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 9, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 10 to 36, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 37 to 47, inclusive, answered orally.

Public Service Charges.

Ulick Burke

Question:

48 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to introduce domestic water charges to fund local government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27656/08]

Government policy since 1998 has been to exempt from water charges water services used by households for ordinary domestic purposes. That policy has been accommodated in the wording of Article 9 of the EU Water Framework Directive, is reflected in legislation and was reiterated in section 105 of the Water Services Act 2007. Accordingly, I have no plans to introduce domestic water charges.

Planning Issues.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

49 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if it is his policy to encourage marina developments; the steps being taken in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27137/08]

I have no specific function in relation to the encouragement of marina developments.

Section 10(2) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 requires development plans to include objectives for the preservation, improvement and extension of amenities and recreational amenities. The First Schedule to the Act states that development plans may also include objectives for regulating, promoting or controlling tourism development; regulating, restricting and controlling the development of coastal areas and development in the vicinity of inland waterways; and regulating, restricting and controlling development on the foreshore, or any part of the foreshore.

Section 19 of the Act requires local area plans to be consistent with the objectives of the development plan for the area.

In order to assist planning authorities in the preparation and implementation of development plans, my Department published Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Development Plans in June 2007. These guidelines, inter alia, emphasise the mandatory objectives for the preservation, improvement and extension of amenities and recreational amenities. The guidelines are available on my Department's website atwww.environ.ie.

The making and varying of a development plan is a reserved function of the elected members of a planning authority.

Homeless Persons.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

50 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he expects a new national homeless strategy; if budget restraints are hampering efforts to tackle homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27683/08]

The new homeless strategy is now being finalised and I expect that it will be published shortly, following the resolution of a number of outstanding issues. It will set out a vision to address adult homelessness over the next five years. In particular, key objectives will be the elimination of long-term occupancy of emergency homeless facilities and the need to sleep rough by the end of 2010.

Very significant resources have been committed to the development of homeless services since the publication of the first integrated Government strategy on homelessness in 2000. Over the 2000 to 2007 period, some €540m in current funding was provided through my Department, local authorities and the HSE for accommodation and care costs in homeless facilities.

My Department is responsible for funding accommodation and related costs of services for homeless persons under section 10 of the Housing Act 1988 and recoups 90% of eligible expenditure by local authorities for such purposes. Following significant increases in funding to local authorities under section 10 in recent years, in excess of €53 million is being provided in 2008. I am satisfied that this funding is adequate to meet current levels of accommodation and related costs of homeless services.

Funding for the care costs arising in homeless facilities is a matter for the HSE. While some €33m has been earmarked for this purpose in 2008, the HSE has experienced difficulties in providing adequate care funding for a number of new and expanded homeless services. Now, following extensive discussions, there are indications that through collaboration between service providers and some rationalisation of existing services, a resolution in the case of a significant new facility at James' Street in Dublin has been reached and that it is likely to open in August. Discussions are continuing with a view to reaching satisfactory solutions in relation to a number of other facilities.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

51 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position in relation to the local authorities who have accepted money in lieu of the provision of social and affordable housing under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and that this information be provided by year and by local authority since the inception of the scheme; the steps being taken by his Department to ensure the money in lieu of provision is used as a last resort; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27582/08]

The vast bulk of the delivery to date under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2006 has been in the form of completed homes, land and individual sites. Financial settlements account for only a small share of the delivery and any such monies received by a planning authority must be used as capital for its functions under Part V or for its functions in relation to the provision of housing under the Housing Acts.

The default option for satisfying Part V remains the transfer of a proportion of the land which is the subject of the planning application. In other words, when accepting a financial contribution, the local authority does so in lieu of a percentage of land and not in lieu of housing. It must be emphasised that the legal obligation under Part V can be satisfied by way of a financial contribution only if the local authority considers it appropriate in the particular case concerned.

My Department has issued comprehensive guidelines to local authorities in relation to Part V, including advice in relation to the use of Part V funds. Since January 2007, local authorities no longer require the prior sanction of my Department for the expenditure of Part V monies in certain cases. This delegated sanction set out a number of purposes for which the funds could be utilised, including the purchase of completed turnkey units, acquisition of sites, supplementing an authority's housing land bank, procuring additional accommodation units for the Rental Accommodation Scheme or improving the general affordability of Part V units.

So as to ensure that Part V funds are put to productive use as soon as possible after they are received, earlier this year my Department advised local authorities that where they have unused Part V funds, these would be taken into account when allocations to authorities for the main social housing programmes were being finalised.

The Government's clearly stated preferred option remains the delivery of housing units on site and the available evidence suggests that completed homes or land constitute the vast bulk of Part V agreements to date.

Detailed information on the financial contributions received under Part V in each local authority area since activity commenced in 2002 up to the end of 2007 is available on my Department's website.

Special Areas of Conservation.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

52 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he has taken to address the threat to a number of protected species including the freshwater pearl mussel, otter, hare and Atlantic salmon, that was identified in the report compiled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Wildlife Species in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27574/08]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

63 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the report The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland compiled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service that found that of 59 protected habitats only 4 or 7% had good status overall with the remainder either poor or bad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27572/08]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

81 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps that have been taken in response to the recent findings of the report compiled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland, that found that since the transposing of the European Union Habitats Directive over a decade ago the condition of many protected habitats have deteriorated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27575/08]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

89 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he has taken to provide more resources to the relevant authorities to address the poor and bad status of over 90% of protected habitats as found by the report compiled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27576/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52, 63, 81 and 89 together.

My Department's Report on the Status of Habitats and Species in Ireland is the first comprehensive compilation of the status of those habitats, animals and plants in Ireland which have protected status under national and EU law. The Report highlights the pressures and threats that habitats and species face in Ireland including through peat cutting, overgrazing and undergrazing, pollution, unsustainable exploitation, and from alien species and recreational activity.

My Department is working with the relevant stakeholders to maintain and restore habitats and species, especially in Special Areas of Conservation, and to monitor and report on changes achieved. Ireland is currently moving from a phase of designation to one of more targeted management and protection. This requires the involvement of land owners, Government Departments, planning authorities and licensing agencies, research institutions and experts. The Programme for Government includes a commitment to strengthen Ireland's implementation of the Habitats Directive and this is reflected in significantly increased funding for my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service in 2008.

Many significant policies and programmes are already in place to address the conclusions in this Report including, for example:

designation of Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives, respectively;

continued enforcement of the Habitats Regulations to protect SACs and SPAs;

protection of designated areas in County Development Plans and by planning authorities, including An Bord Pleanála;

the Single Farm Payment scheme which removes incentives for overgrazing,

the application of Commonage Framework Plans to deliver appropriate grazing levels on commonages; and

the ban on drift netting of salmon.

We are tackling unsustainable grazing levels, especially in uplands and commonages and this will improve many of the habitats in unsatisfactory status. The phased ending of the derogation for domestic turf cutting on designated raised bogs will be important in conserving and restoring this important habitat. Further developments under the Water Framework Directive, the Nitrates Action Programme, and projects under the Water Services Investment Programme will improve the quality of many of the other habitats at risk and will improve the status of species such as the freshwater pearl mussel, otter and crayfish.

Cooperation and commitment will be required from the public as a whole, social partners and other Government Departments and agencies. I will continue to work with all relevant stakeholders in order to meet the major challenge we face, as demonstrated by the Report on the Status of Habitats and Species.

Local Government.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

53 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, following the publication of the Green Paper on Local Government, it is intended to publish a white paper, as envisaged in the Programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27588/08]

I published the Green Paper, Stronger Local Democracy — Options for Change on 22 April 2008. The Green Paper presents a set of options which share a common theme of strengthening local democratic leadership. For example, Stronger Local Democracy proposes a Regional Mayor for Dublin to meet the strategic challenges the city faces. The Paper also suggests that local leadership, accountability and connection with the citizen would be achieved through the provision of directly elected mayors with key powers of initiative in other areas. A suite of further proposals in relation to issues such as town government, participative democracy, regional governance, and service delivery are also included in the Green Paper.

Stronger Local Democracy represents the initial phase of a transparent, inclusive policy formulation process. The purpose is not to arrive at a single solution, but to present options for further consideration. Copies of Stronger Local Democracy have been sent to all members of the Oireachtas.

My Department is conducting a public consultation process to inform the drafting of the White Paper, which I hope to finalise by year end. I look forward to receiving the views of all concerned. I have also recently concluded a series of 6 regional seminars on the Green Paper, held over June and early July to gather as full a range of perspectives as possible. Details on how to contribute to the consultation process, which will remain open until 31 July, are available on my Department's website.

Water Quality.

Billy Timmins

Question:

54 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he is satisfied that ground water sources here are of an acceptable level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27729/08]

The obligation to protect groundwater quality derives, in the main, from its suitability for use as a source for drinking water supply.

In line with the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive, the EPA carries out a national groundwater monitoring programme which is used to assess the general state of groundwater quality and groundwater levels in Ireland.

The key indicators for groundwater quality are faecal coliforms and nitrates. In relation to faecal coliforms, approximately 29% of the samples taken by the EPA between 2004 and 2006 as part of its monitoring programme, tested positive. As regards nitrates, relatively low concentrations of nitrate are found in groundwater in its natural state. However, the mean nitrate concentration found by the EPA exceeded the statutory guide concentration of 25 milligrammes per litre at approximately 25% of monitoring sites over the same period.

Groundwater is the only aquatic system showing a trend of decline in water quality and this is a matter of concern. The greatest degree of groundwater pollution is found in karst limestone areas and in areas with more intensive agricultural activities. Agricultural run-off has been identified by the EPA as posing the greatest threat to the quality of the groundwater resource.

Against this background, measures for the protection and improvement of water quality continue to be progressed on a systematic basis, particularly within the context of the Water Framework Directive. My Department's Water Services Investment Programme and the Nitrates Action Programme are key contributors to improving water quality in line with the requirements of the Directive. Some €2 billion has been invested since 2000 in new and upgraded waste water services. The Nitrates Action Programme promotes good agricultural practice and provides strengthened statutory support for the protection of waters against pollution from agricultural sources.

In addition, I will be making regulations over the next few months to transpose the EU Groundwater Directive. These regulations will establish quality standards for groundwater and provide for measures to prevent or limit inputs of pollutants into groundwater.

I am satisfied that these measures will lead to an improvement in groundwater quality. The most recent EPA report on water quality notes that with the type of groundwater pollution occurring in Ireland, chiefly nutrient enrichment, there is a relatively short recovery time for our aquatic ecosystems.

Homeless Persons.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

55 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to establish a housing needs monitoring programme to annually assess the extent of homelessness and housing needs, including the flow of people in and out of homelessness, which would utilise several methods and combine prevalence studies to provide figures of hidden homelessness; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is currently no one method in use that will provide an accurate account of homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27591/08]

The triennial statutory assessment of housing needs provides information on homelessness, including details of the number of homeless households by local authority area. The Government's housing policy statement, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities, published in February 2007 announced a new means of assessing housing need. My Department is currently considering the implementation of this new model with local authorities and relevant groups. It is not proposed to undertake a separate annual assessment in relation to homelessness.

In addition, a focused count of homelessness in the Dublin area, Counted In, has been undertaken by the Homeless Agency every three years since 1999. This year, this count has also taken place in Galway, Cork and Limerick city areas.

It is proposed, in the context of the new homeless strategy now being finalised, to develop an integrated national information system to support the effective operation and budgeting of homeless services and to inform policy development. This will, for example, be used to develop profiles, review trends in homelessness, improve understanding and knowledge and to maximise and monitor the effectiveness of interventions to achieve the best possible outcomes for each homeless person. The proposed information system will be complemented by continuing periodic assessments or counts of homelessness.

Register of Electors.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

56 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on moving responsibility for the electoral register from local authorities to a centralised authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27703/08]

In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty to ensure, as far as possible and with the cooperation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to establish an independent Electoral Commission. The Commission's responsibilities will include taking charge of the compilation of a new national rolling electoral register.

The establishment of an Electoral Commission will be a major body of work with issues arising for consideration including international best practice, the Commission's structure and functions, who it reports to, its relationship with other bodies currently involved, and the approach to be followed in relation to the extensive legislation that will be required.

As a first input to this process, my Department has appointed consultants to carry out preliminary research on the issues arising in relation to the establishment of the Electoral Commission. The consultants' work is underway and is expected to be completed in August.

Environmental Legislation.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

57 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of EU environmental compliance cases in existence against Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27651/08]

In areas for which my Department has responsibility the European Commission is currently in correspondence in respect of 29 cases relating to possible infringements of EU environmental legislation. These cases are at various stages of proceedings. My Department is working hard to resolve these cases as soon as possible.

I propose to circulate in the Official Report a tabular statement listing the directives involved and setting out the various stages of proceedings in respect of these cases.

Stage in Proceedings

Directive/Decision Number and General Reference

Article 226 Letter of Formal Notice

Article 226 Reasoned Opinion

Being Referred to the European Court of Justice

Before the European Court of Justice for a hearing or awaiting judgement

European Court of Justice Decision to be Implemented

Article 228 Letter of Formal Notice

Article 228 Reasoned Opinion

75/439/EEC on the disposal of waste oils

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

75/442/EEC the waste directive

2

1

0

1

0

1

0

76/464/EEC on dangerous substances in water

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

79/409/EEC on wild birds

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

80/68/EEC on groundwater

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

80/778/EEC on the quality of drinking water for human consumption

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment

1

0

1

1

1

0

0

91/271/EEC on urban waste water treatment

0

1

0

1

0

0

0

92/43/EEC on habitats

0

0

1

0

1

0

1

98/81/EC on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

99/31/EC on landfill

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

2000/60/EC the water framework directive

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2003/35/EC on public participation in certain plans and programmes relating to the environment

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

2004/35/EC on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

2004/107/EC on Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury, Nickel and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in ambient air

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

2006/21/EC on the management of waste from extractive industries and amending Directive 2004/35/EC

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL NUMBER AT EACH STAGE

9

4

3

4

4

1

4

Environmental Pollution.

David Stanton

Question:

58 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures being taken to remove hazardous and toxic waste from the former steelworks site at Haulbowline Island; his views on reports that a high level of chromium VI, mercury and other potentially toxic matter was found on and in the vicinity of the site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27645/08]

Phil Hogan

Question:

59 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he still considers there is no health risk from the Haulbowline site in Cork Harbour; if so, the reason he intends to carry out a health study on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27698/08]

David Stanton

Question:

74 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of material removed from the former Irish Ispat site at Haulbowline, County Cork to date; the location to which this material was transported; the method of transport; whether an analysis for the presence of toxic matter in the material was conducted prior to removal; the results of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27644/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58, 59 and 74 together.

The environmental challenge presented by the former steelworks on Haulbowline is a considerable one. It is the legacy of an industrial past. It is also the case that for many years the steelworks were a significant employer in the Cork area and an important part of the local economy. The site has the potential once again to contribute to the economic, and indeed social, life of the area. This should be kept in mind in dealing with the legacy issue which must first be addressed.

Since 2003 my Department has had responsibility for the management of the facility on an interim basis pending a decision by Government on the future use of the site. This has included enabling a site investigation to be carried out to assist the Government in determining the best option, environmentally and economically, for its future use.

In the light of the situation created by the unauthorised actions of contractors on the site I have moved to address the more immediate, very understandable and legitimate concerns of the local community.

I have made available the entire report on the site investigation, including the full suite of technical data which it generated. I have also made available the reports on the ongoing monitoring of the site which has been carried out over the intervening period. My Department has arranged with the consultants who produced the 2005 report that they will clarify any technical issues which may be raised.

This information is the total of the reports and investigations of the site arranged by my Department. The 2005 report in particular summarises earlier desk studies and, more importantly, reports on comprehensive intrusive site investigation which included extensive analysis of soil, water and air, including sub-surface testing for heavy metals. I base my reassurance to the community on these reports, which have indicated no immediate threat to human health or the environment in the locality, while of course recognising that this is a problematic site which will ultimately require an extensive and co-ordinated resolution.

To further allay the concerns of the community in light of the recent events my Department has now re-engaged the consultants to carry out an independent and rigorous assessment of current site conditions. This assessment is now underway and will involve analysis of soil, slag, dust, surface and ground water samples for all likely contaminants, including heavy metals such as chromium. The results will be published. I will then advise Government for purposes of decision-making on whatever actions are shown to be necessary, including the question of any studies in regard to human health.

Since 2003 my Department has arranged for the removal and proper disposal of a large quantity of waste materials from the site. All the information requested in the question regarding the quantity of waste removed will take some time to collate and will be forwarded as soon as it is available. Examples of materials collected from site to date for certified disposal include:

Licensed radioactive sources and low-level radioactive waste;

Over 10,000 tonnes of scrap metal;

Over 1,000 tonnes of hazardous dust vacuumed from the steelworks buildings before demolition;

Contaminated filter bags from the steelworks dust extraction system;

Various forms of asbestos removed from the steelworks buildings before demolition;

Refractory waste;

Contaminated soil from site clearance;

Contaminated water from site clearance;

Transformer oil;

Electrical capacitors — PCB and Non PCB;

Sulphur hexafluoride gas from circuit breakers;

Assorted gas cylinders;

Battery acid;

Millscale;

Assorted other wastes including timber and plastic.

My Department and other relevant agencies are properly engaged in the management of this legacy site in a manner which is consistent with good practice and minimisation of risk to human health and the environment. A coherent overall approach rather than piecemeal action, which could inadvertently cause problems to the local community and the environment, must be taken and that is the objective being pursued by my Department.

Private Rented Accommodation.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

60 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many people in receipt of rent supplement are forced to live in substandard accommodation; and his plans to rectify this situation. [27593/08]

Seán Barrett

Question:

72 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he proposes to introduce the new standards regulations for rented accommodation that were promised by him to ensure that the interiors of rented properties would be maintained to acceptable standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26937/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 72 together.

Standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations, 1993. Responsibility for enforcing the regulations rests with the relevant local authority, supported by a dedicated stream of funding allocated by my Department.

The revision of these regulations is an important element of An Action Programme to Promote Improvement in Standards, which was launched on foot of the Towards 2016 social partnership agreement, and is also a core component of the Government's housing policy statement, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities. A general review of the regulations has been carried out, in consultation with relevant interests, and account has been taken of relevant recommendations in two reports published in November 2007 by the Centre for Housing Research on measures to promote improvement in private rented accommodation standards.

On foot of that work, a small working group comprising local authority and sectoral representatives was convened by my Department to input into the final drafting of the revised regulations. That group has met a number of times and consultations have also taken place with the Community and Voluntary Pillar under Towards 2016.

A significant number of very useful proposals emerged from these consultations and I intend to address these to the greatest extent possible in the revised regulations or, where necessary, in primary legislation. While the issues raised were of considerable scope and complexity, I expect to be in a position to submit proposals to Government in September, with the associated regulations being made shortly thereafter. Any issues requiring primary legislation will be addressed in the context of the passage through the House of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which I expect will be published shortly.

The revised regulations will cover all private rented accommodation, not just properties which are the subject of rent supplement payments. My Department has ongoing discussions with the Department of Social and Family Affairs, which has lead responsibility for the operation of the rent supplement scheme through the Community Welfare Service, regarding the need to match rent supplement payments to accommodation of an adequate standard. In addition, my Department has recently written to all housing authorities to emphasise the importance of ensuring regular liaison with, and appropriate action between, housing authorities and Community Welfare Officers to ensure that rent supplement-supported private rented accommodation meets the requirements of the minimum standards regulations.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

61 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to fast-track the provision of social housing in order to deliver the commitment to end long-term homelessness by 2010; the details of these plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27592/08]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

85 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of people listed as homeless, by local authority area, for the years 2003 to 2007 and to date in 2008 in tabular form; the steps being taken to reduce the numbers of homeless people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27579/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 85 together.

The triennial statutory assessment of housing needs provides information on homelessness, including details of the number of homeless households by local authority area. These are published in the Annual Housing Statistics Bulletins, which are available in the Oireachtas Library and on my Department's website at www.environ.ie. The most recent published figures relate to the position at March 2005. The latest triennial assessment took place in March 2008 and results will be published in due course.

Significant progress has been undertaken to address homelessness since the adoption of the Integrated Government Strategy on Homelessness in 2000 and the Preventative Strategy in 2002. This has included an improvement in both the quality and range of services for homeless persons. Homeless fora have been established throughout the country and local action plans on homelessness adopted. A range of new services, in relation to emergency, transitional and long-term accommodation has been provided and settlement and tenancy sustainment services have been developed to assist people out of homelessness.

A revised Government strategy to underpin future action on homelessness has been developed by my Department in conjunction with the Cross Department Team on Homelessness, with input from the National Homeless Consultative Committee, which includes representatives of local authorities, the HSE and voluntary bodies. A core objective of the strategy will be the elimination of long-term occupation of emergency homeless accommodation. An important factor in pursuing this objective will be the provision of accommodation in the social and voluntary housing sectors, including exploiting the significant potential of the Rental Accommodation Scheme in this area and ensuring the availability of appropriate outreach and settlement support. Local circumstances and the needs of individual homeless people must be taken into account in delivering the optimum response in each case. The new strategy, now being finalised, will be published following the resolution of a number of outstanding issues.

Departmental Surveys.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

62 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of health safety studies he has initiated in the past five years; the subject matter of these studies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27733/08]

Neither I, nor my predecessors, have initiated any health and safety studies related to the functions of the Department in the past five years.

Under the terms of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and subsequent regulations, the Department must ensure the safety, health and welfare of all staff in the workplace. The Department is committed to ensuring that appropriate measures and resources are in place to comply with the relevant statutory provisions, and that these are monitored and reviewed on a regular basis. A Safety Management structure outlining particular roles and responsibilities has been put in place, with overall responsibility in relation to health and safety being held by the Secretary General.

In line with best practice regarding health and safety, specific safety reviews, utilising in-house expertise and external expert advice, are carried out on a regular basis. These relate, in particular, to the work of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the National Monuments Service, and include reviews on the safe use of technical equipment, the conduct of survey work and inspections, and risk assessments. In addition, site-specific health and safety surveys have been completed in relation to various Departmental offices and properties and these are reviewed on a regular basis.

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 52

Nuclear Plants.

John Perry

Question:

64 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he has taken in the past year on attempting to have the nuclear plant at Sellafield closed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27722/08]

Ireland has long been concerned about the threat to this country posed by the large and complex nuclear reprocessing site at Sellafield. The policies and actions of this Government continue to reflect the firm position that Sellafield is an unacceptable threat to Ireland and that it should be decommissioned and closed in a safe and orderly manner. Since coming into office I have articulated this position at all appropriate opportunities.

For some years now, the UK and Ireland have developed a process for regular high level exchanges on the matter of Sellafield and its related facilities. These exchanges have embedded the package of measures for enhanced co-operation and information exchanges announced by my predecessor in December 2004.

The background to that announcement is that, in 2001, in response to the then imminent commissioning of the MOX fuel manufacturing plant at the Sellafield site, Ireland instituted legal proceedings against the UK under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Pending the hearing of the case, Ireland applied for and received a Provisional Measures Order from the Arbitral Tribunal, which ordered a review by Ireland and the UK of the mechanisms for inter-governmental notification and co-operation. Arising from this, a series of co-operative measures was developed, agreed and put in place.

These measures are valuable from Ireland's viewpoint and are working well. They represent real and considerable added value to the necessarily co-operative relationship between Ireland and the UK. The measures include the Bi-Lateral Agreement on Early Notification of a Nuclear Incident; direct access to the UK Radiation Monitoring System (RIMNET); access for the Garda Síochána to Sellafield, significantly improved information exchanges; co-operation on emergency planning with the UK; improved and ongoing contacts at regulator and official level on nuclear issues; and access for the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) to Sellafield and other facilities. This latter measure has resulted in two visits by the RPII to sites in the UK, one to Sellafield and one to Wylfa. The Reports of the Institute on these visits are available on the RPII website, www.rpii.ie. These visits are extremely useful to Ireland. They enhance the co-operation between technical experts in both countries and provide us with a high level of knowledge of the operation of these UK nuclear facilities which would not otherwise be readily available.

I consider that the co-operation measures are being utilised fully by Ireland and, with the co-operation of the UK, the level of exchange is deepening with each meeting. These all provide objective evidence of real improvements in the quality of the information available to Ireland and enhancement of our understanding of the site. In this way, we are better able to assess the full nature of the threat posed, and ensure that we are well placed to deal with such threat, however remote.

I emphasise, however, that the Government is continuing and will continue to pursue all political, diplomatic and, where necessary and appropriate, legal options to secure the safe and orderly decommissioning of the Sellafield facility. It is my view that the ongoing discussions between the two administrations in relation to Sellafield have resulted in increased recognition by the UK Government of the depth and seriousness of Ireland's concerns about Sellafield and of the priority that is rightly accorded to the issue by the Irish Government.

Ireland has supported and will continue to support efforts by the European Commission to develop an increased role for itself in the area of safety within the European Nuclear Industry. Adoption of European Council Conclusions in regard to the establishment of the EU High Level Regulators Group is a significant development in this area. In Ireland's view, the transboundary risks and impacts arising from nuclear installations should be fully reflected in the instruments, structures and institutions of the EU.

Library Projects.

Liz McManus

Question:

65 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of public access internet PCs in libraries here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21377/08]

Over the period 1999 to 2007, my Department has provided over €12 million in grant aid towards various ICT projects in the public library service. The funding enabled the provision of public access Internet PCs, the automation of library systems and the development of a significant number of other grant aided ICT services/projects, including the Ask About Ireland and Borrow Books websites.

Public library authorities report a total of 1,634 ICT terminals in 329 out of a total of 352 library service points at the end of 2006, which is the latest complete year for which details are available and represents a 93% infiltration across the public library network. There has been a further significant increase in the number of internet PCs since then as 15 new/extended libraries have opened during 2007 and to date in 2008. In a national survey of public library users carried out in September 2007, 87% of users rated public library internet provision as either good or very good.

I recently launched the new public library policy document Branching Out — Future Directions. The new policy document sets out a redefined vision for the public library service through a series of priorities and recommendations which include the further enhancement of ICT provision throughout the library service. This document will drive the policy for the public library service in Ireland over the next five years.

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 47.

Waste Management.

Joe Costello

Question:

67 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he is taking to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill following a report by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 that found that the volume of waste going to landfill is increasing and that Ireland is in significant danger of missing its European Union targets for diverting recyclable waste from landfill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27571/08]

Joe Costello

Question:

90 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps being taken to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills in view of the recent ESRI report that found that 80% of household waste is going to landfills, that there is a discrepancy between the stated policy of the Government and the policies in place regarding landfill, and that European Union targets on reducing waste going to landfills will be missed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27570/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 90 together.

Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste sets challenging targets for the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill. In the case of Ireland, the diversion rates required are projected to equate to 59% for 2010, 73% by 2013 and 80% by 2016 for this particular waste stream. The recent National Waste Report 2006 published in January 2008 by the EPA presents the scale of the challenge in sharp focus: while the recovery rate for this waste stream increased to 38% from 35% in 2005, the quantity of this waste going to landfill rose by 15%.

A National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste, published in 2006, sets out a wide range of integrated measures, designed in accordance with the waste hierarchy, to support biodegradable municipal waste minimisation and diversion from landfill. The Programme for Government is clearly committed to the effective implementation of this Strategy.

My Department is supporting the roll-out by local authorities of segregated "brown bin" collections for food and garden waste; this will make a significant contribution to diversion of household waste from landfill as we have already seen in places like Galway and Waterford. In addition, it has become clear that landfill gate fees have fallen thereby making landfill more attractive as a waste disposal option. I have, therefore, recently signed an Order and associated Regulations giving effect to an increase in the landfill levy from €15 per tonne to €20 per tonne from 1 July this year. This is the maximum increase permissible under the current legislation and is the first increase in the landfill levy since it was first introduced in 2002.

In line with the commitment given in the Programme, a major review of waste policy is now commencing. The review will examine the potential contribution that mechanical-biological treatment (MBT) and other technologies can deliver towards our landfill diversion targets, particularly in the context of recovering the biodegradable fraction in residual waste arising from domestic households. I have already placed on the record my position that an over reliance on incineration is not the answer for residual waste treatment.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Frank Feighan

Question:

68 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the challenging EU 20% reduction target, he will update and redraft the National Climate Change Strategy to take into account this new target; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27689/08]

Since the publication of the National Climate Change Strategy, work has continued across Government Departments on the development of further measures to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. I reported on these when I presented the Carbon Budget in December 2007 and this will be updated each year.

The National Climate Change Strategy was focused primarily on the achievement of our targets for the Kyoto period, 2008-2012, and included a commitment to prepare a new Strategy for the post-Kyoto period when our target for that period had been finalised on foot of the international negotiations on a new global agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. My hope is that, in the context of a new international agreement, the EU will be in a position to adopt a 30% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2020. Ireland's target will then be agreed within the EU's effort-sharing of its overall commitment.

Under the direction of the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security, Departments have intensified their work on developing measures both for the Kyoto period and the longer-term; in that respect work towards a new National Climate Change Strategy is already underway.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Liz McManus

Question:

69 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of affordable houses built here for the years 2003 to 2007 and to date in 2008; the steps being taken by him to ensure adequate and timely supply of affordable housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27580/08]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

84 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the percentage of the numbers of houses built for the years 2004 to 2007 and to date in 2008, that were social, voluntary or affordable housing, as required by Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000; the steps he is taking to ensure this requirement is realising adequate numbers of affordable housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27581/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69 and 84 together.

Information on housing activity, including under Part V, up to the end of 2007 is available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie. Information is also published in my Department's Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library. My Department is collating data on output for the first quarter of 2008, which will be published in the near future.

It is important to stress that not all housing output in the State is subject to agreements under Part V. Part V applies only to housing developments of five or more units or on lands of 0.1 hectares or more which is zoned for residential use, or a mixture of residential and other uses. It does not apply to planning permissions granted prior to the introduction of Part V, many of which, until recently, were still being built out.

Up to end 2007, 5,133 affordable and 2,482 social units were acquired on foot of agreements with developers. Over 114 acres of land have been transferred by developers to local authorities, with an estimated capacity to yield over 900 further homes and 419 partially or fully serviced individual sites had been transferred to local authorities and voluntary housing bodies. In addition, housing authorities had accepted approximately €84.3 million from developers in lieu of land as part of Part V agreements. A further €11.6 million had also been received under the "withering levy". These funds are ringfenced for use by authorities for Part V purposes or for their housing functions generally.

Local authorities have been regularly advised by my Department to conclude Part V agreements at the earliest possible stage to ensure the successful delivery of social and affordable housing. The continued increase in output under Part V indicates that local authorities generally are acting in accordance with this advice.

In relation to affordable housing supply generally, the Affordable Homes Partnership, working closely with my Department, continues to focus on specific initiatives to increase the supply in the Greater Dublin Area and provides comprehensive advice to local authorities countrywide on many aspects of affordable housing. In addition, the Partnership was requested to conduct a study on ways in which the range of existing affordable housing mechanisms might be improved or expanded in order, principally, to increase supply and accelerate delivery. The resultant report, "Increasing Affordable Housing Supply", was published in April 2008 for public consultation and my Department is also consulting with the social partners in relation to the report's recommendations. The report recommends some improvements in aspects of programme delivery and also recommends a new product to replace the existing range of schemes. I will give careful consideration to the results of this consultation process, in deciding on future directions in relation to affordable housing.

Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 47.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

71 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the fact that the sanctions by local authorities for housing adaptation grants for older people and people with a disability schemes have been stopped in many, if not all, local authority areas as a result of shortage of funding, he will either restore or increase the capital allocations for 2008 or alternatively relax the terms of the scheme in order that essential work done by applicants following applications and pending approval will not subsequently be excluded from the terms of the scheme. [27618/08]

The administration of the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability is a matter for individual local authorities.

My Department made a combined capital allocation of €71.4 million to all local authorities on 21 May for the operation of the adaptation grant schemes in private houses in 2008. The schemes are funded by 80% recoupment available from my Department, together with 20% contribution from the resources of the local authority. It is a matter for each local authority to decide on the level of funding to be provided for the schemes from within the combined allocation notified to them and to manage the operation of the schemes from within this allocation. Furthermore, it is a matter for each local authority to prioritise applications under the schemes, within available funding, in line with the administrative guidance issued by my Department in October 2007 regarding the operation of the schemes.

