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 8, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 9 to 45, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 46 to 53, inclusive, answered orally.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

54 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will divert resources from FÁS to increase the number of training places and PLC courses provided in education by the vocational education committees and institutes of technology; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7423/09]

The State makes a significant investment in training measures for both employed and unemployed. In order to oversee the efficient delivery of training provision for the employed, an Upskilling Coordination Group chaired by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment was established. This Group is comprised of representatives from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Department of Education and Science and their respective key training providers including FÁS, Skillnets, Engineers Ireland, the County Enterprise Boards, the Vocational Educational Colleges, the Institutes of Technology and the Higher Education Authority.

The purpose of this group is to discuss any issues concerning the provision of training that arise amongst the State's key training providers. It aims to improve interagency cooperation, facilitate the exchange of information on operational and policy aspects and the avoidance of duplication. It also aims to ensure that the impact realised from the State's investment in education and training is maximized.

The Tánaiste recently announced the availability of 51,000 new training places under the FÁS Training Initiatives Strategy. These places are in addition to the 27,000 previously planned for 2009 under the Bridging Foundation Training, Specific Skills Training and Traineeships Programmes. These programmes will provide short training courses for those who are recently unemployed. The Training Initiative Strategy enhances the traditional mix of course offerings and will be delivered through three core-training initiatives, Short Courses, Night Courses and Online Courses. The courses are for highly employable persons who wish to add to their existing skills level and improve their prospects of re-entering the labour market. The night courses offer further flexibility and the online courses provide an excellent option for those who need a fast flexible intervention and who prefer a self directed E learning and blended learning environment.

In the current economic climate it is important to ensure that people can avail of such relatively immediate up-skilling to best position themselves for employment. FÁS already contracts with some VECs or Institutes of Technology for provision of training courses. All of these organisations are working together at both national and local level to ensure that both the education and training sectors respond in an optimal way to the situation we are currently facing.

Departmental Agencies.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

55 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the concerns expressed by the Dáil Committee of Public Accounts in relation to FÁS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7195/09]

I welcome the report on FÁS by the Public Accounts Committee, which was published last week and I commend the Committee for the work carried out in this matter. I will be paying particular attention to the recommendations made and to the underlying rationale for making them. I note that while the report in general concentrates on the things that went wrong, the Committee is of the view that the good work being done by the employees of FÁS should not be overlooked and this examination is no reflection on their role and the valuable contribution they make to Irish life. I fully concur with this view.

Many of the issues contained in the report have already been aired in public. I have previously expressed my concerns in respect of various matters raised by internal audit reports in FÁS and subsequently taken up by the C&AG in an earlier report on a number of public bodies. Since the publication of those reports a series of steps have been undertaken to deal with the matters raised. In particular:

FÁS has clarified its procedures and strengthened its internal controls;

An internal cross-functional communications and marketing strategy group has been established in FÁS;

FÁS has passed certain issues to the Gardaí for investigation;

A new Director General has been appointed on a temporary basis;

The C&AG has commenced a wide-ranging investigation in FÁS, which includes internal controls, governance arrangements, marketing and advertising and specific follow-up of matters raised in the course of hearings of the Committee of Public Accounts;

A review of the Science Challenge Initiative with a view to making recommendations on the Initiative's future is currently underway, and it will be completed shortly.

In my view, FÁS should continue to remain focused on its core mission, given the employment and training challenges currently facing the country. The Board of FÁS has already stated that whatever additional actions are necessary arising from the Report will be fully implemented.

Community Employment Schemes.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

56 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has plans to increase the number of community employment schemes to help reduce unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7408/09]

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

The aim of CE still remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment. The programme is managed within this context, with consideration to the availability of resources and the needs of participants and the community. FÁS makes every effort to ensure that differing levels of demand between neighbouring schemes are equalised. FÁS also operates the programme flexibly as far as possible to ensure the continuation of community projects. The following table contains a breakdown of the categories of CE participants as at 23 February 2009:

Category

Number

CE participants

21,059

CE Supervisors

1,426

People with disabilities

6,026

Over 55s

6,628

Lone Parents

5,050

Drugs Task Force places

856

This Government will continue to support the positive role of CE in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. I am keeping the operation of the Scheme under constant review in the context of the current difficult unemployment situation.

Departmental Expenditure.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

57 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, further to the answer given to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 39 and 40 of 29 January 2009, the precise reasons for public funds being disallowed or recovered for all programmes or other activities operated by or on behalf of her Department; the amount and percentage of public funds so disallowed or recovered in relation to each project or activity involved; the overall amounts and percentages of such public funds so disallowed or recovered for each programme or activity; if she will confirm that the only recourse to legal and auditing actions across her Department or its agencies in relation to this organisation has been as recounted in her reply to these parliamentary questions on 29 January 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7442/09]

The detailed information being sought by the Deputy, going back to 2000, is currently being researched across my Department; however, given the short time available to me since the Deputy tabled this Question, I am not yet in a position to provide those details. I will however, communicate further with the Deputy once the research is complete.

The House will appreciate that my Department administers Exchequer funds, European funds, most notably the European Social Fund (ESF), and the National Training Fund (NTF) and in so doing we implement an array of central Government, European Commission and, of course, our own internal financial controls — all aimed at ensuring that national and European moneys are properly applied. Where an audit or other financial "check" by, or on behalf of, my Department appears to suggest that moneys may have been misapplied or, as may sometimes occur, technical breaches of financial accounting requirements may have occurred, my Department, in the first instance, works with the Body concerned to endeavour to resolve the matter such that the financial procedures being implemented by the Body concerned are brought back into compliance with minimal recoupment of funds resulting. In some cases, for example under the European Structural Funds Financial Regulations, a breach of those regulations can often be corrected in such a way that the structural funds are not lost to Ireland, although they may have to be recovered from the particular Body concerned and applied elsewhere.

In that regard, I should stress that my Department works collaboratively with the Bodies we fund in an effort to minimize the prospect of a breach of financial control systems. Nonetheless, it can come to pass that in some cases we inevitably have to seek to recover moneys where they were misapplied or simply not adequately or properly accounted for, although this is always the last option we seek to exercise, save in cases of fraud or embezzlement etc.

Finally, in relation to the specific case the Deputy raises in the early part of his Question, I am informed that the Body concerned failed an audit control check by my Department in that the "audit trail" requirements under EU Structural Funds rules were not met. In such circumstances, my Department has sought to recover the moneys involved and that process is in train. Accordingly, I would prefer not to go further into the details of the issues involved at this time as the matter is currently before the Courts, although I would be happy to share with the Deputy and the House the details of the case once the matter has been brought to a conclusion.

Economic Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

58 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way she will address the lack of competitiveness in the economy; when she became aware of this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7337/09]

Our immediate policy objectives with regard to competitiveness are to restore confidence and stability in our economy, provide supports to the enterprise sector, restore cost competitiveness, safeguard the significant achievements of recent years and ensure a return to sustainable export growth. Under the Framework for Economic Renewal we are taking a number of measures across Government to address these objectives. At this time I think it is also important to point out that Ireland made significant progress over the past decade in transforming our economy and building fundamental strengths, and so we enter this period of uncertainty from a strong base.

Competitiveness has a number of dimensions and is a very broad policy area. Ireland continues to be a leading country in terms of the attraction of overseas investment. The IBM Global Location Trends Annual Report 2008 in October 2008, ranks Ireland as one of the top performers at 3rd place for attracting R&D investment. The Lisbon Council's "European Jobs and Growth" Monitor as recently as November 2008, ranks Ireland 2nd most competitive economy in Europe in 2008. Educational attainment in Ireland has increased significantly in recent years and Ireland is also making substantial progress in strengthening its research and development capabilities. We also have a substantial and sustained focus on our targeted capital investment programme. To help business cope with the current difficulties we have taken determined action to address the fundamental issue of access to finance for business, by way of the new code of practice for banks linked to the re-capitalisation scheme.

Cost competitiveness is also a particular focus of action. Already there are indicators in our favour with inflation, commodity and other prices falling. With regard to energy costs, I made my views clear in the House a number of weeks ago and I am glad that the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has now indicated that he expects that there will be a double-digit reduction in electricity prices before the end of the year. A reduction in energy costs will be highly significant in protecting employment and maintaining business activities.

We are committed to maintain low business taxes and will ensure that our policies keep pace with the way business is changing. The Government recently introduced a Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal, called "Building Ireland's Smart Economy" which sets out a clear roadmap for Ireland's move back to economic growth and prosperity. The Cabinet Committee for Economic Renewal will drive this strategy and we will continue to pursue policies that will build on our strengths, address our weaknesses and ensure that we are well placed to take advantage of the global upturn when it comes.

Departmental Agencies.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

59 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she is satisfied that a person (details supplied) has returned to work at FÁS; if representations were made by trade unions advocating their re-instatement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7377/09]

The management of human resource issues is a day-to-day matter for FÁS as provided for in the Labour Services Act, 1987.

Retail Sector.

Shane McEntee

Question:

60 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the National Consumer Agency price survey which showed a 50% differential in retail prices between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; her further views on whether this is fair to retailers here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7347/09]

Liz McManus

Question:

62 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she will take to require retailers to explain price differentials in view of her recent address to the Checkout Conference 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7270/09]

Liz McManus

Question:

94 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the Forfás report published in December 2008, which found that while retail costs are higher here, this differential could not account for the significantly higher prices being charged for many key consumer goods here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7269/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60, 62 and 94 together.

The issue of north south price differentials has been the subject of concern for some time. The House will be aware of the widespread concerns, particularly amongst consumers, that the benefits of the Euro's appreciation in value against Sterling are not being passed on by way of lower prices in the shops. These concerns were heightened by a number of cross border surveys undertaken by the National Consumer Agency which showed significant differentials in the price of a range of goods in this jurisdiction as compared with prices for those goods in Northern Ireland.

