid delays in issuing of student grant payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21225/08]

The process of reviewing the income limits, rates of grant and other aspects of the general criteria of the 2008 Maintenance Grant Schemes is a priority in my Department at present. Decisions on the 2008 schemes will be announced as soon as the process is completed.

Special Educational Needs.

Ulick Burke

Question:

262 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason four hours of resource teaching support has been withdrawn from a person (details supplied) in County Galway whom the school feels would benefit further from this support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21226/08]

As the Deputy may be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants to schools to support children with special needs.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

I have arranged for the details supplied by the Deputy to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Site Acquisitions.

Jack Wall

Question:

263 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if it is within his remit to ensure that lands zoned by local authorities for the educational needs of its community can be purchased by his Department or any of its agencies that purchases such lands for his Department; if such agencies can compulsory purchase such lands for educational needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21239/08]

In general, the Office of Public Works (OPW) procures sites on behalf of my Department. More recently, my Department has begun interacting directly with several local authorities in relation to acquiring sites, particularly in rapidly developing areas. The question of the use of Compulsory Purchase Order is a matter for the relevant local authority in the first instance.

Higher Education Grants.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

264 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on providing funding for third level students who are forced to seek places in private colleges due to the lack of available places in public colleges for niche courses, for example, postgraduate courses for primary teaching in colleges such as a college (details supplied) in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21246/08]

The level of student intake to the Colleges of Education is determined annually by my Department and it takes account of the supply of and demand for primary teachers.

In recent years the approved level of intake to the Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching) has been 1,000 annually. All colleges providing Bachelor of Education courses are State funded and tuition fees are not levied on students.

In addition, some of the State funded Colleges of Education run an 18 month Graduate Diploma in Education course. This is a full-time course which enables third level graduates to train as primary teachers. The Deputy will be aware that for the intake to the 2008 post graduate diploma in education my Department approved an additional 210 places to bring the total allocation to 490 places.

The on-line Graduate Diploma in Primary Education, provided by Hibernia College and accredited by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) is a part time course and allows third level graduates to continue working while studying for their teaching qualification. The Graduate Diploma conferred at the end of this course, is recognised by my Department for the purposes of primary teaching.

I understand that the cost to students of the post graduate course in the Colleges of Education and Hibernia College are similar. Participants on these courses may avail of tax relief under section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, which provides tax relief, at the standard rate of tax, for tuition fees paid in respect of approved courses at approved colleges of higher education.

The intake into the Colleges of Education will continue to be kept under review by my Department to ensure that there is an adequate supply of teachers.

Local Authority Charges.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

265 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21255/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

266 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 20 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21256/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

267 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21257/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

268 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21258/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

269 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6W paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21259/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

270 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21260/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

271 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21261/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

272 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6W paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21262/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

273 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21263/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

274 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21264/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

275 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21265/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

276 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21266/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

277 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21267/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

278 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21268/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

279 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21269/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

280 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21270/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

281 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21271/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

282 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21272/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

283 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21273/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

284 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21274/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

285 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21275/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

286 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6W paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21276/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

287 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21277/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

288 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21278/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

289 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21279/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

290 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21280/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

291 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21281/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

292 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21282/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

293 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21283/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

294 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21284/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

295 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21285/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

296 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21286/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

297 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21287/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

298 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21288/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

299 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21289/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

300 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21290/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

301 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21291/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

302 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21292/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

303 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21293/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

304 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21294/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

305 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21295/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

306 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21296/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

307 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21297/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

308 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6W paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21298/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

309 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21299/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

310 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 20 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21300/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

311 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21301/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

312 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 20 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21302/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

313 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21303/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

314 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10 paid each year for the past five years in water charges; and the additional funding he will allocate the schools to pay for these non-educational costs. [21304/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 265 to 314, inclusive, together.

There is currently no requirement for primary schools to submit copies of itemised bills to my Department. Section 18 of the Education Act, 1998 and Section 19 of "The Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure" handbook sets out the responsibilities of boards of management for maintaining school accounts.

I am aware of the cost pressures on schools, including those arising from water charges, and it is for this reason that it is a priority for Government to improve funding for the day-to-day running costs of schools. Specific commitments in relation to improving school funding form a central part of the education provisions of 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 schools and primary schools in particular.

Primary schools are now getting over €178 per pupil to meet their day to day running costs — an increase of nearly 70% on the 2002 rate of €105 and €15 more per child than they got last year. Post-primary schools have also seen improvements in funding and through a similar €15 increase this year now receive €331 per pupil. As the Deputy will be aware, we are committed to doubling the capitation grant for primary schools over the lifetime of the Programme for Government.

In the context of reducing water costs for schools, it has been demonstrated that fitting simple water saving devices to toilets and sinks can reduce water consumption considerably at very little cost, as can other small works such as fixing easily identifiable leaks. Primary school authorities may use their annual minor works grant to fund such measures. The minor works grant has increased by nearly 50% over the past two years and some €27m issued to primary schools at the end of last year for that purpose.

The Government agreed a transition period to full water charges in the case of non-fee charging recognised schools and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has advised local authorities of the detailed arrangements regarding the implementation of this decision.

The transitional arrangements afford schools the opportunity to put in place water conservation arrangements and practices and to undertake works that can help reduce water usage significantly before full water charges are introduced. By virtue of good water conservation schools can be in a much stronger position to reduce the impact of water charges on their overall budgets. Guidance was also recently issued to schools on the most appropriate measures to minimise excess consumption of water and to reduce wastage where it exists. 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. Furthermore those schools with very high water consumption will be identified and contacted with a view to introducing measures to help them reduce water usage.

My Department remains in close liaison with the Department of Environment and Local Government regarding water conservation and is supportive of any initiatives by it and local authorities that will help reduce water costs for schools.

Schools Building Projects.

Denis Naughten

Question:

315 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will include a school (details supplied) in County Roscommon on the list of schools in developing areas; if he will facilitate a meeting between the board of management and his officials on the future development of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21310/08]

My Department has received an application for major capital funding for the school to which the Deputy refers. The school in question has not been selected for designation as a developing area school. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage to construction phase will be considered in an ongoing basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual school building and modernisation programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of these projects at this time.

School Accommodation.