Requests by any local authorities for additional funding for the operation of the schemes are dealt with by my Department in the context of the reallocation of surplus resources from other authorities and, as such, allocations provided to local authorities are generally revised during the course of the year where expenditure is higher or lower than anticipated. Applications from authorities for additional funding will be considered by my Department in the light of any savings emerging later in the year in other local authority areas.

Question No. 72 answered with Question No. 60.

Archaeological Sites.

Martin Ferris

Question:

73 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on a claim (details supplied) that the report of an archaeologist regarding the M3 motorway at Tara, County Meath was falsified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26938/08]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

78 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has taken steps to establish or investigate if the necessary archeological information was available when the decision to approve the M3 Motorway route was made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27565/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 78 together.

The decision to approve the M3 Motorway route was made by An Bord Pleanála in August 2003. Under the relevant provisions of the National Monuments Acts, the statutory functions of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the matter relate only to the regulation of archaeological works associated with an approved road scheme, such as the M3.

According to my Department's records, the archaeologist who wrote the report referred to in recent media allegations was granted six licences under the National Monuments Acts in 2004 to carry out test trenching on the approved route of the M3 motorway in accordance with the requirements of the EIS for the scheme. The licences related to archaeological investigative works on the Navan to Kells (including the Kells Bypass) section of the motorway, but not on the Dunshaughlin to Navan section, which passes through the Gabhra valley, between Tara and Skryne.

The test excavations were carried out following the standard methodolgy used in such cases i.e. a 2 metre wide trench was excavated along the centre line of the approved route with offset trenches at 20 m intervals extending to the edge of the land-take for the road. Reports on the results of the test excavations carried out were submitted to the Department and Ministerial directions were issued for the full archaeological excavation and recording of all the archaeological sites identified in the test excavations. These excavations were carried out under the direction of qualified and experienced archaeologists and work on all the sites has been completed. Archaeologists from my Department carried out inspections of the foregoing works on a number of occasions. The reports of the test excavations submitted to my Department were comprehensive and were considered accurately and fully to reflect what was found during these excavations.

In later High Court proceedings, Vincent Salafia v. the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Meath County Council, Ireland and the Attorney General, the High Court considered, inter alia, the archaeological trench testing that took place on the route of the M3 between March and December 2004 and the reports on that testing. In its judgement in the case, the Court found that the Minister at the time considered carefully and in detail the material supplied to him before issuing the foregoing directions and having sought the advice of the Director of the National Museum, as required under the National Monuments Acts, he was entitled to issue the directions in the circumstances in which they were issued.

A Code of Practice on archaeological heritage protection between my Department and the NRA has been in place for a number of years. The Code commits the NRA to a number of principles including the appointment of its own staff of project archaeologists to oversee archaeological works associated with road developments. The Code also provides that where any dispute arises between the relevant project archaeologist and a consultant archaeologist carrying out archaeological works, the matter will be referred to the Department for a decision. There is no record of any dispute between the NRA's project archaeologists for the M3 motorway and any of the consultant archaeologists working on the scheme ever having been referred to the Department.

Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 58.

Electoral Commission.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

75 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when it is intended to establish the independent electoral commission to take responsibility for electoral administration and oversight; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27590/08]

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to establish an independent Electoral Commission which will take responsibility for electoral administration and oversight, implement modern and efficient electoral practices, revise constituency boundaries, take charge of compiling a new national rolling electoral register, take over the functions of the Standards in Public Office Commission relating to election spending, and examine the issue of financing the political system. My Department has appointed consultants to carry out preliminary research on issues arising in relation to the establishment of the Electoral Commission. Their report is expected in August 2008. The research findings will inform further consideration of the approach to be taken in relation to an Electoral Commission.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

76 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has issued instruction to the various local authorities the result of which is that contracts already entered into in respect of water, sewerage or housing schemes will be deferred; the degree to which this is expected to delay investment in infrastructure; the extent to which this is expected to postpone remedial or upgrading works necessary to prevent the issue of pollution of ground water, rivers, streams and lakes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27625/08]

In October 2006, the Department of Finance, which is responsible for public procurement rules, issued instructions requiring all traditional public works projects to use new forms of construction contracts from February 2007 onwards. The new forms of contract were introduced to achieve greater cost certainty, better value for money and more timely and efficient delivery of publicly funded projects. Contracting authorities were given the option of either switching over to the new forms of contract or completing any contract documents on which detailed drafting was already underway. This interim arrangement was brought to a conclusion in February 2008.

Since then, the Minister for Finance has agreed that, in order to avoid delay in project delivery, there should be some flexibility in relation to the application of the new forms of fixed price contract and that, subject to certain conditions, tenders for water services contracts received before 6 May 2008 using the old form of contract should be allowed to proceed. Relevant local authorities have been informed accordingly.

Waste Disposal.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

77 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his policy in respect of incinerators or landfill as a means of waste disposal and management; his preferred options in this regard; if current thinking is in line with or anticipated in the Programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27624/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

372 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to meet current and expected requirements in terms of waste management and disposal; the extent to which landfill, recycling or incineration is expected to play a part; the extent of environmental impact under each heading; when he expects to achieve best practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28256/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 372 together.

The Programme for Government contains a range of commitments in respect of waste management policy centred on the Government's continued support for the internationally recognised waste hierarchy which places major emphasis on the prevention, reuse and recycling of waste while minimising reliance on landfill and incineration. This commitment to the waste hierarchy has added significance in the context of the requirements of the EU Landfill Directive to divert waste from landfill. Meeting this obligation will entail doubling the existing level of diversion from landfill by 2010 and further increases in diversion in subsequent years. The Programme also signalled a move away from mass burn incineration towards alternative technologies.

This is a process which will be assisted by the major review of waste policy, also provided for in the Programme, which is now commencing and which will address how best to implement waste prevention and minimisation, and the emergence of new technologies in waste management, particularly those for the mechanical and biological treatment of waste, which can reduce the need for incineration or landfill.

Undue emphasis on incineration as the cornerstone of waste management policy is detrimental to the development of alternative solutions. The review may well indicate some residual role for incineration in our future waste management strategy but I do not envisage it being on anything like the scale that was previously planned.

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 73.

EU Directives.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

79 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the warnings and opinions Ireland has received from the European Commission in respect of lack of compliance with the Landfill Directive 1999; the matters on which the European Commission has sought rectification in these warnings; his response to these warnings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27569/08]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

91 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he has taken to respond to the final warning sent by the European Commission in respect of Ireland’s failure to properly transpose the Landfill Directive 1999; if he sent a reply by the deadline of the 1 May 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27568/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 91 together.

The European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Ireland in March 2007 concerning a number of technical issues regarding the transposition of the EU Landfill Directive. A detailed response to the issues raised was sent to the Commission in May 2007.

In January 2008 a reasoned opinion was received from the Commission in relation to the transposition issue and a reply issued on 16 May 2008. Most of the issues raised have now been resolved and a meeting between my Department and Commission officials has been requested to resolve the outstanding matters.

Election Management System.

Joan Burton

Question:

80 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will propose amendments to election finance laws to prevent persons from making political donations of more than the €2,500 limit by spreading donations between multiple business entities in which those persons may have a controlling interest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21949/08]

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to establish an independent Electoral Commission which will take responsibility for a range of electoral matters including the functions currently exercised by the Standards in Public Office Commission relating to election spending. The Electoral Commission will also examine the issue of financing of the political system.

Question No. 81 answered with Question No. 52.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

82 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if it is intended to use electronic voting machines in the next local government elections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27587/08]

I am at present considering the next steps to be taken in relation to the electronic voting project. In this, I am taking into account the work of the Commission on Electronic Voting, which has examined the system, relevant experiences and developments internationally, the need to maintain public confidence in the electoral process, as well as the provisions in the Programme for Government relating to electoral reform generally.

I am not in a position, therefore, to be definitive regarding the timing of future use of the system. I am conscious of the extensive work inherent in the recommendations of the Commission on Electronic Voting, including the replacement of the election management software, as well as adaptations to the equipment and further end to end testing. At the very least, it will be problematic to envisage use of the current e-voting scheme at the Local and European Elections in 2009.

My Department has appointed consultants to carry out preliminary research on the issues arising in relation to the establishment of the Electoral Commission. The work is currently underway and is expected to be completed in August.

Environmental Policy.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

83 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to establish universal design and lifetime adaptability guidelines and incorporate them as a legal requirement for all newly built houses, with a national monitoring system for implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27596/08]

The concept of Universal Design centres on achieving a built environment that can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size or disability. The achievement of this objective is being greatly assisted by the ongoing work of my Department in developing new comprehensive guidance on interrelated housing and planning issues, focusing on house design, residential density and best practice in relation to the planning and design of residential neighbourhoods. My Department has also been engaged in an extensive review of Part M of the Building Regulations. Following a public consultation on the existing provisions in 2006, a draft revised Part M and associated Technical Guidance Document will be published for a final round of public consultation shortly. This will represent a step change in standards for accessibility and underpin the principle of Universal Design. A national housing strategy for people with a disability is also being prepared under the aegis of a National Advisory Group, chaired by my Department and involving the Department of Health and Children, the Health Service Executive, the social partners and other relevant stakeholders including the National Disability Authority. The strategy is to be completed by end 2009 and the concept of Lifetime Adaptable Housing will be considered in that context.

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 69.
Question No. 85 answered with Question No. 61.

Local Authority Housing.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

86 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that certain local authorities have developed a separate interview system for the allocation of Part V housing to the routine social housing allocations; and the impact that this may have in developing socially cohesive communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27595/08]

The allocation of social housing is undertaken by a local authority under its scheme of letting priorities, the making of which is a reserved function of the authority under section 11 of the Housing Act 1988. Guidance issued by my Department in respect of the making of these schemes made it clear to local authorities that the primary objective of their schemes should be to promote equality of opportunity in gaining access to housing support. The application of allocation policy is a matter for each local authority.

Local Authority Customer Service Charter.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

87 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when it is intended to publish the local authority customer service charter as promised in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27589/08]

The programme for Government contains a commitment to put customer service in local authorities to the forefront of local government reform. This was addressed in the Green Paper on Local Government Reform, which I launched in April 2008. The Green Paper is undergoing nationwide consultation, which will feed into a White Paper by the end of the year. In this regard, I look forward to constructive comments and suggestions as to how quality customer service in local authorities can be further improved. A local authority customer service charter setting out customer service standards is one of the steps which will be addressed in the context of the reform process. In the interim, quality customer service in the local government sector is one of my priorities. It has been a key pillar of the local government modernisation programme over the past decade. Significant progress has been made by local authorities in service delivery under the programme. This has been confirmed by the performance verification group for the sector under the national partnership arrangements. Substantial support and resources have been provided by my Department to local authorities on specific initiatives in the area of customer service. These include €31 million to support a one-stop-shop programme, which will make access to services and information easier and more efficient for customers. A further €9.8 million has been provided to improve efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery through the use of information technology. Many local authority services, including planning and motor tax, are now more accessible on-line.

As part of the modernisation programme, a Local Government Customer Service Group, representative of my Department, the local government sector at both elected member and official level and the Institute of Public Administration, was put in place to develop and promote specific customer service initiatives. A number of initiatives have been introduced, including local authority service indicators, under which authorities report annually to me as Minister on their performance across 42 indicators. The indicators, which were a first for the public service, are quality assured by an Independent Assessment Panel. The Local Government Customer Service Group recently completed a review of the indicators, resulting in a number of additions and amendments which will apply from 2008. The group has issued separate guidelines to local authorities on best practice in handling customer complaints and engaging in customer consultation. In addition, a high level Task Force on Customer Service, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and on which my Department and the local government sector are represented, was established in September 2007. The task force is charged with promoting quality customer service across the entire public service, including local government. While the significant progress made by local authorities in the area of customer service generally should be acknowledged, I am committed to ensuring they continue to intensify their efforts in this most important area.

Question No. 88 answered with Question No. 47.
Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 52.
Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 67.
Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 79.

Local Government Elections.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

92 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his view on to the reports of the local electoral areas committees and on all the recommendations made; when these will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27586/08]

On 16 June 2008, I received the reports of the two Boundary Committees I established last January to review local electoral areas. The reports were published on 17 June 2008. I am accepting the recommendations contained in both reports and will make the necessary orders to give effect to them in due course.

Environmental Policy.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

93 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will phase out incandescent light bulbs over a period of years, as opposed to his original announced intention to ban incandescent bulbs completely by January 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27583/08]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 929 of 17 June 2008. The position has not changed. I will announce details of the proposed energy efficiency standard for lighting, including arrangements for public consultation, as soon as they are finalised.

Tax Code.

Willie Penrose

Question:

94 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the finding in the survey on people’s attitudes to climate change that when specific prices were given for carbon taxes that the majority of those surveyed opposed the specific carbon taxes suggested to them; and the reason these findings were not published when he first announced the results of the survey in February 2008. [27584/08]

I have noted the findings in the survey relating to carbon taxes. The Programme for Government includes a commitment to investigate fiscal measures to protect and enhance the environment, including the introduction of a carbon tax. I refer to the reply to Question No. 91 of 27 May 2008 in this regard. The survey was commissioned at the end of February 2008, the questionnaire was designed and the fieldwork carried out in March, following which the headline results were announced in April. A full analysis of the findings was carried out by the researchers in April and presented to the Department in late April for consideration. The findings were subsequently published in full in May.

Housing Strategy.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

95 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to introduce an implementation plan outlining funding commitments and roll-out targets as an appendix to the new housing strategy; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that his predecessor gave a commitment to doing so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27594/08]

The new homeless strategy will incorporate both national and local actions to underpin the achievement of its strategic aims. It is also intended that an implementation plan will be finalised following the publication of the strategy.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

96 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Taoiseach the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27977/08]

Details of publications and booklets published on behalf of my Department as requested by the Deputy are listed in the following table:

Publication

Consultants

Date of Publication

Production and Design Cost

Printing Cost

Overall Cost

Department of the Taoiseach Scheme (2005-08) under Section 11 of the Official Languages Act 2003

Design: Comarsaid Creative

September 2005

N/A

Design and printing — €5,250

€6,222

Translation: eTeams

Translation of scheme into Irish €972

Production of February 2007 edition of LINK Newsletter Issue No. 48

Boyd Freeman Design

February 2007

€3,737.30

€17,721

€24,717.55

Maxwell Photography

€399.24

Pixels Media

€417.99

National Council for the Blind

€910

DCULS Ltd.

€1,132.02

Department of the Taoiseach

€350

Towards 2016 ten-year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-15 First Progress Report

N/A

February 2007

€3,134.61

€3,134.61

Report of the Commission of Investigation (Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 1974)

Cahill Printers

March 2007

€2,801

€3,048

€5,849

ESRI Survey of Business Attitudes to Regulation

ESRI

March 2007

€1,000,279.79 (inc. VAT)

€24,955.52

€125,235.31

Production of April 2007 edition of LINK Newsletter, Issue No. 49

Boyd Freeman Design

April 2007

€3,182.30

€17,038.82

€22,192.31

Maxwell Photography

€649.22

Mick Quinn Photography

€72.60

DCULS Ltd.

€1,048.37

Department of the Taoiseach

€200

Easter 1916 Commemorative Ceremony Brochure (2007)

April 2007

€2,523.11

Daniel O’Connell and Slavery

April 2007

€12,996

Production of OECD Questionnaire booklets

Department of Finance

May 2007

€132.78

€132.78

Production of publicity Brochure to advertise the Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Awards 2008

Boyd Freeman Design

May 2007

€3,321.45

€4,080.33

€7,401.78

Publication

Consultants

Date of Publication

Production & Design Cost

Printing Cost

Overall Cost

Production of Fitzpatrick Associates Evaluation of the Customer Charter Initiative in the Civil Service

Boyd Freeman Design

June 2007

€7,786.35

€28,892.00

€36,678.35

Production of brochures for the QCS Seminar in Dublin Castle, June 2007

Department of Finance

June 2007

€448.22

€448.22

Towards 2016 Ten-Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015 Second Progress Report

N/A

July 2007

€3,329.50

€3,329.50

Production of Guidelines on the Preparation of Strategy Statements, July 2007

Department of Finance

July 2007

€421

€421

Production of July 2007 edition of LINK Newsletter, Issue No. 50

Boyd Freeman Design

July 2007

€5,046.70

€17,289.95

€25,708.98

Maxwell Photography

€1,317.17

DCULS Ltd.

€1,078.91

National Council for the Blind

€776.25

Department of the Taoiseach

€200

National Day of Commemoration Ceremonial Order Booklet

July 2007

€3,820

Taoiseach’s Address to Westminster

Brunswick Press

August 2007 September 2007 (reprint)

€3,859.92

€6,910

€10,769.92

Annual Report 2006

Brunswick Press

August 2007

Design €4,809.75

€4,870

€12,183

Ger Garland eTeams

Translation €2,503.34

The Flight of the Earls 1607

Sept 2007

€11,281

Review of the Irish Annuities Market

Indecon Economic Consultants

17 October 2007

€133,100 (inc VAT)

€1,014

€134,114

Production of October 2007 edition of LINK Newsletter, Issue No. 51

Boyd Freeman Design

October 2007

€4,089.80

€18,389.90

€24,448.85

Maxwell Photography

€45.40

DCULS Ltd.

€998.25

National Council for the Blind

€925.50

Publication

Consultants

Date of Publication

Production & Design Cost

Printing Cost

Overall Cost

Towards 2016 Ten-Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015 Third Progress Report

N/A

November 2007

€10,914.20

€10,914.20

Production of December 2007 edition of LINK Newsletter, Issue No. 52

Boyd Freeman Design

December 2007

€3,551.35

€18,622.50

€23,444.02

DCULS Ltd.

€1,270.17

Strategy Statement 2008-2010

JDK Design

December 2007

N/A

N/A

Awaiting invoices for design and translation costs.

Europus

Louvain, Lobhain, Louvain 1607

January 2008

€11,695

Towards 2016 Ten-Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015 Summary Report on Progress November 2007 to February 2008

N/A

February 2008

€5,140

€5,140

Production of March 2008 edition of LINK Newsletter, Issue No. 53

Ashville Media Ltd. Maxwell Photography

March 2008

Combined total = €499.21

€20,520.80

€22,393.26

DCULS Ltd.

€1,373.25

Easter 1916 Commemoration Ceremony Brochure (2008)

March 2008

€3,019.10

Production of Conference Brochures for the Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Awards 2008

Boyd Freeman Design

April 2008

€1,995

€3,240

€5,235

Production of Project Summaries booklets for the Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Awards 2008

Boyd Freeman Design

April 2008

€4,833.95

€10,103.90

€14,937.85

Production of May 2008 edition of LINK Newsletter, Issue No. 54

Ashville Media Ltd. Maxwell Photography

May 2008

Combined total = €532.40

€20,520.80

€21,673.20

MacInnes Photography

€620.00

Commemorative Booklet for the Official Opening of the Battle of the Boyne site

Oval Printing

May 2008

€0

€3,058.83

€3,058.83

“Towards an Integrated Public Service” — OECD Review of the Irish Public Service

NIL*

* An additional voluntary contribution was made towards the research efforts of the OECD.

Departmental Expenditure.

Joan Burton

Question:

97 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach the amount of money paid in fees or expenses to outside consultants in respect of each year since 2002 to date in 2008; the amount of this money that related to public relations in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28244/08]

The table that follows this reply outlines expenditure from my Department's Vote on consultancy services and expenses and the amounts that related to public relations in each case from 2002 to 2008 (to date). The figures also include consultancy spend recouped from the Change Management Fund in the Department of Finance. The expenditure on public relations services relate primarily to the National Forum on Europe and the Task Force on Active Citizenship.

Year

Spend on Consultancy (incl. PR)

Spend on Public Relations

2002

995,032

95,167

2003

272,942

54,666

2004

477,398

88,858

2005

405,188

93,143

2006

527,924

72,661

2007

663,870

150,524

2008 (End of June)

385,896

76,964

Decentralisation Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

98 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Question No. 213 of 24 April 2008, the position regarding this matter; when he expects the preferred tenderer to apply for planning permission; when he expects construction to begin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27817/08]

The Preferred Tenderer is finalising the application for planning permission at present and will be lodging the application with Roscommon County Council shortly. The programme for construction will be determined following completion of the planning process.

Flood Relief.

Tom Hayes

Question:

99 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the status of the Clonmel flooding works at present; if the funding for the second two parts of the works are secure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28047/08]

The Clonmel Flood Relief Scheme is divided into separate phases. Work on the first phase has commenced and is ongoing. Provision for the completion of all phases of the scheme has been included in the provision for Flood Risk Management in the National Development Plan.

Tax Code.

Brian Hayes

Question:

100 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance his views on changing benefit in kind arrangements from businesses instead of allowing a mileage offset in terms of reducing the tax liability for employees who obtain company cars; his further views on allowing an offsetting arrangement on the basis of fuel emissions, which would be a more environmentally friendly tax strategy for businesses and their employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28238/08]

The benefit-in-kind system on company cars was substantially revised in 2004. Under the revised system the benefit to an employee of a car provided by his or her employer is calculated by reference to the original market price of the car and the employee's annual business mileage. For example, where an employee's annual business mileage is 15,000 miles or less the benefit of the car is calculated at 30% of the original market price of the car. This falls to 6% where the employee's business mileage is 30,001 business miles and over. The tapering of rates ensures that employees who genuinely need to travel significantly in the course of their work incur a lower benefit-in-kind charge. Overall the current system is seen as relatively neutral in terms of its effect on the environment. Any changes to the present system would be a matter for consideration in the context of future budgetary policy.

Departmental Expenditure.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

101 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if a study has been carried out as to the cost to the Exchequer on average of dealing with Parliamentary Questions; if so, the details thereof; and if not, if he will provide an estimate of such costs. [27810/08]

I am not aware of any study having been carried out into the cost to the Exchequer on average of dealing with Parliamentary Question and I am less than convinced that any such study would result in a meaningful average cost. As the costs of answering a parliamentary question vary according to the nature and phraseology of the questions asked, an average cost for any period on the basis of the costs to Departments generally may differ significantly from that applicable to any individual Department. Since the nature and the demands made on staff may differ from day to day, the average may also fluctuate depending on the period over which it is calculated.

Decentralisation Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

102 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the status of the decentralisation of the Office of Public Works to Claremorris, County Mayo; the number of staff decentralised; the numbers to be decentralised; the timetable for same; the status of property acquisition and the cost involved; when the property will be ready for occupation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27819/08]

The Office of Public Works (OPW) commenced operations in the OPW advance office in Claremorris in September 2007. There are 29 staff in place out of the 142 posts to be transferred to this location. The OPW has acquired the site for their permanent offices in Claremorris at a cost of €2.5 million. In accordance with protocols, the OPW is consulting with the Department of Finance in respect of moving to the tendering phase of the project. Following this consultative process, the timeline for the construction of permanent accommodation in Claremorris will be determined.

Departmental Correspondence.

Pat Breen

Question:

103 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance further to Question No. 172 of 1 July 2008, the status of the application by a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27876/08]

I understand from the Chief State Solicitor's Office that it is in correspondence with the applicant's solicitor and that, as noted in my reply to the Deputy on 1 July last, it is awaiting certain information to progress this matter. I should also explain to the Deputy that this type of case normally involves the Chief State Solicitor taking out letters of administration and advertising for next of kin who may have a legal claim to succeed. It is only following the completion of these procedures that any application for waiver of the State's interest would be considered.

Decentralisation Programme.

Joan Burton

Question:

104 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on succession issues arising in particular among technical specialists from the former tax inspector grades. [27923/08]

Joan Burton

Question:

105 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of principal officers and above being relocated to the Revenue Commissioners as a consequence of the Government decentralisation process; the number of and the Departments from which these staff are to be transferred; the qualifications and expertise in respect of taxation matters that the staff subject to these particular transfers are supposed to have; the implications for the efficient functioning of the Revenue Commissioners if generalist staff as opposed to specialist staff are appointed to senior positions within it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27924/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 104 and 105 together.

From the outset the Government made it clear that participation in the decentralisation programme is voluntary. Across the public service, recruitment and promotion practices are being managed in a way that facilitates the achievement of the Decentralisation Programme in an efficient manner. Agreement has been reached with the unions representing general service staff that an assignment will not be made to a decentralising post until alternative arrangements have been identified for an existing post holder who does not wish to decentralise. The primary mechanism for placing civil servants who are in posts which are due to decentralise but wish to remain in Dublin is by way of bilateral transfer. As staff who have applied to decentralise continue to be transferred into decentralising organisations, the posts they vacate become available to those wishing to remain in Dublin.

Further arrangements have been initiated for general service grades where a bilateral transfer is not possible. The objective of the arrangements, known as "the Dublin Arrangements", is to provide to the Public Appointments Service details of staff who wish to remain in Dublin at each grade level so that a proportion of vacancies arising in Dublin based posts may be filled by such staff. The arrangements seek to balance the need to facilitate the effective achievement of the decentralisation programme with the business needs of Departments and the aspirations of staff to be placed in appropriate posts in Dublin. To achieve this, they allow for prioritisation at certain times of staff in organisations who have an immediate need to be placed in Dublin posts due to the timing of the relocation of their current Department or office. It is intended that the arrangements will continue over the full transition phase of the programme and my Department is monitoring them in co-operation with Departments and the relevant unions to ensure they are operating efficiently.

Under the terms of Towards 2016 and previous Social Partnership Agreements, 50% of all posts at principal level in all civil service organisations are filled on an interdepartmental or open competition basis to increase mobility and bring new perspectives and talents to each grade. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they welcomed these agreements and saw considerable merit in arrangements which opened more posts in Revenue to staff from other Departments and the general public. To the extent that Principal posts fall to be filled in Dublin, this 50% liability is met from the agreed Dublin arrangements. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no difficulty with the arrangements. Revenue advises that it is not in a position to estimate the eventual number of Principals and above that will come into Revenue under the Decentralisation Programme. To date a total of nine Principals have joined Revenue under this programme. Three have come through the Central Applications Facilities for locations outside of Dublin. The balance of six have come to Revenue through the Dublin arrangements agreed with the Civil Service Unions. Of the total, three have come from the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, two from the Department of Education and Science, two from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and two from the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Revenue also advises that it fully appreciates the challenge it faces in relation to succession planning arising mainly from the particular age profile of its staff. It has developed a range of technical programmes aimed at addressing specific tax skills needs across all the grades in Revenue. It has an innovative partnership with the University of Limerick (UL) under which their modular tax technical training programme is accredited by the University to National Diploma level. This diploma programme is a detailed business oriented training programme developed and delivered by Revenue experts and aimed at ensuring that capability in tax technical issues is maintained and continues to grow. The programme delivers detailed training on tax specific issues, e.g. VAT, Income Tax, Corporation Tax, Employer issues, and includes modules on Accounting, Company Law and Revenue audit related issues. The academic accreditation of the in-house training, which addresses the skills needs of the organisation in respect of technical and audit issues, has the added benefit of enhancing the professionalism, status, effectiveness and reputation of the Revenue organisation.

The partnership with UL also encompasses a BA in Applied Taxation. The first such degrees were conferred earlier this year. This programme delivers advanced technical training to a small number of technical experts throughout the organisation on national and international taxation developments, accounting, economics, revenue law, and on specialised subjects such as financial services and property. There is no "one size fits all" prescription for succession planning. Throughout Revenue, skills transfer initiatives are being taken by local management and mobility and mentoring programmes are in place. The Board and Management Committee pay particular attention to succession in the context of placement decisions. I might add that many of the staff joining Revenue in recent years are very well qualified.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

106 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the number of representatives of his Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and departmental officials, who will be visiting Beijing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27952/08]

In response to the Deputy's question I can confirm that neither myself nor the Minister of State have any plans to visit Beijing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games. Similarly, there are no plans in relation to advisers or Department officials.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

107 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27972/08]

The table that follows this reply lists the publications and booklets produced by my Department between 1 January 2007 and June 2008. Costs associated with the production of these publications are listed in the table. As most of the publications and booklets have been prepared internally by the Department's staff or with the assistance from other public servants and published on the Department's web site, the portion of staff time relating to the preparation of the reports cannot be costed without unwarranted expenditure or effort.

Title of publications or booklets

Cost

Value for Money and Policy Review initiative Guidance Manual — March 2007

Published in house

Analysis of Exchequer Pay and Pension 2002-2007

Published in house

Annual Report of the Committee for Performance Awards for 2006

Published in house Translation cost €210

Terms and Conditions of Employment in the Irish Civil Service Staff Information Booklet

Published in house

Code of Practice for the Employment of People with a Disability in the Irish Civil Service

Published in house

Decentralisation Implementation Group report (October 2007)

Published in house

9th Annual Reportby the Minister for Finance on Freedom of Information (English and Irish) 2007

€2,250 translation costs Published in house

National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) — document agreed with the European Commission setting out the strategic orientation for the EU Structural Funds allocated to Ireland under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective 2007-2013

€24,000 Includes production, translation and launch costs

ERDF Financial Control Unit — Annual Report 2006.

€17,804 Costs include design, printing and distribution costs.

Training Management & Language Development Programmes Spring/Summer 2007

Published in house

Training Management & Language Development Programmes Autumn 2007

Published in house

Training Management & Language Development Programmes Spring/Summer 2008

Published in house

Gaeleagras Clár an Fhomhair 2007

Published in house

Gaeleagras Clár Ama 2008

Published in house

Gaeleagras Clár an Fhomhair 2008

Published in house

Civil Service Language Programme 2007/2008

Published in house

Civil Service Language Programme 2008/2009

Published in house

Brochure for Certificate in Human Resource Management for Civil Servants — April 2007

€299

Integrated Performance Management Development System-Frequently Asked Questions — February 2007

Published in house

Department of Finance Progress Report 2006 (July 2007)

Published in house Translation costs €1,131

Department of Finance Statement of Strategy 2008-2010 (February 2008

Published in house Translation costs €855

Annual Output Statement 2007

Published in house

Annual Output Statement 2008

Published in house

NDP/CSF 2000-2006 Review Irish and English

€14,901

National Development Plan 2007-2013 Information Leaflet

€2,411

NDP/CSF 2000-2006 County Information Brochures

€20,631

National Development Plan 2007-2013 Irish and English, Executive Summary Irish and English and CD Roms

€339,966

National Development Plan — Annual Report 2007 Irish and English

€31,355

National Strategic Reference December 2007

Published in house

ERDF Financial Control Unit Annual Report 2006

Published in house

Revised Estimates Volume 2007

Published in house Translation costs €679

Public Capital Programme 2007

Produced in house Translation costs €2,580

Revised Estimates Volume 2008

Published in house Translation costs €555

Public Capital Programme 2008

Published in house Translation costs €2,505

Analysis of Exchequer Pay and Pension 2002-2007

Published in house

Annual Report of the Committee for Performance Awards for 2006

€210 translation costs

Civil Service Initiatives Report 2006 (published May 2007)

Published in house

9th Annual Reportby the Minister for Finance on Freedom of Information (English and Irish) 2007

Published in house Translation costs €2,250

Annual Report of Ireland’s Participation in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank 2006

Translation into Irish €2,170 Published in house

Annual Report of Ireland’s Participation in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank 2007

Graphic Design: €605 Translation into Irish €2,218.68 Published in house

Technical Note on the Compilation of a Public Sector Benchmark for a Public Private Partnership

Published in house

Guidelines to State Authorities regarding the National Development Finance Agency

Published in house

Value for Money and the Public Private Partnership Procurement Process

Published in house

Brochure for Certificate in Human Resource Management for Civil Servants

Published in house

Integrated Performance Management Development System — Frequently Asked Questions

Published in house

Review of Patent Royalties Exemption Goodbody Economic Consultants

Published in house

Review of Capital Allowances for Residential Units associated with Nursing Homes, Indecon International Economic Consultants

Published in house

Review of Business Expansion Scheme and Seed Capital Scheme

Published in house

Publication of Tax Strategy Group papers

Published in house

Review of film relief

Published in house

EU Funding.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

108 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the net receipts by Ireland on an annual basis from 1973 to 2007 of all EU transfers under the Agricultural, Social, Regional and Cohesion Funds in constant money terms at 2007 prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27982/08]

The value of Ireland's net receipts from EU transfers over the period 1973 to 2007 totals €69.242 billion in 2007 prices. Table 1 provides an annual overall breakdown between EU receipts and payments in 2007 prices. Table 2 provides information for Ireland's net annual receipts (in 2007 prices) under the different funds. Ireland has been a net recipient from the EU receipts mainly because of substantial funding for agriculture.