In the light of these concerns, I initiated an engagement with the retail sector to ascertain the reasons why the benefits of the Euro's appreciation were not being passed on to consumers. In the course of this ongoing engagement, I have met with the various links in the retail chain including retailers, suppliers, distributors and manufacturers. Different and indeed conflicting reasons have been proffered as to why prices in this jurisdiction are higher than in the Northern Ireland and the UK. Prominent among these reasons was that the cost of doing business in Ireland was significantly higher than the cost of operating in the UK. Accordingly, I requested Forfás to carry out an analysis of the relative cost of doing business in a number of locations in the Republic, Northern Ireland and the UK. Forfás' analysis, which was published late last year, found that whilst the cost of doing business was indeed higher in this jurisdiction, the extent of this additional cost would only justify a differential of 5-6% in prices between the south and the north. It is clear therefore, that operating costs, whilst somewhat higher in this jurisdiction, do not account for the current level of price differentials.

Aside from operating cost considerations, there is considerable disagreement among the different elements of the retail chain as to reasons for the north south price differentials. In my meetings with retailers, they have strongly contended that the costs to retailers of sourcing goods in Ireland is significantly greater than the costs of sourcing such goods in Northern Ireland and the UK and that the current structure of the wholesale and distribution cost base in Ireland is preventing the benefits of the Euro's appreciation in value from being passed on to consumers. Suppliers and distributors for their part have contended that there is a significant imbalance in the relationship between retailers and suppliers which is giving rise to suppliers being squeezed by the increasingly difficult demands being made by retailers.

The Government for its part is strongly of the view that it is not acceptable that the benefits of the Euro's appreciation of approximately 30% in value over sterling is not being passed on by way of lower prices to consumers in all cases. It is incumbent upon all links in the retail chain to play their part in ensuring that there is the greatest degree of transparency possible as to reasons for the current north south price differentials, particularly given their possible impact on the national economy in terms of loss of employment, loss of trade, loss of revenue to the exchequer and loss of value to the consumer. It is my intention, therefore, to continue to pursue this issue with the retail sector to ensure that Irish consumers receive a fair deal and value for money when doing their day to day shopping.

Departmental Agencies.

Damien English

Question:

61 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the purpose and costs associated with establishing a statutory board for the National Employment Rights Authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7383/09]

The Employment Law Compliance Bill, which is currently being considered at second stage in the Dáil provides, in Section 19, for the establishment of an Advisory Board to NERA. The purpose of the Board is to act in an Advisory capacity to the Director and to allow NERA to draw on the collective expertise and knowledge of the members. The Board has been established on an interim basis since April 2008 and comprises a chair, three members nominated by the Unions and the Employers' side and, three independent experts appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The intention is that the Board will provide policy advice and input and feedback to the Office on:

matters relating to compliance with, and enforcement of, employment legislation;

the provisions of NERA's Three-year Strategy Statement and its annual work Programme;

the provision of employment rights information;

the delivery of a high standard of customer service by NERA;

proposals for research, surveys and studies.

At the request of the Director, the Board can be asked to advise on any matters relating to the Director's functions. The Bill envisages that the Chairperson of the Advisory Board will present an Annual Report to the Minister and the Director on its activities during the previous year which Report will be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. NERA provides secretarial facilities, services and support to the Board. No fees are payable to members of the Advisory Board. The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, pay allowances to cover member's expenses.

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 60.

Company Closures.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

63 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the contacts she has had with persons seeking to purchase a company (details supplied) with a view to keeping it operating as a going concern; if she has received a request for assistance from those involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7257/09]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

72 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the assistance she will provide to employees of a company (details supplied) in their efforts to save their jobs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7258/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

82 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the correspondence that has taken place between herself and a company (details supplied) in relation to the acquisition of another company as a going concern. [7321/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 63, 72 and 82 together.

I have been directly involved in the on-going situation in Waterford Crystal for some time now. Both myself and my Senior Officials have engaged in a series of meetings relating to the future of this company. The company is currently in receivership. I have met with the Receiver, on a number of occasions since his appointment last month. The Receiver, himself, has had discussions with parties who have expressed an interest in becoming involved in the future of the company. The Receiver's objectives include, inter alia, negotiation of a sale that would secure the maximum number of jobs in Waterford and the continuation of Waterford Crystal as a going concern.

I have also met with certain parties who might be interested in becoming involved with Waterford Crystal. These discussions are commercially sensitive and must remain confidential. I should also say that the company is a client of Enterprise Ireland and that agency is also providing every assistance it can at present. I am very much aware of the concerns of all the people in Waterford City and County and, indeed, the South East Region as a whole. As recently, as last Wednesday, I met with a delegation from Waterford Chamber of Commerce to discuss the ongoing situation. I am most anxious to see a satisfactory outcome to the work of the Receiver in the interests of both the workers and the economy in the City and its environs.

Work Permits.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

64 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on reducing the number of work permits and work visas issued by her Department in view of the increase in unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7363/09]

Since 2004, Irish labour market policy has been to ensure that general labour and skills needs are met from within the workforce of the European Union. For strategic skills or labour shortages in designated occupations in key economic sectors, Government policy is to issue employment permits for the employment of non-EEA nationals for specific vacancies and in response to employer demand. These key economic sectors include healthcare, information technology and financial services. The various schemes that give effect to such policies were introduced under the Employment Permits Act, 2006.

Currently employment permit holders constitute approximately 1.5% of the total labour force. Given that our current employment permit arrangements were designed to be vacancy-driven, the numbers of permit applications and consequent numbers of permits issued over the last six months have been showing a consistent downward trend. Our employment permit arrangements are currently being reviewed to ensure their ongoing relevance to the needs of the Irish labour market.

Research Funding.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

65 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the percentage of research and development supports for indigenous enterprise that went to small and medium sized enterprises in 2008. [7322/09]

The Research and Development Fund is a programme funded through the Vote of my Department and delivered by Enterprise Ireland to the indigenous Irish business sector. It was introduced in a revised simplified form at the beginning of 2008 to provide support for in-company research, development and technological innovation relevant at all stages of company development, and it enables companies to progress from an initial research project all the way to high level innovation and R&D activity.

In 2008, Enterprise Ireland approved funding from the Research and Development Fund for 99 companies — 92 of which were small or medium sized enterprises. The total expenditure of R&D funding was €63.3m, of which €59.5 million was provided to Small and Medium Enterprises. This means that 94% of the Research and Development Fund went to small and medium sized enterprises in 2008.

In addition to the Research and Development Fund, there are a number of other innovation supports in place, for which small and medium sized enterprises are eligible. During 2008 the following supports were provided to Small and Medium Enterprise—

Under the Innovation Vouchers Scheme, 588 small companies were awarded a total of €2.9 million to enable them to undertake work on a specific innovation issue

The Innovation Partnership programme provided funds totalling €5.7 million to 34 SMEs to undertake projects that had a total value of €8.34 million.

Enterprise Ireland Feasibility Support amounting to €252,400 was provided to 12 SMEs to engage in the EU Framework Seven Research Programme. Support under this programme has facilitated SMEs to benefit from €20.3 million in EU funding from Framework Programme Seven between January 2007 and October 2008

Enterprise Ireland provides funding under a Patent Support Programme under which 18 SMEs were approved for €443,500 funding in 2008.

The range and level of supports to SMEs have made a significant impact in terms of encouraging companies to undertake research, development and innovation. This, coupled with the fiscal supports available, in particular the increase in the R&D Tax Credit to 25% in the Budget, have been important supports to Irish small and medium sized enterprise sector and has helped them to maximise the potential for growth and competitiveness.

Consumer Protection.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

66 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of on-the-spot fines for breaches of consumer law imposed to date under the terms of the Consumer Protection (Fixed Payment Notice) Regulations 2007; the type of breach in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7282/09]

The Consumer Protection (Fixed Payment Notice) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 689 of 2007) came into effect on 13 October 2007. Responsibility for enforcement of these Regulations is a matter for the National Consumer Agency and I have no direct function in the matter.

I am informed that to date a total of 42 fixed payment fines have been paid. Of these, 41 relate to the European Communities (Requirement to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations 2002, and one relates to the Retail Prices (Beverages in Licensed Premises) Display Order 1999. Details of fines paid each year are as follows; 2007 — 3: 2008 — 35: 2009 (to date) — 4.

Industrial Development.

Denis Naughten

Question:

67 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she is taking to support small business in view of the credit crunch; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7029/09]

I refer the Deputy to my replies to Priority Question No 67 and Oral Question No 76 on 10 December 2008, where I set out in detail to the House, the various initiatives and measures in place to address the credit crunch and its impact on SMEs, through Enterprise Ireland, the 35 County and City Enterprise Boards, FAS and my own Department, as a follow-up to the Small Business Forum's Report. These measures and initiatives are ongoing.

Since December, a number of actions have been taken by Government in relation to securing a stable and active banking system to serve the needs of the economy. The Bank Guarantee Scheme, the Nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and the Recapitalisation Scheme all address this issue in order to support the broader economy. In particular, the Government's Recapitalisation Scheme for Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland announced on Wednesday 11 February 2009 is a fundamental requirement in restoring stability to our financial sector. Such stability will ensure that the financial institutions can actively contribute to our economic activity and particularly support our enterprise sector.

A key principle of the Recapitalisation Package is the recognition of the importance of business lending particularly in relation to SMEs. SMEs are central to our economy and the provision of bank credit to the sector is a primary target of the overall package. The package contains a range of initiatives that will directly assist our enterprise sector, as follows:

The recapitalised banks have committed to increasing their lending capacity to SMEs by 10% in 2009. The banks have committed to public campaigns to actively promote their lending to SMEs. There is also scope for increased levels of lending to SMEs if mortgage lending is not taken up. This commitment will be monitored by the Financial Regulator.

