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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 3 Jul 2008

Vol. 658 No. 3

Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, answered orally.

Schools Refurbishment.

Michael Creed

Question:

7 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the summer works scheme. [26183/08]

In 2003/2004, my Department moved towards a model of devolving funding, responsibility and authority for building projects directly to school management authorities. The intention was to improve the quality of the school building infrastructure in a structured and prioritised manner, to improve efficiency in the use of resources and to achieve value for money. The Summer Works Scheme introduced in 2004, was one such solution.

The purpose of the Summer Works Scheme was to ensure precise targeting of funding for smaller scale works by using a time-bound process, from application to implementation, which would be open to all recognised schools. The works would be carried out in the summer months to prevent disruption to schools.

Under the terms of the Scheme, school authorities are empowered to manage these works with guidance from, and minimal interaction with, my Department.

The Scheme has enabled the Department and school authorities to address deficiencies arising from the historic under-investment in school infrastructure over the years. This is particularly the case in relation to upgrading of gas, mechanics and electrics and addressing structural defects. Projects to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils are also a feature of the scheme.

Since its inception, the scheme has been refined annually to incorporate feedback both from school authorities and from staff administering the Scheme. It has also been amended where necessary to reflect any changes in Public Procurement Procedures and Health and Safety regulations.

Since the Summer Works Scheme was introduced, over 3,000 projects, costing in excess of €300 million, have been completed. With so many smaller projects having been completed over the past few years, the particular emphasis in 2008 is on providing sufficient school places in developing areas, while also delivering improvements in the quality of existing primary and post-primary school accommodation throughout the country. Accordingly my Department is focusing on delivering as many large projects as possible in 2008 and funding was not made available for a Summer Works Scheme this year.

However, I recognise the benefits of the scheme in addressing the needs of schools and I intend to have a Summer Works Scheme in 2009.

Schools Building Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

8 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science when it is intended to restore the school building programme to the scale indicated in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26052/08]

Joan Burton

Question:

10 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will confirm that capital investment will amount to almost €830 million in 2008 of which less than €600 million will be invested in school buildings, including the completion of work on 67 large scale projects, the opening of 27 new schools in rapidly developing areas in September 2008 and construction work on more than 150 devolved projects under the previous permanent accommodation schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26073/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 10 together.

My Department's total capital allocation for 2008 is €827m. Just under €600m of this allocation will be invested in school buildings.

The extent of the school building and modernisation programme is determined by the annual capital allocation. This has grown steadily in recent years from just under €400m in 2004 to €542m in 2007 and to over €586m this year.

The principal component of the school building and modernisation programme is the delivery of large scale projects which consist of either new schools or major extensions or refurbishments of existing schools.

In 2007, a total of 16 new schools were completed together with 44 extension/refurbishment projects giving an overall total of 60 large scale projects completed in 2007.

The expected completion of large scale projects in 2008 will consist of 21 new schools and 46 extension/refurbishment projects giving an overall total of 67 large scale projects completing in 2008.

An additional feature of the 2008 school building and modernisation programme is the provision of new schools in developing areas under an accelerated programme. To cater for the anticipated increases in the school-going population, my Department has established a Developing Areas Unit to identify areas of rapid population growth, to assess the educational needs in these areas and to plan solutions for the accommodation needs identified.

As part of a fast-track programme of construction for September 2008, the Department is building six 16-classroom schools, 20 eight-classroom schools and a number of smaller projects in those areas where school accommodation is under greatest pressure.

Under the Permanent Accommodation and Small Schools Scheme in 2007, a total of 130 projects were completed. To date in 2008, a total of 52 projects under these devolved projects have been completed while a further 174 projects are currently under construction. In addition, a further 148 devolved projects have not yet gone on site but it is expected that the majority of these will be under construction before year-end.

With such a high level of activity underway, the completion of buildings in 2008 under these devolved schemes will significantly exceed the number of projects completed in 2007.

As I have already stated, the capital allocation on the Primary and Post-Primary sectors for 2008 is over €40m greater than the allocation in 2007. However, I should point out that a supplementary estimate and internal adjustments in 2007 gave a final outturn for that year of €646m of which over €30m was in respect of a technical adjustment in respect of payments to the OPW the previous year.

Decisions in respect of the expenditure of the annual allocation are made on the basis of the elements of the school building and modernisation programme that are most pressing in terms of need.

As the programme for the delivery of large scale projects and the purchase of sites is a larger component of the 2008 school building and modernisation programme than in previous years, it was not possible to have a Summer Works Scheme this year. Because over 250 projects under the devolved Permanent Accommodation or Small Schools Schemes had not managed to commence construction at the beginning of 2008, it was decided not to add further projects to the programme without substantial progress taking place on those projects not yet on site.

The primary and post-primary capital allocation for 2008 is higher than the 2007 allocation and the combined output of traditional build schools and extension and refurbishment projects together with the schools fast-tracked for delivery in September 2008 will result in the practical completion of far more large scale projects than the level of output experienced in 2007. When the large scale projects are combined with the expected level of projects being completed under the Permanent Accommodation and Small Schools Schemes this year, it is clear that the scale of delivery in 2008 addressing accommodation needs is at an all time high.

As I have indicated previously to the House, I am currently in the process of reviewing my Department's school building and modernisation programme with my officials. I do not propose to make any further announcements on the school building programme until that review is completed.

School Accommodation.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

9 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science if in respect to his Department’s ongoing survey and analysis of prefab classrooms and resource rooms in the primary school system he will list the ownership of every prefab in use in primary schools including the name and townland of every primary school that has a prefab classroom or resource room, the name of the company, individual or organisation including his Department, renting the prefabs to each primary school and other miscellaneous owners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26105/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has surveyed schools regarding their use of prefabricated accommodation and is in the process of compiling this information. I will write to the Deputy regarding this survey and the information my Department has compiled from it.

My Department has undertaken an assessment of the rental of temporary accommodation with a view to identifying the point at which purchase of such accommodation provides better value for money than rental.

As a result of this assessment, my Department now has a policy of purchasing temporary accommodation where the need for this is likely to last for more than three years. The effect of this change in policy will be to minimise the amount paid on the rental of accommodation.

The Permanent Accommodation Scheme was introduced in 2003 to reduce the need for prefabs. It was designed to give value for money in terms of providing permanent accommodation in place of prefabs, where an accommodation need was likely to exist for a considerable length of time. Since its introduction, over €100m has been allocated to schools under the scheme and it has resulted in the provision of an additional 625 classrooms and 275 resource rooms in schools around the country. This is in addition to those classrooms provided under the major capital projects managed by my Department.

Had the Permanent Accommodation Scheme not been in place, a very significant proportion of those classrooms and resource rooms would have had to be provided using temporary accommodation such as prefabricated classrooms.

Despite this, it will continue to be necessary for prefabricated accommodation to be provided because competing priorities mean that it will not always be possible to have a permanent accommodation solution in place in a short time-frame. My Department will continue to provide funding for such prefabricated accommodation and the decision on whether to rent or purchase will depend on the likely length of time it will be required. In all cases, the approach will be to ensure best value for money.

Question No. 10 answered with Question No. 8.

School Enrolments.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

11 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science if he is to establish an enrolment commissioner-admissions officer; if this appointment is contrary to the spirit of the recommendations of the Cromien report 2000 in the context of an audit of school enrolment policies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26069/08]

The audit of school enrolment policies, published on my Department's website on 28 April last, looked at the enrolment of Traveller children, newcomer children and children with special education needs in almost 2,000 schools at primary and post-primary level. The audit also looked at the written enrolment policies of a proportion of these schools and, more tellingly, how these policies translate into practice in terms of actual enrolment patterns.

At a general level, the audit finds no evidence of any system wide enrolment practices that give rise to concern. The audit does give rise to wider policy questions relating to:

The need for enhanced information for parents about their rights should a school refuse to enrol their child.

Those aspects of the written enrolment policies of schools which may be deemed exclusionary, e.g. pre-enrolling children from birth or providing preference to children of past pupils, thereby putting newcomers to communities at a disadvantage.

The potential for improved inter-school co-operation in a given area in order to address enrolment anomalies.

Possible proposals for intervention in local admissions where inter-school co-operation is not achieved.

How identified problems can best be addressed.

A process of consultation with the main education partners on possible follow-up policy responses was commenced at the end of April, with a deadline for receipt of submissions of 6 June 2008. As part of this consultation process, specific questions were posed around the policy issues and possible approaches identified above. The potential role of a designated officer with powers of intervention in local school admissions, where inter-school co-operation cannot be achieved, is one possible approach on which specific views were sought. Under this particular proposal, it is envisaged that such powers would only be used in exceptional circumstances and as such I am satisfied that it would not run counter to the spirit of the Cromien Report recommendations.

The responses received under the consultation process are now under consideration and it is my intention to take account of all views expressed before formulating any specific proposals for action in order to address any anomalous enrolment practice that has been identified by the audit.

Telecommunications Services.

Liz McManus

Question:

12 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science the percentage and number of schools that have broadband; his views on the acceptable minimum download speed a school should have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21361/08]

My Department is providing broadband connectivity to recognised primary and post-primary schools under the Schools Broadband Access Programme. This programme is being undertaken in partnership with industry in the context of a Government — IBEC/TIF (Telecommunications and Internet Federation) Agreement to provide local broadband connectivity to schools.

The Programme has three elements — local connectivity to schools, a national broadband network and a broadband support service desk. Schools connectivity is being routed to the Internet through a national broadband network, which is supported by HEAnet and provides centrally managed services for schools such as security, anti-spam/anti-virus and content filtering. The broadband support service desk has been established to interface between the network, the local broadband service Access Providers and schools. It is managed by the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE).

A competitive, technology neutral, central procurement process for the provision of local connectivity for schools was undertaken based on a tiered bandwidth provision, ranging from 0.5 Megabits per second (Mbps) in the case of small primary schools up to 2 Mbps for larger post-primary schools. Contracts were finalised in 2005 with six Service Providers for the provision of local access connectivity to 3,925 schools and with a further Provider for the installation of a broadband router at school level where appropriate. The 3,925 initial individual school awards involved a range of technologies. Roll-out commenced in June 2005. The total number of schools involved in the Programme has been adjusted in the meantime to reflect a number of school openings, closures and amalgamations and stands currently at 3,936. As of 24th June, 2008, 3,901 (99%) have had their local connectivity installed and of these 3,899 have had their router capability installed and tested. These figures have been updated to remove the inadvertent double counting of six schools that had amalgamated, following their initial broadband installations.

The breakdown of technologies across the 3,901 local connectivity installations is 27% fixed line services, 26% wireless services and 47% satellite services. Having regard to the usage levels observed by HEAnet, my Department has procured additional bandwidth from its two satellite providers to improve the broadband connection speeds for schools on this portion of the Schools Broadband Network. The situation continues to be monitored closely. Increased bandwidths have also been provided to some schools with fixed line services as a consequence of improvements in the wholesale broadband market. Over 650 schools are now receiving bandwidths of 3Mbps or higher. In addition, my Department has migrated schools to superior alternative technologies, where feasible.

A further 72 schools have had broadband access provided under the Hermes and Advanced Deployment programmes and are not included in the 3,901 figure. The split of technologies across these schools is 60% fixed line, 35% wireless and 5% satellite.

Looking to the future, my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has this morning launched the Next Generation Broadband Policy Paper which includes the objective of equipping second-level schools with 100Mbits per second of broadband connectivity and installing local area networks. I look forward to working with my colleague, Minister Ryan, in the pursuit of this objective. Furthermore, my Department will shortly issue a Request for Tenders for the next round of service under the existing Schools Broadband Programme and having regard to the general developments in broadband availability nationally, improved service offerings are expected to be received under the new tender process.

Departmental Funding.

Mary Upton

Question:

13 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will ensure that between his Department and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism funding for some form of undergraduate acting programme will be guaranteed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24572/08]

Mary Upton

Question:

36 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans he has to reinstate an undergraduate acting programme here in view of the fact that the programme run by Trinity College has been discontinued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24570/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 36 together.

Universities such as Trinity College Dublin are autonomous academically independent institutions within the meaning of the Universities Act, 1997. My Department does not have any function in relation to their day to day operational affairs. Universities receive a block grant from the Higher Education Authority and it is a matter for each college to determine how it is allocated internally. The decision of any third level institution to provide, or to discontinue, any programme of study is a matter for the institution concerned and it would, therefore, not be appropriate for me to intervene in this matter.

Inquiry into Child Abuse.

Joe Costello

Question:

14 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will ask the accounting officer to formally request the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse to publish the list of legal firms, solicitors and barristers who were paid legal fees and the amount paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26066/08]

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was established under statute to investigate child abuse in institutions in the State, to enable persons who have suffered such abuse to give evidence to committees of the Commission and to prepare and publish a report of findings and recommendations considered appropriate for the alleviation of the effects of past child abuse and for the protection of children. The Commission is independent in the performance of its functions in accordance with the terms of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act.

My Department understands that the Commission has no objection to providing this information. My Department is writing to the Commission to formally request the information. My Department will communicate with the Deputy when it has received a response.

School Curriculum.

Martin Ferris

Question:

15 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has further plans to reform the provision of English as an additional language education in schools to cater for the varying levels of English of international students. [26345/08]

In May of 2007, the Department of Education and Science issued a circular to the Management Authorities in primary and post primary schools outlining the resources available to meet the varying levels of needs of pupils for whom English is a second language. This circular has facilitated a significant expansion in the appointment of language support teachers.

There are now almost 2,000 language support teachers in primary and post primary schools, at a cost of some €120 million per annum, compared with 262 in the 2001/02 school year. The circular removed a previous limit of two language support teachers per school.

It also extended the provision of language support beyond two years for a pupil, where a specific request is made to the Department. In fact, it is now possible for some schools with over 121 students with English language needs to have 6 language support teachers. Schools with less than the 14 such pupils needed to qualify for one support teacher are provided with financial resources to assist them. In addition to providing additional teachers a number of other steps have been taken.

Two copies of the "Primary School Assessment Kit", prepared by Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT) have been circulated by my Department to all primary schools in recent weeks. This kit will enable teachers to carry out initial and on-going assessments of the language proficiency of newcomer children. The Assessment Kit has also been placed on the Department's website. It is proposed to have an assessment kit for post-primary schools available later in the year.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has prepared guidelines for teachers in primary schools to assist them in meeting the language and learning needs of children for whom English is an additional language so that they can access all areas of the primary school curriculum.

The Inspectorate of the Department is also conducting an evaluation of the provision of English as an Additional Language (EAL) in a number of primary and post-primary schools in 2008 and 2009. A report on their evaluation will be prepared for mid 2009. The objectives of the evaluation are to examine the provision and the quality of teaching of English as an additional language in primary and post-primary schools. The evaluation will also review the quality of learning achieved by the migrant students, the effectiveness of supports and the inclusion of services for these students in whole-school planning.

At the request of the Department of Education and Science the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has undertaken a large-scale study into how an increasing diversity of students impacts upon resource requirements and day to day teaching and learning in primary and post-primary schools. It is expected that this study will be completed in autumn 2008.

The Department is also participating in an OECD review of migrant education policy and practice. This review will be carried out by a team of OECD experts. This review is expected to be completed in autumn 2009. I will evaluate the findings of the Inspectorate's research and, based on their findings, and those of the ESRI, OECD and others, I will consider if any further reform is necessary in relation to the provision of English as an additional language in schools.

Third Level Grants.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

16 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Education and Science the way he will address the fact that tens of thousands of young people are being priced out of higher education due to their parents’ income being only slightly above the threshold to qualify for grants. [26341/08]

The purpose of the student grant is to contribute towards the maintenance costs associated with going to college where parental means are likely to be insufficient to meet those costs. I'm sure that the Deputy will agree with me that income thresholds are necessary, therefore, to ensure that this support is properly targeted towards those who are most in need of this assistance.

The reckonable income limits for ordinary maintenance grants were increased by 3.5% for the 2007/2008 academic year. This increase was in line with the increase in the average industrial wage for the September 2005 to September 2006 reference period. The top limit for standard rate grant eligibility where there are less than four dependent children was increased from €46,700 to €48,355, aiming to ensure that more students from households with moderate incomes will not have to pay the Student Service Charge of €825.

I should also say that the prescribed income limit for the special rate of maintenance grant for the academic year 2007/2008 was increased by 7.8% to €18,055 in line with the relevant increases in social welfare payments.

In September 2003, my Department doubled the number of qualifying thresholds from two to four, allowing qualification for 100%, 75%, 50% and 25% rates of grant. This broadening of the income thresholds benefited an estimated 5,000 additional students. Some 37% of the student population at third level now qualifies for some level of student grant assistance. In addition, it must be remembered that over 90% of undergraduate students, at all income levels, avail of Government support for free fees at a cost to the Exchequer of €346 million in 2007.

I am committed to delivering ongoing improvements in my Department's student maintenance grant schemes, including increasing the rates and income limits, as resources permit.

My Department, with the assistance of the National Access Office of the Higher Education Authority, monitors the trends in access to higher education for all socio-economic groups in order to address any inequities arising in the system. For example, the most recent data available indicate that the lowest levels of participation are now found within a socio-economic group called the "non-manual" group — 27% as against the national average of 55%.

The level of participation in higher education among this very diverse group is a complex issue that extends beyond financial barriers. A study, commissioned by the HEA, is currently being carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute on the participation in higher education of the non-manual socio-economic group. The key aim is to develop a better understanding of educational participation among young people from this group so that strategies can be developed which will support them in accessing and completing higher education.

State Examinations.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

17 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will change the name of the leaving certificate to a new title which would indicate that it is an entrance examination into third level education in view of the commitment in the programme for Government 2007 to increase the percentage of the population participating in third level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26075/08]

I do not propose to adopt a name change for the Leaving Certificate that would cast it in a narrow light with a sole focus on entrance to third level programmes.

The general aim of education is to contribute towards the development of all aspects of the individual and the Leaving Certificate comes at an important point in that process, namely, the end of second-level education.

The Leaving Certificate is designed as a measure of achievement, rather than a predictor of academic success or an indicator of vocational suitability, though clearly it is utilised widely in the context of admission to third level courses. Its primary purpose is to certify attainment at the end of a two-year course, rather than to provide a starting point for a third level course. The Leaving Certificate fulfils a valuable function for a much wider range of students than those who intend to take up third level courses immediately, even in times of maximum desired uptake levels.

In considering this matter we need to reflect on the broader purposes that the examination serves. The Leaving Certificate course is intended to prepare students for further education or training, for entry into employment and for their role as participative, enterprising citizens. To that end there are in fact three separate Leaving Certificate programmes, each of which lasts for two years and culminates in the award of a Leaving Certificate upon completion.

The majority of senior cycle students (68%) take the established Leaving Certificate. Typically, students take six or seven subjects in which they undergo written terminal examinations along with oral and aural examinations for Irish and modern languages. Practical tests and project work form part of the assessment for some subjects.

Some 26% of students take the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP). This is best described as a Leaving Certificate with a strong vocational dimension. LCVP students must take at least five Leaving Certificate subjects along with two link modules — one on preparation for the world of work and the other on enterprise education. Assessment comprises two elements — a written examination and coursework.

The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) is taken by around 6% of students. It is aimed at preparing students for adult and working life and it is a person-centred course involving a cross-curricular approach rather than a subject-based structure. Assessment for the LCA is carried out over the two years of the programme.

The Leaving Certificate has a wide variety of users. Foremost amongst these are third level institutions who, since 1992, use a common points system based on grades achieved in Leaving Certificate subjects. In addition, employers and training providers use the Leaving Certificate extensively as a selection tool. FÁS also accepts the LCA as a qualification for entry to standards-based apprenticeships.

On that basis I believe it would be unwise to change the title of the Leaving Certificate to reflect its use by third level institutions for selection purposes.

Special Educational Needs.

Martin Ferris

Question:

18 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review the recent decision by a special educational needs organiser to confirm reduced access to special needs assistants for pupils in schools, such as a school (details supplied) in Inisowen, County Donegal. [26344/08]

As the Deputy may be aware, the National Council for Special Education is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special needs. Applications for SNAs may be considered by the NCSE where a pupil has a significant medical need for such assistance, a significant impairment of physical or sensory function or where their behaviour is such that they are a danger to themselves or to other pupils. A pupil's level of care may diminish over time as the child matures. Pupils may move to a different school or on to post-primary school. In such situations, the NCSE will review and adjust the SNA support required in the school. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

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.

The NCSE will undertake to review a decision taken by a SENO on foot of a request from a school or parents/guardians, when accompanied by relevant additional information, which may not have been to hand at the time of the decision. The NCSE has outlined this process in its Circular 01/05.

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

Decentralisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

19 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science the recommendations of the general analysis and conclusions of the Cromien report 2000 by reference to specific paragraph numbers which have been accepted and implemented in full or in part; the way the decentralisation programme is impacting on the changes that are taking place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26063/08]

In June 2001, the then Minister for Education and Science announced that the Government had approved a programme of structural reform of the Department arising from the recommendations in the Cromien report.

The programme consisted of:

i. The establishment of a State Examinations Commission (SEC) (para. 32).

ii. The establishment of a National Council for Special Education (NCSE) (para. 28).

iii. The establishment of a framework of regional offices of the Department (paras 49 to 52).

iv. Bringing forward legislation to extend the remit of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to the Institutes of Technology (para 37).

The SEC has operated from Athlone since its establishment in 2003. The NCSE was established in 2003 by statutory instrument and re-established by the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (ESPEN). It is based in Trim, with a regionalised network of Special Educational Needs Organisers.

A network of 10 regional offices has been established, with offices located in Findlater Street, Dublin, Tallaght, Dublin, Naas, Mullingar, Limerick, Navan, Sligo, Waterford, Cork and Galway. As this network was in the process of development from 2005 to 2007, managing high staff turnover arising as a consequence of decentralisation during that period was challenging. Turnover in the regional offices is now at normal levels and a recurrence of high levels of turnover is not anticipated. The Directorate of Regional Services has recently decentralised from Dublin to Mullingar.

The Institutes of Technology Act 2006 extended the remit of the HEA to co-ordinate and fund the Institutes of Technology. Decentralisation does not impact on this arrangement.

In addition to the reforms approved by Government, my predecessors indicated throughout 2001 and 2002 that the reform of the Department would also include regulatory reform and appellate processes to under-pin key allocation functions, along with the implementation of efficiency measures designed to bring the Department's procedures and processes more into line with modern administrative practice. A range of measures have been introduced since 2001 — many of which are in line with recommendations in the Cromien report. Examples include:

Establishment of independent Appeals Boards in connection with teacher allocation.

Establishment of School Transport Appeals Boards.

Continuing implementation of EPSEN will provide a statutory appeal process. The Student Support Bill 2008, when enacted, will provide for an appeal process.