Table 1: Ireland's Net EU Receipts from 1973 to 2007 (2007 prices)

EU Receipts

EU Payments

Net Receipts

1973

449.0

54.4

394.6

1974

697.3

56.9

640.4

1975

933.9

83.9

850.0

1976

866.8

97.2

769.6

1977

1,742.0

141.1

1,600.9

1978

2,432.9

273.4

2,159.5

1979

2,771.5

317.5

2,454.1

1980

2,483.9

393.9

2,090.0

1981

1,864.7

387.8

1,476.9

1982

1,891.6

429.5

1,462.1

1983

2,069.3

525.2

1,544.1

1984

2,269.7

530.3

1,739.4

1985

2,803.3

529.8

2,273.5

1986

2,743.2

574.9

2,168.3

1987

2,552.2

591.9

1,960.2

1988

2,638.0

562.8

2,075.3

1989

2,826.3

623.2

2,203.1

1990

3,676.6

597.4

3,079.2

1991

4,504.6

712.6

3,792.0

1992

3,956.8

701.3

3,255.5

1993

4,392.1

887.5

3,504.6

1994

3,520.9

966.6

2,554.3

1995

3,769.9

1,012.4

2,757.5

1996

4,073.7

992.4

3,081.3

1997

4,541.8

928.3

3,613.5

1998

4,191.5

1,375.4

2,816.1

1999

3,663.9

1,437.4

2,226.5

2000

3,370.9

1,392.7

1,978.3

2001

3,074.8

1,507.2

1,567.5

2002

2,961.4

1,193.9

1,767.5

2003

2,938.7

1,358.1

1,580.6

2004

2,904.9

1,323.5

1,581.4

2005

2,596.9

1,631.5

965.4

2006

2,307.7

1,604.1

703.6

2007

2,239.1

1,684.0

555.1

Total

96,721.7

27,479.7

69,242.1

Table 2: Ireland's EU Net Receipts from 1973 to 2007 (2007 prices)

FEOGA Guarantee

FEOGA Guidance

ESF

ERDF

Cohesion Fund

Other

Total

1973

394.6

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

394.6

1974

606.2

0.0

34.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

640.4

1975

796.3

4.7

31.2

14.1

0.0

3.9

850.0

1976

656.9

16.7

29.6

54.7

0.0

11.6

769.6

1977

1,437.8

43.4

48.1

49.9

0.0

21.7

1,600.9

1978

1,924.7

51.1

101.6

58.4

0.0

23.7

2,159.6

1979

1,839.1

85.8

133.6

118.3

0.0

277.4

2,454.1

1980

1,420.8

118.6

174.1

173.0

0.0

203.5

2,090.0

1981

887.7

122.1

132.0

159.1

0.0

176.0

1,476.9

1982

836.1

144.7

177.7

160.5

0.0

143.0

1,462.1

1983

937.2

135.2

196.7

123.5

0.0

151.5

1,544.0

1984

1,293.6

98.9

169.2

130.9

0.0

46.8

1,739.4

1985

1,685.2

112.4

284.6

153.1

0.0

38.3

2,273.5

1986

1,671.7

88.1

240.9

145.8

0.0

21.8

2,168.3

1987

1,317.6

121.0

344.7

155.7

0.0

21.2

1,960.2

1988

1,498.0

115.1

226.5

231.5

0.0

4.1

2,075.3

1989

1,638.6

130.5

235.7

192.0

0.0

6.3

2,203.1

1990

2,275.7

166.1

227.3

398.1

0.0

12.0

3,079.2

1991

2,298.8

246.9

638.6

589.0

0.0

18.8

3,792.0

1992

1,818.1

240.7

452.7

725.9

0.0

18.1

3,255.5

1993

2,001.5

196.6

486.6

725.2

63.6

31.2

3,504.6

1994

1,628.2

181.6

384.4

243.6

94.6

21.9

2,554.3

1995

1,569.2

195.0

349.5

488.5

136.6

18.8

2,757.5

1996

1,892.9

208.9

350.8

412.1

192.7

23.9

3,081.3

1997

2,185.9

238.6

389.8

512.3

245.4

41.4

3,613.5

1998

1,511.8

220.1

371.3

557.4

133.2

22.3

2,816.1

1999

1,432.1

88.3

220.7

220.2

241.0

24.2

2,226.5

2000

1,278.4

26.4

167.7

390.1

115.7

0.0

1,978.3

2001

997.8

13.0

85.0

226.4

187.1

58.1

1,567.5

2002

1,204.5

8.0

75.8

313.1

145.2

21.1

1,767.5

2003

1,193.6

10.2

68.4

180.7

105.9

21.8

1,580.6

2004

1,112.0

37.6

126.6

267.2

15.7

22.2

1,581.4

2005

731.7

13.4

85.6

103.6

6.3

24.8

965.4

2006

551.0

13.2

51.5

61.5

12.6

13.9

703.6

2007

447.0

11.1

40.6

32.0

13.3

11.2

555.1

Total

46,972.3

3,503.8

7,133.3

8,367.4

1,708.9

1,556.4

69,242.1

FEOGA Guarantee relates to Direct Payments, Market Supports and Production Aid and Rural Development. FEOGA Guidance relates to Structural Fund aid for rural development which contribute to the structural reform of the agricultural sector and to the development of rural areas, e.g., LEADER and INTERREG programmes. ESF (European Social Fund) relates to supports for employment opportunities focusing on the mobility of workers and their adaptation to industrial changes. ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) relates to infrastructure, productive investment and regional and local development. Cohesion Fund relates to measures aimed at strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion by reducing disparities in the level of development among regions and Member States. Other relates to Education-related programmes, Maritime surveillance and fisheries protection, FIFG (Financial Instruments for Fisheries Guidance), the EEA (European Economic Area) and TENS (Trans-European Networks).

Motor Fuels.

Tom Hayes

Question:

109 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the measures organised as the promised alternative to the fuel rebate for bus operators which his Department was investigating; if the increased cost of diesel and petrol have been taken into account when considering this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27986/08]

The 2003 EU Energy Tax Directive incorporated special derogations which allowed specific excise duty reliefs to be applied in a number of Member States. In the Irish context, these derogations allowedinter alia for reduced rates to apply to fuel used for public transport services which includes school transport services. While these derogations expired on 31 December 2006, Ireland, along with other Member States, sought retention of its derogations beyond that date. However the European Commission, who is the deciding authority, refused such requests. The Finance Act 2008, as the Deputies are aware, consequently provided the legislative changes to withdraw the relief in respect of fuel used for public passenger transport vehicles. The relief will be withdrawn with effect from 1 November 2008 and the appropriate full excise rates will apply from that date. In the circumstances outlined above the question of reconsidering or deferring the withdrawal of the existing relief does not therefore arise. The Department of Transport and other relevant line Departments have, in conjunction with my Department, explored alternative mechanisms that might be used to direct Exchequer resources toward such services from that date, subject of course to compatibility with competition and EU State Aid requirements. While the matter is still being considered it is necessary however to stress, despite the claims being made otherwise, that introducing an alternative suitable mechanism is not a straightforward matter.

Clinical Indemnity.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

110 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a report from the State Claims Agency and the National Treasury Management Agency regarding the expected volume and estimates of possible costs of claims for patients who contracted MRSA in hospitals here; if the clinical indemnity scheme is the mechanism by which MRSA claims will be discharged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28050/08]

I am informed by the State Claims Agency that to date 100 claims have been received relating to MRSA. Liability in those cases is still to be decided. Until the question of legal liability is settled, it is not possible to indicate what role, if any, the clinical indemnity scheme will play. In the circumstances, it is also not possible to estimate the number of cases, or the costs, that might arise in the future.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

111 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he has contacted and received a report from the State Claims Agency and National Treasury Management Agency regarding possible claims by persons whose homes have been damaged by defective pyrite infill and following the failure of national and local government to implement the building regulations before September 2007; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that such claims might constitute the costliest of class and individual actions ever taken against the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28051/08]

I am informed by the State Claims Agency that it has not received any claims from people whose homes have been allegedly damaged by defective pyrite infill. Claims of defects in homes are a matter between the home buyer, the builder and the builder's insurer.

Tax Code.

James Reilly

Question:

112 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of co-location hospitals in terms of tax relief to date; the estimated cost over the five year programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28087/08]

The scheme of capital allowances for the construction or refurbishment of buildings used as private hospitals was introduced in the Finance Act 2001 and came into effect in May 2002. Provided that capital expenditure on the proposed co-located private hospitals, which are designed to free-up capacity in public hospitals, conforms with the existing legislation governing that scheme, normal tax relief will apply. The cost of such tax relief will ultimately depend on the level of qualifying capital expenditure and no such expenditure on the proposed co-located hospitals has yet been incurred. For each €100 million of qualifying capital expenditure on these hospitals, the cost of tax relief to investors (assuming a marginal tax rate of 41% for those investors) would amount in gross terms to €41 million spread over seven years. Of course, with the additional activity generated by the construction of the hospitals, the employment generated and the related services provided on which taxes will be paid, additional revenues would accrue to the Exchequer.

Motor Fuels.

Joe Carey

Question:

113 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the financial assistance or resources he has provided in pursuit of the development of hybrid cars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28112/08]

Assistance is provided through the VRT system towards the purchase of hybrid vehicles. The Finance Act 2001 introduced a 50% VRT relief for category A (passenger car) and category B (car and jeep derived vans) series production hybrid electric vehicles. A hybrid electric vehicle is one which uses a combination of petrol and electricity for motive power, being capable of running on the electric motor alone, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The purpose of the VRT relief scheme is to promote innovation and the development of new green technology by car manufacturers, by encouraging the purchase of such vehicles. The relief consequently applies only to "series production" cars of this nature; that is, cars which at the point of manufacture employ the new technology. Section 81 of the Finance Act 2008 provided that, on the introduction of the new carbon dioxide emissions-related VRT system on 1 July, the existing 50% VRT relief would be replaced by a relief of up to €2,500 of the VRT payable on such vehicles during the period 1 July 2008 to 31 December 2010. This relief will be paid, where applicable, in addition to any benefits such cars may otherwise receive under the emissions-related VRT system, by virtue of their low carbon dioxide emissions. Similar VRT reliefs apply in the case of flexible fuel vehicles since January 2006. Electric vehicles, which had a similar VRT relief during 2007, have been exempted from VRT from January 2008 for a three-year period. The total cost of these VRT reliefs up to the end of May 2008 amount to approximately €38 million, of which some €30 million has arisen since January 2007. Of this total cost, hybrid vehicles account for €22.8 million, with around €15 million arising since January 2007.

e-Government Proposals.

Simon Coveney

Question:

114 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance the date in July 2008 on which the Government’s e-Government strategy is due to be published, as agreed by Dáil Éireann in a Private Member’s motion on 30 April 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28143/08]

Since 1999, two Information Society Action Plans were published by the Department of the Taoiseach. Both of the Action Plans contained sections dealing with e-Government. The Information Society Policy Unit in the Department of the Taoiseach was preparing a new Knowledge Society Action Plan which it intended to publish during the summer. I understand that this new Action Plan was to include a section on technology in Government. The Taoiseach announced, in his speech on 7 May 2008, that responsibility for production of the new Knowledge Society Action Plan was to be transferred, with immediate effect, from the Department of the Taoiseach to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. With respect to e-Government, as mentioned in my response to Question No. 174 of 8 July last, I intend to bring proposals on e-Government to the Cabinet before the summer recess. I will arrange for the Deputy to be briefed directly by my Department after these matters have been considered.

Medical Cards.

Joe McHugh

Question:

115 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal has had their medical card rescinded. [27850/08]

Joe McHugh

Question:

132 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal has had their medical card rescinded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27851/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 115 and 132 together.

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

Child Care Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

116 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress since 2000 to date in 2008 in setting up a national child care system; the further funding parents have received towards child care in this period; the studies carried out on the way child care is achieved internationally and the policies Ireland wants to implement; and if she will make a statement on the cost and availability of approved child care here. [28045/08]

Since 2000, several key developments in child care have taken place. Between 2000 and 2007, the EU co-funded Equal Opportunities Child Care Programme was implemented. This programme was created to develop child care to meet the needs of parents in employment, education and training. It provided funding of €535 million in the form of capital and staffing grants to the community not-for-profit and private child care sectors and also provided funding for the development of infrastructural and quality supports to the sector including the development of 33 City and County Child care Committees. The EOCP was successful in creating almost 41,000 new child care places and supporting some 27,000 existing places. In Budget 2001, the Government announced a target to increase Child Benefit to €150 for the first and second child and to €185 for the third and subsequent child. These increases were intended to assist all parents with child care costs. Today, Child Benefit for the first and second child is paid at a monthly rate of €166 and €203 for each subsequent child. In December 2005, the Government announced a number of major new developments, under the national child care strategy 2006-10. As part of these developments and to facilitate the delivery of the new Strategy, the Office of the Minister for Children was established.

A key component of the national child care strategy is the national child care investment programme 2006-10. The programme aims to provide a proactive response to the development of quality childcare supports and services, which are grounded in an understanding of local needs. The programme has a budget of €575 million for the five-year period 2006-10, with a target to create 50,000 additional childcare places, this will include 5,000 after school places and 10,000 pre-school education places aimed at 3 to 4 year olds. To date, €220 million in capital grants has been approved and this is expected to create 30,763 new childcare places, of which 10,162 are pre-school and 6,137 are after school. The new community child care subvention scheme is also funded under the NCIP. The scheme came into effect on 1 January 2008 and supports community based child care providers with a focus on disadvantage to enable them to provide reduced childcare fees to qualifying parents. The national child care strategy 2006-10 also includes a commitment to develop a national child care training strategy in order to co-ordinate the provision of quality training to meet the growing needs of the child care sector. The Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Science, which is co-located with my office, is in the process of developing the National Training Strategy.

A number of additional new entitlements for parents were announced under the 2006-10 child care strategy. The early child care supplement was introduced for all children less than six years of age from April 2006. The payment was increased from €1,000 to €1,100 in budget 2008 and is a direct, non-taxable payment of €275 per quarter year, in respect of each eligible child. To further support parents, major increases in Paid and Unpaid Maternity Leave were introduced in 2006 and 2007. As a result, Paid and Unpaid Maternity Leave have increased to 26 weeks and 16 weeks respectively. A new child minding Relief was also introduced in Budget 2006, and extended in Budget 2007. Where an individual minds up to three children in the minder['s own home and notifies his or her city or county child care committee that he or she is providing a child minding service, no tax will be payable on the child minding earnings, provided the amount is less than €15,000 per annum. I would like to point the Deputy in the direction of two international studies that have focused attention on how child care is achieved internationally: OECD (2006) Starting Strong 11: Early Childhood Care and Education; and Schonfeld, Kiernan and Walsh (2004) Making Connections: A review of international policies, practices and research relating to quality in early childhood care and education published by the CECDE.

Such studies have highlighted the significance of the provision of quality child care services, acknowledging the importance of merging the care and education aspects of child care. They also acknowledge the importance of appropriate curricula in the sector and the need for a highly skilled and trained workforce. Such issues are being addressed in Ireland through the National Training Strategy, the publication of Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education by the CECDE, and the development of the National Framework for Early Learning by NCCA. These developments together with the significant investment in infrastructure and the payments afforded to parents is evidence that the Government is increasing the availability of child care whilst also ensuring that it is affordable and of a high standard.

Pharmacy Regulations.

Mary Upton

Question:

117 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the negotiations between the Health Service Executive and the Irish Pharmaceutical Union; when the report from the independent body is expected to be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28474/08]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

118 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the Sean Dorgan report into pharmacy service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29131/08]

Denis Naughten

Question:

124 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to submit to Government the report of the independent pricing body on a dispensing fee to be paid to pharmacists in relation to the medical card scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27834/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117, 118 and 124 together.

The Health Service Executive, assisted by my Department, has engaged with the Irish Pharmaceutical Union on discussions surrounding a number of outstanding issues. These discussions commenced in the week beginning 5 May 2008. Progress has been made on these issues. I established an Independent Pricing Body, chaired by Mr. Seán Dorgan, who is the former head of IDA Ireland, to assess an interim fair community pharmacy dispensing fee to be paid for the medical card scheme, the DPS and other community drug schemes. The Independent Pricing Body has submitted its report to me. I am considering its findings prior to submitting it to Government.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Chris Andrews

Question:

119 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health and Children if a service will confirm to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 15 that the necessary supports will be provided in sufficient time to set up staffing requirements; if they are not able to issue this confirmation, the location where the six children waiting for entry will be educated from September 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27801/08]

The Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability Services makes provision for the development of additional residential, respite places and day care places each year between 2006 and 2009 for people with Intellectual Disability and Autism and additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities. €50m was provided to the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2008 to fund a range of additional services under the Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability.

As the Deputy will be aware, the commencement of the planned developments in disability services this year had been delayed due to a financial review in the HSE. However, I am pleased to be able to inform the Deputy that the HSE has assured me that it is now in a position to roll out the planned developments as outlined in its 2008 Service Plan.

Planned services include additional residential, day care — including training places — and respite care places for people with intellectual disability and autism; additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities; and additional multi-disciplinary therapy posts to provide assessment and ongoing intervention services to children with a disability.

I understand that the HSE hopes to be able to finalise the position in relation to the commencement of such developments over the next week.

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

Health Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

120 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the fact that by 2050, studies estimate that one in four people here will be over 65; and if future health services are being planned accordingly. [27816/08]

Tom Hayes

Question:

151 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people currently aged over 90 here; the information she is in possession of with regard to the predicted number of people who will be over 90 years of age in 2020 and by 2050; the impact this trend will have on health-care requirements here; the way this will impact on residential care for older people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27933/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 151 together.

There are currently just under 470,000 older people in Ireland equating to 11% of the total population. Of these, just over 48,000 are aged 85 years or older. Irish population projections suggest that the over 65 population will increase to over 740,000, or 14.6% of the total population, by 2020 and to over 1.53 million or 29% of the population by 2056. Within this, the increase of greatest magnitude is anticipated in relation to the numbers aged 85 years and over. The number of people in this latter category is set to increase to almost 75,000 in 2020 and to 305,112 by 2056 — an almost seven-fold increase on current levels. It is in this age group that the greatest need for long-term care can be expected.

In addition, the Deputy may wish to note that the recent Population and Labour Force Projections published by the Central Statistics Office predict that male life expectancy will increase from 76.7 years in 2005 to 86.5 years in 2041 while female life expectancy will increase from 81.5 years in 2005 to 88.2 years in 2041.

Secondly, the Deputy has asked how the demographic trends outlined above will affect future health care and residential care requirements. The demand for health and long-term care services will increase on foot of demographic trends. In relation to residential care, over 4.7% of older people are presently in long-term residential care. Even with a commitment to reduce this to 4% through sustained investment in community care services, it is estimated that the overall numbers in residential nursing home care will go up to 44,000 in 2036 and 61,000 in 2056.

In the latest social partnership agreement, Towards 2016, the government and the social partners respond to future demographic trends by agreeing a number of important principles in relation to policy on long-term care for older people. In particular, the partners agree to work together to develop an infrastructure of long-term care services for older people. They further agree that the financial model to support any new arrangements must be financially sustainable. Preliminary work has been undertaken in this regard and it is hoped to progress this work through the aegis of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Long-term Care.

The preliminary work indicates that consideration of future demand for health and long-term care services is extremely complex. It is not just a question of ageing but rather of healthy, positive ageing. Factors such as diet, lifestyle and healthcare innovations will all play a role in determining disability-free life expectancy and resulting demand for services. To this end, one of my key priorities as Minister for Older People will be to draw up and implement a Strategy for Positive Ageing.

Vaccination Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

121 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to receive the final report of the Vaccine Damage Compensation Group; the funding provided in budget 2008 to implement the recommendations of the group; the steps she is taking to expedite the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27822/08]

The Group is continuing with its consideration of this matter and I look forward to receiving its final recommendations.

Care of the Elderly.

Tom Hayes

Question:

122 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the fact that almost half the budget amount is spent on older people on residential care, despite the fact that the number of older people in residential care number only approximately 5%; her plans to remedy the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27823/08]

Older people in need of long-term residential care represent one of the most vulnerable groups in society. This Government's commitment to supporting those in need of such care is reflected in the considerable funding provided on an ongoing basis in respect of public nursing home places and the private nursing home subvention scheme. It is also reflected in the proposed new nursing home support scheme — A Fair Deal — which will be introduced in the near future.

However, this Government has also presided over unprecedented public investment in community care services for older people over the past four years, including:

Investment of €110 million over 2006-2007 providing for a total of 4,300 Home Care Packages.

Additional funding of €18m in 2007 resulting in 780,000 more home help hours.

An additional €12.5m in 2006 and 2007 for day and respite care services.

The development of four Community Intervention Teams in 2006 — one in each HSE area.

Finally, the Government is committed to exploring financially sustainable ways of funding all long-term care services, both residential and community-based, in the future and preliminary work has been undertaken in this regard.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Denis Naughten

Question:

123 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to provide additional funding for the intellectual disability services in the Ballinasloe area following the recent visit by her Minister for State; if she will furnish a report on his visit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27833/08]

Under the Health Act, 2004, as the Deputy is aware the allocation of funding to an individual agency, for disability services, is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. A note of the meeting referred to above will be forwarded to the Deputy in due course.

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 117.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Enda Kenny

Question:

125 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the position of the special housing aid for the elderly grant operated by the Health Service Executive; if the administration of the grant will be kept within the remit of the HSE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27838/08]

Enda Kenny

Question:

126 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications received in 2007 by the Health Service Executive for the special housing aid for the elderly grant; the number of applications received to date in 2008; the number of staff that will be affected if the operation of this grant is completely administered by local authorities; the average cost of processing each application for this grant by the HSE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27839/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 and 126 together.

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

127 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the action being taken to address the surgical waiting list at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, County Offaly; the reason it has become the fourth longest list here; the way she will ensure that this issue is addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27840/08]

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

Hospital Services.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

128 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of public orthopaedic operations being carried out by each surgeon at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, County Offaly per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27841/08]

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Tom Hayes

Question:

129 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the length of time people are waiting for assessment and then for treatment in audiology in South Tipperary; the number of staff employed in this service in the area; if the vacancies for audiologists in the area have been filled; if not, when they will be; and if the National Treatment Purchase Fund will be used for people who are waiting for up to two years on this waiting list. [27843/08]

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.

With regard to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), the position is that the fund was established to arrange treatment for patients who have been waiting longest on surgical in-patient lists. Under the provision of its establishment order, the NTPF currently arranges hospital based treatment. As the type of services the Deputy refers to do not require in-patient care, they do not fall currently within the remit of the NTPF.

Tobacco-Related Diseases.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

130 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the public consultation on the introduction of combined text and photo warnings on tobacco products, she will make available research presented to her or her officials on the proposed warnings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27847/08]

I will arrange for a copy of the Report on Graphic Warning Research, that was commissioned by the Office of Tobacco Control at the request of my Department, to be forwarded to the Deputy.

Hospital Staff.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

131 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of hospital consultants appointed since agreement on the contract negotiations; the number of such posts that have been approved but are not yet appointed; the location of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27848/08]

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

Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 115.

Hospital Services.

Joe McHugh

Question:

133 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the overall budget for the running and maintaining of Letterkenny General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27856/08]

Joe McHugh

Question:

134 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money donated annually to Letterkenny General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27857/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 134 together.

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

Michael Ring

Question:

135 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who are currently on a waiting list to be seen by the rheumatology unit in Galway Hospital; and the number of those people from County Mayo. [27872/08]

Michael Ring

Question:

136 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if a rheumatology unit will be established at Mayo General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27873/08]

Michael Ring

Question:

137 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if transport facilities will be reinstated for rheumatoid arthritis patients from County Mayo who are forced to travel to the rheumatology unit in Galway as there is no such facility in Mayo. [27874/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 to 137, inclusive, together.

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

138 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reassure the Dáil that she will not oppose the full implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 across all ages. [27898/08]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

139 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the timeframe for the completion of negotiations between the Department of Education and Science and her Department with the Health Service Executive for the implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004. [27899/08]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

140 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if she carried out a study of the effect of only implementing the Disability Act 2005 for the nought to five years age group; and the effect of excluding the vast majority of persons with disabilities from the Act. [27900/08]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

141 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the provisions in place, in view of her stated policy and her Health Service Executive agents to implement the Disability Act 2005 in stages starting with the nought to five years age group, to maintain services for these children as they move out of this age group; the provisions in place for those children within the service at the other end of the age group; and if she will confirm that adequate provision is being made for these children. [27901/08]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

142 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children when the provision of the Disability Act 2005 will be available to all persons with a disability. [27902/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 to 142, inclusive, together.

The National Disability Strategy, which was launched in September 2004, provides for a framework of new supports for people with disabilities. The Strategy builds on a strong equality framework, which is reflected in several pieces of equality legislation. The main elements of the Strategy are:

The Disability Act 2005;

The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN) 2004;

Six Outline Sectoral Plans published by Government Departments;

The Citizens Information Act 2007.

A Multi-Annual Investment Package, as committed to by Government, has been put in place to support these measures. One of the most important aspects of the Department of Health and Children's Sectoral Plan is the arrangements for commencing Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005. Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 commenced for children aged under 5 years with effect from 1 June 2007. This prioritisation reflects the importance of intervention early in life, which can have a significant impact on the disabling effects of a condition or impairment.

The arrangements for further commencement of Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 cannot be considered in isolation from the arrangements for the implementation of the EPSEN Act 2004 which is the responsibility of the Department of Education and Science and which provides for educational services for people with disabilities. It is proposed that Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 will be commenced in respect of children aged 5-18 in tandem with the implementation of the EPSEN Act 2004. In preparation for its implementation, health related support services for children aged 5 to 18 and for adults continue to be enhanced to enable the Health Service Executive to meet needs identified for this group. In this regard, an additional €50m was provided for services for people with disabilities in 2008 and the HSE has confirmed that it is now in a position to roll out the planned developments as outlined in its 2008 Service Plan.

A Cross-Sectoral team, consisting of senior officials from the Office for Disability and Mental Health, the Department of Health and Children, the Department of Education and Science, the Health Service Executive and the National Council for Special Education was established in 2006 and meets on a regular basis. This group continues to address issues arising in relation to the implementation of both Acts. Proposals for implementation are being finalised at present and will be considered in the context of the estimates for 2009 and subsequent years.

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

143 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; if, in view of their recurrent infections, they will be seen as matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27904/08]

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

Hospital Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

144 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if they will be seen as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27905/08]

I understand that the Deputy has received a response from the Health Service Executive in this particular case. The matter has been referred for further consideration to the HSE and for direct reply to the Deputy.

Denis Naughten

Question:

145 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the implementation plan for the transfer of surgery and accident and emergency services from Roscommon County Hospital; when a detailed implementation plan will be published; the funding which has been ring-fenced to facilitate this plan on a capital and current basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27908/08]

The Government is committed not only to ensuring the delivery of the best quality health services possible but to doing so in an effective and efficient way. Ensuring patient safety is of paramount importance, so that people can have confidence in the services and that the best possible patient outcomes can be achieved. It is essential that we prioritise patient safety and quality and that we organise and manage services accordingly. The priority is to provide safe services as close as possible to where people live.

In the past, Roscommon County Hospital and Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe have operated independently, with two consultant general surgeons in each hospital. The difficulties faced by Roscommon and Portiuncula in maintaining surgical services independently, and the need for closer co-operation between them, were highlighted by the former Comhairle na nOspidéal in March 2006. Advances in clinical care and ever-increasing levels of specialisation mean that the present model of care faces important practical difficulties, which we must address. Small stand-alone hospital services will not be able to offer their doctors the opportunity to treat a sufficient volume and variety of patients to maintain their skills, nor will they be able to provide the range of experience required for doctors during training. As a result, it will prove increasingly difficult, and perhaps impossible, to fill consultant posts in these hospitals on a permanent basis.

In the light of these factors, the best way of retaining and developing services at Roscommon and Portiuncula hospitals is for these hospitals to work closely together. I am confident that the development of joint departments of surgery and anaesthesia at the hospitals will provide a better service for patients of both hospitals. The Health Service Executive is in the process of undertaking a detailed planning and consultation process with stakeholders on how best to implement the proposed changes to how services are organised at the two hospitals. This will include examining the most appropriate arrangements for providing accident and emergency services. The resource implications of any new service configuration in revenue and capital terms will be considered in the context of the planning exercise which I have described.

Health Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

146 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the GMS ophthalmic budget for 2007 and 2008 in each PCCC area; her plans to address the long delays in some PCCC areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27910/08]

The provision of ophthalmic services for GMS patients is a matter for the Health Service Executive. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matters raised by the Deputy investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Mental Health Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

147 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 209 of 27 September 2006, the position regarding the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27911/08]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

148 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a Health Service Executive unit (details supplied) and the continued operation of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27912/08]

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.

Vaccination Programme.

Joan Burton

Question:

149 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the administration of BCG vaccines to children; if stocks of the BCG vaccine have been fully replenished; if the administration of the BCG vaccine had returned to the status quo before shortages of the vaccine became apparent in 2007; the length of the waiting list of children needing this vaccine; the number of the children on the waiting list who are older than three months, six months, nine months and 12 months; if the administration of the BCG vaccine in the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin 2, in particular, has returned to the previous level of administration before the shortage of vaccine stocks; if it has not done so, when is it expected that it will do so; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27922/08]

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.

Environmental Pollution.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

150 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of recent reports of the presence of extremely toxic materials on the site of the former Irish Steel factory at Haulbowline Island, County Cork, she has proposals to introduce a health screening programme for people living in the immediate environs and for people who worked in the factory and the adjoining Naval Service base; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27925/08]

I understand that my colleague, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government has arranged for an independent and rigorous assessment of site conditions at Haulbowline Island following the extensive unauthorised works by sub-contractors. The report from this assessment will inform subsequent discussions at Cabinet level including the question of any studies in regard to human health.

Question No. 151 answered with Question No. 120.

Health Services.

John Cregan

Question:

152 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Health and Children when an appointment will be given to persons (details supplied) in County Limerick to meet with a geneticist in view of a possible hereditary illness; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27935/08]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

153 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in confirming funding for a day-placement programme to be set up at a centre (details supplied) in County Kildare; if she will ensure that the funding is confirmed forthwith; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27939/08]

The Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability Services makes provision for the development of additional residential, respite places and day care places each year between 2006 and 2009 for people with Intellectual Disability and Autism and additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities. €50m was provided to the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2008 to fund a range of additional services under the Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability.

As the Deputy will be aware, the commencement of the planned developments in disability services this year had been delayed due to a financial review in the HSE. However, I am pleased to be able to inform the Deputy that the HSE has assured me that it is now in a position to roll out the planned developments as outlined in its 2008 Service Plan.

Planned services include additional residential, day care — including training places — and respite care places for people with intellectual disability and autism; additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities; and additional multi-disciplinary therapy posts to provide assessment and ongoing intervention services to children with a disability.

I understand that the HSE hopes to be able to finalise the position in relation to the commencement of such developments over the next week.

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

Hospital Accommodation.

John O'Mahony

Question:

154 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds ring-fenced for cancer patients from County Mayo in University College Hospital, Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27940/08]

The National Cancer Control Programme has advised that there will be dedicated facilities for the clinic serving Mayo breast patients in University College Hospital Galway. This will be achieved by making available new clinic space which has become available for the management of breast cases. Two beds are required to support this service with the majority of surgery being day or overnight stay cases.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

155 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of representatives of her Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Beijing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27954/08]

There will be no official representation from my Department in Beijing to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

156 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of her Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27974/08]

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated within my Department and will be forwarded as soon as it becomes available.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

157 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the application under the nursing home repayment scheme for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27996/08]

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.

Care of the Elderly.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

158 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if, with regard to the provision of home help, she will guarantee that existing users of the service will continue to receive their current allocation of hours over the coming weeks and months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27997/08]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

159 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if, with regard to the provision of home help for new applicants and patients being released from hospital over the coming weeks and months, these patients will receive the same level of home help hours currently available to users of the service throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27998/08]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

160 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if, with regard to the provision of home help, the existing level of service being received will be guaranteed to users of the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27999/08]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

161 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if, with regard to the provision of home help, budgetary cuts are proposed in this service in each county here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28000/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158 to 161, inclusive, together.

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular matters 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.