Brian Hayes

Question:

316 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if the prompt payment legislation applies to his Department in respect of the payment of moneys to schools where they have obtained temporary classroom facilities from a company that provides such facilities; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in many cases the relevant company has to wait in excess of six months for payment; the reason his Department is unable to make these payments; if his attention has been drawn to this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21311/08]

It is the policy of my Department to ensure that payments due to companies in respect of services, including those referred to by the Deputy, are made as expeditiously as possible. The Deputy will appreciate that queries may arise in specific cases that need to be resolved before payments can issue. These may arise in cases in which invoice amounts differ from the amount approved by my Department or are not forwarded promptly to my Department by schools. If approval to rent accommodation is given to a school, the contract is between the supplier and the school. Accordingly the school is invoiced by the supplier and in turn the school is funded the cost by my Department. The Deputy can be assured that my Department will continue to issue payments due at the earliest possible date.

Schools Refurbishment.

Brian Hayes

Question:

317 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to rectify serious heating and plumbing matters affecting schools (details supplied) in the Dublin 7 area. [21319/08]

My Department received an application for funding under the emergency works scheme from the schools in question. A decision on the application will be made as soon as possible and the schools will be advised of the outcome.

Adult Education.

Ulick Burke

Question:

318 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science the funding provided to an organisation (details supplied) in County Galway to continue the provision to allow approximately 200 young mothers to remain in education in order that they can contribute to society as mothers and workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21323/08]

My Department received an application on behalf of the project/organisation in question to be considered for funding in 2008 under the Special Projects for Youth Scheme. In assessing applications for funding, consideration is given to Department supported interventions already in place in the areas concerned so as to avoid duplication of effort and resource. My Department currently supports the educational element of eight Teenage Parenting Support Projects under the Health Services Executive's Teenage Parenting Support Initiative in Galway, Limerick, Louth, Coolock, Donegal, Carlow, Cork and Dublin and it would be inappropriate to support a second initiative in an area which provides a similar service to the same target group.

Funding has been committed in 2008 to the 8 Teenage Parenting Support projects as a specific gender element of the School Completion Programme under DEIS in preventing early school leaving among teenage mothers. Links have been established between local School Completion projects in these areas, assisted by the SCP National Co-ordination Team and the Teenage Parenting Support Initiative Coordinators. The aim of these projects is to enable young women who are pregnant and young mothers to stay in second level education and to progress on to third level education or training. The Project does this by providing individual support, information and grinds where necessary. Young people participating in Teen Parenting Support Programmes are targeted in-school, out-of-school and in higher or further education, giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential through continued participation in education and training. This will improve their life opportunities and reduce the likelihood of the young family experiencing poverty and social exclusion and being long-term dependants on State support. The process of determining my Department's financial allocations to the Youth Work Sector for 2008 is still under way. I expect that this process will be completed shortly and all Administering Agencies, in this instance Youth Work Ireland will then be notified of the outcome as appropriate.

Summer Works Scheme.

Seán Connick

Question:

319 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will re-introduce the summer works scheme in 2009. [21327/08]

Over 3,000 projects, costing in excess of €300 million, have been completed since the Summer Works Scheme was introduced in 2004. With so many smaller projects having been completed over the past few years, my Department is focusing on delivering as many large projects as possible in 2008. Accordingly, there is no Summer Works Scheme for 2008. However, it is intended to have a Summer Works Scheme in 2009.

University Recognition.

Seán Connick

Question:

320 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the need to establish a university in the south east to ensure balanced regional development. [21328/08]

Applications have been received from three Institutes of Technology for designation as universities. These applications raise significant issues regarding Government policy towards higher education, in particular the existing roles of the Universities and Institutes of Technology which have distinctive missions from each other, provide different levels and types of academic programmes, fulfil different roles in the community and have separate academic and governance structures. The Government wants to build on our strengths and to provide an environment where all our higher education institutions can develop in a way that best serves the country as a whole and the regions where they are based. These issues will be central to consideration of the appropriate next steps in relation to all applications on hand, including the one from Waterford Institute of Technology.

School Staffing.

Seán Connick

Question:

321 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Question No. 348 of 29 April 2008, the outcome of an appeal by a national school (details supplied) in County Wexford to be granted mainstream teaching staffing numbers for the 2008/2009 academic year based on their enrolment in October 2007. [21329/08]

The first meeting of the Appeal Board for Mainstream Staffing in primary schools took place on 20 May, 2008 at which an appeal on behalf of the school in question was heard. I understand that the Appeal Board deferred a decision on the appeal application pending receipt of further information. When this process has been completed the Board of Management will be notified of the outcome of the appeal. The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Schools Building Projects.

Michael Ring

Question:

322 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason he did not answer a parliamentary question (details supplied) put to him; and if he will answer the question that was asked. [21340/08]

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The progression of all large scale building projects, including the 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. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time. I will give consideration to such a meeting when I have fully examined issues relating to funding and other aspects of the School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Student Support Schemes.

Brian Hayes

Question:

323 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if he is committed to ensuring the proper and fair dispersion of the student services charge by third and fourth level educational institutions throughout Ireland; if he will guarantee that all the moneys collected through the student service charge are invested in student services and not used to pay down institutional debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21369/08]

The student services charge is levied by third level institutions to defray the costs of examinations, registration and students services. The charge, which is €825 in the current academic year, does not represent the total allocation towards student services from institutions' budgets. As the Institutions are autonomous, they determine the internal disbursal of funding, including funding of student services. Students who are eligible for means tested student support have the charge paid on their behalf by the Local Authorities or the VECs, in addition to any maintenance grant and tuition fee grant to which they are entitled. The Higher Education Authority issued a Framework of Good Practice for the Provision of Student Services to the publicly funded Higher Education institutions in 1998. Particular reference was made to the principles of transparency and accountability. The framework consists of guidelines to establish an appropriate system of consultation with students in the allocation of funding from the charge and the determination of student services to be funded from this source. The HEA has periodically written to all institutions to remind them of their function in relation to the student services charge and requesting confirmation that correct procedures are in place, in accordance with the framework of good practice. I understand from the HEA that it recently wrote again to all institutions in relation to the charge reminding them of the framework. I am satisfied that the HEA considers, generally, that the framework has operated quite well in the sector.

School Staffing.