A Code of Conduct for Business Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises was published by the Financial Regulator on 13 February. This Code will facilitate access to credit for sustainable and productive business propositions and will promote fairness and transparency in the treatment of SMEs by banks. The Code should strengthen the bank-client relationship and develop greater trust and confidence in the banks' lending practices. Banks are now actively promoting new lending as evidenced by recent press and TV advertisements

The Government has decided that there should be an independent review of bank lending to report within five weeks. The recapitalised banks have agreed to fund this independent review which will be managed jointly by the banks, Government and business representatives. The banks have also undertaken to co-operate fully with this review

Building on the banks commitment to the indigenous Venture Capital sector, AIB and Bank of Ireland will both commit a further €15m each to new or existing seed capital funds, in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland's Seed and Venture Capital Programme, to further create and develop indigenous enterprise

The recapitalised banks have confirmed that they have established, or are about to introduce, a €100m Fund each to support environment friendly investment and innovations in clean energy. A quarterly report will be made to the Financial Regulator on the loans made and the purposes for which they have been made.

Prompt payment is important to underpin cash flow, particularly for small businesses. The recapitalised banks have committed to prompt payment arrangements in future customer contracts which will involve payment within 30 days, and a late payment interest charge on any payments, made after 30 days.

The availability of a pool of skilled support for major companies and construction projects is an essential component of Ireland's attraction as a business location. The recapitalised banks have agreed to work closely with the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and with State agencies to ensure the supply of appropriate finance to contractors engaged on major projects sponsored by them.

The banks have agreed to engage in a ‘Clearing Group' chaired by a Government representative and including representation from business interests and State agencies. The purpose of this Group will be to identify specific patterns of events or cases where the flow of credit to viable projects appears to be blocked and to seek to identify credit supply solutions.

As part of the overall monitoring of the Recapitalisation Package, my Department will remain in regular contact with the Department of Finance and will also ensure that the availability of credit to SMEs is kept under constant review. I will also continue to consult with the representative bodies of small and medium-sized enterprises on all issues impacting on small businesses and I welcome their ongoing valuable inputs to this process.

Question No. 68 answered with Question No. 53.

Export Credit Insurance.

Joan Burton

Question:

69 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the proposals under development in her Department to establish a State-backed export credit insurance scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6367/09]

Since the State withdrew from the provision of Export Credit Insurance in 1998, exporters have been able to avail of such insurance on the open market, as commercial operators made such cover easily available and there was significant take-up of policies by exporters. However, it would appear that over recent months there is evidence that insurers have been reducing or withdrawing cover and it would appear that there has therefore been some market failure in this sector. Over the past number of weeks, this lack of affordable credit insurance, including export credit insurance, has been strongly highlighted by exporters as a significant problem and business groups have requested that the State assist in the provision of such insurance cover.

I am naturally concerned that exporters are finding it more difficult to secure insurance and while the concept of State support may be warranted, it is very important in the current difficult financial environment, that we first of all establish the facts of the matter by engaging with all key stakeholders, including the insurance providers, before committing the State to taking any initiatives in this regard. In bringing forward any proposals in this area, it is important that the State is not left exposed to unacceptably high risk. A key requirement would be that any State initiative would be designed to be self-financing and time limited, and also that there would be a financial cap, to limit the exposure of the State, in the event of significant losses developing. In order to properly assess what is a very complex issue, I have asked Forfas and Enterprise Ireland to expedite an analysis of the situation and my Department is working closely with them on this research. They will be reporting back to me by the end of this month.

I should point out that this particular problem is not unique to Ireland. The underlying reasons are linked to the global financial crisis and the lack of credit generally available. Other EU Member States are facing similar problems and we have been engaging with them and with the European Commission, with a view to helping our understanding of the issues so that we can develop a fast and informed response. I would like to ensure the Deputy that we are working quickly and thoroughly to establish the facts and set out the options. I intend to bring this matter to the Cabinet as a priority, once I have received and considered the report being prepared for me.

Departmental Agencies.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

70 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the future of FÁS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7194/09]

Given the current employment and training challenges facing this country, my intention is that FÁS concentrate on its core mission of providing high quality training and employment services relevant to the needs of the labour market. Specifically, this means addressing the situation affecting redundant apprentices, training for the unemployed, providing supports to people with disabilities, the up-skilling of our workforce and the continued operation of Community Employment Schemes as a means to provide participants with a route into employment.

My Department is also in the process of conducting a review of all labour market programmes provided by both FÁS and Skillnets. The aim of the review is to draw conclusions about the adequacy and balance of resources in the context of current and future labour market policy challenges, including the National Skills Strategy. The Public Accounts Committee published its report on FÁS last week and the recommendations made, together with the outcome of the investigation currently being carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General, will also be taken into account going forward.

EU Directives.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

71 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made with regard to the implementation of the temporary agency workers directive, agreed at the Council of Ministers meeting on 23 May 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7265/09]

Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on Temporary Agency Work was adopted, on 19 November 2008. Under the terms of this directive there is a three-year period in which Member States will be required to transpose the Directive into national legislation i.e. by 5 December 2011.

The Deputy will recall that I have invited the Social Partners to discussions with my Department, with the aim of agreeing a framework within which agency workers in Ireland would achieve equal treatment within an agreed timeframe having regard also to the need for flexibility in enterprises. The Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009 concluded by the Social Partners and the Government contains a commitment to developing such a framework. My Department has facilitated an initial meeting, last month, between the Social Partners to help them to develop a national framework within the parameters established in the EU Directive. The successful conclusion of a Framework Agreement will enable the Government to consider transposing the terms of the Directive, including the terms of the Framework Agreement, at a date in advance of the maximum period allowed under the Directive i.e. end 2011.

Question No. 72 answered with Question No. 63.

Business Regulation.

John Perry

Question:

73 Deputy John Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the requests for additional support that her Department has received from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement since 2004; the details of those requests; the extra resources given to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement for each year since 2004; if the Director of Corporate Enforcement has raised concerns with her regarding directors’ loans since 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7428/09]

The Director of Corporate Enforcement submitted a request for additional staffing resources in 2005. The submission set out the areas where additional staff would be assigned across the Compliance, Detection, Enforcement and Insolvency areas of the Office. In total, 20 additional staff were sought. Following a review of this request, my Department agreed in 2007 to sanction an additional eight staff for the ODCE and the Garda Commissioner also sanctioned an additional Detective Garda. These additional staff have now been assigned to the Office. The Office's budgetary requirements have also been met in full each year. I have also provided additional financial resources in 2009 to meet the costs of the High Court inspection into DCC and related matters.

The following Table sets out the numbers of staff serving in the ODCE and expenditure for the Office for each year since 2004 (for 2009, the table includes the approved staffing complement and agreed budget estimate):

Year

Staff

Expenditure

€m

2004

36.0

3.07

2005

36.6

2.90

2006

34.8

3.36

2007

39.6

4.38

2008

44.8

4.34

2009

46.0

5.47

*Full time equivalents serving at 31 December each year.

The Director indicated in 2007 that having integrated these additional staff, he would review his request for further extra staff and advise my Department at that stage of the results of that review. At this stage, there is no outstanding request for staffing resources from the Director. I have indicated to the Director that I will be sympathetic to any reasonable request for extra resources which he may need to complete the present investigation of Anglo Irish Bank.

Loans to directors that are contrary to the provisions of the Companies Acts have been a particular area of focus for the Director, and his Office has experienced considerable success in having illegal loans repaid. Further details are contained in its Annual Reports. Civil or criminal enforcement action has also been taken in suitable cases. For instance in 2008 following an ODCE investigation, the Director of Public Prosecutions successfully prosecuted a company director for wilfully breaching the restrictions on directors' loans in the Companies Act 1990 ("the 1990 Act"). This was the first prosecution in the area of directors' loans to result in a criminal conviction. Previous ODCE criminal prosecutions had concluded with the relevant District Court giving the defendants the benefit of the Probation Act.

In addition, the existence of directors' loans in contravention of the relevant provisions of the 1990 Act has on some occasions been one of the factors on foot of which the High Court has seen fit to restrict or disqualify company directors in applications brought by the liquidators of insolvent companies. However, so far as I am advised, no restriction declaration or disqualification order has ever been made on that basis alone.

In 2006, the Director asked my Department to modify the evidential burden for a company law offence under Section 40 of the 1990 Act. The matter was referred for detailed evaluation to the Company Law Review Group (CLRG) whose statutory function is to advise on companies legislation. In its 2007 Report, the CLRG recommended that further consideration of the ODCE proposal be postponed until a broader policy discussion on the area was concluded. I understand that while the Director accepted that recommendation, he still believes that this change is desirable.

In January this year, in light of events in the financial area, I asked the Director to consider whether any legislative improvements were necessary in the company law area. The Director's response is currently being considered by my Department in consultation with the Department of Finance and the Financial Regulator. I should point out that the Director has assured me that he is satisfied that he currently has the necessary powers to pursue his investigation into Anglo Irish Bank.

Departmental Expenditure.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

74 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way, in respect of the announcement of 3 February 2009, it is intended to achieve the general administrative reductions in regard to her Department; the amount expected to be saved in her Department’s budget as a result of this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7263/09]

On 3 February 2009, the Taoiseach outlined to the Dáil a series of measures which the Government decided would need to be taken to achieve adjustments in public expenditure this year in the order of €2 billion. These measures include general administrative efficiencies and savings. It is envisaged that administrative efficiencies will be realised across the public service through reductions on payroll, advertising, public relations and consultancy costs. Savings will also be secured in travel and subsistence expenditure. The savings to be achieved in my Department's Vote will be reflected in the Revised Estimates Volume which will be published in March.

Copyright Law.

Willie Penrose

Question:

75 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her position in relation to the Terms of Protection for Performers on a Sound Recording which has been brought forward at EU level by Commissioner McCreevy and which is being supported by the rapporteur of the legal affairs committee, which would see the terms of protection for Irish performers in a sound recording extended from 50 years to the level of protection afforded to US artists of 95 years; if she will support this proposal at EU level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7250/09]

The proposal to amend Directive 2006/116/EC on the term of protection of copyright and related rights in respect of performers, put forward by the European Commission, is currently being discussed in the EU Council Working Party on Intellectual Property (Copyright) which is being attended by my Department. Arising out of these discussions, a number of suggested changes to what was originally proposed, particularly in relation to the scope and length of extended protection and other elements of the proposed initiative, have been put forward by the current and previous EU Presidencies.