Tom Hayes

Question:

162 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if a comprehensive review of the provision of dental services under the medical card scheme has been completed; if she will make public the findings of such a review; the way the situation affects patients; the length of time this service has been affected by this problem; and when a proposed solution will be implemented. [28048/08]

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

During the course of the review, based on legal advice made available to the HSE, an issue arose in relation to the Competition Act, 2002 and the collective negotiation of fees with the IDA. The HSE was advised that the coming together of the DTSS contractors under the auspices of the IDA to negotiate fees would constitute a breach of the Act. Officials in my Department are working with the Attorney General's office to clarify the way forward.

The existing contractual arrangements with private dental practitioners under the DTSS for the provision of dental services to eligible patients remain in place.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Tom Hayes

Question:

163 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the shortfall in funding for disability services that will be experienced in 2008 due to a failure to match payments from her Department to increases in inflation, food and fuel charges and staff costs; the number of disability services in south Tipperary that were not awarded the full revenue funding for 2008; if this includes residential services and schools providing essential services to people with disabilities; the way they are expected to make up this shortfall; the action the Health Service Executive will take to combat deficits within these services; if this means that fewer people with disabilities will be able to avail of respite, residential and day services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28049/08]

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) submits to the Minister for Health and Children each year a National Service Plan (NSP), which represents the level of services which the HSE is committed to providing given the funding which the Dáil has made available to it as part of the Estimates process.

The Health Service Executive submitted its 2008 NSP in November 2007, which was approved. The plan provides for the delivery of the existing level of service which the HSE will provide in 2008. The HSE has also submitted an Addendum to the NSP which sets out the new developments and service priorities identified and agreed by Government and which were announced in Budget 2008.

The Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability Services makes provision for the development of additional residential, respite places and day care places each year between 2006 and 2009 for people with Intellectual Disability and Autism and additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities. €50m was provided to the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2008 to fund a range of additional services under the Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability.

As the Deputy will be aware, the commencement of the planned developments in disability services this year had been delayed due to a financial review in the HSE. However, I am pleased to be able to inform the Deputy that the HSE has assured me that it is now in a position to roll out the planned developments as outlined in its 2008 Service Plan.

Planned services include additional residential, day care — including training places — and respite care places for people with intellectual disability and autism; additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities; and additional multi-disciplinary therapy posts to provide assessment and ongoing intervention services to children with a disability.

I understand that the HSE hopes to be able to finalise the position in relation to the commencement of such developments over the next week.

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

Care of the Elderly.

James Reilly

Question:

164 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if, with regard to the need for additional long stay beds for the elderly in the greater Dublin area, she is satisfied that the 300 long-stay beds for the elderly currently being developed in the Health Service Executive south represents an appropriate prioritisation of the resources allocated to the HSE; if the planned expenditure, as reflected in the high capital cost of each project represents value for money; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28052/08]

The HSE, in conjunction with Prospectus, undertook a Needs Assessment of bed capacity requirements in the areas of long-stay, dementia-specific and respite care beds. This report was submitted to the Department of Health and Children in September 2006.

The report indicated among other issues the uneven distribution of beds between and within regions. In particular, HSE Dublin North East and HSE South were identified as having a requirement for additional beds.

In this context, proposals to progress individual projects are being pursued by the Executive under its annual Service and Capital Plans which are approved by the Minister for Health and Children. The Deputy has raised various specific issues in relation to the planned provision of long stay beds which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. 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.

James Reilly

Question:

165 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm that an assessment of need for long-stay beds for older people was carried out in 2006; when the report on this assessment will be made public; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28053/08]

I can confirm to the Deputy that in 2006 the HSE, in conjunction with Prospectus, undertook a Needs Assessment of bed capacity requirements in the areas of long-stay, dementia-specific and respite care beds for the period 2006-2036. This report was submitted to the Department of Health and Children in September 2006 and has informed proposals to expand capacity through the provision of 860 additional public beds under the Fast Track Bed Initiative over the period 2007-2009.

While the report indicates a small national surplus of long-stay beds, it also notes that this surplus masks the uneven distribution of beds between and within regions. In particular, HSE Dublin North East and HSE South have an immediate requirement for additional beds.

The work is the subject of ongoing deliberations between the Department and HSE and feeds into the development of future policy and infrastructure in the area of long-term care services for older people. The report was commissioned by, and remains the property of, the HSE. I understand that it is commercially sensitive. However, its publication is a matter for the HSE and I am referring the Deputy's query to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services.

James Reilly

Question:

166 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive requires her approval to allocate and expend national development plan capital expenditure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28054/08]

Health Service Executive capital developments are subject to my approval with the consent of the Minister for Finance.

Health Service Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

167 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the levels of absenteeism in 2005, 2006, 2007 and to date 2008; the breakdown of absenteeism among staffing categories; the associated cost of agency staff as a result of this absenteeism; the action the Health Service Executive has taken to reduce absenteeism; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28055/08]

Almost 130,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government's ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant increases in the numbers of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals employed in the public health services. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the healthcare needs of the population into the future.

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

James Reilly

Question:

168 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff employed in the Health Service Executive by grade category for the past six years to date; the number of staff employed by service pillars; the number employed on a regional basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28056/08]

Almost 130,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government's ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant increases in the numbers of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals employed in the public health services. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the healthcare needs of the population into the future.

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

Hospital Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

169 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of permanent nursing and midwifery posts in each of the acute hospitals in the mid west and north east regions; the number of these staff who work fulltime; the number of posts which are currently vacant or being filled on a temporary basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28057/08]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. It is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Accommodation.

James Reilly

Question:

170 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of public and private acute hospital beds in each hospital from 2005 to date in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28058/08]

My Department's records indicate that in 2005 the average number of public, private and non-designated acute hospital beds in each hospital was as set out in the following table:

Hospital

Public

Private

Non-Des

Total

Orthopaedic Hospital, Kilcreene

41

10

0

51

Our Lady’s Hospital, Cashel

48

16

14

78

St. Joseph’s Hospital, Clonmel

145

41

5

191

St. Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny

225

35

16

276

Waterford Regional Hospital, Ardkeen

428

88

12

528

Wexford General Hospital

177

40

20

237

Bantry General Hospital

66

6

4

76

Cork University Hospital

423

122

73

618

Erinville Hospital, Cork

98

39

0

137

Mallow General Hospital

64

13

5

82

Mercy Hospital, Cork

176

81

19

276

South Infirmary/Victoria Hospital, Cork

133

58

10

201

St. Mary’s Hospital, Gurranebraher

72

38

13

123

Tralee General Hospital

280

32

19

331

Cavan General Hospital

194

34

14

242

Louth County Hospital, Dundalk

102

29

6

137

Monaghan General Hospital

119

15

6

140

Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda

205

106

18

329

Our Lady’s General Hospital, Navan

122

24

10

156

Letterkenny General Hospital

226

78

21

325

Sligo Regional Hospital

218

109

32

359

Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar

197

50

45

292

Merlin Park Regional Hospital, Galway

203

30

6

239

Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe

117

73

14

204

Roscommon General Hospital

91

25

18

134

University College Hospital, Galway

440

113

35

588

Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar

165

35

7

207

Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise

128

23

1

152

Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore

182

28

8

218

Ennis General Hospital

70

18

6

94

Nenagh General Hospital

51

17

13

81

Regional Hospital, Dooradoyle, Limerick

363

128

20

511

Regional Maternity Hospital, Limerick

56

30

19

105

Regional Orthopaedic Hospital, Croom

51

27

0

78

St. John’s Hospital, Limerick

53

46

3

102

Hume Street Hospital, Dublin

15

5

0

20

National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street

93

50

34

177

Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin

48

24

0

72

St. Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown

112

18

5

135

St. Luke’s and St. Anne’s Hospitals

139

32

3

174

St. Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire

87

24

5

116

St. Vincent’s Hospital, Elm Park

439

45

36

520

Coombe Women’s Hospital

123

76

37

236

Naas General Hospital

185

7

14

206

Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin

157

58

21

236

St. James’s Hospital

728

112

100

940

Tallaght Hospital

428

121

28

577

Beaumont Hospital

600

104

32

736

James Connolly Memorial, Blanchardstown

229

27

15

271

Mater Misericordiae Hospital

485

47

59

591

Rotunda Hospital, Dublin

104

54

30

188

St. Mary’s Hospital, Cappagh

73

18

12

103

Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dublin

110

31

9

150

National Total

9,884

2,510

952

13,346

Hospitals Building Programme.

James Reilly

Question:

171 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the names of the proposed sites for co-location hospitals; the progress to date in each location; if the tendering process has been completed; the names of those awarded each tender; the cost of the facility in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28060/08]

James Reilly

Question:

172 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of her co-location hospital plan with regard to recent reports that banks are reluctant to commit financing to operators; the action she will take in the event that an operator proves unsuccessful; her plans to amend co-location agreements in order that the State will buy the hospital in the event of a default; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28061/08]

James Reilly

Question:

173 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the assessors who established the commercial value of each co-location site; the commercial value identified for each site; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28062/08]

James Reilly

Question:

174 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the consortia involved in the provision of co-location hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28063/08]

James Reilly

Question:

175 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of hospital beds which will be provided under the co-location hospital scheme; the number of beds which will be provided at each site; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28064/08]

James Reilly

Question:

176 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost to the Exchequer of co-located private hospitals with a breakdown of the cost for each of these hospitals; the amount of tax relief involved with these hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28065/08]

James Reilly

Question:

177 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the assessment carried out on the staffing implications related to co-located hospitals; her views on whether this will increase the difficulties encountered in recruiting staff for certain posts in the public health system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28066/08]

James Reilly

Question:

178 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of all advice sought by the Health Service Executive regarding co-location; the cost of this advice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28067/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 171 to 178, inclusive, together.

Under the Programme for Government, the Government is committed to providing an additional 1,500 public acute hospital beds. The co-location initiative aims to deliver approximately 1,000 of these beds for public patients through the development of private hospitals on public sites. The intention is to transfer private activity to those hospitals thereby freeing up capacity for public patients.

The process for the development of the co-located private hospitals is governed in each case by a detailed project agreement between the public hospital and the developers of the private hospital. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has retained external professional advisers in relation to the procurement, financing and legal aspects of the process in order to ensure that the public interest is protected at all times. Detailed provisions in relation to all aspects of the relationship between public hospitals and co-located private hospitals will be the subject of a service level agreement between the parties in each case.

The revenue cost to the public hospitals will be minimal. A very important benefit of the initiative is that the beds made available for public patients in public hospitals under the initiative will come staffed and the back-up services and facilities required to support them are in place. This contrasts with the position which usually obtains where direct capital investment is used to fund public hospital capital developments. The only staffing cost envisaged is the appointment of additional hospital consultants, something that the Government is now doing in the light of the agreement on the new consultants' contract. The HSE, having considered the potential implications of the co-location initiative on public health service recruitment, has stated that it does not envisage any significant impact, given the terms and conditions applying in the public service, and in particular, the attractiveness of membership of a contributory pension scheme.

The loss of private health insurance income to the hospitals from private health insurers is estimated at €80 million in respect of the six sites where the co-location initiative is most advanced. This loss of income will be mitigated, in part, through income from the lease of the land and a potential share of profits from the co-located facility. It is recognised that provision will need to be made to allow the budgets of participating public hospitals to be adjusted appropriately to reflect the net private patient income forgone. Public patients will have access to the private facilities under the service level agreements between the public and private partners.

The scheme of capital allowances for the construction or refurbishment of buildings used as private hospitals was introduced in the Finance Act 2001 and came into effect in May 2002. Provided that capital expenditure on the proposed co-located private hospitals conforms to the existing legislation governing that scheme, normal tax relief will apply. Under the terms of the Finance Act 2001, the co-located hospital must ensure that at least 20% of its bed capacity be made available to the HSE for the treatment of individuals awaiting in-patient or outpatient hospital services as public patients. The fees charged must be not be more than 90% of the fees that would be charged for equivalent treatment provided to a patient with private medical insurance.

The cost of such tax relief will ultimately depend on the level of qualifying capital expenditure and no such expenditure on the proposed co-located hospitals has yet been incurred. For each €100 million of qualifying capital expenditure on these hospitals, the cost of tax relief to investors (assuming a marginal tax rate of 41% for those investors) would amount in gross terms to €41 million spread over 7 years. With the additional activity generated by the construction of the hospitals, the employment generated and the related services provided on which taxes will be paid, additional revenues would accrue to the Exchequer.

A fundamental principle of the co-location policy initiative is that there is no State underwriting in respect of private sector risk. The banking arrangements for the co-location projects are of course a matter for the preferred bidders concerned.

The Board of the Health Service Executive (HSE) has approved preferred bidders for six co-located hospital sites: Beaumont Hospital, Cork University Hospital, Limerick Regional Hospital, St. James's Hospital, Waterford Regional Hospital and Sligo General Hospital.

The Project Agreements for Limerick Regional Hospital, Beaumont Hospital and Cork University Hospital have been signed. Planning permission has been granted by the local authorities concerned for the co-located hospitals at Beaumont and at Cork University Hospital. Planning permission for the Beaumont and Cork projects has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála. The HSE has advised my Department that a decision to grant planning permission for the Limerick Regional Hospital project was given in mid June and that this decision is scheduled to be made final later this month, subject to no planning appeal being lodged.

The HSE has also advised that the Project Agreements for St. James's Hospital and Waterford Regional Hospital are expected to be signed shortly. The HSE expects the Sligo Project Agreement to be concluded by the autumn.

Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital, which are also participating in the co-location initiative, are at an earlier stage of the procurement process. Connolly Hospital is at preferred bidder stage and it is expected that the invitation to tender (ITT) for Tallaght Hospital will issue in the near future.

My Department has requested the HSE to respond to the Deputy in relation to the detailed operational information sought in respect of the successful preferred bidders approved by the HSE Board, the proposed number of beds for each project, and the advisors used by the Executive in relation to co-location.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

James Reilly

Question:

179 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the nursing home refund scheme for the repayment of illegal nursing home charges; the number of claims received and completed to date; the amount refunded to date; the number of applications that have been rejected; the reason they have been rejected; the cost of the scheme; the cost of administering the scheme; the average time for an application to be processed; when she expects the scheme to complete its work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28068/08]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has responsibility for administering the health repayment scheme in conjunction with the appointed scheme administrator KPMG/McCann Fitzgerald.

The HSE has informed my Department that since the commencement of the scheme almost 39,000 claims have been received and to 27 June 11,483 payments totalling over €229m have issued while 15,299 offers of repayment totalling over €271m have been made. The HSE have also informed my Department that 12,663 letters of rejection have been sent to applicants who are deemed to fall outside the scheme. There are a variety of reasons for applications being rejected and these include instances where the relevant person died prior to 9 December 1998, where the relevant person resided in an institution not within the scope of the scheme and where duplicate applications were received on behalf of the relevant person.

An allocation of €150m was provided for the scheme in the estimates for 2008. All eligible applications received prior to the closing date will be repaid in full and an appropriate provision will be made as necessary to meet any costs arising under the scheme.

The overall cost of the scheme is expected to be in the region of €390m. The HSE has estimated the administrative costs associated with the scheme to be approximately €25m.

Mental Health Services.

James Reilly

Question:

180 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of catchment area teams established in regard to the Vision for Change strategy; the number that are fully staffed; the geographic area covered by these catchment areas; the population of each of the catchment areas; the name of the person with managerial responsibility for mental health services in each of the catchment areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28069/08]

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.

Medical Cards.

James Reilly

Question:

181 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of full medical cards issued as at year end 2007; the number issued for the first six months in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28070/08]

James Reilly

Question:

182 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of general practitioner visit medical cards issued as at year end 2007; the number issued for the first six months in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28071/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 181 and 182 together.

Details of the numbers of medical card holders and GP visit card holders are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The figures are provided on a net basis showing the balance after new cards have been issued and other cards, as appropriate, have been deleted from the Executive's database, e.g. following a review of a person's circumstances. The most recent figures provided to my Department are for 31st May 2008. The following table shows the number of persons with medical cards on 31st December 2007 and on 31st May 2008 and the number of persons with GP visit cards on the same dates.

Date

No. of persons with a medical card

No. of persons with a GP visit card

31 December 2007

1,276,178

75,589

31 May 2008

1,306,470

80,035

James Reilly

Question:

183 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the income thresholds for qualification for a full medical card and for a general practitioner visit card, indicating the thresholds for single persons, married couples and single parents; the way in which they vary between age categories and the category of married couples, one of whom is over 70 years and one of whom is not, and that of dependent children; her plans to review income thresholds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28072/08]

The following table gives details of the income thresholds used by the Health Service Executive to assist it in determining if a person qualifies for a medical card or GP visit card.

Medical Card Weekly Rate

GP Visit Card Rate

Single Person Living Alone

Aged up to 65 years

184.00

276.00

Aged between 66-69 years

201.50

302.00

Single Person Living with Family

Aged up to 65 years

164.00

246.00

Aged between 66-69 years

173.50

260.00

Married Couple/Single Parent with dependant Children

Aged up to 65 years

266.50

400.00

Aged between 66-69 years

298.00

447.00

Aged between 70-79 years (see footnote)

596.50

895.00

Aged 80 years and over (see footnote)

627.00

940.50

Allowances

Allowance for first 2 children under 16 financially dependent on applicant

38.00

57.00

For 3rd and subsequent children under 16 years financially dependent on applicant

41.00

61.50

Allowance for first 2 children over 16 yrs financially dependant on applicant

39.00

58.50

For 3rd and subsequent children over 16 yrs financially dependent on applicant

42.50

64.00

Dependant over 16 years in full-time education and not grant-aided

78.00

117.00

Footnote: The guidelines for those aged 70-79 years, and aged 80 years and over, are used when one member of a married couple is aged over 70, and their spouse aged under 70 is applying.

The Programme for Government commits to the following:

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

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

In conjunction with the development of a new legislative framework to provide for clear statutory provisions on eligibility for health and personal social services, my Department is reviewing the assessment criteria in the context of financial, medical and social need in line with the commitment in Towards 2016. A Steering Group has been established which is expected to complete this work in autumn 2008. It is my intention to then consider how best to progress the commitments in the Programme for Government in relation to medical card eligibility.

Health Service Functions.

James Reilly

Question:

184 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of cases in which the Health Service Executive assigned its functions in regard to reviewing a recommendation, made by a complaints officer, to another body; the identity of the body to which it has assigned such functions under section 49(4) of the regulation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28073/08]

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

Care of the Elderly.

James Reilly

Question:

185 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will approve the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28074/08]

The present standards for nursing homes are set out in the 1993 Care and Welfare Regulations and the HSE inspects private nursing homes on the basis of these standards. In January 2007, Minister Harney published Draft National Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People. The standards were developed by a working group chaired by DoHC and included the Health Service Executive, Social Service Inspectorate and the Irish Health Services Accreditation Board. Once introduced, these standards will apply to all nursing homes — public, private and voluntary.

As the Health Act 2007 provides that the enhanced inspection function will be taken over by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the draft standards were formally referred to HIQA for consultation and finalisation. The Authority established a wide-ranging Working Group to finalise the draft standards. On the 25th February, 2008 the Board of the Authority approved their draft National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People and submitted them for the approval of the Minister for Health and Children, as required under section 10(2) of the Health Act 2007.

The draft Standards and the Regulations required to underpin them will be subject to a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) before finalisation. The RIA process has commenced and it is intended to have both the approved Standards and Regulations in place in early 2009.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

James Reilly

Question:

186 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children how she expects the National Treatment Purchase Fund to negotiate the cost of private beds on behalf of the Health Service Executive in the absence of nursing home care standards [28075/08]

James Reilly

Question:

187 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds that will be standard beds in regard to the intention of the National Treatment Purchase Fund to negotiate the cost of private beds on behalf of the Health Service Executive; the number that will be medium and high dependency beds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28076/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 and 187 together.

The present standards for nursing homes are set out in the 1993 Care and Welfare Regulations and the HSE inspects private nursing homes on the basis of these standards. On 29th February 2008, HIQA submitted "Draft Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People" to the Minister for Health and Children for approval and these are currently under consideration. Once introduced, these standards will apply to all nursing homes — public, private and voluntary.

The NTPF's negotiating role under the proposed Nursing Home Support Scheme- A Fair Deal- will be an ongoing one. The price agreed with private nursing homes for the purposes of the scheme will naturally be subject to periodic re-negotiation to take account of inflation and other developments. Accordingly, the NTPF will negotiate with private nursing homes based on the existing regulatory regime and market conditions at the time of negotiation.

Finally, under the scheme, the care needs assessment will determine whether a person needs long-term residential care. It will not categorise people as low, medium, high or maximum dependency. A person assessed as needing long-term residential care will then be able to choose any nursing home, public or private, subject to availability and suitability of the home to meet the person's care needs. As such, the designation of beds as standard or high dependency will not be a feature of the scheme.

Infectious Diseases.

James Reilly

Question:

188 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the process by which a hospital acquired infection becomes a notifiable disease; if she will provide a complete list of notifiable diseases; the infections she will add to this list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28077/08]

Under the Health Act 1947 the Minister for Health and Children may, by regulation, specify diseases which are infectious diseases. The current schedule of infectious diseases is contained in the Infectious Diseases (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2003, (Statutory Instrument No. 707 of 2003) which came into force on 1 January 2004. I am arranging to have a copy of the schedule forwarded to the Deputy.

The schedule of notifiable diseases is reviewed on a periodic basis. Changes to the regulations are based on recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Health Service Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

189 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the category of staff to be recruited with regard to the 34.5 whole time equivalent infection-control staff that have yet to be recruited out of the 52 infection-control staff announced in 2006; when this recruitment process will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28078/08]

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

Hospital Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

190 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if a microbiologist has been appointed to St. Columcille’s Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28080/08]

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

Health Services.

James Reilly

Question:

191 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting times for speech and language assessment and treatment services for children, per Health Service Executive area, for each of the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28081/08]

James Reilly

Question:

192 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting times for speech and language assessment and treatment services for adults, per Health Service Executive area, for each of the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28082/08]

James Reilly

Question:

193 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting times for occupational therapy assessment and treatment services for adults, per Health Service Executive area, for each of the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28083/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 191 to 193, inclusive, together.

The Deputy's specific questions relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which include occupational and speech and language therapy services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

James Reilly

Question:

194 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting times for orthodontic assessment and treatment services for adults, per Health Service Executive area, for each of the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28084/08]

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.

James Reilly

Question:

195 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting times for orthodontic assessment and treatment services for children, per Health Service Executive area, for each of the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28085/08]

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.

Mental Health Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

196 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons admitted as involuntary patients to approved mental health centres in the six months ending on 30 June 2008; the number of these admissions who have had their cases reviewed by a tribunal; the number of cases where the tribunal has revoked the involuntary admission order; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28088/08]

The Mental Health Commission arranges legal representation and an independent medical examination/report for patients who are subject to an involuntary admission order and the subsequent independent reviews are carried out by Mental Health Tribunals within strict statutory timescales.

The tables provides a summary of the number of orders and the subsequent independent reviews in the period 1st January to 30th May 2008.

January to May 2008

Form 6 Admissions

602

Form 13 regrade of a voluntary patient

230

Renewal Orders

481

Proposals to transfer to Central Mental Hospital

4

Hearings held

818

Revoked at hearings

81

The Mental Health Commission validates each month's activity in the first two weeks of the month following the period under evaluation. The figures for June 2008 are therefore currently being validated and will be forwarded to the Deputy when the validation process is complete.

Dan Neville

Question:

197 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm that the Mental Health Commission has established an investigation, or review, into patient care issues at a psychiatric hospital in south Tipperary; and if she will further confirm the date on which the report is expected to be published. [28089/08]

In June 2007 the Mental Health Commission decided to establish an inquiry into practices at the St. Michael's Unit, South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel and St. Luke's Hospital, Clonmel, with the following terms of reference:

"To review care and treatment practices in St. Michael's Unit, South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel and St. Luke's Hospital, Clonmel, including the quality and planning of care and the use of restraint and seclusion and to report to the Mental Health Commission".

It is understood that the inquiry is nearing conclusion and it is expected that the report will be presented to the Mental Health Commission shortly.

Dan Neville

Question:

198 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the average cost of the conduct of the reviews which were considered by a tribunal under Section 18 of the Mental Health Act 2001; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28090/08]

The gross fees paid in association with the operation of Mental Health Tribunals during 2007 was approximately €10.685 million.

During 2007 there were 3,443 statutory orders notified to the Mental Health Commission that potentially required review by a mental health tribunal. As a result of these notifications 2,248 mental health tribunal hearings were completed in 2007. This indicates an average of €3,103 per notification and €4,753 per hearing in 2007.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

199 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when the results of a 24 hour heart monitor procedure on a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be sent to their consultant. [28092/08]

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.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

200 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there are three male beds unoccupied at a home (details supplied) in County Galway; the number of males on the waiting list for this home; the number of occupants currently in the home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28097/08]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

201 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is her policy to withdraw funds from a multi-annual funding package to cover 2004 to 2009 for new adult day places and training places for young adults with intellectual disabilities as in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28105/08]

The Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability Services makes provision for the development of additional residential, respite places and day care places each year between 2006 and 2009 for people with Intellectual Disability and Autism and additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities. €50m was provided to the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2008 to fund a range of additional services under the Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability.

As the Deputy will be aware, the commencement of the planned developments in disability services this year had been delayed due to a financial review in the HSE. However, I am pleased to be able to inform the Deputy that the HSE has assured me that it is now in a position to roll out the planned developments as outlined in its 2008 Service Plan.

Planned services include additional residential, day care — including training places — and respite care places for people with intellectual disability and autism; additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities; and additional multi-disciplinary therapy posts to provide assessment and ongoing intervention services to children with a disability.

I understand that the HSE hopes to be able to finalise the position in relation to the commencement of such developments over the next week.

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

Departmental Correspondence.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

202 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department received an e-mail from a person (details supplied) in County Cork; if a reply has been issued; if she will publish that reply; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28106/08]

My Office received an e-mail from the person referred to by the Deputy (details supplied). A letter of acknowledgement confirming same has been issued. The content matter of the e-mail is currently under investigation and a further reply will issue, in due course, to the sender.

Child Care Services.

Joe Costello

Question:

203 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to correspondence from an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28110/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), which will invest €575 million over 5 years.

I understand from enquiries made that a miscalculation occurred when calculating the transitional and subvention funding for 2008 for the Group in question under the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme. Pobal, who manage the day-to-day operation of the childcare programmes, has since clarified that the rate of staffing funding for the Group in 2007 under the EOCP was €175,788. Therefore the Group has been approved an increase to their transitional funding for January to June 2008 to €87,894 with their subvention funding for July to December 2008 subsequently increased to €79,105. The amount of their staffing funding for July to December 2008 represents 90% of their transitional amount as their parent declaration forms did not exceed the floor my predecessor set for the Scheme. The Group has been notified of their amended funding levels. This Group was approved a total of €920,219 in EOCP staffing grant assistance.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Richard Bruton

Question:

204 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is a licensing authority for persons who undertake ear piercing as a commercial business; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28122/08]

There is no legislation in Ireland specifically regulating ear piercing businesses. However, these businesses are required to comply with general public health and safety legislation in the same way as any other business.

The responsibilities of business operators include taking all reasonable precautions for the safety of persons using the premises. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 imposes a duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of employees. Employers are also obliged to manage and conduct his or her undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that in the course of the work being carried on, individuals at the place of work, (not being employees), are not exposed to risks to their safety, health and welfare.

In addition, under the Infectious Diseases Regulations 1981, a medical officer of health, or a health officer on the advice of a medical officer of health, is empowered where there is reason to believe that a suspected case of an infectious disease or a probable source of infection exists, to take such steps as are necessary or desirable for investigating the nature and source of such infection, for preventing the spread of such infection and for removing conditions favourable to infection.

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

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

As ear piercing is not regulated, there is no age restriction in place. However, this issue is being addressed in the context of the good practice guidelines for both tattooists and piercers.

Draft guidelines have been produced and these drafts have been the subject of consultation within the health sector and the wider public sector. Further consideration of the issues involved is necessary before my Department will be in a position to bring the guidelines to completion. The intention is to have this work completed by the end of this year.

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

205 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if they will be seen as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28141/08]

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

Billy Timmins

Question:

206 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if the services will be provided by the Health Service Executive as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28142/08]

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 case investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Billy Timmins

Question:

207 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to an application for additional nursing care funding for a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if, in view of the circumstances, she will re-examine the decision in this case and allow the extra hours; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28237/08]

I understand that the Deputy has received a response from the Health Service Executive in this particular case. The matter has been referred for further consideration to the HSE and for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

208 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11. [28239/08]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

209 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied). [28240/08]

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.

Finian McGrath

Question:

210 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [28241/08]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

Finian McGrath

Question:

211 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if persons (details supplied) in County Cork will be assisted. [28243/08]

The Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability Services makes provision for the development of additional residential, respite places and day care places each year between 2006 and 2009 for people with Intellectual Disability and Autism and additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities. €50m was provided to the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2008 to fund a range of additional services under the Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability.

As the Deputy will be aware, the commencement of the planned developments in disability services this year had been delayed due to a financial review in the HSE. However, I am pleased to be able to inform the Deputy that the HSE has assured me that it is now in a position to roll out the planned developments as outlined in its 2008 Service Plan.

Planned services include additional residential, day care — including training places — and respite care places for people with intellectual disability and autism; additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities; and additional multi-disciplinary therapy posts to provide assessment and ongoing intervention services to children with a disability.

I understand that the HSE hopes to be able to finalise the position in relation to the commencement of such developments over the next week. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the specific matter raised by the Deputy investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Land Acquisitions.

Jack Wall

Question:

212 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Transport his plans to direct CIÉ and Iarnród Éireann or to change the directive that the boards of the stated companies must adhere to requests by local authorities that lands needed for very necessary infrastructure improvements can be compulsory purchase ordered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27825/08]

Decisions in relation to the disposal of land owned by CIE, whether by agreement or arising from compulsory purchase orders, are a matter for the CIE Board and I have no function in relation thereto. The making and determination of compulsory purchase orders by local authorities is a matter, respectively, for local authorities and An Bord Pleanála.

I have no plans to issue a direction to CIE or Iarnród Éireann in relation to the compulsory acquisition of land by local authorities.

Road Traffic Offences.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

213 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the legal position regarding the qualified accompanying driver of a learning permit driver in regard to alcohol consumption and being breathalysed in their capacity as a passenger acting as an accompanying driver; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27828/08]

With effect from Monday 30 June of this year, all learner drivers must be accompanied by a driver who holds a full driving licence continuously for the previous two years. This provision, introduced in Regulations in October last year, amended the position where drivers on a second provisional licence could drive unaccompanied.

The current provisions relating to drink driving apply to the driver of a vehicle and not to an accompanying driver or any passenger. The introduction of a provision to make the accompanying driver subject to drink driving legislation would require primary legislation. Such a measure is not currently among those being finalised by the Minister for Transport in a draft Scheme of a Road Traffic Bill to be circulated to other Ministers for comment shortly.

Inland Waterways.

Denis Naughten

Question:

214 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 4 of 8 May 2008, the position regarding the situation; if the recommendations have been acted upon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27835/08]

Further to the recommendations of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB), in relation to the grounding and flooding of an Emerald Star hire cruiser on Lough Derg on 1st July 2006, my Department has met with Waterways Ireland who have responsibility for navigable inland waterways North and South, including the Shannon.

Waterways Ireland agreed to review their current system in relation to the recommendation on the buoyage system for inland waterways, and revert to Irish Coast Guard and Maritime Administration of my Department with proposals in this regard. The other recommendations relevant to my Department are being considered in the overall context of delivering improved maritime safety.

Road Traffic Offences.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

215 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding his discussions with an organisation (details supplied); the progress to date in introducing compulsory testing of all drivers involved in collisions attended by gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27845/08]

Following representations received from various bodies, my Department has consulted the Office of the Attorney General on the amendment of current legislation to achieve compulsory roadside testing for intoxicants of drivers involved in collisions. The Attorney General has now advised on possible amendments to legislation, which continue to take overriding medical circumstances into account. This issue will be included in the next Road Traffic Bill, which I hope to bring to Government later this year.

Telecommunications Services.

Joe McHugh

Question:

216 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport the temporary location of the integrated communications system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27852/08]

Two Coast Guard Integrated Communications Systems will be installed by mid-2009. One system will be co-located with the Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Dublin. The location of the second ICS system and its technical support is currently under review.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

217 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Transport the number of representatives of his Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Beijing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27958/08]

No decisions have been made to date on this matter.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

218 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Transport the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27978/08]

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Motor Fuels.