Finian McGrath

Question:

324 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if a school (details supplied) in County Sligo will be assisted. [21418/08]

The mainstream staffing of a primary school is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous school year. The actual number of mainstream posts sanctioned is determined by reference to a staffing schedule which is issued to all primary schools each year. Data submitted to my Department by the Board of Management of the school referred to by the Deputy indicates that the enrolment in the school on 30 September 2006 was 233 pupils. In accordance with the staffing schedule (Circular 0020/2007), which is available on my Department's website, www.education.ie, the mainstream staffing in the school for the 2007-08 school year is a Principal and nine mainstream class teachers. According to data submitted by the Board of Management of the school the enrolment in the school on 30 September 2007 was 229 pupils. In accordance with the staffing schedule (Circular 0010/2008), which is also available on my Department’s website and a hard copy of which has been issued to all primary schools, the mainstream staffing in the school for the 2008-09 school year will be a Principal and eight mainstream class teachers. Within the terms of the staffing arrangements for primary schools there is provision for additional posts, referred to as developing school posts, to be assigned to schools on the basis of projected enrolments for the next school year. Under these arrangements, a developing school post may be sanctioned provisionally where the projected enrolment at 30 September of the school year in question equals or exceeds a specified figure. If the specified figure is not achieved on 30 September, sanction for the post is withdrawn.

It is open to the Board of Management to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeal Board which was established to adjudicate on appeals on mainstream staffing allocations in primary schools. Details of the criteria and application dates for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule. They are also available in Circular 0024/2007 (Appeal Board for Mainstream Staffing in Primary Schools) on my Department's website. The school referred to by the Deputy lodged an appeal with the Primary Staffing Appeal Board. The appeal was heard at the Appeal Board meeting on 20 May 2008 and was unsuccessful. The Board of Management of the school was notified in writing of the decision of the Appeal Board on 22 May 2008. The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Defence Forces Reserve.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

325 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Defence if serving members of the Reserve Defence Forces are excluded from all national and EU legislation governing employment rights when undergoing full-time paid training for periods exceeding 21 consecutive days, when undergoing full-time paid training for periods not exceeding 21 consecutive days and when undergoing unpaid training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21212/08]

There is a comprehensive range of national and EU legislation dealing with employment rights and protection of employees. Members of the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) are not "employees" or "workers" in the generally accepted meaning of those terms. The Defence Acts 1954 to 2007 prescribe that the Defence Forces shall consist of a Permanent Defence Force (PDF) and a Reserve Defence Force. Members of the Permanent Defence Force are engaged in the service of the State on a full-time basis and are in receipt of pay and allowances accordingly. The RDF is a part-time, voluntary organisation whose primary activity is training. Members are free to determine their own level of participation in Reserve activities and may resign from the Reserve at any time. Their service is provided entirely on a voluntary basis with no compulsion to attend. Members of the Reserve undergo both paid and unpaid training. In addition, there is provision for a gratuity to be paid to those members who meet certain attendance criteria.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

326 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Defence if members of the Reserve Defence Force will be covered under the non-statutory personal injuries compensation scheme for members of the RDF if they sustain an injury whilst training on their own time to achieve and maintain a level of fitness to pass the Permanent Defence Force fitness tests; if the members of the Reserve Defence Force will be granted use of training facilities and access to PDF PTIs; if not if the Defence forces will pay for gym subscription as the territorial army in Britain do, to help them achieve the fitness levels they want them to pass; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21213/08]

Members of the Reserve Defence Forces (RDF) who are injured in the course of their duties may apply for compensation under a non-statutory compensation scheme administered by my Department. Typically, this would cover injuries sustained on official duty while participating in annual camp, field days, overnights, exercises, parades and courses of instruction. Compensation is payable under the scheme where it is established that a member of the RDF has been disabled as the result of injuries sustained in the course of his or her duties. However, no compensation is payable where injury or death is caused by the member's own serious negligence or misconduct, or where alternative compensation is otherwise received for the same injury. The scheme does not extend to training injuries sustained in their own time outside periods of military activities. I am informed by the military authorities that a Reserve Defence Force Physical Training Policy is being developed. This policy will address the range of issues and challenges associated with raising the standard of physical fitness in the RDF. A Physical Training Pilot Programme for RDF units has been introduced for 2008 and an RDF Physical Training Leaders Course is planned for July 2008 to support this pilot programme. The military authorities have informed me that members of the RDF may avail of PDF facilities subject to the same Health and Safety restrictions that apply to members of the PDF. There are no plans to pay for gym subscriptions for members of the RDF.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Denis Naughten

Question:

327 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide an update to Question No. 519 of 4 March 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21219/08]

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the installation of the CCTV system in Athlone is at the planning consultation stage. Installation of the system is expected to be completed later this year.

Garda Operations.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

328 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of roadside checkpoints undertaken by the Garda Síochána in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and to date in 2008; the number of these checkpoints that included armed gardaí and the Garda Air support unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21231/08]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that it is not possible to provide the information requested by the Deputy without a disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources.

I am also informed that all members of An Garda Síochána are tasked with the enforcement of relevant legislation. As part of this enforcement policy, members of An Garda Síochána carry out planned and unplanned checkpoints, including those carried out under Operation Anvil and those for the purpose of Mandatory Alcohol Testing.

In the Dublin Metropolitan Region, as part of Operation Anvil, almost 94,000 checkpoints, consisting of uniformed and plain-clothes / armed and unarmed personnel, have been conducted since the Operation commenced in May 2005.

Mandatory alcohol testing (MAT), which was introduced by the Road Traffic Act 2006, is increasing the compliance culture among road users. By detecting incidents of drink driving, it is reducing road traffic fatalities and deterring incidents of alcohol-impaired driving by systematically selecting drivers and assessing their level of alcohol related impairment. MAT checkpoints operate in conjunction with general enforcement of drink driving legislation.

In the recent past, An Garda Síochána have undertaken targeted campaigns directed at use of alcohol and drugs by drivers (December 2007), non-wearing of seat belts (February 2008) and compliance by heavy goods vehicles (March 2008). They will undertake further such campaigns and other initiatives, including specific operations at holiday periods, in the light of what is considered necessary.

Garda Compensation Claims.

Michael McGrath

Question:

329 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a claim submitted under the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Act 1941 by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [21305/08]

The member's application is currently receiving attention, and it is anticipated that his solicitors will be notified of the outcome in the near future.

Residency Permits.

Damien English

Question:

330 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for a stamp four by a person (details supplied) in County Meath will be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21312/08]

I would refer the Deputy to the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 307 put down for answer of 20 February 2008. The position in relation to granting long-term residency is as follows: Persons who have been legally resident in the State for over five years on the basis of work permit/work authorisation/work visa conditions may apply to the Immigration Division of my Department for a five-year residency extension. In that context they may also apply to be exempt from employment permit requirements.

