Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 5 to 99, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 100 to 106, inclusive, answered orally.

Third Level Fees.

Joan Burton

Question:

107 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the way in which revenue raised by the forthcoming increase in third level registration fees will be spent; the reason, if extra revenues are being raised by the third level sector, that there was no commensurate increase in third level funding in budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38015/08]

The student services charge is levied by third level institutions to defray the costs of examinations, registration and students services. This charge of €900 for 2008/09 academic year does not represent the total allocation made towards student services from institutions' budgets.

As announced in the budget, the third level funding allocations take account of expected increases in the student services charge in 2009. In this regard, the Government is willing to accept increases of up to €1,500 (from €900) for the 2009/10 academic year in individual higher education institutions. Accordingly the increase in the charge would have the effect of bringing the amount contributed by students more into line with the cost of providing services.

All students who are eligible for means tested student support have the student charge paid on their behalf by the Local Authorities or the Vocational Education Committees, in addition to any maintenance grant and tuition fee grant they are entitled to. This represents approx. 37% of the student cohort.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) issued a Framework of Good Practice for the Provision of Student Services to the publicly funded Higher Education institutions in 1998. Particular reference was made to the principles of transparency and accountability. The Framework consists of guidelines to establish an appropriate system of consultation with students in the allocation of funding from the charge and in the determination of student services to be funded from this source. The HEA has periodically written to all institutions to remind them of their function in relation to the student services charge and requesting confirmation that correct procedures are in place, in accordance with the Framework of Good Practice.

Institutional Redress Scheme.

Simon Coveney

Question:

108 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount that is owed to his Department from the indemnity agreement negotiated between his Department and the Catholic Church as part of the compensation package for victims of clerical abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38049/08]

Under the terms of the Indemnity Agreement reached with the Religious Congregations on 5th June 2002, the Congregations agreed to make a contribution of €128 million towards the cost of the Redress Scheme. This sum was broken down as follows:

Property Transfers €76.86m

Cash Contribution €41.14m

Provision of Counselling Services €10m

In actual terms, whilst the overall figure of €128 million has not altered, the form in which it has or is to be transferred to the State has altered somewhat in terms of the property and cash contributions. This is because the Indemnity Agreement allows for cash to be substituted for property. The composition of the €128 million has changed to the following:

Property Transfers €66m

Cash Contribution €52m

Provision of Counselling Services €10m

I can confirm that the full cash contribution of €52m has been received, including that which was accepted in lieu of properties. My Department has also received confirmation that the contributing congregations have provided counselling services to the value of €10m.

As a result of the Indemnity Agreement, my Department agreed in principle with CORI that a total of 64 properties would be accepted, subject to good and marketable title and agreed valuations. Valuations of the individual properties were fully agreed and fixed at 2002 values.

It is regrettable that the process for the final transfer of some of these properties is not yet completed. However, in the vast majority of the properties, good and marketable title has been fully established or the properties have been physically transferred to and are in possession of the State or 3rd Parties but there are some legal formalities to be finalised. In a small number of cases, consideration may have to be given to accepting an alternative property or cash where good and marketable title cannot be established. This has recently occurred in the case of one of the 64 properties where my Department accepted cash in lieu of a property where good and marketable title could not be established. Properties to the value of €26.79m have been fully transferred and a further €7.475m worth of properties have been handed over where legal arrangements are almost finalised. This leaves a balance of properties valued at €31.735 where the legal transfer remains to be completed. In the case of all of these latter properties, with the exception of two, the properties are in use or are available for use by the transferee.

Every effort will continue to be made by officials of my Department through the State's legal representatives along with the legal representatives of the congregations and by direct contact with the interested parties until all outstanding issues are finalised.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

109 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the action he will take to bring pupil-teacher ratios in the classroom into line with best practice throughout Europe; if his attention has been drawn to the expected educational damage arising from overcrowded classrooms and the likelihood of the loss of teachers at a number of primary schools during the next two years; if he has examined the negative impact of this on the educational system; if he will take the necessary steps to address these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38231/08]

The Deputy has introduced the issue of comparability of class size with the position in schools throughout Europe.

I have to say to the House that given the momentous challenges that countries right across Europe are facing to cope with economic recession, and in the case of some countries to even maintain financial solvency, raising the matter of educational comparisons misses the point.

The first priority for Governments throughout the world at present is to ensure economic survival. Ensuring that public services like education can be maintained at a reasonable level is but a subset of that greater priority of securing national solvency. Without economic and fiscal stability is axiomatic that public services like education will suffer.

The Government is about the business of securing Ireland's future. It is the number one priority. In the budget we tried to shelter education services as best we could. Some changes to how schools are to be staffed from next September were unavoidable.

I do not accept the scaremongering claims of the opposition parties or some of the more extreme comments from within the education sector in relation to the impact of the staffing changes.

For example it is simply not credible to claim that by staffing primary schools on the same basis as they were staffed just a year ago that we are prejudicing educational outcomes to any great extent. Yes of course it would be desirable to make improvements as originally intended let alone have to take a step back. However this is a changed world and it would be sheer folly to allow the overall number of teachers spiral upwards as if nothing had changed. I have faith in the quality of our teachers and our schools and in their capacity to deliver as well from September 2009 as they did just over a year ago from a similar level staffing and class size position.

We need to come through this difficult period and then and only then can we look at what further improvements we can make in how we staff schools and reduce class sizes.

As the full extent of the global crisis seeps into public consciousness I believe that parents will accept that taking difficult decisions now in order to secure future economic prosperity and secure employment for them and ultimately their children is the first imperative of Government and that parents will see through some of the extreme commentary on these measures.

Special Educational Needs.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

110 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will reverse the decision to defer the implementation of the Education for People with Special Educational Needs Act 2004. [38212/08]

Joan Burton

Question:

111 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the aspects of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 that have been deferred and will not implemented by the target date of 2010 as per his speech on budget 2009; when the Act will be fully implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38016/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 110 and 111 together.

As the Deputies will be aware, a significant number of sections of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, 2004 have been commenced, principally those establishing the National Council for Special Education and those promoting an inclusive approach to the education of children with special educational needs. Specifically, the following sections have been commenced — 1, 2, 14(1)(a), 14(1)(c), 14(2) to 14(4), 19 to 37, 40 to 53.

The sections of the EPSEN Act that have been deferred are those mainly concerned with the assessment of need process, preparation and review of individual education plans and the associated appeals provisions in relation to these areas. A small number of sections refer to interaction between the NCSE and the health services. The full list of deferred sections is — 3 to 13, 14(1)(b), 14(1)(d), 14(1)(e), 14(1)(f), 15 to 18, 38 and 39.

As has been outlined previously, it is not possible to commence the EPSEN Act incrementally by age cohort, therefore the provisions of the Act especially regarding assessments and individual education plans will have to be commenced for all children at the same time. This means that the necessary training arrangements, personnel and systems have to be in place at the time of commencement.

As required under the Act, the NCSE provided a report making recommendations regarding the implementation of EPSEN which suggested additional investment over a period of years of up to €235m per annum across the education and health sectors. Having considered the NCSE report, and consulted with the education partners, the Department of Health and Children and the HSE, my Department identified a range of options for the implementation of EPSEN. It is not possible to give exact figures regarding cost as the specific amount of money required to support implementation would depend on the options chosen and the timeframe for the implementation of these options. However, my Department's opinion is that the level of investment required would be greater than that envisaged in the NCSE report.

In the light of the current financial circumstances, it is therefore not possible to proceed with implementation in 2010 as originally envisaged. However, the Government will keep the matter under review and is committed to the full implementation of EPSEN at the earliest possible date.

I want to take this opportunity to emphasise that children with special educational needs will continue to receive an education appropriate to their needs. I intend to build on the progress that has been achieved in recent years which has seen a huge increase in resources for special needs. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents and children and teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children's needs.

Furthermore, as announced on Budget day, an additional €20m has been provided — €10m for education services and €10m for health services — to strengthen and enhance services and continue the preparation for the full implementation of the Act at a later date.

The additional funding being allocated to my Department will provide for an expansion of the National Educational Psychological service so that all schools in the country will be covered by the service. The additional funding available to NEPS, which represents a 33% increase over the 2008 allocation, will facilitate the recruitment of up to 50 further psychologists. It is envisaged that this will bring the number of NEPS psychologists by the end of 2009 above the proposed 200 incorporated in the Programme for Government.

This investment will significantly enhance the capacity of our educational psychologists to directly support schools in the development and delivery of appropriate interventions for children with special educational needs.

Additional funding is also being provided to the National Council for Special Education in 2009 to increase the Council's capacity in the move towards the full implementation of EPSEN. The additional funding will enable the Council to continue to improve, plan and co-ordinate the delivery of services for children with special needs.

I have also provided for further investment in teacher training in this area. This will ensure that teachers are provided with opportunities to access continuing professional development so that the learning and teaching needs of all pupils with Special Educational Needs continue to be met. The provision of high quality training ensures that pupils learning opportunities are enriched and learning outcomes are optimised.

An integrated approach is being adopted by the education and health sectors to target these additional resources to the areas of greatest need. Progress in both sectors will be kept under review by the Office for Disability & Mental Health and the Cross-Sectoral Team during 2009.

School Transport.

Martin Ferris

Question:

112 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on whether the budget 2009 decision to increase the cost of school transport will cause more people to use their cars to bring their children to school, causing more traffic congestion and delays on roads. [38211/08]

The school transport scheme, which is operated by Bus Éireann on my Department's behalf, is primarily a rural based scheme which facilitates the transportation of over 134,000 children to primary and post-primary schools each day. The Deputy will be aware that the School Transport system is a very significant operation involving about 42 million journeys of over 82 million kilometres on 6,000 routes every school year.

The allocation for school transport in 2008 is €175.2 million and this has been increased by 12% to €196 million in 2009, which given the difficult fiscal conditions shows the commitment of the Government to maintaining the scheme. In fact, since 1997 the allocation to school transport services has increased almost threefold.

I would point out that the charges for school transport had not been increased from 1998 until the third school term in the 2007/2008 school year despite the escalating costs of the service. A further increase was put in place at the start of the 2008/2009 school year.

The Budget 2009 increase in charges applies from the start of the 2009/2010 school year.

In the overall context and in order to minimise the overall effects, these charge increases have been confined to the 55,000 eligible post primary and children availing of concessionary transport. Charges will continue to be waived in the case of eligible post-primary children where the family is in possession of a valid medical card or over a further 19,000 children. Eligible children attending primary schools and children with special needs or about 54,000 children will still travel free. A maximum family rate will also be applied.

The total contribution from parents will still only represent about 7% of the overall allocation for school transport in 2009.

This scheme aims to provide comfortable and safe transport for children travelling to and from school. Measures to ensure the highest standards in this regard include:

In recent years the phasing out of the 3 for 2 seating arrangement on both primary and post-primary services, providing all children with an adult seat each.

The addition of a considerable number of vehicles to address capacity shortfalls arising from the decision to provide each child with an individual seat and the equipping of all dedicated school buses.

Inspection by Bus Éireann using an independent agency to satisfy itself that all buses entering the School Transport Scheme have seat belts fitted to an appropriate standard, agreed with the Department of Transport.

In addition, Bus Éireann has put in place a random vehicle inspection process conducted by a leading independent external expert in this field.

In the light of these important supportive factors for parents in planning day to day travel arrangements for their children it is my hope that the numbers utilising the scheme will be maintained at current levels.

My Department has no evidence to suggest that parents of children currently availing of school transport are planning alternative modes of transport. In addition, a number of parents continue to apply for concessionary transport annually. My officials will continue to monitor this aspect with Bus Éireann over the coming months.

Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 106.

Grant Payments.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

114 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding specialist grants which were abolished in budget 2009 in lieu of the capitation grant; the functions same had; the cost of these grants in the past three years; the amount of the funding used in these former grants that was redirected into increasing the capitation grant in budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38012/08]

Notwithstanding the increase of €302 million in the education budget for 2009, which is a real achievement in the current economic climate, a number of tough and difficult decisions had to be taken. These decisions were outlined in the Budget day announcements and included the abolition of a number of specialist grants for primary and post-primary schools.

In the case of primary schools, the separate cookery grant, resource grant for language support teachers and equipment grant for resource teachers are being abolished. The total value of these grants was €2m.

In the case of post-primary schools, a number of separate grant payments to second-level schools are also being abolished. These are grants for Choirs and Orchestras, Home Economics, Physics and Chemistry, Junior Certificate Schools Programme, Leaving Certificate Applied, LCVP and Transition Year. These grants helped to support the provision of these subjects and programmes in the schools. The total saving will be €5.35m.

A further €6.3m is being saved at primary and post primary level by a reduction in capitation funding for Travellers and withdrawal of certain capitation funding from schools that are not in the DEIS programme but had continued to receive top-up funding originally provided under previous disadvantage initiatives.

I have provided in a table for the Deputy the amount these grants cost over the last 3 years.

We are committed to investing in education but we have to invest at a level that is consistent with what we can afford and what is sustainable at the moment given economic circumstances.

Overall some €20 million has been allocated to improving the capitation and ancillary funding for schools.

In relation to day to day funding for schools I prioritised the funding for primary schools in particular recognising the submissions made by the management bodies. The Education Budget for 2009 has provided for improvements to the overall level of day to day funding for primary schools which will see funding increase from €167 million in 2008 to almost €190 million in 2009.

While I appreciate that the abolition of a range of grants will make it a challenging year ahead most of the available funding was used to increase the standard rate of capitation grant at primary level to €200 per pupil. The increases in the enhanced rates for special needs pupils in special classes and special schools brings the top rate up to almost €1,000 per pupil.

I clearly will want to improve funding as soon as circumstances permit and I am anxious to make the capitation grant mechanism the single funding channel rather than have a plethora of grant schemes, thereby giving schools more flexibility and discretion on how to target funding to the school's own priorities based on its knowledge and understanding of the needs of the students it serves. There is the added advantage that administration and accounting can be reduced for schools and my Department.

The Budget measures will help ensure that Ireland is well positioned to benefit when the global economy improves and we can start to build again on the significant achievements of recent years and do so in a manner consistent with overall prudent management of the Irish economy.

Grants

Expenditure in 2006

Expenditure in 2007

Expenditure in 2008

€ 000

€ 000

€ 000

School Books Primary

5,494

6,324

6,520 est (Of which 3,800 will be retained for DEIS schools)

School Books Post-Primary

7,518

7,943

8,000 (Of which 3,200 will be retained for DEIS schools)

Traveller Capitation Primary

1,040 est

1,100 est

1,200 (Of which 600 will be retained)

Traveller Capitation Post-Primary

1073

1205

1205 (Of which 600 will be retained)

Non-DEIS Primary

4,100

3,700

3,700 est

Non-DEIS Post-Primary

1,600

1,400

1,300 est

Equipment grant learning resource Primary

1,809

1,422

2,147 est

Language support resource Primary

478

617

620 est

Cookery Primary

2

3

3

Fee charging Post-Primary

1,706

2,540

2,736

JCSP Post-Primary

132

143

188

LCA Post-Primary

1,177

1,185

1,232

Transition year Post-Primary

1,501

2,149

2,554

Home Economics Equipment Post-Primary

63

59

51

Choirs and Orchestras Post-Primary

42

20

26

Physics and Chemistry Post-Primary

357

357

357

LCVP / LCA Grant

164

158

62

Centre for Talented Youth

97

97

97

Irish Summer Colleges

1,228

1,178

1,256

Foreign trained teachers at Gaeltacht

200

200

200

Library grants to Local Authorities

2,071

2,129

2,190

Total All grants

31,852

33,929

35,644

Of the €35.6 million spent on these grants in 2008, there will be a saving of €27.4 million in 2009.

School Staffing.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

115 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason front-line services and teacher numbers have been cut in budget 2009 and an extra €300 million has been provided for increased pay to remaining teachers; if a similar pay increase will be awarded in budget 2010; his views on whether these pay increases are sustainable in the long-term if they continue to come at the expense of children in the education system and other front-line services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38023/08]

The net pay allocation for teachers' salaries and pensions will increase by almost €300m in 2009 as a result of a combination of pay increases, increased pension costs, increased enrolment in 2009 and the full year costs of the salaries of extra teachers appointed in September 2008.

An additional €40m has also been allocated for the continued growth in the provision for special needs in primary and post-primary schools providing for the full year costs of additional Special Needs Assistants in the system this September as well as provision for additional posts next September.

In view of the worsening economic position the Government had to make extremely difficult decisions and choices across all public services including education. As pay constitutes the bulk of current expenditure on education, measures impacting on the teaching resources available to schools were necessary. These measures included a regression in the staffing schedule at 1st and 2nd level and the implementation of restrictions relating to substitution cover and the employment of Language Support Teachers.

It should be noted Education was one of only three Government Departments to have increased funding in 2009 which reflects the Government's continued prioritisation of education. The 2009 Education allocation of €9.6 billion is over treble what it was in 1997. We are committed to investing in education but we have to invest at a level that is consistent with what we can afford and what is sustainable at the moment given the economic circumstances.

Decisions relating to the 2010 Budget will be made in the context of available resources at the time.

School Enrolments.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

116 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6W will have to turn pupils away in September 2009 due to budget 2009; if he is making alternative provision for these pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38229/08]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to a primary school in this instance. I regard comments being made from whatever quarter about schools turning away pupils as premature, alarmist and irresponsible. I can only conclude that such statements are motivated by a desire to create pressure for a change in relation to the decisions the Government had to take in relation to school staffing. I regard it as reprehensible that any school might seek to use children as pawns no matter how strongly they feel about the decisions that we have made.

Ultimately it is a matter for each school's Board of Management to have an enrolment policy and to then operate that policy in a fair and consistent manner having regard to the overall physical space capacity of a school. My Department has a responsibility 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. That is no more than a normal feature of the enrolment process in any community.

My Department will continue to ensure that those schools with the greatest increase in pupil numbers will still qualify for developing school status thus enabling them to get their increased staffing in September 2009 — a year in advance of other schools.

The Forward Planning Section of my Department is currently in the process of identifying the areas where significant additional school accommodation will be required at primary and post-primary level. Factors under consideration include population growth, demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places. Having considered these factors decisions will be taken on the means by which emerging needs will be met within an area.

The demand for junior infant places in the area in question will be considered within this context.

What is not acceptable is that any school authority would in the coming year alter its approach to enrolment simply because it wants to pressurise the government or to give support to a campaign being conducted by a teacher union.

As I pointed out in the House last week the changes to the classroom staffing of primary schools reverts schools to the position that applied just over one school year ago. Schools are given teaching resources commensurate with their enrolment and under the staffing schedule schools with like enrolments are treated in the same way.

In terms of accommodating pupils I believe it is totally reasonable to expect schools to operate from next September no less favourably than they did in 2006/2007.

Any school acting dishonourably in this regard must ultimately answer to its local community and to the parents and children in that community in particular.

In terms of the staffing implications at individual school level, schools are currently returning data to my Department in relation to their enrolment as of 30 September. My Department has commenced processing this data although all schools have not yet made their returns. The allocation processes including notification to schools will commence early in the New Year. The allocation process includes appellate mechanisms under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The final allocation to a school is also a function of the operation of the redeployment panels which provide for the retention of a teacher in an existing school if a new post is not available within the agreed terms of the scheme.

School Staffing.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

117 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of job losses that will result, if his plan to cap the number of English language support teachers at two per school comes into effect; and if he will reverse this decision. [38210/08]

The budget measures will mean that the level of language support will be reduced from a maximum of six extra teachers per school to a maximum of two teachers per school, as was the case before 2007.

However, the ongoing requirement for current levels of language support teachers in schools should also start to reduce in line with lower levels of immigration and in line with improvements in the levels of proficiency of those pupils for whom this resource has been available.

Nonetheless, schools that require language support will still be entitled to get it. We still envisage having over 1,400 language support teachers in our schools in September 2009 and up to about 500 other teachers in part-time posts. By any standards this is a very significant resource and the challenge will be to ensure that it is used to maximum effect.

As I announced on budget day we will also provide for some alleviation for the position of those schools where there is a significant concentration of newcomer pupils as a proportion of the overall enrolment. This will be done on a case by case basis.

The allocation process for language support teachers is an annual one and existing provision is not rolled over automatically. Schools will be applying afresh in the spring and early summer of 2009 for the 2009/10 school year, based on their assessment of the prospective needs of existing pupils and any new pupils they are enrolling.

Moreover, OECD research in this field (PISA 2006) shows that Ireland is the OECD country with the highest distribution of newcomers across schools meaning that schools with higher concentrations of newcomer children are relatively unusual. ESRI data also shows that only a small percentage of schools have high concentrations of newcomer children.

I realise that standards are not simply achieved by supplying teaching resources and that the quality of the supports that the child receives and the inclusive atmosphere cultivated in schools are important factors influencing the quality of learning achieved by migrant children. My Department recognises that we must monitor and review the educational experiences that are provided to migrant students so that we can improve the quality and effectiveness of our provision. The Department is undertaking a range of research to consider the question of integration in schools and how best to deploy our resources to ensure that all the children in our schools can benefit from learning in an intercultural Ireland.

Psychological Service.

Joe Costello

Question:

118 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science the waiting time periods in each county or region for a student to access his Department’s psychological service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38014/08]

I can inform the Deputy that all primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA) which is administered by NEPS.

NEPS does not keep waiting lists for assessments of children but in common with other psychological services encourages a staged assessment process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention, in consultation with their assigned NEPS psychologist. Only if there is a failure to make reasonable progress in spite of the school's best efforts, will a child be referred for individual psychological assessment. This system allows the psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually.

The introduction of the General Allocation model for primary schools in 2005/06 means that children with high incidence special needs now longer have to wait for an individual assessment before they can get access to extra support.

Children who manifest very special or urgent needs in school and who have not been previously assessed by a psychologist and are brought to the attention of a NEPS psychologist by the Principal teacher will usually be assessed by the psychologist within that school term. Normally, principals of schools prioritise those children in need of psychological assessment in consultation with the assigned psychologist.

In the case of schools that do not currently have dedicated NEPS psychologists assigned to them, as I already mentioned, such schools have access to psychological assessments through the SCPA. Under this Scheme, schools can commission assessments from a member of the panel of private practitioners approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the fees directly to the psychologist concerned.

Should school authorities have specific difficulties with regard any of the foregoing I would suggest that they should contact the local NEPS Regional Director, contact details for whom are also available on my Department's website.

I can also inform the Deputy that there are currently 151 psychologists employed in my Department's NEPS service, including some 21 psychologists who have been appointed since the end of June last. Furthermore 7 individuals have agreed start dates with the service between now and early January 2009 and an additional 6 are currently considering offers of employment or undergoing the requisite Garda vetting process.

Additionally I was pleased to announce recently, in the context of Budget 2009, an increase in the funding available to NEPS with which it is envisaged that up to 50 further psychologists can be appointed. Recruitment of these psychologists will begin early in the new-year from the existing panel of qualified personnel, until its depletion, and discussions commence between my Department and the Public Appointments Service in relation to the establishment of a new panel in this regard.

Capitation Grants.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

119 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the capitation grant for primary schools was not doubled in budget 2009 from €178 to €356 per pupil; his views on the situation whereby school communities are forced to depend on an increasing need to fund raise in order that basic costs can be covered; his further views on whether the rhetoric on world class education is simply words followed by inaction and cutbacks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38007/08]

This Government's continued prioritisation of education over the last 11 years is evidenced from our investment in 2009 of €9.6 billion — over treble what it was in 1997.

The increase of €302m in the Education budget for 2009 is therefore a real achievement in the current economic climate. Education is one of only three Government Departments to have increased funding in 2009.

The budget for education is showing an increase of just over 3% overall, while the 2.6% increase in current expenditure sets the growth in expenditure for education in 2009 second only to Social Welfare. The commitment in relation to doubling the capitation grant to primary schools can only be looked at and considered in the context of the overall economic and budgetary position.

I am aware of the funding pressures on schools and I fully recognise the contribution of parents fund-raising to support their local school. In relation to day to day funding for schools I have prioritised funding for primary schools.

The Education Budget for 2009 has provided for improvements to the overall level of day to day funding for primary schools which will see funding increase from €167 million in 2008 to almost €190 million in 2009.

This builds on the progress has been made in recent years that has seen the primary school capitation grant increased from €81.26 per pupil in 2000 to its current rate of €200. This represents an increase of 146% in the standard rate of capitation grant since 2000.

The primary capitation grant has been improved by more than €21 to bring the rate to €200 per pupil and the ancillary services grant for primary schools will also be improved by €3.50 to €155 per pupil.

Taken together, these increases mean that primary schools eligible for the full ancillary services grant will get €355 per pupil — or almost €25 extra — in this school year to cover their day to day running costs, with a primary school of 300 pupils getting €7,475 more. In 2000, a primary school with 300 pupils was in receipt of less than €40,000 to meet its day to day running costs. That same school under these new rates will receive €106,500. This excludes the salary of teachers and Special Needs Assistants which are paid by the Department.

Furthermore enhanced rates of capitation funding are paid in respect of children with special educational needs who attend special schools or special classes attached to mainstream schools. The current rates range from €512 to €986 per pupil — an increase of 59% from the rate in 2006.

By any standards there have been very significant improvements within a relatively short period of time and the Government is committed to further increasing funding for schools as resources permit. While increasing resources is important, we must also focus on measures to enhance the quality of education in our schools to ensure that increased resources lead to the best possible outcomes for our children.

We are committed to investing in education but we have to invest at a level that is consistent with what we can afford and what is sustainable at the moment given economic circumstances. I am confident that as the global economy improves it will be possible to build again on the significant achievements of recent years and do so in a manner consistent with overall prudent management of the Irish economy.

School Completion Programme.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

120 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on reversing the 3% payroll cut directive in regard to the school completion programme in view of the fact that this provides vital support to school children in disadvantaged areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38008/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Education budget for 2009 has been increased by some €302 million, which is a real achievement in the current economic climate. Notwithstanding this, a number of tough and difficult decisions have had to be taken, which have seen a number of spending cuts across the education sector.

My Department notified all 124 school completion projects in August last that, pursuant to a Government decision in response to the deterioration in public finances, they would be required to reduce their payroll bill by 3% in 2009 through all appropriate measures identified by local management in the light of local circumstances.

Projects were advised that they had the authority to manage how the savings are to be achieved. This is to facilitate projects in their efforts to ensure that these necessary steps will be applied in such a manner as to minimise their effect on young people targeted and to prioritise those activities which are found to be of most value in supporting the young people concerned.

In implementing this decision local Managers will have an opportunity to consider measures which might include the control of premium pay, the management of existing or future vacancies, the organisation of work processes and the levels at which work is carried out, as well as control of numbers through recruitment and other measures.

This requirement will not have a universal effect on all 124 projects, as projects vary in size, number of schools involved and the number and status of personnel employed and the types of interventions in place.

It is envisaged that the savings requested, will lead to rationalisation, with more efficient and cost effective measures being implemented. In this way, it is not expected that there will be any significant diminution of front-lines services.

School Completion Programme

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Carlow

SCP

70420R

Carlow Voc. School

19958C

SN Naomh Fiach, Graiguecullen

Carlow

70430U

Vocational School, Muine Bheag

19477J

Holy Family BNS, Askea, Carlow

19478L

Holy Family GNS, Askea

SCP

91356F

Tullow Community School

00977B

Ballyconnell NS

Tullow

13507I

SN Muire Lourdes

13607M

St Columbas NS

14837L

SN Peadar & Pol, Ballon

16080N

SN Padraig Naofa, Patrician Br.

01415K

Scoil Phadraig NS, Rathoe

17663T

SN Phadraig Naofa, Rathvilly

Cavan

SCP

70380I

Breifne College

08490N

Poor Clare Convent

Cavan

70360C

St. Mogues, Bawnboy

17326B

SN Naomh Feidhlim

19708C

Amalgamating in Sept. New Roll No: 20277I St. Michael’s NS. St. Michaels Junior, Cootehill

19709E

Amalgamating in Sept. New Roll No: 20277I St. Michael’s NS. St. Michaels Senior, Cootehill

Clare

SCP

70830N

Ennis Community College

19559L

Scoil Chriost Rí, Cloughleigh, Ennis

Ennis West

20086B

Ennis Educate Together NS, Gort Rd., Ennis

17957N

Holy Family JNS, Ennis

07315N

Holy Family SNS, Ennis

Kilrush SCP

91448K

Kilrush Community School

20041C

Convent of Mercy NS, Kilrush

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Cork (County)

Bandon/Macroom SCP

70910L

St. Brogans College, Bandon

19977G

Bandon Boys NS

71030J

McEgan College, Macroom

Mitchelstown /Fermoy SCP

71040M

St. Fanahans College, Mitchelstown

17639W

Scoil na mBraithre, Mitchelstown

70990M

Colaiste an Chraoibhin, Fermoy

18377A

Iosef Naofa, Fermoy

SCP

71020G

Davis College, Mallow

13779S

Sn Dhrom Áthain, Dromahane, Mallow

Mallow

76067L

Col Phobail N Mhuire na Mullach (Buttevant)

17887S

SN Naomh Padraig, New Rd., Mallow

71080B

Mannix College, Charleville

19256Q

Scoil Ghobnatán, Bathview, Mallow

13031I

St. Josephs Convent NS, Rathluirc

SCP

76086P

Maria Immaculata CC, Dunmanway

17281F

Togher NS, Dunmanway, Co. Cork.

Bantry

70930R

St Goban’s, Bantry

16087E

Kaelkill NS, Bantry, Co. Cork

Dunmanway

71090E

Rossa College, Skibbereen, Co. Cork

17011W

Cappabuí NS, Kealkill, Bantry, Co. Cork

Midleton/Cobh SCP

71050P

St. Colmans Community College, Midleton

70970G

Cobh Community College, Cobh

SCP

71101G

St. Aidan’s Comm Coll

19730S

St. Oliver’s NS, Dublin Hill, Ballincoly

Ballincolly

Cork (City)

SCP

91400F

Mayfield Comm School

14198D

Naomh Eoin Easpal,Old Youghal Rd. Mayfield

Mayfield/The Glen

17045Q

St. Patrick’s BNS, Gardiners Hill, Cork

62730N

St. Patricks College, Gardiners Hill

18153B

St Patrick’s GNS, Gardiners Hill, Cork

18587L

Scoil Mhuire Banrion, Boherboy Rd., Mayfield

19426P

SN Mharcais Boys, The Glen, Cork

19427R

SN Bhrendain Girls, The Glen, Cork

18154D

St Patrick’s JNS, Gardiners Hill, Cork

SCP

71110H

Nagle Community Coll

05940D

Scoil Ursula, Blackrock, Cork

Mahon/Blackrock

62650P

Ursuline Sec. School

19908K

Gaelscoil Mhachan, Ave.de Rennes, Mahon, Cork

17024I

Scoil Na Croise Naofa, Ave.de Rennes, Mahon, Cork

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

SCP

71123Q

Terence McSwiney CC

19714U

St. Mary’s on the Hill, Knocknaheeny, Cork

Le Chéile Knocknaheeny

01197D

Strawberry Hill BNS, Sundays Well

19909M

Gaelscoil Peig Sayers, New Mallow rd.

02707F

Sunday’s Well GNS, Blarney Rd, Cork

SCP

62621I

Nth Presentation Sec Girls

13696O

St. Vincent’s Primary Girls, St. Mary’s Rd.

North West City

62590A

St. Vincent’s Sec Girls

16680O

Scoil Cholmcille Boys NS, Blarney St., Cork

62530F

Nth Monastery Sec Boys

18217B

Scoil Padre Pio, Churchfield, Cork

18786R

Scoil Iosagain Boys NS, Farranree, Cork

20036J

Nth Presentation Primary Girls, Gerald Griffin St.

20038N

Scoil Aiseirí Chriost, Farranree, Cork

20140E

Nth Monastery Primary Boys, Monastery Rd.

62540I

Deerpark CBS, St. Patricks Rd, Cork

12473M

Greenmount Monastery NS, Greenmount

South West City SCP

91397T

Bishopstown Community School

18292P

Gaelscoil an Teachlaigh Nfa, Baile Feithean

(SCóP)

18734V

Realt na Maighdine, Ballyphehane

17993R

Scoil Muire gan Smal Boys, Glasheen

19588S

Scoil N Therese, Bishopstown

17105I

Muire Gan Smal Cailini, Glasheen

14000C

Scoil Naomh Mhuire, N Mhuire an Oileain, Sharman Crawford St

18237H

Maria Assumpta GNS, Ballyphehane

18238J

Maria Assumpta Jnr Infants, Ballyphehane

Donegal

SCP

91406R

Carndonagh CS

14631O

Scoil Colmcille, Malin

North Inishowen

16642G

Clonmany Mixed NS

16821G

Clochar Padraig Naofa

(Carndonagh)

17180W

SN na gCluainte

18520C

SN Phadraig, Rath Seinche

18605K

Scoil Naomh Padraig

76084L

Moville Community College, Carrownaff

20054L

Scoil Eoghan, Moville

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

SCP

71230R

Deele College

05230S

Convoy Joint N.S.

Raphoe

16054M

St Patrick’s NS Murlog

16138S

Raphoe Central NS

16820E

Scoil Cholmcille, Newtowncunningham

17598L

Scoil an Leanbh Iosa

17828C

Scoil Adhamnain, Raphoe

81011L

The Royal & Prior School, Raphoe

18076J

Scoil Naisiunta Muire gan Smal, Lifford

18737E

Scoil Bride Conmhagh

19518U

SN Naomh Baothin Johnston

SCP

71140Q

Crana College

18114O

Scoil Eighneach

Sth. Inishowen

62770C

Scoil Mhuire

19359D

Scoil Naomh Aonghusa, Bridgend

(Buncrana)

01574H

Scoil Naomh Iósaf, Ballymangan, Buncrana

16789N

St. Oran’s, Cockhill

15627F

St. Mary’s, Burnfoot

19967D

Scoil Iosagain

16854V

St Mura’s National School, St. Mary’s Rd. Buncrana

01572D

Scoil Naomh Padraigh NS, Drumfries

SCP

62861F

St Columba’s College Stranorlar

14910S

St. Mary’s National School, Castlefin

Stranorlar

71240U

Finn Valley College (formerly Stranorlar VS)

16349I

Dromore National School

17057A

St. Patrick’s NS, Drumkeen

71242B

Gairmscoil Chu Uladh, An Atha Mor, An Clochan, Leifear

17607J

Sessiaghoneill National School, Ballybofey

19333I

Dooish National School, Balybofey

19927O

St. Mary’s National School, Stranorlar

Letterkenny/Milford SCP

71200I

Errigal College (formerly Letterkenny V.S.)