Tom Hayes

Question:

219 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Transport the measures taken to liaise with the Department of Finance to organise the promised alternative to the fuel rebate for bus operators; if the increased cost of diesel and petrol have been taken into account when considering this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27987/08]

John Deasy

Question:

220 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport the alternative scheme which was to be devised to replace the fuel rebate scheme that was available to passenger transport services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28004/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 219 and 220 together.

The EU Energy Tax Directive incorporated special derogations which allowed specific excise duty reliefs to be applied in a number of Member States below the EU minimum duty rate. In the case of public transport services under my responsibility, these derogations included reduced rates to apply to fuel used for scheduled bus services. Scheduled bus services comprise bus passenger services provided by Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann, private operators in accordance with bus route licences under the 1932 Road Transport Act and holders of Authorisations pursuant to European Council Regulation 684/92 as amended. The position in regard to the school transport sector is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science.

While these derogations expired on 31 December 2006, Ireland, along with other Member States, sought retention of its derogations beyond that date. However the European Commission, which is the deciding authority, has to date refused all such requests. The Finance Act 2008 provided the basis for the removal of these excise duty reliefs with effect from 1 November 2008.

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Finance and other Departments, has been exploring whether alternative support mechanisms could be appropriate and could be done in a manner compatible with EU State Aid and other legal requirements. While my Department is in discussion with the Department of Finance on these issues, it is necessary to stress that, despite claims being made otherwise, introducing an alternative suitable mechanism is not a straightforward matter in the current economic climate.

There has been extensive contact and correspondence with the Department of Finance on this issue. My colleague the Minister for Finance has already stated that our overall response to the increase in fuel prices is, as was adopted at the recent Ecofin and European Council meetings, that distortionary fiscal and other policy interventions should be avoided as they prevent the necessary adjustments by economic agents. Accordingly, I don't envisage any approval from the Department of Finance for a replacement scheme in the current economic circumstances.

Rail Network.

John O'Mahony

Question:

221 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Transport if he will confirm if the western rail corridor project is on schedule; and if it will be completed in the timeframe set out in Transport 21. [28101/08]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Parliamentary Question 25380/08 of 1st July 2008. The position has not changed.

Taxi Regulations.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

222 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to a report from the Road Safety Authority in relation to small public service vehicles, in particular to limousines, and the inability of the National Car Test to weigh or test vehicles over a certain weight, and the fact that many special purpose vehicles have been licensed, despite being over the allowed weight limit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28134/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

223 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport the reason a decision in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 10 who cannot get their vehicle passed for a special purpose vehicle licence because the National Car Test operators refuse to test the vehicle, even though they have recently passed other limousines of similar weight; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28135/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

224 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport if he will confirm that his attention was drawn more than a year ago to the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 10 who have been trying for more than a year to get their special purpose vehicle passed by the National Car Test in order that they can begin trading. [28136/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 to 224, inclusive, together.

As was indicated to the deputy in response to questions on this subject in March 2008, my Department is examining this matter in consultation with the Road Safety Authority and the Taxi Regulator. These consultations are not yet complete but I have asked my officials to finalise their consideration of the issues and to report to me very shortly.

Road Network.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

225 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the outstanding issues associated with the extra works authorised by Kildare County Council and carried out in the vicinity of Straffan, County Kildare and associated with preparations for the Ryder Cup 2007; the extent to which the local authority or his Department provided, approved or agreed funding and specification for such works; if the works were carried out satisfactorily or in accordance with understandings, written or otherwise; if the local authority or his Department has received indication from the contractors of the costs involved; if such works were in addition to contracts previously entered into; if payment for an original contract has been made to date; the reason the extra works have not been paid for; the estimated cost of such works; if it is intended to make such payment directly or through the local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28245/08]

I understand this question relates to road works on the R403 road between Straffan and Barberstown Cross and that the contract between Kildare County Council and the contractor in respect of works at that location is currently the subject of arbitration in accordance with the conditions of contract. This is a matter between the parties to the contract and my Department has no function in the matter.

Passport Applications.

Finian McGrath

Question:

226 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if persons (details supplied) in Dublin 11 will be supported. [28094/08]

The Passport Office can only issue a passport to an Irish Citizen.

In this case, an application for an Irish passport was submitted on behalf of a child by his parents. The child was born in Ireland in 2005. Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004, persons born in the State after 1 January 2005, where neither parent is an Irish or British citizen or otherwise entitled to reside without restriction in the State or in Northern Ireland, may claim citizenship by birth in the State (and thereby establish eligibility for a passport) only where a parent has been lawfully resident in the State for 3 years of the 4 years preceding their birth.

The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform is responsible for citizenship issues. In line with guidelines issued by that Department regarding the 2004 Act, lawful residence is proven on the basis of immigration stamps in passports and Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) cards and registration books On this basis, the child's parents provided evidence of lawful residence for a period of 13 months and 16 days. As evidence for three years lawful residence was not submitted, the child's entitlement to Irish citizenship was not established and it was not possible to approve the issuing of a passport.

The Passport Office contacted the applicant's father on 21 June, 2008 to advise him of this decision. The applicant's father stated that some of the evidence proving his lawful residence in Ireland had been stolen from his car. In response, the Passport Office advised that he should submit a letter from the GNIB setting out the full details of periods of lawful residence for himself and his wife from 2001 to 2005. This position was confirmed in writing by the Passport Office the same day.

No further response has been received to date. The Passport Office will ensure that the child's passport application is reviewed promptly on receipt of the requested information.

The Deputy may wish to be aware that as the child's older siblings were born in Ireland prior to 1 January, 2005, their entitlement to citizenship was based simply on birth in Ireland and it was not necessary in their cases to establish three years lawful residence in Ireland of a parent.

Foreign Conflicts.

Mary Upton

Question:

227 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his position on Zimbabwe; the sanctions the Government and the diplomatic service are planning to take to isolate the Mugabe regime in the aftermath of a presidential election which was not free and fair; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27862/08]

The grave situation in Zimbabwe is of the utmost concern to the Government. I have consistently stressed Ireland's utter condemnation of the conditions in which the 27 June election took place. The widespread state-sponsored violence and intimidation, which resulted in the deaths of close to one hundred supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and led to Morgan Tsvangirai's forced withdrawal, mean that Robert Mugabe's purported election victory cannot be regarded as in any way valid.

Following the re-inauguration of Mugabe as President, the international community must continue to make clear that his position has not the slightest democratic legitimacy. The priority must be to find a peaceful way forward through dialogue, allowing a legitimate government to be formed that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people. Ireland and the EU will continue to work closely with our African partners to increase pressure for democratic change and for the relief of the suffering of the Zimbabwean people. It is Zimbabwe's neighbours, and above all South Africa, which have the greatest potential influence and leverage, and therefore the greatest responsibility to act. In this regard, I met with the South African Ambassador last Thursday to review all aspects of the situation and, in particular, to emphasise the need for further intensive efforts to resolve the situation at the earliest possible date.

The Government fully supports the existing restrictive measures which the European Union has applied for some years against the Government of Zimbabwe. These include a travel ban and asset freeze directed against a list of individuals who have been responsible for anti-democratic and destructive policies over the last several years.

In the light of events in Zimbabwe since March and throughout the election period, Ireland is working with EU colleagues on how the EU can best act to promote a return to democracy, the rule of law and responsible economic management in Zimbabwe. It is probable that the EU's visa ban and asset freeze will be extended to include additional individuals who are known to have encouraged violence or to have undermined the democratic process in recent months. The feasibility of a number of other possible measures is currently being examined, with a view to ensuring that any new measures will actually be effective in bringing pressure to bear, while minimising the effect on ordinary Zimbabwean people.

Ireland strongly supports the imposition of further EU measures on those responsible for directing the recent political violence. Ireland would welcome action by the UN Security Council in this regard, as proposed by the United States. The aim of any new measures should be to have a real political impact, while not exacerbating the dreadful economic situation which the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe have had to endure for far too long.

Finian McGrath

Question:

228 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if EU negotiators were operating in Colombia at the time of the release of a person (details supplied); and the position regarding potential peace talks with the guerrillas. [27934/08]

I warmly welcome the release last week of Ingrid Betancourt and fourteen fellow hostages on foot of an operation conducted by the Colombian army. I would also renew my call for the release of all hostages held in Colombia.

The European Union has not been involved in negotiations in Colombia. However, a number of EU Member States, which have a history of involvement in the region, have been active in seeking to mediate between the Colombian Government and the left-wing guerrilla groups, efforts which are fully supported by Ireland and other EU partners.

The Government of Colombia has repeatedly stated its commitment to bringing to an end all terrorism in Colombia within the framework of the Justice and Peace Law. This Law, passed in 2005, provides an overall legal framework for the demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration of illegal armed groups into Colombian society. The Justice and Peace Law, which was adopted through a lengthy democratic political process, strikes a difficult balance between peace and justice.

The process of peace negotiations between the Colombian Government and the right-wing paramilitary group, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) began in 2003, with between 30,000 and 40,000 combatants having been demobilized on completion of the process in 2007. The Government of Colombia is currently engaging in dialogue with the left-wing guerrilla group known as the Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Colombia (ELN) in pursuit of a negotiated peace agreement. Negotiations between the major left-wing guerrilla group, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), and the Government have not yet commenced.

The General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union most recently adopted Conclusions on Colombia on 19 November 2007. Ireland was actively involved in the negotiation of these Conclusions, which expressed the EU's total solidarity with the Colombian people, its full support for the Colombian Government in its search for a negotiated solution to the internal armed conflict and underlined the importance the EU attaches to the ongoing implementation of the Justice and Peace Law.

The Council further expressed its hope that progress would be made in taking forward negotiations in order to reach a humanitarian agreement, to secure the release of all hostages, to end the armed conflict and to bring lasting peace to Colombia. In the same spirit, the Council welcomed all initiatives taken with the Colombian Government's support with the objective of promoting a successful peace process.

My Department continues to monitor the situation in Colombia through our Embassy in Mexico City, which is accredited to Colombia, as well as in cooperation with our EU partners with resident diplomatic missions in that country. Ireland is fully supportive of efforts to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Colombia.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

229 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of representatives of his Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and departmental officials, who will be visiting Beijing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27953/08]

Neither I nor the Ministers of State at my Department have plans to visit China in an official capacity in August. Separate from the above, additional consular resources will be deployed in China to assist Irish citizens as the need arises.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

230 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27973/08]

Presented in tabular form are details of the various publications and booklets produced by my Department for the period in question.

Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs)

Cost (Design and Print)

Report on Irish Prisoners Abroad

6,066

Department of Foreign Affairs, Annual Report 2006

341

Information Sheets containing biographies of Taoiseach and Ministers, primarily for use by Missions abroad

4,041

Good Friday Agreement (re-print)

1,611

Consular Charter, outlining the services available to Irish citizens travelling abroad and how they may access them.

16,227

Strategy Statement 2008-2010

18,454

Our Shared Japan, an anthology of contemporary Irish poetry(Published as one of a series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Japan in 2007)

20,888

Design, Printing, Advertisement and Distribution of Publications to mark the 50th Anniversary of the European Union in 2007

93,999.30

Design, Printing, Advertisement and Distribution of Explanatory Pamphlets on the Lisbon Reform Treaty

36,569.89

Design, printing and distribution of a Guide to the Lisbon Reform Treaty

103,234.49

Design, printing, and nationwide distribution of a Guide to the Lisbon Reform Treaty for households

371,615.00

Design, Printing, Advertisement and Distribution of the White Paper on the Lisbon Reform Treaty

189,911.01

Annual NGO Forum on Human Rights 2007, Conference Programme

1,349

Annual NGO Forum on Human Rights 2008, Conference Programme

9,103

Third Report on the Measures Adopted to Give Effect to the Provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

12,759

Vote 29 (International Co-operation)

Cost (Design and Print)

Review of Irish Aid Support to Tsunami Affected Countries

11,313

Evaluation of the South Africa Country Programme 2004-2006

9,824

Evaluation of the Mozambique Country Programmes 2001-2006

9,673

2006 Audit Committee Annual Report — English and Irish

6,884

Environment Key Sheets: Adapting to Climate Change Biodiversity and Poverty Reduction Climate Change and Poverty Reduction Dryland degradation and Development Environment and Governance Environment and Agriculture Environment and Education Environment and Health Environment and Poverty Reduction Trade and Environment

12,385

School Flyer for Information Centre

1,865

Irish Aid Centre Leaflets: Information on the Centre — Irish and English Gender Inequality Responding to Emergencies Brochure Volunteering Brochure Fairtrade Brochure

12,678

Factsheets for Schools: Environment and Development HIV and AIDS and Development Humanitarian Aid and Development Introduction to Irish Aid Mozambique Poverty and Development Tanzania

4,516

Mozambique Country Strategy Paper

7,995

Education Policy

5,565

Annual Report 2006 Irish and English

30,773

Irish Aid Calendar

5,535

Zambia Country Strategy Paper

5,135

Development Education Policy

4,516

Development Education Funding Guidelines

4,372

Tanzania Country Strategy Paper

5,565

Local Development Policy and Guidelines

4,516

Irish Aid Operational Plan 2008-2012

8,600

Rapid Response Leaflet

2,235

Introduction to Irish Aid, including map ofIrish Aid Programme Countries (approx. 55,000 copies)

27,976

Environment Briefing Paper

1,135

Environment Policy

9,377

Africa Day Leaflet

1,555

Uganda Country Strategy Paper

4,302

Series of Information Documents on Home Based Carecomplied on a CD ROM (3,000 copies) plus 3,000 hard copies. For distribution through Southern Africa HIV and AID Sinformation dissemination service in Zimbabwe

30,700

Vietnam Country Strategy Paper

$3,449*

*US Dollars

Advisory Board on Irish Aid (ABIA)

Cost (Design and Print)

Policy Coherence For Development, 2007

13,005

ABIA Annual Report 2006

12,719

Research Findings Volume 1: Governance, Trade and Aid Effectiveness, 2007

20,675

Engagement with Civil Society for Poverty Reduction, 2008

8,175

Good governance, aid modalities and poverty reduction, 2008

17,125

Measuring Impact: The Global and Irish Aid Programme, 2008

13,420

ABIA Annual Report 2007

11,854

Overseas Development Aid.

Billy Timmins

Question:

231 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount of aid funding allocated to Ethiopia in 2007 and to date in 2008; the way this was dispensed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28266/08]

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world and has been one of Ireland's Programme Countries since 1994. Irish Aid provided almost €41 million to development programmes and projects in Ethiopia in 2007 and it is estimated that assistance amounting to around €45 million will be provided in 2008.

In 2007, assistance to Ethiopia addressed a wide range of basic needs with an emphasis on health, education, food security and governance. For example, approximately €9 million was allocated to a social "safety net" programme designed to ensure that over seven million poor Ethiopians were provided with cash or food in exchange for labour, thus preventing them from becoming absolutely destitute.

Over €7 million was provided to Irish missionaries and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), including Concern, Goal, Self Help Development International and Trócaire, to support their development efforts in Ethiopia. In addition, some €1.2 million was allocated to Concern, Goal and the World Food Programme to provide emergency responses to vulnerable communities, while, almost €7 million was allocated to a capacity building programme designed to reduce poverty in the Tigray region.

We also supported the purchase of essential medicines, the construction and equipping of about 500 health centres and the training of health professionals in Ethiopia. Furthermore, we work with local NGOs in addressing HIV/AIDS. Finally, Ireland contributed to a teacher development programme which provided training to an estimated 250,000 education personnel.

Governance is an important component of our aid programme in Ethiopia and in 2007 over €3.5 million was spent on public and civil service reform, strengthening parliamentary institutions, economic initiatives and support for local NGOs involved in human rights and governance issues.

In 2008, the Irish Aid programme is continuing very much along the same lines and is, in particular, addressing the basic needs of the poor, especially the rural poor.

Decentralisation Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

232 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of the decentralisation of FÁS to Birr, County Offaly; the number of staff decentralised; the number to be decentralised; the timetable for same; the status of property acquisition and the cost involved; when the property will be ready for occupation; the number it will cater for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27821/08]

Under the Government's decentralisation programme, FÁS is due to transfer its head office including some 383 posts to Birr, County Offaly.

FÁS has completed the purchase of 5.59 acres (approximately) in Birr, Co Offaly for about €1.6 million. A Planning Application for the FÁS portion of the site access road and site entrance is currently being progressed.

In the meantime, FÁS has leased a floor of a building within the Birr Technology Centre to accommodate staff in the decentralised location pending the construction and fitting out of a permanent Headquarters. As of June 2008 there were 23 Head Office staff based in these premises, which has capacity for approximately 40 staff.

Economic Competitiveness.

Joan Burton

Question:

233 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on trends towards the outsourcing of jobs from Ireland to countries with cheaper labour costs and of retailers sourcing products in such countries with cheap labour, and sometimes questionable labour practices according to the International Labour Organisation, ILO; the discussions she or her officials have had with colleagues in countries, such as but not confined to India, which are viewed as centres of cheap labour or with the ILO or other multilateral institutions in respect of labour standards in those countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27921/08]

Outsourcing and relocation are inevitable in a free market and open economy. Many of the jobs in this economy, especially in the multinational sectors, could be looked upon as having been outsourced to here and we still continue to capture a significant share of such employment. Inter-firm outsourcing is also an important part of enterprise activity.

Our economic performance has benefited considerably from winning this type of investment from other economies in the past. Indeed for some firms, outsourcing of low-end operations makes complete financial and strategic sense and may be the only means to ensure their continued viability. However, outsourcing should not lead to unethical labour market practices or exploitation of workers and both consumers, suppliers and retailers should be vigilant to ensure that goods are produced under fair and decent conditions.

Outsourcing can, of course, make a valuable contribution to the efforts of developing countries to develop and increase their exports, thus earning valuable foreign exchange, as part of their drive to industrialise and diversify their economies. Not only does this provide employment but it also makes a longer term contribution to development of production and management expertise.

However, outsourcing should not lead to unethical labour market practices or exploitation of workers and both consumers, suppliers and retailers should be vigilant to ensure that goods are produced under fair and decent conditions.

While discussions have not taken place with the ILO on a bilateral basis on the issue of labour standards in other countries, Ireland has consistently supported the International Labour Organisation in its efforts to promote core labour standards. In 1998, we supported the adoption by the ILO of a Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. This commits the ILO's approximately 180 member states worldwide to respect the principles inherent in the core labour standards and to promote their universal application.

Additionally, at the most recent June Conference, ILO members, including Ireland, adopted the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation. This provides the ILO with a rejuvenated and strengthened mandate to enable it to better respond to its members' needs to tackle changes arising from the globalisation process. Ireland, alongside its EU counterparts, also fully supported the accompanying Resolution that includes concrete modalities in support of implementation of the Declaration. The new Declaration is an important tool and promotional framework for the achievement of the ILO's four strategic objectives that comprise the Decent Work Agenda.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

234 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of representatives of her Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Beijing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27950/08]

There are currently no plans for any representatives or officials from my Department to visit Beijing in an official capacity to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games. Accordingly, there is no projected cost involved.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

235 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of her Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27970/08]

In the time available it has not been possible to compile the information requested by the Deputy in relation to my Department and the Offices of my Department. This information is being compiled at present and I will communicate the details to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Industrial Development.

Tom Hayes

Question:

236 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action she has taken to work with the IDA Ireland to organise prospective inward investment to south Tipperary for 2008 and 2009; the number of scheduled visits by the IDA Ireland with investors planned for 2008 and 2009 to south Tipperary; the plans to use a factory (details supplied) in Tipperary Town; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27983/08]

Tom Hayes

Question:

237 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the strategies and policies that have been formed to prioritise job creation and inward investment in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary following the visit of the Oireachtas Joint Committee of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in January 2008. [27989/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 and 237 together.

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

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

In marketing South Tipperary for new foreign direct investment, IDA Ireland is focused on attracting overseas companies in the services and knowledge based industries, including advanced manufacturing. The Agency is actively engaged with its existing client base in Co. Tipperary to encourage their transition to higher value activities and to embed their operations within Ireland. In addition, IDA Ireland continues to work closely with third level educational institutions and FÁS in the region so that the skill sets necessary to attract high value added employment to the county are being developed.

In line with the above, IDA has purchased c. 20 hectares of land in the South Tipperary Co. Council owned Ballingarrane Estate in Clonmel. The future development of the Ballingarrane lands, incorporating the IDA Business Park and Tipperary Institute, will be a key asset in attracting foreign direct investment into South Tipperary.

While there are no itineraries planned in the immediate future, any prospective investors will be advised regarding the range of property solutions available in the County.

As Ireland competes for investments at the highest end of the value chain the concept of scale is crucial to our economic destiny. Leading corporations require a significant population of highly qualified talent, effective physical and digital infrastructure coupled with availability of sophisticated professional support services. If we are to continue being successful in realising a large proportion of our investments outside of the larger cities, all economic and social stakeholders will need to adhere to the framework on which the NSS is constructed. Future thinking and action must have a regional rather than a local bias and this requires a significant change in mindset.

Departmental Properties.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

238 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of the interdepartmental project team established in August 2006 to develop proposals for the redevelopment of Haulbowline Island; the person who conceived this proposal; if plans have been finalised for the hotel, luxury apartments, marina, museum and office space; the members of the project team; the expenditure incurred to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28003/08]

The possibility of developing the former Ispat site at Haulbowline from an enterprise, tourism and leisure perspective was first suggested by a former executive of Enterprise Ireland.

The issue has been under consideration in my Department which has consulted with other interests including the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, OPW and the County Manager with a view to identifying both the needs of Departments and State Bodies insofar as the Ispat site is concerned.

A range of issues have been under consideration including site boundary issues, zoning issues and other regulatory matters. Consideration has also been given to the best mechanism for taking the project forward prior to any formal establishment of an interdepartmental group.

My Department has also been considering the results of site investigations, the status of current works on the site, the identification of on-going site management issues and the identification of possible constraints to the remediation and redevelopment of the site.

In response to recent safety concerns which have arisen on the site the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government has engaged consultants to carry out a site investigation and to determine what, if any, are the implications for the site of recent unauthorised works. Options for the further development of the site, will be informed, inter alia, by the outcome of this investigation.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Tom Hayes

Question:

239 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the closure of the Carrick-on-Suir jobs club; the rationale behind the decision; the alternative job creation facilities and advice centres that will be put in place in the town; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28046/08]

The range and make-up of supports and services provided by FÁS at local level is a day-to-day operational matter for them, and is not an area in which I have any role to play.

I understand that in early 2008 FÁS raised concerns about the capacity of the Carrick-on-Suir Jobs Club to meet the agreed targets. Representatives were advised by FÁS that if there was no progress towards achieving the targets funding would be discontinued.

Due to the Carrick-on-Suir Jobs Club's continuing inability to achieve nationally agreed targets FÁS notified the Jobs Club of its decision to discontinue funding with effect from 30th June 2008. However this closing date has now been extended to 31st July 2008 to allow the Jobs Club another opportunity to produce an Action Plan showing how it intends to achieve the nationally agreed targets.

I can assure the Deputy that FÁS is continuing to liaise with community representatives in Carrick-on-Suir to explore options which will best serve Carrick-on-Suir in the months and years ahead in terms of employment and training supports.

Grocery Industry.

Phil Hogan

Question:

240 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in the view of the recent survey by the National Consumer Agency on the price of grocery goods in the Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, she will request the Competition Authority to carry out a study jointly with the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland, into the basis for the differentials in the price of grocery goods at retail, wholesale and supplier level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28123/08]

The Deputy will be aware that I have raised my concerns about the price of grocery goods on a number of occasions recently with the National Consumer Agency and the Retail Association of Ireland.

It continues to be my view that retailers have a duty to their customers and to the economies in which they operate to explain why there are such price differentials between their stores in the two jurisdictions. The Competition Authority has undertaken a study into the grocery market in Ireland. Earlier this year, the Authority published two reports as part of the Grocery Monitor Project. The first report, A Description of the Structure and Operation of Grocery Retailing and Wholesaling in Ireland: 2001 to 2006 provides a description of the market structure at the wholesale and retail levels of the Irish grocery sector.

The second report is entitled Price Trends in the Irish Retail Grocery Sector: A Description of the Evolution of Retail Grocery Prices between 2001 and 2007. In this report, the Competition Authority has considered the impact of the removal of the Groceries Order by examining the evolution of the aggregate retail grocery price trends since 2001, by analysis of price data published by the CSO. A third Report examining the Retail Planning System as applied to the Grocery Sector 2001-2007 was recently finalised.

I have asked Forfás to do an assessment of the comparative costs of operating a retail business in Ireland and how the costs facing retailers could be addressed. The study should be finalized in the Autumn.

Departmental Properties.

Billy Timmins

Question:

241 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the land and buildings in her Department’s ownership in County Wicklow; the length of time they have been in the ownership of her Department; when a site visit was last carried out on each of these locations with a view to locating an industry there; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28267/08]

Under the Industrial Development Acts, the management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio is a day to day operational matter for the Agency and not one in which I have a function.

I understand from IDA Ireland that it owns a total of total of 69.09 hectares of land in Wickow, a 20 hectare Business Park in Bray, a 24.9 hectare Business Park in Greystones and a 24.19 hectare Business park in Arklow. These lands have been in IDA ownership since 1990, 1984 and 1998 respectively. In addition, the Agency has only one building in the county- Ballynattan House on the Arklow lands.

When prospective investors are being brought to visit the county they are advised regarding the range of property solutions available and I am informed that the last such visit to Wicklow took palace in late 2006. Through its range of overseas offices, IDA Ireland continues to promote Wicklow for further foreign investment across all sectors. Wicklow's proximity to Dublin, together with the rail and road links combine to enhance its attractiveness as a site for overseas mobile investment. The Agency promotes its own parks in Greystones and Arklow as well as other public and private parks in several Wicklow locations in collaboration with the enterprise staff in Wicklow County Council.

Job Creation.

Billy Timmins

Question:

242 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created by her Department on a county basis since 1 January 1998 to 1 January 2008; the cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28268/08]

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are clients of the industrial development agencies. Information is aggregated on an annualised basis at county level.

The number of jobs with support from the Enterprise Development Agencies on a county basis in each of the years from 1998 to the end of 2007 are set out in the attached tabular statement. Data on the cost of individual jobs created is not available. However, both Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland compile overall figures on the cost per job created and sustained on a rolling seven year basis. The figure is calculated by taking into account all agency expenditure to all firms. Only jobs created during and sustained to the end of each seven-year period are credited in the calculations; those figures are attached and are based on Constant 2007 prices.

The enterprise agencies aim to support sustainable, high value added enterprise, in all regions through the provision of mentoring and developmental supports, the enhancement of management capabilities and critical workforce skills in client companies, support for the creation and implementation of strategies for market entry, development and growth, and strong supports for innovation and for research and development. Furthermore, we are continuing to pursue policies to promote lifelong learning and up-skilling to improve labour market flexibility and, where necessary, ensure that appropriate training supports are provided for workers in sectors that are no longer competitive, and who may need to find alternative employment.

I am satisfied that the policies being pursued by Government, together with the work of the Enterprise Development Agencies on the ground, as well as the roll-out of the National Development Plan will continue to bear fruit in terms of investments and employment in the country.

Cost Per Job

Period

1998-2004

1999-2005

2000-2006

2001-2007

Enterprise Ireland

8,518

5,961

3,907

6,111

IDA Ireland

16,408

14,432

13,097

12,577

Full time Jobs Created by Enterprise Development Agencies * 1998-2007 on a county Basis

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Totals

Carlow

461

287

162

217

188

183

196

205

287

327

2,513

Kilkenny

274

317

320

337

638

301

260

256

276

279

3,258

Tipperary (SR)

378

693

545

569

334

238

281

295

362

958

4,653

Waterford

1,116

742

636

938

995

909

548

513

1,106

606

8,109

Wexford

415

421

544

449

583

657

510

484

335

436

4,834

Cavan

407

463

384

375

699

493

547

1,064

781

400

5,613

Donegal

419

479

635

834

379

382

408

708

526

611

5,381

Leitrim

91

162

66

387

181

601

178

63

70

45

1,844

Louth

742

618

1,252

664

443

258

615

618

698

584

6,492

Monaghan

459

452

385

355

376

330

348

540

425

343

4,013

Sligo

349

270

298

261

261

263

316

306

334

147

2,805

Clare

1,207

1,240

1,224

839

590

639

632

692

732

561

8,356

Limerick

2,372

2,813

2,082

1,007

814

682

1,038

1,137

1,830

1,053

14,828

Tipperary (NR)

213

376

449

347

342

251

233

233

208

278

2,930

Cork

3,426

3,399

6,404

3,206

3,805

2,595

3,024

2,715

3,605

3,084

35,263

Kerry

464

849

1,029

550

335

255

257

386

313

363

4,801

Dublin

12,189

16,583

17,425

11,510

8,926

7,870

9,421

9,929

10,670

9,106

113,629

Galway

1,369

1,129

2,775

1,227

1,044

1,357

1,636

1,902

1,199

1,118

14,756

Mayo

744

503

898

670

324

294

329

485

352

468

5,067

Roscommon

303

200

288

213

250

214

184

184

126

225

2,187

Kildare

986

1,349

2,438

691

1,027

971

1,135

1,020

910

679

11,206

Meath

509

459

734

509

289

547

467

635

1,032

773

5,954

Wicklow

594

1,189

863

1,120

1,002

1,261

560

772

383

439

8,183

Laois

112

217

83

277

133

70

62

132

207

103

1,396

Longford

299

216

231

432

120

359

257

417

326

145

2,802

Offaly

294

647

275

242

671

230

355

261

440

444

3,859

Westmeath

508

290

711

547

565

366

515

574

475

610

5,161

Total

30,700

36,363

43,136

28,773

25,314

22,576

24,312

26,526

28,008

24,185

289,893

*IDA Ireland Enterprise Ireland, Shannon Development.

Source: Forfas Business Information System.

Sports Capital Programme.

Niall Collins

Question:

243 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if an application has been received from a club (details supplied) in County Donegal for funding under the sports capital programme; if the application is currently being considered; and when a decision will be made. [27805/08]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

244 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when a grant will be awarded to a club (details supplied) in County Kerry under the sports capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27938/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 244 together.

Under the sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country.

Applications for funding under the 2008 programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on 13th and 14th of January and the deadline for receipt of applications was 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for online applications. All applications received before the deadline, including those from the organisations in question, are currently being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

245 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of representatives of his Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Beijing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27945/08]

The Government has been invited by the Olympic Council of Ireland to be represented at the Beijing Olympic Games. I will be attending on behalf of the Government. As the travel and accommodation arrangements are not yet finalised it is not possible at this stage to provide the costs of such attendance or confirm the numbers travelling.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

246 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27965/08]

The requested details relating to publications on behalf of my Department are set out in tabular form.

Title of Publication/Booklet

Cost of Production

Cost of Distribution

Cost of Graphic Design

Cost of Launching

Other Costs

Total Cost of Publication

(€)

(€)

(€)

(€)

(€)

(€)

Annual Report 2006

4,833.95

0

Included in cost of production

0

181.50 (courier)

5,015.45

Launch Folder of Arts and Culture Programme 2008

2,601.50

0

2,238.50

0

48.40 (courier)

4,888.40

Social Welfare Benefits.

Tom Hayes

Question:

247 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her views on increasing the living alone allowance for older people in line with the increased cost of food and fuel; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27984/08]

The living alone increase is an additional payment of €7.70 per week made to people aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments and who are living alone. It is also available to people who are under 66 years of age who are living alone and receiving payments under one of a number of invalidity type schemes.

The policy in relation to support for older people has been, for many years, to give priority to increasing the personal rates of pension in addition to enhancing the Household Benefits Package which includes TV Licence, Telephone, Electricity/Gas and the Fuel Allowance rather than supplements like the living alone increase. The objective is to use resources to improve the position of all pensioners to the fullest extent possible rather than focusing on particular groups. Under this policy, the rate of contributory pension has increased from €147.30 per week in 2002 to €223.00 per week in 2008 and the non-contributory pension has increased from €134.00 per week to €212.00 per week.

Decentralisation Programme.

Rory O'Hanlon

Question:

248 Deputy Rory O’Hanlon asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding decentralisation to Carrickmacross County Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28115/08]

Rory O'Hanlon

Question:

249 Deputy Rory O’Hanlon asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding accommodation for decentralisation in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28116/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 248 and 249 together.