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

Time spent in the State on student conditions cannot be counted towards long-term residency.

While applications for long-term residency are under consideration, the person concerned should ensure that their permission to remain in the State is kept up to date.

An application for long-term residency from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in November 2007 and an acknowledgement has been issued to him. I understand that applications received in September 2006 are currently being dealt with. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified.

Citizenship Applications.

Joe McHugh

Question:

331 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Question No. 426 of 29 April 2008, if he will expedite the application of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21322/08]

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 June 2007.

Applications are generally dealt with in chronological order and this practice is not deviated from except in exceptional circumstances. However, due to the particular circumstances outlined in your Question, I understand that a submission will shortly be made to my office for a decision on whether this case might be expedited.

Garda Transport.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

332 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the breakdown of the number of cars operational per Garda division; the number used in individual districts; the ratio between those over 100 bhp and under 140 bhp; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21332/08]

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that the number of cars operational in Garda Divisions and Garda Districts is as set out in the table beneath. The ratio between the total number of cars in the Divisions and those in the range between 100 bhp and 140 bhp is 2.78:1.

Division / Districts

No. of Cars

Carlow/Kildare

50

Baltinglass

10

Carlow

11

Kildare

12

Naas

17

Cavan/Monaghan

53

Bailieboro

15

Ballyconnell

5

Carickmacross

8

Cavan

8

Monaghan

17

Clare

30

Ennis

18

Ennistymon

3

Killaloe

5

Kilrush

4

Cork City

77

Anglesea St.

53

Gurranbraher

8

Mayfield

6

Togher

10

Cork North

37

Cobh

7

Fermoy

12

Mallow

9

Midleton

9

Cork West

44

Bandon

14

Bantry

8

Clonakility

7

Kanturk

7

Macroom

8

D.M.R East

52

Blackrock

16

Bray

19

Dun Laoghaire

17

D.M.R North

94

Balbriggan

9

Coolock

28

Raheny

18

Santry

39

D.M.R North Central

49

Bridewell

7

Fitzgibbon Street

15

Store Street

27

D.M.R South

58

Tallaght

21

Crumlin

24

Terenure

13

D.M.R South Central

50

Donnybrook

11

Kevin Street

16

Pearse Street

23

D.M.R Traffic

23

Dublin Castle

23

D.M.R West

83

Ballyfermot

26

Blanchardstown

41

Lucan

16

Donegal

53

Ballyshannon

10

Buncrana

10

Glenties

6

Letterkenny

19

Milford

8

Galway West

54

Clifden

4

Gort

4

Loughrea

7

Millstreet

29

Salthill

10

Kerry

35

Caherciveen

6

Killarney

9

Listowel

8

Tralee

12

Laois/Offaly

46

Abbeyleix

6

Birr

6

Portlaoise

20

Tullamore

14

Limerick

61

Askeaton

6

Bruff

5

Henry Street

36

Newcastle West

6

Roxboro Road

8

Longford/Westmeath

42

Athlone

8

Granard

7

Longford

7

Mullingar

20

Louth/Meath

77

Navan

10

Ashbourne

16

Drogheda

17

Dundalk

19

Kells

8

Trim

7

Mayo

38

Ballina

7

Belmullet

4

Castlebar

9

Claremorris

6

Swinford

7

Westport

5

Roscommon/Galway East

31

Balinasloe

5

Boyle

4

Castlerea

5

Roscommon

8

Tuam

9

Sligo/Leitrim

40

Ballymote

4

Carrick-on-Shannon

9

Manorhamilton

7

Sligo

20

Tipperary

44

Cahir

7

Clonmel

9

Nenagh

6

Templemore

6

Thurles

12

Tipperary

4

Waterford/Kilkenny

54

Dungarvan

10

Kilkenny

12

Thomastown

7

Tramore

6

Waterford

19

Wexford

49

Enniscorthy

10

Gorey

11

New Ross

8

Wexford

12

Wicklow

8

Citizenship Applications.

Frank Feighan

Question:

333 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedure to be followed whereby a grandparent wishes to take over guardianship of their grandchild; if a grandparent can complete an application and apply for naturalisation and eventually dual citizenship in respect of a grandchild born in the US; and the documents necessary to complete this process. [21348/08]

Since the Deputy has not provided sufficient information regarding the person in question, I have set out below the general position with regard to naturalisation for persons under 18 years of age.

Section 15(1) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, provides inter alia that an applicant for naturalisation must be of full age. Section 16 of the Act sets out a number of circumstances in which the conditions specified in Section 15 can be waived. These include the following: where the applicant is a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a minor of Irish descent or Irish associations, or where the applicant is a naturalised Irish citizen acting on behalf of a minor child of the applicant.

If the Deputy wishes to furnish further particulars, officials in the Citizenship Section of my Department will advise him of the position.

Public Order Offences.

Tony Gregory

Question:

334 Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will request a report from the Garda authorities in the Bridewell District, Dublin 7 detailing the number of reported incidents of vandalism to cars in the Oxmantown district of Dublin 7 since the beginning of 2008, if there has been a recent upsurge in such acts, the number of arrests made and convictions obtained related to these acts, if the culprits are known to the Garda, if Garda liaison officers have visited their families and the action the Garda is taking to effectively patrol this area to prevent any recurrence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21385/08]

I am informed that the location referred to is in the Bridewell Garda sub-District and is patrolled by foot and mobile patrols from that Garda station. Members of the local Community Policing Unit allocated to this area liaise with the local community providing crime prevention and security advice.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that local Garda management is aware of the ongoing problems of public disorder and anti-social behaviour in the area concerned. There were 64 incidents of criminal damage to motor vehicles recorded in the area referred to in 2008 to date and seven arrests have been made. Garda investigations into these incidents are ongoing and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Policing strategies have been put in place under the Divisional and District Policing Plans for the reduction of criminal damage and public order incidents. These strategies include specific initiatives targeting such criminal behaviour utilising the Community Policing Unit for high visibility and intensive patrolling.

Additional Garda patrols, including patrols by District patrol car, District Detective and Drug Units and the Mountain Bike Units, supplemented as required by the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel, have been directed to pay particular attention to this area, with a view to ensuring a visible Garda presence.