Accordingly, we do not, at this stage, have a final position in relation to whatever may be the final proposition for amending, or otherwise, the Directive concerned. My Department, however, are continuing consultations with interested parties in this area and are, in fact, meeting with Irish Music Intellectual Rights [IMIR], which includes the representative body for Irish performers, to discuss this and other issues very shortly.

Employment Rights.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

76 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of workplace inspections carried out by the labour inspectorate in 2008; the way this compares with the same period in 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7280/09]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

85 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the National Employment Rights Authority will be established on a statutory basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7273/09]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

108 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the more than 4,600 breaches of employment law reported in the annual review of the National Employment Rights Authority; the steps she will take to ensure a higher level of compliance with employment law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7274/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76, 85 and 108 together.

The Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008 is designed to give effect to commitments in Part 2 of the 10 Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016, to greatly increase public confidence in the system of employment law compliance. The establishment of a new, statutory office — NERA — to secure better compliance with employment law through information and enforcement activities, supported by an enhanced Labour Inspectorate with extensive powers, formed one aspect of these commitments and is a central feature of the Bill. The Bill is currently undergoing Second Stage reading in this house with further stages of the Bill in both Houses to follow and a target date for enactment in the first half of 2009.

In terms of workplace inspections, the number carried out by NERA in 2008 was nearly twice the 2007 level — almost 28,000 workplace inspections in 2008 as against just fewer than 14,500 in 2007. This increased level of inspection activity is of course reflective of the greater level of Inspectorate resources available to NERA which currently stand at seventy-nine as opposed to the original level of thirty one.

Since it commenced operations on an interim basis in 2007, NERA has had considerable success in ensuring that abuses of workers rights and entitlements do not go unchecked. Early in 2008, NERA undertook a nationwide information and awareness campaign which has been instrumental in bringing about a much greater level of awareness both by employers and by employees of the respective rights and obligations under employment law. This information and awareness role continues to play a significant part in NERA's employment rights compliance and information strategy and is one that I believe will prove to be more beneficial in the longer term in bringing about a greater compliance culture.

As regards the level of breaches detected in 2008 reported at 4,629 in NERA's 2008 annual review, this represented a virtual doubling of the level detected in 2007 — 2,344 and there is a symmetry between the increase in the level of inspections undertaken to the level of breaches detected. It must be recalled that, where breaches are detected, NERA's primary objective is to seek compliance with the relevant legislation and rectification of any breaches identified, including redress for the individual/s concerned and payment of any arrears due to employees. The fact that arrears due to employees totalling €3.1m were recovered in 2008 suggests that NERA has been successful in achieving compliance through negotiation with employers stressing compliance as opposed to the necessity to resort to institute prosecutions.

Job Losses.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

77 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action she has taken or proposes to take to reverse the ongoing trend of job losses in the manufacturing and services sectors having particular regard to economic forecasts and the future of the economy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7338/09]

The Irish economy is now one of the most globalised in the world. As a consequence, the uncertainty created by the current international financial crisis has had a significant impact on our economy. Our comparative advantage will increasingly lie in the production of knowledge-intensive goods and services. With that in mind, a range of policies are being pursued to enhance competitiveness and improve the business environment for both manufacturing and services.

Maintaining the competitiveness of the enterprise sector in Ireland is a priority issue for my Department and our development agencies. In order to sustain and grow the manufacturing sector, Irish based manufacturing enterprises will be encouraged and assisted to continue the progression to high value added sectors and activities, and continue to increase productivity through investments in human capital, technology and innovation.

The "Report of the High Level Group on Manufacturing", launched in 2008, identified the focused actions needed by employers, employees and Government to respond to challenges and take advantage of opportunities to further develop the sector in Ireland. The report sets out a number of recommendations directed at key areas of innovation and productivity leading to transformational change, reskilling and management development for the innovative firm, and increasing awareness and take up of existing supports. The Social Partners agreed, as part of the review of "Towards 2016", that a Manufacturing Forum should be established, in line with the recommendations of the High Level Group on Manufacturing. This matter is currently being progressed by my Department in consultation with the Department of An Taoiseach and the Social Partners.

We continue to be one of the world's leading service exporting countries. Over the next ten years, services will be one of the key drivers of Ireland's economic success and job creation. The report of the Services Strategy Group, "Catching the Wave: A Services Strategy for Ireland", sets out new policy proposals on how we can ensure the continued development and growth of Ireland's services sector and outlines how to maximise the future returns to the country from services activities in all enterprises, both current and potential. Implementation of the recommendations of the Services Strategy Group — some of which are already being acted on by the Enterprise Agencies — will enable Irish service companies to exploit new and exciting opportunities, such as eLearning, business and financial services, professional and consultancy services and others.

I am determined to maintain and improve our focus on developing indigenous industry, where we are working consistently and successfully to build Irish exports in world markets. The newly established Growth Fund is designed to assist Enterprise Ireland's small to medium sized clients achieve greater competitiveness by improving their export potential. This will be achieved by increasing gross output and productivity whilst also maintaining existing employment levels in clients throughout all counties. I recently launched Enterprise Ireland's strategy for the internationalisation of Ireland's services sector, which aims to promote a significant increase in exports sales in this sector by 2015.

I also announced Enterprise Ireland's "Going Global Fund" which is aimed specifically at locally traded companies that have successfully established businesses in Ireland and wish to explore opportunities to sell abroad. The government is committed to ensuring that we continue to create an environment for enterprise that remains among the most favourable in the world and which will position us for long term economic growth through the adoption of this series of proactive policies and strategies that best serve the interests of the manufacturing and services sectors.

Departmental Programmes.

Willie Penrose

Question:

78 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the introduction of a social economy or job initiative schemes to help deal with the unemployment situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7249/09]

On 1 January 2006 responsibility for the Social Economy Programme transferred to the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs and been re-named as the Community Services Programme. FÁS as an agency of my Department operates Job Initiative (JI). The Job Initiative Programme (JI) was launched in July 1996 and provides full time employment for people who are 35 years of age or over, unemployed for 5 years or more, and in receipt of Social Welfare payments over that period.

The main purpose of the programme is to assist long-term unemployed people to prepare for work opportunities by providing participants with work experience, training and development opportunities. The programme is sponsored by voluntary organisations and public bodies involved in not-for-profit activities. Following changes introduced on 10 November 2004 by Minister Micheál Martin there have been no compulsory lay-offs on the Job Initiative Schemes. Contracts for existing participants are renewed and CE participants to support the service being provided replace those who leave voluntarily.

This Government will continue to support the positive role of FÁS Employment Schemes in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. I am keeping the operation of the Scheme under constant review in the context of the current difficult unemployment situation.

Departmental Agencies.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

79 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when she expects to receive the report commissioned from the Comptroller and Auditor General into the effectiveness of financial management and control systems in FÁS; if, pending the receipt of the report, she will take action arising from allegations of financial irregularities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7271/09]

The Comptroller and Auditor General has commenced his wide-ranging investigation in FÁS, which includes internal controls, governance arrangements, marketing and advertising and specific follow-up of a number of matters raised in the course of hearings of the Committee of Public Accounts. The question of when the examination will be completed and when a report will be made available are matters for the Comptroller and Auditor General.

In the interim, since the publication of the earlier reports a series of steps have been undertaken to deal with the matters raised. In particular:

FÁS has clarified its procedures and strengthened its internal controls;

An internal cross-functional communications and marketing strategy group has been established in FÁS;

A new Director General has been appointed on a temporary basis;

A review of the Science Challenge Initiative with a view to making recommendations on the Initiative's future is currently under way, and the report will be available shortly.

Job Creation.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

80 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the average cost of each job created by Enterprise Ireland, the Industrial Development Authority and the county enterprise boards in 2006, 2007 and 2008. [7323/09]

In relation to Enterprise Ireland, the agency calculates the cost per job sustained by taking into account all of its expenditure in relation to all of its clients. Only jobs created and sustained to the end of each seven-year period are taken into account in the calculations. For the period 2000 to 2006, the figure was €3,907 and for the period 2001 to 2007, the figure was €6,111. The figure for 2002 to 2008 will be available later in the year and will be published in the agency's 2008 Annual Report. The same system is used by IDA Ireland. The figure for 2000 to 2006 was €13,097 and the 2001 to 2007 figure was €12,577.

A different system is used by the City and County Enterprise Boards ( CEBs). The estimated overall average cost per net job created in CEB assisted companies since the inception of the CEBs in 1993 to end 2006 was €5,413. The corresponding figure for the period 1993 to end 2007 was €5,486 and, for the period 1993 to end 2008, the figure was €5,949.

Industrial Development.

Denis Naughten

Question:

81 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she is taking to support enterprise development in the midland and western regions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44650/08]

Two Industrial Development agencies under the aegis of my Department, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, together with the relevant County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) are responsible for enterprise development in the regions in question. The primary role of IDA Ireland is the attraction of high quality Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Ireland. An integral and fundamental element of this role is the agency's mandate to promote sustainable and balanced regional development. However, the marketing of individual areas for FDI and jobs is a day-to-day operational matter for the agency. While I may give general policy directives to the agency, I am precluded under the Industrial Development Acts from giving directives regarding individual undertakings or from giving preference to one area over others.

However, I can say that the agency has invested heavily in the provision of property solutions tailored to meet the needs of investors and has developed a network of high-quality Business Parks in locations throughout both regions. Advance planning permission for a Biopharmaceutical facility in Oranmore, Co Galway, the first of its kind in Ireland, has been obtained. Considerable success has been achieved in attracting high quality investment to both regions. At present there are a total of 119 IDA supported companies employing over 17,500 people between both regions. Furthermore, IDA has a good pipeline for 2009 and is hopeful of securing further investments across a number of locations. The key sectors of focus are life sciences, information and communications technologies and high value services activities.

Enterprise Ireland has a wide range of programmes to address the multi-disciplinary demands of entrepreneurship and the diversity of business types. The agency supports companies to achieve productivity gains, internationalisation and export growth. It assists with research and development, management skills acquisition, market information and seed and venture capital. The agency also addresses micro businesses with support for incubation space in communities. Between the two regions, the agency has almost 800 clients employing over 20,000 people. In 2008, over €40 million was approved for the agency's client companies.