Under the current programme of decentralisation, 85 posts in the Department are to be relocated to Carrickmacross and in excess of 90 applications have been received to date to move there.

The Office of Public Works is charged with securing accommodation in Carrickmacross for this Department. They have advised that they are still exploring a number of options including one which involves Monaghan County Council.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

250 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will increase the fuel allowance in view of the recent increase in fuel costs here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27798/08]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

251 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will make the fuel allowance available all year round in view of the cold and wet weather being experienced here during the summer months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27799/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 250 and 251 together.

This Department's role is to assist social welfare recipients with heating costs, both through their basic payments and through the household benefits package with fuel, electricity and gas allowances. These schemes have been improved significantly in recent years.

The national fuel allowance scheme assists householders on long-term social welfare or health service executive (HSE) payments with meeting the cost of their heating needs during the winter season. The allowance represents a contribution towards a person's normal heating expenses. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Fuel allowance is now payable for 30 weeks and benefits over 290,000 people at an aggregate cost of €170 million this year. The payment rate has increased to €18 per week or €21.90 for recipients living in designated smokeless areas; this is a doubling of the rate of payment since 2005.

Electricity and gas allowances under the household benefits package, are payable throughout the year to over 355,000 pensioners, people with disabilities, and carer households towards their heating, light and cooking costs at an estimated overall scheme cost of €159m in 2008. The electricity allowance covers standing charges plus VAT and up to 2,400 units of electricity in each billing period, increased from 1,800 units in January 2007. The gas allowance covers a cash equivalent amount.

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme can also be used to assist people in certain circumstances with specific heating needs due to infirmity or a particular medical condition.

Fuel allowance is incorporated into a person's weekly social welfare payment. Government policy in recent years has focused on significantly increasing primary social welfare rates to ensure that people on social welfare can meet their basic living costs, including heating, throughout the year and achieve an improvement in quality of life. This is a more costly approach than increasing fuel allowance as the increase is paid for the full year and not just for the 30 weeks of the winter heating season. Social welfare rates have increased at a significantly greater rate than inflation in recent years. Since December 2001, the consumer price index has increased by over 27% while energy product prices have increased by 65%. However, increases in social welfare payments (including fuel allowance) have been between 71% and 88% in the same period.

Improvements to the fuel allowance scheme, such as an increase in the rate of payment or an extension of the duration of the fuel season, would have considerable cost implications. Payment of the fuel allowance for a full 52 weeks of the year would cost an additional €123m, bringing total annual expenditure to over €293m. Any changes to the scheme will be considered in a budgetary context and in the light of resources available for improvements in social welfare payments generally.

Pension Provisions.

Tom Hayes

Question:

252 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a national pension awareness campaign has been planned for 2008/2009; the amount such a campaign would cost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27814/08]

The National Pensions Awareness Campaign has been run by the Pensions Board on behalf of the Department annually since 2003. A total of €1million has been provided to support the campaign in 2008. The campaign has been very successful in creating and maintaining a high level of awareness amongst the general public in relation to pensions issues.

The allocation of resources for a campaign is reviewed annually in the context of the overall estimates and budget process. At this stage, no decisions have been made in relation to a campaign for 2009.

Tom Hayes

Question:

253 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her views on the fact that by 2050, studies estimate that one in four people here will be over 65; if future pension entitlements are being planned accordingly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27815/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, the needs of older people have been a priority for Government for many years and very significant improvements have been made in social welfare pensions. The rate of contributory pension has increased from €147.30 per week in 2002 to more than €223 per week in 2008 and the non-contributory pension has increased from €134.00 per week in 2002 to €212 per week this year.

As the House is aware, the Green Paper on Pensions, published on 17 October 2008, sets out a comprehensive discussion on the issues relating to both social welfare and occupational pensions. The purpose of the Green Paper is not to recommend any particular approach, but rather to facilitate a debate on the issues and possible approaches to future policy.

With regard to private and occupational pensions, the Green Paper discusses approaches for the development of the pension system, largely based on the conclusions of the Pensions Board in its two reports published in 2006, the National Pensions Review and Special Savings for Retirement. These discussions are in the context of criteria ranging from coverage and adequacy to competitiveness. The approaches discussed include maintaining the status quo, the use of SSIA type tax incentives in a pensions context, soft mandatory approaches and mandatory provision. A more prominent role for the social welfare pension in improving retirement income is also considered.

The consultation process on the Green Paper on Pensions has recently closed and the Government is committed to developing a new framework for future pensions policy by the end of the year.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

254 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will review the case of persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [27859/08]

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

255 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will review the case of persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [27861/08]

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

Rent supplement is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive (HSE), as part of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is provide short-term income support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. Rent supplement is calculated to ensure that a person, after the payment of rent, has an income equal to the basic rate of supplementary welfare allowance, appropriate to his/her family circumstances, less a specified minimum contribution, currently €13, which recipients are required to pay from their own resources. Many recipients pay more than €13 because they are also required to contribute any additional assessable means that they have, over and above the appropriate rate of supplementary welfare allowance, towards their accommodation costs.

The HSE has advised that the person concerned was in receipt of rent supplement but this payment was discontinued in 2007 as her income was sufficient to meet her housing costs. If she wishes to have her current entitlement to rent supplement assessed, she should make an application at her local health centre.

The person concerned incurred an overpayment of over €5,500 while in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment (OFP), as she failed to notify the Department that she had commenced employment. She has agreed to repay the overpayment by direct debit deductions of €10 per week. She has been advised that if her earnings reduce below the current OFP income limit of €425 per week, it is open to her to reapply for OFP.

Pension Provisions.

Joan Burton

Question:

256 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she has read the policy document recently published by the National Women’s Council of Ireland entitled Pensions: What Women Want, a model of pensions that guarantees independence; if her attention has been drawn to the needs and challenges facing women here; if she will take steps to ensure that the issues highlighted in the document receive due attention and that these issues become a more important element of the debate on forming a new Government policy on pensions; the steps she will introduce; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27919/08]

The Green Paper on Pensions, published on 17 October 2007, sets out a comprehensive discussion on the issues relating to both social welfare and occupational pensions. The purpose of the Green Paper is not to recommend any particular approach, but rather to facilitate a debate on the issues and possible approaches to future policy.

With regard to private and occupational pensions, the Green Paper discusses approaches for the development of the pension system, largely based on the conclusions of the Pensions Board in its two reports published in 2006, the National Pensions Review and Special Savings for Retirement. These discussions are in the context of criteria ranging from coverage and adequacy to competitiveness. The approaches discussed include maintaining the status quo, the use of SSIA type tax incentives in a pensions context, soft mandatory approaches and mandatory provision. A more prominent role for the social welfare pension in improving retirement income is also considered.

The Government is anxious to ensure that as many people as possible can be accommodated within the social welfare pensions system, with due regard being paid to the contributory principle underlying entitlement to contributory payments and, in the case of non-contributory payments, the need to ensure that resources are directed to those who are most in need. Over the last 10 years, means tests have been improved and qualifying conditions for contributory payments made easier. The Green Paper includes a full discussion on the social welfare pension position of women and sets out, a range of reforms for discussion, including the use of universal entitlements and back-dating the homemakers scheme.

A consultation process commenced following its publication and submissions were invited on all aspects of the pensions system. Issues in relation to women's pensions were very prominent among the large number of submissions received, both from individuals and organisations. The policy document "Pensions: What Women Want" published by the National Women's Council of Ireland was also received and is included among the submissions on the website www.pensionsgreenpaper.ie dedicated to the Green Paper. I have read the document in question and, indeed, I met the National Women's Council of Ireland recently and assured them of the Government's commitment to developing a framework for future pension policy.

The consultation period has concluded and work has recently commenced on deciding on a framework. It is expected that the policy framework will be finalised by the end of the year.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

257 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of representatives of her Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Bejing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27956/08]

There will not be anyone visiting Beijing in an official capacity from this Department during the Olympic Games.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

258 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of her Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27976/08]

The information requested is currently being compiled and a reply will issue to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Marine Accidents.

Denis Naughten

Question:

259 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 340 of 13 May 2008, the position in relation to same; if the meetings referred to have taken place; the outcome of same; if the recommendation referred to has been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27836/08]

I wish to advise the Deputy that Waterways Ireland met with the Marine Safety Directorate on 2 July 2008 to discuss the Marine Casualty Investigation Board Report No. MCIB/127 into the circumstances surrounding the grounding and flooding of a hire cruiser on Lough Derg on 1 July 2006 and, in particular, Recommendation 6.3 of the Report.

Waterways Ireland in consultation with the Marine Safety Directorate has agreed to carry out a detailed review of its buoyage system on the Shannon Navigation in respect of Recommendation 6.3.

Waterways Ireland will revert to the Marine Safety Directorate with its proposals and, following agreement with them, will commence implementation of the necessary changes within an agreed timetable.

National Drugs Strategy.

Mary Upton

Question:

260 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the new National Drugs Strategy is expected to be launched; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27864/08]

Work on developing the new National Drugs Strategy is ongoing. A key element of the work to date is the extensive consultation process that is being undertaken by the Steering Group, chaired by my Department, which has been established to develop proposals for the new Strategy.

This has included 15 public consultation meetings and meetings with (i) a number of relevant Departments and agencies, (ii) key sectoral groups, (iii) organisations working in the drugs area and (iv) a number of focus groups aimed at particularly hard to reach individuals. In addition, over 120 written submissions have been received to date.

The consultation process, which I expect will be completed by mid July, is central to the work of formulating a new Strategy. The opinions and views expressed will help to inform the shape and direction of the new Strategy which will cover the period 2009-2016.

The work of the Steering Group will continue into the autumn and I hope to be in a position to make recommendations on the new Strategy to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion before the end of 2008, and to launch it shortly thereafter.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

261 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of representatives of his Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Bejing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27947/08]

No such representatives of my Department will be visiting Bejing in an official capacity to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

262 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27967/08]

I assume that the Deputy's Question relates to publications and brochures produced for general information by or on behalf of my Department. The details sought by the Deputy in relation to such publications for the period January 2007-June 2008 are set out in the table below.

The Deputy may wish to note that details in relation to other reports (such as VFM or policy reviews, etc) commissioned by my Department in the period 2002-2008 (to date) were provided in response to Question No. 574 of 8 Iúil 2008.

Publication

Published

Total Cost

Departmental Annual Report 2005

2007

14,184

Departmental Annual Report 2006

2007

12,471

Many Communities — A Common Focus

2007

4,620

Report of the Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation

2007

17,479

Updated information leaflet on the National Drugs Strategy Team

2007

1,209

Reprint of LEADER Programme brochure

2007

2,250

Scheme of Community Support for Older People

2007

3,962

Report of the Linguistic Study on the Use of Irish in the Gaelacht

2007

17,039

The Walks Scheme Booklet

2008

8,705

CLÁR Annual Report 2006

2007

7,895

A Guide to the Rural Social Scheme — Your Questions Answered

2007

3,850

Ráiteas Polasaí an Rialtais i leith na Gaeilge

2007

51,338

The Smallholder Initiative Leaflet

2007

1,195

Making a difference in Rural Ireland (Case Studies)

2007

25,769

Educational inequalities in a rural setting

2007

15,664

RAPID in Action — Community Safety and Physical Environment

2007

8,716

Equality Code of Practice

2007

1,061

Inclusion Through Local Development

2007

2,161

Performance Indicator Report 2006/2007

2007

7,866

Local Development Social Inclusion Programme: Annual Monitoring Report

2007

5,295

RAPID in Action — Leverage fund case studies

2007

37,845

Empowering Communities By Tackling Disadvantage

2007

26,914

Social Inclusion of Ex-Prisoners and their Families: the Role of Partnerships

2008

9,023

Meeting the Needs of One Parent Families — Brochure

2008

797

Post Office Network.

Tom Hayes

Question:

263 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the fears that many communities have with respect to the closure of their local post offices, shops and convenience stores and the future for such people living in communities like this; the action he will take to enhance regional development and stem rural isolation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27990/08]

My Department's range of rural development and community development programmes reflects the Government's commitment to ensuring the economic and social well-being of rural communities.

In addition, the National Development Plan 2007-2013 contains a range of other programmes and schemes implemented by my Department, which contribute to the Government's objective of balanced regional development. Most notably, the LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, which was launched recently, will provide significant support for the social and economic development of rural areas and promote the diversification of the rural economy.

However, I have no direct function for postal services or the maintenance of post offices.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

264 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of representatives of his Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Bejing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27944/08]

No representatives of my Department will be visiting Beijing in an official capacity to coincide with the 2008 Olympics.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

265 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27964/08]

The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Tree Felling Licences.

Frank Feighan

Question:

266 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will provide a commitment that seven acres of forestry spruce trees for commercial use at the Demesne Castlerea, County Roscommon will be felled. [28109/08]

Section 37 of the Forestry Act 1946 requires, with certain exceptions, the owners of land on which the trees stand to give notice of intention, by way of a Felling Notice, when uprooting trees over ten years of age or cutting down trees of any age. No Felling Notice has been received to date by the Forest Service of my Department for lands at Knockroe, Castlerea.

Should a Felling Notice be received by my Department, the Forest Service will give due consideration to the granting of a felling licence for the site in question in accordance with the Code of Best Forest Practice.

It should be noted, however, that the owner of the land in which the trees are situated is entitled to remove trees that are located within 100 feet of any building other than a wall or temporary structure in accordance with the exemption provided for under Section 37(4)(d) of the Forestry Act 1946.

Special Educational Needs.

Joe McHugh

Question:

267 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Science if, it is his policy to introduce cutbacks in the area of special education needs in view of the large amount of cutbacks in County Donegal (details supplied); his views on whether it is good practice to target the most vulnerable people in society when introducing cutbacks; the action he plans to take to help persons who have been left in limbo over their children’s educational future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27855/08]

Joe McHugh

Question:

272 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal, who has Asperger’s syndrome, has had their resource hours reduced and has to share their special needs assistant with two other students, who are not in the same class as them; if the special educational needs organisers are qualified to undermine recommendations from experts in the field of special education needs; if not, the reason they are allowed to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27853/08]

Joe McHugh

Question:

273 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal has had their resource hours reduced and has been told that they will no longer have a special needs assistant next term; if it is his policy to introduce cutbacks to special education needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27854/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 267, 272 and 273 together.

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

For some pupils, as they mature, their care needs may diminish over time. In such circumstances, the NCSE will review and adjust the overall level of SNA support in the school concerned. This may mean that some pupils who had previously been supported by a full time SNA may have their needs met through the shared support of an SNA or perhaps they may have no need for SNA support. 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. I have arranged for the details supplied by the Deputy to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

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 wish to advise the Deputy that there have been no cutbacks in relation to special education needs provision. In fact, there are now 19,000 staff in our schools working solely with children with special needs. This includes almost 10,000 SNAs — compared with just 300 in 1997.

School Accommodation.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

268 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science when an additional prefab will be provided to a school (details supplied) in County Laois; if he will provide an assurance that the prefab will be in place in advance of the beginning of the academic year 2008/2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27813/08]

An application for the provision of temporary accommodation has been received from the school referred to by the Deputy. The application is under consideration at present and it is anticipated that a decision will be made in the matter and conveyed to the school very shortly.

Decentralisation Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

269 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 347 of 29 April 2008, when he expects the transfer of decentralised posts to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27818/08]

The transfer of decentralising posts to Athlone is well underway. Seventy five (75) posts have been relocated to Athlone and I expect another 10 posts to be relocated to Athlone during the remainder of July.

School Transport.

Denis Naughten

Question:

270 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science if school transport will be extended to a pupil (details supplied) in County Galway for an additional year; the reason this was initially refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27830/08]

My Department is liaising with the relevant authorities and examining the background to the enrolment of the person named in the details supplied. When this examination is completed and the information received, the School Transport Section of my Department will liaise directly with the family concerned.

Schools Refurbishment.

Denis Naughten

Question:

271 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science when he expects a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be advised of the outcome of its application for an emergency works grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27831/08]

My Department received an application for funding under the emergency works scheme from the school in question. A decision on the application will be made as soon as possible and the school will be advised of the outcome.

Questions Nos. 272 and 273 answered with Question No. 267.

School Accommodation.

Mary Upton

Question:

274 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the way schools can avail of assistance from his Department to increase energy efficiency; when the research project underway with Sustainable Energy Ireland aimed at helping schools to meet the certification requirements of the energy performance building directive will be rolled out to every school here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27866/08]

My Department has a strong record in developing low energy educational buildings. For the past nine years it has been using a process called the DART approach to develop sustainable and energy efficiency in educational buildings. This acronym focuses on four key areas, namely design, awareness, research and technology. Rather than develop a unique focus on energy design the Department of Education and Science has taken a more holistic approach and has developed technical guidance on energy efficiency in school designs as an integral part of the Department's suite of technical guidance documents. These guidelines encourage the design team to take a complete design team approach from project conception.

There is particular emphasis on elimination of over design, improved thermal envelope design and improved passive solar design, natural ventilation and day lighting along with advanced heating and lighting controls. It has been demonstrated that all Primary Schools designed and built in line with the above policy and the technical guidance documents can have an energy performance that is 2.3 times more efficient than International best practice. The performance of the Department in the area of low energy design has been recognised at both National and International level with sustainable energy awards for excellence in Design and Specification and just recently by the Taoiseach's Public Service Excellence Awards held in Dublin Castle Conference Centre on Friday 18 April 2008.

One of the research projects currently underway is developing a project, in conjunction with Sustainable Energy Ireland, aimed at helping existing schools to meet the certification requirements of the Energy Performance Building Directive. This process will allow all schools to conduct an energy audit of their school and energy usage and to input specific information to the Departments energy website. The school will then not only receive information on their actual energy use and environmental emissions but will also be able to compare the schools energy performance relative to that of other school buildings in the form of an energy rating. They will also be able to receive energy saving advice from the website relative to their school buildings and to view case studies of similar schools and how they achieve better energy savings. The data gathering, energy auditing and benchmarking and website development aspects of the project are complete and validation of the system will be completed this year.

School Enrolments.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

275 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will process the application of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27879/08]

The compulsory school starting age in a National School is 6 years of age. Enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. This may result, however, in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools that are not in a position to admit all pupils seeking entry to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act. In this regard a board of management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. In formulating an admissions policy a school must, however, ensure it is lawful. In particular, it must act in accordance with section 7 of the Equal Status Act 2000.

Where a Board of Management refuses to enrol a student in a school, the parent of the student or, where the student has reached 18 years of age, the student himself or herself, following the conclusion of any appeal procedures at school level, has a statutory entitlement under section 29 of the Education Act to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science. A committee is established to hear the appeal with hearings conducted with a minimum of formality. In most cases appeals must be dealt with within 30 days. Where appropriate, the Secretary General may give whatever directions to the Board of Management that are considered necessary to remedy the matter complained of. The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.

Special Educational Needs.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

276 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will confirm that the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 will be implemented in full across all ages in order to avoid children being without services or education. [27895/08]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

278 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science the timeframe for the completion of negotiations between his Department and the Department of Health and Children with the Health Service Executive for the implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004. [27897/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 and 278 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, a number of sections of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 has been commenced, principally those establishing the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and those promoting an inclusive approach to the education of children with special needs.

The National Council for Special Education was required under the Act to make a report on the implementation of the Act. Based on consideration of this report and discussions held with the Education Partners, my Department has been drawing together proposals to facilitate implementation of the remaining sections, including the provisions in respect of assessment and individual education plans (IEP). 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. These proposals will now be considered in the context of the Estimates 2009 process.

A Cross-Sectoral Team, comprising representatives from my Department, the Department of Health and Children, the NCSE and the HSE, is currently developing operational protocols to outline how the two sectors will interact. In parallel with these processes, my Department has also advanced a number of areas relevant to the implementation of EPSEN:

Proposals for pre-school assessment services developed;

Collaboration with the Department of Health and Children in relation to the establishment of the Standards Body;

Recruitment of additional staff for the Council and staffing review of the NCSE;

Appointment of Chairperson and members to the Special Education Appeals Board;

Recruitment of educational psychologists;

Review of the scheme for commissioning private assessments;

Publication of agreed standards for assessment;

Contributing to assessments under the Disability Act.

As the EPSEN Act does not provide for phased commencement by age cohort the education sector must be in a position to provide the required services to all children before the relevant provisions are commenced. My Department's priority, therefore, is to ensure that the necessary training, guidance and supports are in place to facilitate the commencement of the remaining sections of the Act.

I would also point out 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.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

277 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if, in view of the statistical growth of children with special needs at both primary and secondary level, within both inclusive class environments and special class or unit settings, the Health Service Executive has kept pace with the provision of service to students of special needs and autism units in primary and secondary schools. [27896/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, the provision of health services is a matter for the Health Services Executive (HSE) and funding is provided to the HSE for such purposes. The Deputy may wish to raise the matter with my colleague the Minister for Health and Children or directly with the Health Service Executive.

Question No. 278 answered with Question No. 276.

Schools Refurbishment.

Denis Naughten

Question:

279 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the funding available for primary and post primary schools respectively for the emergency works scheme; when he will make an announcement on successful applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27906/08]

Emergency works grants are made available to primary and post-primary schools most in need of resources as a result of unforeseen emergencies of a capital nature that may arise during the school year. It is incumbent on the school to provide as much detail as possible to the Department on the nature of the emergency and the need for an emergency works grant to be paid to address the emergency.

All applications are assessed by my Department and schools advised of the outcome as soon as possible. In light of the number of projects seeking funding from my Department for works from the budget allocated, it is not possible to provide funding under the Scheme for all applications at this time. 175 applications, 55 of which relate to post-primary schools, have been approved so far in 2008.

Schools Building Projects.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

280 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of fast track schools under construction in June 2008; the number of these fast track schools that have had or will have storage heating installed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27930/08]

I am glad to inform the Deputy that my Department currently has 26 school projects due for completion for the 2008 school year. None of these schools will be heated by storage heating. All new schools are built to the specifications set out in the Departments technical Guidelines. These guidelines encourage the design team to take a complete design team approach from project conception. There is particular emphasis on elimination of over design, improved thermal envelope design and improved passive solar design, natural ventilation and day lighting along with advanced heating and lighting controls.

It has been demonstrated that all Primary Schools designed and built in line with the above policy and the technical guidance documents can have an energy performance that is 2.3 times more efficient than International best practice. The performance of my Department in the area of low energy design has been recognised at both National and International level with sustainable energy awards for excellence in Design and Specification and just recently by the Taoiseach's Public Service Excellence Awards held in Dublin Castle Conference Centre on Friday 18 April 2008.

School Enrolments.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

281 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Science if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 118 of 26 June 2008, it is open to the board of management of a school, primary or second level, to define its own catchment area; his views on situations where a school refuses admission to a student clearly resident within its traditional catchment area on the grounds of enrolment capacity, while simultaneously enrolling brothers and sisters of current students resident outside the catchment area; if it is appropriate for boards of management to prioritise the enrolment of siblings outside of the catchment area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27931/08]

Catchment boundaries have their origins in the establishment of free post primary education in the late 1960's. For school planning purposes, the country was divided into geographic districts, each with several primary schools feeding into a post primary education centre with one or more post primary schools. The intention was, and continues to be, that these defined districts would facilitate the orderly planning of school provision and accommodation needs. A catchment boundary can only be changed by my Department.

With regard to school admissions, the position remains as set out in my previous response of 26th June 2008 i.e. it is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools that are not in a position to admit all pupils seeking entry to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act. In this regard a board of management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. In formulating an admissions policy a school must, however, ensure it is lawful. In particular, it must act in accordance with section 7 of the Equal Status Act 2000.

Where a Board of Management refuses to enrol a student in a school, the parent of the student or, where the student has reached 18 years of age, the student himself or herself, following the conclusion of any appeal procedures at school level, has a statutory entitlement under section 29 of the Education Act to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science. A committee is established to hear the appeal with hearings conducted with a minimum of formality. In most cases appeals must be dealt with within 30 days. Where appropriate, the Secretary General may give whatever directions to the Board of Management that are considered necessary to remedy the matter complained of.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Tom Hayes

Question:

282 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools that will lose a teacher as a result of the new staffing schedule in 2007/2008; and the number that will lose a teacher if no improvements are made to the class sizes in 2008/2009. [27932/08]

Mainstream staffing in primary schools is determined by reference to school enrolments 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. This is a transparent and clear way of ensuring that all schools are treated consistently and fairly and know where they stand. The schedule allocates teachers within enrolment bands and the current bands introduced for the 2007/08 school year are based on an average of 27 pupils.

Under a system that allocates additional teachers at different step points under a common schedule it is a fact of life that changes in enrolment can effect the mainstream staffing of a school. In any year, and not just this year, when enrolments are falling in a school this can result in the loss of a teacher. Equally when enrolments increase a school can gain a teacher under the operation of the staffing schedule. While some 120 schools will lose a teacher in the next school year compared to this year there will still be a net increase of some 500 teachers due to increase in enrolments. The impact of these additional teachers on class size in the 2008/2009 school year will be dependant on how they are deployed by the school authorities. Schools have flexibility in the way in which they assign pupils and teachers to classes and the Department does not allocate teachers to specific classes or age groups. 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.

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.

Special Educational Needs.

John O'Mahony

Question:

283 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to ensure that a child (details supplied) in County Galway will be provided with a secondary education in a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27941/08]

An application for funding under the emergency works scheme has been received from the school referred to by the Deputy to carry out special needs access works. The application is under examination at present and this is expected to be completed shortly. The school will be advised of the outcome as soon as possible.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

284 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of representatives of his Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Bejing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27949/08]

There are no plans by Ministers, advisers or officials of my Department to visit Beijing on official departmental business during the period of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

285 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so forth. [27969/08]

The information sought would involve an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. However, if the Deputy has any particular publications in mind I would be happy to have my officials obtain the relevant details and communicate them to the Deputy.

Special Educational Needs.

Pat Breen

Question:

286 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 762 of 17 June 2008, if a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27979/08]

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. 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 onwww.ncse.ie. My officials have been in contact with the NCSE and I understand that a direct reply will issue regarding this matter in the coming weeks.

Michael Ring

Question:

287 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a full and comprehensive reply has not issued to date to a parliamentary question (details supplied). [27993/08]

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 onwww.ncse.ie.

My officials have been in contact with the NCSE and I understand that the pupils in question did not meet my Department's criteria for allocating SNA support. The NCSE has advised that the SENO clarifed the position to the principal and class teachers. The NCSE has also advised that a direct response will issue from the NCSE shortly.

Schools Building Projects.

Joe Costello

Question:

288 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied). [28002/08]

It is the intention of my Department to provide a new building for the school to which the Deputy refers. This is being co-funded by another agency.

The project is in the early stages of architectural planning. In this regard, a Stage 1 submission has been submitted by the school authority. This is being assessed by the Department's Technical and Professional staff. When this assessment has been completed, the Department will be in direct contact with the Board of Management to outline its findings and by way of response to correspondence received. I have also asked my Department to ensure that the correspondence he refers to is responded to promptly.

Institutes of Technology.

Tom Hayes

Question:

289 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the situation regarding an estate (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if his Department is closer to having functions of Tipperary Institute of Technology based there; and if he will make a statement on this development for Clonmel and surrounding areas. [28043/08]

In March 2005, my Department gave TRBDI approval to proceed with seeking expressions of interest from private sector property developers to determine what could be provided at the estate referred to by the Deputy in exchange for the Institute's current property in Clonmel. I understand that negotiations with a preferred bidder are continuing.

Child Abuse.

James Reilly

Question:

290 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Science when the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is expected to be completed; when he expects to publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28086/08]

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was established in 1999 and was subsequently put on a statutory basis under the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act 2000. The terms of reference of the Commission are set out in the 2000 Act as amended by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Act 2005. The purpose of the Commission is 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, to provide for the preparation and publication of a report containing the results of the Commission's investigation and any recommendations it considers appropriate for the prevention of child abuse.

The Commission is entirely independent in the performance of its functions. In accordance with the legislation, the report will be published to the general public by the Commission in such manner and at such time during the specified period as the Commission may determine. Consequently, it is not the function of the Minister for Education and Science to publish the report nor is there any requirement for the Commission to present the report to my Department prior to its publication.

I can advise the Deputy that both Houses recently approved an extension to the Commission's specified period which will now expire at the end of January 2009. It is anticipated that the report will be finalised and published before that date.

Schools Building Projects.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

291 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the planned extension to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6W has been stopped; when work is expected to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28095/08]

The school to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of architectural planning.

The commencement and progression of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to construction phase, 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. I am currently reviewing with my officials the Department's spending plans for this year, I am in the middle of this process and it will not be complete for some time. I will not be making decision on any further capital expenditure until that process is completed. When this is done the school management will be informed of the position without delay.

Special Educational Needs.

Frank Feighan

Question:

292 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will investigate the cutback in special needs assistance for a student (details supplied); and if he will report on the circumstances and request that service be re-instated. [28107/08]

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

The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. An SNA may be allocated to meet the care needs of a younger pupil. For some pupils, as they mature, their care needs may diminish over time. For example, an incontinence difficulty in a 4 year old pupil may be fully addressed by the time the pupil is a teenager. In such situations, the NCSE will review and adjust the overall level of SNA support in the school concerned. This may mean that some pupils who had previously been supported by a full time SNA may have their needs met through the shared support of an SNA or perhaps they may have no need for SNA 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 onwww.ncse.ie. I have arranged for the details supplied by the Deputy to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Adult Education.

Richard Bruton

Question:

293 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that adult literacy tutors receive no sick pay, holiday pay, pension scheme or increments in respect of experience or extra qualifications; and his plans to introduce a scheme that would recognise that it is an integral part of the qualifications framework here and that tutors should be afforded equivalent terms and conditions from vocational educational committees as apply to other tutors on the FETAC ladder. [28117/08]

The Adult Literacy services are funded by my Department through annual grants to the Vocational Education Committees (VECs), which deliver the services locally. VECs employ Adult Literacy tutors on a full-time and part-time basis and it is the VECs which are responsible for their terms and conditions.

The annual grant provided by my Department to VECs may be used to cover the cost of tutor training. Adult Literacy tutors undergo in-service training before they start work as paid tutors or volunteers. Staff development programmes are provided on a modular in-service basis for tutors and literacy organisers in co-operation with National Adult Literacy Association (NALA) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). The programmes lead to national certification at degree, diploma and certificate level by HETAC. My Department provides an annual grant to WIT to provide these courses.

Tutors provide tuition in groups and on a one-to-one basis, normally for two hours per week. Volunteer tutors normally provide tuition on a one-to-one basis. Under the Intensive Tuition in Adult Basic Education (ITABE) programme, introduced in 2006, up to six hours of tuition per week may be provided.

In 2007, there were 44 paid full-time adult literacy tutors, 1,448 paid part-time tutors and 3,600 volunteer tutors working within the VEC sector. In 2006, the corresponding figures were 43 paid full-time adult literacy tutors, 1,381 part-time tutors and 3,622 volunteer tutors.

Teachers’ Remuneration.

Richard Bruton

Question:

294 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the entitlement of classroom assistants to sick pay, holiday pay and pension cover. [28119/08]

I assume the Deputy is referring to Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) employed by individual school authorities, but paid through my Department's centralised payroll.

Included here for the Deputy's information are a copy of the sick leave and pension provisions and also a copy of a recent circular on holiday pay for Special Needs Assistants.

All school employees paid via my Department's centralised payroll system receive their full holiday pay entitlements in accordance with the provisions of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

SICK LEAVE PROVISIONS FOR SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTS

1.No sick pay will be allowed during the first three months' service. Subsequently full pay may be allowed during sick absence up to the following limits:

a)After three months' continuous service, sick pay at full rate for up to six weeks in any period of twelve months' service;

b)after six months' continuous service, sick pay at full rate for up to nine weeks in any period of twelve months' service;

c)after twelve months' continuous service, sick pay at full rate for up to thirteen weeks in any period of twelve months' service.

2.Medical certificates must be furnished to the Board of Management in all cases of continuous absence by the third day of absence at the latest. As a general rule, sick leave will not be allowed for a longer period than one week on any one certificate. Where sick absence extends from Friday to Monday inclusive, a medical certificate must be furnished.

3.Special Needs Assistants on probation are reminded that when they are being considered for confirmation of appointment, full account will be taken of their health and of the extent and pattern of their sick absence. If any of these aspects is unsatisfactory, the Special Needs Assistant concerned cannot be accepted as suitable.