20235P

Letterkenny Educate Together

71220O

Mulroy College, Milford

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Dublin

SCP

60490J

CBS Westland Row, Dublin 2

11578V

City Quay Boys NS, Dublin 2

Dublin South East

60500J

Marian College, Ballsbridge

16567S

St. Brigids Convent NS, Haddington Rd

70200D

Technical Institute, Cambridge Rd

19896G

Scoil Catriona na mBraithre, Baggot St

03917V

N Padraig Boys, Cambridge Rd, Dublin 4

17279S

Scoil Mhuire, Haddington Rd, Dublin 4

15253N

St.Patricks Girls, Cambridge Rd, Dublin 4

Dublin 3

SCP

76077O

Larkin College

00752A

Central Model School Marlboro

North Inner City

70250S

Marino College

20228S

St Lawrence O’Toole GNS & JNS

17110B

St Lawrence O’Toole BNS

15056L

St Vincent’s GNS, Nth William St

19946S

Rutland St NS

19774P

St Joseph’s Mixed NS, Eastwall

11776C

St. Lawrence O’Toole Jun Boys

01795A

Central Infants School, Marlboro St

19831B

Scoil Chaomhin, Marlboro St., Dublin 1

SCP

60390F

St. Josephs CBS, Merville Ave, Fairview

18726W

SN Naomh Seosamh, Fairview, Dublin 3

Dublin North Central SCP

60440R

O’Connell School, Nth Richmond St., D1

17881G

Scoil Ui Chonaill, Nth Richmond St, Dublin 1

19981U

St. Marys NS, Windsor Ave, Fairview

15816I

St. Vincents Inf. Boys, Nth William St.

Dublin 5

SCP

60471F

St David’s CBS Artane

17732M

SN Chiarain, Donnycarney

Dublin 5 (Artane)

18360G

St Brendan’s NS, Coolock

19297H

Cromcastle Green BNS

19919P

St David’s NS

19298J

Scoil Nais Íde

19920A

St John of God NS

20064O

Our Lady of Consolation, Collins Ave E, Donnycarney

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Dublin 5

SCP

60291D

Ardscoil La Salle

20281W

St Benedict’s & St. Mary’s NS(19262L & 19440J amalgamated since 1/9/07)

Edenmore/Kilbarrack/ Raheny

18968A

St. Malachy’s BNS, Edenmore

19935N

Scoil Eoin, Greendale Rd

Dublin 7

SCP

60843Q

St Joseph’s Sec Sch

09932B

Stanhope St NS

Dublin 7

60853T

Mount Carmel Sec Sch

20035H

St Gabriel’s BNS

60430O

St Paul’s CBS

16695E

Scoil mBraithre, Nth Brunswick St

19895E

SN Mhuire & Ioseph Girls

20005V

Plás Mhuire BNS

12448N

Gardiner St NS

05933G

Presentation Primary School, George’s Hill

Dublin 8

SCP

60470D

Synge St CBS

17893N

Sancta Maria CBS

Synge St, Dublin 8

Dublin 8

SCP

60410I

James St CBS

13611D

Presentation Convent Warrenmount

Liberties

60792C

Presentation Coll Warrenmount

18519R

Scoil Seamus CBS, James St

16786H

St Brigid’s, The Coombe

20104A

St Audens

18477E

Scoil na mBraithre, Francis St

14556D

Whitefriars St NS

19933J

Scoil Treasa Naofa, Petrie Rd, Donore Ave, D8

00743W

Mater Dei Primary School

Dublin 10

SCP

70240P

Kylemore College

18843D

Sn Banríon na nAingeal 2

Ballyfermot

18585H

Sn Banríon na nAingeal 1

A

20139T

Inchicore Boys & Girls NS

20092T

St. Ultan’s NS, Cherry Orchard

Dublin 10

SCP

60510M

St John’s De La Salle

19767S

Scoil Mhuire/Seosamh

Ballyfermot

19766Q

Scoil Iosagain Mhuire

B

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Dublin 10

SCP

60732H

Caritas College

18342E

SN Louise Marillac Senior

Ballyfermot

18341C

SN Louise Marillac Junior

C

Dublin 10

SCP

60720A

St Dominic’s Sec Sch

19661C

St Gabriel’s NS

Ballyfermot

19662E

St Michael’s NS

D

19663G

St Raphael’s NS

Dublin 11

SCP

60571J

Patrician College

18137D

Sn Naomh Feargal

Finglas South West

19489Q

SN Finnin, Glenties Park-

70180A

Colaiste Eoin

19197D

St Kevin’s Barry Ave.

60852R

Mater Christi Girls’ Sec. School

19015R

St Joseph’s GNS

20029M

St Brigid’s JNS

19929S

St Brigid’s GNS

20220C

Gaelscoil Ui Earcain

Finglas Eastside SCP

60741I

St. Michaels Sec School, Wellmount Rd., Finglas

20059V

Mother of Divine Grace, Ferndale Ave, Ballygall

18683H

St. Canice GNS, Finglas

Finglas C SCP

60511O

Beneavin De La Salle, Finglas, Dublin 11

19619D

St Malachy’s, Rivermount

60581M

St. Kevins College, Ballygall Rd East, Finglas

18682F

St. Canices BNS, Finglas, Dublin 11

60400F

St. Vincent’s Glasnevin, Dublin 11

19546C

St Oliver Plunkett NS, Finglas

20091R

St. Peters NS, Dublin 7

SCP

81017A

Trinity Comprehensive School

19208F

Holy Spirit BNS

BEST Ballymun

19209H

Holy Spirit GNS

19302U

Virgin Mary BNS

19303W

Virgin Mary GNS

19431I

St Joseph’s Jnr school

19583I

St Joseph’s Senior School

19430G

Scoil an tSeachtar Laoch, Br. Ballymun

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Cabra SCP

70150O

Colaiste Eanna, Cabra, Dublin 7

16988T

Christ the King BNS,Cabra

17464N

Fionbarra Nfa, Cabra West

17465P

Dominican Convent GNS, Cabra

17459U

Christ the King Infts Girls, Cabra

17466R

St.Catherines Infant School, Cabra

16989V

Christ the King GNS

Whitehall SCP

70310K

Plunkett College, Whitehall

19242F

Our Lady of Victories Infant NS, Ballymun Rd

70321P

Mgt. Aylward CC, Whitehall

18910P

Bantiarna na mBuanna Boys, Ballymun

18911R

Bantiarna na mBuanna Girls, Ballymun

91344V

Rosmini Community School, Drumcondra

20015B

Gaelscoil Bhaile Munna, 187 Br. Choultrai

Dublin 12

SCP

70160R

St Kevin’s College, Clogher RD

17603B

Scoil Iosagain BNS, Aughavannagh Rd

Lower Crumlin

18386B

Marist GNS, Clogher Rd

Dublin 12

SCP

19889J

CBS, Armagh Rd.

Crumlin Cluster

60841M

Rosary College

20014W

St Agnes GNS

Crumlin, Drimnagh & Harold’s Cross SCP

60800V

Loreto College, Crumlin

17356K

Muire na Dea Coirle Infants, Mourne Road, Drimnagh

60991I

Our Lady of Mercy Sec., Mourne Rd, Drimnagh

19669S

Lady of Good Counsel BNS

60990G

Meanscoil Chroimghlinne, Crumlin Rd

17355I

Our Lady of Good Counsel GNS, Drimnagh

16964F

Scoil Mhuire Ogh 1 (SNS)

17683C

Muire Og 2 (JNS)Loreto Convent, Crumlin Rd

19924I

Harolds Cross NS, Dublin 6W

Dublin 12

SCP

70130I

Greenhills College

19158Q

St Peter’s BNS, Limekiln Rd.

Greenhills

Dublin 12

SCP

60480G

Meanscoil Iognaid Rís

19837N

Drimnagh CBS

Drimnagh

60872A

Mercy Sec Goldenbridge

19764M

Our Lady of the Wayside, Bluebell

Goldenbridge

17083B

Mhuire Gan Smal, Inchiore

07546J

Our Lady of Lourdes Primary

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

16983J

SN Naomh Cillin, Bluebell, Inchicore

Dublin 13

SCP

91318U

The Donahies Community School

19618B

St Paul’s NS

Donaghmede/Ayrfield/ Edenmore

70020B

Grange Community College, Donaghmede

19406J

Holy Trinity SNS, Grange Rd

19611K

St Colmcille, Newbrook Rd

18969C

St Eithne’s GNS, Edenmore

19037E

St. Monicas Infts GNS, Edenmore

Dublin 14

SCP

91343T

St Tiernan’s CS

19723V

Queen of Angels NS, Wedgewood

Ballaly

19904C

Holycross NS, Upper Kilmacud Rd

19922E

Our Ladys NS, Columbanus Rd, Milltown

19939V

Scoil Naisiunta an Dea Aoire, Churchtown

Dublin 15

SCP

91316Q

Blakestown CS

19643A

St Philip’s SNS, Mountview

Blakestown

19601H

St Philip’s JNS

19694R

Scoil Mhuire SNS, Blakestown

19605P

Scoil Mhuire JNS

20186F

Castaheany Educate Together NS

Dublin 15

SCP

70081V

Riversdale CC

19636D

St Patrick’s SNS, Corduff

Riversdale

19545A

St Patrick’s JNS

19850F

Ladyswell NS

Dublin 16

SCP

91305L

Ballinteer CS

19490B

Sn Mhuire, Ballyboden

Ballinteer

Dublin 17

SCP

70330Q

Colaiste Dhúlaigh

19524P

Our Lady Immaculate SNS

Coolock, Dublin 17

19454U

Our Lady Immaculate JNS

17104G

St Francis JNS

19668Q

St Francis SNS

19913D

St Joseph’s NS

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

60550B

Chanel College, Coolock

18361I

SN Caitriona Cail., Coolock

Coolock B SCP

60871V

Mercy College, Coolock

18362K

Scoil Caitriona Naoinain, Measc Ave, Coolock

Dublin 17

SCP

19793T

St. Thomas’ Junior Education

Clonshaugh

Dublin 18

SCP

91310E

Cabinteely CS

20218P

Archbishop McQuaid NS

Cabinteely

60262T

St. Laurence College, Loughlinstown

19438W

Scoil Colmcille SNS

19641T

Scoil Colmcille JNS

19497P

Scoil Mhuire, Shankill

19960M

St John’s NS, Ballybrack

Dublin 20

SCP

91302F

Phobailscoil Iosolde

18323A

Scoil Lorcain BNS

Palmerstown

18324C

Scoil Bride GNS

Dublin 22

SCP

70041J

Collinstown Park CC

19642V

St Peter Apostle SNS, Quarryvale

Clondalkin

19569O

St Peter Apostle JNS

A

19647I

St Mary’s SNS, Rowlagh

19575J

St Mary’s JNS, Rowlagh

Dublin 22

SCP

70042L

St Kevin’s CC

19785U

St Bernadette’s SNS, Quarryvale

Clondalkin

19743E

St Bernadette’s JNS

B

20187H

Archbishop Ryan SNS

19865S

Archbishop Ryan JNS

Dublin 22

SCP

70040H

Deansrath CC

19707A

St Ronan’s NS, Deansrath

Clondalkin

19510E

SN Tabloid Sin, Bawnogue

C

19509T

Nana Nagle JNS

Dublin 22

SCP

60121B

Moyle Park College

18655C

SN Seosamh, Clondalkin

Clondalkin

60122D

Colaiste Bríd Sec School

19566I

Our Lady Queen of Apostle

Village

19799I

Sacred Heart NS

19220S

Scoil Íde, New Rd.

19221U

Scoil Áine, New Rd.

18602E

Scoil Mhuire, Convent Rd.

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Dublin 24

SCP

91335U

Tallaght CS

19576L

SN Aenghusa SNS, Balrothery

East Tallaght

19502F

SN Aenghusa JNS

19577N

Scoil Iosa Tymon North NS

18411U

St Mary’s NS

Dublin 24

SCP

91338D

St Aidan’s CS

20173T

St Anne’s NS,

Brookfield/

19782O

St Brigid’s JNS

Fettercairn

19834H

St Aidan’s NS

Dublin 24

SCP

91336W

Old Bawn CS

19463V

St Maolruain’s Senior NS

Old Bawn

19617W

St Martin De Porres

19950J

St Dominic’s NS

19462T

St. Maelruan’s Junior School

19646G

Scoil Santain, Br. Na hAbhann Mor, Tamhlacht

19464A

SN Naomh Cholmcille, Homelawns, Tallaght

19878E

Ballycragh NS, Ballycragh, Firhouse, Tallaght

Dublin 24

SCP

91332O

St Mark’s CS

19390U

St Mark’s NS, Springfield

Springfield

19582G

St Maelruain NS

19472W

St Mark’s Junior Primary School

Dublin 24

SCP

70141N

Jobstown CC

19702N

St Thomas JNS

Jobstown

19765O

St Thomas SNS

Dublin 24

SCP

91337B

Killinarden CS

19613O

Scoil Chnoic Mhuire SNS

Killinarden

19543T

Scoil Chroí Ró-naofa

19872P

Scoil Chaitlín Maude

19775R

Knockmore Junior School

19652B

Sacred Heart Junior School

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Co. Dublin

SCP

70120F

St Finian’s CC

18977B

SN Colmcille GNS

St. Finian’s SCP

19535U

St. Cronan’s Snr Brackenstown

19693P

Queen of Ireland

19456B

St Cronan’s Junior School, Brackenstown

North Fingal SCP

70010V

Balbriggan Community College, Pine Ridge

19515O

SN Naomh Treasa, Baile Brigin

60343T

St. Josephs Sec. School, Rush

20202A

Balbriggan Educate Together

SCP

91330K

Holy Child CS

19979K

St Kevin’s NS

Mounttown/Sallynoggin

19840C

Holy Family NS

05600C

Clochar San Dominic, Dun Laoghaire

19938T

St. Josephs, Tivoli Rd, Dun Laoghaire

SCP

70121H

Fingal CC

19877C

Holy Family, Forest Fields

Swords Area 1

18976W

SN Colmcille BNS

Galway County

Tuam SCP

63140U

St. Patricks College, Tuam

17282H

Scoil na mBraithre, Tuam

71390Q

Archbishop McHale, Tuam

18042P

Presentation Convent, Tuam

12250P

Scoil Mhuire Primary School, Dublin Rd, Tuam

Co. Galway

SCP

81012N

Scoil Chuimsitheach Chiaráin

11261P

SN Mhuire, An Tuairin

An Cheathrú

12946G

SN Cuilmcille, Ros a Mhíl

Rua

71250A

Colaiste Cholmcille, Indreabhain

13416F

SN Leitir Meallain

71380N

Gairmscoil na bPiarsach, Ros Muc

13528Q

SN Oilean Droim, Leitir Móir

13699U

SN Colm Cille An Leitir Móir

13951E

SN Leitir Mucu, Camas

13952G

SN Bhride, Leitir Calaidh, Leitir Móir

14724V

Scoil Ronáin, Trá Bháin

15518A

SN Oileán an Cnoic, Leitir Mealláin

17689O

SN Thír an Fhia, Leitir Mor

19932H

SN Mhic Dara, An Ceathrú Rua

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Connemara North and

91411K

Scoil Phobail Mhic Dara, Carna

West SCP

91412M

Scoil Phobail, Clifden

63060W

Scoil Aine, Kylemore

Galway City

SCP

71400Q

Moinin na gCiseach CC

19225F

Scoil Micil Naofa, Mervue, Galway

Galway City East SCP

19226H

Scoil na Trionoide Naofa, Mervue, Galway

19795A

Scoil San Phroinsias,Tirellan, Galway

17221K

SN Colmcille, Castlegar

19401W

SN Catriona Sois, Renmore

19468I

Scoil Chaitriona Senior, Renmore

Galway City Westside SCP

63000E

Presentation Secondary School

01013N

Scoil Croi Iosa, Presentation Rd

62981P

Colaiste Einde, Threadneedle Rd

04515G

Scoil an Linbh Iosa, St. Francis St

16943U

Niochlas NS, An Cladach

17782E

SN Bride nfa, Sean Tallamh

Kerry

SCP

70540E

Causeway Comp

19805A

Ballyduff Central NS, Ballyduff, Co. Kerry

LINK

81006S

Tarbert Comp

19846O

Scoil Realt na Maidne Listowel BNS

61370E

St Michael’s College

20013U

Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail

70500P

Listowel CC

Kerry SCP

70550H

Tralee Community College, Clash

16871V

SN an Chroi Naofa, Tralee

70450D

Killarney Community College

20158A

Tralee Educate Together, Collis Sandes House

70460G

Community College, Killorglin

13530D

Scoil Mhuire Moyderwell, Tralee

16703A

Scoil na mBraithre, An Daingean, Co. Chiarrai

Kildare

SCP

70680U

St Conleths Voc School

15870O

Scoil Chonnla Phadraig

Newbridge

17872F

St. Conleth’s & Mary’s NS

19452Q

SNS Mhuire, Ballymany

19550Q

Sn Mhuire Junior, Ballymany

17873H

St. Conleth’s Jnr NS

Athy SCP

70650L

Athy Community College

16705E

Scoil Phadraig Naofa, Athy

18288B

Scoil Mhichil Naofa, Athy

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Kildare/Curragh SCP

70690A

Vocational School/Kildare College

12747A

Kildare Monastery NS

of Further Education

15599D

St. Brigids Primary School, Kildare

61700W

St. Josephs Academy, Kildare Town

16635J

Curragh Camp BNS

70660O

Curragh PP School

16636L

Curragh Camp GNS

70730J

Ardscoil Rath Iomghain, Rathangan

The Canals Cluster SCP

61702D

St. Pauls Sec. School, Monasterevin

(Kildare Mixed)

70710D

St. Patricks Community College, Naas

70720G

St. Farnans PP School, Prosperous

Kilkenny

SCP

70610W

City Technical College

20011Q

SN Eoin Naofa Bhuc

Kilkenny

70590T

Duiske College, Graiguenamanagh

17108O

SN Eoin Naofa Junior

70640I

Grennan College, Thomastown

17854D

SN Padraig Naofa,De La Salle

70600T

Colaiste Mhuire, Johnstown

19856R

Gaelscoil Osraí Loch Buí

Laois

Laois SCP

71510A

Portlaoise Vocational School

19747M

Scoil Bhride NS, Portlaoise

71490U

St. Aengus Post-Primary, Mountrath

Limerick

SCP

64200R

Colaiste Mhichil CBS

16910F

Scoil Iosagain BNS

City

Sexton St (SSTAY)

20018H

Presentation Convent GNS

15320C

St. Michaels NS, CBS Grounds, Sexton St

06936R

St. Johns Convent, Cathedral Place, Limerick

16715H

St. John the Baptist Boys NS, Pennywell, Limerick

SCP

64250J

Presentation Sec Girls*

19667O

Our Lady of Lourdes NS, Rosbrien

Rosbrien

81014R

Cresent College Comp.

19587Q

St. Augustines YEP*

SCP

17942A

St. Munchin’s BNS, Shelbourne Rd., Limerick

St. Munchin’s (SMILE)

64280S

Salesian Secondary School

17941V

St Munchin’s GNS, Ballynanty, Limerick

71920T

St. Nessan’s Community Coll.

17671S

Maria Auxiliatrix NS, Fernbank, Nth Circular Rd.

19830W

Corpus Christi NS, Moyross

17445J

Scoil Lile Naofa, Kileely, Limerick

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

SCP

91446G

St. Enda’s CS, Kilmallock Rd

17737W

Our Lady Queen of Peace

Southill

64250J

Presentation Sec Girls*

19372S

Southill Junior School

19587Q

St. Augustines YEP*

*same school

20184B

Galvone NS

19931F

Gaelscoil Seoirse, Clancy, An Cnoc Theas

Limerick County

Páirc SCP

71810M

Colaiste Pobail Mhichil, Cappamore

20185D

St. Marys Boys NS, Island Road, Limerick

64290V

Ardscoil Mhuire, Corbally, Limerick

00570R

Mhuire Nfa Cailini, Bishop Street, Limerick

West Limerick SCP

71870H

Vocational School, Abbeyfeale

18653V

Scoil Naomh Iosef, Rathkeale

71790J

Desmond College, Newcastle West

18177P

Scoil Aine Naofa, RathCaola

Croom/Kilmallock SCP

71840V

Colaiste Chiarain, Croom

76070A

Colaiste Iosef, Kilmallock

Longford

Longford SCP

71730O

Templemichael College, Longford Town

00856M

Scoil Naomh Michael, Longford

71710I

Ardscoil Phadraig, Granard

18178R

St. Josephs Convent, Longford

71690F

Ballymahon Vocational School

20101R

The Sacred Heart Primary, Granard

71720L

Lanesboro Community College

Louth

SCP

91441T

Ardee CS

01554B

Baile an Phusta NS, Smarmore

Ardee

71780G

Scoil Ui Mhuiri, Barn Rd, Dunleer

02745N

Tallonstown NS

17124M

Ardee Monastery

18099V

SN Muire na Trocaire

Meath

71980O

O’Carolan College, Nobber

Louth

SCP

71761C

St Oliver’s Community Coll

19215C

SN Ard Mhuire, Ballsgrove

Drogheda 1

19678T

St Paul’s SNS, Rathmullen

19479N

St John’s JNS

Drogheda 2

00851C

Presentation Convent, Ballymakenny Rd, Drogheda

17059E

Scoil na mBraithre, Geata an Domhnaigh

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

17949O

Scoil Padraig Nfa, Bothar Brugha, Drogheda

18098T

Scoil Bride, Bothar Brugha, Drogheda

SCP

71770D

O’Fiach College

19673J

St Joseph’s NS

Dundalk 1

19246N

Redeemer BNS

19247P

Redeemer GNS

20163Q

SN Eoin Baiste, Fatima, Dundalk

14651U

Castletown Rd. Convent, Dundalk

Dundalk 2

71750U

Bush Post-Primary School

16469S

St. Nicholas Monastery NS, Philip St, Dundalk

18347O

SN San Nioclas, Nicholas St, Dundalk

19892V

Gaelscoil Dun Dealgan, Muirtheimhne Mor

Mayo

North Mayo SCP

72020L

Moyne College, Ballina

20275E

Scoil Íosa, Convent Hill

(Ballina)

72100J

St. Tiernans College, Crossmolina

20084U

Gaelscoil Bheal an Atha

72050U

St. Brendans College, Belmullet

18506I

SN Naomh Padraig B, Ballina

72140V

Colaiste Chomain, Rossport

South West Mayo SCP

72160E

Carrowbeg College, Westport

76060U

Davitt College, Castlebar

72070D

McHale College, Achill

64690O

Scoil Mhuire & Padraig, Swinford

Meath

SCP

72010I

Beaufort CC

17969U

SN Mhuire

Navan

64360Q

St Joseph’s Sec School

16100Q

Mercy Convent NS

19476H

St. Oliver Plunkett NS, Navan

20180Q

Scoil Naomh Eoin, Clonmagadden Valley, Navan

South Meath SCP

91508C

Boyne CS Trim

71970L

St. Fintinas PP School, Longwood

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Monaghan

SCP

72210Q

Beech Hill College, Monaghan

16022W

SN Eadan Mór, Emyvale

Monaghan Town

17150N

Scoil na mBraithre, Monaghan

20067U

St Joseph’s, Knockatallon

72190N

Castleblayney College

16319W

Castleblayney Convent Infants

Castleblayney SCP

72171J

Largy College, Clones

17686I

Scoil Mhuire B, Castleblayney

16202B

Convent of Mercy, Castleblayney

SCP

72180K

Inver College, Carrickmacross

05501A

Ballymackey NS, Kilanny

Carrickmacross

19251G

Scoil Naomh Deagha, Inniskeen

Offaly

SCP

72560U

Tullamore College

18797W

St Joseph’s JGNS

Tullamore

18524K

Scoil Naomh Brighde

19713S

Arden BNS

16928B

SN Naomh Philomena, Tullamore

72530L

Ardscoil Chiarain Nfa, Clara

13118U

Clara Convent NS, Clara

18406E

Scoil Phroinsias Nfa, Clara

SCP

72540O

Oaklands CC

19300Q

Castlejordan Central NS

Edenderry

18364O

SN Mhuire Banrion

Roscommon/Leitrim

Leitros SCP

72290R

Roscommon Community College, Lisnamult

13198V

St. Annes Convent NS, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon

19980S

St. Attractas NS, Ballaghaderreen

18822S

St. Marys NS, Summerhill, Carrick-on-Shannon

Sligo

SCP

65170Q

Summerhill College

19974A

SN Eoin Naofa

Sligo

72360M

Ballinode College (VEC)

17277O

Eamuinn Naofa BNS

65181V

Mercy College

19985F

Our Lady of Mercy Primary Sch

19826I

St Brendan’s NS, Carton

72300R

Corran College, Ballymote

19910U

Sligo Project School, Abbey Quarter

72340G

Gurteen Vocational School, Gurteen

17945G

Scoil Naomh Chaitriona, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

72320A

Colaiste Iascaigh, Easkey

20019J

Holy Family School, Tubbercurry

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Tipperary

SCP

72420E

Central Technical School

16728Q

St. Mary’s BNS, Irishtown, Clonmel

Clonmel

Clonmel

19645E

St. Oliver Plunkett NS, Heywood Rd., Clonmel

17486A

St. Michael’s NS, Clerihan, Clonmel

19345P

Ballymacarbry NS, Newtown, Ballymacarbry

16729S

St. Peter & Paul, Clonmel

SCP

72480W

St. Ailbe’s CC Tipperary

17276M

SN Na Mbraithre, Tipperary Town

Tipperary Town

09432E

St. Joseph’s Convent of Mercy, Rosanna Rd., Tipperary Town

01862M

Tipperary (St. Michael’s) GNS, Tipperary Town

19689B

Bansha NS, Bansha,Co. Tipperary

Nth Tipperary SCP

72490C

Vocational School, Castlemeadows, Thurles

17731K

SN Iosef Naofa, Templemore

72450N

St. Josephs College Newport

16979S

St. Colmcilles Primary, Templemore

01594N

St Johns NS, Roscrea

Birr/Roscrea SCP

18345K

SN Iosef Naofa, Cor an Bhile, Roscrea

18435L

Sacred Heart Primary School, Roscrea

03220F

Mercy Primary School, Birr

12370C

St. Brendans Monastery, Birr

Sth Tipperary SCP

72430H

Scoil Ruain, Killenaule, Thurles

65350S

Patrician Presentation, Fethard

72400V

Comeragh College, Carrick-on-Suir

Waterford

SCP

64970U

Presentation Secondary Sch.

19511G

St Saviour’s NS

Waterford

72241E

St. Paul’s Community College

20219R

St Paul’s BNS

City

19955T

Presentation GNS

18509O

An Teaghlaigh Naofa, Waterford — Infant Girls

18689T

Our Lady of Mercy Snr, Military Rd -

Na Siuire SCP

64930I

CBS Mount Sion

15046I

St Stephens, Waterford — All Boys

70620C

Colaiste Cois Siuire, Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny

18462O

Scoil Lorcan BNS, Ballytruckle — All Boys

19947U

Mount Sion CBS NS — All Boys

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Dungarvan/Ring SCP

72220T

Col. Chathail Nfa, Youghal Rd

16732H

Sc Naomh Seosamh, Dungarvan

Dungarvan

19953P

St. Marys NS, Dungarvan

76066J

Meanscoil San Nioclas, An Rinn

Westmeath

SCP

71450I

Mullingar CC

18212O

Na Maighine Mhuire GNS

Mullingar

71420W

Castlepollard Community College

18381O

Scoil na mBraithre

71430C

Columba College, Killucan

19650U

Scoil Cholmain Naofa, Bellview

20188J

Mullingar Educate Together

Athlone SCP

63191O

St. Aloysius College, The Park,Athlone

16639R

SN Deaghan O Ceallaigh, Athlone

20073P

St. Marys NS, Gracepark Rd, Athlone

07722D

St. Peters NS Senior, Athlone

18405C

SN Phoil Naofa, Athlone

20042E

Scoil an Chroi Naofa, Ballinasloe

Wexford

SCP

71680C

Wexford Vocational School

11361T

Faythe NS

Wexford Town

11986N

Mercy NS, Kennedy Park

17217T

Scoil Na mBraithre

17373K

SN Clochar Mhuire, St. John’s Rd

18558E

SN Baile an Phiarsaigh

19739N

Scoil Mhuire Coolcotts

SCP

71610E

Bridgetown Vocational Sch

16605A

Kilrane Ns

Bridgetown

19317K

Rathangan NS

19352M

Sc Nais Realta na Mara

SCP

91492N

Gorey CS

15367F

Rivershapel NS

Gorey

71650Q

Vocational College, Kilmuckridge

15420G

Ballycanew Ns

16145P

Clochar Loretto

17117P

Sn Cul Greine

17235V

SN Cnoc Teamhreach

18280I

SN Ioseph

19419S

Central National School Gorey

School Completion Programme —continued

County

Project

Post Primary

Primary

Enniscorthy/ Bunclody SCP

71630K

Vocational College, Enniscorthy

08221J

St. Senans NS, Templeshannon, Enniscorthy

20003R

St. Aidans Parish School, Enniscorthy

71620H

Vocational College, Bunclody

03633H

Sc Nais. Bhantirana Lourdes, Bunclody

71660T

Vocational College, New Ross

16741I

Scoil na mBraithre, New Ross

South West Wexford SCP

91431Q

Ramsgrange Community School

12372G

Michael St NS, New Ross

71600B

Colaiste Abbain, Adamstown

17457Q

St. Josephs, New Ross

Wicklow

SCP

70770V

St Thomas’ CC

07246U

Sisters of Charity NS

Bray

18464S

Naomh Peadar NS

SCP

91376L

St Killian’s Ballywaltrim

19654F

St Fergal’s SNS

Ballywaltrim

19508R

St Fergal’s JNS

SCP

70820K

Abbey CC

15676S

Padraig Naofa NS

WRAN

16874E

St Joseph’s GNS

17576B

Scoil an Chorain Mhuire

17826V

Na Choiraine Muire mixed NS

18962L

St Ernan’s BNS, Rathnew

20278K

Newtownmountkennedy Primary School N Seosamh BNS, Newtownmountkennedy

Arklow SCP

70740M

Arklow Community College

02276E

An tInbhear Mor BNS, Arklow

70810H

Avondale C. C., Rathdrum

70800E

St. Kevins Community College, Dunlavin

Donegal

UNCLUSTERABLE SCHOOLS

91407T

Rosses Community School, Dungloe

71244F

Gairmscoil Mhic Dhiarmada, An Leadhgarbh, Arainn Mor

Grant Payments.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

121 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason he did not consider removing State support for private, fee-paying schools in budget 2009; if his failure to do so is in line with his recent comments on third level education and making 33,000 millionaire families pay appropriate fees; his views on the principle of universal access to free education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38017/08]

As the Deputy is aware, due to current economic constraints, the Government has had to make extremely difficult decisions and choices across all public services and education is no different. There is an inescapable fact that pay constitutes the bulk of current expenditure on education and therefore measures impacting on the teaching resources available to schools were necessary.

The funding of teacher salaries in fee-paying schools by the State has been a long standing feature of our education system and one continued by successive Governments. In the absence of fee-paying schools and the enrolment of all pupils in the non-fee paying sector, there would be subsequent additional costs and teachers would still have to be paid.

The specific measures I have had to take in relation to the staffing schedule have to be seen in this light. I had to take a measured and balanced view of what was reasonable in the circumstances.

Departmental Funding.

David Stanton

Question:

122 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for his decision to withdraw funding from a group (details supplied); the savings his Department will achieve in 2009 from this measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38224/08]

Notwithstanding the increase of €302 million in the Education budget for 2009, which is a real achievement in the current economic climate, a number of tough and difficult decisions had to be taken. These decisions included the decision to discontinue the annual funding of €97,000 that my Department made available to the Centre for Talented Youth (CTYI) at Dublin City University.

While it is appreciated that the discontinuation of this funding will impact on the Centre, given the current volatile and challenging economic climate, difficult choices had to be made in order to contain public sector spending. Tax revenues are down significantly and Government expenditure has to reflect this reality. The priority of this budget was to focus on measures to channel as much as was possible of the available resources to the direct funding of our schools.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

David Stanton

Question:

123 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the research, referred to in various post-budget 2009 media interviews, which indicates that larger class sizes are not detrimental to the teaching standards and the level of education that children receive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38225/08]

The Government's commitment to education is clear both from its track record over the past decade in providing substantial additional resources, most notably extra teachers to meet previously unmet needs and from the programme the Government set for itself when it came into office. A lot has changed in the past year and the first and foremost imperative is that we stabilise the public finances. It is only by doing so that we can shelter gains made and put ourselves in the position of being able to make improvements in the future. What we are doing in primary schools from September next is staffing them on the same basis as they were staffed just over one school year ago.

I am aware that a number of unfounded assertions have been made about the impact of the decision to increase the staffing schedule for schools. Numerous research studies on the influence of class size on the quality of education have been produced internationally and the general consensus is that small changes in class sizes have no measurable impact on learning outcomes for students.

A recent study by Eric Hanuscheck — The Evidence on Class Size — found that the effects of class size on student achievement were insignificant in 74 per cent of the studies examined, 13 per cent showed a positive effect for lower class size and 13 per cent showed a negative impact.

The OECD report Teachers Matter (2005) and the McKinsey Report, How the World's Best Performing School Systems Come Out on Top (2007) looked at a wide range of performance data from international research and at the relationship between class size and educational attainment.

The main conclusions from international research can be summarised as follows:

Class size reductions are more beneficial for some students than for others, for example:

students in the early years of schooling

students from disadvantaged backgrounds

students with special needs or learning difficulties

students from low-income minority groups

Marginal changes in class sizes have no significant impact of educational achievement

Variables other than class size, such as the quality of teachers, have been shown to have a stronger association with educational achievement.

In Ireland, national studies of English reading and mathematics in primary schools show no relationship between class size and achievement of pupils. The most recent national assessment of English reading was conducted in 2004. In this, the achievement levels of fifth class pupils did not differ significantly from those in the previous survey which took place in 1998. In 2004, the school-level pupil-teacher ratio was 19:1. This was significantly lower than the ratio of 27:1 which existed during 1998 survey.

Similarly, the overall performance in mathematics of fourth class pupils did not change significantly between the national surveys of 2004 and 1999 even though the average class size in single grade fourth classes and the average class size across all classes were both significantly lower in 2004 than in 1999.

I believe that the available research evidence on class size does not support the suggestion that children will experience a significant impact in the quality of their education. In framing the budget measures, I have been very conscious of the need to minimise the effect that any change in pupil-teacher ratios might have on the provision being made for our most vulnerable students.

I have ensured that targeted resources in schools in the DEIS programme will be maintained at the same level as in previous years. Students with special needs and learning difficulties will continue to have full access to the same level of resource teaching, special needs assistance and learning support in every school. Traveller children will continue to benefit from additional supports. Children whose mother tongue is not English and who have English language needs will also continue to benefit from additional supports, albeit at a reduced level.

I have already acknowledged that there will be a net loss of some two hundred posts in each sector but I am satisfied that the decision to marginally increase the pupil-teacher ratio is an equitable and prudent course of action in the current economic circumstances.

Departmental Funding.