Local Garda management liaises closely with the local authority in ensuring the enforcement of relevant legislation in the locality, including the Dublin City Council (Prohibition of Consumption of Intoxicating Liquor on the Street and in Public Places) By-Laws, 2000.

Current policing policy in the area is predicated on the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence against persons and property and drug-related crime, the prevention of public order offences and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life of the residents. Specific initiatives and special operations are put in place when analysis of criminal behaviour and crime trends indicate that such measures are necessary. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of the policing service in this area.

Garda Operations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

335 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which it is expected to reorganise the Garda divisions, sub-divisions and districts throughout County Kildare in line with geographic boundaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21400/08]

In accordance with the provisions of the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007 proposals, inter alia, to alter the boundaries of a divisional geographical area are a matter in the first instance for the Garda Commissioner in the context of the Annual Policing Plan. The 2008 Policing Plan, which was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, contains the Commissioner's proposals to realign Garda boundaries in a number of areas around the country to make them coterminous with local authority boundaries. This includes the establishment of a new Kildare Division with Naas as the Divisional Headquarters. The planned changes will bring about greater efficiencies and effectiveness in facilitating the establishment and functioning of Joint Policing Committees.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that project boards have been established in each division, including one in Kildare, to develop an implementation plan to create and rollout the new divisions. The relevant Project Boards are managing all tasks associated with the rollout including the identification of any accommodation requirements at individual stations. With regard to Kildare, the research is well advanced and will identify any structural realignment required within the Division.

Garda Stations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

336 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda stations throughout County Kildare operating on a 24-hour basis; the stations expected to become operational on such a basis in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21401/08]

The opening hours for each station in the Carlow/Kildare Garda Division were outlined in a reply to Parliamentary Question No. 530 (ref.: 9248/08) which my predecessor answered on the 4th March and the position remains unchanged. A point to bear in mind is that an increase in the opening hours of any Garda Station would necessitate the deployment of additional Garda personnel on indoor administrative duties who may be more effectively employed on outdoor policing duties.

Garda Strength.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

337 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied regarding the strength of the serious crime units within the Garda Síochána; if further enhancement is anticipated in view of increased indicators of criminal activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21402/08]

The current intake of 1,100 Garda recruits per annum is on course to meet the Government's recruitment target.

As of 30 April 2008, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána was 13,874 with over 1,000 recruits in training.

It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to allocate personnel throughout the Force taking all relevant factors into account, such as population, crime rates and trends, and operational priorities. When additional personnel next become available their allocation will be decided by the Commissioner in this context.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

338 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prosecutions taken against persons involved in money laundering in each of the past five years to date; the number of convictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21403/08]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of proceedings commenced and convictions recorded for money-laundering offences for the period 2003 to 2008 is set out in the following table:

Year

2008*

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

Proceedings commenced

2

11

15

9

6

8

Convictions recorded

1

5

2

10

1

1

Figures provided for 2008* are provisional and liable to change. A number of offences for 2006, 2007 and 2008 may still be under investigation or before the courts.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

339 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of known criminal organisations involved in drug dealing; the estimated number of personnel involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21404/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

344 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of offences involving organised criminal gangs in each of the past five years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21409/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 339 and 344 together.

I have been informed by the Garda Authorities that there are two categories of organised crime groups operating in this jurisdiction. The first category consists of groups that are well established and tightly structured involved in drug trafficking, armed robbery and firearms offences. The second category involves groups whose activities are characterised by less cohesive group structures and criminal activities which are mainly confined to Ireland.

The membership of organised crime gangs tends to be fluid and the nature of criminal activity is such that offences committed by members of gangs may or may not be connected with the individual's membership of such gangs. It is therefore not possible, without the expenditure of an inordinate amount of time and resources, to attribute specific figures to the membership or activity of such gangs.

An Garda Síochána utilises intelligence-led operations to target organised crime groups on an ongoing basis. All available intelligence is fully analysed and used in the strategic deployment of both local and specialised operational Garda units to target particular groups. A large proportion of organised criminal activity is associated with the illicit drugs trade.

Organised Crime is being targeted on a number of fronts, involving uniform and plain-clothes Gardaí overtly and covertly disrupting known criminals in the course of criminal activities, and profiles of the personnel of such groups are continually updated. Their members, operating methods, criminal interests and financial assets are likewise proactively targeted through intelligence-led operations, primarily undertaken by specialist units of An Garda Síochána, under the remit of the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services. A number of organised crime groups have been targeted in this manner recently, with firearms being recovered and drugs seized resulting in a number of people from these organised groups being prosecuted and convicted before the Courts.

Measures have been put in place to deal with serious crime including Operation Anvil which commenced in May 2005 in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and was extended countrywide in 2006. The primary focus of Operation Anvil is the disruption of serious and organised criminal activity. In this regard Operation Anvil consists of intelligence-led targeted operations on the one hand and an increased overt visible Garda presence on the other. The Garda Commissioner has publicly re-affirmed his absolute commitment to the objectives of Operation Anvil, which is but one tool used by members of An Garda Síochána to combat crime.

An allocation of €20 million has been ring-fenced from the Garda Budget 2008 to ensure that ongoing operations of Anvil, which are augmented by other operations and initiatives both locally and nationally, continue to be undertaken by all units and sections of An Garda Síochána.

Multi-agency approaches have been, and continue to be used where all of the National Units from National Support Services i.e. the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Garda Technical Bureau are used to combat serious crime. These Units are also supported by the Security and Intelligence Section who assist with intelligence briefings and timely information.

The Criminal Assets Bureau is being actively utilised to identify and target funds accumulated by criminals, in order to seize such assets and to deprive them of the profits of their criminal activity. A dedicated unit within the Garda National Drugs Unit has been established to liaise with the Criminal Assets Bureau to particularly target those criminals and criminal groupings believed to be deriving profits and assets from drug-related criminal activity.

This integrated approach adopts best practice in implementing a coordinated use of Garda resources and using available criminal legislation to its fullest extent. Operations are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure their effectiveness.

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

Extradition Warrants.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

340 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of extradition warrants issued in each of the past five years to date; the number served or executed; the number pending; the number that related to organised criminals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21405/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

341 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of warrants issued in respect of criminals residing outside this jurisdiction in each of the past five years; the number served and extraditions arising therefrom in each period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21406/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 340 and 341 together.