During 2008, the CEBs in the two regions paid out over €2.46m in grant assistance to 218 clients. This year, the CEBs are continuing to support enterprise development through the provision of both direct financial assistance (in the form of capital, feasibility and employment grants) and through indirect or "soft support" assistance such as management development, capability support and the development and delivery of activities to highlight and promote enterprise.

The Training and Employment agency FAS works very closely with the Industrial Development agencies and the CEBs in delivering its wide range of services. I am satisfied that the policies and initiatives being pursued by the Industrial Development agencies and the CEBs will continue to bring about industrial development and employment opportunities for the regions.

Question No. 82 answered with Question No. 63.

Job Losses.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

83 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position in regard to her discussions with the EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs regarding the possible use of the European Globalisation Fund to address the needs of redundant workers at a company (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7254/09]

I wish to refer to the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 133 of 17 February 2009. The Minister for Labour Affairs, Mr Billy Kelleher T.D met Mr Vladimir Špidla, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities at the Informal European Council meeting held in Luhacovice in the Czech Republic on 23 January 2009 to discuss the contribution that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund might make in addressing the needs of workers to be made redundant at the company referred to and elsewhere in the Mid-West region. Following detailed discussions, Commissioner Špidla reiterated his commitment to doing his utmost to ensure that the resources of the Fund contribute to improving the job prospects and other opportunities open to the affected workers subject to the relevant eligibility criteria being met when Ireland makes an application for Fund assistance in due course.

Departmental Agencies.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

84 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the salaries of the members of the board of directors of Enterprise Ireland; and if measures are being taken to cap these salaries. [7324/09]

In June 2006 the Government approved revised fees for the non-executive chairperson and directors/members of state boards, effective from 1 January 2006. In accordance with that decision, from 1 January 2006 the fee for the Enterprise Ireland Chairperson is €24,000 per annum and the fee for Directors is €14,000 per annum. I have no plans to revise these fees.

Question No. 85 answered with Question No. 76.

Consumer Protection.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

86 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action that she is taking to implement the commitment in the programme for Government that steps would be taken to ensure that prices of goods are labelled and transparent in order that the consumer is well informed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7281/09]

Price display law is covered by Orders made under the Prices Acts 1958 to 1972 and under the European Communities (Requirements to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations 2002, Statutory Instrument No. 639 of 2002. The various Price Display Orders made under the Prices Acts 1958 to 1972 cover Drinks Display in Licensed Premises, Hairdressing Services, Petrol and Diesel and Restaurants. The European Communities (Requirements to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations 2002 require retailers to display the selling and, where appropriate, the unit price (the price per litre or kilo) for all products covered by the scope of the Regulations. The Commission will be reviewing the Directive upon which these Regulations are based and I will support measures to enhance the information to be made available to consumers. This review is part of the general review of the Consumer Acquis. The National Consumer Agency whose function it is to enforce consumer laws, regularly undertakes surveillance with a view to securing voluntary compliance on the part of traders.

Mary Upton

Question:

87 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she is taking to implement the commitment in the programme for Government that steps would be taken to ensure that consumer codes of conduct are published by businesses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7283/09]

The Consumer Protection Act 2007, which commenced in May 2007, empowers the National Consumer Agency to prepare and publish Guidelines to traders in relation to matters of consumer welfare and protection and matters related to commercial practices. The Consumer Protection Act 2007 also empowers the Agency to review or approve Codes of Practice submitted to it by traders or their trade associations where the Agency is satisfied that the Code of Practice protects consumer interests.

The National Consumer Agency is currently giving priority to producing Guidelines for business in a number of areas In September 2008, the Agency published a consultation document on Guidelines on Advertising of Price Discounts and Related Matters. The Guidelines are intended to facilitate the retail sector in complying with the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act 2007 in relation to a variety of trading practices. They will help traders to better appreciate their obligations to provide unambiguous information to consumers, give clarity on certain aspects of the Act and provide a basis for a fairer and more evenly balanced approach towards advertising throughout the sector. I understand that the Agency is close to finalizing the Guidelines and that it intends to publish them in the coming months.

In October 2008, the National Consumer Agency published Guidelines for the Leisure and Fitness Sector. The Guidelines are intended to help the sector to draw up clearer and fairer terms and conditions in consumer contracts. In tandem with the Guidelines, the Agency also published Seven Principles for the sector. These Principles, which are non-binding, are essentially a best practice guide for leisure clubs in the context of their contractual commitments to consumers.

I very much support the Agency's initiatives in engaging constructively with businesses through the promotion of robust Codes of Practices. I understand that over time the Agency intends to further its activities in this area to cover other aspects of business activity. I am confident that initiatives of this nature will help to foster a more robust consumer culture which will be to the benefit of not only consumers but also businesses and indeed the economy as a whole.

Job Losses.

Jack Wall

Question:

88 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to warnings from the Construction Industry Federation that some 55,000 construction jobs could be lost by the end of 2010; her views on the accuracy of this forecast; the steps she will take to try to prevent such job losses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7256/09]

The current global economic situation continues to change rapidly adding a considerable degree of uncertainty to the accuracy of forecasts, nationally and internationally. There has however been a significant downturn in construction related activity since the beginning of 2008. The most recent provisional data available from the Central Statistics Office indicates numbers employed in private firms in the construction industry decreased by 21.9% in December 2008 from December 2007.

A lower level of residential investment was a key factor depressing activity in 2008 with completions of new homes amounting to c. 50,000, around one-third lower than in the previous year. The Department of Finance is projecting a further decline of around 60% in new house completions to a level of 20,000 units this year. Other parts of construction — especially commercial — look set to decline also. For the year as a whole, employment is forecast to decrease by 85,000 (-4.0%) with unemployment forecast to average 9.2%. During 2009, the ESRI expect industrial (including building) output to fall by 5.8 per cent. Within this figure, it is forecast that building output will decline by 25 per cent, as the house-building decline is compounded by a fall in commercial building.

The availability of a pool of skilled contractors available to support major national and international companies and construction projects is an essential component for major investing companies. The lack of availability of finance could restrict our ability to maintain current levels of activity or to attract investment from such companies in the future. As part of the recapitalisation package announced by the Minister for Finance on 11 February 2009 the recapitalised banks have agreed to work closely with the IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and with State agencies to ensure the supply of appropriate finance to contractors engaged on major projects sponsored by them.

The National Insulation Programme for Economic Recovery was launched by my colleagues the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Mr. John Gormley on 8 February, 2009. This Government announcement of €100 million for this year will unlock the huge potential of energy efficiency for our economy. The three-strand insulation programme will cut heating bills for householders, reduce carbon emissions and create thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly over the course of 2009. Energy efficiency/insulation programmes help provide for economic competitiveness, security of energy supply and tackle climate change. This energy efficiency stimulus programme will be divided into three packages, with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources taking a co-ordinating role.

FÁS is currently developing a number of responses to the current slowdown in the economy as a whole including the construction sector. Current initiatives include the creation of an additional 51,000 new training places under the FÁS Training Initiatives Strategy, the establishment of a training fund to enable timely identification of training and re-training needs for low skilled and redundant craft workers and the continued provision of retraining opportunities for redundant construction workers. FÁS will also continue to work in close collaboration with the Construction Industry Federation and other key stakeholders to encourage redundant construction workers to seek re-training in skills which are in short supply in the economy.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

89 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the contacts she has had with the industrial development agencies with a view to securing alternative employment for the 300 workers who are due to lose their jobs at a company (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7252/09]

I am keenly aware of the impact on Ericsson's employees and their families following the company's decision to reduce its workforce in Ireland by 300. IDA Ireland is working with the company on a continuous basis in an effort to secure further investments from other business units. I understand that Ericsson plans to reduce the level of R&D carried out in Western Europe to between 40% and 50% by migrating some of its R&D activities to lower cost locations.

The recent announcement of a reduction of 300 jobs is proposed to take place over the next 18 months. FÁS Management met with Ericsson Management on two occasions. The IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the County Enterprise Board were present at the second meeting held on 18th February 2009. An integrated plan was agreed which includes relevant interventions from all of the agencies present. At the meeting FÁS discussed the services they provide with Ericsson Management, and the potential needs of the employees. Each response will be tailored on a case-by-case basis.

Community Employment Schemes.

David Stanton

Question:

90 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to review the operation of the community employment scheme; the number of people currently employed under this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7327/09]

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

The aim of CE still remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment. The programme is managed within this context, with consideration to the availability of resources and the needs of participants and the community. FÁS makes every effort to ensure that differing levels of demand between neighbouring schemes are equalised. FÁS also operates the programme flexibly as far as possible to ensure the continuation of community projects. I am advised by FÁS that as of 23 February 2009 there are 22,485 participants, including Supervisors, on Community Employment.

This Government will continue to support the positive role of CE in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. I am keeping the operation of the Scheme under constant review in the context of the current difficult unemployment situation.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

91 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of workplace accidents and workplace deaths recorded in each year from 2002 to 2008; her proposals to ensure a reduction in the number of such accidents and deaths; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7277/09]

The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and associated statutory provisions. The number of workplace deaths reported to the Authority for the years 2002- 2008 are as follows — 57 in 2008; 67 in 2007; 51 in 2006; 74 in 2005; 50 in 2004; 68 in 2003 and 61 in 2002.

Non-fatal accidents, resulting in absence of more than three days from normal work following the accident, are required to be reported to the Authority. There were 6,998 non-fatal work related accidents reported to the Authority in 2008. This compares with 7,816 for 2007, 7,844 for 2006, 8,104 for 2005, 8,453 for 2004, 6,622 for 2003, and 7,746 for 2002.

While it is not possible to be satisfied that all accidents at workplaces are reported, I am not aware that the Authority has come across evidence that suggests underreporting of workplace accidents resulting in fatalities. I recently approved the Authority's 2009 Programme of Work and I launched it earlier this month. This new Programme sets out a comprehensive range of activities to make workplaces safer and it contains a good balance between prevention, advice and enforcement. The Authority in 2009 intends to continue to focus on the high risk sectors of agriculture and construction, which have seen the highest proportions of fatalities in the last four years. Of the 57 workplace fatalities reported to the Authority last year, the highest number (21) was in the agriculture sector, the second highest was in construction (15).