Responsibility for the operation of payrolls for schools was previously spread over several sections. My Department has since set up a Central Payroll Division, catering for approximately 70,000 school based employees, along with a web based on-line claims systems for primary and second level schools.

School Transport.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

20 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science the action he has taken to ensure that the increase in the cost of diesel will have no negative impact on the provision of the school transport system for the academic year 2008-09; if discussions have taken place or will take place between his Department and representatives of the school transport providers; if there are cost implications or service provision implications arising from the substantial increase in the price of diesel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26067/08]

The increase in diesel prices arising from the higher cost of oil is an international phenomenon affecting all countries and all sectors of the economy and society. These increases will naturally have an impact on the cost of school transport services.

Bus Éireann is responsible for the operation of the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department. Approximately 135,000 children avail of school transport services on a daily basis using some 3,300 private contractors' vehicles and 630 Bus Éireann vehicles.

Negotiations with school bus operators regarding school bus contracts are a matter between Bus Éireann and the individual contractors and these negotiations take place prior to the commencement of the new school year in September. At this stage, it would be premature for me to comment on the outcome of such negotiations.

It would not be appropriate for my Department to engage directly with representatives of school transport providers in relation to these issues.

Proposed Legislation.

Jack Wall

Question:

21 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science when he will publish the Education Ireland Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26068/08]

Education Ireland is a new body which is to be established in line with the recommendations of the Report on the Internationalisation of Education Services. The new body will be responsible for promoting the development of Ireland as a centre of excellence for international education. It will bring together, and build upon, the work of two existing bodies — International Education Board Ireland (IEBI), which promotes Irish third-level education overseas, and the Advisory Council for English Language Schools (ACELS), which undertakes voluntary regulation of the English language sector.

Education Ireland's specific functions will include:

promoting Irish educational services abroad;

awarding a Quality Mark to qualifying institutions;

operating a code of conduct for the pastoral care of international students;

regulating and certifying English language schools.

Education Ireland will also prepare, and submit to me, strategic plans for the development of international education services.

In order to expedite the establishment of Education Ireland, my Department is currently finalising arrangements to establish the body in the first instance as a limited company, with a view to putting it on a statutory basis as soon as possible thereafter.

Work on drafting the General Scheme of the Education Ireland Bill, which will put the body on a statutory basis, is underway within my Department with a view to having Government approval before the end of this year. Following drafting by the Parliamentary Counsel I would expect to be in a position to publish the Bill in the first half of 2009.

Language Support.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

22 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason his Department has decided to terminate at short notice the funding to Integrate Ireland Language and Training in view of the vital services it provides to the many newcomers who have arrived here and who wish to integrate themselves and their children in society and for which they need special language training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26101/08]

Integrate Ireland Language and Training Ltd. (IILT) approached my Department earlier this year with a proposal to withdraw from direct tuition for adult refugees and with a request that this tuition be mainstreamed.

IILT envisaged continuing direct tuition for a group of up to 200 programme refugees.

My Department accepted that mainstreaming of service provision was appropriate as it accords with the overall approach to provision of services to migrants as set out in "Migration Nation" — a statement on integration strategy and diversity management which I recently launched.

In doing so the Department decided that all provision should be mainstreamed and provided by VECs as it would it would be less efficient to seek to continue with a small element of provision by IILT.

The funding allocated to IILT will now be redirected to provide for the continuation of this service through the VEC network.

The Irish Vocational Education Association has confirmed that it is happy to cooperate and collaborate with my Department in delivery of necessary English language services.

The VEC sector has already developed best practice in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision. The sector is already providing English language services for those whose first language is not English.

At present services are provided to over 12,000 people annually which clearly demonstrates the capacity of the VECs in this area. A further advantage of mainstreaming such provision through the VEC sector is the fact that the VECs have a nationwide network across all counties and cities that can readily provide classes where needed in the country using their facilities in schools and centres.

State Bodies.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

23 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 170 of 5 June 2008, when he expects to be in a position to list all bodies, agencies, commissions or quangos reporting to his Department and the name, the purpose, the annual budget, the name of the chief executive-manager, the number of full-time staff employed and the date of its establishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26102/08]

The information requested by the Deputy has been collated and will be sent to her shortly.

Parliamentary Questions.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

24 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Education and Science if other Deputies in the Houses of the Oireachtas have been misled in reply to parliamentary questions as this Deputy was with the response given to Parliamentary Question Nos. 257 and 258 of 20 February 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22775/08]

I am happy to clarify this matter for the Deputy and also to assure him that there was no attempt to mislead him in the reply to his earlier questions. At the time of his previous Parliamentary Questions on 20th February 2008, the issue of patronage of the two new primary school buildings in Gorey referred to by the Deputy had not been decided and finalised.

The Department had made a written proposal to the Patrons of the two existing primary schools in Gorey seeking their formal agreement to relocate their existing schools to the new school buildings for which planning permission had been applied. These written proposals were forwarded to the patron bodies of the schools concerned on 11th February 2008. No formal response to these proposals had been received from the Patrons at the time of the earlier Parliamentary Questions and therefore it was not possible to state that the issue of patronage had been decided and finalised at the time.

Detailed agreement to these proposals were subsequently achieved with the Patrons and arrangements are well advanced for the two schools concerned to move to the new school buildings at the commencement of the new school year. I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Examinations.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

25 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the responsibilities he has in consultation with the State Examinations Board in making changes in the leaving certificate timetable; if he was consulted on and approved the changed schedule which this year placed chemistry on the same day as English paper two; if he will evaluate the impact of this change upon those pupils who sat both exams; if he will publish his conclusions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26098/08]

The new Leaving Certificate examination schedule for 2008 was agreed with a working group representing the Partners in Education, and was designed to reduce the demand on students especially during the first week of the examinations. It advanced Chemistry, which is sat by some 7000 students, and Geography, sat by some 25000 students, to Thursday and Friday respectively of the first week, which, along with Home Economics which is sat by some 12000 students, ensured that the majority of students got a break of at least one half day during this intensive phase. The new timetable was designed to reduce the writing burden on students by introducing a new mix of subjects between those that involve concentrated writing and those that involve less such as mathematical or scientific papers.

I am delighted to say that the new timetable meant that there were only 64 students who did not get a half day off in the first week of the 2008 Leaving Certificate exams. This is a vast improvement on 2007 where there were 11,080 students who did not get a half day.

I met with more than 90 students on Tuesday last who have just completed the Leaving Certificate to hear their views on the new timetable. The very valuable feedback which I received from the students will be taken into account in our consideration of any future changes to the Leaving Certificate timetable.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

26 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science when it is intended to deliver on the pre-election promise to reduce class sizes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26051/08]

The Programme for Government sets out the overarching policy position in relation to the provision of additional teachers and on reductions in class size over the life of the Government.

The Programme contains a commitment to increase the number of primary teachers by at least 4000 and on that basis to make further progress on reducing class sizes.

Budget 2008 provided my Department with €4.6 billion or €380 million extra for teacher pay and pensions. This was a very substantial level of additional investment in the terms of the economic environment on which the budget was based. That allocation provides for paying for over 2000 extra primary teachers more than the number in schools when the Government took office last Summer. It covers the additional teachers that went into schools last September for the previously announced reduction to a 27 to 1 based staffing schedule along with additional teachers this school year and in the coming school year to meet increasing enrolments, to provide for special needs and the language requirements of newcomer children.

This means that in terms of the overall commitment to provide at least 4000 additional teachers the Government in its first two years in office will be well ahead of target.

All Programme for Government commitments to improve public services including those relating to class size are contingent on the economic and budgetary environment and the need for prudent expenditure and fiscal management. Even since the presentation of Budget 2008 last December there have been significant alterations in the external and domestic environment. In that context any reasonable observer would regard the fact that the Government has already taken measures that will see the allocation of over 2000 additional teachers to primary schools as a considerable investment all things considered.

Health Promotion.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

27 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science if he is satisfied that enough is being done to promote healthy eating in schools. [26342/08]

The subjects Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Physical Education (PE), cover, among elements of the syllabus, the areas of healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, physical health, body care, exercise, relaxation and diet. The concepts of ‘Balanced Eating' and ‘Healthy Exercise' underlie the Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle syllabi in the Home Economics curriculum at post-primary level.

Considerable progress has been made by my Department in the promotion of healthy eating in schools. This includes, inter alia:

Schools have worked on devising healthy lunches policies as part of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Physical Education (PE).

The Post-Primary School Development Planning Initiative (SDPI) has a number of activities in place to promote healthy living in schools.

The SPHE Support Service offers support for policy development which includes healthy eating policies.

The Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PCSP) and the School Development Planning Support (SDPS) service have prepared planning templates (with prompts) for schools to assist them in school planning for the implementation of PE curriculum and the wider aspects of physical activity and school sport.

The majority of schools currently participating in the School Completion Programme, under the DEIS action plan, operate breakfast clubs or other meal provision, in accordance with nutritional guidelines issued by the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Schools are also encouraged to promote a whole school approach to SPHE which engages the school community, parents and students in implementing strategies to promote healthy lifestyles, building on the success of the ‘Health Promoting School' initiative.

In addition, my Department has, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Children, prepared a publication promoting Healthy Eating Policy in second-level schools. This book complements the earlier publications on Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Pre-Schools, and Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Primary Schools, published by the Health Promotion Unit of the Department of Health and Children.

My Department also participates in initiatives such as National Healthy Eating Week, which is promoted by the Department of Health and Children in co-operation with my Department and the Association of Teachers of Home Economics. It is a themed week during which activities to promote the concept of healthy eating to the whole school are organised and delivered through the medium of Home Economics including cookery demonstrations, projects, and displays.

School Accommodation.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

28 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of primary schools in County Mayo; the number of these schools that have prefabs; the number of prefabs; the age of the oldest prefab; the age of the youngest prefab; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26100/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department contacted approximately 900 schools in September 2007, who were renting temporary accommodation, and asked them to complete a questionnaire regarding the stock of temporary accommodation in their schools. My Department is in the process of compiling this information.

I will write to the Deputy in relation to this survey and the information gathered, as it relates to the issues he has raised.

School Text Books.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

29 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps he has taken to encourage secondary schools to develop and promote a second hand market for standard text books in the junior and senior cycle especially when there has been no change in the syllabus, in order to reduce the cost of a range of school books which can be as high as €250 in first year of secondary school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26078/08]

A consultancy report, which was submitted to my Department in 1993, dealt with the factors which contribute to the cost of school text books. The main conclusion of that report was that book rental schemes are the most practical way of limiting the cost of school books to parents.

The report, copies of which were sent to all schools, contains a number of useful suggestions, including a Code of Good Practice for successful operation of book rental schemes. My Department endorsed the recommendations and urged school authorities to put in place book rental schemes to the greatest extent possible.

At post primary level, in addition to the provision of grants towards the cost of providing school textbooks for needy pupils, my Department also provides seed capital funding towards the cost of establishing book loan/rental schemes in schools designated as disadvantaged and/or schools which participate in schemes designed to combat educational disadvantage. The intention is to provide some specific financial support for the introduction or expansion of book loan/rental schemes in individual schools on an annual basis. This funding is made available for a maximum of five or six years, depending on whether a school offers a Transition Year programme. It is envisaged that schools which receive seed capital will be in a position to establish sustainable book loan/rental schemes which, after the initial special assistance, will operate on a self-financing basis where ongoing costs will be met by fee income, which can be subsidised in the case of needy pupils from the general book grant scheme allocation. Funding in respect of seed capital amounts to €0.5m in 2008.

Schools are also free to operate second-hand book exchanges and I consider that locally operated rental or exchange schemes are the most appropriate and efficient way to address the issue of the cost of school books.

Health Promotion.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

30 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on whether nutrition should be taught in primary schools. [26343/08]

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is a mandatory part of all programmes for primary students, and its implementation is being assisted by a full-time support service. The programme begins in the infant classes and specifically addresses the need for regular exercise, and examines food and nutrition issues and the need for a balanced diet. The objective is that by fifth and sixth classes, pupils are equipped to take responsibility for making wise food choices and adopting a healthy balanced diet, and in that context, exploring and examining the food pyramid. These themes are continued in the SPHE programme at junior cycle, as well as in the Home Economics, PE and Science curricula.

Health and well-being along with food and nutrition are two areas dealt with under the "taking care of my body" unit of SPHE at primary level. SPHE is presented in three strands: Myself, Myself and others and Myself and the wider world.

The strand "Myself" is concerned with the personal development of the individual child and his/her health and well-being. This strand also contributes to children establishing ways of thinking, feeling and acting that can help to promote and maintain health and well-being both now and in the future. Part of this strand deals with food and nutrition and enables the child to:

become aware of the importance of food for growth and development

explore food preferences and their role in a balanced diet

discuss and explore some qualities and categories of food

realise the importance of good hygiene when preparing food to eat.

Physical education is also part of the curriculum at primary and at post-primary level and plays a key role not just in giving students an opportunity to exercise during the school day but also in encouraging a positive attitude towards physical activity which students will hopefully carry with them into adult life.

Early School Leavers.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

31 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science if he is reviewing the operation and effectiveness of the school completion programme; the number of primary schools that are participating; the number of pupils and the cost per pupil; the cost for 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26064/08]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

43 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science the name, address and role number of the 224 post primary schools and 468 primary schools that participated in the school completion programme in 2007-08; if all of these school will continue to participate in 2008-09; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26071/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 43 together.

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the 124 School Completion Programme sites, comprising 224 post-primary and 468 primary schools currently participating in the School Completion Programme, has been forwarded to the Deputies. These projects will continue to be funded for the duration of the DEIS Action Plan.

€28.8 million was allocated to the School Completion Programme in 2007 with €31 million allocated for 2008. The programme is funded on a multi-annual basis under the National Development Plan (NDP) and was assisted under the European Social Fund (ESF) up to 2007.

The School Completion Programme encompasses both primary and post-primary levels and focuses on young people between the ages of 4 and 18 years and is designed to deal with issues of both concentrated and regionally dispersed disadvantage. SCP is a key component of DEIS ( Delivering Equality of Opportunities in Schools) the action plan for educational inclusion, which discriminates positively in favour of children and young people who are at risk of early school leaving.

19,059 young people were targeted in-school under the School Completion Programme in 2006/2007. This figure has increased to approx. 36,000 in 2007/2008 with the inclusion of new schools under DEIS.

SCP projects target and focus programme resources in the first instance on the individual young people who are most at risk of early school leaving. Additionally, some strategies may include a wider group (e.g. in the case of sporting and leisure activities) or the entire school population (e.g. where tracking attendance is involved).

The level of funding allocated to projects is dependant on the submission of their annual Retention plan and taking into account the level of disadvantage in the schools involved in each project, the target group selected for intensive supports, the salaries of personnel employed and the overall level of funding available to the programme.

Site Acquisitions.

David Stanton

Question:

32 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 97 of 9 April 2008, if his Department will accept the offer of a site for a new premises for a school (details supplied) in County Cork; if so, when he expects building works on the new school to begin; if not, his plans to rectify the current accommodation problems suffered by the school and its students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26309/08]

As part of the Programme for Government, a Developing Areas Unit was set up recently in my Department to focus on the school accommodation needs of rapidly developing areas, including the area to which the Deputy refers. The main emphasis in 2008 is on providing sufficient school places in these developing areas, as well as delivering improvements in the quality of existing primary and post-primary school accommodation throughout the country.

In this context, the status of all schools in the area referred to by the Deputy are being assessed. The school referred to by the Deputy is being included in this assessment.

On the matter of the offer of the new site, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that following a technical examination of the two acre site in question, my officials wrote to the local developer requesting contract documents. A reply is awaited.

As an interim measure while the school are awaiting their permanent building, my Department has sanctioned the rental of temporary premises and accommodation in order for the school to operate.

As is the case with all large capital projects currently on hand within the Unit, their progression will be considered in the context of the multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

School Accommodation.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

33 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount each owner of prefab classrooms or resource rooms who has rented those prefabs to a primary school has been paid either directly or indirectly by his Department for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26062/08]

Expenditure on the rental of temporary accommodation at primary level for each of the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 was €11.3m, €15.7m and €24.51m respectively. The information sought by the Deputy regarding the amount of rental payments made to individual suppliers is not readily available in my Department and given the number of payments involved it would require a very large amount of staff time to assemble. The Deputy will appreciate that the matter is complicated by the fact that my Department provides grant aid (less the local contribution) to approved schools to meet rental costs. However, the actual contract is between the school and the supplier of the accommodation.

Disadvantaged Status.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

34 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 477 of 8 May 2008 the location of each school which is being assisted under the DEIS action plan for education inclusion; the number of pupils affected in each school; the role of the National Education Welfare Board in the areas where the schools are located; the outcomes that have occurred to date in improving the attendance or retention of pupils at risk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26070/08]

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the schools which have been identified for inclusion in DEIS, the Action Plan for Educational Inclusion, has been forwarded to the Deputy. A total of 90,000 children attend primary and 61,000 children attend post-primary schools participating in DEIS.

In the region of €800 million will be spent by the Department this year on tackling educational disadvantage at all levels — from pre-school to further and higher education. This represents an increase of nearly €70 million on the comparable 2007 figure and is testament to the Government's determination to prioritise social inclusion and ensure that all our children and young people get the supports they need to do well at school. Social inclusion measures across all Government departments have also been prioritised under the Towards 2016 agreement, the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-16 and the National Development Plan.

Enhancing attendance, progression, retention and attainment are central to DEIS which is being implemented at present. The action plan represents a shift in emphasis away from individual initiatives, each addressing a particular aspect of the problem, with the new plan adopting a multi-faceted and more integrated approach. This is the first time that an integrated educational inclusion strategy has been developed for 3-18 year olds in this country.

The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 established the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) as the national body with responsibility for school attendance. The Act provides a comprehensive framework, promoting regular school attendance and tackling the problems of absenteeism and early school leaving. The general functions of the Board are to ensure that each child attends a recognized school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education. The Board operates through 5 regional teams, with bases in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. A service is provided from 26 locations nationwide.

Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs) are appointed and deployed throughout the country to discharge the Board's functions locally. The NEWB's network of EWOs is the key means by which the Board delivers on its statutory remit to ensure that each child attends and benefits from education. EWOs employ a welfare oriented approach in the interests of the children and young people who do not attend school regularly, working collaboratively with schools, parents and other agencies in meeting the needs of the children and the young people concerned.

In deploying its service staff, from its earliest development, the NEWB has prioritised the provision of services to the most disadvantaged areas and the most at-risk groups. This deployment includes areas designated under the Government's RAPID programme and to schools in the DEIS programme. There is a significant overlap between RAPID areas and the most disadvantaged areas identified under DEIS. EWOs provide an intensive service in these areas.

Under Towards 2016 a commitment was made that an additional 100 posts in total would be provided for the NEWB and the National Educational Psychological Service by the end of 2009, to help further address absenteeism, early school leaving, behavioural problems and special needs. 15 of these posts were sanctioned for the NEWB in 2007. As new posts come on stream, DEIS designated schools will receive priority attention. EWOs respond to referrals from schools and every effort is made to work with those children most at risk and where schools indicate particular concerns. The NEWB also gives priority to children who have no school place or who have been expelled or who have been referred by the courts regardless of location.

Early analysis of attendance data has shown improvement in areas. However, more in-depth studies are required to measure outcomes in respect of attendance and retention in the long term.

The service provided by the NEWB is just one aspect of the comprehensive framework that this Government has put in place to support schools, families and young people themselves.

The range of curricula available to students has also been widened by promoting the Junior Certificate Schools Programme, the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme, and the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme in addition to the traditional Junior and Leaving Certificate curricula.

Preventative measures have also been put in place such as the School Completion Programme and the Home School Community Liaison Scheme. The number of projects participating in the School Completion Programme has increased under DEIS to 124 projects spanning 26 counties, comprising 224 post-primary schools and 468 primary schools and targeting approx. 36,000 young people. A total of 450 local HSCL coordinators provide HSCL services to 691 schools (370 Primary and 281 Post primary), with an additional 80 posts made available in 2006 to extend Home School Community Liaison services to all schools selected to participate in DEIS that did not have such services. The previous Minister for this Department Mary Hanafin T.D., also extended a commitment to schools not selected to participate in DEIS but already in the HSCL scheme, to continue to support these schools in their efforts to deal with educational disadvantage among their students in line with both their size and level of disadvantage.

The latest Retention Report published by the Department in March this year provides data on the cohort of pupils who entered the first year of the junior cycle in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and most of whom completed their senior cycle five to six years following the year of intake. This is the third such report tracking pupil retention and the trend is showing yearly improvements in retention rates. It is compiled from data on the Department's Post Primary Pupils Database and tracks students in State aided schools (with an estimate of those attaining their Leaving Cert in private institutions). It does not take into account students pursuing other educational pathways such as Youthreach or apprenticeship training.

Key results from the report are:

Retention rates have been increasing slightly year-on-year since 1996. The national unadjusted retention rate for the 1999 cohort is 80.5% compared to 77.8% in 1996.

When an adjustment is made for external candidates who complete their Leaving Cert in privately funded institutions, emigration and deaths, the national retention rate is 83.7% compared to 81.3% in 1996.

In relation to second chance educational opportunities for young people who left school early, this Government has shown a sustained commitment to providing greater opportunities in the adult and further education sectors. Many such young people take up places in Youthreach centres, while others pursue options such as FÁS apprenticeships.

School Accommodation.

Joan Burton

Question:

35 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if the commercial companies who supply prefab classrooms and resource rooms to primary schools on a rental basis on which rent is paid in whole or in part by his Department are required to produce a tax clearance certificate to either the board of management or his Department before a rental contract is signed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26104/08]

My Department currently provides grant-aid towards the provision of temporary school accommodation to the management authorities of education providers where it is established that a need for such temporary accommodation exists.

Generally, where primary schools require temporary accommodation, the Board of Management is responsible for acquiring temporary accommodation and the rental contract is between the Board of Management and the supplying contractor. My Department provides grant-aid to the individual school authorities towards the costs of procuring the accommodation. Such grant-aid is paid at a rate of 95% for schools with permanent recognition and 75% for schools with provisional recognition. Schools are expected to pay a local contribution of the balance, with a threshold on the local contribution of €3,175.

While payment of State / Public Authority Grants, subsidies and similar type payments, by Government Departments and public authorities, of a value of €10,000 or more, is subject to the person holding a current tax clearance certificate, Section 4.1 (iii) and 4.1(ii) of Circular 44/2006 Revised Tax Clearance Procedures for Grants and similar type payments excludes schools from this requirement.

Increasingly, where new schools are established in rapidly developing areas, my Department directly provides the accommodation for schools from the start, and in these cases, the issue of local contributions and co-funding of the rental accommodation does not arise. The rental contract is between my Department and the supplying contractor. In these instances my Department require details of the relevant supplying contractor's Tax Clearance Certificate and the expiry date of such.