Mary Upton

Question:

124 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the education budget has not been increased in budget 2009, particularly when the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2008 has shown that education spending decreased by 0.5% of GDP in the period 1995 to 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38005/08]

My Department's allocation of € 9.6 billion in fact represents an increase of over €300m, or a 3% increase on 2008. This amount represents 5.1% of the forecasted GDP for 2009, an increase of 0.5% on the 2007 position.

It should be noted Education and Science was one of only three Government Departments to have increased funding for 2009 which reflects the Government's continued prioritisation of education. The 2009 Education allocation of €9.6 billion is over treble what it was in 1997. We are committed to investing in education but we have to invest at a level that is consistent with what we can afford and what is sustainable at the moment given the economic circumstances.

Third Level Grants.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

125 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if provisions are available for children of social welfare recipients, who are marginally over the income levels for support under the third level student grant schemes, to receive a proportional top up grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38143/08]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

154 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the provisions in place for social welfare recipients, who are marginally over the income levels for support under the third level student grant schemes, to appeal the refusal of grants to their children by local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38142/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 and 154 together.

The decision on eligibility for student maintenance grants is a matter for the relevant assessing authority, either the local authority or VEC, as appropriate. The appeal provisions in place for social welfare recipients are the same as those for all grant applicants. If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a maintenance grant, or that the rate of maintenance grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to the relevant local authority or VEC. Where an appeal is turned down, in writing, by the relevant local authority or VEC and the applicant remains of the view that the body has not interpreted the schemes correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to my Department.

The prescribed income limit for the special rate of maintenance grant for the academic year 2008/2009 is €20,147. Applicants with reckonable income above that threshold may still qualify for the standard rate of maintenance grant.

In addition, the Student Assistance Fund is designed to assist students who, having commenced a third-level course, experience financial hardship that may render them unable to continue their third-level studies. Applications for funding are made by the individual student to the Access Officer in the institution in which they are studying. The Fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

126 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of job losses that will result if his plan to increase class sizes comes into effect; and if he will reverse this decision. [38209/08]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

129 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science when he expects to reduce all class sizes in primary schools to a ratio of, at worst, 24 pupils to one teacher as promised in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38000/08]

Mary Upton

Question:

130 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason almost seven years after the programme for Government committed to achieve pupil teacher ratios of 20:1, this aim has not been achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38002/08]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

134 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of extra teachers to be employed in 2009 as part of the commitment to increase the number of primary teachers by 4,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38003/08]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

144 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason 20% of primary pupils are in classes of 30 pupils or more; his views on the failure to tackle large class sizes here; the measures he will take to ensure primary class sizes fall to a ratio of 20:1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38001/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126, 129, 130, 134 and 144 together.

As I made clear during the lengthy debate in the House last week the 2009 Budget required difficult choices to be made across all areas of public expenditure. These decisions were made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. In this respect Education while protected to a much greater extent than most other areas of public expenditure could not be totally spared.

Again let me re-iterate that prudent management of the Government finances is vital at this time of global economic uncertainty when tax revenue has fallen so significantly and when world economic conditions are so serious. Even with the Budget measures in place there will still be a significantly increased borrowing requirement in 2009.

When the country was able to afford it we reduced the basis on which primary teachers are allocated to schools from being based on an average number of pupils per teacher from 35 pupils down to the current level of 27 pupils. The change to a new average of 28 pupils per teacher has to be viewed in that context. It means primary schools will be staffed exactly as they were during the 2006/2007 school year during which they operated well.

Since 1997 primary teacher numbers have increased by about 10,000 — about 7,000 of these teachers going into the system in the last six years alone. The continuation of this level of annual increase — of the order of 1,000 primary teachers each year — was just not sustainable for 2009 in the current economic climate. Although it reverses some of the progress that we have made in recent years I had no option but to curtail the annual increase in teacher numbers. While I appreciate this will impact on class sizes the reality is that it will not impact on every school rather the change will impact on the total number of teachers in some 10 to 15% of primary schools.

In relation to the number of teaching posts involved in this change I have already said that the net overall position is a reduction of about 200 posts from the primary teacher payroll next September compared to this September across all the staffing measures involving primary schools. This is calculated on the basis of a removal of up to 1,100 posts of which some 400 to 500 posts are expected to be due to the staffing schedule change specifically. This will be offset by the creation of 900 posts that will be required to meet increasing enrolments and as resource teachers for special needs. The estimated impact of the schedule change is estimated on the same basis under which estimates of the cost of improving the staffing schedule were calculated in the past.

In terms of the position in respect of any one school for September 2009, schools are currently returning data to my Department in relation to their enrolment as of 30 September last. My Department has commenced processing this data although all schools have not yet made their returns. The allocation processes including notification to schools will commence early in the New Year. The allocation process includes appellate mechanisms under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The final allocation to a school is also a function of the operation of the redeployment panels which provide for the retention of a teacher in an existing school if a new post is not available within the agreed terms of the scheme.

It will be necessary in the more testing economic climate ahead for us to continue to target and prioritise our resources to maximum effect for everyone. While teacher numbers are important numerous influential reports have highlighted the fact that teacher quality is the single most important factor — far and above anything else — in improving educational outcomes for children. Ensuring high quality teaching and learning is a challenge and dealing with factors that inhibit it represent a challenge for the Government, the Department, school management and indeed the teacher unions.

I am confident that as the global economy improves it will be possible to build again on the significant achievements of recent years and do so in a manner consistent with overall prudent management of the Irish economy.

Departmental Funding.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

127 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the measures he will take to improve the ranking of Ireland as 27th out of 29 OECD countries when it comes to the amount of GDP per capita spent on each second-level student; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38006/08]

The recent OECD Education at a Glance report shows that the Irish education system is performing strongly and that the outcomes achieved are significant when compared with our OECD and EU counterparts.

The report shows that, between 2000 and 2005, in real terms (allowing for inflation), total public and private spending increased by 52% at primary, second and further education levels. Expenditure per student at all levels below higher level increased in real terms by 47% between 2000 and 2005, compared to 19% on average across the OECD.

Expenditure on education has continued to increase since 2005 — the reference year for this report. In 2008, the Government provided over €690 million more for Education in the Estimates, with a total allocation of over €9.3 billion. €3.2 billion was spent on second-level education in 2007, the most recent year for which full figures have been compiled for the second-level sector. This spending was up from €2.9 billion in 2005 and €1.9 billion in 1998.

The Deputy should note that, as published in the recent budget, the total funds allocated for second level and further education grants and services in 2009 have been increased by 3% on the 2008 estimates figure. This increase has been achieved despite the prevailing difficult economic climate.

Increases provided by this Government in recent years have allowed for major progress to be made both in the day-to-day funding and staffing of our schools. Since 2005 second-level schools have benefited from substantial increases in funding for their day-to-day costs. The standard capitation grant, which stood at €286 per pupil in 2005, is now €331 per pupil, and the support services grant for secondary schools has been increased from €145 per pupil in 2005 to €204 per pupil in 2008.

The Deputy is also reminded of my recent announcement, made in the context of the 2009 estimates, that from 1 January 2009 the standard per capita grant at second level will be increased by a further €14 to €345 per pupil, a 21% increase on the 2005 figure. In addition, up to €40,000 per school is also provided by my Department to secondary schools towards secretarial and caretaking services.

The Deputy should also note that significant improvements have been made in the pupil teacher ratio at post primary level in recent years. The actual pupil teacher ratio at second level (i.e. the total number of pupils in the system divided by the total number of teachers in the system) fell from 16:1 in the 1996/97 school year to 13.13:1 in the 2006/07 school year.

The provisions that I have made, in the context of the 2009 estimates, for an increase in the funding of second level schools is a clear demonstration of my commitment, despite a challenging economic environment, to prioritise available resources to address the needs of schools.

Grant Payments.

Alan Shatter

Question:

128 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that his budgetary proposals will result in pupil teacher ratios going to 20:1 in minority faith post-primary schools and that grants being removed will significantly impact on the ability of such schools to keep fees as low as possible; his views on whether the impact of budget 2009 on these schools violates special arrangements previously agreed to which the Government was committed; and the steps he will take to resolve the difficulties created by him for both pupils and teachers in the schools concerned. [38188/08]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

135 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will reinstate the support services grant to Protestant fee paying schools in view of the fact that this grant made it possible for disadvantaged children of the Protestant faith to attend a school of their parents’ choice and family ethos. [38222/08]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

493 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will reconsider the planned removal of the support services grants to Protestant secondary schools; his views on whether such withdrawal is in effect a change in classification of these schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38126/08]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

522 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the adverse consequences that will ensue as a result of his decision to dismantle and abandon an arrangement of more than 40 years’ standing with the Protestant churches here having regard to the fact that on the introduction of free secondary education Roman Catholic schools were given an option of entering the free scheme or remaining fee paying whereas separate arrangements were made in respect of minority churches with free comprehensive schools in areas with sufficient numbers and fee paying schools with many pupils in receipt of a means tested Government grant allocated by the secondary education committee on the basis that such schools were considered part of the free school sector; if he will reverse the decision by reinstating the accepted arrangement in view of the inequity that will result in treating the Protestant sector differently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38330/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128, 135, 493 and 522 together.

As the Deputies will be aware, the Government has had to make extremely difficult decisions and choices across all public services and education is no different.

There is an inescapable fact that pay constitutes the bulk of current expenditure on education, and therefore measures impacting on the teaching resources available to schools were necessary.

The specific measures I have had to take in relation to the staffing schedule have to be seen in this light. I had to take a measured and balanced view of what was reasonable in the circumstances.

Regarding difficulties encountered by schools, the position is that each school management authority is required to organise its curriculum, teaching timetable and subject options having regard to pupils' needs within the limits of the approved normal staffing allocation.

A school authority may, however, encounter unanticipated difficulty in meeting essential curricular commitments to pupils within the normal staffing allocation. As part of the normal flexibility in the allocation system, my Department will, on an exceptional basis, consider requests by a school authority for a staffing concession as short-term support.

Such curricular concession applications should clearly demonstrate how the management authority has engaged in effective school planning and inter-school co-operation, where appropriate, to demonstrate how it will deal with the matter in the medium term.

Mechanisms are also in place for schools that wish to appeal their staffing allocations. The criteria for appeals are published by my Department and appeals are considered by an Appeals Board which operates independently of my Department.

It is important to emphasise that the revised pupil teacher ratio affects all fee-paying schools, regardless of denominational ethos. Fee-charging schools can continue to employ additional teachers that they fund from their fee income.

With regard to the removal of certain ancillary grants received by Protestant fee-charging schools, I wish to re-emphasise that the Protestant Block grant remains in place. Protestant fee-charging schools receive, and will continue to receive, this grant, which amounts to €6.25 million in the current school year.

This payment covers capitation, tuition and boarding grants. It is distributed by the Secondary Education Committee among needier Protestant children. Applications are made by parents to the Central Protestant Churches Authority, which, on the basis of a means test, distributes the funds to individual schools on the basis of pupil needs.

The retention of this grant demonstrates the importance that I, and this Government, continue to attach to ensuring that students of the Protestant faith can attend schools that reflect their denominational ethos.

In retaining this grant, the Government is being faithful to the separate arrangements that were agreed with the Protestant schools when the free scheme was introduced by Donagh O'Malley and, at the time, it was the payment of the block grant in particular for Protestant fee-charging schools that distinguished them from Catholic schools that chose to continue to charge fees.

In addition to the block grant, Protestant fee-charging schools were paid a range of support grants that Catholic fee-charging schools did not receive. These grants were not available at the time of the agreement with the Protestant schools.

It is estimated that savings of €2.8 million will accrue to the Department as a result of the withdrawal of these grants from Protestant fee-charging schools in 2009.

The purpose of these grants was not to offset fees for disadvantaged Protestant students. Rather, they covered a range of support services.

I have had to take decisions in range to a relation of grants that have impacted on the funding of schools generally. With the Protestant Block Grant protected, I can see no justification for treating the Protestant fee-charging schools in a special way, particularly given that Catholic fee-charging schools have not been in receipt of the grants in question at all.

Questions Nos. 129 and 130 answered with Question No. 126.

School Staffing.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

131 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to reverse the decision to cut two teachers from every school’s English language support provision, as announced in budget 2009; his views on whether this will hinder the education of children with English language problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38022/08]

Denis Naughten

Question:

153 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to review language supports for migrant pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37951/08]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

490 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if the decision to cap the number of language support teachers at two per school is absolute; if exceptions will be made; the way they will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37975/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131, 153 and 490 together.

The budget measures will mean that the level of language support will be reduced from a maximum of six extra teachers per school to a maximum of two teachers per school, as was the case before 2007.

However, the ongoing requirement for current levels of language support teachers in schools should also start to reduce in line with lower levels of immigration and in line with improvements in the levels of proficiency of those pupils for whom this resource has been available.

Nonetheless, schools that require language support will still be entitled to get it. We still envisage having over 1,400 language support teachers in our schools in September 2009 and up to about 500 other teachers in part-time posts. By any standards this is a very significant resource and the challenge will be to ensure that it is used to maximum effect.

As I announced on budget day we will also provide for some alleviation for the position of those schools where there is a significant concentration of newcomer pupils as a proportion of the overall enrolment. This will be done on a case by case basis.

The allocation process for language support teachers is an annual one and existing provision is not rolled over automatically. Schools will be applying afresh in the spring and early summer of 2009 for the 2009/10 school year, based on their assessment of the prospective needs of existing pupils and any new pupils they are enrolling.

Moreover, OECD research in this field (PISA 2006) shows that Ireland is the OECD country with the highest distribution of newcomers across schools meaning that schools with higher concentrations of newcomer children are relatively unusual. ESRI data also shows that only a small percentage of schools have high concentrations of newcomer children.

I realise that standards are not simply achieved by supplying teaching resources and that the quality of the supports that the child receives and the inclusive atmosphere cultivated in schools are important factors influencing the quality of learning achieved by migrant children. My Department recognises that we must monitor and review the educational experiences that are provided to migrant students so that we can improve the quality and effectiveness of our provision. The Department is undertaking a range of research to consider the question of integration in schools and how best to deploy our resources to ensure that all the children in our schools can benefit from learning in an intercultural Ireland.

Grant Payments.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

132 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Education and Science the situation regarding devolved grants; his views on whether it is the most cost efficient way to repair schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37949/08]

In recent years, my Department has adopted a policy of devolving much greater authority to local school management authorities to manage and deliver smaller building projects in their schools. This has allowed officials in my Department to concentrate on delivering larger scale projects, while also ensuring that the school authorities can use their local knowledge to manage projects efficiently. Overall, the use of such devolved schemes has resulted in cost efficient and effective delivery of minor projects in schools.

The Minor Works Grant, which increased by 44% in 2006, provides school authorities with the funds to carry out ongoing repairs and maintenance work of a minor nature on school buildings. It allows the school to prioritise how the money is spent on their schools, again using their local knowledge.

The devolved Small Schools Scheme and the Permanent Accommodation Scheme, were introduced in 2003. The purpose of the Schemes was to devolve funding to individual school authorities to undertake smaller scale building works such as refurbishment of existing buildings/provision of small extensions with guaranteed funding. Under the terms of the Schemes, school authorities were empowered to manage these works with guidance from and minimal interaction with the Department.

Since the introduction of the Schemes, over 730 projects have been were approved for funding.

The Summer Works Scheme, which was introduced in 2003, has resulted in the completion of over 3,000 projects, costing in excess of €300 million. These projects have been managed on a devolved basis, with school authorities being responsible for the day to day management of the project on behalf of the Department.

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

However, I recognise the benefits of the scheme in addressing the needs of schools and I have previously informed the house of my intention to have a Summer Works Scheme in 2009. The details of the operation of the scheme in 2009 and the level of funding to be made available under the scheme in 2009 are currently being considered.

Departmental Staff.

Liz McManus

Question:

133 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of staff allocated to the broadband for schools initiative; the duties of same under this scheme; if they have other roles within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37151/08]

There are currently 1 AP, 1 HEO and 0.5 EO within the ICT Policy Unit of my Department assigned to work on the Schools Broadband Access Programme. The staff report to a Principal Officer who is also responsible for my Department's ICT in Schools Programme.

As the Deputy may be aware, this Programme is being undertaken in partnership with industry in the context of a Government — IBEC/TIF (Telecommunications and Internet Federation) Agreement to provide local broadband connectivity to schools. The Programme has three elements — local connectivity to schools, a national broadband network and a broadband support service desk. Schools connectivity is being routed to the Internet through a national broadband network, which is supported by HEAnet and provides centrally managed services for schools such as security, anti-spam/ anti-virus and content filtering. The broadband support service desk has been established to interface between the network, the local broadband service Access Providers and schools. It is managed by the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE).

My officials are responsible for the implementation and development of the Programme. The staff involved liaise with the NCTE and HEAnet in relation to the Programme, any issues arising therein and the provision of services to schools under the Programme. Quarterly contract reviews are held with the various service providers and the staff deal with all the financial arrangements for the Programme, including processing the invoices from the various Service Providers, monitoring the Suspense Account established for the Programme and liaising with Tif members and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in relation thereto. My officials deal with the procurement arrangements under the Programme, including the appointment of an external evaluator therefor. They liaise with officials in the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in relation to the second-level schools proposal set out in the Consultation Paper on Next Generation Broadband. Finally, the staff assigned to work in this area are also overseeing the procurement process for the next phase of the Schools Broadband Access Programme.

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 126.
Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 128.

Special Educational Needs.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

136 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools awaiting resources to meet the requirements of children with autism; when it is expected that these requirements will be met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38230/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

556 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extra resources he proposes to make available for children with autism in mainstream education in 2008 or in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38534/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

557 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to promises made in the course of the 2007 general election in relation to the provision of resources for teaching of children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38535/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136, 556 and 557 together.

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

The establishment of a network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater for children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years. In excess of 330 classes have now been approved around the country at primary and post primary level, including many in special schools. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) will continue to establish more classes as required.

Children in these classes benefit from having a reduced pupil-teacher ratio of 6:1; fully-qualified teachers who have access to training in a range of autism-specific interventions, including Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and there is a minimum of 2 special needs assistants in each class. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Funding is also provided for assistive technology and specialist equipment as required and special school transport arrangements may also be put in place. My Department has put in place a training programme for teachers in autism-specific interventions including TEACCH, PECS and ABA through the Special Education Support Service.

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

School Enrolments.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

137 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in Dublin 4 will have to turn pupils away in September 2009 as a result of budget 2009; if he is making alternative provision for these pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38228/08]

I regard comments being made from whatever quarter about schools turning away pupils as premature, alarmist and irresponsible. I can only conclude that such statements are motivated by a desire to create pressure for a change in relation to the decisions the Government had to take in relation to school staffing. I regard it as reprehensible that any school might seek to use children as pawns no matter how strongly they feel about the decisions that we have made.

Ultimately it is a matter for each school's Board of Management to have an enrolment policy and to then operate that policy in a fair and consistent manner having regard to the overall physical space capacity of a school. My Department's has a responsibility 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. That is no more than a normal feature of the enrolment process in any community.

My Department will continue to ensure that those schools with the greatest increase in pupil numbers will still qualify for developing school status thus enabling them to get their increased staffing in September 2009 — a year in advance of other schools. The Forward Planning Section of my Department is currently in the process of identifying the areas where significant additional school accommodation will be required at primary and post-primary level. Factors under consideration include population growth, demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places. Having considered these factors decisions will be taken on the means by which emerging needs will be met within an area.

The demand for school places in the area in question will be considered within this context.

What is not acceptable is that any school authority would in the coming year alter its approach to enrolment simply because it wants to pressurise the government or to give support to a campaign being conducted by a teacher union.

As I pointed out in the House last week the changes to the classroom staffing of primary schools reverts schools to the position that applied just over one school year ago. Schools are given teaching resources commensurate with their enrolment and under the staffing schedule schools with like enrolments are treated in the same way.

In terms of accommodating pupils I believe it is totally reasonable to expect schools to operate from next September no less favourably than they did in 2006/2007.

Any school acting dishonourably in this regard must ultimately answer to its local community and to the parents and children in that community in particular.

The specific information requested by the Deputy in relation to the detailed staffing allocation of the schools in question for the academic year 2009/10 cannot be determined until the allocation process has fully concluded. There is nothing exceptional in this. The allocation process includes appellate mechanisms under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. At primary level the final allocation to a school is also a function of the operation of the redeployment panels which provide for the retention of a teacher in an existing school if a new post is not available within the agreed terms of the scheme.

Schools are currently returning data to my Department in relation to their enrolment as of 30 September. My Department has commenced processing this data although all schools have not yet made their returns. The allocation processes including notification to schools will commence early in the New Year.

Third Level Funding.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

138 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 278 of 2 October 2008, the Higher Education Authority has completed its dialogue with the universities over the adequacy of financial resources being granted to the universities; if he has received a report or correspondence from the HEA on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38011/08]

As the Deputy is aware, the Universities Act, 1997, confers autonomous statutory responsibilities on universities in relation to the day to day management of their affairs. It is a matter for each university to manage their financial resources and to take the necessary steps to ensure that expenditure is kept within the approved budget.

I understand that the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has met with, and informed the Irish University Association (IUA) of the challenging financial situation facing all institutions in 2009. The IUA has been advised that the HEA Executive will be meeting with each institution to discuss their budgetary situation. The IUA has also been informed that the Authority will be paying particular attention to the level of deficit in the sector and will be requiring specific plans, before the end of 2008, on how institutions propose to address any deficits. The HEA will be monitoring the level of deficit in the sector on an ongoing basis throughout 2009.

School Staffing.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

139 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he is considering reversing the decision on the withdrawal of funding in respect of substitute teachers to cover uncertified sick leave or absences on school-business, as announced in budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38020/08]

In making the announcement of the Budget measures for education I stressed that tough choices had to be made in meeting the needs of the education sector in these difficult times. The resources available to the Department have meant that these choices have been very challenging.

The decision made to suspend the substitution cover for uncertified sick leave and school business was a difficult one and there are no plans to change that decision.

The provision of substitute cover for uncertified sick leave in all schools and for school business at second level was only introduced in 2003. In addition the supervision/ substitution scheme which gives an annual payment of €1789, in addition to normal salary to teachers to provide supervision and substitution cover was also introduced.

I am aware that from January the changes regarding substitution will present particular challenges for school managers but I felt that suspending part of the improvements made in 2003 to the substitution scheme was preferable to impacting more significantly on teacher numbers.

Prior to 2003 schools managed without any of this provision and this did not impede on their capacity to participate for example in football and other sports competitions.

I fully accept this was possible through flexibility and goodwill all round. As we manage through this difficult period I am asking teachers in all schools to co-operate fully with school managers in coping with this change in the interest of the students.

Third Level Fees.

Jack Wall

Question:

140 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the introduction of an Australian style loan system in order to pay for third level fees; his further views on the opinion of a group (details supplied) that such a system acts as a major disincentive on potential students to pursue third level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38004/08]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

447 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide the details of the Higher Education Authority’s study into the amount of income a reintroduction of third level fees would generate; the income thresholds upon which such figures are based; if the figures generated by a person (details supplied) on this topic are correct; the amount of direct Exchequer funding his Department will save if fees are re-introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38026/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 140 and 447 together.

The issue of the re-introduction of third level fees should be viewed in the context of the wider funding of higher education.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government is investing unprecedented levels of public funding in higher education. In 2008 some €2 billion is being invested in our third level sector. In contributing to the achievement of national policy goals for social and economic development into the future, it can be anticipated that there will be continuing significant resource needs for the sector. It is appropriate to raise questions around how future additional resource needs can be met and in particular how our higher education institutions can be supported in their development ambitions through a widening of their non-Exchequer sources of income. The introduction of a form of student contribution, which would only be applied to those who can afford to pay it, is one possibility that merits debate.

My Department, with the assistance of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), is at present conducting a review of policy options relating to the introduction of a form of student contribution. In this regard a range of options are being examined, including possibilities for alternative means of imposing a student contribution such as an income contingent loans system. There are many complex and competing considerations that will fall to be taken into account by the Government in considering the available options. In this regard, the revenue that might accrue from the introduction of fees is contingent on a range of variables relating to the various options under examination. Whilst relevant published reports will also inform the review underway, the specific work referred to by the Deputy does not form part of this review. It is my intention, following completion of the review currently underway, to bring proposals to Government in relation to the available options.

Third Level Institutions.

Willie Penrose

Question:

141 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason his Department accepted but has not yet acted upon the recommendation of Report No. 42 by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration with regard to the withdrawal of unauthorised allowances paid to senior staff within certain third level institutes. [38010/08]

It has been established Government policy to accept the recommendations of the independent Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector. In line with those recommendations it has been decided that where unapproved payments were being made to senior staff within certain third-level institutions, no increases on foot of the Review Body's latest report should be implemented until the position was regularised.

Officials from my Department together with officials from the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Finance are now reviewing the position with each of the institutions concerned to ensure that the remuneration levels are in full compliance with the recommendations outlined in Report No 42 of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration.

My Department will only approve the Review Body increases in respect of individuals who are in receipt of approved salary levels.

Education Schemes.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

142 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science if he is considering reversing his decision to reduce the level of financial support given to the back-to-education initiative as announced in budget 2009; his views on whether this scheme is more necessary than ever in view of the economic recession and the need to retrain the growing numbers of unemployed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38021/08]

The Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) commenced in October 2002. It provides flexible part-time options across Further Education and is aimed at adults with less than upper second level education, including unemployed adults. It aims to give adults who wish to return to education an opportunity to combine their return to learning with family, work and other responsibilities. Programmes are offered on a part-time basis in the mornings, afternoons, evenings or at weekends.

Since September 2007, any adult with less than an upper second level education is entitled to free tuition. Originally only people with a social welfare entitlement or medical card were entitled to free tuition.

As part of a prioritised approach to expenditure in 2009, it was necessary to reduce the number of places on the BTEI by 500, returning it to the 2007 level of 9,000. This reduction should be seen in the context of the significant increase in expenditure on the BTEI in the last five years, up from €6,000,000 in 2002 to €18,000,000 in 2007.

The Deputy will be aware that the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS), which is funded by my Department, is a second chance education initiative designed specifically for the unemployed. Unemployed persons who are at least 21 years of age and in receipt of specified social welfare payments for at least six months are eligible to participate. It aims to give participants education and training opportunities which will develop and prepare them to go into paid employment or on to further education opportunities leading to paid employment.

A training allowance (equivalent to the maximum rate of unemployment benefit, plus a payment for an adult or child dependant, if appropriate) is paid by Vocational Education Committees (VECs) to participants who previously drew unemployment benefit or assistance. These allowances will be increased in line with the appropriate social welfare rates or FÁS trainee allowances and VTOS participants also retain their social welfare secondary benefits.

There are 5,000 approved places on VTOS and I shall endeavour to safeguard this position for 2009.

Grant Payments.

Joe Costello

Question:

143 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the non-payment of certain grants to Catholic fee-paying schools; the grants involved; the value of same; if all fee-paying schools regardless of denomination will no longer receive these grants; the reasoning behind this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38013/08]

There are 56 fee-charging second level schools in the State, of which 21 are Protestant, 2 inter-denominational, 1 Jewish, and the balance (32) Catholic.

With the exception of the Protestant and Jewish fee-charging schools, for which special arrangements apply, fee-charging schools do not receive any grants.

Minority religion schools were eligible for all grants payable to schools in the Free Education Scheme, with the exception of the per capita grant.

These grants were:

Schools Service Support grant of €204 per pupil;

Caretaker and Secretary grant of €69.84 per pupil, subject to a maximum of 350 pupils, or €24,444 per school;

Equalisation for Caretaker and Secretary grants of €44.44 per pupil, subject to a maximum of 350 pupils, or €15,554 per school.

The removal of these ancillary grants brings these schools into line with the situation pertaining in Catholic fee-charging schools.

The decision to remove these grants came against the backdrop of a challenging international economic situation. It is necessary to curtail expenditure in some areas, in order that resources may be more efficiently targeted at areas of greater disadvantage. I can see no justification for treating the non-Catholic fee-charging schools in a special way, particularly given that Catholic fee-charging schools have not been in receipt of the grants in question at all.

I wish to re-emphasise that there are no changes proposed in respect of the Protestant Block Grant. Protestant fee-charging schools receive, and will continue to receive, the Protestant Block grant, which in the current school year amounts to €6.25 million. This payment covers capitation, tuition and boarding grants.

Question No. 144 answered with Question No. 126.

School Transport.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

145 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has studied the possibility of utilising school buses for other uses such as the transport to functions or for other relevant social or business activities in rural areas; his views on whether such a structure would allow more economic use of buses and justify the replacement of buses that are now 30 to 35 years old with more modern vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37948/08]

In the region of 4,000 vehicles are used each day in the school transport scheme. Over 80% of these vehicles are privately owned, most of these being small and medium sized buses.

The number of Bus Éireann school buses in use fluctuates on a monthly basis as more modern buses are introduced and others are withdrawn from service on a continual basis throughout the School Year. However, Bus Éireann use about 620 of their own buses to provide school transport each day, almost all of which are large capacity vehicles. Currently 18 Bus Éireann school buses, and 9 privately owned school buses under contract, are also used to provide one day a week rural transport services organised by Bus Éireann in the middle of the day between class times without impinging on the school transport timetable.

Where requests are made to Bus Éireann for the establishment of new rural transport services for social and business activities, it is a matter for the company to evaluate these requests. I previously indicated to the Deputy, that the cost of providing these services neither increases nor reduces the cost of school transport provided by my Department and in the same way the expanded use of the school buses for this purpose would not impact on the cost of the school transport provision. Bus Éireann is not aware of any buses in the scheme which are 30 to 35 years old.

Schools Building Projects.

Willie Penrose

Question:

146 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on whether an expanded school building programme is necessary not only to alleviate the widespread inadequacy of schools but also to improve the overall economy by providing much needed employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38009/08]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

150 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the schools’ capital programme was cut from €586 million in 2008 to €581 million in 2009; if this is acceptable at a time when schools are increasingly dilapidated and at a time when he could ease unemployment through an increased school building programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38024/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 146 and 150 together.

Under the current National Development Plan, a total of almost €4.5bn has been allocated to the school building programme. This allocation was the result of discussions between officials in my Department and officials in the Department of Finance.

The allocation of €581m in 2009, although a slight reduction over the 2008 allocation, represents a significant investment in the school building and modernisation programme. As the Deputies will appreciate, the wider climate in which the 2009 Budget has been framed is very different to that of recent years. The Government has been faced with very difficult choices across all areas of public spending. This level of funding for the building programme, at a time of pressure on the Government finances, is a sign of the very real commitment of this Government to investing in the school infrastructure and will permit the continuation of progress in the overall improvement of school accommodation.

This investment will build on the achievements of the last National Development Plan 2000-2006, when an aggregate total of well over €2.6 billion was invested in upgrading the existing school infrastructure and providing new school accommodation at both first level and second level. This programme delivered over 7,800 building projects in addition to investment in site purchases, the annual minor works grant to all primary schools, dust, asbestos and radon remediation programmes, science and technology initiatives, emergency works and grants for the purchase of furniture and equipment.

Innovations in the delivery of school buildings such as the development of Generic Repeat Designs and the use of the Design and Build model ensure that new school buildings are delivered in the fastest timeframe possible. My Department also adopted a policy of devolving much greater authority to local school management boards to manage and deliver smaller building projects, thereby freeing my Department to concentrate on the larger scale projects.

The school building programme is primarily focused on meeting the demand for new school places across the state. Value for money is a key criterion in the implementation of the school building programme and competitive tendering, in line with public procurement procedures, ensures that this is achieved. As I have indicated publicly, the current decline in activity in the construction industry is an opportunity for my Department to continue to pursue value for money in the procurement and construction of school buildings.

School Staffing.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

147 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for the withdrawal of funding in respect of substitute teachers to cover for uncertified sick leave or absences on school business; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this will have negative consequences for the supervision of extra curricular activities in schools and that teachers and principals will be further over-stretched with their duties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38019/08]

In making the announcement of the Budget measures for education I stressed that tough choices had to be made in meeting the needs of the education sector in these difficult times. The resources available to the Department have meant that these choices have been very challenging.

Since 2003, when the supervision/substitution scheme was introduced and the range of absences for which substitution cover was provided was extended to cover uncertified sick leave and official school business, we have significantly increased expenditure on substitution and the supervision / substitution scheme. This expenditure increase has taken place for a range of reasons including the extension of maternity leave, the implementation of the terms of legislation in relation to part-time employment and increases in teacher numbers. Expenditure on the substitution scheme at primary level has increased from €26.3 million in 2003 to a projected cost of €84.4 million in the current financial year. The projected cost of substitution in secondary and community/comprehensive schools in the current financial year is €66.9 million and €38 million for schools under the control of Vocational Education Committees.

Substitution cover will continue to be provided for all other categories of absences for which it is currently available including maternity leave and certified sick leave. The existing arrangement will continue to apply for the supervision/substitution scheme with teachers continuing to be paid an annual payment of €1,789 for participation in the scheme.

I am aware that from January the changes regarding substitution will present particular challenges for school managers but I felt that suspending part of the improvements made in 2003 to the substitution scheme was preferable to impacting more significantly on teacher numbers.

Prior to 2003 schools managed without any of this provision and this did not impede on their capacity to participate for example in football and other sports competitions.

I fully accept this was possible through flexibility and goodwill all round. As we manage through this difficult period I am asking teachers in all schools to co-operate fully with school managers in coping with this change in the interest of the students.

Library Enhancement Projects.

Jack Wall

Question:

148 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the qualifying criteria for funding in respect of library enhancement for schools in disadvantaged areas; the amount allocated to such projects under the dormant accounts funds during the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33504/08]

The general criteria applied to the assessment of library enhancement proposals were:

1. Evidence of need

2. Evidence of capacity

3. Consistency with Government policy programme and objectives

4. Evidence of additionality

5. Strength of proposal

6. Consideration of sustainability

In December 2007, 147 library enhancement projects were approved by Government for a total of €5.08 million in grant-aid. In June 2008, Government approved a further 84 library projects for €2.69 million in grant-aid and 15 combined library and parent room projects for €1.34 million in grant-aid. All of the available grant-aid under the scheme has now been allocated to projects.

School Transport.

Denis Naughten

Question:

149 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of his Department’s review of school transport catchment boundaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37950/08]

Proposals for progressing the commitment given in the Programme for Government to review the school transport system including catchment boundaries are now at an advanced stage.

Question No. 150 answered with Question No. 143.

Grant Payments.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

151 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for the withdrawal of the grant in respect of foreign qualified teachers to attend courses in the Gaeltacht; if his Department has put a de facto recruiting ban on foreign teachers into the primary school system because they can no longer improve their standard of Irish to the required level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38018/08]

Persons wishing to be registered as teachers in this country must apply to the Teaching Council for recognition of their qualifications. Once all requirements have been met by applicants, and their qualifications are recognised by the Teaching Council, applicants may apply to be registered as primary or post-primary teachers.