I wish to inform the Deputy that the information provided in the following tabular form relates to European Arrest Warrants forwarded under the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 as amended and requests forwarded under Part II of the Extradition Act 1965 as amended. Prior to the enactment of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 as amended, extradition between Ireland and England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland was governed by Part III of the Extradition Act 1965 as amended.Under Part III of the 1965 Act, outgoing requests were forwarded by the Garda Síochána and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform or the Department did not have a role in this procedure. I have been informed by the Garda Authorities that there were 23 outgoing Part III requests to the United Kingdom in 2003; out of the 23 requests, 15 persons have been extradited and 8 cases are pending.

In relation to European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) the information provided in the "surrendered" and "refused" columns relates to the year of the decision and not the year of transmission of the EAW. The information in the "pending" column relates to the current position by year of transmission. In relation to the requests forwarded under Part II of the 1965 Act, the information provided in the "extradited", "refused" and "pending" columns relate to the current position, by year of transmission, of the outgoing request.

European Arrest Warrants and extradition requests under Part II of the Extradition Act 1965 are transmitted for serious offences which may include organised criminal activities. These offences include murder, rape, child sexual offences, drug trafficking, manslaughter, robbery and the laundering of the proceeds of crime.

Outgoing EAWs 2003-2008

Year

Total

Surrendered

Pending

Refused

2003

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

2004

18

1

4

2005

29

15

15

2006

43

20

17

2007

35

24

15

2008

16

7

13

1

Outgoing Requests Part II, 2003-2008

Year

Total

Extradited

Pending

Refused

2003

1

1

2004

2

1

1

2005

3

2*

2006

1

1

2007

1

1

2008

* The third request was withdrawn.

Question No. 342 answered with Question No. 131.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

343 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if it is common practice for members of organised criminal gangs to obtain bail even in respect of subsequent offences while on bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21408/08]

I can assure the Deputy that the Government has monitored the operation of the bail laws and made them more stringent where this has proved necessary. The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution allows for bail to be refused to a person charged with a serious offence, where it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent the commission of a serious offence by that person.

The Bail Act 1997 gave effect to this Amendment and also tightened up the bail regime generally. One of the provisions of this Act is that an offence committed while on bail is to be treated as an aggravating factor when sentence is being imposed by the Courts. Since 1984, a sentence imposed for an offence committed while on bail is to run consecutive to a sentence for a previous offence.

New powers were introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2007 including a requirement that applicants for bail may have to provide a statement of their means, their previous criminal record and details of any offences committed while previously on bail. Part 3 of this Act also provides that a Garda Superintendent may give an opinion that bail should be refused on the grounds that the applicant is likely to commit a serious offence if granted bail. The prosecution authorities were also given the right to appeal against decisions to grant bail or, where it is granted, the conditions attaching to it.

I am keeping all aspects of the operation of our bail laws under review.

Question No. 344 answered with Question No. 339.

Garda Strength.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

345 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the strength of the Garda Síochána; his plans for an increase in line with the obvious increased criminal activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21410/08]

The current intake of 1,100 Garda recruits per annum is on course to meet the Government's recruitment target.

As of 30 April 2008, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána was 13,874 with over 1,000 recruits in training.

Garda Stations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

346 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when it is expected that the new Garda station at Leixlip, County Kildare will become operational; the degree to which Garda strength there has been identified and agreed; if the station is expected to become a divisional headquarters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21411/08]

The construction of the new Garda station in Leixlip it is being progressed by the Office of Public Works and it is due to become operational later this year. The personnel strength of Leixlip Garda station as at 30 April was 26. The detailed allocation of resources is a matter for the Garda Commissioner to decide in accordance with operational requirements. The situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next become available the needs of Leixlip Garda Station will be fully considered within the overall context of the needs of Garda Stations throughout the country.

The 2008 Policing Plan, which was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, contains the Commissioner's proposals to realign Garda boundaries in a number of areas around the country to make them coterminous with local authority boundaries. This includes the establishment of a new Kildare Division with Naas as the Divisional Headquarters.

Litter Pollution.

Joe McHugh

Question:

347 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of prosecutions for dog fouling on pavements, footpaths and beaches for the years 2002 to 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21320/08]

Under the Litter Pollution Acts, 1997 to 2003, primary responsibility for developing and implementing responses to litter, including dog faeces, lies with local authorities.

Statistics on local authority enforcement action on litter in general, including the number of prosecutions taken, are submitted by local authorities to my Department every six months. Details of the nature of the offence to which individual prosecutions relate are not, however, collected by my Department.

The latest litter enforcement figures available relate to the period January — June 2007; these figures, along with those for the preceding five years, are available in the Oireachtas Library.

Public Order Offences.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

348 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the breakdown of the number of complaints of anti-social behaviour in local authority housing estates reported to town councils in Mallow, Fermoy, Youghal, Midleton and Cobh along with the number registered with Cork County Council in the same areas in addition to Mitchelstown, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21218/08]

My Department does not collect information on complaints of anti-social behaviour in local authority estates.

Powers to address anti-social behaviour were provided to housing authorities under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997. The main feature of the Act is provision for a court order, on application by a tenant, local authority or approved housing body, to exclude an individual engaged in anti-social behaviour from the dwelling (and, in appropriate cases, housing estate) for a period up to 3 years.

The information available to my Department indicates that there were no exclusion orders sought by Cork County Council, Mallow Town Council, Fermoy Town Council, Youghal Town Council, Midleton Town Council or by Cobh Town Council in 2006 or 2007. With the exception of Mallow Town Council which recorded one refusal to sell on the basis of anti-social behaviour/good estate management, none of the above housing authorities refused to let or sell a local authority house for reasons of anti-social behaviour in either year.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Ulick Burke

Question:

349 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the underspend on the water and sewerage schemes for each year from 2000 to date in 2008; the amount behind expenditure committed under the National Development Plan in the Border Midlands Western Region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21227/08]

Details of expenditure on water services infrastructure under the Economic and Social Infrastructure Operational Programme, the Border, Midland and West Operational Programme and the South and East Operational Programme during the period of the National Development Plan 2000-2006 are set out in the following table.

The National Development Plan 2007-2013 provides for investment of €4.7 billion in water services infrastructure nationally. The relevant overall figures for 2007 and 2008 are also set out in the table.