Question No. 36 answered with Question No. 13.

Schools Building Projects.

Liz McManus

Question:

37 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science the name, address and capacity of the 67 large scale projects and the 27 new schools mentioned as being included in the capital allocation of almost €830 million in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26074/08]

The information sought by the Deputy is given in the tabular statements. The expected completion of large scale projects in 2008 will consist of 21 new schools and 46 extension/refurbishment projects giving an overall total of 67 large scale projects due to be completed in 2008.

An additional feature of the 2008 school building and modernisation programme is the provision of new schools in developing areas under an accelerated programme. To cater for the anticipated increases in the school-going population, my Department has established a Developing Areas Unit to identify areas of rapid population growth, to assess the educational needs in these areas and to plan solutions for the accommodation needs identified.

As part of a fast-track programme of construction for September 2008, the Department is building 26 schools and a number of smaller projects in those areas where school accommodation is under greatest pressure.

Primary

County

Roll No.

School

Project

Size of school on completion of building project

1

Carlow

14837L

SN Peadar agus Pol Ballon Carlow

Extension

8 Classrooms

2

Cavan

11541V

Dromaili SN Cavan

Extension

8 Classrooms

3

Cavan

19983B

St Clares NS Ballyjamesduff

New School

14 Classrooms

4

Cork

18279A

Carrigaline 3 NS Carragline

Extension

8 Classrooms

5

Cork

19433M

Holy Family SS, Charleville

New School

11 Classrooms

6

Cork

20204E

Kilworth NS, Cork

New School

8 Classrooms

7

Donegal

17036P

SN Naomh Colmchille Killmacrennan

New School

8 Classrooms

8

Donegal

19553W

Dungloe Central

Extension

16 Classrooms

9

Dublin

16786H

St. Brigid’s Convent NS, The Coombe

New School

12 Classrooms

10

Dublin

19015R

St. Joseph’s Girls NS, Finglas, Dublin 11

Refurbishment

10 Classrooms

11

Dublin

19945Q

Rathfarnham Educate Together Loreto Avenue

Extension

9 Classrooms

12

Dublin

19946S

Rutland St NS Dublin 1

New School

9 classrooms + 6 classroom Pre school

13

Dublin

20048O

Gaelscoil Lios na nOg, Dublin 6

Extension

9 Classrooms

14

Dublin

20060G

Monkstown Educate Together NS

New School

16 Classroom GRD school

15

Dublin

20091R

St Peters NS Phibsboro

Extension

16 Classrooms

16

Dublin

20186F

Castaheany Educate Together, Ongar, D 15

New School

16 Classroom GRD school

17

Galway

17198S

SN Muire Gan Smal

Extension

12 Classrooms

18

Galway

17485C

Briarhill NS

Extension

7 Classrooms

19

Galway

17771W

Lisheenkyle NS

Extension

6 Classrooms

20

Galway

20115F

Scoil Einne, Spiddeal

Extension

8 Classrooms

21

Kerry

19548G

Nano Nagle NS Lixnaw

Extension

12 Classrooms

22

Kildare

00779U

Presentation Convent, Maynooth

Extension

18 Classrooms

23

Kildare

08099P

St Laurence’s NS, Sallins

Extension

24 Classrooms

24

Kilkenny

15340I

Carrigeen NS

Extension

5 Classrooms

25

Laois

15556I

Portarlington Convent NS

New School

16 Classroom GRD school

26

Laois

16617H

Ballyadams NS

Extension

6 Classrooms

27

Laois

20118L

Scoil Bhride Clonaslee

Extension

6 Classrooms

Primary — continued

County

Roll No.

School

Project

Size of school on completion of building project

28

Leitrim

20203C

Mohill NS

Extension

10 Classrooms

29

Limerick

08926B

St Nicholas Church of Ireland School, Adare

Extension

4 Classrooms

30

Louth

17124M

Ardee Monastery

Extension

9 Classrooms

31

Mayo

15866A

Carrakennedy NS, Westport

New School

3 Classrooms

32

Mayo

19916J

St Peter’s NS

Extension

9 Classrooms

33

Meath

18044T

SN Naomh Padraig, Stamullen

New School

16 Classrooms

34

Monaghan

20120V

Scoil Chroi Ro Naofa Clones

New School

8 Classroom GRD school

35

Offaly

11203B

St Kieran’s NS, Clareen

Extension

4 Classrooms

36

Sligo

19688W

Dromore West Central NS

New School

6 Classrooms

37

Tipperary

18207V

SN Baile an Atha

Extension

12 Classrooms

38

Tipperary

19968F

Gaelscoil Durlas Eile

New School

8 Classrooms

39

Waterford

13635R

Ballyduff NS, Kilmeaden

Extension

6 Classrooms

40

Waterford

18462O

Scoil Lorcain

Extension

16 Classrooms

41

Waterford

19539F

St. Pauls Junior School, Lisduggan

Extension

16 Classrooms

42

Waterford

19853L

Gaelscoil Portláirge

Extension

8 Classrooms

43

Westmeath

16914N

Baile Coireil NS, Coralstown

New School

4 classrooms

44

Westmeath

19948W

SN gCeithre Maistrí, Diseart Mhuire

New School

16 Classrooms

45

Wexford

14254K

SN Mhuire, Danescastle

Extension

6 Classrooms

46

Wexford

16145P

Loreto Primary School Gorey

Extension

21 Classrooms

47

Wexford

19739N

Scoil Mhuire Coolcotts

Extension

20 classrooms + 2 classroom autistic unit

48

Wicklow

06176U

Blessington 1 NS

New School

8 Classrooms

Post-Primary

County

Roll No.

School

Project

Long Term Projected Enrolment

1

Cork

62200H

Colaiste Muire Crosshaven

Extension/Refurb

325

2

Cork

62320R

St Mary’s Secondary School, Macroom

Extension

375

3

Cork

62560O

Colaiste Chriost Ri, Capwell Road, Cork

PE Hall

750

4

Donegal

71242B

Gairm Scoil Chú Uladh Leifear

Extension + PE Hall

200

5

Donegal

81010J

St Columba’s Community School, Glenties

Extension

500

6

Dublin

60511O

Beneavin De La Salle Finglas Dublin 11

Extension

450

7

Dublin

70342A

Senior College Ballyfermot

PE Hall

1400

8

Dublin

91305L

Ballinteer Community School

New School

600

9

Leitrim

76089V

Mohill Community College, Mohill

New School + PE Hall

525

10

Limerick

64220A

St Clements College, South Circular Road

New School + PE Hall

575

11

Limerick

71920T

St Nessan’s Community College

New School

750

12

Limerick

76073G

Castletroy CC

Extension

1000

13

Mayo

64630T

Jesus and Mary Gortnor Abbey Crossmolina

Extension/Refurb

500

14

Mayo

72130S

St Patrick’s College Lacken Cross Killala

Extension PE Hall

375

15

Tipperary

65340P

Presentation SS, Clonmel

Roof Project

475

16

Westmeath

63210P

Our Lady’s Bower SS, Retreat Rd, Athlone

Extension/Refurb + PE Hall

675

17

Wexford

71650Q

Kilmuckridge Vocational School

Extension

200

18

Wicklow

61820J

Loreto S.S. Bray

PE Hall

846

19

Wicklow

70800E

St Kevin’s Community College, Dunlavin

Extension

500

Developing Area Building Projects

Area

Project

Balbriggan — Castlelands

16 classroom school

Porterstown (Diswellstown/Kellystown)

16 classroom school

Mullingar — Grange

16 classroom school

Lusk

16 classroom school

Celbridge

16 classroom school1

Skerries — Kelly’s Bay

8 classroom school

Swords — Thornley Green, Applewood

8 classroom school

Balbriggan — Castlelands

8 classroom school

Lucan — Clonburris

8 classroom school

Drogheda — Aston Gate

8 classroom school

Kinnegad

8 classroom school

Tullamore

8 classroom school

Athy

8 classroom school

Rochestown

8 classroom school

Greystones (2 schools)

Two 8 classroom schools

Gorey (2 schools)

Two 8 classroom schools

Tyrrellstown

8 classroom school

Phibblestown2

8 classroom school plus accommodation to cater for up to 180 post-primary students

Belmayne (2 schools)

Two 8 classroom schools

Naas

8 classroom school

Maynooth

8 classroom school

Portlaoise

8 classroom school

Carlow

8 classroom school

1 This project was originally announced as 2 eight classroom schools.

2 This project was originally announced as 1 eight classroom school (New VEC Community Primary School). What will be delivered in 2008 will be 1 eight classroom primary school plus accommodation to cater for up to 180 post-primary pupils.

Schools ICT Strategy.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

38 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Education and Science the situation regarding funding for information technology equipment for schools; if there is funding available; the level of funding; the criteria for schools applying; and if special consideration is given to schools designated as disadvantaged. [23112/08]

The Deputy will be aware that my predecessor appointed a strategy group to advise on the priorities for expenditure on information and communications technology in schools, having regard to the provision in the National Development Plan for the investment of €252m in the ICT in Schools Programme. I intend to publish the group's report shortly. The report will cover areas of required investment over the lifetime of the national development plan. At its core will be the embedding of information and communications technology in the teaching and learning culture of schools. This will require continuing investment in teacher professional development to build further on the impressive teacher participation levels which have been evident to date. It will require the continuing maintenance of a national broadband network for schools, the upgrading and renewal of hardware and the provision of software and digital content.

Decisions on the timing and amount of expenditure in this area this year must be made in the overall context of the current budgetary situation. I am required to work within the budget set for the Department of Education and Science. My officials and I are reviewing the overall financial position with regard to spending trends and emerging pressures. Following this review, I anticipate that I will be in a position to make decisions on specific areas of expenditure.

Turning to the specific position of disadvantaged schools, these schools are benefiting from the €3.4m ICT Grant Scheme for DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) Schools from the Dormant Accounts (Educational Disadvantage) Fund. Having approved the applications under the scheme last year, my Department has issued grants amounting to €3.1m to schools so far this year. The establishment of a €1m Fund from the Dormant Accounts (Educational Disadvantage) Fund to assist up to 100 DEIS schools achieve Digital School Status was announced earlier this year. My officials are finalising the scheme arrangements with the National Centre for Technology in Education and I will be announcing the details in due course.

School Text Books.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

39 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science the average cost of a set of text books for the three years of the junior certificate; the role his Department has in recommending, directing or otherwise authorising official texts books for each subject of the junior certificate course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26077/08]

My Department does not have information on the average cost of a set of text books for the three years of the Junior Certificate cycle.

Apart from a small number of prescribed texts at second-level, mainly in the case of language subjects, decisions on which textbooks to use in first and second-level schools are taken at school level. My Department does not approve, commission, sponsor or endorse educational text-books. Books are commissioned and published by educational publishers, and schools select their books from those available from a number of publishers.

My Department operates a grant scheme towards the cost of providing school textbooks for pupils from low-income families in schools at first and second-level. Schools are notified of the scheme each year by circular letter. Principal teachers administer the book grant schemes in schools in a flexible way under the terms of the schemes based on their knowledge of particular circumstances in individual cases. Many schools operate book rental schemes and second-hand book exchanges.

A total of €8m has been provided in my Department's Estimate in 2008 in respect of the School Books Grant Scheme at second-level.

School Attendance.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

40 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the relationship between his Department and its various agencies, including the National Education Welfare Board, the Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Reception and Integration Agency, in order to ensure that young adults attending secondary school are not arbitrarily removed from one area to another causing them to leave the secondary school into which they have settled as either refugees, asylum seekers or unaccompanied children, as described to his predecessor at a meeting in his Department on 22 April 2008 and representatives of the SSN group, all of which are Dublin based inner city secondary DEIS one-band schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26103/08]

It is important to note that the meeting referred to in the question was about second level DEIS One band schools that are located in inner city Dublin. The Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Reception and Integration Agency are not agencies of the Department of Education and Science but instead come under the remit of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Department of Education and Science has a member of staff seconded to the Reception and Integration Agency.

On the other hand, the National Educational Welfare Board does come under the remit of the Department of Education and Science.

With regard to moving young adults from one area to another the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform draws a clear distinction between three categories of persons.

Firstly, refugees are recognised by that Minister as being persons entitled to protection under the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees, as incorporated into Irish law. Such persons have, in essence, the same residency rights as Irish citizens and are free to live and attend schools where ever they wish, throughout the country.

The second category comprises asylum seekers who can opt to be accommodated by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA). RIA is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers under the system of Direct Provision.

I understand from the RIA that the position is as follows.

Generally, asylum seekers are accommodated in Dublin based reception centres for a few weeks and thereafter are dispersed to centres around the country in accordance with the long standing Government policy in this regard.

Generally, once a family is dispersed there is no need to move that family further unless (i) RIA has a requirement to close that centre or (ii) there are overwhelming individual reasons to transfer that family.

In relation to the former, accommodation provision is a demand led process driven by factors over which the RIA has no control. It is obliged to adjust its accommodation portfolio to reflect current demands. Where a centre has to be closed down, RIA deals with the resultant moves sensitively, taking account, amongst other factors, of the need to ensure that disruption to education is minimised. Similar account is taken when a move arises because of individual family circumstances.

It needs to be understood that disruption of an asylum seeker's education can arise for a number of diverse reasons such as the family itself seeking a transfer or because of removal by the Garda National Immigration Bureau to another State by way of deportation or Dublin II removal.

The third category comprises separated children seeking asylum (SCSA) — otherwise known as unaccompanied minors. Responsibility for accommodating separated children seeking asylum (SCSA), aged under 18, lies with the Health Services Executive (HSE). In general, the HSE provides such accommodation until they reach the age of 18 years.

However, under the Childcare Act, 1991, it is within the scope of the HSE to continue the care of those separated children over 18 whom the HSE consider ‘vulnerable'. The RIA does not insist on SCSA's aged 18 years and over, who are awaiting a decision on their application for asylum, moving on to adult accommodation if the HSE has, for example, raised the issue of them being in a current Leaving Certificate year. Any decision to move this group lies solely with the HSE.

In summary, the Department of Education and Science has no part to play in the removal from one area to another of the categories of people specified above.

Teaching Council.

Joe Costello

Question:

41 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science if agreement has been reached between the Teaching Council, all the teachers’ unions, and his Department regarding the implementation of the Teacher Council Act 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26065/08]

My Department works closely with the Teaching Council to ensure that the Council is in a position to fully discharge the relevant functions of the Teaching Council Act. My Department was in close communication with the Teaching Council and with teachers' representative bodies over the course of the last year, to ensure all parties were aware of the implications and methods of fee-collection and to ensure a smooth transition to the Council becoming a self-funding body.

Most sections of the Act are in operation, however, a small number of provisions have not been commenced. While no dates have been set for the commencement of these provisions they will be commenced when it is feasible to do so. My Department will continue to be in dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders as the commencement process continues.

Irish Language.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

42 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the developments that have taken place upon receipt of submissions from parents, teachers and Irish language groups in relation to Tumoideachas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26338/08]

A Regulatory Impact Assessment screening is required where a significant SI is planned. Section 30 of the Education Act also obliges the Minister to consult when making regulations to prescribe the curriculum. The RIA Screening is the mechanism through which the consultation is taking place.

A draft Statutory Instrument and a Regulatory Impact screening document was issued to the following bodies for consultation:

The National Parents Council — Primary

Irish National Teachers' Organisation

Educate Together

Church of Ireland Board of Education

Catholic Primary School Managers' Association

Chief Rabbi of Ireland

Islamic Culture of Ireland

Educate Together

Gaelscoileanna

An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta

Foras na Gaeilge

Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge

Eagraíocht na Scoileanna Gaeltachta

An Foras Patrúnachta

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education Schools Irish Primary Principals' Network

The deadline for feedback was extended to 31 May 2008. The submissions received are being considered. It is intended that views of the organisations consulted will be summarised and included in a finalised Regulatory Impact Screening document and published on the Department's website.

Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 31.

Vocational Education Committees.

Seán Barrett

Question:

44 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will make arrangements for vocational educational committee services to be made available to special needs schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25179/08]

It is not clear from the Deputy's question as to the nature of the vocational educational committee services being referred to. My officials have sought clarification from the Deputy's office and a further response will be provided following receipt of this clarification.

Third Level Education.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

45 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will commit to ensuring the proper dispersion of the student services charge by higher education institutions; and if he will guarantee that all moneys collected through the student services charge will be invested in student services and not used to pay down institutional debt. [26340/08]

The student services charge is levied by third level institutions to defray the costs of examinations, registration and students services. The charge was €825 for the 2007/08 academic year. I should point out that the charge does not represent the total allocation towards student services from institutions budgets. The Institutions are autonomous bodies and as such determine the internal disbursal of funding, including funding of student services.

All students who are eligible for means tested student support have the student charge paid on their behalf by the Local Authorities or the Vocational Education Committees, in addition to any maintenance grant and tuition fee grant they are entitled to.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) 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 in 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 the Authority recently wrote once again to all institutions in relation to the charge reminding them of this Framework.

I am satisfied that the HEA considers, generally, that the Framework has operated quite well in the sector.

Site Acquisitions.

Jack Wall

Question:

46 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if the three acre site assigned for the new school (details supplied) in County Tipperary which the Office of Public Works was negotiating to purchase from the Health Service Executive has been purchased by the local authority; the alternative plans he has to provide for a new building for this 200 pupil school which has been renting an 1830 sub-standard premises since 1994 at an enormous cost to the taxpayer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26099/08]

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. While negotiations between the OPW and the HSE are currently underway I am not in a position to say at this stage when the acquisition will be concluded.

Psychological Service.

David Stanton

Question:

47 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 104 of 21 May 2008, the number of additional educational psychologists recruited to implement the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004; the number of educational psychologists employed by his Department each year since 2004 to date in 2008 respectively; the conclusions of his Department’s review of the scheme for commissioning private assessments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26310/08]

As the Deputy will be aware all primary and post-primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA). Schools that do not currently have NEPS psychologists assigned to them may avail of the SCPA, whereby the school can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved and paid for by NEPS.

I can inform the Deputy that the number of educational psychologists employed by my Department for each year from 2004 to 2008 is as follows: 2004 — 128, 2005 — 123, 2006 — 127, 2007 — 138. The figure currently stands at 137.

In the current year under the terms of the T 2016 agreement my Department is committed to the expansion of psychologist numbers in the NEPS service to 169 and again in 2009 to 200. In this connection and following a national recruitment competition organised by the Public Appointments Service, a panel of suitable candidates has been formed. Currently some 33 panellists have been offered specific appointments within the NEPS regional structure, some 30 have accepted the post offered and of these 13 have passed through the requisite Garda vetting process and are finalising arrangements with my Department's Personnel Section. This process will continue until the available posts are filled.

It is envisaged in this regard that the new recruits will be in place by the commencement of the new academic year in the order of the commitment as outlined. Additionally it is envisaged that the undertaking in respect of 2009, a further 31 posts, panellists will be processed through this system to commence employment in the service early in the new calendar year.

Further expansion or reorganisation of the service, including the SCPA, is being considered in the wider context of my Department's response to the full implementation of the EPSEN Act. In this regard my Department is now at an advanced stage in finalising proposals to facilitate implementation of the remaining sections of the Act, including the provisions in respect of assessment and individual education plans (IEPs). The time taken to finalise proposals reflects the complexities involved, the need for consultation across the wide range of people and sectors involved, the need to align with the requirements of the Disability Act, 2005 and define how the Health Service Executive (HSE) and NCSE will work together under both acts.

My Department's priority is to ensure that the necessary training, guidance and supports are in place to facilitate the commencement of the remaining sections of the Act. It must also be acknowledged that, during this necessary period of preparation and planning for the roll-out of the EPSEN Act, my Department continues to expand capacity and services for students with special educational needs across the schools network through the work of the National Council for Special Education.

School Enrolments.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

48 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of post primary school pupils; the number of boys and girls in first, second, third, transition, fifth and sixth year for 2006-07 and 2007-08; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26072/08]

The number of post-primary school pupils in the 2006/2007 school year was 301,186. The numbers of post-primary school pupils for that school year by class group, as requested by the Deputy is:

Boys

1st 28,208; 2nd 28,534; 3rd 28,771; transition 12,546; 5th 27,946; 6th 23,914;

Girls

1st 27,026; 2nd 27,633; 3rd 28,410; transition 14,533; 5th 28,078; 6th 25,587;

The processing of the October Returns for 2007/2008 is not yet fully complete. However, the provisional number of post-primary school pupils in the 2007/2008 school year was 302,919. The provisional number of post-primary school pupils for that school year by class group is:

Boys

1st 28,487; 2nd 28,444; 3rd 28,322; transition 12,818; 5th 28,050; 6th 25,136;

Girls

1st 27,739; 2nd 27,254; 3rd 27,541; transition 14,943; 5th 28,471; 6th 25,714;

Figures for each school year reflect the enrolment at the 30th September.

Teaching Qualifications.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

49 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the consideration he has given to the future of the highly specialised and uniquely qualified ESOL teachers who for the past nine years have successfully provided for the language and integration needs of refugees and who are due to be made redundant in July 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26276/08]

Integrate Ireland Language and Training Ltd. (IILT) approached my Department earlier this year with a proposal to withdraw from direct tuition for adult refugees and with a request that this tuition be mainstreamed. IILT envisaged continuing direct tuition for a group of up to 200 programme refugees. My Department accepted that mainstreaming of service provision was appropriate as it accords with the overall approach to provision of services to migrants as set out in "Migration Nation" — a statement on integration strategy and diversity management which I recently launched. In doing so the Department decided that all provision should be mainstreamed and provided by VECs as it would be less efficient to seek to continue with a small element of provision by IILT.

The funding allocated to IILT will now be redirected to provide for the continuation of this service through the VEC network. The Irish Vocational Education Association has confirmed that it is happy to cooperate and collaborate with my Department in delivery of necessary English language services. The VEC sector has already developed best practice in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision. The sector is already providing English language services for those whose first language is not English. At present services are provided to over 12,000 people annually which clearly demonstrates the capacity of the VECs in this area. A further advantage of mainstreaming such provision through the VEC sector is the fact that the VECs have a nationwide network across all counties and cities that can readily provide classes where needed in the country using their facilities in schools and centres.

IILT is a limited company. The company will now enter voluntary liquidation as a solvent concern. The Company will comply with its statutory obligations in relation to redundancy payments for the staff concerned.

School Text Books.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

50 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the exploitation of parents and children who are obliged by some secondary schools to purchase new or revised editions of existing school text books when there has been no syllabus change for the year involved and the increased costs to pupils and parents associated with the new revised books; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26076/08]

Apart from a small number of prescribed texts at second-level, mainly in the case of language subjects, decisions on which textbooks to use in first and second-level schools are taken at school level.