In order to obtain full recognition as a primary teacher in this country, teachers must have satisfactorily completed a recognised primary teacher training course. In addition, Irish primary school teachers are class teachers as distinct from individual subject teachers and must be able to teach all aspects of the curriculum including the Irish language. Accordingly, fully recognised primary teachers must be qualified to teach the full range of primary school subjects to children aged 4 to 12 years.

Teachers trained outside the jurisdiction of the State, who do not possess an appropriate Irish language qualification, are currently granted a five year period of conditional recognition to teach in mainstream classes in national schools.

During this period these teachers are expected to obtain their Irish language qualification. In order to satisfy the Irish language requirement such teachers must pass an Irish language examination (Scrúdú Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge) and provide certification that they have resided in the Gaeltacht while attending an approved three-week course, or must complete an adaptation period.

Notwithstanding the increase of €302 million in the education budget for 2009, which is a real achievement in the current economic climate, a number of tough and difficult decisions had to be taken. These included the decision to discontinue the grant paid to foreign trained teachers for attending courses in the Gaeltacht.

The amount of the grant payable to foreign qualified teachers attending Irish courses in the Gaeltacht was a once-off payment of €431 per teacher. It should be noted that during the five year period allowed, such conditionally recognised teachers may teach in mainstream classes in national schools and are remunerated at the rate appropriate to that of a fully qualified primary school teacher.

Schools Building Projects.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

152 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science when he will honour the commitment to commence work on the building of the new school (details supplied) in County Kerry as one of the 56 large scale projects approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37947/08]

The building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is awaiting the appointment of a Design Team.

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

Question No. 153 answered with Question No. 131.
Question No. 154 answered with Question No. 125.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Phil Hogan

Question:

155 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Taoiseach the changes to his carbon footprint that have occurred since he took office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37846/08]

The website of the Government's climate change awareness campaign, www.change.ie provides a carbon calculator which enables people to work out their own carbon footprint. Using this tool, it is estimated that the carbon emissions from commercial air travel undertaken by me, since taking office as Taoiseach, amounted to 3.8 tonnes in the year to end October, 2008. This is accounted for predominately by air travel to China and New York.

I refer the Deputy to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform for related information on the Ministerial transport fleet and to the Department of Defence for information on the use of the Government jet.

Price Increases.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

156 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Taoiseach the price increases imposed by his Department and its agencies for public service, product or tax since 1 January to date in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37923/08]

Neither my Department nor the Agencies under its aegis have imposed price increases for public service, product or tax since 1 January to date.

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

157 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Taoiseach the role and responsibilities of each of his Ministers of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38293/08]

The Government appointed Deputy Pat Carey as Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at my Department and at the Department of Defence. Deputy Dick Roche was appointed Minister of State at my Department and at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for European Affairs.

As Chief Whip, Minister of State Carey's primary responsibility is for the organisation of Government business in the Dáil and for the Government's programme for Dáil reform. He also oversees preparation of the Government's legislative programme. In addition, my statutory functions in relation to the Central Statistics Office have been delegated to him.

I have also assigned responsibility for the Active Citizenship initiative in my Department to Minister of State Carey. His role is to drive the initiative forward, to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Taskforce on Active Citizenship and, critically, to promote the concept of active citizenship in all spheres of Irish life. He is also responsible for monitoring and identifying additional measures which would strengthen our social interaction and broaden the manner in which we view our responsibilities as citizens in the modern Ireland. Minister of State Carey is supported in this work by a Steering Group chaired by Ms. Mary Davis, and by the Active Citizenship Office in my Department.

Minister of State Roche, in a co-ordinating role in my Department, chairs an Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on European Union Affairs. The Committee keeps under review, and works to ensure coherence on, the full range of issues on the EU's agenda. The Committee has a particular focus on the correct and timely transposition of EU legislation.

In addition to these duties, Minister of State Roche has a heavy workload within the Department of Foreign Affairs, representing the Government at a wide range of EU and international meetings. In this context, he also plays a central role in consolidating and further developing Ireland's positive bilateral EU relations, particularly with the new Member States. He was extensively involved in the public debate on the Reform Treaty in the lead up to the referendum.

Minister of State Roche also has responsibility for the Government's Communicating Europe initiative, which aims to foster a broad public understanding of, and identification with, the issues on the EU agenda.

Departmental Staff.

Michael Creed

Question:

158 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Taoiseach the role of the Government Press Office; the number of staff employed therein; the grade and salary of these staff; if he will clarify the relationship between the Government Press Office and individual Department press offices and individual Ministers’ press officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38464/08]

The Government Press Office (GPO) provides an information service in relation to Government policy through the national and international media. It has no direct operational control or responsibility in relation to various Departmental Press Offices. It does however carry out a coordination function to ensure an appropriate dissemination of information across all Departments.

Departmental Press Offices provide a similar function to that of the GPO on behalf of their own Departments.

A total of 8 staff work in the Government Press Office based in my Department. The staff are: the Government Press Secretary, two Deputy Government Press Secretaries, three Press Officers and two Clerical Officers.

The grades and salaries of GPO staff are listed in the following table.

Grade

Salary

Government Press Secretary: [equivalent to Assistant Secretary]

150,712

Deputy Government Press Secretary: [equivalent to Principal Officer (h/s)]

111,818

Deputy Government Press Secretary [no equivalent Civil Service grade]

118,759

Press Officer: [equivalent to Assistant Principal (h/s)]

83,760

Press Officer: [equivalent to Higher Executive Officer (s/s)]

57,062

Press Officer: [equivalent to Higher Executive Officer (s/s)]

47,973

Clerical Officer

31,227

Clerical Officer

30,089

Site Disposal.

Denis Naughten

Question:

159 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 199 of 24 September 2008, the progress made to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37916/08]

I understand from Enterprise Ireland that the property is still on the market. Unfortunately, initial interest in the facility has waned because of the closure of one of the interested parties while the other company has located premises in another region. The Industrial Development agencies will continue to work closely together to promote the site to potential clients.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

160 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason a European certificate to operate heavy machinery on site and for excavation work is not recognised by FÁS; her views on the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37985/08]

Under the Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) FÁS is the Competent Authority for training, assessment, certification and registration of non-craft operatives in the construction sector.

As the Competent Authority, it is required to permit access to construction-related activities to workers with qualifications gained in another EU Member State under the same conditions that apply to Irish nationals. In this context, regulation SI No. 139 2008 requires FÁS to satisfy itself concerning the comparability of awards and their equivalence as between national and external certification in coming to a decision on recognition of external qualifications.

I understand that FÁS has already been in contact with this person and has invited him to submit his request together with supporting documentation to enable it to compare compliance with the required standards to obtain a FÁS registration card. I understand that this process will be completed expeditiously.

EU Funding.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

161 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has sought funding from the EU globalisation fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38132/08]

My Department has not made an application for funding from the European Globalisation Fund to date. However, my Department is keeping the possibility of making an application under review in the context of the criteria of the Fund.

Work Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

162 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when an appeal to refuse work permits will be reviewed in the case of persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38245/08]

This application was refused on the grounds that it is current Government policy to issue new employment permits only for highly skilled, highly paid positions or for non-EEA nationals already legally resident in the State on valid employment permits. Furthermore, new work permit applications can only be considered where it is established that the position on offer has been advertised with FÁS/EURES and that this advertisement has been flagged by FÁS for a work permit. Additionally, evidence of newspaper advertisements for at least three days in local and national newspapers must be submitted with all new work permit applications.

Having examined the appeal, the Appeals Officer has upheld the original decision in this case.

Job Initiative.

John O'Mahony

Question:

163 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the initiatives she has in place to attract industry to County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38274/08]

Under the aegis of my Department, industrial development in County Mayo is promoted by IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the local County Enterprise Board.

As regards IDA Ireland, the emphasis is on attracting new knowledge intensive projects in the Medical Technologies, Life Sciences, Information Communications Technology and International Services sectors. The agency has developed flagship Business & Technology Parks in Castlebar and Westport which are being actively marketed. There is now also 11.55 hectares of industrially zoned land on the Sligo Road in Ballina. There were 3,004 people employed in 19 IDA supported companies in County Mayo in 2007. The agency continues to work with its existing base of overseas companies to encourage them to grow and expand.

Enterprise Ireland is also actively involved in assisting its client companies to grow and develop their businesses. In 2007, the agency worked with 124 client companies in the County employing 3,155 people and €3.8 million was approved by the agency for its clients. In April 2007, Ovagen Ltd was launched with the announcement of 60 jobs for Ballina. The agency also supported 2 "Spirit of Enterprise" seminars at the Incubation Centre in Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology in Castlebar.

In addition, Enterprise Ireland has approved 16 innovation vouchers for Mayo companies. These vouchers give companies access to the vast knowledge available in Irish Institutes of Technology, Universities and other public research bodies. The agency has supported two Centres of Excellence in GMIT and approved support for the development of Campus Innovation Centres at GMIT. The agency also supports Enterprise Centres in Ballina, Ballyhaunis, Brickens, Claremorris, Foxford, Killala and Kiltimagh. The town of Westport was successful in the 2008 call for proposals.

So far this year, Mayo County Enterprise Board has provided €443,850 in grant support to 24 projects located throughout the County. Between them, these projects have the potential to create up to 50 jobs most of which are expected to be in place over the course of the coming year. The Board has also provided business related training and mentoring support to 303 persons on a variety of programmes held throughout the County. By year-end, the Board also expects to have interacted with approximately 400 second-level students in one-day workshops aimed at promoting an enterprise culture in Mayo.

I am satisfied that the ongoing efforts of IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the County Enterprise Board together with local interests, will continue to attract investment and jobs to County Mayo.

John O'Mahony

Question:

164 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the proposals she has to ensure a more balanced regional approach to the promotion of employment and industrial development throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38275/08]

The Enterprise Development agencies under the aegis of my Department, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development together with the County Enterprise Boards, are responsible for growing indigenous enterprises and attracting and growing foreign direct investment. Strong, balanced regional development and a thriving culture of entrepreneurship in all parts of Ireland are key strategic objectives for my Department and the Development agencies under its remit.

Over the last 10-15 years, Ireland has undergone a transformation from a low wage/low cost economy towards a high value and knowledge-based one. Arising from this transformation, the nature of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has changed and Ireland is now competing for premium mobile investments against the most advanced countries in the world. We face stiff international competition for these high value investments because of their economic impact and strategic importance. A key aspect of the high value, knowledge intensive FDI Ireland now competes for, is that it increasingly favours locations in or near centres of urban scale, where it has access to the concentrations of infrastructure, skills and services it needs. Large urban areas tend to be where the various factors that drive modern economic growth assemble — an educated and skilled workforce, internationally trading firms, third-level institutions, Research and Development facilities, transport and other infrastructure, together with culture, leisure and social facilities. In combination, these factors establish the type of basis essential for growth in the urban area itself, its wider region and the country as a whole.

In order to support its efforts to secure these high value investments, while strengthening the enterprise base of the less developed regions, IDA Ireland has aligned its strategy with the Government's National Spatial Strategy and the agency is focused on delivering investments to the Gateway and Hub locations nationally, and specifically those in the Border Midlands and West (BMW) region. This strategy involves matching investor requirements with the competencies, infrastructure and critical mass of the Gateway and Hub locations to secure the maximum number of investments for Ireland. The key sectors of focus are Life Sciences, Information and Communications Technologies and high value Services activities.

Taking account of the locational requirements of these sectors and the critical importance of centres of urban scale in attracting the high value investments, IDA Ireland has in recent years set a high level target to deliver in excess of 60% of investments outside the Greater Dublin Area. In 2007, this target was exceeded with 64% of investments locating outside the Greater Dublin Area.

In relation to Enterprise Ireland, the agency is fully committed to assisting companies to grow and realise their full potential, working intensively with them on their business plans on a holistic basis to do so. The agency provides a range of supports, both financial and non-financial for client companies and institutions. Enterprise Ireland also maintains extensive relationships with all regional and local development bodies and has a key partnership role to play with the country's agencies and organisations involved in entrepreneurial development.

Enterprise Ireland's policy objectives for balanced regional development are reflected in the structure of its funding offer, whereby funding for existing company expansion and start-up businesses is biased towards the regions. The maximum grant level is higher than in Dublin and the mid-East and a higher proportion of this funding is also non-repayable. Enterprise Ireland's strategy ‘Transforming Irish Industry 2008-2010' includes the strategic target of continuing the drive for the establishment of High Potential Start Ups, with a target of delivering 50% of supported start ups outside the Dublin region.

The most visible regional development programme in Enterprise Ireland is the Community Enterprise Scheme. Last Friday, I announced the awarding of over €11m in funding and management development support for 39 community enterprise centres spread throughout the country. This is the second tranche of approvals from the €21m 2007 — 2009 Community Enterprise Scheme. Since the launch of the first scheme in 1989, a total of €50.8m has been approved and the impact of the programme at a local level, both urban and rural, is significant. The Government through Enterprise Ireland has supported 134 communities, and the 105 completed centres are now home to approximately 1,000 successful businesses, employing approximately 5000 people. These centres have a real and measurable impact on the economic and social development of local communities and are a tangible contribution to balanced regional development. Of course, all of Enterprise Ireland's programmes are available to all companies regardless of location.

Shannon Development is the regional Economic Development agency for the mid-West region. It has responsibility for FDI in the Shannon Free Zone (SFZ) and complements the work of IDA and Enterprise Ireland through the provision of tailored property solutions for both FDI and indigenous industry in the region generally. Other activities undertaken by the Company that promote regional development include promotion of Broadband services, the E-Towns project and participation in initiatives such as the Atlantic Technology Corridor and the Atlantic Way.

In relation to County Enterprise Boards, the fact that the Boards operate at a local level throughout the country means that their interventions are targeted at assisting businesses, and those who are planning to establish businesses, in local communities including those in rural areas. In this way, the CEBs are making a significant contribution to ensuring balanced regional development.

I am satisfied that the policies and initiatives being adopted will continue to enhance balanced regional development.

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

165 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the role and responsibilities of each of her Ministers of State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38286/08]

There are two Ministers of State assigned exclusively to my Department, a third Minister of State assigned to my Department and the Department of Education & Science, and two further Ministers of State who have cross-departmental responsibilities some of which encompass areas for which my Department has responsibility. The specific areas of responsibility that each Minister of State has are as follows:

Name of Minister of State

Areas of Responsibility within the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment

S.I. No. of Delegation Order where one has been made

Billy Kelleher, T.D.

Labour Affairs

289 of 2008

John McGuinness, T.D.

Trade and Commerce

290 of 2008

Dr. Jimmy Devins T.D.

Science, Technology & Innovation

288 of 2008

Sean Haughey, T.D

Life Long Learning

No SI required insofar as Minister of State Haughey’s responsibilities within the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment are concerned.

John Moloney, T.D.

Disability Issues

No SI required insofar as Minister of State Moloney’s responsibilities within the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment are concerned.

Work Permits.

Jack Wall

Question:

166 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding an appeal of an application for a work permit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38419/08]

The Employment Permits Section informs me that an application in respect of the above named was only received on the 28th October 2008. A decision will be made on this application in the next 2-3 weeks.

Departmental Properties.

Niall Collins

Question:

167 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 216 of 21 October 2008, if the Revenue Commissioners hold a charge over the said properties. [37836/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there is insufficient information available from the Deputy's question in relation to the properties concerned to enable them to confirm whether they hold a charge. The Office of the Revenue Commissioners will make direct contact with the Deputy on the matter.

Tax Code.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

168 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that when one spouse owns a property prior to marriage the couple cannot be considered as first-time buyers in regard to stamp duty and mortgage interest relief; if he will confirm that in regard to an unmarried couple one partner who has not previously purchased a property may do so as a first-time buyer; his views on whether this disadvantages a married couple as compared to a co-habiting couple; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37848/08]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, as regards stamp duty, where one spouse owns a house prior to marriage and both spouses subsequently jointly purchase another house, neither spouse is entitled to the stamp duty first-time buyer relief in respect of this other house because one of the spouses has already owned a house.

However, where one spouse owns a house prior to marriage, and the other spouse (who never owned a house) subsequently purchases a house, this other spouse can claim the stamp duty first time buyer relief provided that the source of the funds for the purchase is derived from that spouse's own means which can be, or can include, an unconditional gift, or a bona fide loan evidenced in writing.

Where a spouse has received a gift or a loan (other than from his or her parents), that spouse will be precluded from claiming first time buyer relief where the donor or lender:

intends to, or does, occupy the house with the purchaser as a principal place of residence, or

there is an understanding or agreement that the house, or an interest in the house can be transferred to the donor or lender after the purchase.

A similar situation applies in the case of co-habiting couples so that married couples are not disadvantaged as compared to co-habiting couples.

I am further informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, as regards income tax, the first-time buyer mortgage interest relief applies to an individual provided that the year of claim is one of the first seven years for which relief falls to be given to that individual in respect of interest paid on qualifying loans.

Where one spouse was entitled to the first-time buyer mortgage interest relief on a loan used to purchase his or her principal private residence prior to marriage and both spouses subsequently jointly purchase and financed by a mortgage, another house which then becomes their principal private residence, the position of each spouse for each tax year is examined separately for the purposes of determining the first time buyer mortgage interest relief due to each. I think this is, perhaps, best explained by way of an example.

Ms Brown purchases her principal private residence during the 2006 tax year. She subsequently marries and purchases, jointly with her spouse (who had not previously been entitled to the first time buyer mortgage interest relief), a new principal private residence during the 2008 tax year. Ms. Brown is entitled to the first time buyer mortgage interest relief for each of the tax years 2006 to 2012 inclusive and her spouse is entitled to the first time buyer relief for each of the tax years 2008 to 2014.

A similar situation applies in the case of co-habiting couples so that married couples are not disadvantaged as compared to co-habiting couples.

James Reilly

Question:

169 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the number of medical expenses relief claims from 2005 to 2007; the amount of relief repaid for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37917/08]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent year for which final information is available on the cost to the Exchequer, and the numbers of taxpayers availing, of the tax relief for medical expenses is for the income tax year 2005.

In that year an estimated number of 260,700 claimants availed of the tax relief for medical expenses at an estimated cost to the Exchequer of €134 million.

The numbers availing represent income earners who were in a position to absorb at least some of the tax relief and thereby give rise to an Exchequer cost. They do not include the numbers of potential claimants whose entitlements to other tax reliefs were sufficient to reduce their liability to tax to nil without reference to the specific relief. The numbers availing are rounded to the nearest hundred as appropriate. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

James Reilly

Question:

170 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the income guidelines for the 1% levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37918/08]

Richard Bruton

Question:

171 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the basis on which the exemption for persons earning less than the minimum wage will be provided; if it would be on a weekly or annual income; if he proposes to make changes in the application of the levy on those with higher incomes in order to pay for the cost of this exemption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37925/08]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

176 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance if persons on occupational pensions will have to pay to 1% income levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37986/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 170, 171 and 176 together.

The position is that the income levy will be applied to all gross income except social welfare payments, including contributory and non-contributory social welfare pensions. It is proposed to include a threshold which will exempt those on low incomes from the income levy.

More detailed provisions, in relation to the collection, recovery, inspection of records, and other provisions required will be set out in the Finance Bill.

Departmental Staff.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

172 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Finance the number of vacancies at executive officer level within his Department in Athlone and Tullamore as on 15 October 2008; when these vacancies will be filled from existing panels in the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37945/08]

My Department does not have any offices in Athlone. In relation to my Department's offices in Tullamore, as of 15 October 2008, there were no Executive Officer vacancies.

Tax Collection.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

173 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he has estimated the saving that could be made by imposing a 5% pay cut on public sector employees earning more than €150,000 per annum and a 10% pay cut on public sector employees earning more than €150,000 per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37977/08]

The annual payroll cost for public servants with a maximum salary of €150,000 or more is in the region of €600m. About €400m of this cost relates to Hospital Consultants.

The annual saving from a 10% cut in payroll for this overall group would be approximately €60m. The saving from a cut of 5% would be approximately €30m.

Members of the Government, Ministers of State, Secretaries General of Government Departments and holders of some posts at similar levels have already agreed to make a voluntary surrender of 10% of their pay.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

174 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the amount that would be raised by imposing an additional levy of 3%, on top of the existing 2% levy, on income of more than €500,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37978/08]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

175 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the amount that would be raised by imposing an additional levy of 1%, on top of the existing 2% levy, on income of more than €200,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37979/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 and 175 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners the full year yield to the Exchequer from a further 3% in addition to the proposed 2% income levy on income above €500,000 is estimated to be of the order of €160 million. The corresponding full year yield from a further 1% in addition to the proposed 2% income levy on income above €200,000 is estimated at €110 million.

The figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2005 adjusted as necessary for income and employment growth for 2009. They are therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

Question No. 176 answered with Question No. 170.

Flood Relief.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

177 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if plans to change the weir at Fermoy, County Cork will be subsumed into the flood alleviation works; if so, when this was decided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37991/08]

Following a request by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the Office of Public Works has agreed, in principle, to facilitate remedial works to the weir in tandem with the works of the proposed flood relief scheme for Fermoy, subject to the availability of funding and the resolution of planning and archaeological matters. OPW conveyed its agreement to the Department and Fermoy Town Council at a meeting held on 2 October, 2008.

Fermoy Town Council and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources are in ongoing talks in order to resolve any outstanding issues to allow the works to be undertaken.

Freedom of Information.

Joan Burton

Question:

178 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the legal basis under which non-governmental bodies can be prescribed for inclusion under the Freedom of Information Act 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38119/08]

Joan Burton

Question:

179 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the procedure and the criteria for determining if organisations, other than public bodies, can be prescribed for inclusion under the Freedom of Information Act 1997; the details of the consultation process with affected organisations prior to the decision being taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38120/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 179 together.

As stated in the Long Title, the purpose of the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 as amended in 2003 is to "enable members of the public to obtain access to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy, to information in the possession of public bodies".

Only bodies which meet the criteria for definition of "public body" set out at section 1(5) of the First Schedule of the FOI Act can be prescribed for inclusion under FOI. This provides that such bodies are:

"(a) the Garda Síochána

(b) a body, organisation or group established

(i) by or under any enactment (other than the Companies Acts, 1963

to 1990) or any scheme administered by a Minister of the Government,

or

(ii) under the Companies Acts, 1963 to 1990, in pursuance of powers conferred by or under another enactment, and financed wholly or partly, whether directly or indirectly, by means of moneys provided, or loans made or guaranteed, by a Minister of the Government or the issue of shares held by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government,

(c) any other body, organisation or group financed as aforesaid,

(d) a company (within the meaning of the Companies Act, 1963) a majority of the shares in which are held by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government,

(e) any other body, organisation or group appointed by the Government or a Minister of the Government,

(f) subject to paragraph 2, any other body, organisation or group on which functions in relation to the general public or a class of the general public stand conferred by any enactment, or

(g) a subsidiary of a body, organisation or group specified in any of the foregoing provisions of this subparagraph."

The First Schedule provides that eligible bodies are prescribed by the Minister for Finance with the consent of the responsible Minister, where relevant.

As regards consultation with organisations being prescribed for FOI this is a matter for the relevant Minister. However, from the outset, when the FOI legislation was enacted in 1997, it has always been a priority to ensure that public bodies coming under FOI are well prepared and the Central Policy Unit of my Department oversees a programme providing for the preparation and training for new bodies coming under FOI.

Telecommunications Masts.

Áine Brady

Question:

180 Deputy Áine Brady asked the Minister for Finance the information he has in relation to the health effects of the communication mast, which is proposed to be installed at a Garda station (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38127/08]

A new telecommunications mast has been installed at the Garda Station in Co. Kildare referred to by the Deputy. There are no commercial operators currently licensed to install equipment on the mast. However, two mobile phone operators have applied to do so.

Before any mobile phone operator is allowed to install equipment on any State Property, they are required to enter into a licence agreement with the Commissioners of Public Works.

Under the terms of the licence agreement, in regard to any possible effects on health the operators are obliged to install and operate all equipment within current standards and E.U. regulations, including Health and Safety regulations, and adhere to the guidelines on exposure limits to emissions, issued by the International Commission on Non — Ionizing Radiation Protection, (ICNIRP). In addition, the Commissioners monitor all such developments to ensure that compliance with the regulations is achieved from the outset. Monitoring continues during the term of the licence agreement.

The compliance with Health and Safety legislation etc., required under the Licence Agreement, also applies to any future relevant legislation / regulations and ICNIRP guidelines.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

181 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the tax treatment of profits made from short selling shares. [38157/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that in general profits made from the short selling of shares which occur in the course of a financial trade are charged to tax as trading income under Case 1 of Schedule D. Where the activity does not constitute trading, gains on the disposal of shares are liable to Capital Gains Tax.

Richard Bruton

Question:

182 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if the new income levy will be added to DIRT as it applies to bank accounts; if people entitled to exemption from DIRT will be exempt; and if the health levy will also apply. [38158/08]

The position is that deposit interest subject to DIRT will not be included as part of the income subject to the income levy.

More detailed provisions, in relation to the collection, recovery, inspection of records, and other provisions required in relation to the income levy will be set out in the Finance Bill.

The health levy is provided for in Health Contributions Act 1979, and is a matter primarily for the Minister for Health and Children. Where appropriate, the health levy continues to apply to deposit interest.

Joan Burton

Question:

183 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the property based tax incentives and reliefs in operation; the full cost to the Exchequer in terms of taxation foregone or otherwise of each of these incentives and reliefs for the years 2007, 2008 forecast and 2009 forecast; and his plans for the termination or phasing out of these reliefs or incentives and those for which there are as yet no plans to phase out or terminate. [38189/08]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the following property based tax incentive schemes remain in the tax code and, in general, provide capital allowances at the rate of 15% for the first 6 years and 10% in year 7 for the construction or refurbishment of qualifying premises:

Convalescent Homes

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

Qualifying Mental Health Centres

Qualifying Specialist Palliative Care Units (subject to Commencement Order)

Buildings used for Childcare Purposes (alternatively, 100% relief may be claimed in year 1)

Registered Nursing Homes

Qualifying (Nursing Home) Residential Units, and

Certain tourism infrastructure under the Mid-Shannon Scheme (only 80% of expenditure can qualify in certain areas).

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that data for the tax year 2007 is not yet available as the appropriate income tax and corporation tax returns for that year are either not yet due for filing (by 17th November 2008 in the case of returns filed via ROS) or have only recently been filed but have not yet been processed. For the same reason, I am not in a position to provide the data requested by the Deputy for the years 2008 and 2009.

Based on information that has been received and collated to date for the tax year 2006, the position in terms of amounts of relief claimed and maximum tax cost for that year in respect of the schemes detailed above is set out in the following table:

Scheme

Amount Claimed

Tax Cost

€m

€m

Convalescent Homes

4.1

1.7

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

25.2

10.6

Qualifying Mental Health Centres

0.0

0.0

Qualifying Specialist Palliative Care Units (subject to Commencement Order)

0.0

0.0

Buildings used for Childcare Purposes

14.3

6.0

Registered Nursing Homes

35.5

14.7

Qualifying (Nursing Home) Residential Units

3.4

1.4

Certain tourism infrastructure under the Mid-Shannon Scheme

0.0

0.0

Total

82.5

34.4

Apart from the schemes listed in the first paragraph of my reply which still remain in the tax code, all other property based tax incentive schemes terminated on, or before, 31 July 2008.

As regards the remaining schemes, with the exceptions of the scheme of capital allowances for qualifying mental health centres which commenced in January 2007, the mid-Shannon scheme which commenced in June 2008 and the scheme for specialist palliative care units which has yet to commence, all of the other schemes were subject to review by independent external consultants in 2005. The reviews (the reports of which are available on my Department's website) recommended the continuation of the schemes in question and I have no plans at this time to terminate those schemes.

Tax Collection.

Joan Burton

Question:

184 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of tax payers, with gross income in ranges (details supplied) in respect of the tax years 2007 and 2008 projected, as projected by the Revenue Commissioners using relevant models; the income of each group; the tax paid by each group and its proportion of the total income tax take. [38190/08]

The information requested by the Deputy, as provided by the Revenue Commissioners, is set out in the following tables. The numbers of earners in the various ranges of income are based on the adjusted data for 2005 projected forward in accordance with macroeconomic data relating to actual and expected growth in wages and employment.

Provisional distribution of income earners for Income Tax Year 2007

Range of Gross Income

Gross Income

Number

Tax

% of all Tax

%

0 – 10,000

1,942,244,641

412,436

187,281

0.0

10,001 – 20,000

5,970,610,773

395,009

31,284,510

0.2

20,001 – 30,000

10,015,431,574

402,252

380,101,373

2.6

30,001 – 40,000

11,387,773,345

327,666

835,832,353

5.7

40,001 – 50,000

10,446,260,229

233,861

1,192,886,924

8.1

50,001 – 60,000

8,822,065,979

161,270

1,276,664,116

8.7

60,001 – 70,000

7,500,085,091

115,875

1,207,850,092

8.2

70,001 – 80,000

6,005,794,717

80,398

1,071,029,027

7.3

80,001 – 90,000

4,768,669,901

56,300

928,968,615

6.3

90,001 – 100,000

3,727,229,983

39,357

779,682,951

5.3

100,001 – 125,000

6,381,572,831

57,548

1,465,315,508

10.0

125,001 – 150,000

3,705,459,565

27,266

940,614,131

6.4

150,001 – 200,000

3,738,945,103

21,909

1,027,238,940

7.0

200,001 – 275,000

2,725,529,300

11,772

788,766,826

5.4

275,001 – 500,000

3,420,911,396

9,607

1,016,511,621

6.9

500,001 – 1,000,000

2,310,360,029

3,443

718,204,222

4.9

Over 1,000,000

2,988,215,458

1,230

1,012,661,008

6.9

Overall Totals

95,857,159,915

2,357,199

14,673,799,498

100.0

Provisional distribution of income earners for Income Tax Year 2008

Range of Gross Income

Gross Income

Number

Tax

of all Tax

%

0 – 10,000

1,821,117,560

390,075

95,453

0.0

10,001 – 20,000

5,647,605,342

374,540

23,180,911

0.1

20,001 – 30,000

9,732,796,943

390,365

327,938,866

2.1

30,001 – 40,000

11,394,848,884

327,559

767,960,473

4.9

40,001 – 50,000

10,879,703,845

243,457

1,154,254,505

7.4

50,001 – 60,000

9,331,342,849

170,535

1,293,292,911

8.3

60,001 – 70,000

8,010,727,431

123,694

1,252,167,103

8.0

70,001 – 80,000

6,562,914,342

87,855

1,124,094,329

7.2

80,001 – 90,000

5,278,734,950

62,328

995,950,643

6.4

90,001 – 100,000

4,209,654,353

44,444

850,896,316

5.5

100,001 – 125,000

7,209,063,374

64,982

1,607,950,484

10.3

125,001 – 150,000

4,286,008,435

31,502

1,060,379,649

6.8

150,001 – 200,000

4,286,037,028

25,109

1,156,236,989

7.4

200,001 – 275,000

3,061,534,079

13,229

871,752,729

5.6

275,001 – 500,000

3,823,035,259

10,733

1,119,588,869

7.2

500,001 – 1,000,000

2,643,212,633

3,946

810,486,061

5.2

Over 1,000,000

3,459,611,575

1,447

1,158,291,133

7.4

Overall Totals

101,637,948,882

2,365,800

15,574,517,424

100.0

Notes

It should be noted that the income ranges shown in the above tables relate to Gross Income as defined in Revenue Statistical Report, 2006.

A married couple who has elected or has deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

The figures are projected estimates and may be subject to further revision.

Departmental Staff.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

185 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the number of civil servants who took parental leave from employment in the period May to September 2008; the number of temporary staff employed to replace these persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38208/08]

The Parental Leave Act 1998, the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006 and the European Communities (Parental Leave) Regulations 2000 set out the statutory entitlement to Parental Leave. Under the terms of the Acts, an officer who is the natural or adoptive parent of a child shall be entitled to parental leave for a period of fourteen working weeks. The purpose of the leave is to enable a parent to take care of his/her child. The leave must be taken before the child attains the age of eight years or 16 years in the case of a child with a disability.

In the period from May to September 2008 a total of 25 staff of the Department of Finance took Parental Leave.

An officer may take the parental leave as follows:

(a) one continuous period of 14 weeks, or

(b) subject to the agreement of the Head of the Department concerned—

(i) one or more days on which, but for the leave, the officer would be working in the Department concerned

(ii) one or more hours during which but for the leave, the officer would be working in the Department concerned

(iii) any combination of periods referred to in subparagraphs (i) and (ii) above e.g. weekly blocks, monthly blocks etc.

Staff who are on Parental Leave are not replaced.

Departmental Schemes.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

186 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if electric bikes will be included in the cycle to work scheme that was announced in budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38255/08]

The cycle to work scheme will come into operation on 1 January 2009. Full details of the scheme will be provided in the Finance Bill which will be published on 20 November 2008.

Electric bicycles or any type of mechanically powered bicycles will not be eligible for the scheme.

Tax Collection.

John O'Mahony

Question:

187 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the amount of tax collected on motor fuels in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38276/08]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the amounts of tax revenue collected from Mineral Oil Tax and VAT on Petrol and Auto Diesel for the years 2003 to September 2008 inclusive are as follows:

Estimated Duty yield from Petrol and Auto Diesel

Mineral Oil Tax

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007 Provisional

2008 (End September) Provisional

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Petrol

853.8

970.7

1001.9

1026.4

1051.3

807.8

Auto-diesel

731.5

870.7

920.5

1016.7

1076.3

823.4

Total

1,585.3

1,841.5

1,922.4

2,043.1

2,127.6

1,631.2

Estimated VAT yield from Petrol and Auto Diesel

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008 (End September)

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Petrol

296

342

393

440

465

395

Auto-diesel

32

38

46

53

57

52

Total

329

380

439

493

522

447

Note: The VAT yield from Petrol and Auto Diesel is estimated, as the information to be furnished on VAT returns does not require the yield from particular sectors of trade to be identified. It should also be noted that the VAT content of purchases of Auto Diesel is a deductible credit for business in the Irish VAT system.

The figures provided for VAT receipts for 2008 are estimates of the amount of VAT yield that would be generated by the volume of clearances of oil products up to the end of September. Mineral Oil Tax is paid in the month of clearance of the product but, depending on the nature of the registration status of a trader, VAT returns can be made monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, half yearly or annually and this will dictate the point in time when VAT on sales will actually be paid.

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

188 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the role and responsibilities of each of his Ministers of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38288/08]

The Minister of State in my Department, Dr Martin Mansergh, has special responsibility for the Office of Public Works, whose core services in support of Government polices are project management, property management, property maintenance, architectural services, flood risk management and engineering services, heritage services and procurement services. It also delivers a facilities and building management service, an art management service and conference and event management services.

Its customers are Government, other Departments, Offices, Agencies and ultimately the public.

The Minister of State also takes on, on my behalf, responsibility for matters listed as follows. The formal exercise of Ministerial authority (e.g. signing of statutory instruments) remains with the Minister for Finance.

Offices attached to this Department under the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924:

State Laboratory

Valuation Office and Valuation Tribunal (but excluding appointments of members of Valuation Tribunal)

Commission for Public Service Appointments

Public Appointments Service.