NDP 2000-2006

Year

Forecast Expenditure BMW Region

Expenditure Outturn BMW Region

Forecast Expenditure S/E Region

Expenditure Outturn S/E Region

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

2000

162

178

352

319

2001

188

173

377

441

2002

221

177

423

377

2003

225

180

421

382

2004

186

190

289

294

2005

186

166

261

321

2006

186

212

262

319

NDP 2007-2013

Year

Forecast Expenditure

Expenditure Outturn

€ m

€ m

2007

532

637

2008

537

N/A

Urban Renewal Schemes.

Joe Carey

Question:

350 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made on the next urban and village renewal scheme; when details will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21249/08]

The National Development Plan provides for EU and Exchequer investment of some €170 million to facilitate the ongoing closure of the urban and village renewal measure of the Regional Operational Programmes 2000-2006, and to support the implementation of a new urban renewal programme for the period to 2013. I intend shortly to announce details of this programme.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Joe Carey

Question:

351 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position with regard to the Corofin sewerage scheme, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21250/08]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 434 of 22 April 2008. The position is unchanged.

Joe Carey

Question:

352 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the construction of the Quilty-Mullagh, County Clare sewerage scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21251/08]

Funding of €8.808m has been approved under my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007- 2009 in respect of the Feakle, Scarriff and Quilty (including Mullagh) Sewerage Scheme.

Under devolved procedures the wastewater collection works are a matter for Clare County Council. The Council's tender recommendation for the provision of the wastewater treatment plants was recently received in my Department and is being dealt with as quickly as possible.

Joe Carey

Question:

353 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the Clare County Council’s discharge of storm water onto Kilkee Strand, County Clare; his views on the matter; if adequate funding is in place to divert such storm water to a more appropriate location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21252/08]

The combined Kilkee and Kilrush Sewerage Scheme has been approved for funding under my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007 — 2009.

Additional information submitted by Clare County Council in relation to the Preliminary Report for the scheme is under examination in my Department and is being dealt with as quickly as possible. Stormwater works may be considered for funding under the Water Services Investment Programme as part of an approved scheme where such works are necessary to prevent surcharging of foul sewers or wastewater treatment facilities and the Council's proposals in this regard are being considered.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Brian Hayes

Question:

354 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of housing projects due to be delivered by public private partnerships and what they are; the cost of each project; the target completion date for each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21316/08]

At present there are seventeen housing related PPP projects at various stages of procurement, or at an advanced stage of preparation for the procurement process, across the country. A number of other projects have also been identified as being potentially suitable for PPP. Overall, the seventeen projects are expected to yield some 1,500 social housing units, 2,000 affordable units, and 4,000 private units over the coming years. A further project involves the procurement of 1,000 properties on long-term leases in the Dublin region for the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

The following table gives a breakdown of the projects and their current status in terms of the procurement process.

Project

Social units

Affordable units

Private Units

Other facilities

Contract stage

Ballinode, Co. Sligo

130 (including 30 voluntary units)

100

227

Community and commercial facilities

Request for qualifications stage completed.

Bridgefoot Street, Dublin City

60

140

Community, commercial and recreational facilities

Revised bids being sought.

Carney Housing Project, Sligo

10

10

40

Community facilities

Preferred bidder notified.

Charlemont Street, Dublin City

139

16

To be agreed

Community, commercial and recreational facilities

Competitive dialogue underway.

Convent Lands, Dublin City

5

20

154

Community, commercial and recreational facilities

Project agreement signed

Croke Villas, Dublin City

38

100

Community and recreational facilities

Preferred bidder notified.

Dominick Street, Dublin City

120

240

Community centre

Preferred bidder notified.

Fatima Mansions, Dublin City

150

70

396

Community centre

Under construction. Phase 1 completed.

Infirmary Road, Dublin City

130

52

Community and commercial facilities

Project agreement signed.

Jamestown Road, Dublin City

240

60

Community, crèche, and commercial facilities

Project agreement signed.

Magee Barracks, Co. Kildare

50

350

600

Community, recreational, crèche, and commercial facilities

Preparatory work for the procurement process underway.

Mountainview Court, Dublin City

10

40

40

Community and crèche facilities.

Evaluation of bids underway.

O’Devaney Gardens/St. Bricins, Dublin City

281

250

292

Community facilities

Project agreement signed.

Scribblestown, Dublin City

10

84

56

Community facilities

Submissions of interest received.

St. Michael’s Estate, Dublin City

165

70

480

Community facilities

Preferred bidder notified.

St. Theresa’s Gardens, Dublin City

150

100

300

Community, recreation, and commercial facilities

Project brief being revised following An Bord Pleanála decision.

The Grange, Clondalkin, Co. Dublin

169

591

928

Community, recreation, crèche and commercial facilities

Request for qualifications stage completed.

Rental Accommodation Scheme, Dublin Region

1,000

Competitive dialogue underway.

Total

2,427

2,131

4,105

It is not possible to provide information on the likely completion date or final costs of a project until all of the issues in relation to the project agreement are finalised and planning permission has been obtained. At present, only the Fatima Mansions Regeneration Project has reached this stage. Phase 1 of the project has already been completed with the second, and final, phase expected to be completed by the end of 2009, at no net cost to the Council.

Private Rented Accommodation.

Brian Hayes

Question:

355 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the housing statistics for inspection of the private rental sector will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21317/08]

Brian Hayes

Question:

356 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the new regulations for the private rental sector will be published; his views on greater funding for local authorities to their compliance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21318/08]

I propose to take Question Nos. 355 and 356 together.

Details of the inspections of private rented accommodation carried out, the dwellings inspected which did not meet the statutory standards and prosecutions initiated up to 2006 are included in my Department's Annual Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library and on my Department's website at www.environ.ie. It is expected that similar information in respect of 2007 will be published in July.

Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations, 1993. These Regulations are currently being reviewed with a view to updating them as part of an Action Programme to promote improvement in standards of rental accommodation. I expect to be publishing revised regulations in July.

In addition, my Department is providing significantly increased funds from the proceeds of tenancy registration fees to support local authorities in their inspection functions relating to the private rented sector. Over €7m has been provided to local authorities for this purpose since 2004, and I expect to provide further increased resources in respect of 2008, linked to actual inspection performance.

Hunting Licences.

Michael Creed

Question:

357 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason he refused a hunting licence to an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21337/08]

Section 26(2) of the Wildlife Act, 1976 provides that I, as Minister, may grant to the master or other person having charge for the time being of a pack of beagles or harriers a licence to hunt hares outside the open season for hares which runs from 26 September to 28 February. The Irish Masters of Foot Beagles applied to my Department in December, 2007 for a licence to hunt hares with a pack of beagles for the period 1 March to 31 March 2008.