Syllabus planners are conscious of the need to avoid over frequent changes, primarily in order to minimise increases in the cost burden for parents. School authorities have been advised that books should be changed only to the extent that is absolutely necessary. However, textbooks have to be changed periodically to enable teachers to keep their own and their students' work educationally stimulating and to ensure that content and methodology are kept up to date.

My Department operates a grant scheme towards the cost of providing school textbooks for pupils from low-income families in schools at first and second-level. Schools are notified of the scheme each year by circular letter.

Principal teachers administer the book grant schemes in schools in a flexible way under the terms of the schemes based on their knowledge of particular circumstances in individual cases. Many schools operate book rental schemes and second-hand book exchanges.

A total of €8m has been provided in my Department's Estimate in 2008 in respect of the School Books Grant Scheme at second-level.

Irish Language.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

51 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the way he will provide incentives to encourage children from disadvantaged areas to attend Irish language courses in the Gaeltacht. [26339/08]

My Department established a Gaeltacht Scholarship scheme in 2007. It is designed to enable children enrolled in designated disadvantaged post-primary schools to attend approved summer colleges for teaching Irish. The Galway Education Centre provides administrative support for the initiative.

Funding of €100,000 has been made available for the scheme for 2008. Applications for the 2008 scheme are still being processed and, to date, approximately 138 have been received.

Departmental Properties.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

52 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance the details of all properties rented, owned or leased by his Department in County Louth; the rent paid per annum; if car parking is leased or rented; if so, the location, owner and amount paid; if there is a tenancy or occupancy termination imminent; the reason given for same; the plans in place for relocation. [26454/08]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

53 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance the details of all properties rented, owned or leased by his Department in County Louth; the rent paid per annum; if car parking is leased or rented; if so, the location, owner and amount paid; if there is tenancy or occupancy termination imminent; and the reason given for same; and the plans in place for relocation. [26456/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 53 together.

Further to Parliamentary Question No. 604, ref no 26456/08, the following documentation details the information pertaining to State-owned buildings plus buildings and car parking facilities that are leased by the Commissioners of Public Works on behalf of Government Departments.

With regard to tenancy/occupancy termination the Commissioners are investigating the feasibility of surrendering the lease on Dundalk Government Offices, Earl House. This property has been held on a 35-year lease without a break from 1975. It had been used to house mainly Revenue and a small number of Social, Community & Family Affairs staff. These have now relocated to new accommodation as part of a previous Government Decentralisation programme. The building is currently utilised as a storage facility for the Revenue Commissioners.

The following reply can also be used to respond to PQ ref no. 26454/08 which Deputy O'Dowd has put down to the Minister for Agriculture and Food for reply.

Property Code

Building Code

Occupant

Building Name

Address

Location

Gross Int Sqm

Type

OPW

Mid Louth Civic Services Centre (Part-Owned)

Fairgreen

Ardee

P1126

B1126

N/A

Mouth of Boyne Former Coastguard Station

Beaulieu

Mouth of Boyne

0.0000

Res

P1127

B1127

Scfa

Drogheda Government Offices

The Mall

Drogheda

549.9974

Office

P1129

B1129

Garda

Drogheda Garda Station

Old Abbey Lane

Drogheda

477.7000

Garda Station

P1165

B1165

SCFA

Dundalk Social Welfare Office

Barrack Street

Dundalk

443.9141

Office

P1167

B1167

C&E, OPW, Revenue

Dundalk Custom House

Quay Street

Dundalk

382.9961

Office

P1168

B1168

Revenue

Dundalk Revenue Vima+Lorry Park

Newry Road

Dundalk

1930.0056

Office

P1172

B1172

Garda Siochana

Dundalk Garda Station

The Crescent

Dundalk

751.3000

Garda Station

P1173

B1173

N/A

Dundalk Military Barracks Drill Field

Barrack Street

Dundalk

0.0000

Military

P1174

B1174

N/A

Dundalk National School

Joclyn Street

Dundalk

0.0000

School National

P1206

B1206

Garda Siochana

Dunleer Garda Station + Married Quarters

Drogheda Road

Dunleer

137.6000

Garda Station + Married Quarters

P1943

B1943

N/A

Greenore Former Coastguard Station

Greenore

Greenore

0.0000

Former Coastguard Station

P1961

B1961

Garda Siochana

Hackballscross Garda Station

Castlblayney Road

Hackballscross

116.5700

Garda Station

P2496

B2496

Garda Siochana

Louth Garda Station + Married Quarters

Dundalk Road

Louth

110.0000

Garda Station + Married Quarters

P2788

B2788

Garda Siochana

Omeath Garda Station

Omeath

Omeath

91.8400

Garda Station

P3648

B3648

N/A

Soldiers Point F/Mer C/Guard Stn

Soldiers Point

Soldiers Point

0.0000

F/Mer C/Guard

P399

B399

Garda Siochana

Blackrock Garda Station

Sandy Lane

Blackrock

79.0000

Garda Station

P50

B50

Garda Siochana

Ardee Garda Station + Married Quarters

Jervis Street

Ardee

210.6000

Garda Station + Married Quarters

P588

B588

Garda Siochana

Carlingford Garda Station + Married Quarters

Newry Street

Carlingford

269.3900

Garda Station + Married Quarters

Property Code

Building Code

Occupant

Building Name

Address

Location

Gross Int Sqm

Type

P623

B623

N/A

Carrickarnon Former Customs Post

Carrickarnon

Carrickarnon

0.00

Former Customs Post

P624

B624

Revenue

Carrickarnon Customs Office

Carrickarnon

Carrickarnon

170.30

Custom

P669

B4282

Garda Siochana

Castlebellingham Garda Station

Dundalk Road

Castlebellingham

31.30

Garda Station

P669

B4283

Garda Siochana

Castlebellingham Garda Station — Residence 1

Dundalk Road

Castlebellingham

568.32

Garda Station — Residence

P669

B4284

Garda Siochana

Castlebellingham Garda Station — Residence 2

Dundalk Road

Castlebellingham

568.32

Garda Station — Residence

P785

B785

Marine

Clogherhead Mes

Park Oriel

Clogherhead

34.65

Mar-Emer

P786

B786

Garda Siochana

Clogherhead Garda Station

Callystown

Clogherhead

51.50

Garda Station

P8076

B8078

Agriculture, Revenue, Opw, Scfa, Propation Service

Dundalk Government Office

Alphonsus Road

Dundalk

8,179.00

Office

P8137

B8129

N/A

Whitestown Signal Station

Whitestown

Whitestown

0.00

Misc

P8294

B8270

Garda Siochana

Dromad Garda Station

Clanrye Villa, Newry Road

Dromad

0.00

Garda Station

P8298

B8275

N/A

Oldbridge House

Oldbridge Estate, Donore

Drogheda

0.00

Heritage

P8298

B8405

N/A

Butlers House

Oldbridge Estate, Donore

Drogheda

0.00

Rest

P854

B854

Garda Siochana

Collon Garda Station + Married Quarters

Drogheda Street

Collon

261.10

Garda Station + Married Quarters

P9101

B8344

N/A

Westgate House

62/63 West St

Drogheda

0.00

Office

Lease Code

Lease Name

Occupant

Building Name

Address

Commence

Expiry

Annual Rent

Lease Type

Building Code

Status

Rentable Sqm

Landlord

Address

Type

Lse0016

Ardee William Street

Social, Community & Family Affairs

Ardee SWO

William Street, Ardee

12-Jul-93

03-Apr-11

140,00

Lease From Landlord

B52

Temporary Date

33.450

William Boylan

1 William Street, Ardee, Co Louth

Office

Lse0258

Drogheda Abbey Centre Customs & Excise

Revenue

Drogheda Customs&Excise

Abbey Shopping Centre, West Street, Drogheda

18-Sep-00

25-Dec-08

3,301.32

Lease From Landlord

B1125

Temporary Date

20.438

Tassel Ltd

Abbey Shopping Centr, West Street, Drogheda, Co Louth

Office

Lse0261

Drogheda Laurence St 23

Probation Service

Drogheda Probation & Welfare Service

23 Laurence Street, Drogheda

17-Sep-00

16-Sep-09

66,000

Lease From Landlord

B8103

Active

260.680

Robert & Audrey Murphy

13 Seabury Crescent, Malahide, Co Dublin

Office

Lse0262

Drogheda Port Customs

Revenue

Drogheda Customs & Excise

Steam Packet Quay, Drogheda

04-Mar-97

25-Dec-08

1,2697.38

Lease From Landlord

B6236

Temporary Date

120.310

Patrick Monahan (Drogheda) Limited

Merchants Quay, Drogheda, Co Louth

Office

Lse0270

Dundalk Brook Buildings

OPW, Revenue

Dundalk Government Office

Brook Street, Ardee Road, Dundalk

01-Oct-97

31-Mar-10

35,000

Lease From Landlord

B1166

Active

277.580

Patrick Copas

31 Ladywell Terrace, Dundalk, Co Louth

Office

Lse0273

Dundalk Gov Off Earl House

Prison Service, Revenue, SCFA

Dundalk Government Office — Earl House

Earl House, 13-14 Earl Street, Dundalk

01-May-75

30-Apr-10

177,763.33

Lease From Landlord

B1171

Active

1,487.360

Northern Bank Limited

Co Louth

Office

Lse0274

Dundalk Railway Stn Garda

Garda

Dundalk Garda Office

Dundalk Railway Station, Dundalk

01-Jun-02

31-May-08

2800

Lease From Landlord

B8079

Active

24.650

C I E Group Property Limited

Oriel Street, Dublin 1

Office

Lse0976

Drogheda Education Office

Education & Science

Drogheda Education Office

C C O House, Industrial Estate, Drogheda

01-Dec-02

16-Mar-09

70,089.52

Lease From Landlord

B8149

Temporary Date

343.740

Atlantic Industries

Industrial Estate, Drogheda, Co Louth

Office

Lse1173

Drogheda Swo

Scfa

Drogheda SWO

Singleton House, Laurence Street, Drogheda

23-Sep-05

22-Aug-15

70,533

Lease From Landlord

B8257

Active

257.000

Mestika Limited

Balmoral, Kells Road, Navan, Co Meath

Office

Lse1206

Dundalk Education Office

Education & Science

Dundalk Education Office

Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dublin Road, Dundalk

01-Jan-05

30-Jun-10

13,200

Lease From Landlord

B8276

Active

66.000

Regional Dev. Centre

Dundalk Inst Tech, Dublin Road, Dundalk, Co Louth

Office

Lse1244

Dundalk Revenue Warehouse

Revenue

Dundalk Revenue Warehouse

Coes Road, Dundalk

01-Apr-06

29-Feb-16

130,000

Lease From Landlord

B8309

Active

1,584.000

Portway Trailers Ltd

Coes Road, Dundalk, Co Louth

Ware Hse

Lse1262

Dundalk Fairways Hotel

Driver Test Centre

Fairways Hotel, Dublin Road, Dundalk

Dublin Road, Dundalk

29-Jan-06

25-Dec-08

0

Lease From Landlord

B8323

Active

50

Premier Hotels Ltd

T/A Fairways Hotel, Dublin Road, Dundalk, Co Louth

DTC

Lse1563

Sustainable Energy Ireland

Sustainable Energy Ireland

Block 1 Finnabair Business Park

Floor 2, Block 1, Finnabair Bus Technology Park, Dundalk

03-Nov-07

02-Nov-10

96,000

Lease From Landlord

B8420

Active

617

Thomas Lynch & Timothy Boland

Diamor, Crossakiel, Kells, Co Meath

Office

Lease Code

Occupant

Lease Name

Address

Commence

Expiry

Lease Type

Status

Annual Rent

No of Spaces

Landlord

Address

Lse0383

Revenue

Greenore Customs Post Parking

Old Hotel Building, Greenore

01-Nov-78

25-Dec-07

Car Parking

Temporary Date

2,031.58

Not Specified

Greenore Ferry Services Limited

Greenore Co Louth

Lse1042

Scfa

Drogheda SWO Car Park

Haymarket Multistorey Carpark, Dyer Street, Drogheda

19-Nov-03

25-Dec-08

Car Parking

Temporary Date

8,800.00

8

Base Construction

T/A The Haymarket, Multi Storey Carpark, Dyer Street, Drogheda

Lse1183

Agriculture

Drogheda Agriculture Car Park

Fitzwilliam Court, Dyer Street, Drogheda

19-Dec-05

04-Dec-08

Car Parking

Temporary Date

18,150.00

12

Tasik Ltd

Balmoral, Navan, Co Meath

Lse1229

Probation Service

Drogheda Probation & Welfare Car Park

23 Laurence Street, Drogheda

10-Jul-06

31-Oct-07

Car Parking

Active

10,588.00

7

Tasik Ltd

Balmoral, Navan, Co Meath

Garda Stations.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

54 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if that funding will be made available for the planned redevelopment of Tallaght Garda Station, Dublin 24; his views on whether progress on this issue is clearly required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26384/08]

A sketch scheme is practically completed to provide for a redevelopment of the existing Garda Station site for both a Garda Station and a Courthouse. The feasibility study will require the approval of both client services before proceeding to detailed design.

Financial provision for projects proceeding to detailed design is provided for from the annual provision of the Garda Building Programme. Prioritisation of projects in that Programme is a matter for the Department of Justice, Equality, and Law Reform, and An Garda Síochána in the first instance.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

55 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated tax loss prevented by the introduction of Section 118B, Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, via section 21, Finance Act 2008; the main areas of avoidance giving rise to introduction to the section; the State and semi-State bodies involved in tax avoidance schemes prior to the introduction of the section; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26396/08]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that section 21 of the Finance Act 2008 clarified the tax treatment of what are known as "salary sacrifice" arrangements. These arrangements, which are in reality an application of a person's remuneration, consist of benefits being purchased or provided by an employer with the employee effectively paying for the benefits by means of a reduction in remuneration. Section 21 also placed on a legislative basis two long-standing administrative concessions that operated in this area, namely, for:

Travel passes given by an employer to an employee where the cost of the travel pass provided by the employer is matched by a corresponding reduction in the employee's remuneration and

a contribution by an employer to a Revenue approved profit sharing scheme where the contribution or part of the contribution by the employer is matched by a corresponding reduction in the employee's remuneration.

In both cases, the new legislation ensures that a tax charge does not arise on that part of an employee's remuneration used to buy the travel pass or to fund the profit sharing scheme.

In all other cases of salary sacrifice, the legislation copper-fastens the Revenue view that such schemes are ineffective for tax purposes and do not operate to reduce an employee's taxable income. This position was outlined in an article in Tax Briefing 41, dated September 2000 which is available on www.revenue.ie.

Over the last year or so, Revenue have become aware of a number of salary sacrifice arrangements, which as part of their motivation sought to reduce the taxable income of employees and thereby avoid PAYE, and employers and employees PRSI. While, as already stated, Revenue dispute the effectiveness of such arrangements, the opportunity to copper-fasten this view was taken in the Finance Act 2008.

Schemes in this area that have come to the attention of Revenue include:

Attempts to circumvent the limits on personal contributions to pension schemes by forgoing taxable salary and transferring the contribution from the hands of the employee to the employer by means of a reduction in salary, and

Schemes designed to provide benefits, such as company cars, club fees or childcare, with the employer being recompensed by the employee foregoing taxable remuneration.

As stated, Revenue has never accepted that these schemes are effective for tax purposes and as such it is not possible to say what, if any, tax loss may have arisen in this area. As such schemes are discovered, on audit or otherwise, they will be challenged and any tax found due will be recovered, together with interest and penalties, if appropriate. If, as part of any settlement, any such case falls to be published in accordance with the terms of section 1086 (publication of names of tax defaulters) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 then it will be published in accordance with that section but not otherwise.

Joan Burton

Question:

56 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of claims made for one parent family credit, under section 462, Taxes Consolidated Act 1997 in each year from 2000 to 2008 inclusive; if he will provide an analysis of claims made by status of the claimant, that is widow/widower, lone parent, separated parent or divorced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26397/08]

Joan Burton

Question:

57 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of claims made for one parent family credit, under section 462, Taxes Consolidated Act 1997 in each year from 2000 to 2008 inclusive, broken down by sex of the claimant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26398/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 57 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated numbers of income earners availing of the one parent family credit, under section 462, Taxes Consolidated Act 1997, broken down by personal status and by gender for the income tax years 2000/01 to 2008 inclusive are set out in the following tables to the extent to which they are available.

Breakdown by personal status

Income Tax Year

Widow/Widower

Other Lone Parent

Total one parent families

2000/01

10,350

90,850

101,200

2001

9,850

87,750

97,600

2002

9,950

92,800

102,750

2003

10,200

99,000

109,200

2004

9,300

92,400

101,700

2005

9,300

115,600

124,900

2006*

9,600

121,750

131,350

2007*

9,900

126,800

136,700

2008*

9,900

128,650

138,550

Breakdown by gender

Income Tax Year

Male

Female

Total one parent families

2000/01

28,950

72,250

101,200

2001

29,000

68,600

97,600

2002

32,400

70,350

102,750

2003

35,650

73,550

109,200

2004

38,300

63,400

101,700

2005

43,200

81,700

124,900

2006*

45,400

85,950

131,350

2007*

47,200

89,500

136,700

2008*

47,900

90,650

138,550

*Provisional and likely to be revised.

Figures in the tables are rounded to the nearest fifty.

The numbers availing of the credit represent income earners who were in a position to absorb at least some of the one parent family tax credit and thereby give rise to an Exchequer cost. They do not include the numbers of potential claimants whose entitlements to other tax credits were sufficient to reduce their liability to tax to nil.

The figures for the years 2000/01 to 2005 inclusive are based on incomes data derived from income tax returns held on Revenue records and have been grossed up to an overall expected level to adjust for incompleteness in the numbers of returns on record at the time the data was extracted for analytical purposes. For the years 2006 to date the figures are estimates from the Revenue tax forecasting model using actual data for the year 2005 adjusted as necessary for income growth for the years in question.

The breakdown requested in relation to separated and divorced parents either could not be obtained or could not be obtained without conducting a protracted examination of the Revenue Commissioners' records.

Joan Burton

Question:

58 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of the claims made for one parent family credit, under section 462, Taxes Consolidated Act 1997 in each year from 2000 to 2008 that were audited; the proportion of the claims examined that were rejected in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26399/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that credit claims and requests for refunds from PAYE taxpayers are checked on a tiered basis based on value. Larger claims are subject to a higher proportion of examination as they are thought to be higher risk. I am further advised that overall, about 1% of claims for all tax credits, including One Parent Family Credit, are verified in this way. Some claims may subsequently be selected for a verification check. Where it seems from the checks carried out that the claim is not valid, the credit will be withdrawn. Results of claims checked are recorded at case level, not centrally and are not credit specific. Consequently, it is not possible to provide the information requested.

I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners that in taking this approach to PAYE credit claims, they are applying the principles of presumption of honesty and self-assessment to PAYE workers that have worked successfully for business taxpayers since 1988. Where credits (including one parent family credit) are claimed by self-employed taxpayers, this is done on the standard return of income. These returns are all subject to audit and compliance checks in the normal way.

Pension Provisions.

Joan Burton

Question:

59 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the actuarial value of the pension benefits of civil service grades (details supplied), retiring on 1 July 2008, aged 60 with 40 years service completed; if he will provide a separate value for men and women and assume all are pre 1995 appointments including the basis for the calculations, including mortality, discount rate and future salary increases. [26402/08]

The information requested is set out below. The values provided are for a married person retiring on 1 July 2008 at age 60 with pensionable service of 40 years. The pension benefits are those applying to a pre-1995 recruit to an established post in the civil service i.e. a person not subject to integration. The benefits taken into account are therefore a retirement lump sum of 1.5 times pay, a main scheme pension of 50% of pay and a spouse's pension of 25% of pay.

In order to value these benefits a number of technical assumptions must be made and the actuarial value of the benefits depends greatly on the assumptions used. The main assumptions used were:

A mortality table considered appropriate for valuing pension benefits for public servants; under this table the life expectancy at age 60 is 27 years for a male and 30 years for a female;

Annual discount rate of 6%;

Long term rate of inflation of 2% p.a. with pay increasing in line with inflation.

In the cases of all the grades mentioned and on the basis of the assumptions quoted above the actuarial value of the pension benefits works out at about 10 times current annual salaries.

It might be noted the calculations are on the basis of maximum pension benefits in each case. On average, the value of pension benefits for a civil servant retiring from the relevant grades will be substantially less as many civil servants will retire with less than the maximum of 40 year's service, many others will retire after the minimum retirement age of 60 and some will not be married.

Females are expected, on average, to live for longer than males so that the value of a main scheme pension is estimated to be greater for a female than for a male. However, this is balanced by the value of a spouses benefit being greater for a male member since a female spouse is likely to be younger and have a greater life expectancy than a male spouse. Therefore the figures apply equally to both males and to females.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

60 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the amount of tax forgone by the granting of a deduction for interest against rents assessable under Case V, Schedule D in the years 2001 to 2008 inclusive. [26403/08]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers for the years 2003 to 2006 inclusive, the latest year for which this information is available, the estimated amount of tax foregone by allowing a deduction for interest on borrowings to be offset against rents assessable under Case V, Schedule D is as set out as follows.

Year

Estimated Tax Forgone

€m

2003

222

2004

284

2005

393

2006 (provisional)

572

The estimates are based on assuming that tax relief was allowed at the top income tax rate of 42% and the figures provided could therefore be regarded as the maximum Exchequer cost in respect of those taxpayers.

Corresponding suitable data is not available for the years 2001 and 2002. Data for the tax year 2007 is not yet available as the income tax returns for that year are not due for filing until October 2008. Company returns of rental income are net of interest on borrowings and the figures for interest are not separately distinguished in those returns.

It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return form 12 is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return form 11. This return is the source of the figures provided in this reply.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

61 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in his Department, who have received or are receiving support to participate in post graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008 inclusive. [26405/08]

42 members of staff in my Department received support under the Department's post-entry education scheme to pursue post-graduate educational courses in the period 2004 to 2008 inclusive.

Tax Forecasts.

Joan Burton

Question:

62 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the figures provided by the Revenue Commissioners in the preparation of the 2008 tax forecasts; and the reason his Department used their own higher figures. [26409/08]

As happens every year, the Revenue Commissioners supplied my Department with a tax forecast for the following three years in the run-up to the Budget. Revenue prepared this forecast in October and November of last year based on the technical position set out by my Department.

All Budget forecasts, including tax and economic, are prepared by my Department. In doing so, my Department takes the Revenue Commissioners' forecasts into consideration and is in regular consultation with Revenue about the evolving trends. In addition to taking Revenue's view, changes in the prevailing economic outlook are also taken on board before the finalisation of the Department's tax forecasts, which are then published in the Budget.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

63 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if, in respect of relief granted to sports bodies under section 847A, Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, he will provide information (details supplied) for the years 2003 to 2006 and estimates of the cost for 2007 and 2008. [26410/08]

The Deputy is aware that the operation of the scheme for tax relief on donations to certain sports bodies is governed by the provisions of section 847A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. These bodies must be an "approved body of persons" established for and existing for the sole purpose of promoting athletic or amateur games or sports. They must also have been granted tax exemption under section 235 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a list of sports bodies who have been granted tax exemption under this section is available on the Revenue website at www.revenue.ie.