Day to day responsibility for workplace safety rests on the shoulders of employers and employees. Safe workplaces can ultimately be only delivered by those who work in them. When carrying out its inspection function, the Authority spends a lot of its time advising as to safety at work and safe systems of work. In general, this advice is well received and it is only where there is a failure to comply with advice or a real and immediate threat to health and safety does the Authority commence enforcement procedures. The Authority publishes guidelines, codes of practice and other advice on safety on a regular basis as well as organising sectoral seminars or conferences to promote the occupational safety and health message, as part of its advocacy role. These activities, together with the information on the Authority's website, are of critical importance to all those in the workplace if Ireland's safety record is to be improved.

Ministerial Staff.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

92 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff employed, in respect of her constituency office and her private office and those of each Minister of State within her Department, broken down by grade and the cost of each office in terms of salaries and expenses for 2007, 2008 and the projected costs for 2009; if there will be a reduction in staffing levels in these offices, arising from the decision of 3 February 2009 regarding administrative savings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7264/09]

The tables below outline the number of staff, broken down by grade, in my private and constituency office and in those of each Minister of State within my Department. The cost of each office in terms of salary and expenses for 2007 and 2008 is also included. These figures include ministerial salaries and expenses. It should be noted that the Office of the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation was created on 20th June 2007 and, therefore, the figures do not represent a full calendar year.

Office of the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment

Private Office

Constituency Office

2 Special Advisers 1 Press Adviser 1 Private Secretary 2 Executive Officers 5 Clerical Officers

1 Executive Officer 2.8 Clerical Officers 1 Personal Assistant 1 Personal Secretary 1 Temp. Clerical Officer

Year

Salaries, Wages and Allowances*

Travel & Subsistence**

Ministerial Allowance

Miscellaneous

Total

2007

1,099,700.40

58,053.27

11,161.20

6,110.78

1,175,025.65

2008

1,238,066.48

45,678.14

16,232.24

9,589.53

1,309,566.39

Office of the Minister for Labour Affairs

Private Office

Constituency Office

1 Private Secretary 1 Executive Officer 2 Clerical Officers

1 Personal Assistant 1 Personal Secretary 1 Clerical Officer 2 Civilian Drivers

Year

Salaries, Wages and Allowances*

Travel & Subsistence**

Ministerial Allowance

Miscellaneous

Total

2007

333,209.14

81,433.54

12,001.36

846.95

427,490.99

2008

368,427.53

98,513.22

11,156.20

3,633.18

481,730.13

Office of the Minister for Trade & Commerce

Private Office

Constituency Office

1 Private Secretary 1 Staff Officer 1 Clerical Officer

1 Personal Assistant 1 Personal Secretary 2 Secretarial Assistants 1 Clerical Officer 2 Civilian Drivers

Year

Salaries, Wages and Allowances*

Travel & Subsistence**

Ministerial Allowance

Miscellaneous

Total

2007

404,894.49

114,483.63

15,213.00

2,062.22

536,653.34

2008

516,261.39

193,368.80

11,156.20

2,594.35

723,380.74

Office of the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation

Private Office

Constituency Office

1 Private Secretary 1 Executive Officer 1 Clerical Officer

1 Special Adviser 1 Personal Assistant 2 Personal Secretaries (each staff member on a 0.5% worksharing basis) 1 Clerical Officer 2 Civilian Drivers

Year

Salaries, Wages and Allowances*

Travel & Subsistence**

Ministerial Allowance

Miscellaneous

Total

20th June 2007

176,870.95

46,535.60

4,056.80

790.66

228,254.01

2008

540,012.28

89,394.15

12,170.40

4,766.45

646,343.28

*The totals provided for Salaries, Wages and Allowances include Overtime and Employer's PRSI.

**The totals provided for Travel and Subsistence Expenses include the cost of flights invoiced directly to the Department.

There are also two additional Ministers of State who have responsibility in this Department however; they do not have offices in the Department. The Ministers concerned are:

Minister for Equality, Disability and Mental Health at the Department of Health and Children.

Minister for Lifelong Learning at the Department of Education and Science.

On the basis of current staffing levels the projected costs for 2009 are expected to be broadly similar to those for 2008 with the exception of my own private and constituency offices as the figures provided for 2008 relate only to the period since my appointment as Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on 7th May 2008. In relation to the Government decision of 3 February 2009 regarding administrative savings my Department will focus on issues such as the deferment of filling of vacancies / management of vacancies; curtailment of overtime; non-replacement of staff on term-time etc; and suppression of posts. These efficiencies will be spread across the Department including the Ministers offices.

Industrial Development.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

93 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has had contacts with the new administration in the United States in view of reports that proposed tax changes may impact on US investment here and the possible consequences for job creation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7261/09]

The relationship between Ireland and the United States is unique in terms of our political, economic and cultural links. The Government and I attach the highest importance to strengthening that relationship and in consolidating and growing the economic partnership between our two countries. That partnership has contributed enormously to the very significant trade and investment ties with the United States. These ties benefit us both and generate investment and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

We are always mindful of the need to continually update and renew the links between our two countries. This is especially important at this time in terms of the new US Administration. Together with the Department of Finance and the Department of Foreign Affairs, my Department is working in close collaboration with the Embassy in seeking to address various policy proposals including those in relation to taxation which could affect foreign direct investment in Ireland. Issues that may have implications for Ireland are subject to focussed discussion with US policymakers within the overall framework of a shared commitment to promoting the consolidation and growth of our economic relationship.

There has been a lot of discussion around the potential impact on Ireland of changes in US international taxation policy. The new Administration has not given any real indication of its main focus in terms of international taxation and therefore it has not been possible to determine if there are consequences for job creation. However, any re-evaluation cannot ignore the substantial real two-way investment between our countries nor indeed the importance of international taxation policy to the competitiveness of US companies seeking to grow their business in Europe and beyond. We will be working to ensure that such considerations feed into the new Administration's deliberations in terms of the development of its international taxation policy.

Question No. 94 answered with Question No. 60.
Question No. 95 answered with Question No. 53.

County Enterprise Boards.

Martin Ferris

Question:

96 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if funding to county enterprise boards will be reviewed in the next 12 months; and if the criteria under which county enterprise boards are funded will be amended during that time. [7325/09]

The 35 County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) were set up in 1993 to provide support for small businesses with 10 employees or fewer (micro-enterprises) in the start-up and expansion phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. The CEBs deliver a series of Programmes to underpin this role and they can provide both financial and non-financial assistance to a project promoter.

The forms of financial assistance which are available from the CEB network, subject to certain criteria, include Capital Grants, Employment Grants, and Feasibility Study Grants. The provision of non-financial assistance can take the form of a wide range of business advice such as Programmes covering Business Management, Mentoring, E-commerce, Enterprise Education, and Women in Business networks. During 2004, an important review of the role and functions of the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) in the development of micro-enterprises, including the level of financial assistance which they have available to them was conducted on behalf of the Department by Fitzpatricks and Associates. This Review recommended that, in providing assistance to micro-enterprises, CEBs should:

focus more on economic objectives rather than social or local development

that there should be a renewed focus on the core enterprise mission

that the issues of potential deadweight, displacement and duplication should be more systematically and rigorously addressed

and that there should be a move away from direct grant aid to repayable finance as well as a greater provision of soft supports as an alternative to grant aid.

The report of the Small Business Forum published in 2006, further endorsed the key recommendations of the Fitzpatricks Report in relation to the primary micro-enterprise focus of CEB support and assistance. While it is acknowledged that there will be differences in requirements and emphasis in the areas served by the various CEBs, the Department is satisfied that the current micro-enterprise remit of the CEBs should remain their primary focus.

In the context of its key policy role my Department, in association with the CEB Central Coordination Unit within Enterprise Ireland (CCU), and with the CEB network, monitors the level of funding and is reviewing the range of support services offered by the CEBs in the light of the current economic climate. The Capital Allocation to the CEBs for 2009 is €20.8 for provision of supports to micro-enterprise. In 2009 the Boards will continue to be actively involved in the area of economic development and will ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development.

Business Regulation.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

97 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to evidence of a new feature entering business life here, namely, new debt collection agencies acting without recognition or standards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6996/09]

My Department has no function in the matter of regulation of the debt collection agencies.

National Minimum Wage.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

98 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the suggestion (details supplied) that the national minimum wage should be lowered; if she has discussed this matter with the trade union movement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7275/09]

I have not made any comment to the effect that I consider that the national minimum wage should be lowered. What I said was that, whatever, rate applies, it is important that the national minimum wage is not a barrier to employment. Protection of jobs must be our top priority and I think all sides accept that as the key goal. This is also the view of the Tánaiste.

I understand that in November 2008, ICTU requested the Labour Court to review the national minimum wage and to make a recommendation to me concerning its adjustment. The Court subsequently invited submissions on the issue. Various submissions were received, including from IBEC, ICTU and the Department of Finance. The Labour Court also held discussions with these parties. I understand that the matter is still under consideration by the Court. If the Labour Court is satisfied that a general agreement has been reached between the parties as to an appropriate minimum wage, it will recommend the rate agreed to me. If, after these consultations, there is no general agreement, the Labour Court can still make a recommendation to me. However, in doing so, the Labour Court must have regard to the movement of earnings of employees, the relevant exchange rate movement and the likely impact on employment, unemployment, inflation and national competitiveness.

It would be inappropriate for me to enter into discussions with either employer or trade union bodies while the Labour Court is engaged in a process of consultation with these bodies. When it comes to considering a Labour Court recommendation in relation to the minimum wage, I am required under the Act to take into account the impact that the proposed rate may have on employment, the overall economic conditions in the State and national competitiveness. In other words, the key consideration is to ensure that the national minimum wage is set at an appropriate rate.