My Department has had concerns for a number of years that the hunting of hares in the month of March could have an adverse effect on the breeding season for the species. Accordingly, in granting a licence in respect of March 2007, my Department advised the Association that for conservation reasons, licences to permit the hunting of hares with beagles beyond the general open season for the species may not, in future years, be granted, as this would impinge on the breeding season of the hares. It was also pointed out that in planning their calendar for future years the Association should work on the assumption that all beagling events would need to be scheduled within the standard open season for the hunting of hares, which runs to the end of February. It would appear the Association did not take account of my Department's position regarding holding such events outside the open season for hares in submitting their new application.

A decision to refuse a licence to the Association for March this year was conveyed to the Association by letter of 21 February, 2008.

Planning Issues.

Seamus Kirk

Question:

358 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the legislation providing for the introduction of planning development levies contemplated levies being paid twice for the same development on the same site where a retention application was necessary to regularise the position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21370/08]

As Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government I have overall responsibility for the legislative framework governing development contribution schemes.

Under sections 48 and 49 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, planning authorities may levy development contributions in respect of public infrastructure and facilities provided by, or on behalf of, the local authority that benefit development in the area, based on a scheme of contributions adopted by the elected members of the authority.

In addition to the legislative framework my Department has also issued updated policy guidance on development contributions, in the form of circular letter 5/07 which specifically addresses the issue of "double charging". All local authorities have been advised that any development contribution already levied and paid should be deducted from the subsequent charge so as to reflect that this development had already made a contribution. A copy of the circular letter is available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie.

It should also be noted that the fact that a developer has made an application for retention permission under section 34(12) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 is not a defence to a prosecution for unauthorised development and a development carried out without planning permission, or in breach of planning conditions, remains unauthorised unless and until retention permission is granted. Section 162(3) of the Act provides that no enforcement action under Part VIII of the Act shall be stayed or withdrawn by reason of an application for retention of unauthorised development.

Joe Costello

Question:

359 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the primary legislation which provides for billboards, sandwich boards and other commercial advertising in streets and public places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21380/08]

Planning and development control is governed by the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2006 and the associated Regulations.

Unless otherwise exempt, advertising in streets and public places is subject to the submission of a planning application in accordance with the provisions of Section 34 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. Under the legislation, the decision as to whether or not to grant a planning application, with or without conditions, is a matter for the relevant planning authority. In making decisions on planning applications, planning authorities must consider the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, having regard to the provisions of the development plan, any submissions or observations received, and relevant Ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by the Department.

Section 4(2) of the 2000 Act provides that I, as Minister, may, by reason of size, nature or limited effect upon its surroundings, by Regulation, provide exemptions for a particular class of development provided that development is not contrary to the principles of proper planning and sustainable development.

Part 2 of the Second Schedule to the Planning and Development Regulations (as amended) provides that advertisements, such as those exhibited at the entrance to any business or trade premises, are exempt from the need to apply for planning permission, subject to specified conditions and limitations. Such exempted development signage is subject to a licence fee payable to the planning authority.

Public Private Partnerships.

Tony Gregory

Question:

360 Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his Department will liaise with Dublin City Council with a view to agreeing a rescue initiative for the inner city regeneration projects recently abandoned by the private developer involved in view of the unacceptable living conditions in the complexes concerned and the urgent need to immediately begin the regeneration of these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21383/08]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 88 of 27 May 2008. The position remains as set out yesterday.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Joe McHugh

Question:

361 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on introducing a grant aid scheme for wood log gasifiers which would significantly alter the energy sector in rural Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21321/08]

The Greener Homes Scheme provides support to homeowners to invest in a range of domestic renewable energy heating technologies including solar panels, biomass boilers and stoves and heat pumps.

The Greener Homes Scheme is being kept under regular review, and will continue to evolve in light of the maturing technologies and market developments, including the consideration of additional technologies such as wood log gasifiers.

The objective in Greener Homes Phase II is to consolidate the market, underpinning it with quality standards and training and providing for a long-term future that is not grant dependent. The aim is to ensure that the market for these products, services and fuels continues to develop strongly in a robust manner and that consumers continue to be guided towards discerning choices. Continuing the scheme is helping secure a range of objectives including more competitive offerings, revised product standards, improved training standards and stable growth across the renewable heating industry. We will continue to review and amend the terms of the scheme to take in new technologies to improve installation standards and to reduce the grant provisions where technologies have become commercially viable.

Telecommunications Services.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

362 Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will make funds available for a feasibility study to be carried out to estimate costings to replace the rural telecommunications system in south Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21247/08]

The provision of electronic telecommunication services are a matter for private sector companies. I have no function in this matter.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Martin Ferris

Question:

363 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will make a statement on the environmental benefits and disadvantages of biofuels. [20807/08]

Transport is one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. It is widely acknowledged that transport is one of the most difficult areas in which to affect a reduction in CO2 emissions. Biofuels offer one potential means to counter rising emissions levels in the transport sector. The recent EU proposals setting the biofuel obligation targets for 5.75% in 2010 and 10% by 2020 have included the provision that any new fuels have at least a 35% emissions reduction and have to show that they come from sustainable sources which do not destroy natural habitats. Biofuel production and use will enhance security of supply and contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to direct CO2 benefits, biofuels offer opportunities for waste recycling as biofuel production can use this waste oil as a feedstock. The development of a supply line of alternative fuel supplies which would still be available should there be a disruption to essential oil supplies is essential so that we can continue to provide basic services in such circumstances.

Recent events have shown us that biofuels are not without their complexities. The diversion of food crops into biofuel production has been one factor in the recent rise in world fuel prices. There has also been concern that new biofuel production has lead to the conversion of natural forest systems into crop production.

It is for this reason that we will ensure that our expanding use of biofuels must take place within the context of the EU sustainability criteria regime, currently under negotiation.

The European targets will not be pursued in a manner which threatens the long-term food security of the developing world.

By establishing the longer-term targets early, and announcing our intention to move to a biofuels obligation, we aim to create a level of long-term certainty for potential investors, particularly in second-generation biofuels. These new technologies offer the potential to generate fuels from a number of feedstocks which would not be competing with fuel supplies. A public consultation on Ireland's biofuels obligation will be launched shortly and we will be encouraging all stakeholders to input into this process.