The precise arrangements for allowing tax relief on donations depends on whether the donor is a PAYE taxpayer, a person who is subject to self-assessment or a company. For a PAYE donor, the relief is given on a "grossed up" basis to the eligible sports body, rather than by way of a separate claim to tax relief by the donor. In this instance the claim for refund of the tax deducted by the donor is made to Revenue by the approved sports body. In the case of a self-assessed donor, the donation is paid gross and that individual claims the tax relief in their tax return. In the case of a company, the donation is paid gross and the company claims a deduction for the donation as if it were a trading expense.

The figures of estimated cost to the Exchequer of tax relief on donations by self-employed taxpayers to approved sports bodies within the meaning of Section 847A of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 for income tax years 2003, 2004 and 2005, the latest year for which the necessary detailed information is available, are set out in the following table:

2003

2004

2005

Self-employed

€0.3m

€0.2m

€0.2m

I am advised by Revenue that they are not in a position to provide Income Tax data for 2006 to 2008 in respect of self-employed donors, as the tax returns for those years are either being processed currently or not yet due.

Tax relief on donations by companies to approved sports bodies was claimed by 31 companies with accounting periods ending in 2006 at an estimated cost to the Exchequer of approximately €60,000. As figures of donations made by companies were not captured in corporate tax returns for accounting periods ending in years prior to 2006 there is, therefore, no basis on which an estimate of the associated costs to the Exchequer can be compiled for these years. Figures in relation to corresponding donations by PAYE taxpayers are not available because administration of the scheme is localised.

As regards the names of all bodies approved and details of the project for which relief was granted: the cost of the relief granted: an overall analysis of the cost per sport: the highest cost of the relief granted to one project in each year: the number of sports bodies receiving relief in each year, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the records maintained by them do not easily provide a basis for compiling the detailed information sought by the Deputy and cannot be obtained without conducting a protracted examination of their records.

Question No. 64 withdrawn.

Joan Burton

Question:

65 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if, in respect of relief granted to approved bodies under section 848A of the Taxes Consolidated Act, 1997, he will provide information (details supplied) for the years 2003 to 2006 and estimates of the cost for 2007 and 2008. [26412/08]

The Deputy is aware that the operation of the scheme for tax relief on donations to eligible charities and other approved bodies is governed by the provisions of section 848A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. Bodies, including schools, colleges, universities, bodies approved for education in the arts as well as a number of other specified organizations are defined as approved bodies for the purposes of the donations scheme by virtue of the specific groups of entities listed in Schedule 26A of the 1997 Act. In addition charities that hold charitable tax exemption for a period of at least two years may apply for approval under the donations scheme. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a list of charities approved for the purposes of the donations scheme is available on the Revenue website at www.revenue.ie. The full details of the terms and conditions of the scheme are available in Leaflet CHY 2 which can be also accessed on the Revenue website.

The precise arrangements for allowing tax relief on donations depends on whether the donor is a PAYE taxpayer, a person who is subject to self-assessment or a company. For a PAYE donor, the relief is given on a "grossed up" basis to the eligible charity or approved body, as the case may be, rather than by way of a separate claim to tax relief by the donor. In this instance the claim for refund is made to Revenue by the approved body or eligible charity. In the case of a self-assessed donor, that individual claims the relief and there is no grossing up arrangement. In the case of a company, it will claim a deduction for the donation as if it were a trading expense.

I am informed by Revenue that the records maintained by them do not easily provide a basis for compiling the detailed information sought by the Deputy. In particular their records do not readily differentiate between tax refund/relief allowed in respect of donations to national schools, fee paying or non-fee paying second level schools, third level institutions, Universities or third world charities. In addition the arrangement for granting the relief is dependent on the donors tax status i.e. PAYE only donor where the charity or approved body claims the relief, self assessed donor where the individual claims the relief and a company donor where the donation is claimed as if it were a trading expense.

The following table sets out figures of the estimated cost to the Exchequer of tax relief on donations to approved bodies and eligible charities within the meaning of Section 848A of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 in so far as they are available for the years 2003 to 2007.

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

PAYE

21.4

14.8

15.6

28.5

25.3

Self-Employed

7.2

11.1

18.3

N/A

N/A

I am advised by Revenue that they are not in a position to provide data for 2006 to 2008 in respect of self-employed donors, as the tax returns for those years are either being processed currently or not yet due. In respect of PAYE donors for 2008 the claims by the approved bodies are not yet due.

There were no recorded claims for tax relief on donations to approved bodies by companies with accounting periods ending in 2006. As data on donations made by companies were not captured in corporate tax returns for accounting periods ending in years prior to 2006 there is, therefore, no basis on which an estimate of the associated costs to the Exchequer can be compiled for those years.

Joan Burton

Question:

66 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of claims under sections 847A and 848A of the Taxes Consolidated Act audited in the years 2003 to 2007 inclusive with a summary of the findings. [26413/08]

Section 847A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 governs the scheme for tax relief on donations to certain sports bodies and section 848A governs the operation of the scheme for tax relief on donations to eligible charities and other approved bodies.

I am advised by Revenue that the precise arrangements for allowing tax relief on donations under both sections depends on whether the donor is a PAYE taxpayer, an individual who is subject to self-assessment or a company. In the case of donors who are PAYE taxpayers, the relief is given on a "grossed up" basis to the eligible body (rather than by way of a separate claim to tax relief by the donor). In this instance the claim for refund is made to Revenue by the eligible body. In the case of a self-assessed donor, that individual claims the relief in his/her income tax return and there is no grossing up arrangement. In the case of a company, it will claim a deduction for the donation as if it were a trading expense.

In processing claims by eligible bodies, Revenue carries out routine checks commensurate with the risk involved. These checks include a sampling of the claims and declarations made by the donors to verify the accuracy of the information contained therein.

The veracity of claims by both donors and eligible bodies may also be checked as part of the audit process undertaken by Revenue. However, as many Revenue audits cover more than one tax and more than one issue it is not possible to provide statistics in relation to the number of cases where Revenue auditors specifically looked at Section 847A/848A claims in particular cases. Where a case is selected for audit the auditor will usually take the opportunity to look at many aspects of compliance, including Sections 847A and 848A claims if they are applicable to the case, but no separate statistics are kept as regards the nature of the aspects examined.

Notwithstanding the absence of statistics in relation to the audit of claims under sections 847A and 848A, I am advised by Revenue that they have no indications of any significant problems with the operation of these tax reliefs.

Revenue Commissioners’ Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

67 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an aged basis analysis of serving Revenue Commissioner staff for the grades (details supplied) by sex. [26414/08]

The information requested by the Deputy has been set out by the Revenue Commissioners in the table. I am advised by the Commissioners that according to their figures approximately 60% of their overall staff are female. As can be seen from the data below 38% of the grades of HEO and above are female.

Gender

Range

Principal

AP

HEO

Grand Total

Female

18-24

1

1

25-30

2

19

21

31-40

5

13

75

93

41-50

8

48

211

267

51-60

15

65

213

293

61-65

2

4

10

16

Female Total

30

132

529

691

Male

25-30

2

11

13

31-40

2

11

53

66

41-50

30

97

283

410

51-60

84

246

248

578

61-65

11

12

31

54

Male Total

127

368

626

1,121

Grand Total

157

500

1,155

1,812

Ownership of Lands.

John Cregan

Question:

68 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Finance if he will adjudicate on the ownership of lands (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26427/08]

A number of interested parties have made applications for property allegedly transferred by or agreed to be sold by a Company now dissolved. The parties have been advised by the Chief State Solicitor's Office that they need to clarify their respective titles and reach a consensus between them before consideration can be given to a waiver application under Section 31 of the State Property Act 1954.

The Minister does not adjudicate on the applicants claims to entitlement to ownership of lands in these circumstances.

Tax Code.

Frank Feighan

Question:

69 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon has not received their notice of tax assessments for 2003 despite the fact that all relevant information has been lodged with the Revenue Commissioners, Galway for some time and has been re-submitted again by registered post due to original documents being mislaid. [26446/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no record of receipt of the tax return in question prior to its receipt by registered post. A P21 PAYE balancing statement for the tax year 2003 issued to the person concerned on 26 June 2008 and an associated overpayment of tax was made on 30 June 2008.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

70 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who have been moved by his Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if he will provide in tabular form for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of the staff originally designated for a move, who have opted to stay in Dublin, who have been assigned new duties. [26471/08]

The following is the information requested by the Deputy in tabular form for my Department and the agencies under the aegis of my Department. The decentralisation programme operates on a voluntary basis only and no staff were designated to move to any location unless they volunteered. However a number of staff whose posts were designated for decentralisation have been assigned new duties.

Department of Finance

Location

Number of posts designated to move

Number of staff who have moved

Percentage

Number of staff assigned awaiting a move

Tullamore

130

125

96%

0

Naas

30

0

0%

26

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

Location

Number of posts designated to move

Number of staff who have moved

Percentage

Number of staff assigned awaiting a move

%

Newcastle West

50

49

98

2

Kilrush

50

57

114

0

Listowel

50

52

104

0

Athy

250

63

25.2

8

Navan

Up to 100

96

96

2

Kildare

380

0

0

0

Office of Public Works

Location

Number of posts designated to move

Number of staff whohave moved

Percentage

Number of staff assigned awaiting a move

%

Trim

333

29

9

210

Claremorris

142

29

20

4

Kanturk

88

0

0

2

Public Appointments Service

Location

Number of posts designated to move

Number of staff who have moved

Percentage

Number of staff assigned awaiting a move

Youghal

100

0

0%

12

Valuation Office

Location

Number of posts designated to move

Number of staff who have moved

Percentage

Number of staff assigned awaiting a move

Youghal

100

0

0%

15

Efficiency Reviews.

Richard Bruton

Question:

71 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the proposals which have been put forward under the efficiency review 2008 initiated on budget day 2008 by his Department and agencies operating under his Department; and the aggregate savings to be made by implementation of these savings in 2008 and in the full year for 2009. [26490/08]

In line with my predecessor's Budget 2008 announcement, the Department of Finance has engaged in the efficiency review exercise on the same basis as all other Government Departments, with a view to identifying possible savings on administrative spending. The exercise has included the bodies within the aegis of my Department. The issues arising in this context are currently being considered in the context of preparation of the 2009 Estimates.

Child Care Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

72 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of trafficked children receiving full health care services including psychological care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26350/08]

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.

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

73 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to respite for a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if the decision in this case will be reversed and a week allocated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26358/08]

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

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

74 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an appeal in respect of an application for domiciliary care allowance for a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26365/08]

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

Michael Ring

Question:

75 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be transferred to Merlin Park Hospital. [26380/08]

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.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

76 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children (details supplied) who are on a waiting list for assessment; the number waiting for treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26423/08]

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

Community Care.

James Reilly

Question:

77 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath and plans to move them to a more suitable setting in a community facility as their family are concerned for their welfare and feel they need to be transferred as soon as possible to facilities in the community which are more appropriate for their continuing care; the progress of relocating patients with an intellectual disability or autism from psychiatric hospitals and other inappropriate placements in older buildings for example; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26426/08]

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

Nursing Home Subventions.

Willie Penrose

Question:

78 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children when the commitment she gave to introduce the fair deal programme will be implemented; the action that will be taken in relation to the funding that was provided for this scheme to commence in the interim; if it is being diverted to alternative uses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26433/08]

The Bill providing for the Fair Deal scheme is being finalised by the Office of the Attorney General at present. The legislation is complex and requires careful drafting in order to ensure that the interests of older people requiring residential care are fully protected.

My colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, intends to publish the Bill as soon as possible following finalisation by the Attorney General and Government approval, and to bring the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas thereafter. As the timeframe for bringing the legislation through both Houses is contingent upon finalisation of the Bill, a more definitive answer is not possible at this stage.

The Minister has considered carefully the question of allowing some of the funding allocated for Fair Deal to be used for nursing home subvention and her officials are now discussing this matter with the Department of Finance. As soon as a decision is reached, it will be announced. However, it should be borne in mind that the Government already allocated additional funding of €20 million for Nursing Home Subvention in 2006 and Budget 2007 provided a further €85 million — this is an increase of €105 million in nursing home subvention in two years.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Michael Creed

Question:

79 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the failure of the Health Service Executive to provide a day care service for students with special needs who have finished their schooling on reaching 18 years of age at a special school in County Cork; if she will ensure that these most vulnerable persons will not be the victims of inadequate funding from the HSE; her views on the circumstances of a student (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26438/08]

The 2008 Service Plan, developed by the HSE and approved by the Minister for Health and Children, included €50m for the development of additional disability services. The standard expenditure sanction issued to the HSE for 2008 stipulated that the prior approval of the Department of Health and Children and the Department of Finance would be required in the event of any proposal to spend this money for any other purpose.

Clearly, it is essential that the HSE lives within its overall budget for the year. It needs to manage its activity levels and cost drivers appropriately to achieve this and I do not believe it is desirable to resort to using development funding to offset expenditure pressures arising in respect of ongoing health services.

The HSE is currently reviewing its overall financial position for the year and roll-out of planned developments in disability services is being considered in that context. I have been in communication with the HSE with a view to an early determination on the matter.

The HSE has informed my Department that it plans to release €20m of the €50m additional funding for Disability Services.

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

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Dan Neville

Question:

80 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will make a statement regarding a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [26444/08]

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.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Dan Neville

Question:

81 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people on the waiting list for National Treatment Purchase Fund procedures in County Limerick. [26445/08]

Statutory responsibility for the collection, collation and validation of data on waiting times and numbers of persons waiting for hospital treatment rests with the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). My Department has, therefore, asked the Chief Executive of the NTPF to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to the information requested.

Health Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

82 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in approving a lease (details supplied) in County Westmeath; when this lease will be approved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26453/08]

The provision of the appropriate infrastructure to facilitate the delivery of primary care services is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter raised by the Deputy investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Richard Bruton

Question:

83 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify if the €50 million assigned to improve disability service will be spent for the that purpose; the agencies that will receive the allocations and the respective improvements that it will fund; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that agencies are having to inform clients that expected services will not be available as in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26455/08]

The 2008 Service Plan, developed by the HSE and approved by the Minister for Health and Children, included €50m for the development of additional disability services. The standard expenditure sanction issued to the HSE for 2008 stipulated that the prior approval of the Department of Health and Children and the Department of Finance would only be required in the event of any proposal to spend this money for any other purpose.

Clearly, it is essential that the HSE lives within its overall budget for the year. It needs to manage its activity levels and cost drivers appropriately to achieve this and I do not believe it is desirable to resort to using development funding to offset expenditure pressures arising in respect of ongoing health services.

The HSE is currently reviewing its overall financial position for the year and roll — out of planned developments in disability services is being considered in that context. I have been in communication with the HSE with a view to an early determination on the matter. The HSE has informed my Department that it plans to release €20m of the €50m additional funding for Disability Services.

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Michael Ring

Question:

84 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called to Galway for an MRI scan. [26460/08]

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.

Pharmacy Regulations.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

85 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children the situation regarding the legislation governing pharmacy practice for non-EU graduates; when it is proposed to have this matter finalised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26461/08]

The Pharmacy Act 2007 is being commenced in three stages. The first stage of the process involved the establishment of a Council of the new Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, the second stage will put in place a new registration regime for pharmacists and pharmacies, and the third stage will deal with complaints, inquiries and fitness to practice provisions. As part of the second stage, which I hope to finalise later this year, a new process for the recognition and registration of non-EU\EEA qualified pharmacists will be put in place.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

86 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who have been moved by her Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if she will provide in tabular form for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of the staff originally designated for a move, who have opted to stay in Dublin, who have been assigned new duties. [26473/08]

As the Deputy will be aware my Department is not one of the Departments scheduled for decentralisation under the Government's Decentralisation Programme. To date fifty-four civil servants have transferred to decentralising Departments from my Department. Further details in respect of the transfer of these officers are available from the decentralising Departments.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

87 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the family of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo have not been approved for payment under the health repayment scheme. [26478/08]

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.

Efficiency Reviews.

Richard Bruton

Question:

88 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the proposals which have been put forward under the efficiency review 2008 initiated on budget day 2008 by her Department and agencies operating under her Department; and the aggregate savings to be made by implementation of these savings in 2008 and in the full year for 2009. [26492/08]

In the context of the Efficiency Review announced by the then Tánaiste and Minister for Finance, Mr. Brian Cowen,T.D. in his 2008 Budget Speech, my Department has been examining various areas where potential savings and efficiencies can be achieved.

In relation to Bodies under the aegis of my Department the position is that agencies (other than the HSE and HIQA) are predominantly small in terms of organisational size and expenditure, and a number are self-funding.

A comprehensive independent review of health organisations (Audit of Structures and Functions in the Health System) was published in 2003. Considerable rationalisation has already taken place under the 2004 and 2007 Health Acts, and other changes are already planned, as follows:

The National Cancer Screening Service Board and the National Cancer Registry are to be subsumed into the HSE as part of the Cancer Control Programme;

The National Council for the Ageing and older People is to be mainstreamed into the newly-established Office for Older People;

the Medical Practitioners' Act 2007, provides for the dissolution of the Post Graduate Medical & Dental Board and the streamlining of the Board's functions to the HSE, Medical/Dental Councils, as appropriate;

the functions of the National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery are to be subsumed by An Bord Altranais and the HSE once the proposed new Nursing and Midwifery Bill is passed; and

the National Social Work Qualification Board is due to be streamlined into the National Council for Health and Social Care Professions in the next year or so.

The potential for further streamlining and/or rationalisation is being considered in the context of the Efficiency Review referred to above, and will also arise in the context of our response to the OECD Review of the Irish Public Service ("Toward an Integrated Public Service"), which was recently published.

Efficiencies are already being implemented by agencies within the health sector in the areas of procurement, business processes, and outsourcing. Additional benefits might also accrue from sharing of functions, and my Department is considering how the necessary co-ordination might be applied to allow such possibilities to be exploited.

Within my Department we have identified the following as having the potential to deliver further savings and/or efficiencies:

an increased use of on-line, rather than hard-copy (paper) publishing;

in collaboration with the Office of Public Works, we are participating in the Staff Energy Awareness Campaign (Optimising Power @ Work) which has a target to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions by a minimum of 15% per annum;

we have reduced the hours during which Hawkins House is open over weekends, thus reducing staff costs;

we are examining how we might reduce the levels of absenteeism among our staff,and will proactively manage this area;

we will review our postal and telecommunications spend to obtain the best possible deal for our mobile and other phone and telecoms services;

My Department is also examining potential savings through increased use of collective or shared procurement arrangements from shared finance, payroll, ICT and some HR arrangements, but it is likely that these would require central direction and co-ordination if they are to be applied across Departments.

Services for People with Disabilities.

David Stanton

Question:

89 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children when funding will be released by her Department and the Health Service Executive to enable service providers to offer adult day places and training places for people with disabilities who are more than 18 years of age and are no longer eligible for enrolment in special schools; the amount of such funding that was released in 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26496/08]

The 2008 Service Plan, developed by the HSE and approved by the Minister for Health and Children, included €50m for the development of additional disability services. The standard expenditure sanction issued to the HSE for 2008 stipulated that the prior approval of the Department of Health and Children and the Department of Finance would only be required in the event of any proposal to spend this money for any other purpose. Clearly, it is essential that the HSE lives within its overall budget for the year. It needs to manage its activity levels and cost drivers appropriately to achieve this and I do not believe it is desirable to resort to using development funding to offset expenditure pressures arising in respect of ongoing health services.

The HSE is currently reviewing its overall financial position for the year and roll — out of planned developments in disability services is being considered in that context. I have been in communication with the HSE with a view to an early determination on the matter. The HSE has informed my Department that it plans to release €20m of the €50m additional funding for Disability Services. The Deputy's specific question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Michael Ring

Question:

90 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive west has failed to honour a legally binding Employment Appeals Tribunal agreement and pay the settlement in the case of a person (details supplied). [26499/08]

Michael Ring

Question:

91 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has satisfied herself that public money is not being wasted by the Health Service Executive in their actions against a person (details supplied) and the mounting legal costs in this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26500/08]

Michael Ring

Question:

92 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the person or persons with the Health Service Executive who are instructing a solicitor (details supplied) on behalf of the HSE; and the costs of same. [26501/08]

Michael Ring

Question:

93 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the costs of an action being taken by the Health Service Executive against a person (details supplied) giving details of the costs of the two investigations into this matter. [26502/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 to 93, inclusive, together.

The Health Service Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular questions raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to examine the issues raised by the Deputy, and to furnish me with a report containing the relevant information as soon as possible. I will be in further communication with the Deputy as soon as this information is provided to me.

Michael Ring

Question:

94 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason her Department failed to endorse employment guidelines for psychologists in the health service as set out by a professional body, the Psychological Society of Ireland in 1987; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26503/08]

Under Section 18 of the Health Act, 1970, qualifications for the employment of clinical psychologist and psychologist community care grades were declared by the Minister for Health and Children, in consultation with the relevant professional organisation for psychologists in Ireland.

My Department has met, and been in correspondence with, the Psychological Society of Ireland on many occasions in the past to discuss issues of relevance, including the professional qualifications required for psychology posts in the health service. Updated qualifications for clinical psychologist and psychologist community care grades were subsequently declared by my predecessor in 2002, in line with the professional standards considered appropriate by my Department and the relevant professional organisation.

Michael Ring

Question:

95 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive withdrew a busy child mental health service in ADHD and refused to process a new permanent senior post in child psychiatry in County Mayo in March 2004 (details supplied), which would have provided an ongoing ADHD service; the repercussions for the families of children with ADHD of these actions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26504/08]

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

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

96 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will explain the action of the Health Service Executive in withdrawing a service in view of the lack of services in child and adolescent mental health (details supplied). [26505/08]

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

Hospital Services.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

97 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the response structures in place in hospitals when a MRSA case is detected; if each hospital has its own plan; if there is national policy of best practice, the way same is monitored; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26511/08]

I would like to assure the Deputy that tackling Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs), including MRSA, continues to be a priority for the Government and for the Health Service Executive (HSE). The Strategy for the control of Antimicrobial Resistance in Ireland (SARI) was launched in 2001. This strategy, which is based upon best international practice, represents a road map for tackling antibiotic resistance as well as HCAIs. Guidelines on The Control and Prevention of MRSA in Hospitals and in the Community were produced by a SARI Infection Control Subcommittee in 2005. In drawing up these guidelines, the subcommittee reviewed the 1995 Irish Guidelines and utilised guidelines produced in other countries including the UK, USA, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Responsibility for the implementation of these guidelines rests with individuals, hospital executives and, ultimately, the HSE.