Job Losses.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

99 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the contacts she has with the industrial development agencies with a view to securing alternative employment for the 1,100 workers who are due to lose their jobs at a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7251/09]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

106 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the meetings she has had with senior management of a company (details supplied) in the past six months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7320/09]

Finian McGrath

Question:

124 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support a matter (details supplied). [6993/09]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

130 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the prior knowledge she had with regard to the decision to close a company (details supplied); the efforts she made to secure employment at the facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7334/09]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

131 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when she was informed that a company (details supplied) had leased six of its hangars back to the Dublin Airport Authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7335/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 99, 106, 124, 130 and 131 together.

I very much regret the announced closure of the SR Technics operation at Dublin Airport. My most recent meeting on the matter was on Thursday last, 19 February, with a delegation representing the Trade Union interests in the Dublin operation, who outlined their concerns. Similar concerns have been relayed to me in the many approaches I have had from public representatives. The Government is anxious that as many jobs as possible are secured at Dublin Airport. We would like to see the SR Technics Group do what it can to facilitate this, such as helping to promote the capabilities and skills available at the Dublin facility, agreeing to an orderly wind down of the facility to give IDA Ireland an opportunity to promote the location to interested parties, and maintaining assets and equipment at the site for at least 6 months. There are a number of expressions of interest from different parties in possibly all or part of the business and time is needed to assess these proposals. The Government is anxious that the facility and the workers will maintain their IAA approval status while the alternative proposals are being progressed.

I am conveying these points, and the widespread concern in Ireland that every effort be made to maintain the maximum number of jobs at the facility at Dublin Airport, to SR Technics at Group level, as a follow-on to my meeting with the company on 11th February, when I was accompanied by my Secretary General and the Chief Executive of IDA.

I should add that a number of meetings had taken place between the State, its Agencies and the company in the past year. The company had explained that it had been exploring all options for its Dublin operations, including sale to another party, but had not found it possible to proceed with any of these options. The company outlined the deterioration that had taken place in its global business since mid 2008, with contracts moving to Eastern Europe, Jordan, Turkey and Malta. It confirmed that it was putting in place a 5 year restructuring plan and that it had already reduced its worldwide workforce by 500 in the last year. The company stated that the recent loss of major contracts, its current business and economic forecasts, as well as its high cost-base and over capacity at Dublin airport, had made it impossible to continue a sustainable business in Dublin.

SR Technics provides line maintenance for the Aer Lingus fleet at their Dublin base. This is a long-term contract awarded by Aer Lingus in 2008 following a competitive procurement process. The Company had indicated that it hoped to assign this and other smaller operations to another operator, offering the potential of saving up to 200 jobs. IDA Ireland has had an ongoing relationship with the company over many years and approved a significant Training Grant package for the company in 2006 to assist the company in maximising efficiencies and improving competitiveness. IDA also had discussions with the company in relation to its business plan and further opportunities to assist the company with additional financial incentives such as RD&I support with the emphasis on Innovation and Process Development.

In the light of the announced closure of the Dublin plant, FÁS has been at the forefront in providing intervention and support to employees facing redundancy. It is currently in contact with SR Technics Management to discuss the services available from FÁS and the potential needs of the employees. Each response will be tailored on a case-by-case basis. FÁS Services to Business Unit will also be involved in these consultations. It is important to establish how best FÁS can assist the workers. Following this initial contact, a judgement will be made in relation to the level of FÁS intervention required.

As regards efforts to save some or all of the jobs involved, actual involvement by IDA Ireland or Enterprise Ireland in providing financial or other supports will be dependent on a company or companies submitting proposals for consideration and seeking approval for State support for an undertaking in the normal way. In the meantime IDA Ireland are actively exploring options with interest parties. As regards the issue of aircraft hangars and any leasing arrangements between the DAA and SR Technics, it is not the practice to discuss details concerning commercial transactions of IDA client companies while issues relating to the DAA are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Transport.

Employment Rights.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

100 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the legislative or other measures she will take to uphold the right to collective bargaining and in particular the right of a trade union to represent its members; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7266/09]

Trade unions holding a negotiating licence are free to engage in collective bargaining on wages and conditions of employment. Ireland's system of industrial relations is based on a voluntarist approach with terms and conditions of employment being determined in the main by a process of voluntary collective bargaining between the parties, without the intervention of the State. The collective bargaining process can cover the entire range of issues arising from the employment relationship.

The State has sought to facilitate the bargaining process through establishing, by legislation, a number of agencies to assist in the resolution of disputes, including the Labour Relations Commission/Rights Commissioner Service and the Labour Court. There are also statutory provisions designed to back up the voluntarist system in areas where collective bargaining does not operate effectively. The most important provisions are those concerning Joint Labour Committees and Registered Employment Agreements. In addition, the 2004 Enhanced Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution and the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001, as amended by the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004, provide mechanisms for the resolution of disputes in situations where collective bargaining does not occur and where the internal dispute resolution procedures that are normally used fail to resolve the dispute.

The issue of employee representation was considered with the social partners in the context of the 2008 review of Towards 2016. In that context, the Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009 provides for the establishment of a review process which will consider the legal and other steps which are required to enable the mechanisms which were established under previous Agreements to operate as they had been intended. This review, which will be carried out under the auspices of the Department of the Taoiseach, is expected to commence shortly.

Grocery Industry.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

101 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has received a report from the Competition Authority following the Department’s request to the authority to monitor the operation of the grocery trade on an ongoing basis; when she expects to receive this report; when she expects to introduce the required legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7267/09]

Following the repeal of the Restrictive Practices (Groceries) Order 1987 in March 2006, the Competition Authority was requested to review and monitor developments in the grocery sector in light of the new regulatory environment. As I have previously indicated to the Dáil, the Competition Authority presented two reports in March 2008, as part of the Grocery Monitor Project. The first report, A Description of the Structure and Operation of Grocery Retailing and Wholesaling in Ireland: 2001 to 2006 provides a description of the market structure at the wholesale and retail levels of the Irish grocery sector. The second report is entitled Price Trends in the Irish Retail Grocery Sector: A Description of the Evolution of Retail Grocery Prices between 2001 and 2007. In this report, the Competition Authority has considered the impact of the removal of the Groceries Order by examining the evolution of the aggregate retail grocery price trends between 2001 and 2007 by analysis of price data published by the CSO. These reports were noted by Government in April 2008 and were published by the Authority shortly thereafter.

A third Report, ‘Retail Planning System as applied to the Grocery Sector 2001-2007', was published by the Authority in September 2008. This report identifies a number of features of the retail planning system that affect competition in the grocery sector. It contains seven recommendations aimed at promoting competition in grocery retailing in Ireland. These recommendations are addressed to my colleague the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr John Gormley, who has indicted his intention to initiate a review of the retail planning guidelines during 2009. The Authority's Reports do not call for changes to legislation which fall within my area of responsibility and I have no plans to introduce legislation in this area. I would like to advise the Deputy that the three Reports are available on the Authority's website www.tca.ie.

Job Losses.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

102 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has met with the employment task force for Limerick since its establishment or if she has received correspondence from it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7319/09]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

103 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the contacts she has had with the industrial development agencies with a view to securing alternative employment for the 1,800 workers who are due to lose their jobs at a company (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7253/09]

Joan Burton

Question:

112 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will make a statement on her meeting with a person in December 2008 in regard to employment at a company (details supplied) in County Limerick. [7255/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102, 103 and 112 together.

In December 2008, I met with Mr. Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Inc. in Austin, Texas. Mr. Dell was accompanied by a number of his senior managers. I was accompanied by the Minister for Defence, the Secretary General of my Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and by the Chief Executive of IDA Ireland. The purpose of the meeting was to seek an update on implementation of Dell's new corporate strategy and in particular the company's plans for the future of their operations in Ireland, in particular in Limerick. At the meeting, the company confirmed that it was pushing ahead with its cost saving plan and that weakening demand and associated cost pressures continued to put pressure on the company to implement its new strategy.

I communicated to the company the significant benefits which the Limerick operation brings to the company, the city and the region. I undertook, on behalf of the Government, to provide whatever assistance I could to Dell with a view to retaining a significant Dell presence in Limerick and maximising its future presence there. For its part the company expressed its wish to continue to work with the IDA and the Government, and agreed to contact us as soon as it had finalised its detailed plans for the Limerick operations.

Following the announcement by Dell to reduce its Limerick workforce, I announced the creation of a Task Force to address the affect of the Dell decision at a regional level. The Task Force, which is chaired by Mr. Denis Brosnan and has Mr. Vincent Cunnane of Shannon Development as CEO, is already under way and it held its first meeting in Limerick some weeks ago. I am meeting the Task Force later this week and, in its work, the Task Force can call on support and inputs from my Department, Forfás and the Industrial Development agencies.

I have met with all of the State development agencies, under the auspices of my Department, in the context of the job losses to take place at Dell as well as other job losses in the Region, and I am satisfied that they are working in a fully coordinated manner to take the appropriate actions to support the workers at Dell in finding new employment, including assistance to re-skill and re-train to enhance their future employment potential. In this respect, IDA has been working diligently to secure new investments and over the last year companies like Vistakon, Zimmer, Cook, DTS and Microsemi have had announcements in the Region. The Agency currently has a pipeline of projects under consideration. These potential investments are being pursued and IDA Ireland will do everything possible to speed up the investment decisions in Limerick's favour.

The investment projects which IDA is seeking to attract to Limerick today are much different to those of the past, relying principally on the skills of its people and on a strong business and educational infrastructure to pull investment to the county. IDA's strategy is to re-position the region as a hotspot for knowledge based industry, while focusing on marketing Limerick as a key location for investment by building on the strengths already evident in the county. IDA is also working closely with the existing base of employers to encourage additional investment, particularly in activities such as R&D, customer support and back office functions. IDA works closely with Shannon Development in the provision of suitable property solutions for potential investors to the county.

Enterprise Ireland is specifically targeting potential business start-ups through the following supports & programmes:

Dedicated Opportunities Fair to be held in March in Limerick to encompass all Enterprise, Employment and Education institutions together with private and voluntary sector organisations including financial Institutions, Mabs, Citizens Information and recruitment agencies.