4.The grant of sick leave will be subject to the following conditions in particular:

a)that the absence is properly certified;

b)that there is no evidence of permanent disability for service.

5.Once sick pay has ceased owing to the expiration of the maximum limit, it cannot be resumed during the same absence.

6.Unpaid sick leave does not count as service qualifying for further paid sick leave.

7.Uncertified Sick Leave: Sick leave for single or two-day absences, not exceeding seven days in total in any period of twelve months, may be granted without medical certificate. However, should the number of days’ absence without medical certificate in any period of twelve months, reckoning backwards from the date of the latest absence, exceed seven in the aggregate, any subsequent absence must be certified until the balance is restored.

Payment during sick leave will befull salary provided that the following procedure is adhered to:

If a Special Needs Assistant is absent on sick leave for more than three consecutive days, s/he must immediately complete a form for Disability Benefit (available from their general practitioner (GP)). This should be forwarded to SNA Payroll Section, Department of Education and Science, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, who then forward it to the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA).The claim must be submitted by SNA Payroll Section to reach the DSFA within seven days of the start of the illness hence there is an urgency to submit the claim form to ensure continued payment of full salary.

To : THE MANAGEMENT AUTHORITIES OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS.

CIRCULAR LETTER PEN 2/04

(including amendments made to paragraphs 7.1.2 and 9.3

in accordance with Circular Pen 01/05)

Pension Scheme for Special Needs Assistants

1.INTRODUCTION.

1.1Following discussions with the education partners it has been agreed to admit Special Needs Assistants employed in Primary Schools to membership of the Superannuation (Education) Scheme. The Scheme will provide that whole-time service and certain part-time service as a Special Needs Assistant will, with effect from1st September 2001, become pensionable on an ongoing basis. (The categories of part-time Special Needs Assistants covered by pensionability will fall to be reviewed on the conclusion of the ongoing discussions referred to at 1.3 below).

1.2The Superannuation (Education) Scheme is a defined benefit scheme and provides standard public service pension benefits. A brief outline of the Superannuation Scheme is given atAppendix 1.

1.3Two recent pieces of legislation, theProtection of Employees (Part-time Work) Act 2001 and the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003 provide for the pensionability on an ongoing basis of further categories of workers. The pay and pensions provisions of the Protection of Employees (Part-time Work) Act 2001 are effective from 20 December 2001. What this means in regard to pensionability is that, with effect from that date, an employer may not exclude a worker, solely because the worker is part-time, from membership of a pension scheme to which a comparable wholetime worker would be admitted. In order to benefit from the provisions of the Act, the part-time worker in question must be employed for at least 20% of the hours of the comparable wholetime worker. Taking the provisions of the Act into consideration, and in order to commence from the beginning of a school year, it has been agreed that Special Needs Assistants will become pensionable on an ongoing basis with effect from 1 September 2001.

It is emphasised that pensionability from 1 September 2001 does not confer, and will not confer, entitlement to pro rata pay from that date: the pay provisions of the Protection of Employees (Part-time Work) Act will not in any circumstances apply to periods of employment before 20 December 2001. In line with the provisions of the Act, most categories of part-time staff will now be pensionable on an ongoing basis. TheProtection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003 is effective from 14 July 2003. Discussions with the education partners are taking place regarding implementation of the Acts and it is expected that in due course circulars clarifying further how the Acts will be implemented will be issued. Any Special Needs Assistant to whom the pension provision apply and not already in the Scheme will then be admitted to the Scheme.

2.ELIGIBILITY FOR MEMBERSHIP.

2.1Membership of the Scheme will be compulsory with effect from1 September 2001 for all Special Needs Assistants in posts in Primary Schools who are:—

(a)of satisfactory health,

AND,

(b) (i)employed inwhole-time posts in such schools,

OR,

(ii)employed under a Pro-rata contract where employed for 20% or more of the hours of a wholetime Special Needs Assistant,

[A Pro Rata Contract will normally run from 1st September to the 31st August. However a Pro Rata Contract may commence during the period 1st September to 31st October inclusive (or the first school day immediately after mid term break if mid term break terminates after 31st October)].

OR,

(iii)employed on aNon-casual basis i.e. under a contract that requires him/her to work for a period not less than 20% of the hours of a wholetime person during the school year but for less than a full year (e.g. replacing a Special Needs Assistant on maternity leave),

3.SATISFACTORY HEALTH

Special Needs Assistants who have already passed a medical examination for purposes of appointment will not have to undergo a medical examination for purposes of the Superannuation Scheme. Otherwise, before membership of the Scheme can be approved, the prospective member must undergo a medical examination by a doctor nominated for that purpose by the school authorities. (A sample form for certification by the nominated doctor is attached asAppendix II to this Circular.) In the case of a Special Needs Assistant who undergoes a medical examination on foot of this circular and who is deemed unfit by the nominated doctor, the school authorities must notify the Department immediately.

Where the medical report deems the Special Needs Assistant unfit, the Special Needs Assistant will not be formally admitted to the pension scheme but will be eligible to have his/her existing contract, provided that there are no changes except in regard to the number of hours involved, renewed on the usual conditions. Any contributions provisionally deducted will be returned through the payroll.

A Special Needs Assistant who fails to attend for a medical examination without good cause may be regarded as having failed the examination.

4. MEMBERSHIP.

Membership of the scheme will be compulsory for all eligible Special Needs Assistants. Itwill not be necessary for a Special Needs Assistant to apply for membership of the Scheme. It will be a condition for appointment to a post that a Special Needs Assistant passes a medical examination by a doctor nominated by the school authorities.

Special Needs Assistants who are otherwise eligible, who have not already undergone a medical examination for purposes of appointment and who are in service on or after6 April 2004 will be referred for a medical examination by the school authorities as soon as possible after that date.

4.3Ongoing deductions from salary for superannuation purposes will be made with effect from 6 April 2004 (or as soon as possible thereafter) in the case of pensionable Special Needs Assistants who are employed in primary schools and are on the Department’s payroll. The deductions will be made provisionally in the case of a Special Needs Assistant who has been referred for a medical examination. In the event of a person failing the medical examination a refund of the superannuation contributions paid provisionally will be made.

Transitional arrangements in regard to contributions due in respect of certain Special Needs Assistants employed in primary schools will apply as set out in paragraph 6 below.

5.COMMENCEMENT DATE OF MEMBERSHIP OF THE SCHEME.

5.1Special Needs Assistants will beformally admitted to the Scheme from 6 April 2004 (or as soon thereafter as ongoing deductions from pay, other than provisional deductions, commence).

Membership will be backdated where the member had reckonable service as a Special Needs Assistant prior to the date of formal admission. Theeffective date of admission to the Scheme in the case of such a member will be 1 September 2001 or date of appointment as a Special Needs Assistant, if later.

5.2Arrears of contributions will be due in respect of the period between the effective date of admission to the Scheme and the commencement of ongoing deductions, other than provisional deductions. Membership of the Scheme requires that arrears must be paid.

The arrears will be recovered by increasing the ongoing contribution by instalments over an agreed period, not exceeding the length of the service to which the arrears relate, until all arrears have been collected. This will be done as soon as practicable after the commencement of ongoing deduction. In this regard, deduction of arrears for Special Needs Assistants in Primary Schools, who are paid through the Department's payroll, will commence in September 2004.

6. Transitional arrangements in regard to Contributions.

6.1Primary Schools: Special Needs Assistants in Primary Schools are in the main paid salary through a payroll operated by the Department of Education and Science. Pension contributions in respect of pensionable Special Needs Assistants on payroll will be paid by deduction from salary. Deductions will commence with effect from 6 April 2004 and therefore the first deduction will appear in the payment that issues on 22nd April 2004.

Contributions will be deducted on aprovisional basis from salary in the case of Special Needs Assistants paid through the payroll operated by the Department where the hours being worked are less than 20% of the hours of a wholetime Special Needs Assistant. Where at the end of the school-year the number of hours worked amount in aggregate to 20% of the hours of a wholetime Special Needs Assistant all the service will be pensionable. If however the threshold of 20% is not reached at the end of the school-year, then the monies provisionally deducted will be refunded to the Special Needs Assistant or alternatively the Special Needs Assistant may opt to have the contributions paid to her/his Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA). This arrangement will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of discussions on the implementation of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001.

The question of the contributions due in respect of Special Needs Assistants employed and paid directly by Boards of Management of Primary Schools will be considered further following the outcome of discussions on the terms of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 and the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003. In the meantime no pension contributions need be deducted by school authorities. On the outcome of these discussions, arrears of contributions will, as appropriate, be payable.

7. SUPERANNUATION CONTRIBUTIONS AND PRSI CONTRIBUTIONS.

7.1Ongoing liability for the Class A rate of PRSI, (as amended by Circular Pen 01/05).

7.1.1Special Needs Assistants pay PRSI at Class A rate and will have ongoing liability for the Class A rate of PRSI throughout their service.

7.1.2A person who has ongoing liability for the Class A rate of PRSI throughout his/her service will be liable, from effective date of admission to ongoing pensionable service, for a superannuation contribution at theOngoing Co-ordinated Rate. The Ongoing Co-ordinated Rate is made up of 1.5% of Current Pay and 5% of Current Co-ordinated Pay (including 1.5% of Current Co-ordinated Pay towards the Spouses’ Scheme).

Note thatCurrent Co-ordinated Pay means Current Pay less twice the maximum personal rate of Social Welfare Old Age Contributory Pension.

8.SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTS, IF ANY, WHO HAVE RETIRED OR DIED SINCE 1 SEPTEMBER 2001.

Eligible service given by a Special Needs Assistant who has retired prior to the commencement of ongoing deductions will be regarded as pensionable. Eligible service given by a Special Needs Assistant who has died prior to the commencement of ongoing deductions will be regarded as pensionable provided the person has already passed a medical examination as a condition of appointment. Such service will also be regarded as pensionable where the person has not undergone a medical examination but death is due to a cause which would not have been likely to result in the person's failing a medical examination if one had been carried out on or about 1 September 2001 or at the time of appointment, if later.

Appropriate contributions will be offset against superannuation benefits. The contributions will consist of arrears in respect of the period from 1 September 2001 (or date of appointment, if later) to date of retirement or death-in-service and a buyback contribution in respect of any reckonable service given prior to 1 September 2001. The buyback of service contribution will be a co-ordinated contribution and will be based on pay at retirement or death-in-service. A Spouses' and Children's Scheme contribution in respect ofpotential service will also be charged, where appropriate.

9.BUYBACK OF SERVICE GIVEN BEFORE 1 SEPTEMBER 2001.

9.1The scheme will provide for the buyback for pension purposes of all past reckonable service, i.e. wholetime service and certain part-time service, as a Special Needs Assistant given before 1 September 2001.

9.2Reckonable service which may be bought back.

(a)Wholetime service given prior to 1 September 2001, and,

(b)Part-time service given in any week before 1 September 2001 provided the part-time service in the week comes to at least 18 hours.

9.3Rate of Buy-back Contribution (as amended by Circular Pen 01/05)

The buyback contribution for past reckonable service will be payable by Special Needs Assistants who have been appointed to wholetime posts. The contribution will, subject to paragraph 9.4 following, be based on pay at the time the payment is being made. The position regarding the buyback of service by Special Needs Assistants who are serving in Part-Time posts will be clarified at a later date as outlined at paragraph 9.5 below.

The rate of the buyback contribution for reckonable past service, whether wholetime or part-time, payable by a Special Needs Assistant will be:—

Main Scheme

1.5% of Current Pay AND

3.5% of Current Co-ordinated Pay

plus

Spouses and Children's Scheme

1.5% of Current Co-ordinated Pay.

Special Needs Assistants will however have the option of paying thisSpouses and Children’s contribution either at the rate of 1.5% of current Co-ordinated pay (as outlined above) or deferring payment to retirement and paying 1% of Co-ordinated pay current at retirement by deduction from retirement lump sum.

9.4Arrangements for the Buyback of reckonable service by Special Needs Assistants in wholetime posts.

Any Special Needs Assistant in awholetime post who wishes to buy back reckonable service given prior to 1 September 2001 must make a formal application to do so to the Department. An application form for this purpose is at Appendix III of this Circular.

A Special Needs Assistant who is currently in a wholetime post and who applies for buy-back not later than 31 March 2005 will pay the buyback contribution based on pay on 20 December 2001 or where the Special Needs Assistant was in part-time service on or after that date, s/he will pay the buyback contribution based on the wholetime equivalent of pay on 20 December 2001. Where the Special Needs Assistant's employment commenced after 20 December 2001 the contribution will be based on pay or the wholetime equivalent of pay, as appropriate, on the date employment commenced.

Where the application to buyback reckonable service is made outside the above timeframe, by a Special Needs Assistant in a wholetime post at the date of issue of this Circular, the contributions will be based on pay at the date of the application.

Separate copies of the form at Appendix III to this Circular should be completed by the Special Needs Assistant and the school authority of each school in which the Special Needs Assistant worked prior to 1 September 2001.

9.5Special Needs Assistants serving in Part-time Posts.

The question of the buy back of service by Special Needs Assistants who are serving in part-time posts is under consideration in the context of implementing theProtection of Employees (Part-time Work) Act 2001 and the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003. A further circular in this regard will be issued on the outcome of these considerations.

9.6Payment of the Buy-back Contributions.

Once the Department has established the overall amount of service to be bought-back it will advise the Special Needs Assistant by letter of the details and request payment of the appropriate contribution.

The Special Needs Assistant will have 2 months from the date of the letter to:

(i) Make payment in one lump sum, or

(ii) Opt to pay by instalments overthe shorter of a period of 5 years or a period corresponding to the duration of the period to which the buyback relates. Instalment payments will commence immediately this option is chosen.

Where the Special Needs Assistant receives details by letter and decides against making payment or does not respond within the two-month timeframe, the quotation will lapse. The Special Needs Assistant may however make a further application at any date up to the date of retirement in which case the buyback contribution will then be calculated by reference the rate of pay applicable at that later date.

9.7Arrangements for the crediting of whole-time and part-time service which has been bought back.

Each year of wholetime service given prior to 1 September 2001 will be counted as a year of pensionable service.

Part-time service (of 18 hours or more) given in any week prior to 1 September 2001 will be reckoned in the proportion which the total reckonable hours bear to comparable wholetime service.

For example, part-time service given in 25 reckonable weeks in 1998 and amounting to a total of 500 hours in those weeks would, where wholetime service comes to 41 hours per week, be reckoned as 500/2139 = 0.2338 of a year of pensionable service or 85 days, (where 2139 = 41 hours x 52.18 weeks).

10.ARREARS

Scheme members who owearrears of contributions in respect of ongoing pensionable service given since 1 September 2001 will pay the arrears due, when they have been appointed to relevant posts, (i.e. wholetime or pro-rata), and have commenced payment of ongoing contributions. Collection of the arrears will, in the case of Special Needs Assistants who are already in relevant service and are being paid through the Department’s payroll, commence on 1 September 2004, (or as soon as possible thereafter). Where the Special Needs Assistant has opted to buy back earlier service by instalments, the collection of the arrears may be deferred until the contributions for the bought back service have been paid.

11.TRANSFERABILITY OF RECKONABLE SERVICE.

Reckonable Service under this scheme, (whether wholetime or part-time) which is given by a Special Needs Assistant who later transfers to pensionable service in an organisation which is a member of one of the public sector transfer networks may be transferred to that organisation for pensions purposes.

The amount of reckonable service to be credited and the contribution payable for the service in question, where contributions have not already been paid in full to the Department, will be calculated by the Department. Any outstanding contributions due will be payable to the public sector organisation to which the person has transferred.

Similarly, prior pensionable service in an organisation which is a member of one of the public sector transfer networks may be transferred to this Scheme where a Special Needs Assistant is in pensionable service under this Scheme.

12.SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTS WHO WERE MEMBERS OF THE NOMINATED HEALTH AGENCIES SUPERANNUATION SCHEME AT 30 MARCH 2001.

A small number of Special Needs Assistants, who were employed in special primary schools which were part-funded by the Department of Health and Children, were members of the Nominated Health Agencies Superannuation Scheme up to 30 March 2001 when this Department began making direct payment of salary to Special Needs Assistants. In these exceptional circumstances membership of the Superannuation (Education) Scheme may commence with effect from 31 March 2001.

Any Special Needs Assistant who was contributing to the Nominated Health Agencies Superannuation Scheme up to 30 March 2001 should write to the address given at the end of this Circular giving the school roll number, details of when the employment commenced, when s/he became a member of that pension scheme, and the rate of pension contribution (if known) that s/he was paying. The Department will then arrange to follow up on the matter and communicate directly with the particular Special Needs Assistant.

13.INCOME TAX RELIEF.

Full tax relief isautomatically granted at source on superannuation contributions which are deducted from salary payments made.

14. ENQUIRIES.

Enquiries regarding the provisions of this Circular may be made by:

E-Mail to sna_pensions@education.gov.ie.

by letter addressed to the Department at the address given below.

PENSION SECTION (SNA),

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE,

CORNAMADDY,

ATHLONE.

by phone to 090-648 4005 or 090-648 4006; OR,

090 -6474621 or 01-8734700: extensions 4005 or 4006.

An information booklet on the Scheme, in a question and answer format, is in course of preparation and will be issued to Special Needs Assistants in the very near future.

15. CIRCULATION.

The contents of this circular should be brought to the attention of all Special Needs Assistants including those on career break or other approved leave of absence.

This circular should be retained for future reference in the school. It may also be accessed on the Department of Education and Science website at www.education.ie under Education Personnel/Special Needs Assistants.

John Feeney

Principal Officer

Pensions Unit

15 April 2004.

Appendix 1 of Circular Pen 2/04

BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE SUPERANNUATION SCHEME

1.The Superannuation Provisions consist of two Schemes (i) the main Scheme — which provides essentially for pension and lump sum at retirement or for the payment of a Death Gratuity where a member dies in service and (ii) the associated Spouses' and Childrens' Pension Scheme which provides for Widow's/Widower's pension and/or Children's Pension.

2.The value of the superannuation benefits is related to pensionable service, subject to a maximum of 40 years, and to pensionable remuneration at retirement or, where death in service occurs, at death.

Added years of pensionable service, subject to a maximum in most circumstances of 6 and 2/3 years, may be credited to a member who retires on health grounds having completed at least 5 years pensionable service.

In the event of death in service, a Death Gratuity of not less than one year's salary at the rate applicable at the date of death and not more than 1.5 times that rate of salary will be payable. If there is a surviving spouse and/or dependent children, the deceased member will be credited with added years of pensionable service which will bring total pensionable service, for purposes of calculating the Spouses' and Children's Pension, up to 40 years or up to the amount which the member would have had by compulsory retirement age, whichever is less.

3.A Special Needs Assistant, other than a New Entrant, (see paragraph 6 below), must retire at the end of the school year in which he/she reaches age 65 but may retire voluntarily any time after reaching age 60.

4.The main Superannuation Scheme provides for ongoing deductions from salary from the date of admission to the Scheme until retirement or death in service.

The Spouses' and Children's Scheme provides for ongoing deductions from salary and also provides, where a member retires on health grounds or dies in service, for the deduction of contributions from the Disability Retirement Gratuity or Death Gratuity in respect of any added years which may be credited to the deceased member for the purposes of a Spouses' and/or Children's pension. The Scheme makes provision for pensions to be payable to spouses and children even where the marriage/births take place after retirement but there is no provision for a refund of contributions where the member retires unmarried or dies unmarried.

5.Arrangements are being made to provide Special Needs Assistants with documentation explaining the details of the Superannuation Scheme.

6.New provisions, announced by the Minister for Finance in his Budget statement in December 2003, increase the minimum age for pension to age 65 for new entrants on or after 1 April 2004 and abolish the compulsory retirement age for those new entrants. Legislation giving effect to these new provisions has recently been enacted and further details will issue in due course.

Appendix II of Circular Pen 2/04

Certificate of medical fitness as a Special Needs Assistant

TO BE COMPLETED BY A MEDICAL PRACTITIONER NOMINATED BY THE BOARD OF MANAGEMENT.

Surname: ———————————————————

Forename(s): ——————————————————

I certify that I have examined the above named and found that s/he is fit to undertake duties as a Special Needs Assistant.

Medical Examiner's Name: ———————— Signature: ————————

Block Letters.

Date: ——————————

Address: ——————————————————————————————

Medical Examiner's Official Stamp

Appendix III of Circular Pen 2/04 (Page 1of 2)

Buy-back of Past Service as a Special Needs Assistant for Superannuation purposes.

CERTIFICATE OF PAID SERVICE AS A SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANT

GIVEN PRIOR TO 1 SEPTEMBER 2001.

Notes on completion of form:

Part 1: The Special Needs Assistant should complete this part of the form BEFORE submitting it to the school authority.

Part 2: The school authority should note the following when completing this part. The completed form should be returned to the Special Needs Assistant.

Periods of Service: Only periods of paid service need be listed i.e. where the Special Needs Assistant was paid directly by the school. Service should be shown in periods of unbroken service. The minimum period reckonable is a week in which at least 18 hours was assigned to the Special Needs Assistant.

Employment Status: Show status as (i) Wholetime (WHT) or (ii) Part-time (P/T)

Approved Hours per Week: List only those periods of employment where the Special Needs Assistant was assigned at least 18 hours per week.

Signatory: This certificate MUST be signed by the Chairperson of the Board of Management or the Principal of the school in which the service was given.

Part 1. — to be completed by the Special Needs Assistant.

In accordance with paragraph 9 of Circular Pen 2/04 I wish to buy-back for superannuation purposes reckonable service given as a Special Needs Assistant prior to 1 September 2001

Special Needs Assistant’s Name

Date of Birth

Payroll Number

PPS No.

To the Authority of

School Name

School Address

To the best of my recollection, I worked in your school in the following period(s)

From

To

Appendix III of Circular Pen 2/04 (Page 2 of 2)

I would be grateful if you would check your records regarding this service and complete Part 2 of this form.

On completion, please return this form to me at the following address:

Signed: ————————————————————Date: —————————

Special Needs Assistant

Part 2 — to be completed by the certifying School Authority.

Details of Service:

Period of Service

Employment Status (WHT or P/T)

Approved hours worked per week

Start Date

End Date

Roll Number:

I certify that the details of employment listed above are in accordance with the records of paid employment for this school and that these details are true and correct in all respects to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Signed: ————————————————————Date: —————————

Name (capitals) ————————————

Name (capitals) Chairperson of Board of Management / Principal

Official School Stamp

N.B. When parts 1 and 2 have been completed the Special Needs Assistant should return the form to:

Pensions Section (SNA), Department of Education & Science, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Circular 0111/2007

To the Management Authorities of Primary, Secondary,

Community and Comprehensive Schools

Special Needs Assistants Payment Arrangements for

July and August Annually

1.Introduction

1.1 The Minister for Education and Science wishes to advise management authorities and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) of the payment arrangements for SNAs for July and August 2008 and subsequent years.

1.2This Circular replaces Circular Pay 0011/2007 which issued in February, 2007.

2.Arrangements which will apply in July and August 2008

2.1SNAs who are appointed on or before 07 January 2008, will be paid for the full duration of the 2008 summer holidays.

SNAs who commence employment on or after 08 January 2008, will be paid up to and including 12 July 2008 irrespective of the date the school closes.

They will only be retained on the Department's payroll for the full duration of the 2008 summer holidays if the school management authorities provide the Department's Non Teaching Staff (NTS) Payroll with the following:

a)Documentary evidence from the SENO for the relevant post for the 2008/09 school year, and

b)confirmation that the SNA in question is returning to the post in September 2008.

3.Entitlement to Benefit from the Department of Social and Family Affairs

3.1SNAs who are not in receipt of salary for the duration of the summer holidays, may have an entitlement to claim benefit from the Department of Social and Family Affairs for this period. SNAs should be advised to contact their local DSFA office for further advice in this regard.

4. Entitlement to Summer Pay from the 2008/09 school year onwards

4.1SNAs appointed on or before the first school day following the Christmas break will be paid up to and including 31 August.

4.2SNAs appointed on or after the second school day following the Christmas break will be paid up to and including 12 July.

4.3The conditions which apply to the payment of salary from 13 July 2008, outlined in Paragraph 2.2 of this Circular, will also apply from the 2008/09 school year onwards.

5. Non Resumption in September

5.1Management authorities are reminded to inform the NTS Payroll of any SNAs,either full-time or part-time, who are not returning to their posts in September.

5.2The form ‘Notification of Special Needs Assistant Leaving’ should be completed and sent to NTS Payroll before 01 August each year. This form can be down-loaded from the Department’s website www.education.ie — follow the links to Education Personnel/Special Needs Assistants.

6.Dissemination of Information

6.1Management authorities are requested to bring the contents of this Circular to the attention of all SNAs in their schools, including those on maternity leave, sick leave etc. and also to the attention of the members of the Boards of Management.

6.2This Circular should be retained for reference in the school and may also be accessed on this Department's website at www.education.ie — follow the links to Education Personnel/Special Needs Assistants.

7.Queries on this Circular

7.1If you have any query in relation to this circular please contact the NTS Payroll at 090 648 4136 or e-mail your query to sna_pay@education.gov.ie

P. Maloney,

Principal Officer.

December 2007.

Richard Bruton

Question:

295 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number and categories of part-time teachers who are employed by agencies under his Department; the categories who do not receive full equivalent rights as are enjoyed by full-time teachers; and if he is reviewing the position of these categories in view of the recent Equality Authority ruling that part-time teachers were suffering discrimination. [28121/08]

I would like to assure the Deputy that my Department has been very aware of the issues raised in relation to the adjustments to pay due to certain part-time teachers under the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 and has worked closely with the school management bodies and teacher unions to ensure that the legislation is implemented and applied to teachers in a fair and consistent manner.

My Department has already made the pay adjustments and paid arrears for the majority of part-time teachers, including substitute teachers, who are on the payrolls that it directly administers, and has funded VECs to do likewise for part-time teachers on their payrolls.

The group of part-time teachers who have still to receive adjusted pay and arrears are those employed on a part-time basis by individual Boards of Management of primary schools. Currently, a grant system operates which allows the Boards to claim from my Department, the funding required to pay these teachers. The Boards of Management pay the part-time teachers directly.

These part-time teachers are mainly employed by schools as resource teachers for special needs pupils, to provide language support for newcomer pupils and modern languages primary schools initiative.

Under the terms of the Protection of Employees (Part-time Work) Act 2001, qualified eligible part-time teachers are entitled to be paid salary appropriate to their qualifications and to receive incremental credit in respect of relevant teaching service.

In order to ensure that the terms of this Act could be applied to any part-time teachers paid directly by school boards, my Department took the view that the best approach was to extend the single payroll process which is in place for all other teachers in primary, secondary and community and comprehensive schools rather than persist with the practice of having boards pay them directly. This approach would ensure that the teachers concerned could get full credit for their overall service where they served part-time in more than one school. Software development is now well advanced on the required extension to the payroll system.

It is not possible to assess the amounts due to the individual teachers or in aggregate. This is because my Department currently holds no records on the teachers concerned and in order to calculate the correct salary details it will be necessary to obtain a complete service history for the teachers in question from each of the schools involved. This information will be used to populate the payroll database with the necessary information to make any salary adjustments that are necessary when the entitlements under the legislation are matched to the service history of the teachers. Under the implementation schedule the collection of this service history data will begin when primary schools re-open in the Autumn.

All part-time teachers will ultimately be paid directly on the teachers' payroll in 2009 and the system will also have the capacity to pay arrears due based on past service.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

296 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Defence the number of representatives of his Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Bejing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27948/08]

There will be no representatives from my Department visiting Bejing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

297 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Defence the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so forth. [27968/08]

The information sought by the Deputy is detailed in the accompanying table:

Name of Publication/Booklet

Details of Publication

Breakdown of Costs

Cadetship Competitions

30,000 Booklets, 10,600 Application forms

15,500

Apprenticeship Competitions

15,000 Booklets, 10,000 Application forms

7,000

General Service Recruitment

10,000 Leaflets

1,100

Naval Service Questions and Answers Booklet

10,000 copies

4,000

Defence Forces Reviews 2007, 2008

10,000 copies

35,800

Overseas Family Guidance Booklet

10,000 copies

6,700

Comd and Staff Cse Prospectus

500 copies

475

International Military Police Course Prospectus

500 copies

475

Human Rights Course Prospectus

500 copies

475

History of Collins Bks, Cork

380

Mutual Assistance.

Billy Timmins

Question:

298 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the assistance he has given to persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28265/08]

The Central Authority for Mutual Assistance, within the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, has been in contact, on an ongoing basis, with the relevant foreign authorities in relation to the matter raised by the Deputy.

Residency Permits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

299 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in granting long-term residency to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27803/08]

I am advised by officials in the Long Term Residency Section of my Department that an application for Long Term Residency from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in November 2006.

I understand that applications received in October 2006 are currently being dealt with. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified.

Citizenship Applications.

Enda Kenny

Question:

300 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in granting citizenship to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27804/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was first received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in January 2008. However, due to an error on the statutory declaration, the form was returned to the person in question on 12 February 2008 so that it could be amended.

An amended statutory declaration was returned to Citizenship Section on 19 February 2008. Officials in that Section are currently processing applications received in January 2006 and have approximately 16,100 applications on hand to be dealt with before that of the person concerned. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. It is likely, therefore, that the processing of the application will commence in mid 2010.

Residency Permits.

Jack Wall

Question:

301 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position of an application for a long term residency application in respect of a person (details suppled) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27826/08]

I am informed by officials in the Long Term Residency Section of my Department that they have not traced any application for Long Term Residency from the person referred to by the Deputy.

Citizenship Applications.

Joe Carey

Question:

302 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a certification of naturalisation was not approved for a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27827/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in February 2004.

The file was forwarded to my predecessor for a decision in February 2007 and he decided to refuse the application. The reason for refusal was disclosed to the person concerned in a letter dated 1 April 2008. It is open to the person in question to lodge a new application at any time, however, he should have due regard for the previous reason for refusal.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

303 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in processing the application for naturalisation of a person (details supplied) who currently has long-term residency status; the estimated time for same to be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27844/08]

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

Officials in that section are currently processing applications received in January 2006 and have approximately 4,000 applications on hand to be dealt with before that of the person concerned. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. It is likely, therefore, that further processing of the application will commence in the coming months.

Garda Deployment.

Tom Hayes

Question:

304 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the rationalisation of boundaries of Garda districts is taking place; the expected expenditure for such a change; if this expenditure has had a cost-benefit analysis completed; if these boundary changes will impact on south Tipperary; and if they do impact on south Tipperary, the way in which they do. [27880/08]

The Garda Síochána's 2008 Policing Plan, which was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, contains the Commissioner's proposals to realign Garda Divisional boundaries to make them coterminous with local authority boundaries. The planned changes will bring about greater efficiencies and effectiveness in facilitating the establishment and functioning of Joint Policing Committees. As part of this work, the geographical areas of district and sub-district stations arising from the Divisional boundary realignments are also being examined to ensure that service delivery to the community is maintained to a high standard. Any expected costs arising from changes at Garda districts level are factored into the Divisional boundary changes and into existing budgetary allocations.

Project boards have been established in each Garda division, including one in Tipperary, to develop implementation plans and to rollout the planned changes. The project board in Tipperary is currently analysing the impact of the boundary changes on the Tipperary Garda Division and will make recommendations to the Commissioner regarding any proposed changes in relation to the realignment of Garda sub-districts/districts.

Drugs Related Crime.

Tom Hayes

Question:

305 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the measures planned for tackling drugs criminality in Clonmel, Cashel, Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary, and Cahir in view of the considerable increases in drug related crime in these areas; the additional staff that have been drafted in to deal with this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27881/08]

I have raised this matter with the Garda Authorities and will be in touch with the Deputy once their response is to hand.

Youth Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

306 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a youth café or drop-in centre has been planned for Clonmel as part of the Garda Youth Diversion Programme in view of the fact that there are few facilities for young people in the area. [27882/08]

The Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme operates in accordance with Part 4 of the Children Act 2001, as amended, and under the general superintendence and control of the Garda Commissioner. The Programme has proven to be highly successful in diverting young persons away from crime by offering guidance and support to juveniles and their families. It also enables referral to the Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) which operate in parallel but separate to the Programme. GYDPs are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people from becoming involved, or further involved, in criminal or anti-social behaviour. There are currently 100 of these type of projects operating throughout the country.