The HSE launched a National Infection Control Action Plan in March 2007. An Infection Control Steering Group 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. The Steering Group is supported by eight Local Implementation Teams which will ensure that all local facilities are focused on achieving the national targets. A new National Surveillance System has recently been established by the HSE to collect data and provide information on a quarterly basis on four key areas, to monitor HCAIs in our health system:

1. Staphylococcus bacteraemia (blood stream infections);

2. Antibiotic consumption;

3. Alcohol gel use;

4. MRSA Surveillance in Intensive Care Units, from 2008 onwards.

This data (excluding MRSA in ICUs) has been compiled and published for 2006 and 2007. The report represents a significant step forward in terms of providing essential data that will serve as a benchmark for assessing progress in the future. I firmly believe that you cannot manage what you do not measure. We have now with this system begun a very useful measurement process.

The results so far show some improvement in 2007 over 2006. The overall S. Aureus bloodstream infection rate was lower in 2007 (0.36) compared to 2006 (0.37). The overall proportion of MRSA was also lower in 2007 (38.5%) compared to 2006 (42.4%). The overall acute in-patient antibiotic consumption rate is marginally up in 2007 over the 2006 rate by 2.4%. The overall alcohol gel use is up by a significant 50%. This data has many limitations that does not allow for direct comparison between hospitals. Also, areas like the antibiotic prescribing are calculated on a bed-days usage basis and are affected by the different procedures and data collection and processing systems applied in hospitals. However, the results are soundly based and will provide a good benchmark to enable us to measure the progress of each hospital. From now on, this data will be available on a quarterly basis. Data available from the EARSS Report Quarter 1 of 2008 indicates that the proportion of MRSA was at the same level as overall for 2007.

Since 2006, over 30 new staff in posts of Senior Pharmacists, Senior Infection Control Nurses and Surveillance Scientists have been appointed specifically to enhance infection control. I have instructed the HSE that designated private beds should be used for isolation purposes where required for patients who contract HCAIs. New environmental building guidelines to inform infection control policy in all new builds and refurbishments are expected to be published by the HSE later this month.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) undertook a comprehensive review of hygiene in our acute hospitals in 2007 and published its report last November. The report represents a thorough assessment of how hygiene services are provided and managed in 51 HSE-funded acute care hospitals. This allows individual hospitals identify strengths and areas for improvement. HIQA is following up on this review to ensure that deficits identified during that process are rectified and the Authority will be undertaking a further national review this Autumn. In addition, on 3rd June HIQA published draft Infection Prevention and Control Standards for public consultation. When finalised, these, along with the National Hygiene Standards, will provide a comprehensive framework to control infection in all healthcare settings.

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.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

98 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children who have received orthodontic treatment from the Health Service Executive each year for the past three years in each county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26512/08]

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.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

99 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the projects being assessed or examined for inclusion on a site (details supplied) in County Laois being developed by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26513/08]

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

Health Service Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

100 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff in her Department, who have received or are receiving support to participate in post graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008, inclusive. [26988/08]

A total of 38 staff of my Department received or are receiving support for post-graduate educational courses between 2004 to 2008 inclusive.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

101 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the number of persons who have been moved by his Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if he will provide in tabular form for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of the staff originally designated for a move, who have opted to stay in Dublin, who have been assigned new duties. [26476/08]

Work was completed in respect of the decentralisation of 50 Departmental and Road Safety Authority (RSA) staff in July 2007. The decentralisation of 10 posts from the Department's Road Haulage functions and 40 RSA posts to Loughrea was among the priority moves in the programme. This represents 10% of the original target of 497 posts.

In relation to Drogheda, The original proposal to move 37 posts to that location was recently reviewed in the context of an efficiency review by my Department. I considered that decentralising a combination of safety investigation functions, the Railway Safety Commission (which was to relocated originally to Ballinasloe), and other areas to bring the numbers up to the total requirement of 37 for Drogheda offers greater potential for operational efficiency as well as value for money.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has recruited 36 staff for Shannon and are now located there, representing a further 7% of the original overall target. The decentralisation of 110 posts in the National Roads Authority (NRA) to Ballinasloe and 200 posts from the CIE group to Mitchelstown is also being progressed.

The breakdown in relation to the locations involved is as follows:

Location

Department/Agency

Target

Staff who have been moved

Staff Assigned but not moved

Staff designated to be moved who are now remaining in Dublin

Loughrea

RSA

40

40

0

0

Loughrea

Department, Road Haulage

10

10

0

0

Ballinasloe

National Roads Authority

110

0

0

0

Shannon

Irish Aviation Authority

400

36

0

0

Mitchelstown

CIE Group

200

0

0

0

Drogheda (See text above)

Combination of Safety-related functions (Air, Rail and Maritime)

37

0

0

0

Efficiency Reviews.

Richard Bruton

Question:

102 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the proposals which have been put forward under the efficiency review 2008 initiated on budget day 2008 by his Department and agencies operating under his Department; and the aggregate savings to be made by implementation of these savings in 2008 and in the full year for 2009. [26495/08]

The following proposals were included in my Department's report to the Department of Finance regarding the efficiency review of administrative expenditure:

1. Replacement of the current system for telecommunications with local authority motor tax offices (Eircom frame relay system) by use of spare capacity on the Government Virtual Private Network

2. Move to online entry of change of ownership information by approved motor dealers

3. Consolidation of Departmental headquarters accommodation from six buildings to three

4. Introduction of low value purchase cards to reduce invoice processing overheads

5. Review of mobile phone policy and practices

6. Review of road transport operator licensing fees in line with the consumer price index

7. Consolidation of IT hardware and measures to reduce paper use

8. Introduction of online application system for ship's radio licences, ship's radio operator certificates and electronic programmed indicating radio beacons

9. Review of merchant shipping fees in line with consumer price index

10. Full implementation of electronic requisitioning, invoice approval and revised budgetary systems

11. Miscellaneous minor cost-cutting measures

12. Targeted reductions in funding allocated for administrative costs in the Commission for Aviation Regulation, Dublin Transportation Office, National Roads Authority and Railway Procurement Agency.

Full implementation of all these measures, with the exception of item 8 which is now being considered as part of a wider project, is anticipated by 2010 with an estimated aggregate annual saving of approximately €2 million. Due to up-front implementation costs and the lead-in time on these proposals, no significant savings are expected to accrue in 2008. The aggregate savings estimated for 2009 are €1,326,000.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

103 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport the number of staff in his Department who have received or are receiving support to participate in post graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008 inclusive. [26991/08]

I am providing the information requested by Deputy Burton on an academic year basis as follows:

Academic year beginning in 2004 — 8 staff;

Academic year beginning in 2005 — 10 staff;

Academic year beginning in 2006 — 16 staff;

Academic year beginning in 2007 — 8 staff;

Academic year beginning in 2008 — not yet finalised.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

104 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of persons who have been moved by his Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if he will provide in tabular form for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of the staff originally designated for a move, who have opted to stay in Dublin, who have been assigned new duties. [26472/08]

Under the Government's decentralisation programme, the Development Cooperation Directorate of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is Irish Aid's Headquarters, is decentralising to Limerick. Following sanction by the Department of Finance of additional posts for DCD, the total number of posts decentralising to Limerick has increased from the original figure of 124 agreed by Government to 138.

Good progress has been made and personnel have either been assigned to, or identified for, 112 posts or approximately 81% of the 138 posts scheduled to transfer to Limerick. The remaining 26 posts largely comprise the Development Specialist grades. The recent agreement involving the trade union IMPACT and the Departments of Finance and Foreign Affairs, provide a basis upon which the Development Specialist grades will transfer to the new Irish Aid headquarters in Limerick.

An advance party has already decentralised to interim office premises in Limerick, with 60 officers currently in place. It is expected that the remaining staff of Irish Aid will transfer to Limerick between now and autumn 2008, on completion and fit-out of the new permanent offices.

The detailed information requested by the Deputy in regard to the 112 posts currently assigned to, or identified for, Irish Aid in Limerick is conveyed in tabular format:

Decentralisation of Irish Aid to Limerick as at end May 2008

Number

Number of staff already transferred to Irish Aid Limerick

60

Number of staff assigned to Irish Aid, Dublin but not yet moved to Limerick

22

Number of staff originally designated to move who opted to stay in Dublin and have been assigned new duties

0

Number of staff elsewhere in this Department yet to transfer to Irish Aid

11

Number of staff, from other Departments in provincial locations, yet to be assigned to Irish Aid

19

Efficiency Reviews.

Richard Bruton

Question:

105 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the proposals which have been put forward under the efficiency review 2008, as initiated on budget day 2008, by his Department and agencies operating under his Department; and the aggregate savings to be made by implementation of these savings in 2008 and in the full year for 2009. [26491/08]

In Budget 2008, the then Tánaiste and Minister for Finance announced that the Government agreed to an efficiency review of administrative spending across all Departments. As part of this process, Departments were required to examine their administrative spending and to provide specific proposals for savings to the Department of Finance. My Department has submitted relevant proposals to the Department of Finance for review.

I expect that the question of the publication of the outcome of the review exercise, and its implications for public expenditure in 2008 and 2009, will be considered by the Government in due course.

Departmental Staff.

David Stanton

Question:

106 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of personnel working in his Department at the respective grades; the number of vacancies at present in his Department and the grades of each; his plans to fill such vacancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26497/08]

The following table sets out the number of staff broken down by grade/position working in my Department and the number of vacancies currently being carried. The figure of 1,242 excludes approximately 300 staff who are recruited locally to work in our Missions abroad, as well as 90 Temporary Clerical Officers engaged by the Passport Office on fixed term contracts to help meet the increased demand for passports in the lead up to, and during, the busy summer period. The figure also excludes 14 Ministerial Private Office staff (Special Advisers, Personal Assistants, Personal Secretaries and Civilian Drivers) appointed by the Minister and the two Ministers of State.

Grade/Position

Number serving

Vacancies

Assistant Secretary upwards

51

2

Principal Officer/Counsellor

84

0

Assistant Principal Officer/First Secretary

168

0

Third Secretary/Administrative Officer/Higher Executive Officer

175

3

Executive Officer/Staff Officer

144

2

Clerical Officer

485

5

Development Specialist

40

8

Services Officer

28

0

Cleaner

17

0

Nightwatchperson

3

0

Officers from other Departments assigned to work in our Missions abroad

44

0

Total

1,242

20

The situation regarding staffing levels in the Department is kept under regular review. A monthly report is submitted to the Department of Finance detailing the number of staff employed by the Department and the number of vacancies on hand. As the Deputy will appreciate, the figure for the number of vacancies being carried by the Department is constantly evolving. The current figure for the number of vacancies is of the order of 20.

It is the practice of my Department to operate as close as possible to its full complement of staff and to keep the number of vacancies to a minimum. A competition is underway at present to set up a panel from which vacancies in the Development Specialist grades will be filled. In addition, the Public Appointments Service is currently organising a competition for the Third Secretary entry grade.

Joan Burton

Question:

107 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of staff in his Department, who have received or are receiving support to participate in post-graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008, inclusive. [26987/08]

The following table shows the numbers of staff from my Department who received support, or are receiving support, for post-graduate educational courses for the period in question. These figures are in respect of Masters and PhD programmes.

Academic Year

No.

2004-2005

16

2005-2006

19

2006-2007

17

2007-2008

13

Employment Support Services.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

108 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of employees with a disability being supported by the wage subsidy scheme; if she is satisfied with the uptake of the scheme; the measures in place to alert employers to the scheme and to encourage greater participation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26370/08]

The Wage Subsidy Scheme is operated by FÁS on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The Scheme is available to all employers (except public service employers and/or any employers or schemes where wages are funded by FÁS) in the State who provide a minimum of 21 hours of employment per week to disabled workers. The objective of the scheme is to increase the number of persons with a disability in employment, and as far as practicable provide a level playing field for them in seeking out, or remaining in employment. There are currently 575 participants on the Wage Subsidy Scheme as of June 30 2008.

An independent consultancy review has been commissioned by my Department to examine the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the operation of the Wage Subsidy Scheme over the initial pilot phase. The objective of the review is to assess the operation and the impact of the scheme, and to identify areas which can be built upon to ensure that the scheme achieves maximum effect in meeting the objectives of:

facilitating people with disabilities to enter full-time paid employment in the open labour market

encouraging employers, in both sheltered and mainstream settings, to employ people with disabilities

giving people with disabilities the opportunity to experience open labour market employment.

This is with a view to rolling out the initiative into a full programme aimed at providing ongoing incentives for both employers and people with disabilities in the open labour market.

The review has recently been completed and is now being considered by my Department in consultation with FÁS. The findings of this review will inform the Department and FÁS on how the effectiveness of the scheme may be enhanced in the future as an incentive to both employers and disabled employees.

Joan Burton

Question:

109 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will provide a breakdown for 2005 to 2008, on a county basis, of the number of recipients of one parent family allowance from the Department of Social and Family Affairs on employment schemes and the type of scheme; if she will provide, in respect of community employment schemes, an analysis of the time spent on schemes by participants registered in each year between 2005 and 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26401/08]

FÁS as an agency of my Department operates two employment schemes namely Community Employment (CE) and Job Initiative (JI). Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a fixed term basis. The programme helps unemployed people to progress to the open labour market by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine and assists them in enhancing/developing both their technical and personal skills.

The Job Initiative (JI) programme provides full time employment for people who are 35 years of age or over, unemployed for 5 years or more, and in receipt of Social Welfare payments over that period. The main purpose of the programme is to assist long-term unemployed people to prepare for work opportunities by providing participants with work experience, training and development opportunities.

In relation to the information sought by the Deputy the following tables provide a breakdown of the number of recipients of one parent family allowance from the Department of Social and Family Affairs on Community Employment Schemes and Job Initiative Programmes on a county basis for the years 2005 to 2008. Table 3 provides an analysis of the time spent on Community Employment Schemes by participants registered in each year between 2005 and 2008.

Lone Parents on CE, Year end 2005, 2006, 2007 to June 2008 by County

County

2005

2006

2007

June 2008

Dublin 1

199

197

179

167

Dublin 2

139

135

126

140

Dublin 3

52

38

65

61

Dublin 4

4

8

15

14

Dublin 5

132

121

108

100

Dublin 6

17

16

21

18

Dublin 7

124

105

80

78

Dublin 8

264

210

259

228

Dublin 9

41

25

39

47

Dublin 10

76

72

59

57

Dublin 11

307

286

251

209

Dublin 12

98

83

95

104

Dublin 13

23

15

19

18

Dublin 14

28

1

1

1

Dublin 15

122

127

106

114

Dublin 16

9

6

7

8

Dublin 17

171

168

136

134

Dublin 18

55

22

40

39

Dublin 20

25

16

31

19

Dublin 22

135

141

106

92

Dublin 24

243

229

220

220

Dublin West

4

9

Dunlaoghaire/Rathdown

61

69

66

66

Dublin North County/Fingal

84

72

71

80

Carlow

73

67

73

72

Cavan

32

32

31

31

Clare

116

108

123

123

Cork City

331

299

265

255

Cork County

183

172

161

161

Donegal

172

175

193

196

Galway City

72

56

49

51

Galway County

104

92

112

129

Kerry

177

159

186

200

Kildare

146

134

135

137

Kilkenny

70

81

75

74

Laois

62

57

51

55

Leitrim

21

24

24

19

Limerick City

229

194

173

165

Limerick County

74

76

72

65

Longford

65

66

69

72

Louth

232

200

208

218

Mayo

115

128

112

116

Meath

96

93

88

84

Monaghan

59

58

78

74

Offaly

63

73

67

60

Roscommon

36

37

40

30

Sligo

95

92

82

74

Tipperary (North Riding)

58

53

61

60

Tipperary (South Riding)

121

125

121

119

Waterford City

118

113

109

78

Waterford County

39

28

32

30

Westmeath

122

99

103

103

Wexford

173

159

158

169

Wicklow

159

133

143

149

Total

5,826

5,354

5,294

5,183

Job Losses.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

110 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the actions or proposals by her Department, in conjunction with all relevant agencies, that have been put in place to address the growing number of job losses in the midlands; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26418/08]

FÁS provides an integrated support service for anyone made redundant. This involves information sessions, skills analysis, training/retraining courses and job placement.

Specifically, FÁS is implementing a range of short and medium term actions for those affected by the increase in unemployment and the construction slowdown such as:

putting in place training to upskill construction workers in relation to emerging needs

business training and mentoring for workers from larger enterprises entering self-employment

developing measures to ensure continuity in the apprenticeship system

promoting access for mobile workers to construction jobs elsewhere in the EU, including the UK.

FÁS is also working through its own Employment Service and with the Local Employment Service provided by Area Based Partnerships to provide increased interviewing and caseload management capacity to respond to the increased numbers on the Live Register. In the delivery of these services, FÁS liaises with other relevant agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, the City/County Enterprise Boards and the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The development agencies have a range of supports to help companies to undertake innovation projects in the Midlands region, which are seen as key to future economic success.

Developments launched recently throughout the Midlands, which will generate jobs, include:

Plans for significant new town centre developments in Mullingar and Tullamore.

Athlone Institute of Technology recently commenced the construction of a new €36m Engineering building and Athlone IT are examining the possibility of a new Research & Incubation Campus adjacent to the college.

Rosderra Meats is to rebuild its newly acquired factory and anticipate 120 new jobs within 18 months in Edenderry.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

111 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons who have been moved by her Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if she will provide in tabular form for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of staff originally designated for a move but who opted to stay in Dublin who have been assigned new duties. [26469/08]

The information the Deputy requested is contained in the following table:

Dept/Agency

Location

Target as per Government Decision

Decentralised

% of original target

Assigned not moved

Opted to stay in Dublin

Enterprise, Trade & Employment

Carlow

A minimum of 250

101

40.4%

49

n/a

National Consumer Agency

Cork

80

0

0

5

0

NSAI

Arklow

123

0

0%

10

113

FÁS

Birr, Co Offaly

400

23

5.75%

61

316

Enterprise Ireland (EI)

Shannon

300

0

0

n/a

n/a

Health and Safety Authority (HAS)

Thomastown (The HSA currently has an interim office in Kilkenny city housing 25 staff)

110

25

23%

25

60

In the case of the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA), a decision was made prior to its establishment that it would be located in Naas, Co Kildare. Having been established in December 2005 it moved to new offices at Naas, in January 2006. All IAASA staff have been based in its offices in Naas since its establishment, and as such the Authority is fully decentralised.

In parallel with the decentralisation process, as recently outlined by the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment in the Dáil, Enterprise Ireland has been strengthening its regional focus in recent years and now has a major new presence in the Shannon Region in addition to its eight other regional offices. EI now has a major presence in the Shannon region. EI has established its new National Regional Development Headquarters in Shannon and has established the County Enterprise Support Unit in Shannon.

Currently there are 40 staff working in our Shannon office and it is expected that approximately 65 EI staff will be in place in Shannon over the coming months. A senior manager has been appointed as Head of Regions and Entrepreneurship to oversee the establishment of the EI presence in the Mid-West Region. EI managers with responsibility for the County Enterprise Co-ordination Unit and EI Regional Development strategy as well as the Regional Director with responsibility for the Mid West Regional are now in place in our Shannon office. As part of EI's regional strategy, these six posts were assigned to the new office in Shannon from Dublin. EI has leased high-spec office space in Westpark, Shannon, to accommodate this new Regional HQ.

Efficiency Reviews.

Richard Bruton

Question:

112 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the proposals which have been put forward under the efficiency review 2008, as initiated on budget day 2008, by her Department and agencies operating under her Department; and the aggregate savings to be made by implementation of these savings in 2008 and in the full year for 2009. [26488/08]

In his Budget speech on 5 December 2007, the Minister for Finance announced that the Government had agreed to an Efficiency Review of administrative spending across the public service, with a view to reducing the cost of existing levels of service for 2009. It was further announced that proposals submitted by Departments would be reviewed within the Department of Finance, who would report to the Government on the issue.

As the outcome of the Efficiency Review is still being considered by the Department of Finance and by the Government, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the matter at this stage.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

113 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff in her Department who have received or are receiving support to participate in post-graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008, inclusive. [26985/08]

The position is that within my Department thirty-three staff have received or are receiving support to participate in post graduate educational programmes in the years 2004 to 2008 inclusive. This number includes Higher Diploma, Masters and Doctorate Programmes.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

114 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of persons who have been moved by his Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if he will provide in tabular form, for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of staff originally designated for a move but who opted to stay in Dublin who have been assigned new duties. [26464/08]

Following the announcement of the Government's decentralisation programme in the 2004 Budget, the Department, which has a staff of 130 excluding the National Archives, was designated an "early mover" by the Decentralisation Implementation Group (DIG). To date, 77 members of staff have relocated to temporary accommodation in Fossa, Killarney, in three tranches, 45 in September 2006, 25 in July 2007 and 7 in May and June 2008. This represents 59% of the original target.

A further 8 staff have been assigned to posts in the Department in Dublin which will transfer in due course to the Department's new headquarters in Killarney. Of the staff in the Department who originally indicated their willingness to relocate, four have opted to stay in Dublin. Such staff will transfer to other Departments remaining in Dublin.

No staff from the State Agencies under the aegis of my Department, namely the Irish Sports Council, the Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland, have yet decentralised to any of the three designated locations, Killarney, Kilkenny or Mallow. Although these agencies have not been designated as "early movers" they have decentralisation implementation plans in place that are under constant review. The Office of Public Works (OPW) is currently assessing a number of options in respect of suitable locations and properties for these agencies in their designated locations.

The following table outlines the current position in respect of my Department and its Agencies.

Actions Taken

DAST

Fáilte Ireland

Irish Sports Council

Arts Council

Total number of staff moved to date

77

0

0

0

Staff assigned and not yet moved

8

3

17

15

Number of the staff originally designated for a move, who have opted to stay in Dublin

4

0

0

0

Efficiency Reviews.

Richard Bruton

Question:

115 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the proposals which have been put forward under the efficiency review 2008, as initiated on budget day 2008, by his Department and agencies operating under his Department; and the aggregate savings to be made by implementation of these savings in 2008 and in the full year for 2009. [26483/08]

In line with the efficiency review of administrative expenditure announced by the Minister for Finance in his Budget speech last December, my Department has sent a report to the Department of Finance with specific proposals to achieve administrative savings. I understand that the Department of Finance will consider this report and bring proposals to Government in due course in the context of budgetary consideration for 2008 and 2009.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

116 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of staff in his Department who have received or are receiving support to participate in post-graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008, inclusive. [26980/08]

In the period 2004-2008 the Department financed, or part-financed, the participation of 24 members of staff, including staff of the National Archives which forms part of the Department, in post graduate educational courses. This figure includes three members of staff currently in receipt of financial support for post graduate education.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Joan Burton

Question:

117 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will provide a breakdown of the recipients of rent allowance nationally and in Dublin 15 by nationality and status, that is, lone parents, married couples, married couples with no children, single people with no children and others for 2005 to 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26400/08]

The following table shows the number of recipients of rent supplement nationally and in the Dublin 15 area by nationality. A breakdown of the number of recipients on rent supplement by household composition is not available.