Areas for which the Minister of Finance handles legislation, parliamentary questions and introduces the annual Estimates.

Legislation affecting the Oireachtas

Oireachtas Commission

Legislation affecting the Comptroller and Auditor General

Ombudsman

Freedom of Information

Ethics

Public Procurement Unit/Policy

EU Budget

Financial Services Matters

Minister of State will be required to assist Minister on the financial services area from time to time.

International Representation

All matters relating to IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, ERDB, EIB, Asia-Europe Ministerial meeting, Council of Europe Development Bank, including representing the Minister at meetings, if he is unable to attend.

Information Transfer.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

189 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners will make available information in relation to the income of individuals through use of PPS numbers to the Health Service Executive or the Department of Social and Family Affairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38403/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that as a general principle, they provide information to other government departments or agencies only where such provision is provided for by law.

The Revenue Commissioners provide the following information in relation to self-employed individuals to the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Gross Income

Income reckonable for PRSI

Amount of PRSI due

Percentage of PRSI paid.

In addition, Revenue also provides DSFA with details of gross income and PRSI paid, as returned on P35, in relation to PAYE taxpayers. This information is provided by Revenue in its role as collection agent of PRSI contributions, which determine the individuals' entitlement to benefits from DSFA. The Revenue Commissioners do not currently supply such information to the Health Service Executive and to the best of their knowledge the Health Service Executive has not requested such information.

With regard to the Department of Social and Family Affairs, Section 261(1) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, which was amended in 2007, provides for the transfer between Revenue and the Minister for Social and Family Affairs of certain information which is held by each body for the purposes of that Act or the Income Tax Acts. The provision of this information is fully compliant with Data Protection legislation.

Tax Code.

Seán Barrett

Question:

190 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if the proposed travel tax provisions of budget 2009 accords with case law of the European Court of Justice, which routinely condemns any member states’ measures that render the exercise of citizens’ rights less advantageous; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38420/08]

Seán Barrett

Question:

191 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if the proposed €10 travel tax is compatible with EU laws, in particular, Articles 39 and 49, which guarantee the rights of free movement of workers and freedom to receive services in another member state and Article 18, which accords EU citizens the right to move freely within the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38421/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 190 and 191 together.

In Budget 2009 I announced that an Air Travel Tax will come into force in respect of passengers departing from Irish airports on and from 30 March 2009.

I would draw to the Deputy's attention to the fact that Ireland is not unique in applying a tax to air travel. A number EU Member States already apply a similar tax, for example the UK, France and the Netherlands. In addition, the Belgium Government recently announced its intention to introduce an air travel tax.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

192 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the reason the decision to postpone the standard rating of tax relief on medical expenses for nursing home expenses to 2010 covers only care institutions which are registered nursing homes; the reason costs associated with patients in a private hospital (details supplied) in Dublin 9 can only claim 20% of tax relief on expenses incurred at the hospital from January 2009 in view of the fact that it is one of the few facilities on the northside of Dublin that can accommodate patients with Alzheimer’s. [38428/08]

The position is that, as indicated in budget 2009, health expenses relief will be granted at the standard rate of tax only from 1 January 2009, with the exception of nursing home expenses which will be standard rated from 1 January 2010.

In relation to the particular institution referred to by the Deputy, I am informed by the Department of Health and Children that this institution is a registered nursing home.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

193 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of the relief allowed under section 19 of the Finance Act, 1994 for each year to date in 2008; and the number of people who benefited from this relief for each of these years. [38429/08]

Section 19 of the Finance Act 1994 (now section 236 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997) exempts certain benefits provided to an employee from the benefit in kind charge under Section 118 and from the charge to tax in respect of distributions to participators under Section 436.

The benefit must consist of the loan to the individual of a work of art or a scientific collection beneficially owned by the company in which the individual is an employee or director, and which is available for viewing by the public.

The work of art or scientific collection must be on display and available for viewing by members of the public in a relevant building or relevant garden, as defined in section 482, to which reasonable access is afforded.

As regards the cost of the relief, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are aware that one taxpayer has applied for and benefited under Section 19 of Finance Act, 1994, since it was introduced and that in accordance with long standing confidentiality arrangements, it would not be appropriate to reveal particulars in relation to an individual taxpayer. The Commissioners have also advised me that under the benefit-in-kind arrangements in place since 1 January 2004 employers are not obliged to make returns in respect of exempt benefit-in-kind. There is therefore no way for them to know how many people have availed of the provision since that date.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

194 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 82 of 23 October 2008, if he will clarify the expenses which will be deductible in respect of the income levy as it applies to the self-employed; the extent of expenses allowed; if an upper limit will be applied; the guidelines that apply to such deductions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38490/08]

As outlined to the Deputy in Parliamentary Question No. 82 of 23 October, 2008, expenses directly associated with the performance of the trade i.e., in accordance with the normal principles of commercial accounting, will be deducted from a self-employed persons gross income prior to the calculation of the income levy.

No deduction will be allowed for capital allowances, personal pension contributions or losses carried forward from a previous period.

More detailed provisions, in relation to the collection, recovery, inspection of records, and other provisions required will be set out in the Finance Bill.

Departmental Funding.

Denis Naughten

Question:

195 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the budget within his Department and other Departments for youth affairs in 2008; the proposed budget for 2009; the impact this will have on the provision of front-line services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39186/08]

My Department and the offices under its aegis (listed as follows) do not directly fund youth work services.

Name of Office/Agency

The Department of Finance

Office of Public Works

Valuation Office

Office of Public Works

Comptroller & Auditor General

Commission for Public Service Appointments

State Laboratory

Public Appointments Service

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

Voluntary Sector Funding.

John Deasy

Question:

196 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if funding has been cut from an organisation (details supplied); the amount that has been cut: if she will restore funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38244/08]

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

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

197 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she has taken to address the need for speech and language therapy throughout north Kildare; the schools in most need of such support; the action taken or proposed to address this issue in the short, medium or long term; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38525/08]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

198 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied regarding the frequency of school medical examinations; if all children in respect of which health issues have been detected receive the necessary follow-up treatment within a reasonable time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38532/08]

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

Medical Cards.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

199 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22 on permanent medication had their long-standing medical card stopped and replaced with a general practitioner only card. [37842/08]

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

Health Service Staff.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

200 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive considers there to be a sufficient complement of social workers attached to a facility (details supplied) in Dublin 10 to serve the west Dublin area. [37843/08]

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 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.

Drugs Payment Scheme.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

201 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a claim for payment under the drug refund scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin has not been made; if such payments have been suspended pending the outcome of a court case; when this situation will be resolved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37845/08]

Following the reduction in pharmaceutical reimbursement prices on 1 March 2008, claims made by patients to Health Service Executive (HSE) local health offices were paid at the new lower reimbursement rate. I understand that payment of some claims was delayed because the pharmacy had charged the patient at the higher price, not the lower reimbursement price. Following a recent High Court judgment, reimbursement prices are being reinstated to the original level. Consequently, the HSE is now examining the issue of refund of payments to patients through local health offices. It is expected that this matter will be resolved shortly. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the specific case mentioned by the Deputy investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Vaccination Programme.

James Reilly

Question:

202 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the provision that has been made in the Estimates of expenditure for 2009 of her Department and of the Health Service Executive to provide for the HPV vaccination programme; the number of doses she estimates that will be administered; the timeframe for the programme commencement and completion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37854/08]

John Deasy

Question:

263 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to allow the vaccination against human papilloa virus which causes a precancerous condition, to be made available on the medical card in view of the fact that the State is preparing to vaccinate all teenage girls against this virus; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the cost of obtaining this vaccine is approximately €600 which puts it outside the reach of people on low incomes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38267/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 202 and 263 together.

The economic situation has rapidly and seriously deteriorated. Public resources, including for health, are very scarce indeed and will remain so. I have decided that the best that can be achieved in these circumstances is to prioritise funding for the development of the cervical screening programme and treatment services at the eight designated cancer centres, which includes the challenge of funding very expensive cancer drugs. I will not therefore be proceeding with the introduction of a HPV vaccination programme. The continuation and expansion of the Cancer Control Programme under Professor Tom Keane remains a priority and funding of €15 million has been made available for this.

At the moment we are rolling out the National Cervical Screening Programme, CervicalCheck. The Programme will provide free smear tests through primary care settings to the 1.1 million women living in Ireland aged between 25 and 60 years. A successful national programme has the potential to cut mortality rates from cervical cancer by up to 80%.

Medical Cards.

Joe Carey

Question:

203 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the procedures in place to avoid duplicate registrations of medical card holders and the removal of inactive medical card holders from the system; the data in relation to duplicate registrations and inactive participants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37873/08]

I am informed by the Health Service Executive that it has, within the Schemes Modernisation Programme, a Data Quality Sub Group which is responsible for the development of standards in relation to the Management of data quality at Local Level. I understand that under the auspices of this group there is ongoing monitoring and clean up exercises undertaken at both local and national level which is supported by the Primary Care Reimbursement Service. I am further informed by the Executive that protocols are in place nationally to provide a standardised approach to the reporting and removal of duplicate and inactive medical card/GP visit card client records.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Joe Carey

Question:

204 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the budget and actual cost of the GMS medical scheme for each of the years 2003 to 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37874/08]

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Brian Hayes

Question:

205 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of occupational therapists allocated to children with dyspraxia in area five; the waiting time for a child to receive OT in area five; the name of the person in charge of allocating OT for children in Dublin area five; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37877/08]

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 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.

Medical Cards.

James Reilly

Question:

206 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the means test assessment guidelines for the over 70s medical card (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37882/08]

James Reilly

Question:

207 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if illegal nursing home charges repaid by the State will be considered as income or savings under the revised over 70s medical card scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37883/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 207 together.

The Government recently announced the introduction of new income thresholds for entitlement to a medical card for those aged 70 and over of €700 (gross) per week for a single person and €1,400 (gross) per week for a couple with effect from 1st January 2009. In addition, it is proposed that:

Any savings up to €36,000 (single) / €72,000 (couple) will be disregarded and only interest from savings above these figures will be considered as income for means testing purposes.

Income will not be imputed from property (whether a family home, a holiday home or any other property) for means testing purposes, unless it is rented and only the net rental income will be included as income. The income to be assessed will be the gross income, less any cost necessarily incurred associated with the property and such cost may include insurance premia, loan/mortgage repayments, maintenance, etc.

Only dividend payments will be considered as income for means testing purposes in the context of shares and investments.

Where a person receives money as a gift, only the interest which such monies earn will be taken into account and not the capital.

It is intended to disregard income from prescribed repayments made under Section 8 of the Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006. The detailed arrangements to provide for this will be finalised shortly.

James Reilly

Question:

208 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost to administer the means test for the over 70s medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37884/08]

The Government recently announced, as part of its budget proposals, the withdrawal of automatic entitlement to the medical card from people aged 70 years and over and the introduction of new income thresholds for entitlement to a medical card for those aged 70 and over of €700 (gross) per week for a single person and €1,400 (gross) per week for a couple. Legislation, which will give effect to these changes, will be enacted before the end of 2008 and will come into effect on 1st January 2009.

The arrangements set out in the legislation will provide that persons aged 70 and over who automatically acquired their medical card on age grounds before 31st December 2008 will self-assess for medical card eligibility. In the case of persons reaching age 70 on or after 1 January 2009, the intention is that they would be required to apply formally for a medical card, to confirm in their application that their income is below the specified limits and to provide appropriate supporting evidence. The legislation will include appropriate provisions in relation to validating the initial self-assessments and the eligibility of those granted medical cards in future under the new arrangements. It is not possible at this time to estimate the cost of administering these arrangements but full regard will be had to the need to balance cost-effectiveness and probity in the use of public funds.

James Reilly

Question:

209 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the saver clause detailed in section 7 of the Health Service Executive medical visit card national assessment guidelines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37885/08]

Chapter 7 of the Health Service Executive's (HSE) Medical Card / GP Visit Card National Assessment Guidelines states the following:

"As a matter of policy, which can be altered at any time, and in the interest of fairness the following shall apply:

If a person who previously qualified for a Medical Card / GP Visit Card and on subsequent review finds that s/he is no longer eligible due to a policy change in relation to certain disregards of income and/or other policy changes, such Medical Cards / GP Visit Cards will be renewable for a once off period of 3 years from the date of renewal. The decision maker should notify the person at that stage that the card will be renewed for 3 years and thereafter the Saver Clause will no longer apply and s/he must be assessed under the guidelines applicable at the time".

I am advised by the HSE that the assessment guidelines were issued to promote consistency and fairness in deciding eligibility throughout the HSE. In that context an administrative decision was taken by the HSE to insert a ‘saver clause' to support the transitional implementation of the guidelines and the delivery of consistent decision making and a standardised appeals system. The HSE has advised that the Assessment Guidelines only refer to operational policies as set down by the HSE. The ‘saver clause' is not intended to deal with statutory changes to the scheme, as this is not within the competence of the HSE.

The HSE has also confirmed that when it inserted the "saver clause" in its assessment guidelines, it was not its intention that it would apply to non means tested medical cards, such as card holders aged 70 and over and EU cases, as the HSE would not have been reviewing the eligibility of this cohort of people.

James Reilly

Question:

210 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the estimated saving from the withdrawal of the over-70s medical card scheme, excluding savings anticipated from the single general practitioner capitation rate and potential savings from drugs costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37886/08]

James Reilly

Question:

211 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the estimated saving from the introduction of a single general practitioner capitation rate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37887/08]

Seán Barrett

Question:

272 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the savings that are expected to be realised by the removal of the automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons over 70 years; the way the figure of 5% of older people losing their cards was arrived at; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38422/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 210, 211 and 272 together.

Following the recent Government decision to withdraw automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons aged 70 and over and to raise the means assessment threshold for persons in that age cohort, it is estimated that approximately 5% (20,000) of the current medical card holders aged 70 and over will no longer qualify for a medical card. It is estimated that this will result in a saving of approximately €20 million in 2009, taking account of GP capitation fees, drug costs, superannuation costs, etc. The estimate of 5% of persons aged 70 and over, who will lose automatic entitlement to a medical card as a result of this measure, was based on the best available information from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the EU wide Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), which is conducted by the CSO to obtain information on the income and living conditions of different types of households.

In relation to the introduction of a single GP capitation rate, the Government appointed Mr. Eddie Sullivan to make recommendations on a new single annual capitation fee to be paid to general practitioners in respect of medical card holders aged 70 and over in the community. Mr. Sullivan recommended a single capitation fee of €290, which would come into effect, subject to the proposed legislative changes, from 1st January 2009. Mr. Sullivan's recommendations were accepted by Government last week. Mr. Sullivan estimated that this would generate savings of the order of €16 million in 2009.

The Government believe that there is potential for significant savings of at least €64 million in drug costs, without compromising on patient care. Accordingly, it has decided to establish a process under the chairmanship of Dr. Michael Barry, to develop recommendations for good practice which will secure safe and effective prescribing for patients, while maximising the potential for economy in the use of public funds. The initial report from Dr. Barry will be prepared by 1st December 2008. The Government is satisfied that there is significant potential for savings arising from this prescribing initiative.

Departmental Expenditure.

James Reilly

Question:

212 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the savings she estimates to make from drugs costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37888/08]

My Department and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have been reviewing the pharmaceutical supply chain, from manufacturers and wholesalers through to community pharmacists, with a view to seeking value for money in the State's drugs bill. New agreements with the propriety and generic manufacturers (Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association/Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in Ireland respectively), in place from September 2006, provide increased value for money for the State and the consumer through a reduction in the price of existing drugs and medicines coming off patent and through the use of a wider basket of countries for pricing new drugs.

Over the period of the agreements, which run to 2010, the HSE expects to achieve savings of the order of €250 million across the General Medical Services and community drugs schemes, and in the cost of drugs to hospitals, through two off-patent price cuts, totalling 35%, for drugs with substitutable alternatives. In addition to the savings quantified, there will be further savings as generic manufacturers respond to the lower price of branded drugs, through the use of a wider basket of 9 countries (previously 5) for pricing new medicines, and through two price reviews for new medicines over the term of the agreements.

The Government remains of the view that the cost of pharmacy services under the GMS and community drugs schemes is not sustainable and must be reduced to a more reasonable level. Expenditure on the medical card, drug payment and other demand-led schemes is approximately €2.6 billion and represents 18% of HSE current expenditure. The average annual increase in expenditure in recent years has been 13%. This rate of increase cannot be sustained. It has been decided to introduce a range of further measures in 2009 to slow the rate of increase in these schemes and generate savings of €175m. These measures include an increase in the threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme from €90 to €100 a month; new guidelines on the prescribing of nutritional supplements; and other measures to reduce drug costs. These savings required by the 2009 budgetary framework will be achieved through the ending of automatic entitlement to a medical card for those with incomes in excess of the new threshold and through economies in drug usage.

In this regard, I have decided to establish a process under the Chairmanship of Dr. Michael Barry, to develop recommendations for good practice which will secure safe and effective prescribing for patients while maximising the potential for economy in the use of public funds. The initial report from Dr. Barry will be prepared by 1st December. I am satisfied that there is significant scope for savings arising from this prescribing initiative. I will shortly be announcing the terms of reference for the group to be chaired by Dr Barry and I am hopeful that this group can achieve the necessary savings in accordance with the budgetary strategy.

Medical Cards.

James Reilly

Question:

213 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of the over-70s medical card scheme for each of the years since its introduction; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37889/08]

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

James Reilly

Question:

214 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people in receipt of an over-70s medical card per county for each of the years 2005 to 2007 and to date in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37890/08]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card benefit. It collates medical card data by county, age and gender. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

James Reilly

Question:

215 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of over-70 year olds she estimates will be considered ineligible for the medical card from 1 January 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37891/08]

The Government recently announced, as part of its budget proposals, the withdrawal of automatic entitlement to the medical card from people aged 70 years and over and the introduction of new income thresholds for entitlement to a medical card for those aged 70 and over of €700 (gross) per week for a single person and €1,400 (gross) per week for a couple. This will come into effect on 1st January 2009. Based on Central Statistics data and Health Service Executive data, I estimate that in the region of 20,000 people aged 70 and over, who currently hold a medical card, will not qualify for a card after 1st January 2009.

James Reilly

Question:

216 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will index-link medical card income guidelines to increases in the cost of living; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37892/08]

The Government recently announced, as part of its budget proposals, the withdrawal of automatic entitlement to the medical card from people aged 70 years and over and the introduction of new income thresholds for entitlement to a medical card for those aged 70 and over of €700 (gross) per week for a single person and €1,400 (gross) per week for a couple. This will come into effect on January 2009.

The income thresholds for the over 70s medical cards will be reviewed annually to take account of the cost of living increases over the lifetime of this Government.

The Department of Health and Children is currently reviewing all legislation relating to eligibility for health and personal social services with a view to making the system as fair and transparent as possible. As part of this exercise, a review of the assessment criteria for medical cards in the context of financial, medical and social need is being undertaken and is expected to be completed within the next few months. Any decision in relation to the income thresholds for under 70 medical card applicants will be considered upon completion of this review.

Nursing Home Subventions.

James Reilly

Question:

217 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people receiving subvention for nursing home care per county; the number of people receiving enhanced subvention per county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37896/08]

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

Health Services.

Michael Creed

Question:

218 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of treatment available for both primary and secondary lymphoedema; the locations where this treatment is available in the public health service; if she will ensure that combined decongestive therapy will be made available to all people diagnosed with this condition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37901/08]

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

Medical Cards.

Richard Bruton

Question:

219 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify the treatment of assets in assessing means for the medical card in the case of persons aged under 69 and in the case of persons aged 70 and over; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37924/08]

The Government recently announced the introduction of new income thresholds for entitlement to a medical card for those aged 70 and over to come into effect on 1 January 2009.

It is proposed, in the case of persons aged 70 and over, that income will not be imputed from property (whether a family home, a holiday home or any other property) for means testing purposes, unless it is rented and only the net rental income will be included as income. The income to be assessed will be the gross income, less any cost necessarily incurred associated with the property and such cost may include insurance premia, loan/mortgage repayments, maintenance, etc.

In relation to persons under 70 years of age, the following assessment currently applies: In respect of property (excluding the family home), where land/buildings are leased to another person, the income to be assessed will be the gross income, less any cost necessarily incurred associated with the property and such cost may include insurance premia, loan/mortgage repayments, maintenance, etc.

Where land/buildings, which are not being used but are capable of being leased or sold, the following assessment options can be used, with the more beneficial option applying to the applicant:

Notional assessment of the rental/lease "going rate" for the area.

Assessment of capital value as set out below.

The verified capital value of the property less any outstanding mortgage is assessed using the following formula:

The first €20,000 of property for a single person will be disregarded and €40,000 for a couple will be disregarded. The disregard figure only applies once where both savings and property are both being assessed.

The next €10,000 will be assessed at one (1) Euro per week per €1,000.

The next €10,000 will be assessed at two (2) Euro per week per €1,000.

Property in excess of the above will be assessed at four (4) Euro per week per €1,000.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

220 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the breakdown of the allocation of €15 million in budget 2009 for cancer services, including development of centres of excellence and cancer screening; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37936/08]

Additional funding of €15 million has been allocated to the Health Service Executive (HSE) National Cancer Control Programme for 2009. The breakdown of the allocation will be detailed in the HSE National Service Plan. This Plan is due to be submitted to me by 18 November.

During 2009 the Programme will continue with the centralisation of cancer services in the eight designated cancer centres. This will include further transfer of breast cancer services to the eight cancer centres. The Programme also intends to focus on a range of other service areas in 2009 including lung, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

221 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the time frame she envisages for the proposed merger of the National Cancer Screening Service with the Health Service Executive; the measures that will be taken to ensure that such a merger does not lead to bureaucratic delays in the progress of the work of cancer screening; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37937/08]

I am bringing proposals to Government on the preparation of a Bill to subsume the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) into the Health Service Executive. The NCSS already works closely with the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme and discussions will take place between my Department, the HSE and the NCSS to ensure the there is no disruption to services as a result of the merger. I expect that the NCSS will be integrated into the HSE before the end of 2009.

Hospital Services.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

222 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will increase the capacity of the neurosurgery department at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37941/08]

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

HIV Infection.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

223 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to remove the right to free medications for patients taking anti-retroviral medicines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37980/08]

I have no plans of the kind mentioned by the Deputy. Appropriate treatment, including anti-retroviral therapy, will continue to be made available free of charge for all those who test positive for HIV when such treatment is clinically indicated.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

224 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if an appointment under the National Treatment Purchase Fund will be expedited for a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37993/08]

The management of waiting lists generally is a matter for the Health Service Executive and the individual hospitals concerned. 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 case investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

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

Medical Cards.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

225 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if the eligibility criteria for non-Irish EU citizens differs to Irish citizens for medical card entitlements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37996/08]

Under the Health Act 1970, eligibility for health services in Ireland is primarily based on residency and means. Any person, regardless of nationality or citizenship, who is accepted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) as being ordinarily resident in Ireland is entitled to either full eligibility (Category 1, i.e. medical card holders) or limited eligibility (Category 2) for health services. At present, medical cards (full eligibility) are granted primarily on the basis of means and individual circumstances. The question of citizenship does not arise in determining eligibility under the Health Act 1970.

Entitlement to health care in Ireland may also arise under the provisions of Regulation (EC) 1408/71, which coordinates health and social security arrangements among EU member states (it also applies in the remaining EEA member states and Switzerland). Under these provisions, people who are insured with (covered by) the health care system of one EU member state are entitled to receive health care in the public system of another member state in certain circumstances, at the cost of the member state in which they are insured. Such persons may include people who are employed in one member state and resident in another and their dependants, pensioners of one member state who reside in another and their dependants and visitors to one member state from another. The provisions of Regulation (EC) 1408/71 supersede national eligibility provisions. Persons residing or staying in Ireland who are covered by these provisions are entitled free of charge to all medical treatment provided for by Irish legislation, where the cost of this treatment is payable by a member state other than Ireland; those residing here receive a medical card as evidence of their entitlement under the Regulation.

Child Care Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

226 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in the case of a child care group (details supplied) in County Tipperary who have applied for funding. [38122/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the National Child care Investment Programme 2006 -2010 (NCIP), which will invest €575 million over 5 years, with €358 million of this in capital grant aid for child care services.

I understand that the service in question applied for €1.2 million in capital funding under the NCIP, through it's local County Child care Committee (CCC). As the Deputy may be aware, capital grant applications under the NCIP are assessed, in the first instance, by the County Child care Committees and are prioritised on the basis of local child care need. In 2008, each Committee was given an indicative capital budget and was asked to prioritise applications on this basis. In some cases, including the project in question, additional applications in excess of the indicative budgets were prioritised on the basis that some additional scope for approvals might arise in 2008. However, as this is not the case, the application in question cannot be finally assessed at this point. I understand that a further round of capital applications is expected to be assessed in 2009 and the County Child care Committees may wish to re-prioritise this application at that time.

Health Services.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

227 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children if services are available from Wexford Health Service Executive whereby a child (details supplied) in County Wexford can avail of a carer to travel with them from their home to receive dialysis three times per week in Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38124/08]

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.

Medical Cards.

Finian McGrath

Question:

228 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [38129/08]

The Government recently announced, as part of its budget proposals, the withdrawal of automatic entitlement to the medical card from people aged 70 years and over and the introduction of new income thresholds for entitlement to a medical card for those aged 70 and over of €700 (gross) per week for a single person and €1,400 (gross) per week for a couple. When a person's means are in excess of the relevant income guidelines, the Health Service Executive may issue a medical card on a discretionary basis, having considered if the applicant would otherwise be caused undue hardship in providing general medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants.

As part of the means test, any savings up to €36,000 (single) / €72,000 (couple) will be disregarded and only interest from savings above these figures will be considered as income for means testing purposes. Income will not be imputed from property (whether a family home, a holiday home or any other property) for means testing purposes, unless it is rented and only the net rental income will be included as income. The income to be assessed will be the gross income, less any cost necessarily incurred associated with the property and such cost may include insurance premia, loan/mortgage repayments, maintenance etc. Only dividend payments will be considered as income for means testing purposes in the context of shares and investments.

The HSE will shortly write to all persons aged 70 and over. This letter will clarify the various issues that have arisen and will ask persons whose income is above €700 per week (gross) for a single person and €1,400 per week (gross) for a married couple to notify their circumstances to the HSE. Persons whose income is less than the aforementioned thresholds will not have to contact the HSE and will retain their medical card.

Health Services.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

229 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of the sexual assault treatment unit allocation in budget 2007 which was not spent; the amount of that underspend carried forward to the following year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38137/08]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

230 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of the sexual assault treatment unit allocation in budget 2008 which was not spent; the amount of that underspend which will be carried forward to 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38138/08]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

231 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of the allocation for frontline services for refuges and rape crisis centres allocated in budget 2007 which was not spent; the amount of that underspend carried forward to the following year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38139/08]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

232 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of the allocation of frontline services for refuges and rape crisis centres allocated in budget 2008 which was not spent; the amount of that underspend which will be carried forward to 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38140/08]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

233 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of sexual assault treatment units here which are completed; the number in operation; if these are all on a full time basis; the number which remain to be opened; when this will take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38141/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 to 233, inclusive, together.

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

Hospital Services.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

234 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the Health Service Executive will invest in a physiological observation and trigger system as recommended by the review team in their report into the death of persons (details supplied) at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda; when the hospital will have such a unit in place; and the reason for the delay in providing such a unit to date. [38159/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

235 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the Health Service Executive will provide adequate training and resources to ensure patient care is dictated by their needs; if it is policy to ensure such care will commence upon the recognition of patients estimated ICSI level of care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38160/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

236 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the maternity unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda will review its strategy for care of critically ill women. [38161/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

237 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the lead clinician will be clearly identifiable for the care of each patient in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda; when clear instructions and observation goals and appropriate responses will be given by lead clinicians to the case midwife or nurse and medical team; when it will be incumbent on the primary consultant and their team to ensure timely follow-up of all tests; and the way this will be audited. [38162/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

238 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children when guidelines will be put in place as policy for diagnosing and managing ruptured membranes in patients at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [38163/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

239 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children when it will become procedural for advice to be documented if patients are being allowed home or sent home with suspected or confirmed ruptured membranes at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [38164/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

240 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children when medical and midwifery staffing levels will become commensurate with the recommendations from Safer Children 2007 at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [38165/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

241 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps that have been taken by the Health Service Executive, since receiving the report of the review group into the death of persons (details supplied) at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, to streamline its process to ensure safe staffing levels at the hospital. [38166/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

242 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a programme of continual assessment of staffing levels, skill mix and workload will be put in place at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [38167/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

243 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive will adopt the international surviving sepsis campaign, particularly at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [38168/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

244 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps being taken to provide safe patient care in the anaesthesia department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [38169/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

245 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps that have been taken by the Health Service Executive, since receiving the report of the review group at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, to develop a consistent and professional methodology for investigating and managing serious adverse events. [38170/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

246 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is a review underway of workload distribution in the obstetric department at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [38171/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

247 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps that have been taken by the Health Service Executive at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, since receiving the report of the review group, to ensure protected time is given to consultants, midwives and nursing managers for administrative duties at the hospital. [38172/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

248 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive will recruit and put in place administrative and clerical support for clinicians in management roles at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [38173/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

249 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps that have been taken at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, since receiving the report of the review group, to ensure the assistance of a clinical haematologist is sought at an early stage when dealing with coagulopathies at the hospital. [38174/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

250 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the ward round is recognised by the Health Service Executive as the primary mechanism for direct multi-disciplinary communication; and when a midwife will become involved in the ward round at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [38175/08]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

251 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she or officials in her Department were presented with the report into the death of persons (details supplied) at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda; and if so, the date in each case when they were presented. [38176/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 234 to 251, inclusive, together.

The Deputy's questions appear to relate to a review carried out by the Health Service Executive (HSE) into the circumstances pertaining to the deaths of persons at our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda and the resulting recommendations of the relevant Review Group. Neither I nor officials in my Department have received a copy of the full report. However, an executive summary of the Report and recommendations was published by the HSE on its website. I wish to again extend my sympathy to the family of the deceased on their sad loss.

My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the specific issues relating to the recommendations of the Review investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Cancer Review.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

252 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on cancer misdiagnosis in the north east. [38177/08]

The Health Service Executive today published the Report of the Review of Chest X-Rays and CT Scans reported by a locum consultant radiologist at Louth Meath Hospitals from August 2006 to August 2007. The Review commenced in May 2008. It examined 5,835 Chest X-Rays and 67 CT Scans from 4,936 patients. 11 Skeletal scans and 23 barium studies were added to the review in September.

The Review found that nine patients in Drogheda and Navan hospitals had their diagnosis of lung cancer delayed as a result of radiological missed diagnosis. Eight of these patients are deceased. I wish to extend my sympathies to the families of these patients.

The 9 patients had been identified and diagnosed prior to March 2008. The review did not therefore find any other delayed diagnosis of lung cancers.

Health Services.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

253 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the evaluation report into the Rape Crisis and Serious Sex Assault Centre, Dundalk will be published; and when it is expected the report will be complete. [38178/08]

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.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

254 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children the overall cost of the Teamworks Report and the Report of the Health Partnership Group. [38179/08]

The Reports referred to by the Deputy were commissioned by the Health Service Executive. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Child Care Services.

Joe Carey

Question:

255 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application by a organisation (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38180/08]

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, with €358 million of this in capital grant aid for childcare services.

I understand that the service in question applied for €100,000 in capital funding under the NCIP, through its local County Childcare Committee (CCC). As the Deputy may be aware, capital grant applications under the NCIP are assessed, in the first instance, by the County Childcare Committees and are prioritised on the basis of local childcare need. In 2008, each Committee was given an indicative capital budget and was asked to prioritise applications on this basis. In some cases, including the project in question, additional applications in excess of the indicative budgets were prioritised on the basis that some additional scope for approvals might arise in 2008. However, as this is not the case, the application in question cannot be finally assessed at this point. I understand that a further round of capital applications is expected to be assessed in 2009 and the County Childcare Committees may wish to re-prioritise this application at that time.

Health Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

256 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if suitable long-stay care accommodation will be identified for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [38181/08]

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. 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.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

257 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary will receive treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38187/08]

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.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

258 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is no orthodontist in Dungarvan, County Waterford since January 2008; when it is expected a replacement will be in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38193/08]

The Deputy's question refers 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.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Michael McGrath

Question:

259 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of women who have availed of the BreastCheck service in Cork city since screening commenced in the southern unit in December 2007 to date in 2008; and the locations which will be targeted in the months ahead. [38199/08]

The Deputy's specific question in relation to BreastCheck in Cork City is the responsibility of the National Cancer Screening Service. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Chief Executive Officer of the Service to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the matter raised.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

260 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when urgent home support will be reinstated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38246/08]

The Deputy raised a question regarding the same case on 24 September 2008. At that time I advised that the matter had been referred to the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy, as the question related to the management and delivery of health and personal services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004.

I understand that the HSE replied to the Deputy on 29th September last. However, I have requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to provide a further update directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

261 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the breakdown of her spending on homelessness for 2007, 2008 and the expected spending for 2009. [38260/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

262 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the breakdown of the Health Service Executive’s spending on homelessness for 2007, 2008 and the expected spending for 2009. [38261/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 261 and 262 together.

My Department does not directly fund homelessness services. The provision of capital funding for accommodation for homeless adults and of revenue funding for associated non-care staff is a matter for the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the local authorities. The provision of revenue funding for in-house care staff in homeless shelters and for outreach health services to homeless adults is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy with regard to those aspects of the Questions that are relevant to its remit.

Question No. 263 answered with Question No. 202.

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

264 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the role and responsibilities of each of her Ministers of State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38290/08]

Minister of State, Mr Barry Andrews has Special Responsibility for Children and Youth Affairs with delegated functions under the Adoption Acts 1952 to 1998; the Children Acts 1908 to 1989; the Child Care Acts 1991 to 2007; the Protections for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 (No. 49 of 1998); the Children Acts 2001 to 2007; and the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 (No. 22 of 2002).

Minister of State, Ms Máire Hoctor has Special Responsibility for Older People with delegated functions under sections 6, 7 and 10 of the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990 (No. 23 of 1990). Minister of State, Mr John Moloney has Special Responsibility for Equality, Disability Issues and Mental Health with delegated functions under section 4 of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2001 (No. 14 of 2001); the Mental Health Act 2001 (No. 25 of 2001); and Part 2 and section 32 of the Disability Act 2005 (No. 14 of 2005). Minister of State, Ms Mary Wallace has Special Responsibility for Health Promotion and Food Safety with delegated functions under sections 20 and 51 of the Food Safety Authority Ireland 1998 (No. 29 of 1998); the Food Standards Act 1974 (No. 11 of 1974); the Milk and Dairies Act 1935 to 1988; part V of the Health Act 1947 (No. 28 of 1947) and section 5 of that Act insofar as it relates to the said Part V; the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 2006; section 71 of the Health Act 1970 (No. 1 of 1970); the Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion)Act 1978 The Tobacco (Health Promotion and Protection) Act 1988; the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts 2002; and the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act 2004.