The Garda Youth Diversion Project in Clonmel, which is called the CYD Project, received €98,328 in funding from my Department last year. It employs one full-time and one part-time worker. With regard to the linkage of a youth café to the CYD Project, I should point out that the issue of youth cafés in general is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The availability of youth cafés or drop-in centres is linked to the provision of general youth services throughout the country and is not solely concerned with young persons referred to Garda Projects. I am informed that the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is currently in the process of identifying the most appropriate mechanism for the development of youth cafés. This work will guide Government in ensuring that funding is targeted and coordinated most effectively on a model or models of youth cafés which meet the needs identified by young people themselves.

Passport Applications.

Tony Gregory

Question:

307 Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if it is permissible for a person (details supplied) to apply for a passport in respect of their son. [27883/08]

The Deputy did not indicate whether the son of the person in question is an Irish citizen or a Romanian citizen. If the son of the person in question is a Romanian citizen, he would have no entitlement to an Irish passport but may make an application for his national passport to the Romanian Embassy, 26 Waterloo Road, Dublin 4. If the son of the person in question is an Irish citizen an application for an Irish passport may be made to the Passport Office, Molesworth St, Dublin 2.

Human Rights Issues.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

308 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he is taking to ensure that the Irish Human Rights Commission is not in danger of going broke as its chairperson reported to the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement on 15 May 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27942/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

309 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether the level of funding for the Irish Human Rights Commission is adequate in view of its remit, the growing population here and the fact that its equivalent, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has near matching funding despite having to deal with only one third of the population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27943/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 308 and 309 together.

In 2008 the Irish Human Rights Commission has been allocated Grant-in Aid of €2,092,000, which is a 3% increase on the Grant-in–Aid provided in 2007. As is the case of all such Government agencies, there are no proposals for additional funding in 2008. My departmental officials who have responsibility for budgetary matters across the Justice Sector are also in communication with the Commission with a view it ensuring that all efficiencies are maximised so as to enable it to remain within its allocated budget.

Official Travel.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

310 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of representatives of his Department, particularly Ministers, Ministers of State, advisers and Departmental officials, who will be visiting Beijing in an official capacity, to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games; and projected cost of such visits. [27955/08]

I can inform the Deputy that neither I nor any officials from my Department have any plans at this time to travel to Beijing in an official capacity in connection with the 2008 Olympic Games.

Departmental Publications.

Michael Ring

Question:

311 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the details of all the publications and booklets published on behalf of his Department from 1 January 2007 to June 2008, including the cost of producing the booklets, the cost of distribution, overall costs and associated costs such as graphic design, launching and so on. [27975/08]

I wish to refer the Deputy to the information requested in the tabular format below:

Name of publication/booklet

Cost of production e.g. printing costs

Cost of distribution

Associated costs e.g. Graphic Design / Launch

Overall Costs

Balance in the Criminal Law Review Group

€3,803.00

Nil

Nil

€3,803.00

Criminal Law Codification Advisory Committee First Programme of Work 2008-2009

Document published in electronic format only. No associated costs.

Nil

Nil

None

Criminal Law Codification Advisory Committee Annual Report 2007

€1,996.00

Not available

€3,343.36

€5,339.36

Government Alcohol Advisory Group

€3,807.00

Nil

€1,870.00

€5,677.00

Report of the Study Group on Pre-nuptial Agreements

€8,052.55

Nil

Nil

€8,052.55

Report of the Legal Costs Implementation Advisory Group

€4,780.00

Not available

Not available

€4,780

An Evaluation of the Civil Service Traveller Internship Programme — “Not like usual...”

€18,404.00

Not available

€4,963

€23,367

2006 Annual Report of the Garda Síochána Superannuation Schemes

€116

Nil

Nil

€116

Financial Shared Services Annual Report 2006

€3,650

Nil

Nil

€3,650

Financial Shared Services Annual Report 2007

€3,650

Nil

Nil

€3,650

Audit Committee Annual Report 2007

€190

Nil

Nil

€190

Equality for Women Measure 2008-2013 Strand 1 — Access to EmploymentInformation notes and guidelines for applicants.

€2,123.55

Nil

€6,023.67

€8,147.22

National Women’s Strategy 2007-2016

€22,007.68

Nil

€20,962.76

€42,970.44

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform Annual Report 2006

€8,910

Not available

€17,430

€26,340

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform Annual Report 2007

Nil to date. Electronic version available; printed version in preparation.

Not available

€3,211.70

€3,211.70

Report on the Youth Justice Review

€4,580

Not available

Nil

€4,580

A New Response to Anti-Social Behaviour

€10,211.60

Not available

€126.84

€10,338.44

Expert Group on Children Detention School — Final Report

€4,598

Nil

Nil

€4,598

National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010

€10,000

Not available

€10,951.43

€20,951.43

Irish Youth Justice Service (IJYS) News

€1,085.06

Not available

€48.40

€1,133.46

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities — Braille Version

€130.00

Nil

Nil

€130.00

Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015 — Braille Version

€188.00

Nil

Nil

€188.00

National Information Day on Disability 2007 Primary Schools Competition Calendar 2008

€14,248.96

€9,543.00

Nil

€23,791.96

Report of the Advisory Group on Garda Management and Leadership Development

€3,326.29

Nil

Nil

€3,326.29

Inquiry Pursuant to the Dublin Police Act 1924 as amended by the Police Forces Amalgamation Act 1925 — Summary of the Report of Mr. Hugh Hartnett SC. Prepared by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. March 2008

€1,170 (breakdown of costs not available)

Information and Good Practise Seminars (in respect of service provision in Reception and Integration Agency accommodation centres) Report of the Issues, Actions and Recommendations (for service providers in this area)

Report: €5,109.00

N/A

N/A

€5,109.00

Firearms Licences.

John Deasy

Question:

312 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of handgun licences issued in each Garda division for each of the past five years. [27991/08]

John Deasy

Question:

313 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of overall firearm licences issued in each Garda division in each of the past five years; and the particular type of firearms licences issued. [27992/08]

John Deasy

Question:

319 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of handgun licences issued in each Garda district for each of the past five years. [28139/08]

John Deasy

Question:

320 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of overall firearms licences issued in each Garda district in each of the past five years; and the type of firearms licences issued. [28140/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 312, 313, 319 and 320 together.

I have requested this information from the Garda Commissioner and I will be in touch with the Deputy on the matter as soon as it comes to hand.

Citizenship Applications.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

314 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the waiting times for naturalisation applications; the efforts being made or resources deployed to reduce the waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27995/08]

The existing processing time for applications for certificates of naturalisation is approximately thirty months and this is primarily due to the significant increase in the volume of applications received in the last number of years.

Upon receipt, an initial examination of each application is carried out to determine if the statutory application is completed fully. Incomplete application forms are returned to the applicant for amendment. Valid applications are then examined to determine if the applicant meets the statutory residency criteria set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act. Passports and other documentation are examined in detail and enquiries with the Garda National Immigration Bureau may also be necessary. Since this procedure was introduced on 1 April 2005, over 3,500 applicants who applied since that date have been found to be ineligible. All such applicants are informed of any shortfall in their residency, within a matter of weeks from the date the application is received, and will be able to reapply when they have the required residency.

Further processing takes place at a later stage and involves assessing an applicant's financial status in respect of their ability to support themselves in the State. Enquiries with the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social and Family Affairs may be necessary in this regard. At the same time enquiries are also made with the Garda Síochána to clarify if the applicant can be deemed to be of good character. Depending on the complexity of any given case, these processes can take a lengthy time to complete. Once all enquiries are completed, the file is referred to me for a decision.

The procedures involved in the processing of applications have been developed and refined over a number of years and are necessary to maintain the integrity of the naturalisation process. Consequently, there is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved.

The recent decentralisation of the Citizenship Section to Tipperary Town has resulted in a substantial redeployment in the staffing resources available to the section. This is expected to have a positive impact on the number of naturalisation applications on hand and will in time see a significant reduction in processing timescales.

Willie Penrose

Question:

315 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for citizenship by a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be processed; if he will confirm having received correspondence from them dated 23 May 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28001/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department earlier this year.

Officials in that Section are currently processing applications received in early 2006 and have approximately 16,700 applications on hand to be dealt with before that of the person concerned. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants.

I am advised that officials in Citizenship Section received the correspondence of 23 May 2008 referred to by the Deputy. A response to same has issued to the individual.

Garda Complaints Procedures.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

316 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in relation to his announcement of 11 March 2008 regarding the appointment of a confidential recipient under Garda Whistleblower Regulations, the promised charter under the 2007 regulations has been finalised by the Garda Commissioner; if the charter has been published; if the confidential recipient has taken up their duties; the location of the Office of the Confidential Recipient; the staff and resources made available to the Confidential Recipient; the steps taken to promote awareness of the functions of the Confidential Recipient within the force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28042/08]

The Garda Síochána (Corruption or Malpractice) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 168 of 2007) were made in April 2007. They allow for civilian employees as well as sworn members of An Garda Síochána to make confidential reports on any corruption or malpractice of which they become aware.

Before confidential reports can be made, the regulations require the Garda Commissioner to establish a Charter. The Commissioner has submitted a Charter to me which I have approved. The Commissioner has circulated the Charter to all Garda members and civilian employees who may make confidential reports in accordance with it.

Mr. Brian McCarthy was appointed as a Confidential Recipient by my predecessor in March 2008. He will provide a point outside the Garda Síochána to which confidential reports may be made. Mr. McCarthy has the assistance of 4 staff working with him on a part-time basis from within the existing Civil Service staffing complement. Since his appointment Mr. McCarthy has been working on preparing his office to commence taking reports.

The Garda Commissioner has also appointed nine internal Confidential Recipients at Chief Superintendent and senior civilian manager level. As the Confidential Reporting Charter is intended for the use of Garda members and civilian employees only, it is not proposed to publish it. The contact details of the Confidential Recipients are contained in the Charter. For operational reasons I do not propose to make public these details or the locations of the offices of the Confidential Recipients. It should be noted that any member of the public or other person who wishes to report on corruption or malpractice in An Garda Síochána may do so to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

Visa Applications.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

317 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider an application for a short-stay holiday visa in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28093/08]

The visa application referred to was forwarded from the Embassy of Ireland, Kuala Lumpur to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, Dublin on 19 June 2008 for consideration. The guideline timeframe for the processing of visa applications is 6 to 8 weeks. At present, however, applications are being processed within a shorter timeframe.

Garda Transport.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

318 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there are serving members of An Garda Síochána, detailed to drive Garda cars who are doing so without a full driving licence; if so, the number and the locations of same; the number of serving members of An Garda Síochána detailed to drive Garda cars who are doing so without a full driving licence and have completed an advanced driving course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28096/08]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that Members of An Garda Síochána are required to hold a full driving licence when driving Garda vehicles. Garda personnel are authorised to drive official vehicles if they have (a) successfully completed a standard driving course, or (b) in the absence of a standard driving course, by way of authorisation of a Chief Superintendent.

To apply for (a) or (b) a member of An Garda Síochána must first be the holder of a valid local authority class B driving licence.

Questions Nos. 319 and 320 answered with Question No. 312.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

321 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28261/08]

Officials in the Citizenship Section of my Department inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question. The person referred to by the Deputy cannot be identified as the reference number provided does not exist and there are numerous applications from individuals with similar names. If the Deputy wishes to furnish further details, officials in the Citizenship Section of my Department will advise him of the position.

Garda Strength.

Billy Timmins

Question:

322 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Garda numbers for Garda operational areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28264/08]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of Wicklow, Carlow/Kildare, Waterford/Kilkenny and Longford/Westmeath Garda Divisions on 31 May 2008, the latest date for which figures are readily available was as set out in the table:

Wicklow

Station

Strength

Bray

104

Enniskerry

7

Greystones

41

Newtownmountkennedy

1

Baltinglass

32

Blessington

14

Dunlavin

1

Hollywood

1

Donard

1

Shillelagh

1

Tinahely

2

Carnew

2

Arklow

31

Wicklow

49

Ashford

7

Rathdrum

3

Avoca

3

Roundwood

5

Aughrim

2

Carlow/Kildare

Station

Strength

Naas

100

Celbridge

23

Clane

7

Kill

3

Maynooth

17

Ballymore Eustace

1

Kildare

29

Robertstown

4

Kilcullen

4

Monasterevin

5

Newbridge

35

Rathangan

4

Carbury

4

Ballytore

1

Carlow

71

Leighlinbridge

1

Ballon

1

Myshall

1

Muinebheag

10

Athy

19

Castledermot

2

Hacketstown

1

Rathyvilly

1

Tullow

11

Waterford/Kilkenny

Station

Strength

Waterford

160

Dunmore East

4

Ferrybank

4

Passage East

1

Mooncoin

2

Glenmore

1

Kilmacow

1

Dungarvan

46

Cappoquin

2

Tallow

3

Ballymacarberry

2

Aglish

1

Ring

1

Lismore

5

Tramore

36

Kill

1

Kilmacthomas

4

Kilmeaden

2

Portlaw

3

Rathgormack

1

Leamybrien

1

Kilkenny

89

Freshford

1

Callan

5

Castlecomer

7

Ballyragget

1

Goresbridge

1

Thomastown

31

Bennetsbridge

1

Graiguenamanagh

6

Stonyford

1

Ballyhale

1

Inistioge

1

Mullinavat

1

Borris

2

Longford/Westmeath

Station

Strength

Mullingar

97

Killucan

3

Kinnegad

7

Rochfortbridge

5

Castletown Geoghegan

1

Delvin

4

Athlone

63

Ballinahown

1

Ballymore

1

Glasson

1

Kilbeggan

3

Moate

12

Ballymahon

5

Longford

63

Drumlish

1

Kenagh

1

Newtowncashel

1

Ardagh

1

Lanesboro

7

Tarmonbarry

1

Granard

31

Ballinalee

1

Edgeworthstown

5

Smear

1

Ballynacargy

2

Castlepollard

3

Multyfarnham

1

Rathowen

1

The Deputy will appreciate that, as with any large organisation, on any given day that the personnel strength may fluctuate due, for example, to retirements etc. It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to allocate personnel throughout the Force taking all relevant factors into account.

The Garda Síochána's 2008 Policing Plan, which was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, contains the Commissioner's proposals to realign Garda boundaries in a number of areas around the country to make them coterminous with local authority boundaries. This includes the establishment of new Divisions of Wicklow (established on 2 June 2008), Carlow/Kilkenny and Longford/Westmeath. The planned changes will bring about greater efficiencies and effectiveness in facilitating the establishment and functioning of Joint Policing Committees.

Project boards have been established in each Garda Division to develop implementation plans to create and rollout the new Divisional changes. I am advised by the Garda authorities that for logistical reasons, the Divisional changes specified in the 2008 Policing Plan involving Carlow, Kilkenny, Longford and Westmeath are expected to take place simultaneously with a starting date of 1 January next.

Private Rented Accommodation.

Phil Hogan

Question:

323 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he expects to publish revised regulations for standards in private rented accommodation used by persons who receive a rent supplement; the reason for the delay to date; if his attention has been drawn to the wide scale low standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27788/08]

The revision of the minimum standards regulations for private rented accommodation is an important element of An Action Programme to Promote Improvement in Standards, which was launched on foot of the Towards 2016 social partnership agreement, and is also a core component of the Government's housing policy statement, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities. A general review of the regulations has been carried out, in consultation with relevant interests, and account has been taken of relevant recommendations in two reports published in November 2007 by the Centre for Housing Research on measures to promote improvement in private rented accommodation standards.

On foot of that work, a small working group comprising local authority and sectoral representatives was convened by my Department to input into the final drafting of the revised regulations. That group has met a number of times and consultations have also taken place with the Community and Voluntary Pillar under Towards 2016.

A significant number of very useful proposals emerged from these consultations and I intend to address these to the greatest extent possible in the revised regulations or, where necessary, in primary legislation. While the issues raised were of considerable scope and complexity, I expect to be in a position to submit proposals to Government in September, with the associated regulations being made shortly thereafter. Any issues requiring primary legislation will be addressed in the context of the passage through the House of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which I expect will be published shortly.

The revised regulations will cover all private rented accommodation, not just properties which are the subject of rent supplement payments. My Department has ongoing discussions with the Department of Social and Family Affairs, which has lead responsibility for the operation of the rent supplement scheme through the Community Welfare Service, regarding the need to match rent supplement payments to accommodation of an adequate standard. In addition, my Department has recently written to all housing authorities to emphasise the importance of ensuring regular liaison with, and appropriate action between, housing authorities and Community Welfare Officers in order to ensure that rent supplement-supported private rented accommodation meets the requirements of the minimum standards regulations.

Grant Payments.

Dan Neville

Question:

324 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will expedite the processing of an application for a thatching grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [27802/08]

Following an inspection of the property on 11 June 2008, my Department issued a Certificate of Provisional Approval for the renewal of thatch on 13 June.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Enda Kenny

Question:

325 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the average cost of processing each application received by local authorities for the scheme of housing aid for older people; the average cost of processing each application received by local authorities for the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability; the average cost of processing each application received by local authorities for the mobility aids housing grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27837/08]

Details of the costs incurred by local authorities in processing individual applications under the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability, the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme and the Housing Aid for Older People scheme are not held by my Department.

Local Authority Housing.

Joe McHugh

Question:

326 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason local authorities cannot house people who have left the marital home as a result of a separation while court proceedings are ongoing in relation to assets, in view of the backlog of family law cases; his views on whether it is acceptable that women who have suffered from domestic abuse are being denied the chance to be housed because their case is awaiting a court hearing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27849/08]

There are no specific constraints placed on housing authorities providing appropriate housing support to households in need of housing in the circumstances outlined. There is a broad range of supports available for members of households who have suffered a marital separation, subject to the terms of the relevant scheme of letting priorities and taking account of each household's individual circumstances.

National Spatial Strategy.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

327 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the situation regarding the allocation of funds under the gateway innovation fund where the closing date for submission was November 2007 with a Cabinet decision expected on same before January 2008 and to date no decision has been made; if he will clarify the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter indicating when a decision is expected to be made on the application by Galway City Council under the gateway innovation fund. [27875/08]

Following the Call for Proposals under the competitive €300 million Gateway Innovation Fund (GIF) which issued in June 2007, proposals from all nine National Spatial Strategy gateways, including Galway, were received by the closing date of 15 November 2007.

These proposals, seeking some €720 million in total funding under the GIF, were evaluated against the criteria set down in the Call for Proposals by the GIF Management Committee which consists of representatives of my Department and the Department of Finance (with appropriate input from other Departments and agencies as required). Goodbody Economic Consultants were commissioned to assist in the evaluation process.

Decisions on the projects to be approved under the GIF, and the timing of such approvals, will be taken by the Government on foot of proposals jointly made by the Minister for Finance and me. Such proposals will have regard to the overall capital funding position for 2008 and subsequent years.

Environmental Policy.

Phil Hogan

Question:

328 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in the context of the recent disclosures regarding Haulbowline, his attention has been drawn to other sites here which contain high levels of contamination; the active steps he is taking to discover such areas in view of the environmental and public health concerns involved; when such areas were brought to his attention; the steps he has taken to address the implications of such contamination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27884/08]

The position in relation to Haulbowline is an exceptional one in that my Department, on foot of a Government decision in this regard, has responsibility for the care and maintenance of this specific site. This is the only such site currently under the remit of my Department. In regard to the question of any other site in the country, my Department does not compile or maintain a list of such sites which could relate to any contaminated land.

With regard to landfill remediation under the Waste Management Acts the statutory responsibility for landfill remediation lies with the local authorities and statutory responsibility for national hazardous waste management planning rests with the EPA which has prepared a National Hazardous Waste Management Plan. Section 60(3) of the Act precludes me as Minister from exercising power or control over a matter for which the Agency or local authorities have statutory responsibility.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Phil Hogan

Question:

329 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if all newly built houses are required to have meters installed to measure water consumption; the reason for such a requirement; if such a requirement will be imposed on existing dwelling houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27885/08]

There is no requirement by my Department for all new homes to have water meters installed.

Local Authority Funding.

Phil Hogan

Question:

330 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he is examining the possible funding options for local government in the context of a programme of local government reform; the measures and initiatives he envisages will be introduced to give local authorities greater funding resources; his views on an increased level of local charges for services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27886/08]

I published the Green Paper, Stronger Local Democracy — Options for Change on 22 April 2008. Stronger Local Democracy presents a set of options which share a common theme of strengthening local democratic leadership.

Stronger Local Democracy describes the current funding mechanisms, summarises those reviews of the resourcing of local government which have been completed in recent decades, and sets out the key principles and issues for debate. These considerations will feed into the work on the Commission on Taxation, established in February 2008 in line with the Programme for Government; the Commission has been specifically tasked with consideration of options for the future financing of local government.

Phil Hogan

Question:

331 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has made a submission to the Commission on Taxation on funding local government; the recommendations made in any such submission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27887/08]

My Department has made a submission to the Commission on Taxation. It will be a matter for the Commission to make recommendations to the Minister for Finance on options for the future financing of local government.

Environmental Policy.

Phil Hogan

Question:

332 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the environmental consequences arising from the increased use of diesel by private motor cars; the measures he is taking to reduce the harmful consequences of increased diesel use in terms of additional emissions; if this includes the mandatory fitting of particulate filters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27888/08]

The rebalancing of VRT and motor tax on cars registered from 1 July 2008 is designed to lower the levels of CO2 emissions from the use of private cars.

It is generally accepted that a diesel-powered car has a lower level of CO2 emissions than its petrol equivalent. While historically diesel cars have had higher emissions of NOx and particulate matter than their petrol equivalents, the European Union has progressively introduced robust emissions standards for vehicles since 1993, known as Euro standards. These standards have substantially reduced NOx and particulate matter from passenger cars and heavy goods vehicles, particularly those with diesel engines. Euro 5 will enter into force in September 2009 and makes it obligatory to have a particle filter for all diesel cars of new models, and also specifies the same particulate matter standards for both petrol and diesel engines. More stringent Euro 6 standards will come into effect in 2014.

I am satisfied, therefore, that the rebalancing of VRT and motor tax will not have adverse environmental or public health consequences.

Departmental Staff.

Phil Hogan

Question:

333 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if free car parking is available to officials working in his Department; the number of parking spaces available for employees at his Department’s offices and relevant agencies; his views on whether the availability of free parking is consistent with the need to establish sustainable travel patterns; the measures he proposes to encourage more sustainable travel patterns for people working within his Department and in the wider public service generally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27889/08]

The Department's accommodation is provided by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and any costs arising from the provision of car parking are met by that Office.

The Department currently has 184 car parking spaces available for staff in its Dublin offices, 95 spaces in Wexford shared between 4 bodies including my Department, 94 spaces in Ballina shared between 5 bodies including my Department and 57 spaces nationwide for Met Éireann staff. My Department also has some 40 regional offices, mainly housing National Parks and Wildlife Service staff, who have access to some car parking. Parking is also available in the National Parks and Nature Reserves but this is largely for visitors.

Arrangements regarding accommodation and car parking for the bodies and agencies under the aegis of the Department are a day-to-day operational matter for the bodies concerned.

In terms of encouraging sustainable travel patterns, the Department actively encourages staff to use means of transport, other than cars, wherever possible. To this end, the Department is a partner in the One Small Step campaign by the Dublin Transportation Office. The campaign aims to motivate car users in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) to try alternative modes of transport for at least some of their journeys. In September 2007, the travel patterns of Departmental employees in the GDA were surveyed. The results showed that 78% of the Department's staff living and working in the area either avail of public transport, walk or cycle, as their preferred method of travel to work. The number of staff driving to work is remarkably low (18%), especially compared to the GDA regional peak period average of approximately 60% (DTO).

Initiatives to encourage the use of sustainable transport options in the Department have included:

the provision of new cycling facilities for staff in the Custom House in November 2007,

encouraging take up of the Civil Service Travel Pass Scheme which allows the Department to incur the expense of providing staff with an annual bus/rail pass, without the staff member being liable for benefit-in-kind taxation. This Scheme has been availed of by 259 staff in 2008,

encouraging staff to use public transport wherever possible for official travel,

making available, to the greatest possible extent, different working initiatives such as flexible working, e-working, work-sharing and term-time. These all support reduced travel and affect travel choice,

active promotion of sustainable travel through staff newsletters and notice boards.

While measures to encourage more sustainable travel patterns in the wider public service are largely a matter for the Department of Transport, I have recently made provision for the introduction of a carbon offsetting scheme for all ministerial and official air travel.

My Department also acts as national co-ordinator for European Mobility Week, which will run from 16-22 September 2008. In order to maximise participation by the public and relevant local authorities in the week, the Department recently met with national stakeholders such as the Department of Transport, Sustainable Energy Ireland, An Garda Síochána and representatives from the larger urban local authorities. All Government Departments and local authorities have been requested to participate actively in the week and a programme of activities will be supported by a limited awareness campaign at local and national level.

Consultancy Contracts.

Phil Hogan

Question:

334 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount spent by him and his Department on public relations, media and advertising services since May 2007 to date in 2008; the external parties who have provided such services to him or his Department; the cost of such services by company or individual; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27891/08]

The information sought in the question is set out in the following table:

Campaign

Company

Expenditure (to nearest €100)

Climate Change Awareness Campaign

Consortium comprises: Cawley NEA\TBWA, RPS Group, Mary Murphy Associates, OMD Ireland

3,337,100

Race Against Waste

Consortium Led By Lyle Bailie International (Formerly Known As McCann Erickson) PR element provided by Mary Murphy and Associates

84,700

Advertising of designation of Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protected Areas

Brindley Advertising

61,600

National Tidy Towns Competition

Heritage Council

3,000

Species Protection Advertisements

Brindley Advertising

30,000

Notice Nature (Public Awareness Campaign on Biodiversity)

RPS

204,500

Register of Electors Awareness Campaign

Brindley Advertising

167,900

Information on Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability

Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, The Star and Foinse

5,000

Advertising Call for Submissions on “Increasing Affordable Housing Supply” Report

Brindley Advertising

5,100

Fire Safety Awareness

Lyle Bailie International

303,900

Fire Safety Awareness

ICAN

32,700

Fire Safety Awareness

Clear Channel Outdoor

25,400

Fire Safety Awareness

Cork Media Enterprises Ltd.

500

Fire Safety Awareness

WKW FM Ltd

900

Fire Safety Awareness

Dublin’s Q102

900

Fire Safety Awareness

Limerick’s Live 95FM

800

Fire Safety Awareness

I.R.S. (Ireland) Ltd.

2,700

Fire Safety Awareness

Galway Bay FM

900

Fire Safety Awareness

Titan Outdoor Ireland Ltd

24,000

Fire Safety Awareness

LMFM

700

Fire Safety Awareness

Earth Horizon Productions

18,100

Fire Safety Awareness

Shop n Save

4,800

Fire Safety Awareness

RD Publishing (Athlone)

800

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

Bennis Design — design of poster

1,000

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

Brunswick Press, printing of poster

7,500

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

Design of ad for Heritage Week

400

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

Heritage Week advert

300

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

History Ireland advertisements

5,700

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

Irish Arts Review advertisements

5,000

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

Irish Landmark Trust prize, RTE Architect’s Eye

800

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

Landmark Trust — Architect’s Eye prize

300

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

Limerick Civic Trust sponsorship

300

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

Limerick Leader — poster insert

2,900

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Awareness Campaign

RTE — sponsorship of Architect’s Eye radio series

3,600

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

Sherkin Comment

1,100

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

Lynn Publications

1,600

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

Nestron

1,100

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

The Dubliner Magazine

1,200

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

Lynn Publications

1,600

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

Sherkin Island

1,100

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

City Ads

400

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

Gaelic Times

2,400

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

Nestron

700

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

Sunday World

6,000

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

98FM

5,000

Advertising and Publicity Expenditure on Anti-Litter Initiatives

Greenhouse

800

EU Directives.

Phil Hogan

Question:

335 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of EU Directives that require to be transposed by his Department; when they are due to be transposed; the dates by which they are required to be transposed; the method of transposition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27892/08]

David Stanton

Question:

352 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if EU Directives 2004/35/CE of 21 April 2004 and 2006/21/EC of 1 May 2006 have been implemented in full; if not, when they will be fully implemented here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28124/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 335 and 352 together.

Eight Directives require transposition by my Department, including Directives, 2004/35/CE and 2006/21/EC. Details of these Directives are set out in the following table.

My Department is working to ensure the comprehensive transposition of these Directives.

Directive Number/Subject

Deadline for Transposition into Irish Law

Expected Transposition Date

Likely Method of Transposition

2003/35/EC Directive on public participation in plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC

25/06/2005

At the earliest possible date

Statutory Instrument

2004/107/EC Relating to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air

15/02/2007

By 3rd Quarter 2008

Statutory Instrument

2004/35/CE On environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage

30/04/2007

At the earliest possible date

Primary Legislation

2006/21/EC On the management of waste from extractive industries and amending Directive 2004/35/EC

01/05/2008

By 3rd Quarter 2008

Statutory Instrument

2006/66/EC On batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and repealing Directive 91/157/EEC

26/09/2008

By the Transposition Date

Statutory Instrument

2006/118/EC On the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration

16/01/2009

By the Transposition Date

Statutory Instrument

2007/2/EC On the establishing of an Infrastructure for Spatial In-formation in the European Community (INSPIRE)

15/05/2009

By the Transposition Date

Statutory Instrument

2008/50/ECOn ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe

11/06/2010

By the Transposition Date

Statutory Instrument

Local Authority Funding.

Denis Naughten

Question:

336 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the level of funding provided to each local authority for housing grants to individual households in 2008; the corresponding figure for 2007; the additional funding sought from each local authority to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27907/08]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

363 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of funding that has been or is being allocated to a county council (details supplied) for the housing aid for older people scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28144/08]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

364 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of funding that has been or is being allocated to a county council (details supplied) for the housing aid for older people scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28145/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 336, 363 and 364 together.

Details of the combined capital allocations made to each local authority in 2008, in respect of the operation of the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability, together with the amounts recouped to each authority in 2007, are set out in the table below.

The combined capital allocations made by my Department to local authorities for the operation of the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability represent not capital grants, but the total amount which authorities are authorised to spend on the schemes, including from the resources of individual authorities, in the year in which the allocation is made. It is a matter for local authorities to decide on the specific level of funding to be directed towards each of the schemes, from within the combined allocation notified to them by my Department, and to manage the operation of the schemes in their area from within this allocation.

Local Authority

Total amount Recouped 2007

Overall Allocation 2008

Carlow County Council

1,174,211

1,191,450

Cavan County Council

1,130,966

1,150,890

Clare County Council

1,286,340

1,308,060

Cork County Council (North)

1,932,606

1,962,090

Cork County Council (South)

2,509,769

2,545,140

Cork County Council (West)

991,409

1,008,930

Donegal County Council

4,186,047

4,248,660

DL/Rathdown County Council

1,867,940

1,896,180

Fingal County Council

1,554,110

1,576,770

Galway County Council

1,795,118

1,820,130

Kerry County Council

2,551,761

2,590,770

Kildare County Council

1,619,225

1,642,680

Kilkenny County Council

801,467

816,270

Laois County Council

2,601,255

1,678,000

Leitrim County Council

1,545,126

1,571,700

Limerick County Council

1,528,970

1,551,420

Longford County Council

628,049

638,820

Louth County Council

1,789,877

1,815,060

Mayo County Council

2,446,257

2,484,300

Meath County Council

2,380,019

2,418,390

Monaghan County Council

1,880,169

1,911,390

North Tipperary County Council

1,547,594

1,571,700

Offaly County Council

1,292,903

1,292,910

Roscommon County Council

1,652,933

1,678,170

Sligo County Council

484,371

491,790

South Dublin County Council

3,933,500

3,990,090

South Tipperary County Council

1,323,593

1,343,550

Waterford County Council

1,497,584

1,500,000

Westmeath County Council

1,437,482

1,460,160

Wexford County Council

2,010,858

2,043,210

Wicklow County Council

1,063,649

1,079,910

Cork City Council

1,827,539

1,855,620

Dublin City Council

12,464,277

12,639,510

Galway City Council

1,031,777

1,049,490

Limerick City Council

702,602

714,870

Waterford City Council

440,937

451,230

Sligo Borough Council

408,444

415,740

TOTAL

71,320,734

71,405,050

Turbary Rights.

Denis Naughten

Question:

337 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will receive approval for the sale of bog to his Department; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27909/08]

John Gormley