Recipients of rent supplement in Dublin 15 and nationally, by nationality

Dublin 15

Nationally

Nationality

End 2005

End 2006

End 2007

27/06/2008

End 2005

End 2006

End 2007

27/06/2008

Afghanistan

14

12

14

12

53

64

77

81

Albania

24

25

27

26

122

129

110

116

Algeria

18

17

14

15

368

341

320

318

Angola

29

30

25

25

211

205

178

183

Argentina

2

3

5

4

Armenia

2

2

3

2

23

25

28

23

Australia

12

10

17

18

Austria

18

19

19

25

Azerbaijan

1

2

1

1

12

11

9

11

Bahamas

1

1

1

1

Bahrain

1

1

Bangladesh

1

1

16

24

21

22

Belarus

4

3

4

4

47

43

38

40

Belgium

1

1

3

1

36

36

37

43

Benin

1

1

1

10

11

7

7

Bhutan

2

2

Bosnia

68

62

58

55

133

121

107

96

Brazil

1

1

2

1

24

22

35

44

Bulgaria

3

2

1

1

74

57

56

58

Burkina Faso Upper Volta

4

4

4

3

Burma

2

2

1

1

15

16

19

22

Burundi

2

2

1

1

16

15

17

15

Cameroon

20

20

19

19

220

213

195

184

Canada

26

25

36

34

Chad

2

4

2

4

Channel Islands

1

1

Chechnya

7

9

10

11

23

27

26

27

Chile

1

1

1

1

China

5

5

9

10

50

57

58

67

Colombia

1

2

1

2

3

Comors

1

1

2

3

5

6

5

Congo

70

80

79

79

462

478

470

470

Croatia

2

2

2

2

128

110

91

91

Cuba

16

17

15

15

Cyprus

1

1

1

1

1

2

3

Czech Republic

3

3

4

4

135

198

265

314

Denmark

1

7

12

9

9

Dominican Republic

1

1

1

1

Ecuador

2

2

2

2

Egypt

2

2

1

1

43

39

43

41

El Salvador

4

4

6

9

England

3

5

6

9

308

459

666

816

Eritrea

1

12

15

49

Estonia

11

11

11

12

74

94

111

132

Ethiopia

5

5

5

5

27

38

41

47

Fiji

1

Finland

11

10

15

14

France

4

6

8

7

140

160

161

172

Gabon

1

1

2

Gambia

1

7

9

16

15

Georgia

6

6

4

4

122

139

127

122

Germany

1

3

4

4

206

208

231

241

Ghana

15

23

19

17

266

244

199

195

Greece

2

3

13

10

17

20

Grenada

1

1

1

1

Guatemala

5

4

1

1

Guinea

3

5

4

4

28

30

36

35

Guinea-Bissau

1

1

1

1

Guyana

1

1

1

1

Honduras

1

1

1

Hong Kong

2

3

3

2

Hungary

1

2

1

15

21

39

58

Iceland

1

1

1

1

India

1

1

1

10

10

15

14

Indonesia

1

2

2

1

2

Iran

9

11

13

15

105

142

158

168

Iraq

9

10

19

19

168

193

251

272

Ireland

631

678

742

785

35,046

36,253

36,892

39,396

Israel

1

3

3

4

15

16

16

16

Italy

8

5

4

2

110

101

102

123

Ivory Coast

12

16

15

14

59

57

61

57

Jamaica

1

5

4

3

16

22

18

16

Japan

2

3

5

6

Jordan

8

10

6

9

Kazakhstan

9

14

11

11

53

52

41

45

Kenya

7

8

3

3

101

100

82

72

Kosovo

19

16

20

22

122

126

116

119

Kuwait

1

1

1

1

9

23

31

34

Kyrgyzstan

2

2

2

3

10

10

8

10

Latvia

11

20

27

32

157

247

390

525

Lebanon

3

3

20

17

16

16

Lesotho

1

1

2

3

Liberia

1

1

1

15

15

13

13

Libya

8

9

8

9

135

121

118

118

Lithuania

28

46

61

78

262

407

600

815

Luxembourg

3

7

5

6

Macao

1

1

1

1

7

6

5

5

Macedonia

1

2

2

2

4

4

4

4

Malawi

1

2

2

2

5

7

5

6

Malaysia

1

1

1

7

12

11

12

Maldives

9

7

8

1

40

29

26

14

Malta

10

15

14

16

Mauritania

3

4

3

3

Mauritus

2

5

4

3

Mexico

3

3

1

Moldova

58

49

38

44

303

253

208

221

Mongolia

1

1

1

1

5

3

3

7

Morocco

1

1

27

28

28

33

Mozambique

1

2

2

3

Myanmar

1

1

Nepal

2

2

1

1

Netherlands

3

2

2

3

81

88

108

113

Netherlands Antilles

1

1

1

1

New Zealand

5

7

7

7

Niger

5

3

2

2

20

16

11

12

Nigeria

871

771

612

570

4,766

4,028

3,222

3,024

Northern Ireland

1

1

126

131

143

169

Norway

1

1

1

1

6

4

2

1

Pakistan

17

19

17

15

125

138

144

160

Palestine

3

3

3

4

37

46

33

36

Peru

1

2

4

2

Philippines

1

1

1

24

30

35

34

Poland

31

38

58

81

234

443

1,009

1,950

Portugal

3

2

5

4

61

87

91

108

Republic Of Korea

1

1

1

1

Romania

192

175

154

172

1,278

1,150

1,088

1,130

Russia

38

31

23

24

364

302

278

275

Rwanda

7

8

7

4

51

49

47

41

Saudi Arabia

1

1

1

1

2

2

Scotland

1

1

102

113

122

146

Senegal

1

2

2

2

Serbia

1

1

11

8

10

8

Seychelles & Dep

1

1

1

1

Sierra Leone

15

13

10

9

99

95

85

81

Singapore

1

Slovakia

3

2

1

3

27

117

245

332

Slovenia

1

3

2

3

Somalia

32

35

33

37

353

397

417

450

South Africa

18

17

17

15

192

198

200

217

Spain

5

5

5

5

158

138

136

139

Sri Lanka

10

8

6

11

St Lucia

1

1

1

1

Sudan

6

12

12

16

131

224

254

294

Suirinam

1

2

2

2

Swaziland

1

1

1

2

1

4

4

Sweden

2

1

2

2

25

24

25

26

Switzerland

2

4

6

4

Syria

1

1

18

18

20

22

Taiwan

2

1

1

Tajikistan

1

5

4

4

4

Tanzania

1

1

1

8

10

10

9

Thailand

1

1

7

10

7

11

Togo

4

6

6

5

57

65

66

65

Tonga

1

Trinidad & Tobago

2

3

2

1

Tunisia

1

1

10

7

11

13

Turkey

1

1

1

1

23

18

21

21

Uganda

2

1

2

3

33

36

37

35

Ukraine

53

45

40

38

321

281

256

255

United Arab Emirates

1

United Kingdom

47

38

36

34

2,865

2,853

2,920

3,061

United States Minor Outlying I

1

USA

2

1

1

2

112

125

123

137

Uzbekistan

4

3

3

3

33

30

28

29

Venezuela

1

3

1

1

1

Vietnam

4

2

2

3

33

29

31

28

Wales

13

20

23

27

Yemen

3

2

38

1

Yugoslavia

7

8

7

7

37

38

26

25

Zaire

15

12

12

10

66

55

51

48

Zambia

3

2

1

1

40

36

36

37

Zimbabwe

12

11

7

6

121

126

127

130

Unknown

1

1

1

1

4

6

6

7

Coded As “Other”

265

222

170

140

7,645

6,110

4,869

4,298

Total

2,843

2,762

2,594

2,623

60,176

59,861

59,726

63,569

James Bannon

Question:

118 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath who sought an increase in their disability allowance has, on foot of the request, been deemed ineligible for an allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26371/08]

Disability Allowance is a weekly Allowance paid to people with a specified disability who are aged over 16 and under 66. The disability must be expected to last for at least one year and the allowance is subject to both medical assessment and a means test.

The person concerned made an application for disability allowance on 30 May 2007. He was deemed medically suitable for disability allowance. The person concerned was visited by the Social Welfare Inspector who assessed weekly means from an occupational pension paid to him of €512.98 per week. As this exceeded the statutory limit of €197.80 per week, he was refused disability allowance on 4 June 2008. The person concerned was formally notified of this decision by letter and of his right of appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Following your recent representations, his disability allowance claim was reviewed by the Department. He was assessed with means of €510.00 per week which still exceeded the statutory limit of €197.80 per week. Refusal to grant disability allowance was upheld. The person concerned still has a right to appeal this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office if he is dissatisfied with this decision.

Departmental Expenditure.

Joan Burton

Question:

119 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will provide a monthly schedule for 2008 of the planned expenditure under each subheading as set out in the revised Estimates for Public Services Vote 38, and the actual expenditure for each heading for February 2008, March 2008, April 2008 and May 2008; and if she will provide the expected monthly income to the social insurance fund for each month in 2008 and the actual income received for February, March, April and May 2008. [26407/08]

Joan Burton

Question:

120 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will, in future, publish on a monthly basis, on her Department’s website, the monthly outcome of income and expenditure under Vote 38 and, in particular, publish a complete monthly analysis of income and expenditure of the social insurance fund. [26408/08]

The information requested is given in the following tabular statements. Table A sets out the 2008 monthly schedule of planned expenditure for Vote 38 and Table B sets out the corresponding expenditure and income schedule for the Social Insurance Fund. Given the demand led nature of the Department's schemes and the difficulties associated with scheduling expenditure on weekly schemes into a monthly framework, these profiles are indicative only.

Tables C and D show actual expenditure incurred and income received in the first four months of the year for Vote 38 and the Social Insurance Fund, respectively. Full expenditure data for the month of May is not yet available. I do not propose publishing this information on the Department's website.

TABLE A: DSFA VOTE 2008: ESTIMATED MONTHLY EXPENDITURE AND INCOME*

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

TOTAL

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

ADMINISTRATION

A.1

Salaries etc.

16,069

17,820

16,685

16,355

23,304

16,783

16,039

17,968

17,416

23,738

17,578

17,189

216,944

A.2

Travel & Subsistence

320

379

450

433

447

500

418

379

466

470

494

819

5,575

A.3

Incidental Expenses

769

679

774

757

766

788

748

706

991

816

956

10,196

18,946

A.4

Postal & Telecommunications

372

1,547

2,105

1,135

1,243

1,965

1,109

1,195

1,943

1,267

1,431

3,165

18,477

A.5

Office Machinery

816

1,378

2,831

2,345

4,937

2,453

1,895

1,266

3,177

2,100

3,358

5,828

32,384

A.6

Office Premises Expenses

569

634

619

497

490

746

972

607

906

1,030

733

1,504

9,307

A.7

Consultancy Services

0

68

94

53

53

94

53

53

53

94

1,228

1,628

3,471

A.8

Agency Services

2,779

10,279

2,822

2,801

10,322

2,716

2,818

10,826

2,751

2,682

11,206

7,254

69,256

A.9

eGov. — REACH

653

548

2,150

603

580

2,264

605

565

2,122

655

570

2,315

13,630

A.10

Value for Money and Policy Reviews

29

29

29

29

29

29

28

29

28

27

28

26

340

A.11

eGovernment Related Projects

21

16

85

635

658

1,370

892

1,301

792

1,922

1,272

2,266

11,230

sub-total

22,397

33,377

28,644

25,643

42,829

29,708

25,577

34,895

30,645

34,801

38,854

52,190

399,560

SOCIAL ASSISTANCE

B

State Pension (Non-Con)

70,599

95,252

71,539

74,614

90,023

73,260

75,096

88,166

74,633

87,918

74,454

88,456

964,010

C

Blind Pension

1,183

1,565

1,193

1,230

1,483

1,208

1,239

1,461

1,220

1,450

1,219

1,429

15,880

D

Child Benefit

187,900

191,900

191,200

199,700

218,000

211,200

193,800

207,000

204,500

211,600

222,700

229,700

2,469,200

E

Jobseekers Allowance

85,086

78,987

75,761

84,135

85,572

77,153

94,425

84,174

87,152

88,079

76,953

102,323

1,019,800

F

Farm Assist Scheme

7,225

6,301

5,884

5,922

7,162

5,838

6,864

6,293

5,939

7,168

5,829

14,855

85,280

G

Employment Support Services

15,074

14,003

16,150

13,696

16,661

7,310

7,484

7,909

13,842

16,369

14,806

18,258

161,562

H

Pre-Retirement Allowance

11,560

9,851

9,792

10,272

11,951

10,027

12,711

10,402

10,611

12,319

10,146

14,018

133,660

I

One Parent Family Payment

94,752

79,496

79,381

79,616

99,015

81,558

99,995

84,173

83,399

101,510

83,065

116,190

1,082,150

J

Widows’, Widowers’ & Guardians (Non-Con)

1,884

2,429

2,035

2,015

2,406

1,954

1,995

2,331

1,978

2,317

1,981

2,325

25,650

K

Social Assistance Allowances

603

587

539

528

637

517

606

532

507

603

496

655

6,810

L

Family Income Supplement

16,003

13,709

13,775

13,943

16,896

14,018

17,409

14,270

14,805

17,928

15,211

20,233

188,200

TABLE A: DSFA VOTE 2008: ESTIMATED MONTHLY EXPENDITURE AND INCOME* —continued

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

TOTAL

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

M

Carer’s Allowance

32,115

30,537

28,682

29,149

35,816

29,885

35,475

32,546

31,626

38,539

32,608

55,322

412,300

N

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

60,548

57,260

57,462

57,993

60,953

67,834

80,401

66,352

62,189

61,133

55,498

84,908

772,531

O

Disability Allowance

87,188

82,702

73,392

91,038

79,297

77,084

94,278

78,921

78,992

95,049

78,501

109,348

1,025,790

P

Respite Care Grant

668

1,083

813

687

448

66,696

8,978

4,023

3,081

2,085

2,018

1,220

91,800

Q

Free Schemes (Assistance)

34,938

27,484

27,627

22,037

15,493

15,338

15,503

15,172

17,780

33,298

29,668

33,628

287,966

R

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

7,985

40

110

54

50

240

8,116

40

75

290

350

600

17,950

S

Grant to Family Support Agency

971

1,248

1,089

1,051

1,844

7,939

4,422

2,863

2,668

4,769

5,498

5,019

39,380

T.1

Grant to Combat Poverty Agency (Grant-in-Aid)

200

200

528

360

350

410

400

250

347

400

500

623

4,568

T.2

EU Programme — Employment & Social Solidarity

0

0

0

0

0

40

0

0

40

0

0

43

123

U

Grant to Citizens Information Board

6,000

2,000

1,750

3,500

1,750

2,000

3,500

2,000

2,000

3,500

2,000

954

30,954

V.

Dormant Accounts — Econ/Soc Disadvantage

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1,000

1,000

W

Miscellaneous Services

13,793

3,974

1,325

1,549

385

447

280

3,896

2,188

3,291

3,414

2,711

37,253

GROSS TOTAL

758,672

733,985

688,671

718,732

789,021

781,664

788,554

747,669

730,218

824,416

755,769

956,008

9,273,377

Deduct:

X

Appropiations-in-Aid

16,420

16,346

16,521

16,331

16,405

16,473

16,233

16,274

16,569

16,232

16,279

17,447

197,530

NET TOTAL

742,252

717,639

672,150

702,401

772,616

765,191

772,321

731,395

713,649

808,184

739,490

938,561

9,075,847

TOTAL CAPITAL

333

333

1,518

1,383

3,030

1,056

1,152

886

1,602

1,020

1,584

1,573

15,470

TOTAL CURRENT

741,919

717,306

670,632

701,018

769,586

764,135

771,169

730,509

712,047

807,164

737,906

936,988

9,060,377

* The monthly figures are indicative only — in demand-led schemes actual expenditure will vary from this profile.

TABLE B: 2008 SOCIAL INSURANCE FUND: ESTIMATED MONTHLY EXPENDITURE & INCOME

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

TOTAL

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

INCOME:

Income from Contributions

650,000

800,000

670,000

690,000

660,000

620,000

680,000

640,000

630,000

690,000

879,000

640,000

8,249,000

Income from Investments

12,933

12,933

12,933

12,933

12,933

12,933

12,933

12,933

12,933

12,933

12,933

12,937

155,200

Rent

0

0

0

10

0

0

0

0

0

9

0

0

19

Receipts: Reciprocal Arrangements

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

49

49

TOTAL INCOME

662,933

812,933

682,933

702,943

672,933

632,933

692,933

652,933

642,933

702,942

891,933

652,986

8,404,268

EXPENDITURE:

Illness Benefit

68,955

68,321

69,632

67,987

75,483

63,009

75,231

67,744

71,574

74,515

65,082

65,747

833,280

Invalidity Pension

59,532

54,218

51,608

51,292

62,738

50,653

61,335

51,781

50,882

61,737

50,542

69,682

676,000

Occupational Injuries Benefit

9,971

8,773

8,630

8,688

10,097

8,457

9,944

8,608

8,560

9,945

8,347

10,870

110,890

Maternity Benefit

20,655

19,555

23,586

18,472

21,950

17,235

17,689

19,442

24,104

19,334

18,775

53,303

274,100

Health & Safety Benefit

41

48

57

50

61

50

56

58

73

61

61

-56

560

Adoptive Benefit

99

114

134

115

120

98

110

123

137

128

117

145

1,440

Treatment Benefit

5,506

6,443

6,958

6,185

5,980

7,195

6,917

6,895

21,440

6,848

6,464

8,069

94,900

State Pension (Con)

222,879

296,395

224,936

232,092

283,342

229,299

232,766

280,491

231,920

279,690

231,716

273,374

3,018,900

State Pension (Trans)

7,995

7,312

6,096

6,165

7,204

6,392

8,158

6,594

6,202

7,299

6,207

7,926

83,550

Jobseekers Benefit

59,337

52,836

49,096

49,284

53,493

45,209

57,920

55,068

46,474

51,799

42,565

51,439

614,520

TABLE B: 2008 SOCIAL INSURANCE FUND: ESTIMATED MONTHLY EXPENDITURE & INCOME —continued

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

TOTAL

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

€’000s

Widow’s, Widower’s and Guardians (Con)

95,163

121,535

100,731

99,600

120,674

98,053

100,005

119,533

99,887

118,963

100,031

117,895

1,292,070

Widowed Parent Grant

296

562

349

627

333

506

811

1,059

448

488

507

614

6,600

Deserted Wifes Benefit

9,063

8,621

8,031

7,926

9,600

7,691

9,174

7,925

7,636

9,172

7,527

10,214

102,580

Carer’s Benefit

2,935

2,341

2,328

2,317

2,880

2,319

2,877

2,297

2,285

2,808

2,238

3,855

31,480

Bereavement Grant

958

1,477

1,227

1,264

1,759

1,934

1,429

1,557

1,016

1,438

1,977

964

17,000

Free Schemes (Insurance)

28,692

24,895

24,204

20,272

16,799

13,260

15,668

16,039

18,570

26,370

23,618

25,628

254,015

Redundancy & Insolvency

14,309

14,309

14,309

14,309

14,309

14,309

14,309

14,309

14,309

14,309

14,309

14,301

171,700

Administration

16,843

16,763

34,406

16,763

16,763

34,406

16,763

16,763

34,406

17,476

16,763

34,452

272,567

TOTAL EXPENDITURE

623,229

704,518

626,318

603,408

703,585

600,075

631,162

676,286

639,923

702,380

596,846

748,422

7,856,152

EXCESS OF INCOME OVER

EXPENDITURE

39,704

108,415

56,615

99,535

-30,652

32,858

61,771

-23,353

3,010

562

295,087

-95,436

548,116

Add:

Amount of Fund surplus

as at 31 December 2007

3,630,800

3,630,800

CUMULATIVE FUND SURPLUS

3,670,504

3,778,919

3,835,534

3,935,069

3,904,417

3,937,275

3,999,046

3,975,693

3,978,703

3,979,265

4,274,352

4,178,916

4,178,916

* The monthly figures are indicative only — in demand-led schemes actual monthly expenditure will vary from the above profiles.

TABLE C: VOTE 38 EXPENDITURE JANUARY-APRIL 2008

Subhead

Expenditure to April

A1 Salaries, Wages & Allowances

66,288,782

A2 Travel & Subsistence

1,170,475

A3 Incidental Expenses

2,289,846

A4 Postal & Telecommunications

4,714,760

A5 Office Machinery/Office Supplies

10,817,988

A6 Office Premises Expenses

2,263,309

A7 Consultancy Services

62,876

A8 Payment for Agency Services

18,893,067

A9 eGovernment — REACH

3,760,469

A10 Value for Money & Policy Reviews

48,822

A11 e-Government Related Projects

102,012

ADMINISTRATION SUBTOTAL

110,412,406

B State Pension (Non-Con)

310,621,965

C Blind Pension

5,279,471

D Child Benefit

781,514,602

E Jobseeker’s Allowance

328,997,129

F Farm Assist Scheme

27,064,113

G Employment Support Services

60,009,437

H Pre-Retirement Allowance

39,929,165

I One-Parent Family Payment

332,448,102

J Widow(er)s & Guardians Payment

8,144,309

K Social Assistance & Other Allowances

2,214,560

L Family Income Supplement

53,200,772

M Carers Allowance

128,438,595

N Supplementary Welfare Allowances

247,768,025

O Disability Allowance

331,945,889

P Respite Care Grant

2,482,716

Q Free Schemes (Assistance)

127,633,086

R Money Advice & Budgeting Service

8,012,925

S Grant to Family Support Agency

4,358,505

T1 Grant to the Combat Poverty Agency

980,638

T2 EU Programme (PROGRESS) 2007-2013

240

U Grant to Comhairle

12,500,000

V Dormant Accounts — Economic & Social Disadvantage

0

W Miscellaneous Services

21,493,721

Losses

0

GROSS TOTAL

2,945,450,371

DEDUCT

X Appropriations-in-Aid

-67,390,453

NET TOTAL

2,878,059,918

TABLE D: SOCIAL INSURANCE INCOME AND EXPENDITURE JANUARY-APRIL 2008

Scheme

Income / Expenditure to April

INCOME

Income from Contributions

2,792,091,837

Income from Investments

78,162,938

Rent

9,523

Reciprocal Arrangements

0

TOTAL RECEIPTS

2,870,264,298

EXPENDITURE

Illness Benefit

278,011,442

Invalidity Pension

217,490,209

Occupational Injuries Benefits

35,428,017

Maternity Benefit

98,999,869

Health & Safety Benefit

184,558

Adoptive Benefit

476,842

Treatment Benefits

23,875,236

State (Con) Pension

989,741,512

State Pension (Transition)

28,207,139

Jobseeker’s Benefit

246,186,680

Widow(er)s & Guardians (Con) Payment

421,315,770

Widowed Parent Grant

1,885,139

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

34,041,184

Carer’s Benefit

16,247,805

Bereavement Grant

6,309,453

Free Schemes (Insurance)

101,616,723

Redundancy & Insolvency Payments

58,863,332

Administration Expenses

83,745,634

TOTAL PAYMENTS

2,642,626,544

Excess of Income over Expenditure

227,637,753

Fund Surplus at end 2007 (Provisional)

3,630,800,000

Cumulative Fund Surplus

3,858,437,753

Social Welfare Appeals.