Health Services.

Joe McHugh

Question:

265 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal whose parents are unemployed has been on the waiting list for orthodontic treatment for the past four and half years; when this person will receive treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38308/08]

The Deputy's question refers 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.

Special Educational Needs.

Joe McHugh

Question:

266 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if children with Kabuki syndrome deserve preschool education like every other child; if children with Kabuki syndrome require special needs assistance at preschool; and if she will fund greater hours of special needs assistance for children with Kabuki syndrome in view of these facts. [38309/08]

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.

Departmental Expenditure.

Michael Ring

Question:

267 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money spent in an area of the Health Service Executive (details supplied) for each the past two years. [38327/08]

The management and delivery of health and personal social services, including related budgetary issues, are the responsibility of 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.

Health Repayment Scheme.

James Bannon

Question:

268 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford was refused payment under the health repayment scheme on the grounds that the claim was being made in respect of a patient in private long-term residential care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38331/08]

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

Medical Cards.

Michael Ring

Question:

269 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the annual payment made to a general practitioner for treatment of a patient who has a medical card; if the payment is different in cases in which patients had a medical card prior to reaching 70 years of age. [38333/08]

Doctors holding contracts under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme with the Health Service Executive (HSE) are remunerated on the basis of the composition of their patient panel and the annual capitation rates payable reflect the age, gender and location of the patient. A detailed list of the current capitation rates payable is set out in tabular form as follows:

Age

Up to 3 Miles

3-5 Miles

5-7 Miles

7-10 Miles

Over 10 Miles

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

up to 4 years

83.53

81.57

87.76

85.83

94.01

92.11

100.19

98.30

107.85

105.94

5-15

50.12

50.64

51.87

52.39

54.45

55.03

56.95

57.49

60.09

60.58

16-44

62.89

100.38

65.17

102.6

68.54

106.00

71.84

108.76

75.89

113.38

45-64

121.74

133.38

127.20

138.85

135.26

146.89

143.20

154.87

153.09

164.70

65-69

128.04

142.39

143.22

157.59

165.77

180.12

187.89

202.26

215.42

229.81

70 and over

139.59

154.38

155.22

170.06

178.52

193.33

201.37

216.20

229.79

244.64

A capitation rate of €640 per annum is currently paid to GPs for the provision of service under the GMS contract for each person who qualifies for a medical card for the first time, on the basis of being aged 70 years and over in the community. In respect of persons aged 70 years and over in the community who had at some time previously held a medical card, the GP is paid the aged 70 and over rate in the table appropriate to the person's gender and distance from the GP's surgery.

In respect of medical card holders, aged 70 years and over, who are resident in a private nursing home (approved by the HSE) for any continuous period of five weeks, the GP is currently paid a capitation rate of €927 per annum per card holder, irrespective of whether the person held a medical card prior to them reaching the age of 70, or not.

Following the recent budget decision to withdraw automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons aged 70 and over and to raise the means assessment threshold for persons in that age cohort, the Government appointed Mr. Eddie Sullivan to make recommendations on a new single annual capitation fee to be paid to general practitioners in respect of medical card holders aged 70 and over in the community, which would come into effect on 1st January 2009. Mr. Sullivan recommended a single capitation fee of €290. Mr. Sullivan's recommendations were accepted by Government last week.

Michael Ring

Question:

270 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical cards issued to over 70 year olds in each county per year in each of the past 10 years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38334/08]

Michael Ring

Question:

271 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical card holders in County Mayo each year for the past ten years. [38335/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 and 271 together.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card benefit. It collates medical card data by county, age and gender. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 272 answered with Question No. 210.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

273 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the terms of the fair deal scheme cover only care institutions which are registered nursing homes; the reasons a private hospital, (details supplied) in Dublin 9 has been excluded from the scheme in view of that fact that it is one of the few facilities on the northside of Dublin that can accommodate patients with Alzheimer’s. [38427/08]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, A Fair Deal, is intended to replace both the existing Nursing Home Subvention Scheme, which applies to private nursing homes, and the system of charging in public and voluntary nursing homes. The new scheme will apply to public and voluntary nursing homes and to approved private nursing homes. In order to become approved for the purposes of the scheme, a private nursing home must be registered under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990 at present and, in the future, under the Health Act 2007 (once the relevant sections are commenced; have agreed a price for the purposes of the scheme with the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF)); hold a valid tax clearance certificate.

The Nursing Home Subvention Scheme does not apply to private hospitals unless they are also registered as private nursing homes. The same will be the case for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. It does not specifically exclude private hospitals from the scheme, rather it sets out the criteria a facility must meet in order to be included.

Therefore, with regard to the specific hospital mentioned by the Deputy, this hospital will qualify for the scheme only if it is a registered private nursing home and meets the conditions for approval as set out above.

Hospital Services.

Simon Coveney

Question:

274 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm the number of pregnant women using the facility in Cork University Maternity Hospital to give birth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38431/08]

Simon Coveney

Question:

275 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that the new Cork University Maternity Hospital is able to cope with the demand; if there is a likelihood that women may have to give birth on trolleys; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38432/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 274 and 275 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.

Simon Coveney

Question:

276 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is currently a waiting list for chemotherapy treatment at Cork University Hospital and the South Infirmary Hospital Cork; if so, the number of people on that list; the length of the waiting time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38433/08]

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

Richard Bruton

Question:

277 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of acute hospital beds currently unavailable in Dublin hospitals due to cost cutting measures, refurbishment, dealing with infection control and occupied by patients who should be in hospice care. [38436/08]

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 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.

Road Safety.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

278 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Transport the legal position in relation to people driving cars with blackened out driver and passenger side windows; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38195/08]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No 477 of 2006) vehicle standards are a matter for the Road Safety Authority.

Enforcement of the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963, is a matter for the Garda Síochána.

Public Transport.

Michael Ring

Question:

279 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Transport if a review has taken place in relation to bus licences over the past number of years; if changes or a decision have been made in this regard; the situation regarding bus licences; if there are restrictions on bus licences; and if it is an open market. [37861/08]

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

It is open to any operator to submit proposals to my Department concerning the provision of bus services and my Department will consider any such proposal received. Guidelines for applicants are available from my Department at www.transport.ie. While there are no statutory quantitative restrictions imposed on the availability of licences, all applications are considered within the framework of the 1932 Act and the guidelines deal with such matters as eligibility and the legislative provisions affecting the grant or refusal of a licence.

In general my Department now turns around straightforward applications within a matter of weeks. However, where there are prior applications for licences from other private operators or notifications from State Companies a decision on applications must be deferred until such time as the prior application has been decided.

While there have been improvements to the administration of the licensing system, I have consistently stated that the 1932 Act is in need of review and legislation is being prepared in this regard as a matter of priority. It is my intention that proposals for a new bus licensing regime will be contained in a Public Transport Regulation Bill which will deal with the replacement of the Road Transport Act 1932 and the provisions of the Transport Act 1958 that relate to the provision of bus services by the State Bus Companies. I envisage that the new licensing structure will apply in respect of all commercial bus services, including those provided by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. The new Bill will also encompass provisions relating to the subvented bus market outside the Greater Dublin Area.

Michael Ring

Question:

280 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide a complete breakdown of the subsidy which was given to Dublin Bus and to Bus Éireann for the past five years with details of any other subsidy for public transport. [37862/08]

The Exchequer subvention provided to the CIÉ companies to support socially necessary but commercially non-viable public transport services and to fund the interest charges on the borrowings for DART over the past five years is as follows:

Year

Bus Éireann

Bus Átha Cliath

Iarnród Éireann

€m

€m

€m

2004

23,998

61,810

171,421

2005

25,199

64,900

179,991

2006

26,459

69,845

188,716

2007

36,595

80,078

189,910

2008

36,846

80,629

191,152

Funding for services provided under the Rural Transport Programme over the past five years is as follows:

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

€3.0m

€4.5m

€5.1m

€9.0m

€11.0m

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

281 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the person who is conducting the Dublin Bus efficiency review; the criteria being used to judge efficiency; the terms of reference for the study; the input from international experts or from the private sector; the future investment decisions being delayed until the study is complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38135/08]

The cost and efficiency review of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann is being carried out by an international consortium of Deloitte, Buchanan and TAS Partnership which has international experience of bus market operation. The terms of reference for the consultancy are as follows: To assess whether the resources (buses, people and funding) currently available to the companies are used in the most effective and efficient way possible to deliver an optimum public transport service and more particularly to:

Assess the effectiveness and appropriateness of the network of services currently provided by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann for public transport users and of their planning and management of the network including the criteria used for route selection and amendment, frequency setting and adjustment, service variations during weekday/ weekend, extent of peak/off peak provision, integration with other public transport services etc.

Assess the operational efficiency of Dublin Bus & Bus Éireann with particular reference to resource utilisation (including bus scheduling and staff scheduling and rostering) and operational costs. This should include an examination of the utilisation of buses to determine whether the fleet is deployed in the most efficient and effective manner. The assessment should also examine the management of direct costs and overheads and of the issues (e.g. human resource, organisational etc), which might impact on the delivery of services to public transport users.

Identify any issues (e.g. human resource, organisational) adversely impacting on the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of service delivery, indicating whether these issues are within management control.

Make recommendations in relation to actions required to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of the delivery of public transport services. Each recommendation to be assessed in relation to its implications for the financial viability of the companies and the impact on the need for Exchequer support.

While future investment decisions have not been delayed, the funding of further new buses will be considered in the light of the outcome of this review and the available funding. I expect the reviews to be completed in the coming weeks.

Parking Regulations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

282 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which parking spaces are available at all rail stations throughout County Kildare and the greater Dublin area generally; the extent to which this meets the requirements of daily commuters; his proposals to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38250/08]

The provision and operation of car park facilities at railway stations is a matter for Iarnród Éireann. I understand that Iarnród Éireann has already provided information in July 2008 to the Deputy regarding existing and proposed car parking capacity at railway stations in Co. Kildare. Iarnród Éireann have been asked to compile the information sought in respect of the Greater Dublin Area.

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

283 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Transport the role and responsibilities of each of his Ministers of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38294/08]

The Transport (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) (Road Traffic) Order 2008 (S.I. No. 320 of 2008) and the Transport (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) (Maritime) Order 2008, (S.I. No. 319 of 2008) have conferred the following responsibilities to Minister of State Noel Ahern T.D.

Road Safety:

The Road Traffic Acts 1961 to 2007 (other than functions of the Minister for Transport conferred on the Road Safety Authority under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006)), and

The Local Authorities (Traffic Wardens) Act 1975 (No. 14 of 1975).

Maritime

Enactments

Free Ports Act 1986 (No. 6 of 1986)

Harbours Acts 1946 to 2005

Harbours Acts 1996 to 2005 (other than section 86 of the Harbours Act 1996 (No. 11 of 1996))

Irish Shipping Limited (Payments to Former Employees) Act 1994 (No. 10 of 1994)

Lough Corrib Navigation Act 1945 (No. 37 of 1945)

Maritime Safety Acts 1992 to 2005 (other than section 46 of the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000 (No. 14 of 2000) and Part 2 of the Maritime Safety Act 2005 (No. 11 of 2005) in respect of a fishery harbour centre)

Mercantile Marine Acts 1955 to 1983

Merchant Shipping Acts 1894 to 2005

Oil Pollution of the Sea (Civil Liability and Compensation) Acts 1988 to 2005

Sea Pollution Acts 1991 to 2006

Sea Pollution (Hazardous Substances) (Compensation) Act 2005 (No. 9 of 2005)

Shipping Investment Grants Act 1987 (No. 21 of 1987).

Provisions of Enactments

Section 12(1) of the Consular Conventions Act 1954 (No. 10 of 1954)

Section 4A (inserted by section 30 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1999 (No. 35 of 1999)) of the Marine Institute Act 1991

Section 35(1)(a) and (b) of the Disability Act 2005 (No. 14 of 2005) and, in so far as it relates to maritime transport, safety and security, paragraph (c) of that subsection.

Regulations

European Communities (Transport Auxiliaries) Regulations 1988 (S.I. No. 18 of 1988)

European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1997 (S.I. No. 94 of 1997)

European Communities (Minimum Safety and Health Requirements for Improved

Medical Treatment on Board Vessels) Regulations 1997 (S.I. No. 506 of 1997)

European Communities (Recreational Craft) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 40 of 1998)

European Communities Merchant Shipping (Port State Control) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 145 of 1998)

European Communities (Registration of Persons Sailing on board Passenger Ships) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 558 of 1998)

European Communities (A system of Mandatory Surveys for the Safe Operation of Regular Ro-Ro Ferry and High-Speed Passenger Craft Services) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 405 of 2001)

European Communities (Safety of Fishing Vessels) Regulations 2002 (S.I. No. 417 of 2002) European Communities (Marine Equipment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 38 of 2003)

European Communities (Port Reception Facilities for Ship-Generated Waste and Cargo Residues) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 117 of 2003)

European Communities (Ship Inspection and Survey Organisations) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 301 of 2003)

European Communities (Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 347 of 2003)

European Communities (Merchant Shipping) (Organisation of Working Time) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 532 of 2003)

European Communities (Workers on Board Sea-going Fishing Vessels) (Organisation of Working Time) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 709 of 2003)

European Communities (Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information System) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 81 of 2004)

European Communities (Ship and Port Facilities) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 413 of 2004)

European Communities (Passenger Ships) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 716 of 2004)

European Communities (Port Security) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 284 of 2007)

European Communities (Maritime) (International Safety Management Code) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 60 of 2008).

School Transport.

Joe McHugh

Question:

284 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport if the Government will replace the withdrawn fuel rebate on service and school transport runs; if he will replace the Inishowen service (details supplied) in County Donegal that is due to cease as a result of the withdrawal of this rebate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38315/08]

As already stated in my answer to question numbers 28 and 33 on 1st October last, the Finance Act 2008 provides for the removal of excise duty reliefs in the bus sector with effect from 1 November 2008. Since this is in line with our EU obligations, there is no power to restore this scheme. My Department has not been advised by the operator concerned of any withdrawal of service.

The position in regard to school transport is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Education and Science.

Taxi Regulations.

Richard Bruton

Question:

285 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if it is within the power of the Taxi Regulator or of the State to impose a numerical cap on the number of taxi drivers operating in a particular district; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38316/08]

Under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003, the Commission for Taxi Regulation is now the independent public body responsible for the development and maintenance of the regulatory framework for the control and operation, including licensing, of taxis, hackneys, limousines and their drivers.

A High Court judgment in October 2000 led to taxi liberalisation and created the legal position that a limitation of taxi licences in the interests of existing licence holders could not be sustained.

Regulations made in November 2000 responded to the new legal situation established by reference to the decision of the High Court. Subsequently, the Taxi Regulation Act 2003, which provides the legislative basis for the licensing and operation of small public service vehicles generally, does not provide a basis for the application of quantitative controls on the issue of licences for any such vehicles. The Commission for Taxi Regulation does not, therefore, have any remit or statutory power under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003 in relation to the control of the number of licences issued. The Deputy may wish to note that, since September 2006, there is one single national taximeter area for the entire country.

Marine Casualty Investigation Board.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

286 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the number of legislative or regulatory recommendations that have been made by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board since its establishment; the number of these recommendations that have been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38425/08]

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) was established on 5 June 2002. Since its establishment, the MCIB has published over 100 reports containing in excess of 400 recommendations.

The majority of these recommendations have been implemented. Where measures have yet to be implemented they provide a valuable input into the ongoing development of the maritime safety agenda and are considered by my Department in the overall context of delivering maritime safety.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

287 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the way he considers and assesses reports by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board; if he gives reasons for not following the recommendations of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board; if not, his views on a more transparent assessment by Government of the recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38426/08]

When the Marine Casualty Board (MCIB) publishes a report into an incident it forwards a copy of it to my Department.

As soon as possible after receiving it, my Department undertakes an initial assessment of the recommendations of the report relevant to the Department. The report is then submitted to me with the preliminary views of my Department on the relevant recommendations.

Some recommendations lend themselves to early implementation, for example the issue of a Marine Notice bringing particular information or advice to the attention of a specific sector or sectors. Frequently, however, recommendations are more complex and require detailed assessment, consultation with interested parties and in some instances the introduction of new or amending legislation. In such instances the recommendations will be fully considered and proposals developed as appropriate as part of my Department's ongoing work programme, in the overall context of delivering improved maritime safety.

It may be the case that following consideration of a particular recommendation that it is concluded that the course of action recommended may not be feasible or the most appropriate and that an alternative approach may be preferable. Such a conclusion would usually be arrived at following detailed examination by my Department's marine safety experts and consultation with relevant interests.

I consider that the current system of assessing MCIB recommendations is working well but it will be kept under review.

Citizenship Applications.

Joe McHugh

Question:

288 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the naturalisation application process for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; if there are areas of the application that are causing it to be delayed; if it is possible to expedite the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38307/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship section of my Department in June 2007.

Officials in that section inform me that processing of the application has commenced and the file will be forwarded to me for a decision in the near future.

Garda Stations.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

289 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has plans to review the catchment area of a Garda station (details supplied) in Dublin 20, in the west division of the Dublin metropolitan region. [37844/08]

In accordance with the provisions of the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007 proposals, inter alia, to alter the boundaries of a divisional geographical area are a matter in the first instance for the Garda Commissioner in the context of the Annual Policing Plan. The 2008 Policing Plan, which was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, contains extensive proposals to realign Garda Divisional boundaries and Regions in a number of areas around the country to make them coterminous with the functional boundaries of local authorities. It also provides for an examination of Garda Divisions and Districts within the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR).

Because of the scale of the changes currently being implemented outside of the DMR, it is expected that the examination of Divisions and Districts within the DMR will be completed next year.

Garda Deployment.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

290 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí assigned to patrol the Dublin Port tunnel; if they have specific training to deal with tunnel emergencies; the number of Garda vehicles that were agreed to have special equipment for use in case of tunnel emergencies; the operational status of such vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37852/08]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that all members of the DMR Traffic Corps; DMR North Central; and DMR North Divisions undergo a specific two day training programme provided by Dublin Port Tunnel personnel which include modules relating to familiarisation with the Dublin Port Tunnel — geography, construction, emergency provisions, Garda procedures, communications etc.; Standard Operating Procedures in place for the Port Tunnel; instruction on the Garda Síochána Risk Assessment for the Dublin Port Tunnel; and relevant legislation for enforcement by members of An Garda Síochána on duty in the Port Tunnel.

An Operational Order has been put in place by local Garda Management for policing the Dublin Port Tunnel, which requires two marked divisional patrol vehicles to be allocated for this duty on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week, supplemented, as required, by one of the DMR Traffic Corps vehicles on motorway duty. These vehicles are equipped with specialist breathing equipment, as are two other DMR Traffic Corps vehicles which are available at all times to be diverted to any incident occurring in the Port Tunnel, if required.

Speed Cameras.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

291 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his Department or the gardaí have received representations from the National Roads Authority for the installation of speed cameras in the Dublin Port tunnel; if speed cameras are planned for the Dublin Port tunnel; the reasons that would prevent the immediate installation of a speed camera in the Dublin Port tunnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37853/08]

My Department has received no representations from the National Roads Authority regarding the installation of speed cameras in the Dublin Port Tunnel.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that they have been consulted by the National Roads Authority, which is under the aegis of the Department of Transport, concerning a proposal to introduce speed cameras in the Dublin Port Tunnel in the context of the possible submission of a proposal to Government, which would make the final decision in this matter.

I am further informed that, should the proposal be successful, breaches of the speed limit would be dealt with by way of the issue of fixed charge notices.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

292 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if permission to remain in the State on humanitarian grounds will be offered to persons (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37926/08]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 808 of Wednesday 24 September 2008 and the written Reply to that Question.

The persons concerned are a husband and wife and their three children.

The first named person concerned entered the State with one of his daughters and claimed asylum in the State on 29 December 2004. They were refused asylum, following the consideration of their claims by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the first named person concerned was informed, by letter dated 12 September 2005, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of him and his daughter. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of Deportation Orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he and his daughter should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations were submitted on their behalf at that time.

Following consideration of their case under Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, the Minister signed Deportation Orders in respect of the first named person concerned and his daughter on 22 March 2006. These Deportation Orders were formally served by letter dated 24 March 2006.

On the 10 May 2006, an application was made on behalf of the daughter of the first named person concerned requesting that she be re-admitted to the asylum process in accordance with the provisions of Section 17 (7) of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended). Following consideration of this application, the application was refused and this decision was conveyed by letter dated 4 September 2006. The first named person concerned and his aforementioned daughter remain the subjects of Deportation Orders.

The second named person concerned claimed asylum in the State on 23 December 2004. Her application was refused following the consideration of her claim by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the second named person concerned was informed, by letter dated 20 May 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The second named person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and, following consideration of this application, it was determined that she was not eligible for Subsidiary Protection in the State. She was notified of this decision by letter dated 30 October 2008.

The case file of the second named person concerned, including all representations submitted, will now be considered under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this consideration has been completed, the case file of the second named person concerned is passed to me for decision.

The couple's other two children have lodged separate asylum applications. It is not the practice to comment in detail on individual asylum applications where a final decision has not been made.

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

A final decision on each application is made following receipt of the recommendation of the Refugee Applications Commissioner or the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, as appropriate.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

293 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for leave to remain in the State on humanitarian grounds in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37928/08]

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

The person concerned initiated Judicial Review Proceedings against the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, challenging the decision of the Tribunal in his case. These Proceedings were ‘settled' resulting in the person concerned being afforded a fresh hearing before the Tribunal. This fresh Hearing took place but again the Refugee Appeals Tribunal concluded that the person concerned did not meet the criteria for recognition as a refugee.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 28 October 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The case of the person concerned will be considered further upon receipt of a response to my Department's letter dated 28 October 2008.

Garda Deployment.

Finian McGrath

Question:

294 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [37933/08]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the location referred to is in Clontarf Garda Sub-District and is patrolled by foot and mobile patrols from that Garda station.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that local Garda management is aware of difficulties being experienced by residents in the area concerned caused by public disorder and anti-social behaviour. The Community Garda for the area has attended several meetings with local residents from the area, the most recent being on 28 October. The issues raised by the residents are receiving ongoing Garda attention, and the number of public disorder and anti-social incidents recorded in recent weeks has decreased, following the issue of fixed charge penalty notices to persons involved in such incidents.

The area concerned is regularly patrolled by uniform and plain-clothes units, including the Community Policing Unit. Patrols are supplemented by the District Garda Mountain Bike Unit and Detective and Drugs Units, the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel.

Current policing plans in the area are designed to address issues of crime and public order offences. Community policing is a central feature and core value of Garda policing policy. Current policing strategies are predicated on the prevention of crime, public order offences and anti-social behaviour. This will ensure an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life for residents in the community. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of a policing service to the area in question. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 28 October 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The case of the person concerned will be considered further upon receipt of a response to my Department's letter dated 28 October 2008.

Garda Strength.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

295 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí stationed at Coolock, Raheny, Howth, Santry and Clontarf for the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and to date in 2008 by rank; the number of community gardaí, juvenile liaison officers and crime prevention officers attached to these stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37939/08]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of Coolock, Raheny, Santry, Clontarf and Howth Garda Stations on 31 December 2005 to 2007 and on 30 September 2008, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was as set out in the table hereunder. It should be noted that a breakdown by rank is not readily available for 31st December 2005.

31 December, 2005

Station

Total

Coolock

88

Raheny

59

Howth

49

Santry

119

Clontarf

63

31 December, 2006

Station

C/ Supt

Supt

Insp

Sergeant

Garda

Total

Coolock

4

11

83

98

Raheny

1

3

8

57

69

Howth

1

6

35

42

Santry

1

2

4

22

101

130

Clontarf

1

9

61

71

31 December, 2007

Station

C/ Supt

Supt

Insp

Sergeant

Garda

Total

Coolock

1

5

13

98

117

Raheny

1

2

7

58

68

Howth

1

7

34

42

Santry

1

2

4

23

91

121

Clontarf

1

9

61

71

30 September, 2008

Station

C/ Supt

Supt

Insp

Sergeant

Garda

Total

Coolock

1

6

15

95

117

Raheny

1

3

6

63

73

Howth

1

6

34

41

Santry

3

10

69

82*

Clontarf

1

11

61

73

*Resources were moved from Santry Station to Ballymun with the opening of the new Ballymun Station.

Juvenile Liaison Officers are assigned by Garda Division. Coolock, Raheny, Howth, Santry and Clontarf Garda Stations all form part of the Dublin Metropolitan Region North. The personnel strength of the Juvenile Liaison Officers assigned to this Division on 30 September 2008 was 11.

The number of Community Gardaí attached to each of these stations on 31 December 2005-2007 and on 30 September 2008, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was as set out in the following table:

Station

31/12/05

31/12/06

31/12/07

30/09/08

Coolock

7

9

13

11

Raheny

4

6

6

6

Howth

5

4

6

4

Santry

5

3

4

5

Clontarf

5

6

7

5

It is, of course, the case that all Gardaí have a role to play in addressing community policing issues as and when the need arises. In that sense, community policing involves far more than a single unit within the Garda Síochána, and I agree with the view expressed by the Garda Inspectorate in their third report entitled "Policing in Ireland—Looking Forward" that community policing is a fundamental policing philosophy and that there is a strong foundation for it in Ireland. I am also looking forward to receiving from the Commissioner, in the near future, a copy of the final report of a working group developing proposals for a comprehensive model of rural and urban community policing.

There is one Crime Prevention Officer allocated to each Garda Division throughout the country. The Crime Prevention Officer for the DMR North Division is based at Ballymun Garda Station.

The Deputy will appreciate that, as with any large organisation, on any given day, the personnel strength of Garda divisions and stations may fluctuate due, for example, to promotions, retirements and transfers.

It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to allocate all resources, including personnel, throughout the Force taking everything into account. The situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next become available the allocation of Gardaí to these stations will be fully considered by the Commissioner within the overall context of policing requirements throughout the country.

Asylum Applications.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

296 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on an application for residency by a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37942/08]

It is not the practice to comment in detail on individual asylum applications. As the Deputy will be aware, applications for refugee status in the State are determined by an independent process comprising the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal which make recommendations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on whether such status should be granted. A final decision on each application is made following receipt of the recommendation of the Refugee Applications Commissioner or the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, as appropriate.

Residency Permits.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

297 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of people resident here with Irish born child status, with a breakdown by nationality; if people with this status are free to enter employment; his views on regularising their status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37981/08]

I wish to inform the Deputy that a total of 16,693 applicants were granted permission to remain in the State, initially for a period of two years, under the revised arrangements for non-EEA parents of children born in Ireland prior to 1st January, 2005, known as the IBC/05 scheme. While the applicants were of many nationalities, the top six countries of origin were as follows:

Country

Number

Nigeria

6,145

Romania

1,795

China

1,074

Philippines

993

Pakistan

613

Moldova

567

To date, in excess of 14,100 applicants have been granted renewal of the IBC/05 permission for a further three years. Some 2,000 Romanian and Bulgarian citizens who were granted permission to remain under the scheme do not now have to apply to have their permission renewed.

This permission, once registered with the Garda National Immigration Bureau, entitles applicants to work in the State without the need for a work permit and to set up a business without my permission.

Peace Commissioners.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

298 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there is a register of signatures of peace commissioners or another method by which such signatures can be verified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37987/08]

Peace Commissioners are appointed under section 88 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924. There is no general register of Peace Commissioners signatures, however when a nominee is offered appointment under this Act he/she must sign a declaration stating that he/she will discharge the duties of the office to the best of his/her ability and with impartiality. This signed declaration is kept on each Peace Commissioner's file by my Department for inspection purposes.

Deportation Orders.

Michael McGrath

Question:

299 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there is further recourse for a person (details supplied) in County Cork in relation to an immigration matter. [37988/08]

I would refer the Deputy to the Reply to Parliamentary Question No. 372 of Tuesday, 30th September 2008. Following on from my answer, the person concerned was refused subsidiary protection and informed of this by letter dated 21 October 2008. The person concerned is required to present herself at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 on Tuesday, 11th November 2008 in order to make travel arrangements for her removal from the State.

If the person concerned can demonstrate new facts or circumstances it is open for her to make an application pursuant to section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999 seeking revocation of the Deportation Order. However such an application is not suspensive of the deportation process.

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

Crime Levels.

Mary Upton

Question:

300 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the headline crime statistics for each year since 2004 to date in 2008 in respect of Garda stations located within Dublin south central electoral area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38117/08]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide the statistics sought by the Deputy directly to her.

Asylum Support Services.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

301 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of people currently applying for asylum who are resident in direct provision in Mallow, County Cork; the average time for processing claims for asylum; the breakdown by nationality of those resident within the centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38121/08]

It is not possible, without a disproportionate expenditure of staff resources, to provide the information in precisely the format requested by the Deputy. In this respect, it must be borne in mind that asylum seekers are not allocated to particular centres based on their nationality, the current status of their asylum claim or their length of time in the asylum process. Information as to the mean average length of time in the asylum process or the nationality profile of asylum seekers resident in any particular centre would have no practical application or value.

Therefore, I propose to indicate the profile of the centre specified by the Deputy and explain, in general terms, the processing times in the asylum process.

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision. Direct provision provides full board accommodation and certain ancillary services to asylum seekers while their applications for asylum are being processed. In addition to direct provision accommodation, the RIA operates a small number of self-catering units where residents cook for themselves and avail of a reduced rate of Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA). These units are free of rent and utility costs to the asylum seekers and the reduced rate of SWA takes into account this benefit-in-kind. Such units normally provide accommodation to persons with certain special needs which can best be addressed outside of the standard direct provision service.

The centre at Davis Lane Apartments, Mallow is such a self-catering centre. There are currently 35 persons registered as resident at the centre, representing 12 nationalities.

In relation to average processing times, the length of time taken to process asylum applications differs depending on whether an applicant is dealt with under prioritised arrangements or not. With effect from the 25 January 2005, new arrangements for the speedier processing of applications from certain countries were implemented. These arrangements apply in the main to nationals of Nigeria, Croatia and South Africa. They also applied to Romania and Bulgaria prior to their accession to the EU on 1 January 2007.

In terms of the average time taken to process applications at first instance — by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner — the average processing time for prioritised cases is 17-20 working days from the date of application. For non-prioritised cases, the average processing time is 20-23 weeks from the date of application.

I would point out that some cases take significantly longer to complete due to, for example, delays arising from medical issues, non-availability of interpreters or because of judicial review proceedings. Further complexity arises because of the fact that applicants are from over 90 different countries. Applicants continue to be scheduled for interview on the date of application unless there are medical or other compelling reasons not to do so.

The Refugee Applications Commissioner continues to keep the procedures for processing applications for refugee status under review. The objective remains to expedite the processing of asylum applications at first instance without compromising the applicants' rights to a fair and balanced examination of their case.

Appeals against recommendations made by the Refugee Applications Commissioner are dealt with by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The Tribunal advises that the average length of time taken by it to process and complete substantive appeals is 27 weeks. For prioritised cases, this processing time is 11 weeks. For accelerated appeals (appeals on papers only), the processing time is 8 weeks.

As with first instance applications, the above average processing times in the Tribunal can be longer in certain cases. Many factors such as adjournments, postponements, judicial reviews and requests by legal representatives for access to previous Tribunal decisions can impede the Tribunal from completing cases earlier. High quality, consistent and fair decision making in all cases continues to be a high priority in the Tribunal.

Departmental Schemes.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

302 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a criminal injuries compensation system exists which would be applicable to persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38123/08]

I can inform the Deputy that State funded compensation is available to persons who suffer injury as a result of a crime of violence under the terms of the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted. The scheme is administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal. An application form can be obtained by contacting the Tribunal's office at 13, Lower hatch Street, Dublin 2. Telephone number (01) 6610604.

Garda Operations.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

303 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of inspections carried out in 2007 and 2008 by the Garda Síochána in the Dublin area, and from Clondalkin and Ronanstown stations in particular, to verify that vans carrying goods for third parties had appropriate insurance to carry such goods; the regularity with which such inspections are carried out; the number of prosecutions taken as a result of such inspections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38133/08]

All members of An Garda Síochána are tasked with the enforcement of relevant traffic legislation, including the Road Traffic and Road Transport Acts. This may occur as part of specific road traffic law enforcement activity or of general policing activity. As part of this activity, members of An Garda Síochána carry out planned and unplanned checkpoints, including those carried out under Operation Anvil and mandatory alcohol testing checkpoints.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that it is not possible to provide the information requested by the Deputy without a disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources.

An Garda Síochána has increased, as part of a multi-agency approach, enforcement in the area of road haulage, so as to identify unlicensed haulage activity and non-compliance by road hauliers with relevant legislation. In this regard a series of initiatives has taken place during 2008. An Garda Síochána also conducts on an ongoing basis initiatives to increase driver awareness and promote an improved compliance culture among road-users.

Asylum Applications.

Michael McGrath

Question:

304 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of a subsidiary protection application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [38134/08]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 3 December 2004. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 31 May 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations were submitted by the person concerned at that time.

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

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

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

305 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 158 and 159 of 23 October 2008, if he will provide the same in respect of wages paid to staff under Votes 20, 21 and 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38150/08]

Details of the estimated annual cost of the 2.5% increase under Towards 2016 and the planned 3.5% pay increase in respect of Vote 20, Vote 21 and Vote 22 are set out in the table.

The position in relation to the cost of incremental pay increases in respect of these Votes is the same as that outlined in my reply to the Deputy to Question No. 158 on 23rd October2008.

Estimated Annual Cost of 2.5% pay increase under Towards 2016

Estimated Annual Cost of planned 3.5% pay increase

€ million

€ million

Vote 20 — Garda Síochána*

31.380

48.000

Vote 21 — Prisons

6.426

9.900

Vote 22 — Courts Service

1.456

2.100

*The figures quoted for Vote 20 include the estimated cost of applying the increases to Garda Síochána pensions.

Departmental Bodies.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

306 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the savings that will accrue from the decision to abolish the National Crime Council; the number of times the NCC met in 2006, 2007 and to date in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38185/08]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

327 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide details on the announcement in budget 2009 that the National Crime Council is to be abolished; the date by which this will be done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38417/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 306 and 327 together.

It is expected that savings of €576,000 per annum at current prices will be achieved as a result of the abolition of the National Crime Council. The Council met thirteen times in the period 2006-2008. In addition, there were meetings of sub-groups of the Council during this period.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

307 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way the budget 2009 proposals in respect of the future of the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority will be implemented in practice; the estimated savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38186/08]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

328 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the implications of the decision announced in budget 2009 in relation to the Equality Authority and the Human Rights Commission to fully integrate their facilities, back office and administrative services and access for citizens; the date by which this is expected to be achieved; the savings to the Exchequer this is expected to achieve in 2008, 2009 and 2010; the basis for those savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38418/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 307 and 328 together.

The Deputy will appreciate that it is a matter for the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority themselves to operate within the terms of the Budget provisions for 2009 and to seek the efficiencies that are required. My Department is, of course, available to assist them in every practical way that is possible. I consider there is sufficient funding provided for both bodies in 2009 to enable them to discharge their core functions. I would also remind the Deputy that the provision in 2009 for the Equality Tribunal, the body which adjudicates on claims of inequality, has been increased by 15%.

In relation to the matter of integrating administrative and back office facilities with a view to maximising operating efficiencies in both bodies, my department is currently assisting the Agencies in examining the issues which will need to be addressed to achieve these efficiencies. These issues are likely to include shared IT and telecommunications facilities as well as office accommodation which is being addressed in the context of the decentralisation to Roscrea of further elements of the Equality Authority.

Garda Operations.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

308 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the legal position in relation to people who drive cars with excessive noise 4 levels; the powers and equipment the gardaí have to deal with these invasions of the right to sleep for many people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38194/08]

The Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 set out the legislative basis for prosecution due to excessive noise levels of vehicles. Current permissible sound levels are set by EU Directive. I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are currently reviewing the suitability of various sound meters to meet the specifications for sound measuring devices set out in Directive 92/97/EEC with a view to improving the collection of the technical evidence necessary for the prosecution of drivers whose vehicles produce excessive levels of noise.

Residency Permits.

Jack Wall

Question:

309 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position of an application by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38217/08]

The person concerned was granted temporary permission to remain in the State for one year on 15/5/2002, on the basis of his parentage of an Irish citizen child. This permission was revoked as the person did not remain in compliance with Irish law during the period of permission. Subsequently, he was granted temporary permission to remain in the State in 3 and 6 month segments pending the outcome of his applications for Post Nuptial Citizenship. On 7/4/2008 the person was advised that his applications for Post Nuptial Citizenship were refused. The person concerned has temporary permission to remain in the State until 28/11/2008. The position as regards his residency in the State after that date will be dealt with when this permission expires.

Visa Applications.

Jack Wall

Question:

310 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the guidelines a person (details supplied) must adhere to in seeking to have an application approved by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38219/08]

Where the child in question is travelling on an Irish passport, there is no requirement to be in possession of a valid Irish visa. With regard to the child's mother, citizens of Thailand wishing to enter the State for whatever purpose are required to be in possession of a valid Irish visa. It is open to an individual to make a visa application for any purpose, the onus resting with the applicant to satisfy the Visa Officer as to why the visa should be granted.

Also, it should be borne in mind that a visa is merely a pre-entry clearance to seek permission to enter the State — no automatic right of entry or residence is conferred. Whether the person is permitted to enter and the exact period for which s/he is allowed to remain is a matter for the Immigration Officer at the port of entry.

Comprehensive information when making a visa application is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service — www.inis.gov.ie.

Where a person has been granted permission to enter the State, the person may seek an extension of their permission to remain in the State by writing to the General Immigration Division of my Department, outlining the individual circumstances of their case and their future intentions in the State. All applications are processed by the Immigration Division on a case by case basis.

Joint Policing Committees.

John Deasy

Question:

311 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has plans to change the guideline 16.5.1 in relation to joint policing committees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38242/08]

On 24 September, I launched amended Joint Policing Committee Guidelines. These amended Guidelines provide for the establishment of a Committee in every local authority area in the State where a Committee has not already been established in the initial pilot phase. They also incorporate changes to the original Guidelines which take account of the experience gained from the operation of the Committees in the pilot phase. As I have only recently issued the Guidelines, I currently have no plans to amend them. However, their operation will be kept under ongoing review by my Department, and I will consider any amendments which appear necessary in the light of their operation.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

312 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an original birth affidavit will be returned to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38247/08]

I can inform the Deputy that the original birth affidavit was returned to the person in question on 22 October 2008.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

313 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected position in relation to an application for leave to remain here in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38248/08]

It is not the practice to comment in detail on individual asylum applications. As the Deputy will be aware, applications for refugee status in the State are determined by an independent process comprising the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal which make recommendations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on whether such status should be granted. A final decision on each application is made following receipt of the recommendation of the Refugee Applications Commissioner or the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, as appropriate.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

314 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected position in relation to an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details suppled) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38249/08]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in July 2006. Processing of the file has been completed and I have reached a decision. The person in question will be informed of that decision in due course.

Fireworks Licences.

John O'Mahony

Question:

315 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of fireworks licences granted during the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38277/08]

As the Deputy may be aware, the Explosives Act, 1875 provides for control of the importation, manufacture, storage and sale of fireworks. Accordingly, fireworks may not be imported into the State except under an importation licence granted by my Department. It is long standing policy that these licences are granted only for organised displays conducted by competent and professional operators, having met the required conditions and where An Garda Síochána, the Health and Safety Authority and the relevant local authority have not made an obligation to the issuing of the licence.

Details of licences issued by my Department are as follows:

Licences to import fireworks

Total

2008 (to date)

368

2007

391

2006

361

Fireworks Seizures.

John O'Mahony

Question:

316 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of fireworks seized by the State in the past three years; the number of convictions as result of these; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38278/08]

As the Deputy may be aware, the Explosives Act, 1875 provides for the control of the importation, manufacture, storage and sale of fireworks. The 1875 Act was amended by the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 which came into effect in August 2006, to provide for new offences governing the possession of illegally imported fireworks with intent to supply. They also provided for significantly increased penalties governing the illegal importation, sale and use of fireworks.

Under the provisions, it is an offence:

for any person to possess a firework with intent to sell or supply, without a licence

to throw an ignited firework at any person or property, and

to light unlicensed fireworks in a public place

The penalty for such offences is now a fine of up to €10,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both. The simple possession of fireworks without a licence is also an offence for which a person may be liable to a fine of up to €10,000.

Given the new offences and increased penalties that now exist, the enforcement capability of An Garda Síochána is greatly strengthened in combatting the illegal importation, sale and use of fireworks. In this regard, I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of seizures are as follows:

Year

No. of Seizures

Value (Approx.)

2008

28

24,000

2007

64

31,307

2006

76

115,286

Figures for 2008 are up to 21st October. I will write to the Deputy as soon as final figures for the Hallowe'en period come to hand.

Official Transport.

John O'Mahony

Question:

317 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of State cars; the person to whom each car is assigned to; the cost of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38279/08]

State cars are provided for the President, Taoiseach, Ministers, Chief Justice, D.P.P., Attorney General, Chief Whip, Ceann Comhairle, Minister of State for Children and Youth Affairs and former Taoisigh & Presidents. There are currently 27 State cars. Replacement cars are purchased from time to time and, in addition, a number of cars are assigned to cover service periods or other events. The details of cars currently provided to Ministers are set out in the following table. An open tender competition for the supply of large executive saloon cars was held last year and a policy decision was taken to purchase diesel-powered vehicles on that occasion. For commercial reasons it is not proposed to provide details of the cost of each car.

Minister

Make and Model

Taoiseach

Mercedes E320

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment

Audi A6

Minister for Finance

Mercedes E320

Minister for Health and Children

Audi A6

Minister for Transport and the Marine

Audi A6

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Audi A6

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Volvo S80

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism

Mercedes E240

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Audi A6

Minister for Social and Family Affairs

Mercedes E240

Minister for Defence

Lexus GS450h

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Toyota Prius

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Toyota Prius

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Audi A6

Minister for Education and Science

BMW 525

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Citroen C6

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

318 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the role and responsibilities of each of his Ministers of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38291/08]

I can inform the Deputy that there are three Ministers of State attached to my Department with areas of responsibility as follows:

Minister of State Conor Lenihan has special responsibility for Integration Policy. This includes the promotion of the integration of legal immigrants into Irish society, the establishment of new structures for this purpose, the management of the resettlement of refugees admitted as part of the United Nations Resettlement Programme and the administration of funding from national and EU sources to promote integration.

Minister of State Barry Andrews has responsibility for the Children Act 2001 which encompasses child detention schools and includes functions such as making regulations and designating and certifying schools. Minister of State Andrews is based primarily in the Department of Health and Children where he exercises his other responsibilities. He does not have a private office or related staff in my Department.

Minister of State John Moloney has special responsibility for equality, disability issues and mental health. Minister of State Moloney is also based at the Department of Health and Children where he exercises his other functions. He does not have a private office or related staff in my Department.

Juvenile Offenders.

Joe McHugh

Question:

319 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of those under the age of 18 years arrested for criminal activity between 2000 and 2007; and the amount the detention of these juveniles cost the State for each of these years. [38310/08]

I can inform the Deputy that statistical data on the number of children who come into conflict with the criminal justice system is already published and available through relevant Government websites. In this connection, I wish to refer the Deputy to my Reply to Parliamentary Question No. 818 of 17 June 2008.

The Deputy will be aware that not all young people under eighteen years are formally charged following arrest as other options are also available to the Gardaí in certain circumstances, for example, the Garda Juvenile Diversion programme. Furthermore, a number of cases that come before the Courts are disposed of by way of non custodial sentences with detention viewed as a last resort. It is the case therefore that arrest and detention numbers are not directly related.

Since 1st March, 2007, responsibility for the management of the children detention schools transferred to my Department from the Department of Education and Science. Boys aged under 16 and girls under 18 are detained in these schools while boys convicted at 16 and 17 are detained in St. Patrick's Institution which is managed by the Irish Prison Service. The operational costs of the detention schools are provided in the following table for 2001-2007 on the basis of records transferred from the Department of Education and Science. It should be noted that the figures may not be directly comparable year-on-year as pre-2006 figures include the pay costs of teachers in the education centres within the schools, and St. Joseph's Special School, Clonmel, ceased to be a detention school on 1st March 2007.

Year

Operational Costs of Children DetentionSchools

€m

2001

22.4

2002

26.6

2003

26.9

2004

28.2

2005

27.0

2006

27.7

2007

22.9

As St. Patrick's Institution is not used solely for the detention of sixteen and seventeen year old boys, it is not possible to provide the Deputy with the annual cost of keeping that specific age group at the Institution.

Prison Building Programme.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

320 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the proposed refurbishment and renovation of the prison wing, C block, at Portlaoise Prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38350/08]

Construction work on a new "C" Block at Portlaoise has recently been completed. The contract provided for the demolition of the original "C" Block as well as some other outdated facilities to be replaced by the construction of a new modern fully equipped facility. This new cell block will provide 138 additional fully equipped prison spaces. In addition, the facilities being provided include a new medical centre, prisoner reception facilities as well as extensive work training and educational facilities.

Work is currently underway in relation to the installation and commissioning of various services and security related systems throughout the building. This is expected to be completed in early 2009 at which stage it is planned to bring the new facilities into operation.

Decentralisation Programme.

Michael Lowry

Question:

321 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the date by which the Equality Authority will be transferring the remaining 15 staff who are meant to be relocated to Birchgrove House, Roscrea, under the decentralisation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38401/08]

As indicated in the Minister for Finance's Budget statement on 14 October last, the fifteen additional staff from the Equality Authority will now transfer to Roscrea. This will bring the staff serving in Roscrea up to thirty. This staff cohort includes the top management team of the Authority and other staff, who were either recruited or promoted on the basis of moving to Roscrea under my Department's decentralisation programme. I understand that the Office of Public Works are finalising matters in relation to the office accommodation and the target date for the transfer of staff is the first week of January 2009.

Garda Equipment.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

322 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the introduction of automatic number plate recognition technology for gardaí; the number of bidders for the contract; the details of the successful bidder; the timescale for the introduction of the system; the benefits of this system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38404/08]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that an EU procurement process commenced earlier this year, for the supply, installation and delivery of mobile in-car speed detection and video recording systems together with automatic numberplate recognition capacity is expected to be competed shortly. The tender was for the supply of one-hundred and four (104) in-car camera systems for use nationwide and it is anticipated that the roll-out of this system will commence by the end of the year. A total of nine (9) tender proposals were received in respect of this competition from eight (8) companies (one company submitted 2 separate proposals). The new system will assist Gardaí in detecting stolen, suspect and untaxed vehicles together with providing speed detection capabilities.

Road Safety.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

323 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the introduction of speed cameras; the timetable involved for installation of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38405/08]

In accordance with the Government's Road Safety Strategy, a tendering process for procuring an outsourced safety camera network is under way, the contracting authority for which is An Garda Síochána. Following a two stage tender and evaluation process, a preferred bidder has been identified.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are considering a request by one of the unsuccessful tenderers for clarifications. When the issues raised have been addressed, An Garda Síochána will commence contract discussions with the preferred bidder, with the aim of concluding them as expeditiously as possible.

It is intended that roll out of the network will be under way as early as possible next year. The 2009 Estimates provide €10 million in the Garda Vote for the provision of the service. This allocation will allow the project to proceed to full rollout in 2009.

Departmental Agencies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

324 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the anticipated cost in 2009 and 2010 of the new Advisory Committee on Racism and Interculturalism; if it will have the same membership as the consultative committee which is being absorbed into the Office of the Minister for Integration; the way the advisory committee will differ in terms of reference, scope and activity from the consultative committee; when the new committee will come into being; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38414/08]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

325 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the date the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism will be absorbed into the Office of the Minister for Integration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38415/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 324 and 325 together.

The Government announced, as part of the Budget measures, that funding to the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism would cease and its functions would be absorbed into my Office to be administered directly by it. Funding for this group will cease by the end of this year.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

326 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the date, in relation to the announcement in budget 2009 to amalgamate the Censorship of Publications Board, and its appeals board, with the Office for Film Classification, by which this will be done; if this will require legislation; the date by which this will be published; the savings that this is expected to accrue to the Exchequer in 2008, 2009 and 2010; the basis for those savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38416/08]

I can inform the Deputy that the decision to amalgamate the Censorship of Publications Board and its Appeals Board with the Irish Film Classification Office will require amending legislation. The drafting of the required legislation has not yet commenced. While it is not anticipated that the amalgamation of these agencies will generate significant savings, the Government will continue to monitor this process in line with its overall strategy to reduce the number of state agencies and their associated costs.

Question No. 327 answered with Question No. 306.
Question No. 328 answered with Question No. 307.

Citizenship Applications.

Pat Breen

Question:

329 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when applications will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38441/08]

Applications for certificates of naturalisation on behalf of the three minors referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in June 2008. Officials in that Section inform me that all three applications are at an advanced stage of processing and the files will be forwarded to me for a decision in the near future.

Temporary Release of Prisoners.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

330 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the criteria by which a prisoner is selected for temporary release; the usual category of offender granted temporary release; the average length of temporary release granted to prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38468/08]

The temporary release of prisoners is provided for in legislation by virtue of the Criminal Justice Act, 1960 as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act, 2003. The Act provides that the Minister for Justice may direct the temporary release of a person in certain circumstances and these are:

For the purpose of assessing the person's ability to reintegrate into society;

For the purpose of preparing the person for release on the expiration of his sentence;

For the purpose of assisting the Garda Síochána in the prevention, detection or investigation of offences, or the apprehension of a person guilty or suspected of those offences;

On grounds of health or other humanitarian grounds;

Where it is necessary to ensure the good governance of prisons or maintain good order, humane and just management of a prison;

Where the Minister is of the view that the person has been rehabilitated and is capable of reintegrating into society.

Temporary release is a feature of prison systems worldwide. It is an important vehicle for re-integrating an offender into the community in a planned way. The generally accepted view is that the risk to the community is reduced by planned re-integration of offenders compared with their return to the community on the completion of their full sentence. Each case is examined on its own merits and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made. In addition, all releases are subject to conditions, which in the vast majority of cases include a requirement to report on a regular basis to the offender's Garda Station. Of course, any offender who breaches his or her conditions may be arrested and returned to prison immediately by the Gardaí.

Candidates for temporary release are identified by a number of different means but primarily on the recommendation of the Prison Governor or the therapeutic services in the prisons. The prisoner, their family or their legal representative can also apply for consideration of such a concession.

Recommendations are also made to me in relation to long term sentence prisoners by the Parole Board. It is very important to note that it does not necessarily follow that a prisoner will receive temporary release even if the recommendation is to that effect. Before a final determination a number of factors may be taken into account including:

the nature and gravity of the offence to which the sentence being served by the person relates

the sentence concerned and any recommendation made by the Court in relation to the sentence imposed

the period of the sentence served by the person

the potential threat to the safety and security of the public should the person be released

the person's previous criminal record

the risk of the person failing to return to prison at the expiration of the period of temporary release

the conduct of the person while in custody or while previously on temporary release

any report or recommendation made by the Governor, the Garda Síochána, a Probation & Welfare Officer, or any other person whom the Minister considers may be of assistance in coming to a decision as to whether to grant temporary release

the risk that the person might commit an offence during any period of temporary release

the risk of the person failing to comply with any of the conditions of temporary release

the likelihood that a period of temporary release might accelerate the person's reintegration into society or improve his prospects of obtaining employment

The Courts have determined that, with the exception of debtors or those serving a sentence for contempt of court, no category of sentenced prisoner can be excluded from being considered for temporary release. The periods of temporary release granted can vary greatly from a few hours following a family bereavement to, for example, a requirement to report to the prison every 12 months in the case of a life sentence prisoner who has been released into the community a considerable time ago.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

331 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisoners since the beginning of 2008 who have been committed to Cork prison on terms of longer than three months who have been given temporary release; the number of prisoners who have been transferred to Shelton Abbey open prison before being given temporary release; the number of prisoners who have re-offended while on temporary release; the sanctions imposed on a prisoner who re-offends while on temporary release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38469/08]

I wish to inform the Deputy that it has not been possible to compile the detailed information requested in the time available. However, a comprehensive response is being prepared and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

332 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38549/08]

This applicant applied for asylum on 30 March 2005 and included her three children in her application. She subsequently requested to have a fourth child, born in the State on 19 April 2005, also included in her application. Their application was refused and Deportation Orders were signed in respect of them on 11 August 2006. The applicant instituted Judicial Review proceedings on 18 September 2006 challenging the Deportation Orders made in respect of her and her four children and accordingly, as the matter is sub judice, I do not propose to comment further.

Human Rights Issues.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

333 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the case of a person (details supplied), as well as other similar cases recently documented; his further views on whether these testimonies prove that Ireland, Irish airspace and Irish airports are implicated in actions which are torture by another name; the implications for Ireland in this regard in view of the illegality of such torture; if, in view of this material, it is proposed to end this tacit approval of such actions by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38197/08]

The issue of extraordinary rendition has been raised on numerous occasions in this House. As has been made repeatedly clear, the Government is completely opposed to the practice of the extraordinary rendition of prisoners.

I wish to reiterate at the outset that none of the various investigations into allegations of extraordinary rendition have revealed any evidence, or even resulted in a specific allegation, that any person has on any occasion been subjected to extraordinary rendition through Ireland, including in the case mentioned by the Deputy. The Government has received specific assurances from the US authorities that such prisoners have not been transferred through Irish territory, nor would they be, without our permission. These assurances have been confirmed at the highest level, including by Secretary of State Rice to my predecessor as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern T.D. and by President Bush to the former Taoiseach. The assurances are of a clear and categoric nature, relating to facts and circumstances within the full knowledge and control of the US Government.

The Government has established a Cabinet Committee on Aspects of International Human Rights. As part of its remit, the Committee has reviewed the Programme for Government commitments in relation to our opposition to extraordinary rendition. The Committee has agreed that early contact should be made with the new US administration to seek a clear statement of intent that extraordinary rendition would cease and would not resume during the new President's term of office. Commitments are also being sought in regard to the closure of Guantanamo Bay and to the prohibition of intensive interrogation techniques such as water-boarding which are internationally considered to constitute torture. I have asked our Ambassador in Washington to follow up on this as a matter of urgency.

With a view to strengthening as necessary the legislative provisions, the Committee is also to review the statutory powers currently available to the civil and police authorities regarding the search and inspection of aircraft, in the context of the obligations on the State under the Chicago Convention.

Racism in Sport.

Michael Ring

Question:

334 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will raise an issue regarding lyrics of a song (details supplied) with his counterpart in Scotland; and when he will make contact with this person. [37921/08]

I am aware of the on-going issue of sectarian behaviour, including the singing of offensive songs, at Scottish premier league games and of the distress that this can cause.

Since its opening in 1998, the Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh has maintained a wide-ranging dialogue with the Scottish Government on issues. In recent weeks the Consul General has been in close contact with senior officials in the Scottish Government in relation to incidents of sectarianism of the kind referred to in the question. Following from these discussions, I am assured that tangible new steps to tackle sectarianism and racism in sport are currently being reviewed by the Scottish Government. I am also aware of ongoing efforts by the football authorities in Scotland to discourage this kind of behaviour. I am hopeful that the proposed measures will help to improve the situation. The Consulate General will continue to monitor closely, and to keep me apprised of developments.

Debt Relief.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

335 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when he will update Ireland’s policy on international debt, with particular attention to the issue of debt cancellation or illegitimate debts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38136/08]

Ireland has played an important role internationally on the issue of alleviation of the debt burden on developing countries. The Government's policy strategy was prepared jointly by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Finance, and was launched in 2002. It supports the total cancellation of the debts of the world's poorest countries. It is intended that a review of the strategy will be undertaken jointly by the two Departments in 2009.

Ireland's bilateral assistance to the developing world has always been exclusively in the form of grants rather than loans. The Government has also provided very significant resources for initiatives to ease or cancel the debt burden. There are two main international instruments which address the problem of the debt burden, the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) and the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The MDRI came into effect on 1 July 2006, and provides for cancellation of eligible debt from the World Bank, the African Development bank and the International Monetary Fund for many of the world's poorest and most indebted countries. Ireland's share of the total cost of debt relief provided by the World Bank under MDRI is €58.64 million. The Government contributed this amount in full in 2006. Ireland has also contributed over €20 million to the HIPC initiative, which is implemented by the World Bank and the IMF, with the objective of reducing the debt burden of qualifying countries to sustainable levels.

We regard it as important to ensure that these international efforts are not undermined by further irresponsible lending or borrowing. The Government supports the development of an international consensus on responsible lending and borrowing procedures and I welcome the dialogue which the World Bank has opened with civil society groups on the complex issues involved.

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

336 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the role and responsibilities of each of his Ministers of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38289/08]

Responsibility for Irish foreign policy lies in the first instance with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Particular responsibility for policy on Overseas Development Assistance is assigned to the Minister of State for Overseas Development at my Department, Mr Peter Power, T.D.

Minister Power oversees the Development Cooperation Directorate, a Division of my Department, which is responsible for administering the Irish Aid programme. It also has a coordinating role in relation to Overseas Development Assistance administered by other Government Departments.

Mr. Dick Roche, T.D., is Minister of State at my Department and at the Department of the Taoiseach with special responsibility for European Affairs.

Minister Roche chairs an Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on European Union Affairs, which covers the full range of issues on the EU agenda. In addition, Minister Roche is active in meeting with his European Affairs Ministerial counterparts regarding the Lisbon Treaty.

Minister Roche attends meetings of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council as required. He also regularly represents Ireland at meetings and conferences hosted by international organisations.

Foreign Conflicts.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

337 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in Iraq; and his views on the plight of members of the Christian churches in that country, many of whom have been displaced and had to flee their homes. [38399/08]

There has been a substantial improvement in security in Iraq over the past eighteen months, although the level of violence remains quite high. Control of security has now been returned to Iraqi forces in all but five of Iraq's eighteen provinces. A large part of the improvement has been the general subsidence of inter-community sectarian violence. It is a matter of particular concern, therefore, that the city of Mosul has seen a resurgence of sectarian violence in recent months, much of it directed at the ancient Chaldean and Assyrian Christian communities who live in the city and its hinterland.

The Chaldean Archbishop, Paulos Rahho, was kidnapped and later found dead in March 2008. It is possible he succumbed to poor health while in captivity, and his kidnapping may have been criminal rather than political in intent. More recently, however, there has been an upsurge of clearly sectarian attacks on Christian families and communities in Mosul through August and September. Many have been killed, houses and businesses have been destroyed, and over 12,000 are estimated to have fled the city for refuge in Christian villages in the surrounding plain.

Mosul has long been a particular flashpoint. It is regarded as the major remaining stronghold in Iraq of both former Baathist and Al-Qaeda linked insurgents. It is on the fringes of Kurdish controlled territory. It is home to very long established Christian and other minorities, such as Turcomen, and also to numbers of comparatively recently settled Shia from southern Iraq, who were forcibly resettled there by the former regime. And it is the centre of one of Iraq's major oilfields. No clear picture has emerged yet of which group may be behind these attacks, which may be linked to the question of political control after the anticipated withdrawal of US forces, and to current political debate about provincial boundaries and autonomy.

Christians and other minorities in Iraq have been especially vulnerable in the sectarian violence of recent years, since they have no area they control and to which they can flee. As a result, as many as half of the Iraqi Christian community may have fled the country, many to make new lives permanently in other countries. This is a tragedy which has befallen some of the most ancient Christian communities in the world.

The EU has in its contacts with the Iraqi Government stressed its responsibilities to protect all Iraqi citizens, and in particular vulnerable minorities. The Government has acknowledged this responsibility and pledged to make every effort to meet it. However, long term security for Iraq's minorities is likely to depend on the Government's success in combating violence as a whole.

I will be discussing the situation in Iraq with my EU colleagues at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 10 November, when I intend to raise this issue. It will be important for us to urge the Iraqi Government, beset as it is with many problems, to do everything it can to protect vulnerable groups.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

338 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in Afghanistan, particularly with reference to Pakistani and Afghan political and tribal leaders recently agreeing to establish contacts with the Taliban to end insurgencies in both countries as an outcome of a two-day meeting endorsed by the governments of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. [38400/08]

I am deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan. Very clear difficulties exist in the country in relation to security issues, human rights, governance and the rule of law, and narcotics. The security situation of course remains a particular cause for concern, including in areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

In this context, I welcome the meeting of Pakistan and Afghan political and tribal leaders to which the Deputy refers. The cross-border dimension is very important. The tribal meeting, or "mini-jirga", was held in Islamabad on 27th and 28th October, and was a follow-up to the larger "jirga" meeting held in Kabul in August 2007. Reports suggest that some fifty participants were involved, including government officials, representatives of political parties and members of the ethnic Pashtun tribes that straddle the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The holding of the "mini-jirga" reflects the recent improvement in relations between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan which has been apparent since the election of President Zardari in Pakistan on 9th September — and which is highly significant and very much to be welcomed. The Foreign Ministers of the two countries also met in New York in September and reiterated their resolve to fight jointly extremist elements along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

We understand that the Taliban were not invited to the "jirga" but reports indicate that participants agreed to establish joint contacts, through the "jirga", with "the opposition" — understood to mean the Taliban. This could certainly involve risk, but the approach of trying to dissociate the many Taliban members who are not strongly ideological fundamentalists from their hardcore, militant, leadership — leaving the latter more vulnerable to defeat — may be a risk worth taking.

The situation along the border remains extremely difficult and it is extremely difficult for the Pakistani military to operate effectively within its own border areas. While it remains to be seen whether the new Afghan-Pakistan security cooperation will lead to significant gains against cross-border terrorism and the insurgency, I very much hope that the "mini jirga" initiative of the two neighbouring leaders will succeed in its objectives.

Human Rights Issues.

Billy Timmins

Question:

339 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has received correspondence from a group (details supplied); if he has had contact with the Chinese authorities on the matter; if not, if he will do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38515/08]

I have received a letter from the group to which the Deputy refers.

The Government remains deeply concerned about the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Questions in this regard — including specific cases — are raised regularly with the Chinese authorities, within the context of our own regular discussions with them on issues of human rights and fundamental freedoms and through the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue.

We viewed very seriously allegations that have been made claiming live organs have been harvested from Falun Gong practitioners in detention. Extensive enquiries on this issue were made by my Department within the EU and UN frameworks in 2006/7, as well as through our Embassy in Beijing and with a variety of human rights organisations. Enquiries were also addressed to the Chinese authorities. The matter is being kept under review but, to date, we have failed to identify sufficient reliable and independent evidence to substantiate the allegations.

I am aware of both the specific cases referred to in the correspondence to which the Deputy refers.

The case of the individual arrested on 16 June has been referred to our Embassy in Beijing and it is also being taken up with the Chinese Embassy in Dublin. The second case referred to was raised by the EU with China in the context of the EU-China Dialogue process earlier this year. The Chinese authorities have responded to this case, stating that no appeal has been launched against the three-year sentence imposed on him on 22 December 2006. However, I will ensure that the case is raised again both bilaterally and by the EU.

Foreign Conflicts.

Billy Timmins

Question:

340 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the situation in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38516/08]

More than six weeks after the signing of a power-sharing agreement between Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, and the Tsvangirai and Mutambara factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), there has still been no agreement on forming a Government, and the situation in Zimbabwe remains deeply worrying. Although political violence has diminished, it has not stopped. The rate of inflation is almost impossible to calculate, but has now reached unimaginable levels. Coupled with this, unstable exchange rates have caused the Zimbabwe dollar to lose credibility and value as a trading currency. Zimbabweans are unwilling to do business in their local currency, and increasingly use foreign denominated currencies, principally the US dollar and the South African rand, for trading. Transactions such as grocery purchases, property sales and rentals, legal fees and fuel sales, among others, officially or unofficially now require settlement in foreign currency. The World Food Programme estimates that 5.1 million people will require food assistance by January 2009.

The EU is continuing to act on its concern for the suffering of the ordinary people of Zimbabwe at this very difficult time. The European Commission has allocated an additional €10 million in relief assistance for people affected by the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, while Irish aid to the affected people for the period 2006 to 2008 (to date) amounts to approx €25m.

The failure of the two sides to reach a deal on 27 October on the allocation of Ministries is extremely disappointing. The issue has been referred to a full summit meeting of the South African Development Community (SADC). This summit has been set for 9 November in South Africa. Given the disappointing rate of progress in the talks on forming a Transition Government, I do not believe that my colleagues and I will be in a position to lift the EU restrictive measures on the Zimbabwean leadership when we next meet on 10 November. We will of course review what we can do to assist our African partners in bringing the ongoing negotiations to a successful conclusion. It is Zimbabwe's neighbours, and above all South Africa and other members of the South African Development Community (SADC) which have the greatest potential influence and leverage, and therefore the greatest responsibility to act. I have instructed our Ambassadors in SADC countries to convey our concerns to the authorities in these countries.

EU Foreign Ministers stated after our meeting of 13 October that the EU stands ready to support a transitional government which is taking steps to restore democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. That commitment stands, and the EU very much hopes that the forthcoming SADC summit will result in the formation of a government of national unity which is credible and reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people, as expressed at the 29 March elections. Ireland supports a co-ordinated international approach to addressing Zimbabwe's problems, once an administration is in place in Harare which is committed to working with the international community to rebuild the country economically and politically.

Billy Timmins

Question:

341 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the situation in Rwanda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38517/08]

Rwanda is one of the most stable countries in the Great Lakes region. It has made enormous progress in establishing peace, security and good governance since the genocide of 1994. Rwanda's stability is underpinned by strong levels of economic growth and it has won praise from international donors for its innovative approach to development.

On 15 September last the country held its second parliamentary elections since the genocide, and these were won overwhelmingly by the ruling coalition, which is led by President Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). An EU election observation mission, in which three Irish observers participated, deemed the elections to have been generally free and fair. The mission described the elections as an important step in the democratic development of the country. I join the mission in welcoming the positive example that Rwanda has shown in electing the world's first female majority parliament.

In November 2007, the governments of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) signed the Nairobi agreement, aimed at reducing tensions between the two countries, and jointly tackling the problem of the FDLR, an extremist Hutu militia, which includes many Rwandans who fled the country after participating in the genocide. This was seen as a positive step in normalising the traditionally difficult relations between the two countries. However, the upsurge in violence in the North Kivu province of DRC since late August between the DRC army and the CNDP, a Tutsi-aligned militia, has re-ignited Rwanda-DRC tensions. Both countries have accused each other of incursions into their respective territories, and the UN has expressed serious concern over the reported exchange of heavy weapons fire across the DRC-Rwanda border in North Kivu. While North Kivu has borne the brunt of the humanitarian crisis, I will continue to monitor closely the situation in Rwanda, as the proximity of the fighting to the Rwandan border poses a risk of a spill-over of both the violence and the humanitarian crisis.

There is a consensus in the international community that only the full implementation of the Nairobi agreement can bring long-term stability to the Great Lakes region. To this end, Ireland fully supports the excellent work of the EU's Special Representative to the Great Lakes, Roeland van de Geer, who has been most active in encouraging dialogue between the governments of DRC and Rwanda. Last week, the EU Commissioner for Development, Louis Michel, made an emergency visit to Kinshasa and Kigali, and urged the Presidents of both countries to find a diplomatic solution to the current crisis. My British and French counterparts, David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, have also been engaged in vigorous diplomatic efforts over the past week, including a visit to Rwanda, where they met with President Kagame. Thanks largely to EU pressure, the governments of Rwanda and DRC will meet for peace talks in Kenya this week, in which the African Union and the EU will also participate.

In addition, Ireland and the EU will continue to strongly support UN mediation efforts. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has dispatched a senior envoy to both Rwanda and DRC, while MONUC, the UN peacekeeping force in DRC, has presented an emergency disengagement plan to all sides in the North Kivu crisis. I join the UN in urging the governments of Rwanda and DRC to convince or compel all sides to accept the plan.

African leadership will be vitally important in bringing the governments of Rwanda and DRC back to the negotiating table. South Africa in particular, which has played a key role in the Great Lakes peace process to date, and which enjoys good relations with both Kigali and Kinshasa, will be an important partner for the EU in ensuring the future stability of the region.

Ireland will continue to support Rwanda's development through the provision of overseas development aid and bilateral co-operation. Irish Aid funding to the country since 2006 amounts to more than €8 million.

Youth Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

342 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the budget within his Department and other Departments for youth affairs in 2008; the proposed budget for 2009; the impact this will have on the provision of frontline services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39185/08]

While my Department does not provide any frontline youth services, it does provide funding for many initiatives which are either directly or indirectly targeted at younger members of society.

Ireland's annual budgetary contribution to the Council of Europe contains an item for the European Youth Foundation. Out of a total budget contribution of €2,692,472 in 2008, for which this Department was responsible, the Youth Foundation item amounted to €33,073. The Council of Europe budget for 2009 has not yet been finalised, but we would anticipate that there will be a slight increase in Ireland's 2009 contribution, including its contribution to the Youth Foundation.

Under the Communicating Europe Initiative (CEI) a number of youth oriented projects were funded in 2008, including €30,000 in respect of the European Youth Parliament. In addition, 6 school and youth based projects received CEI funding of €29,000 in 2008 to celebrate Europe Day. While the extent of the youth-affairs element of the Communicating Europe Initiative budget depends on the quantity and scope of the applications received, I would expect that a similar amount will be available in 2009.

My Department, through Irish Aid, also provides funding to the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) in respect of the National Youth Development Education Programme (NYDEP). It aims to integrate development education into the core programmes of youth organisations through support for training, activities and the provision of learning resources. Under the current three year partnership agreement (2007-2009), Irish Aid will provide total funding of €925,930 to the NYCI. The budget for the programme this year is €309,806 and €325,758 is allocated for 2009.