Michael Ring

Question:

121 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when an appeal for carer’s allowance will be finalised for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [26462/08]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the appeal from the person concerned has been referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Departmental Staff.

Richard Bruton

Question:

122 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons who have been moved by her Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if she will provide in tabular form, for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of staff originally designated for a move but who opted to stay in Dublin who have been assigned new duties. [26475/08]

Under the Government's current decentralisation programme for the civil and public service, some 1,200 posts comprising the Department's headquarter sections and the Social Welfare Appeals Office are relocating to 6 locations — Sligo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Donegal Town, Buncrana, Carrickmacross and Drogheda. In addition, the Combat Poverty Agency (CPA) and Citizens Information Board (CIB) are scheduled to relocate to Monaghan and Drogheda, respectively, under the programme.

To date, 207 posts have relocated from the Department's Dublin Offices to Carrick-on-Shannon and Sligo — 135 posts to Carrick-on-Shannon which represents 60% of the original target and 72 posts to Sligo which represents 72% of the original target. In addition, the Department has decentralised offices in Longford, Sligo, Letterkenny, Waterford, Dundalk and Roscommon and some 210 employees have transferred to these offices and other offices of the Department to fill vacancies created by the current decentralisation programme. Furthermore, a total of 238 employees of the Department have transferred to other Government Departments for the purposes of their decentralisation programmes.

The following table outlines the data requested:

Location

No. transferred to new location

No. who have accepted offers of transfer

No. who have been redeployed to other posts in Dublin

Buncrana

0

18

0

Carrickmacross

0

38

0

Carrick-on-Shannon

135

138

101

Donegal Town

0

52

0

Drogheda — HQ

0

154

0

Drogheda — ICT

0

34

0

Sligo

72

72

54

Location

No. transferred to new location

No. who have relocation clauses in contracts

No. who have been re-deployed to other posts in Dublin

Drogheda — CIB

0

26

0

Monaghan — CPA

0

6

0

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

123 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason jobseeker’s benefit has been reduced for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [26477/08]

One of the qualifying conditions for entitlement to jobseeker's benefit is that the claimant must have sustained a substantial loss of employment and earnings. This occurs where a person has lost at least one day's work per week in comparison with their normal level of employment, together with a reduction in earnings. When making a decision as to whether a person has sustained a substantial loss of employment the Deciding Officer examines their work pattern over a representative period.

The person concerned was employed on an infrequent and irregular basis when she previously claimed jobseeker's benefit. She was awarded benefit for any day of unemployment in the course of that claim. Her entitlement to jobseeker's benefit exhausted on 18 March 2008. However, she made a further claim for the benefit on 31 March 2008 and she had sufficient contributions paid to re-qualify for jobseeker's benefit. A Deciding Officer, having examined her work pattern in the previous year, determined that her normal level of employment is 3 days per week. She is, therefore, entitled to a jobseeker's benefit payment, for days of unemployment, in weeks where she works for less than 3 days.

Under Social Welfare legislation, decisions in relation to claims must be made by Deciding Officers and Appeals Officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Efficiency Reviews.

Richard Bruton

Question:

124 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the proposals which have been put forward under the efficiency review 2008, as initiated on budget day 2008, by her Department and agencies operating under her Department; and the aggregate savings to be made by implementation of these savings in 2008 and in the full year for 2009. [26494/08]

A wide ranging review of the operations of the Department and the bodies under its aegis was undertaken by a group of officials of the Department. The group brought forward a number of proposals, some of which have been finalised and are in the course of being implemented while others require further consideration and development. This ongoing process will inform the development of the 2009 Estimates for my Department.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

125 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of staff in her Department who have received or are receiving support to participate in post-graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008 inclusive. [26990/08]

The number of staff in my Department who have received or are receiving support to participate in post graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008 inclusive is 51 people. The breakdown of this figure is as follows:

Academic year

No. of staff

2003/2004

8

2004/2005

19

2005/2006

9

2006/2007

5

2007/2008

10

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

126 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of persons who have been moved by his Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if he will provide in tabular form for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of the staff originally designated for a move, who have opted to stay in Dublin, who have been assigned new duties. [26466/08]

In relation to my own Department, it is envisaged that its new headquarters building will be in place in Charlestown, Co Mayo, in late 2010. In the meantime, posts have been relocated to an interim location in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, as detailed below. The relocation of posts to Na Forbacha, Co Galway, is complete. Pobal has relocated 25 of the 40 posts assigned to Clifden, Co. Galway. In relation to Foras na Gaeilge, the approval of the first tranche of posts for location to Gaoth Dobhair is being pursued in a North/South framework. The details sought by the Deputy are set out in the following table:

Location

Number moved

% of original target

Assigned but not yet moved

Assigned but opting not to move

%

Tubbercurry (interim location pending construction of HQ building in Charlestown)

101

72

9

2

Na Forbacha

11

100

0

0

Clifden

25

62.5

0

0

Gaoth Dobhair

0

0

0

0

Efficiency Reviews.

Richard Bruton

Question:

127 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the proposals which have been put forward under the efficiency review 2008 initiated on budget day 2008 by his Department and agencies operating under his Department; and the aggregate savings to be made by implementation of these savings in 2008 and in the full year for 2009. [26485/08]

As the Deputy is aware, on foot of an announcement in the 2008 Budget of an efficiency review of administrative spending across the public service, each Department was required to examine such spending, both within its own ambit and of bodies under its aegis, and to provide proposals for administrative savings to the Department of Finance. My Department provided proposals in this regard in March last, which are being considered by the Department of Finance. The Deputy will appreciate that as the proposals remain part of the deliberative process, and are being considered in the context of the preparation of the 2009 Estimates, it would not be appropriate for me to make any such proposals public.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

128 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of staff in his Department who have received or are receiving support to participate in post-graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008 inclusive. [26982/08]

Support has been made available to staff in my Department to participate in a range of educational courses provided by 3rd level institutions during the period 2004-08. Details of the number of staff involved on an annual basis are set out in the table.

Year

Total

2004

20

2005

20

2006

12

2007

7

2008

5

Milk Quota.

Phil Hogan

Question:

129 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if additional milk will be allocated to a person (details supplied) in County Carlow under the national reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26356/08]

Allocations of milk quota from the National Reserve are granted on the basis of recommendations from the Milk Quota Appeals Tribunal. The Tribunal examines and makes recommendations on applications for additional quota from individual producers.

The named person submitted an application in the Hardship category for the 2007/2008 milk quota year. The Tribunal considered this application on 8th January last, and recommended an allocation of 5,000 litres. Notification has been issued to the named person and his Co-Operative. Friday 27th June last was the closing date for the receipt in my Department of applications in respect of the Hardship Scheme for the 2008/2009 milk quota year. If the named person has submitted an application to the current scheme he will receive an acknowledgement when his application is processed.

Grant Payments.

Billy Timmins

Question:

130 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow who is anxious to be granted their forestry premium; if this will be granted as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26359/08]

The application in question is currently under evaluation and will be subject to a field inspection. I have asked my officials to expedite consideration of the case.

Question No. 131 withdrawn.

Land Reclassification.

Michael Ring

Question:

132 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason shares on commonage have not been attributed to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo by the Land Commission in view of the fact that they should be rightfully theirs; if somebody from his Department or the Land Commission will call to this person to resolve this issue; and the reason somebody has not called to them in view of the fact that promises were made to this effect. [26421/08]

An official from my Department has been in communication with the person named and with a firm of Solicitors acting on his behalf, setting out details of the commonage shares on hands and their origin. My Department's position is that the person named has a claim to only one of the shares and not three shares as claimed by him. It is the view of my officials that it would be best if a meeting with the person named now took place in the presence of his solicitor. The person named should have his solicitor contact my officials in this regard.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

133 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of persons who have been moved by his Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if he will provide in tabular form for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of the staff originally designated for a move, who have opted to stay in Dublin, who have been assigned new duties. [26463/08]

The information requested is set out in tabular form.

Office

Location

Posts

Number moved

% of original target

Number assigned, not yet moved

%

Department HQ

Portlaoise

600

274

46

96

Fisheries

Clonakilty

90

81

90

Cork local offices

Fermoy

Up to 100

0

0

25

Cork Labs (3) & Limerick Labs (2)

Macroom

Up to 100

0

0

25

Bord Bia

Enniscorthy

76

0

0

15*

Bord Iascaigh Mhara

Clonakilty

95

0

0

22*

*At end February 2008.

Up to the end of June 2008, 31 staff opting to stay in Dublin have been assigned to posts with other Departments and Offices that are remaining in Dublin.

Efficiency Reviews.

Richard Bruton

Question:

134 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the proposals which have been put forward under the efficiency review 2008 initiated on budget day 2008 by his Department and agencies operating under his Department; and the aggregate savings to be made by implementation of these savings in 2008 and in the full year for 2009. [26482/08]

My Department is engaged in on-going efforts to improve efficiency and has reduced staff numbers significantly in recent years. As part of the most recent Efficiency Review, my Department again reviewed all aspects of expenditure with a view to identifying possible savings on administrative spending. The exercise has included the bodies within the aegis of my Department. I will be considering specific proposals, including the possibility of further staff savings, in the context of the on-going review of expenditure in 2008 and the preparation of the 2009 Estimate for my Department.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

135 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of staff in his Department who have received or are receiving support to participate in post-graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2008, inclusive. [26979/08]

During the years 2004 to 2008, 133 staff in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food either received or are currently receiving support to participate in post graduate educational courses.

Joan Burton

Question:

136 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will publish copies of all Masters and PhD. theses on his Department’s website as they were paid for from the public purse; and, if in the interim, he will provide this Deputy with copies of the completed research paid for by the State. [26406/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, a large number of students take Masters by research and PhD programmes in our higher education institutions (HEIs). The precise breakdown between those that are publicly funded and those that are not is not readily available. However, as regards the theses arising from such programmes, these are traditionally retained in hard copy in academic libraries in HEIs and are readily accessible by staff and students. Other members of the public can access these works by making the appropriate arrangements with the institution.

Recently, the research funding agencies have begun the implementation of an ‘open access' policy for publicly funded research. The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has developed a policy on Open Access which will be implemented for all future research funding calls. Where a research publication arises in whole or in part from HEA-funded research, researchers will now also be required to file their published research papers in an open access repository as soon as is practical, but within six calendar months at the latest.

In Ireland other agencies that have also adopted an Open Access Policy include the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and The Health Research Board (HRB).

In a project funded under Cycle 1 of the Strategic Initiative Fund, a number of Irish universities have developed open access repositories of their own and are now engaged in the development of a national open access repository system by connecting the repositories of each participating institution for fuller public accessibility and to increase exposure of Irish University published research. Aside from its benefit to the academic and research community, the move towards open access will make theses and other research outcomes generally available to the interested public.

As the deputy will further appreciate, the extent of the material sought is very broad and extends beyond the remit of my Department. If the Deputy could be more specific, the relevant funding agency or agencies would, I am sure, be in a position to facilitate her request.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

137 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 157 of 5 June 2008, the reason data collected for the academic year 2007-08 regarding students registered on the primary school census and the post-primary database returns, including newcomer children, is not available within the same academic year; if then it has relevance to monitoring outcomes in the academic year to which the data refers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26107/08]

The Annual Census of Primary Schools is a paper-based census. Schools are requested to make their returns by 31st October each year. In the 2007/2008 school year 3,282 ordinary and special primary schools made returns. All returns must be logged as received, checked and in some cases corrected with the input of the school Principal. These returns must then be keyed into a database, and various cross checks and validations must be performed to ensure the integrity of the data. Given the number of schools and returns involved, this process takes many months. In addition some schools can be quite late in making their returns, which can lead to a delay in processing. The information collected is used for payment of some grants, and for statistical purposes including calculating average class sizes.

Work on the development of a Learner Database at Primary Level is continuing. The timing of the implementation of the Database depends on available resources and the management of competing priorities. However, in line with the Programme of Government and the Data Strategy of my Department, and taking advantage of the existing Education Services Interactive (esinet) portal already used by schools to access the On-Line Claims System, I am fully committed to the development of such a Database as a means of better quality information on pupils as well as reducing the administrative burden on schools and significantly reducing the processing time required for the Annual Census.

The Post-Primary Pupils Database (PPPDB) holds basic information on each pupil attending a post primary school. In October of each year, all post primary schools make a return to my Department detailing their enrolments for the year. This is known as the "October Return" and it is used to populate my Department's Post Primary Pupils Database. In the school year 2007/08, 731 schools made returns. The "October Return" gives a snapshot of school enrolments by Programme level (Junior Cert, Leaving Cert, Class Year) as at 30th September each year. Detailed information on the subject choice of each student is also collected.

A good overview of the type of information collected can be gained by looking at the Second-Level Education section of my Department's Annual Statistical Report. Much of the data in that section of the annual report is taken directly from the Post-Primary Pupils Database.

The in-house processing of the October Returns and the provision of a ‘Helpdesk' facility for schools is carried out by the Post Primary Pupils Data Section of my Department. The data returned by each school needs to be checked and collated. Processing of the October Returns commences in October of each year and is normally completed around May of the following year. For 2007/2008 there were approximately 336,000 pupils on returns from 731 schools. While provisional figures on overall total enrolments for the school year are available at this stage it takes a number of weeks to prepare the data for publication.

Data for individual schools become available throughout the process as their returns are received, checked and collated. Data from these schools may be used by my Department for a number of tasks, which impact directly on schools and their pupils, including: payment of per capita grants to voluntary secondary schools; determination of the provisional teacher allocations for all sectors i.e. Secondary, Vocational, Community and Comprehensive.

Special Educational Needs.

Billy Timmins

Question:

138 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to home tuition hours for a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if in view of the fact that the special needs assistant is familiar with the person, the SNA will be allocated the hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26357/08]

The Deputy will be aware the July Education Programme is available to all special schools and mainstream primary schools with special classes catering for children with autism who choose to extend their education services through the month of July. My Department also provides for a July Programme for pupils with a severe/profound general learning disability. My Department encourages all eligible schools to participate in this initiative in the interest of the children in question. There has been a steady increase in the number of schools offering the programme since it was introduced in 2001 when relevant schools were circulated with details.

Where school based provision is not feasible, home based provision may be grant aided. As home tuition takes place outside of the normal school framework, there is need to ensure that tuition providers are appropriately qualified to give education to the children concerned. My Department's qualification preference is for a fully qualified teacher. Where parents cannot recruit a fully qualified teacher, then some alternative qualifications are acceptable including certain Montessori qualifications. Details in this regard are published on my Department's web site.

Schools Building Projects.

Finian McGrath

Question:

139 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the situation with regards to funding for a school (details supplied) in County Sligo. [26362/08]

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at advanced stage of architectural planning. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. 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.

Finian McGrath

Question:

140 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the situation with regards to the provision for a new school (details supplied) in County Sligo. [26363/08]

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The Professional and Technical Staff of my Department are currently examining a submission received from the Design Team.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. 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.

David Stanton

Question:

141 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science further to a letter from this Deputy in relation to provision of funding for an extra prefabricated building for a school (details supplied) in County Cork; the progress that has been made in regard to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26366/08]

A reply to the letter to which the Deputy refers to has been forwarded to the Deputy's office this week outlining the position in relation to funding for the school to which the Deputy refers to. It is not possible on this occasion to fund the request for the extra accommodation, as sanction has not been given for the extra teacher for the school to which the Deputy refers to, for the coming school year. It is of course open to the school to apply for funding in 2009, should sanction for the extra teacher be given, and a letter to this effect has issued to the school authorities.

School Staffing.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

142 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review the decision of his Department to refuse an additional teacher for a national school (details supplied) in County Carlow where they had 47 children on the roll in September 2007 for the coming school term; if he will take into consideration that in fact another child had applied for enrolment to the school on 1 September 2007 but due to the fact that the child’s parents were delayed in returning from England they were unable to attend within the month of September. [26422/08]

The mainstream staffing of a primary school is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30th 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. Posts allocated on the basis of this staffing schedule are specifically for mainstream classes and should be deployed accordingly. School authorities are requested to ensure that the number of pupils in any class is kept as low as possible, taking all relevant contextual factors into account (e.g. classroom accommodation, fluctuating enrolment). In particular, school authorities should ensure that there is an equitable distribution of pupils in mainstream classes and that the differential between the largest and smallest classes is kept to a minimum.

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 30th September 2006 was 49 pupils. In accordance with the staffing schedule (Circular 0020/2007), which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, the mainstream staffing in the school for the 2007/08 school year is a Principal and 2 mainstream class teachers.

According to data submitted to my Department by the Board of Management the enrolment in the school on 30th September 2007 was 47 pupils. In accordance with the staffing schedule (Circular 0010/2008), which is also available on my Department's website at www.education.ie 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 1 mainstream class teacher.

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 30th September of the school year in question equals or exceeds a specified figure. If the specified figure is not achieved on 30th 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. The criteria are also available in Circular 0024/2007 (Appeal Board for Mainstream Staffing in Primary Schools) which is available on my Department's website.

The staffing of the school for the 2008/2009 school year was considered by the Appeal Board on 20 May, 2008. The Board, having considered the appeal with regard to the criteria outlined in Circular 0024/2007, was satisfied that a departure from the staffing schedule is not warranted in this case. The Board of Management of the school was notified in writing of the decision of the Appeal Board on 23 May 2008. The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Schools Building Projects.

Denis Naughten

Question:

143 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science further to a meeting regarding a school (details supplied) in County Roscommon, the steps which have been taken to date to address the outstanding issues as outlined in meeting minutes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26435/08]

My Department is in the process of assessing the long term needs of the school. This involves, among other things, an examination of the demographics of the area together with any proposed housing developments. When a decision is taken in this matter, it will be communicated directly to the Board of Management. Any resulting building project will be considered for advancement in the context of the multi-annual school building and modernisation programme, the resources available and the priority attaching to the project under the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects.

Special Educational Needs.

Michael Creed

Question:

144 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Science the changes he proposes to deal with applications by parents seeking ABA educational facilities for their autistic children; if he proposes to change the manner in which his Department has dealt with these cases to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26440/08]

The Deputy will be aware of the Government's commitment to ensuring that all children with special educational needs, including those with autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

Children in these classes benefit from having fully-qualified teachers who have access to training in a range of autism-specific interventions, including ABA, TEACCH and PECS. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Funding is also provided for assistive technology and specialist equipment as required and special school transport arrangements may also be put in place. The establishment of a network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years. In excess of 315 classes have now been approved around the country.

An ABA pilot scheme was established in the absence of this network of special classes in our schools. The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government commits to the long-term funding for the centres that are currently in the ABA pilot scheme subject to agreement with my Department on standards that will enable them to be supported as primary schools for children with autism. As discussions in this regard are ongoing between officials in my Department and groups representing the centres participating in the scheme the Deputy will appreciate that I can not comment further on this issue.

Schools Building Projects.

Pat Breen

Question:

145 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will report on the status of a school building project (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26447/08]

Pat Breen

Question:

147 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will report on the status of a school building project (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26449/08]

Pat Breen

Question:

148 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will report on the status of a school building project (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26450/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 145, 147 and 148 together.

The schools to which the Deputy refers have applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for the provision of ancillary accommodation. The development of building projects for these schools is at an early stage. The progression of all large scale building projects from the initial design stage through to the construction phase, including these projects, will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of these projects at this time.

Pat Breen

Question:

146 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science if the will report on the status of a school building project (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26448/08]

The school to which the Deputy refers applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension project. The project had progressed to the advanced stages of architectural planning. However, due to a significant decline in enrolments, the accommodation brief has to be re-visited and revised.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget from higher Band rated projects, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Question Nos. 147 and 148 answered with Question No. 145.

Michael Ring

Question:

149 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science when he will give the final approval for a building project at a school (details supplied) in County Mayo to proceed. [26457/08]

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project will be considered on an on-going 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.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

150 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of persons who have been moved by his Department and its agencies to date; the percentage this represents of the original target; and if he will provide in tabular form for each of the locations, the staff who have been moved, the staff who have been assigned but not moved and the number of the staff originally designated for a move, who have opted to stay in Dublin, who have been assigned new duties. [26468/08]

The details requested by the Deputy in relation to my Department are shown in the following table. None of the agencies under the aegis of my Department that are included in the programme of decentralisation have relocated posts to date.

Athlone

Target number to decentralise — 2003:

100

Number to decentralise based on staffing of relevant sections — 2008:

93

All grades

No of posts

Number assigned and moved

Number assigned — not moved

Number to be assigned

93.00

71.50

3.00

18.50

Notes

Number assigned — not moved:

these officers will relocate to Athlone in July 2008

Number to be assigned:

this information is included as transfer arrangements are underway for these officers who will transfer directly to Athlone in the coming weeks.

Number of staff who were assigned to posts in Dublin decentralising to Athlone at 31 December 2005 who opted to remain in Dublin and who have since been re-assigned to other duties in Dublin (with Department of Education & Science and with other departments):

37.40 wholetime equivalents.

Mullingar

Target no to decentralise — 2003:

300

Number to decentralise based on staffing of relevant sections — 2008:

302

All grades

No. of posts

number assigned and moved

number assigned — not moved

302.00

7.00

116.00

Number of staff who were assigned to posts in Dublin decentralising to Mullingar at 31 December 2005 who opted to remain in Dublin and who have since been re-assigned to other duties in Dublin (with Department of Education & Science and with other departments) in order to facilitate the assignment of officers wishing to decentralise to Mullingar bound posts:

37.60 wholetime equivalents.

Early School Leavers.

John Deasy

Question:

151 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the most recent figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the south-east region has the highest rate of early school leavers and the second lowest rate of participation in full-time education; the measures he proposes to remedy this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26479/08]

My Department has adopted a broad-based approach to tackling early school-leaving.

The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 established the National Educational Welfare Boa