My Department also supports measures by community, voluntary, and other groups aimed at promoting reconciliation and tackling sectarianism on an all-island basis. While not specifically directed at the youth sector, many of the programmes assisted by both the Reconciliation and Anti-Sectarian Funds have a focus on activities organised by, or aimed at, young people. In 2008 total provision in the area was €3m, and this level of support will be continued in 2009.

The budget for the Irish Abroad emigrant support programme for this year is €15.183 million and the 2009 allocation is set to match this. While it has no specific youth affairs budget, some of the programme's funding is directed to support projects which particularly benefit our younger emigrants. Earlier this year, for instance, I approved a grant of €50,000 to the FAI to enable the employment of a welfare officer to work with Irish football apprentices and ex- apprentices in Britain and help ensure that the welfare and education needs of these young people are met.

Sports Capital Programme.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

343 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will confirm that he is maintaining contact in respect of the proposed stadium (details supplied) in Dublin 24 due to open in early 2009; the assistance being made available to the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37851/08]

Under the 2008 round of the Sports Capital Programme €2.75m was allocated to the Tallaght Stadium project. My Department has been in recent contact with the grantee. Officials from my Department recently visited the site and met with officials of South Dublin County Council.

I understand that good progress is being made on the project with a view to having the first game in the stadium early next year.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

344 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the criteria that have not been met by schools (details supplied) applying for funding to keep their respective sports halls open into 2009; if additional funding streams can be identified by this date; if the horse and greyhound racing fund can be amended to support valuable community facilities such as these in view of the economic downturn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37971/08]

Under the Sports Capital Programme, which is administered by my Department, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations and, in certain circumstances to schools and colleges, throughout the country. It is the main vehicle for development of sports facilities at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Under the Programme, funding is provided for capital purposes and current or operational costs are a matter for the operator of the facility.

Letters have issued to each of this year's unsuccessful applicants, including the ones in question, setting out the reasons why they were not awarded a grant. As those letters pointed out, given the level of demand for funding and the amount of funding available under the Programme, it is not possible for my Department to allocate grants to every applicant. In the cases of the applicants in question, both of which related to replacement of existing outdoor playing surfaces and security fencing, one did not meet a qualifying condition of the Programme in that the proof of title and the evidence own funding provided was not sufficient, and the other was valid but the applicant did not achieve a high enough score to secure a grant.

I do not propose at this point that there will be any further allocations under the Sports Capital Programme in 2008.

There are no funds available in my Department to meet the running costs of local sports facilities. The Horse and Greyhound racing fund which is currently under review provides much needed support to both the horse-racing and greyhound industries, both of which make a significant economic contribution, mainly to the rural economy in terms of employment and tourism.

Tourism Promotion.

John O'Mahony

Question:

345 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the meetings he has had with Tourism Ireland and the national sporting bodies in regard to the selection of Ireland as a venue for international events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38270/08]

Fáilte Ireland administers the International Sports Tourism Initiative (ISTI), the objective of which is to enhance Ireland's international reputation as a sports venue, and consequently to increase sports-related tourism through the generation of additional overseas visitors and offering Ireland the ability to communicate the holiday message through global media coverage.

The ISTI has been highly successful in attracting world class events to Ireland including the Ryder Cup 2006, the World Rally Championship in 2007 and 2009, the Volvo Ocean Race in 2009 and the Solheim Cup in 2011. These high profile sporting events attract global media coverage and international visitors and are a valuable means of promoting Ireland as a holiday destination.

I am supportive of the efforts of the Tourism State Agencies and the National Governing Bodies of Sport to attract international events here, subject, of course, to an assessment of the costs/benefits involved in any State financial support. Since taking up office, I have been involved in a number of meetings and discussions relating to such sports events, including in the areas of golf, basketball, equestrian and sailing.

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

346 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the role and responsibilities of each of his Ministers of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38281/08]

My colleague, Dr. Martin Mansergh, T.D., is the sole Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. In addition to his role as Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works.

Minister of State Mansergh has been delegated responsibility pursuant to S.I. No. 267 of 2008 for:

the powers and duties under the Heritage Fund Act 2001, which established the Heritage Fund as a means of allowing the State's National Cultural Institutions to acquire at sale and/or auction cultural artefacts of national importance;

North/South arts and culture co-operative projects;

assisting with the construction programme at the National Cultural Institutions;

assisting with maximising the use of publicly owned facilities and venues under the aegis of the Commissioners of Public Works to support the promotion of arts and cultural events and also in maximising the synergies between this public and heritage infrastructure and arts and culture policy objectives;

providing support generally to me on arts and culture matters as may be required from time to time; and

representing me, as required, at arts and cultural events.

Sports Capital Programme.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

347 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the points score for successful projects in County Wexford under the 2008 sports capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38325/08]

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

348 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the points score for successful projects in counties Wicklow, Carlow, Kilkenny and Waterford under the 2008 sports capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38326/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 347 and 348 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. Since 1998, over €725 million has been allocated to over 7,400 projects across the country.

1,453 applications were received in 2008 seeking €296m. The Department assesses all applications received. For local projects, the level of funding to each county is on the basis of a pro-rata distribution of the available funding on the basis of the population as set out in the 2006 census of population conducted by the Central Statistics Office, subject to the number and quality of applications received for each county. All applications from an individual county are assessed by one member of staff to ensure a consistent approach to applications from the county concerned. These assessments are then subject to quality proofing by more senior officers to the officer which conducted the initial assessment. Applications which meet the basic qualifying conditions each receive a score, which decides their order of priority within their own county.

The following table sets out the minimum qualifying score for the counties concerned for capital projects and for equipment grants in 2008.

County

Minimum Score: Capital Grants

Minimum Score: Equipment

Carlow

55

44

Kilkenny

54

53

Waterford

72

48

Wexford

57

40

Wicklow

46

30

Michael Ring

Question:

349 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will clarify a point regarding funding allocated under the sports capital programme 2008 to a company (details supplied). [38349/08]

I refer to the reply to Question Nos. 1554 and 1162 of 24 September 2008. The organisation in question applied for funding under the 2008 sports capital programme towards the completion of all interior works to the sports hall and accordingly the allocation of €50,000 under the 2008 programme to the applicant is towards the interior of the sports hall.

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

350 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the role and responsibilities of each of his Ministers of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38283/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, Mr. John Curran, T.D., is the Minister of State at my Department. He has responsibility for the following:

National Drugs Strategy;

Local and Community Affairs (excl. Community Services Programme and RAPID Programme);

Charities Legislation.

The Deputy will also be aware that Mr. Conor Lenihan, T.D., the Minister of State with responsibility for Integration has been assigned to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Department of Education and Science and to this Department and has responsibility for integration matters.

Rural Development Programme.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

351 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the status of the National Rural Development Programme 2007 to 2014; when the evaluation of business plans received under the programme will be completed; if he will confirm that the programme will be open to applications for grant assistance in respect of projects in late October 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38318/08]

I can confirm to the Deputy that I am announcing the Rural Development Programme funding allocations today. I anticipate that contracts will be signed over the coming weeks, at which stage the Programme will be open to applications for grant assistance.

Youth Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

352 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the budget within his Department and other Departments for youth affairs in 2008; the proposed budget for 2009; the impact this will have on the provision of frontline services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39188/08]

As the Deputy may be aware, responsibility for youth affairs currently resides in the Department of Education and Science. However, earlier this year, the Taoiseach announced that responsibility for youth affairs was transferring to the newly formed Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMYCA). It was also announced that the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF), for which my Department has had responsibility, was to integrate into the OMCYA. Arrangements to give effect to the transfers are expected to be completed shortly.

Of the order of €21m is being provided this year to support the valuable work being done through the Fund. The funding to be transferred to the OMCYA in 2009 — though marginally reduced to approximately €20m — will continue to support the broad range of initiatives already in place. The Deputy will appreciate that it will be a matter for the OMCYA to oversee the management of the Fund in the context of funding available to them for 2009. I am confident, however, that the Fund's integration into that Office will provide a cohesive and comprehensive response to the needs of all young people, including those at risk of drug misuse.

The Deputy should also note that I recently announced funding of almost €2.3m for the development of 16 dedicated youth facilities in Regional Drugs Task Force areas not covered by the YPFSF. I am confident that these projects will play an important and ongoing role in diverting young people away from the dangers of drug use.

A number of the projects being run through the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces also work with under-18s. The type of projects funded range from drugs education workers, counsellors, youth information projects and outreach services. Some of the projects funded are not exclusively for under-18s — rather they encompass family members under family support projects and initiatives run by community drugs teams.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Finian McGrath

Question:

353 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will support a matter (details supplied). [37744/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, in the context of the current economic circumstances it has been necessary for the Government to take a number of steps to reduce overall public expenditure in order to restore order and stability in the public finances.

Increases ranging between 185% and 200% have been provided in Child Benefit between 2001 and 2008. Total expenditure on the scheme has increased by almost 300% during the same period.

The Government has decided to limit overall expenditure on this scheme by lowering the upper age limit that currently applies from 19 years to 18 years. The impact of this measure is being phased in, with payment for existing and future qualifying children being halved from January 2009 and payment stopping from the 18th birthday from January 2010.

However, it is recognised that any changes in child benefit entitlements may have implications for family budgets. Accordingly, in order to protect the more vulnerable in society, special alleviating measures are being introduced for those in low income and social welfare dependent households.

A compensatory payment of €15 is being provided during 2009 and 2010 for any week during which those affected by this measure are receiving a social welfare payment which includes an increase in respect of the 18 year old child or a family income supplement payment which includes payment in respect of that child. In addition, households affected by the measure who also qualify for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance will receive an extra payment of €215, bringing the total payment in respect of such a child to €520.

These compensatory measures will mean that social welfare families or low income earners with children between the ages of 18 and 19 years will, in general, be protected from the effects of this measure, as they will receive an additional €19.15 a week between the weekly compensatory payment and the back to school clothing and footwear allowance.

Michael McGrath

Question:

354 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the status of an application for rent supplement by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [38145/08]

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, which is administered on behalf of the department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive, provides for the payment of rent supplement to eligible people whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs.

The Health Service Executive has advised that it has no record of a claim for rent supplement from the person concerned. It has further advised that she should make application for rent supplement to the local community welfare officer who will assess her entitlement to a supplement.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

355 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the basis for the projected 2% decline in deserted wife’s benefit in the 2009 Estimate over the 2008 Estimate. [37866/08]

Deserted Wife's Benefit is a payment made to a woman deserted by her husband. Entitlement to payment is based on Social Insurance contributions paid by the wife or her husband. Deserted Wife's Benefit scheme was discontinued for new applications with effect from January 1997 when One Parent Family Payment was introduced. However, people who were in receipt of this scheme at that stage continued to receive their payment, and will continue to receive such payment, as long as they satisfy the conditions of entitlement.

The projected €2.1 million (2%) decline in Deserted Wife's Benefit in the 2009 Estimate over the 2008 Estimate reflects the declining client base for these schemes as current recipients reach pension age or otherwise lose their entitlement through a change in their circumstances.

Departmental Expenditure.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

356 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the basis for the projected decline of 20% in pre-retirement allowance in the 2009 Estimate over the 2008 Estimate. [37867/08]

Pre-Retirement Allowance is a means tested payment for people aged 55 and over who opt to retire from the labour force. People transferred to this scheme from Jobseeker's Allowance (formerly Unemployment Assistance). The Pre-Retirement allowance scheme was discontinued for new applicants with effect from July 2007. However, people who were in receipt of the payment at that stage continued to receive their payment, and will continue to receive such payments, as long as they satisfy the conditions of entitlement.

The projected decline of €26.6 million (20%) in Pre-Retirement allowance in the 2009 Estimate over the 2008 Estimate reflects the declining client base for these schemes as current recipients reach normal pension age.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

357 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the basis for the projected decline of 9% in social assistance and other allowances in the 2009 Estimate over the 2008 Estimate. [37868/08]

The Social Assistance and other allowance subhead relates to the means tested payment for deserted wives and prisoners' wives schemes. These schemes were discontinued for new claimants with effect from January 1997, when One Parent Family Payment was introduced. However, people who were in receipt of these schemes at that stage continued to receive their payment, and will continue to receive such payments, as long as they satisfy the conditions of entitlement.

The projected decline of €0.6 million (9%) in Social Assistance and other allowance in the 2009 Estimate over the 2008 Estimate reflects the declining client base for these schemes as current recipients reach pension age or otherwise lose their entitlement through a change in their circumstances.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

358 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the basis for the projected decline of 27% in section T2 of the 2009 Estimates over the 2008 Estimate. [37869/08]

Subhead T2 provides for the Exchequer's contribution to projects under the social inclusion and social protection strand of the EU Community Action Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS) 2007 to 2013, which involve Irish partners (both statutory and non-statutory).

EU funding for the projects amounts to approximately 80% of project costs, with the remaining 20% to be supplied by the participating partners. In the case of Irish project partners, the 20% matching funding is provided by the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Over the period of this programme, applications from Ireland for funding were fewer than originally anticipated. The funding of €90,000 provided for 2009 is considered to be more than sufficient to cover any project requirements which may arise. In this regard it should be noted that the highest expenditure in any one year to date did not exceed €64,000.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

359 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the basis for the projected decline of 8% in its grant to the Citizen’s Information Board in the 2009 Estimate over the 2008 Estimate. [37870/08]

The projected decline of €2.45 million (8%) in the grant to the Citizen's Information Board in the 2009 Estimate over the 2008 Estimate is due to measures taken by the Board to control expenditure next year.

These measures include:

A 3% reduction in payroll costs over 2008, through the management of staff vacancies.

A 50% reduction in expenditure on consultancy, advertising and promotional activities.

The deferral of the introduction of the Personal Advocacy Service.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

360 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the rates of back to school clothing and footwear allowance that will apply in 2009. [37871/08]

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance scheme is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive. Applications for the allowance may be made between the beginning of June and the end of September each year.

The 2009 rates are €200 for children aged 2 to 11 years old and €305 for children aged 12 to 22. In Budget 2009, I have increased the income thresholds for entitlement to back to school clothing and footwear allowance by €50. This will bring the income limits for the allowance for parents with one child to €559.80 (for couples) and €406.30 for lone parents. The new income limits will enable an estimated 18,000 additional families to benefit from the scheme.

A person may qualify for payment of an allowance if they are in receipt of a social welfare payment or Health Service Executive payment, are participating in an approved employment scheme or attending a recognised education and training course and have household income at or below the income limits. People in receipt of family income supplement may also qualify.

Joe Costello

Question:

361 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37875/08]

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, which is administered on my behalf by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive, provides for the payment of rent supplement to eligible people whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs.

The Health Service Executive has advised that the person concerned has been refused rent supplement on the grounds that her partner is engaged in full-time employment. Rent supplement is not payable in circumstances where the applicant or spouse is engaged in remunerative full-time employment. A spouse is defined in the relevant legislative provisions as "each person of a married couple who are living together, or a man and woman who are not married to each other but are cohabiting as husband and wife".

This decision has been upheld by the Executive's designated Appeals Officer. It is open to the person concerned to appeal against this decision to the Chief Appeals Officer of the Department.

Finian McGrath

Question:

362 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will support a proposal (details supplied). [37934/08]

Joe McHugh

Question:

374 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will reverse her decision on the qualifying age for the disability allowance in budget 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38313/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 362 and 374 together.

A number of families and representative groups expressed concerns about the impact of the changes to the DA scheme announced in Budget 2009. Having reflected on these concerns the Government, on my recommendation, agreed that the existing arrangements, whereby DA is paid to 16 and 17 year olds, will continue pending completion of a full review of the DA scheme.

The changes announced as part of the Social Welfare Budget were designed to address concerns raised by a number of bodies about the appropriateness of paying young people a social welfare payment in their own right at the age of 16.

The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies in particular had argued in a submission to the Department's review of the Disability Allowance Scheme that "at present the age for receipt of DA is 16 years. We deem this to be too young. This does not give an incentive for a child to pursue work/education options. Subsequently a child may fall into the dependency trap too early. Instead parents should receive the Domiciliary Care Allowance for the child until they are 18 years old." The Government's motivation in making changes to the Disability Allowance was to address these concerns.

Last week I met with six different groups representing people with disabilities and disability service providers (namely the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, Inclusion Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland, People with Disabilities in Ireland, the National Disability Authority and Rehab). At these meetings, the underlying principle of the Budget measure, i.e. that it is inappropriate to pay a social welfare payment to a 16 year old in his or her own right, was not seriously contested. The key concern expressed by the groups related to the loss of expected income at short notice to families of young people with disabilities.

Following these meetings, I recommended to the Government that the Disability Allowance continue to be paid to 16 and 17 year olds pending a full review of the scheme. The review is considering a wide range of issues as identified by groups representing people with disabilities and their families, by service providers and will take account of a forthcoming report on disability and illness benefits by the OECD. It will also draw on new data published by the Central Statistics Office last week from the National Disability Survey 2006.

Live Register.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

363 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons registered as unemployed at the Coolock and Kilbarrack social welfare office in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37940/08]

The table shows the monthly Live Register figures for late October 2004 to 2007 and for end of September 2008, for both the Coolock and Kilbarrack Social Welfare Local Offices.

The end of October 2008 figure will be published by the Central Statistics Office later this week.

Coolock

Kilbarrack

29/10/04

2,482

2,475

28/10/05

2,259

2,259

27/10/06

2,226

2,058

26/10/07

2,247

2,054

26/09/08

2,922

2,877

Departmental Staff.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

364 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of vacancies at executive officer level within her Department in Athlone and Tullamore as on 15 October 2008; when these vacancies will be filled from existing panels in the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37946/08]

As at 15th October 2008 there were no vacancies at Executive Officer level in my Department's offices in Athlone and Tullamore.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

365 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the rules governing the payment of child benefit to parents who are EU citizens residing and working here but whose families and children are residing in their home country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37994/08]

Child Benefit is payable to children who are ordinarily resident in the state or who reside with a qualified person outside the state, while that person is a member of the defence forces, a civil servant posted abroad, a volunteer development worker or who remain insurable under Irish Social insurance while working abroad.

EU Migrant workers may have an entitlement to Child Benefit and other "Family benefits" under EU Regulation 1408/71. Where a national of an EU state is working in Ireland, she/he is entitled to payment of these benefits, even if his/her children are resident in the worker's home country.

The social security rights of people living and working in the EU are governed by EU Regulations 1408/71 and 574/72. The Regulations co-ordinate social security systems and are designed to ensure that people are not disadvantaged by moving within the EU to take up work. This is achieved primarily by setting out rules as to which State's social security a person will pay insurance when, for example, s/he moves from one Member State to another to take up work or where s/he lives in one State and works in another. In addition, the Regulations also set out rules as to which State will pay benefit in the event of the usual contingencies arising, sickness, unemployment old-age etc.

The general rule is that a person is insured in the State in which s/he works. Equally, the state of employment has, in general, responsibility for paying benefits when, for example, a person becomes unemployed or ill. The Regulations also provide that, when entitlement to benefit is being examined, account must be taken of insurance paid in any other Member State where the person worked.

For the purposes of the EU Regulation, Irish Child Benefit and Early Childcare Supplement are classified as Family Benefits and there are specific rules governing the payment of these benefits.

Because entitlement to family benefits can often arise in more than one Member State (based on residence and/or employment) the Regulations set out a number of rules in order to determine which country pays family benefits. The main ones are:

Residence requirements in national legislation (such as the habitual residence condition in Ireland) are overridden.

The level of payment of family benefits in the State of employment has priority over the level of payment in the State of residence. If there is employment in two States, the level of payment in the State of residence of the children has priority.

If the level of payment of family benefits in the State of residence is higher than that in the State of employment, the State of residence is required to pay a supplement equal to the difference between the two amounts.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

366 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the typical average waiting period from date of application, until first date of payment, with specific regard to child benefit in the month of October in each of the years 2000 to 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37997/08]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

367 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of applications received in the child benefit sections in each of the years 2000 to 2007 and to date in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37998/08]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

370 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the average length of time for processing applications for child benefit; if her attention has been drawn to the delays in the processing of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38202/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 366, 367 and 370 together.

There is no delay in processing the majority of Child Benefit applications. Awards on behalf of Irish-born children are processed either automatically or in a partially automated way using the child's birth details when they are registered with the General Registrar's Office. The average processing time for these claims is less than 10 days. Payments on behalf of some 65,000 children were paid this way in 2007.

Currently there are delays in processing Child Benefit claims for children born outside Ireland who have come to live in Ireland with their parents, and also claims for children who reside in another EU member state but have an entitlement to Irish Child Benefit under EU regulations (non-resident children). In the case of non-Irish born children resident in Ireland, these cases are slower to process as the customer must satisfy the Habitual Residency condition test and this may entail contacting employers, the Department of Justice and other relevant bodies to confirm their status in the state. The residence of the children in Ireland must also be confirmed. This additional complexity, combined with an increase in the volume of applications received in recent years, has led to arrears of claims to be processed. This is currently being addressed. There is a total of 7,300 such claims awaiting processing, with a further 1,600 cases which have been partially processed and where the Department is waiting on additional information to finalise the claims. Additional staff resources have been assigned to this area and it is envisaged that all claims on hand will be cleared in the early part of 2009. Average processing time for these claims at present is 10 months.

EU nationals who come to work in Ireland but whose families remain in their home country may have an entitlement to Family Benefits in Ireland under EU Regulation 1408/71. Before payment of Child Benefit is made for these non-resident children it is necessary amongst other things, to contact the authorities in the country of residence of the children to confirm details and establish what, if any, family benefits are payable in the home country as this will determine entitlement to Irish payments. This process can take a number of months to complete in normal circumstances. There are some 8,800 such claims awaiting processing, with a further 2,400 cases where the Department is waiting on additional information to finalise the claims. These claims are being processed with the assistance of additional temporary staff recruited for this purpose. It is anticipated that these claims will be cleared during the first half of 2009. At this point it is taking an average of 18 months to process these claims to completion.

Details of the average waiting period between receipt of the application and the date of first payment as requested are not available. The processing time for a Child Benefit claim depends on the complexity of the individual claim and the volume of such claims that have been received at that point in time. Based on an analysis carried out in 2003 when the claim process for Child Benefit was automated, it is clear that the processing time for claim for children born in Ireland has reduced due to the automation. Such claims are now normally processed within 3-10 days, but would previously have taken between three and four weeks.

Claims for children born outside Ireland, whether living in Ireland or not, are taking significantly longer to process at present than they did in the period 2000- 2005, this is as a result of the significant increase in such claims since 2006. The number of claims for non-resident children increased nearly twenty fold in the seven year period from 2000, while the total number of claims received is up 50% overall in this period.

The number of Child Benefit claims received in each of the years 2000 to date is shown as follows:

Year

1st child

Additional Children

EU regulation claims non-resident children

Total

2000

29,648

32,076

808

62,532

2001

31,602

33,710

886

66,198

2002

32,746

37,082

1,618

71,446

2003

35,814

37,277

1,301

74,392

2004

36,072

39,819

1,275

77,166

2005

41,327

38,003

2,385

81,715

2006

43,467

38,343

15,897

97,707

2007

45,647

39,426

10,650

95,723

2008 Sept

34,018

31,510

4,724

70,252

Departmental Staff.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

368 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of civil servants working within the child benefit section; the number engaged in the processing of applications for Irish born children; the number engaged in the processing of applications of children born within the European Union; the average number of staff in the child benefit section in each of the years 2000 to 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37999/08]

At the 1st November 2008, there were 106 permanent posts and 24 temporary posts in the Child Payments area in the Department, comprising Child Benefit and Early Childcare Supplement. 23 permanent posts and 16 temporary posts are deployed on claims in respect of non-resident children, under EU regulations. 83 permanent posts and 8 temporary posts are deployed on claims for children resident in Ireland.

The following table details staff numbers in the Child Payments area from the year 2000 to 2007.

Year

Number of Posts

2000

74.5

2001

75.0

2002

87.5

2003

94.8

2004

88.5

2005

66.2

2006

69.2

2007

94.4

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

369 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason it is deemed necessary for County Mayo social welfare applicants to apply to her Department’s office in Sligo for a statement of their payments for a calendar year rather than obtaining this information in their local social welfare office, as these statements are needed to support third level grant applications; the further reason it often takes weeks for such statements to issue from her Department and that there is no computerised system which would allow this information to issue from the local social welfare office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38125/08]

Local Offices provide statements of benefit paid to customers in respect of the schemes administered at local level such as jobseeker's benefit and jobseeker's allowance. The Department is in the process of localising the One-Parent Family Payment Scheme to the network of local offices across the country. Where a One-Parent Family Payment claim is held at the local office, that office, of course will, provide a statement to the customer where required.

There is still a stock of One-Parent Family Payment claims administered centrally in the Social Welfare Services Office in Sligo. Requests for benefit statements for these claims are handled centrally where staff have access to all the relevant claim papers. The same applies to other schemes administered centrally such as State Pension, Widow's/Widower's Pension and Disability Allowance. While Local Office staff have computer access to certain payment details in relation to these claims, they do not have access to the claim papers which may contain additional information in relation to payments made to a customer. There is always a large increase in the number of requests for statements during September and October from those seeking college grants, rent reviews by Local Authorities and from customers making a self-employed tax return. Additional staff are deployed to issuing statements during this peak period and every effort is made to deal with these requests as speedily as possible. So far this year the Social Welfare Services Office in Sligo has received requests for almost 45,500 statements. The average processing time for these statements is less than 7 working days. In 2007, over 47,500 requests were received. Any customer who requests a statement by phone will be advised of the likely timeframe involved.

Question No. 370 answered with Question No. 366.

Pension Provisions.

John Deasy

Question:

371 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her views on the delays people are experiencing in accessing their pension records from the UK and the United States; the steps her Department are taking to expedite the process as applications are taking up to a year to process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38243/08]

The processing time for claims that fall to be examined under EU and Bilateral agreements take longer than that for standard Irish entitlements, reflecting the added complexity that arises in determining entitlements under these agreements, and the necessity to obtain the relevant insurance details from overseas social security institutions.

The majority of social insurance records are received from the Department of Work and Pensions, United Kingdom (UK) within three months. Where there is employment prior to 1975 it can take up to six months to obtain a persons record as these records are not readily accessible. With regard to requests for records from the United States (US), it takes approximately three weeks to obtain a social insurance record.

The Department has established a good working relationship with the Department of Work and Pensions and the United States Social Security Administration. Regular direct communication takes place with these bodies to ensure the accurate, complete and timely transfer of the information required to decide pension claims.

Delays in processing applications do not ultimately result in any losses to pensioners as payment is made from the due entitlement date.

Overall, I am satisfied that the current arrangements and procedures are working effectively and efficiently.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

372 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the average cost to the State per week of a household supported through rent supplement, broken down by unit size, including one bed, two bed and three bed units. [38259/08]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes rent supplement, is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive. The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to 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.

At the end of September 2008, there were 67,519 people in receipt of rent supplement. The average weekly rent supplement payment is €128.15. Data on the average cost per unit size is not available.

Michael Creed

Question:

373 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the assistance available from her Department for self-employed tradespeople whose income and turnover has substantially declined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38297/08]

Self-employed persons pay a modified rate of PRSI contribution (Class S). These contributions provide cover for long-term pensions such as state pension and widow's/widower's contributory pension. However they do not provide cover for short-term benefits such as jobseeker's and illness benefits. Where a self-employed person had been in insurable employment and has PRSI contribution at appropriate class s/he may qualify for a jobseeker's benefit payment.

To get a jobseeker's payment a person must fulfil certain conditions including that the person be available for work and be looking for work. A self-employed person with the relevant contributions paid may qualify for a jobseeker's benefit payment if they are unemployed for three days or more in any period of six consecutive days.

If a self-employed person has not got sufficient PRSI contributions they may qualify for a jobseeker's allowance which is a means-tested payment. Generally, in assessing the means of a self-employed person, a Social Welfare Inspector will take into account the level of earnings in the preceding 12 months to determine their expected income in the following year. However, with the general downturn in the construction industry at the moment it is accepted that less work is available in that sector and that earnings in the previous 12 months may not be representative of expected earnings in the coming year. The Social Welfare Inspector will take account of this fact in projecting future earnings.

The means test also involves an assessment of the person's savings and investments, any property they may own apart from the family home, and any other income such as a pension from a former employer or from another country. If the weekly means assessed are less than the appropriate rate for the jobseeker's allowance scheme, the person will qualify for a payment regardless of the number of days worked in any week. If the weekly means exceed the appropriate rate, the person will have no entitlement to a payment.

Persons engaged in self-employment pay PRSI contributions as follows:

Self Employed

Rates of contribution from 1 January 2008

CLASS S

This covers self-employed people, including certain company directors, and certain people with income from investments and rent.

Subclass

Weekly Pay Band

How much of weekly pay

All Income

S0

Up To €500 Inclusive

ALL

3.00%

S1

More Than €500

First €1,925

5.00%

Balance

5.50%

S2*

More Than €500

ALL

3.00%

*Subclass S2 applies to medical card holders and to people getting a social welfare Widow's or Widower's Pension, One-Parent Family Payment or Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance.

The vast majority of persons in insurable employment pay a Class A PRSI contribution, details of which are set out in the following table:

Private and Public sector employments

Rates of contribution from 1 January 2008

CLASS A

This covers employees under the age of 66 in industrial, commercial and service-type employment who have reckonable pay of €38 or more per week from all employments as well as Public Servants recruited from 6 April 1995.

Weekly pay is the employee’s money pay plus notional pay (if applicable).

Subclass

Weekly Pay Band

How much of weekly pay

First €50,700

Over €50,700

EE

ER

EE

ER

AO

€38-€352 inclusive

ALL

Nil

8.5%

Nil

8.5%

AX

€352.01-€356 inclusive

First €127

Nil

8.5%

Nil

8.5%

Balance

4.00%

8.5%

Nil

8.5%

AL

€356.01-€500 inclusive

First €127

Nil

10.75%

Nil

10.75%

Balance

4.00%

10.75%

Nil

10.75%

A1 OR

More than €500

First €127

2.00%

10.75%

2.00%

10.75%

€127.01-€1925

6.00%

10.75%

2.00%

10.75%

Balance

6.50%

10.75%

2.50%

10.75%

A2*

More than €500

First €127

Nil

10.75%

Nil

10.75%

Balance

4.00%

10.75%

Nil

10.75%

*Subclass A2 applies to medical card holders and to people getting a Widow's or Widower's Pension, a One-Parent Family Payment or a Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance.

Question No. 374 answered with Question No. 362.

Willie Penrose

Question:

375 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person who is in receipt of the old age pension, and whose spouse becomes seriously ill and is also in receipt of the old age pension, and who is in need of constant full time care and attention, is entitled to carer’s allowance because of the health condition of their spouse whereby they must be available at all times to give the necessary help, attendance and medical treatment to the care recipient; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38471/08]

Carer's allowance is a means tested income support payment for people who are providing full-time care and attention to a person in need of such care.

Budget 2007 provided for new arrangements whereby people can receive a maximum payment equivalent to a half-rate carers allowance while receiving another social welfare payment, other than jobseeker's benefit or allowance. Persons in receipt of a state pension contributory or non-contributory who satisfy the conditions for receipt of carer's allowance may qualify for a half-rate carer's allowance in addition to their pension.

People in receipt of carer's allowance (regardless of age) are eligible for the household benefits package which comprises the electricity/gas allowance, the telephone allowance and the free television licence scheme. The annual value of the household benefits package is in the region of €1,000 a year. Recipients of carer's allowance also qualify for the free travel scheme.

From June 2005, the annual respite care grant was extended to all carers who are providing full-time care regardless of their income. The rate of the grant increased to €1,700 per year from June 2008.

Army Barracks.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

376 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Defence the annual cost of running and maintaining each existing Army barracks. [38254/08]

It is not possible to give a detailed breakdown by individual barracks due to the extensive effort involved in compiling the information required. However, the Defence Forces spend approximately €11 million annually on utilities such as electricity, gas, heating oil, water and waste disposal across twenty seven military installations including barracks and training areas. Another €12 million is also spent annually on building maintenance.

Ministerial Responsibilities.

John O'Mahony

Question:

377 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Defence the role and responsibilities of each of his Ministers of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38284/08]

The Minster of State at my Department, Deputy Pat Carey also performs the role of Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach. While I have not delegated a specific function to the Minister of State, I do however on an ongoing basis request his assistance in the execution of certain duties. Minister Carey has deputised for me at official events on a number of occasions when I have been unable to attend due to prior diary commitments.

Departmental Expenditure.

Denis Naughten

Question:

378 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Defence the budget within his Department and other Government Departments for youth affairs in 2008; the proposed budget for 2009; the impact this will have on the provision of front-line services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39187/08]

My Department has no specific budget for youth affairs in 2008 or 2009.

Tax Code.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

379 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way the proposed tax on second homes will operate; if the money will be retained by the local authority in which the second home is situated. [38423/08]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

386 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way the €200 charge on non-principal private residences will operate; the position regarding multiple owners and the person who will have to pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37984/08]

I propose to take Question Nos. 379 and 386 together.

The Government has decided to broaden the revenue base of local authorities through the introduction of a charge on all non-principal private residences, and this will be used to support the provision of local services. I intend to bring forward legislation to implement the proposed charge as soon as possible, and this will set out the detailed measures necessary to give effect to it.

Road Network.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

380 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the procedures and avenues of redress that exist for a citizen to make a complaint against a local authority, when the local authority has completed a road project in variance to plans lodged with and approved by An Bord Pleanála and when such variance has led to increased noise pollution and road safety concerns in a residential area. [37841/08]

I have no function in relation to roads projects approved by An Bord Pleanála under the Roads Act 1993, as amended. My Department has issued guidelines to local authorities regarding the establishment and operation of effective customer complaints systems. Any person who is not satisfied with a service or action of a local authority should in the first instance make a formal complaint to that authority. Complaints regarding the actions of a local authority may also be made to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Housing Grants.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

381 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the shortfall in funding for housing adaption, mobility aids and housing aids for the elderly grants in Kildare County Council in view of the fact there is a shortfall of €7 million, and if he will allocate further funding to Kildare County Council to deal with this shortfall. [37881/08]

Jack Wall

Question:

397 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on a report (details supplied) and on a previous parliamentary question; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38343/08]

I propose to take Question Nos. 381 and 397 together.

A number of local authorities have experienced heightened levels of activity under the revised suite of Housing Adaptation Grant schemes for older people and people with a disability following their launch in November 2007. All authorities have been requested to operate the grant schemes on a prioritised basis, within available resources, in order to ensure that the available funding is targeted towards those applicants experiencing greatest need.

To take account of particularly significant levels of activity experienced by a number of local authorities, supplementary Exchequer allocations totalling €8.6 million were made in September and October 2008. The October supplementary Exchequer allocations included an additional allocation of €250,000 to Kildare County Council.

In addition, and in line with my objective of prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable hou