New collaborative Information brochure detailing contacts, business Start-Up supports and financial assistance available via EI and the CEBs.

New series of one & two night seminars & workshops throughout the Mid-West commencing in March to provide individuals with information on enterprise start & identification of new business opportunities.

A new EI led 6 week part-time Enterprise Start Programme to commence at the EI funded Enterprise Acceleration Centre at LIT in February to facilitate individuals to explore Business Start-Up as a new career option.

A new 12 month Enterprise Platform Programme to commence at LIT in April to assist individuals to commercialise existing business ideas

One-to-one meeting facility for individuals interested in business start-up from locally based EI regional development executives.

In addition, EI is addressing the challenges facing the sub-supply base in the Mid-west with a dedicated sub-supplier event in April to facilitate supply companies to explore new opportunities, new business leads & new markets with assistance from EI's overseas market network.

In preparation for job losses at Dell, FÁS Mid-west had put in place a team to deal specifically with redundancies in Dell and other companies in the Region. As an initial step, the following services have been offered to Dell employees:

Group Briefing Sessions for staff to outline the range of FÁS Services available to them.

Individual one to one guidance interviews to include:

Identification of current qualifications and job requirements.

Provision of information on job opportunities, Mid-west, national and EU

Identification of upskilling training requirements

Provision of a broad range of training programmes in response.

Referral to educational providers where appropriate

Referral to Enterprise Boards regarding Start Your Own Business initiatives, where appropriate.

FÁS will be hosting Training/Job Opportunities events in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. These events will have local, national and European vacancies on display as well as employers in attendance. Also, FÁS, Enterprise Ireland and the City and County Enterprise Boards, University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology have now developed a web portal to assist people who find themselves out of work in the Mid-West. This web portal will guide people through the initial orientation process into new opportunities. Through this coordinated approach, the affiliated organisations are ensuring that no valuable time is lost and people will get clear and comprehensive individual guidance. The web portal will provide information and direct access to designated contact people within the organisations.

Employment Rights.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

104 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of labour inspectors currently employed by the National Employment Rights Authority; the number of labour inspectors currently available for assignment on normal duties; the number currently in training following recruitment; the status of the recruitment campaign to increase the labour inspectorate to 90 inspectors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7279/09]

NERA currently has in place a team of seventy-nine inspectors. Recruitment competitions were held to bring the number of Inspectors from the original level of thirty one inspectors up to the level of ninety committed to under Towards 2016. A total of sixty inspectors were assigned to NERA from these competitions. Twelve inspectors left NERA over the past year as a result of promotion, internal and external Departmental transfers and, re-assignments.

All new inspectors are required to complete the NERA Inspection Services Introductory Training Programme and to undertake further training, including on-the-job training with experienced inspectors. This involves working with experienced inspectors carrying out inspections and other associated enquiries at places of work with a view to determining compliance with certain employment rights legislation. Fifty-nine of the sixty new inspectors have completed the Introductory Training Programme and are now actively involved in inspection duties. One inspector has recently taken up duty and will commence training shortly. A competitive selection process was held very recently to form a panel of people who will fill current and future inspector vacancies as they arise.

Departmental Agencies.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

105 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will make a statement on the report of the Committee of Public Accounts on FÁS. [7272/09]

I welcome the report on FÁS by the Public Accounts Committee, which was published last week and I commend the Committee for the work carried out in this matter. I will be paying particular attention to the recommendations made and to the underlying rationale for making them. I note that while the report in general concentrates on the things that went wrong, the Committee is of the view that the good work being done by the employees of FÁS should not be overlooked and this examination is no reflection on their role and the valuable contribution they make to Irish life. I fully concur with this view.

Many of the issues contained in the report have already been aired in public. I have previously expressed my concerns in respect of various matters raised by internal audit reports in FÁS and subsequently taken up by the C&AG in an earlier report on a number of public bodies. Since the publication of those reports a series of steps have been undertaken to deal with the matters raised. In particular:

FÁS has clarified its procedures and strengthened its internal controls;

An internal cross-functional communications and marketing strategy group has been established in FÁS;

FÁS has passed certain issues to the Gardaí for investigation;

A new Director General has been appointed on a temporary basis;

The C&AG has commenced a wide-ranging investigation in FÁS, which includes internal controls, governance arrangements, marketing and advertising and specific follow-up of matters raised in the course of hearings of the Committee of Public Accounts;

A review of the Science Challenge Initiative with a view to making recommendations on the Initiative's future is currently underway, and it will be completed shortly.

In my view, FÁS should continue to remain focused on its core mission, given the employment and training challenges currently facing the country. I would express my strong support for the work of the new Director General, the Chairman and the other members of the Board in that regard. The Board of FÁS has already stated that whatever additional actions are necessary arising from the Report will be fully implemented.

Question No. 106 answered with Question No. 99.

Departmental Staff.

David Stanton

Question:

107 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff employed in the enterprise development unit of her Department; the number who work with the enterprise agencies to co-ordinate and oversee the early warning system for companies in difficulty to notify her Department of proposed redundancies; if she is satisfied with the operation of this system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7328/09]

There are nine staff in the Enterprise Development Unit of my Department. The Unit is part of the Enterprise and Agencies Division. Of the nine staff, four have a direct involvement with the early warning system at different times. The system relies on information initially provided by clients of the Industrial Development agencies to their respective agencies and then in turn to my Department. The information provided can be highly confidential and commercially sensitive. The system provides me with information which is both timely and useful.

Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 76.
Question No. 109 withdrawn.

Redundancy Payments.

Joe Costello

Question:

110 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount of money paid out in statutory redundancy payments in respect of each year from 2002 to 2008; the projected figure for 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7260/09]

Joe Costello

Question:

111 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of redundancies notified to her Department in respect of each year from 2002 to 2008 and to date in 2009; the number of projected redundancies for 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7259/09]

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

I attach in Table 1 are the amount of monies paid out of the Social Insurance Fund in respect of redundancy claims for the years 2002-2008 up to and including 13 February, 2009. It should be noted that the figures provided for 2008 and to date in 2009 are provisional figures. It is not possible to project the figure for 2009 given that this will hinge on a number of variables including the number of claims received, the length of service of the claimants etc.

Table 2 sets out the number of statutory redundancies for years 2002 to 2008 and details for 2009 which are provisional figures (up to 18 February, 2009). These figures show the number of employees who actually qualified for statutory redundancy lump sum payments. They do not reflect those who lost their jobs with less than two years service in employment. While I am unable to provide a projection of the number of projected redundancies in 2009, it may be helpful to the Deputy to report that in the first almost seven weeks of this year, the level of new claims received averaged in excess of 1,500 per week.

Table 1: Expenditure on Statutory Redundancies for years 2002 to 2008 and (provisional figure up to 13th February 2009)

(€000)

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008*

2009*

53.978

88.933

152.162

149.172

166.483

183.328

183.206

10.415

*Provisional.

Table 2: Actual Statutory Redundancies for years 2002 to 2008 and (provisional figures up to 18 February 2009)

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009*

24,432

25,769

25,041

23,156

23,684

25,459

40,607

10,952

*Provisional.

Question No. 112 answered with Question No. 102.

Departmental Expenditure.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

113 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way, in respect of the announcement of 3 February 2009, it is intended to effect the 8% reduction in professional fees in relation to services provided to or funded by her Department; the amount expected to be saved in her Department’s budget as a result of this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7262/09]

On 3 February 2009, the Taoiseach outlined to the Dáil a series of measures which the Government decided would need to be taken to achieve adjustments in public expenditure in the order of €2 billion this year. These measures include a reduction in professional fees across the public service. The manner in which the reduction in professional fees is to be applied is currently being considered by the Department of Finance. My Department will follow the instructions of the Department of Finance on the matter and, if appropriate, the savings to be achieved in respect of my Department will be reflected in the Revised Estimates Volume to be published in March.

EU Directives.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

114 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of EU directives, for which her Department has responsibility, that remain to be implemented; the directives that are overdue; the number of reasoned opinions received from the European Commission since 2002 to date in 2009 regarding delays or non-implementation of such directives; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7278/09]

There are currently a total of eight Directives due to be transposed by my Department up to 2012. Two of these Directives are currently overdue. The first of these, 2006/46/EC on company reporting, is expected to be transposed by 30 April 2009, while Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory audits of annual and consolidated accounts should be transposed by 31 May 2009. Full details on the state of play of all current EU Directives are maintained on the Department's website, www.entemp.ie.

My Department has received 25 Reasoned Opinions from the European Commission relating to Directives since 2002. The outstanding issues concerning all of these Reasoned Opinions have been resolved satisfactorily, with the exception of Directive 2006/43/EC which, as I have said, is expected to be transposed on 31 May 2009. The transposition of EU Directives is an ongoing priority in my Department.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Martin Ferris

Question:

115 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of apprentices in FÁS related schemes who were made redundant in each of the years 2006, 2007 and 2008. [7326/09]

In the last three years FÁS were notified of the following numbers of apprentices who were made redundant:

2006 — 428 apprentices were recorded as redundant

2007 — 706 apprentices were recorded as redundant

2008 — 3,078 apprentices were recorded as redundant.

The significant increase in these figures demonstrates the scale of the downturn in the construction sector, which has occurred since the end of 2007. The Government has initiated several measures to assist these redundant apprentices complete their apprenticeships. Under these measures almost 2,200 redundant apprentices will benefit and be able to progress their apprenticeships. This is comprised of the following:

It is expected that over 1,200 redundant apprentices will receive off-the-training during 2009.

The FÁS employer based redundant apprentices rotation scheme will provide training on-the-job training opportunities for up to 500 redundant apprentices in 2009.

ESB Networks has agreed a programme with FÁS to provide 400 redundant electrical apprentices with on-the-job training opportunities at Phases 5 and 7 over an 18-month period.

Léargas has provided part funding under the EU's Leonardo da Vinci programme to support the placement of 26 redundant apprentices with overseas employers to complete their Phase 7 on-the-job training. FÁS have submitted a further proposal to Léargas for up to 60 additional redundant apprentices to complete their on-the-job training in Finland and Germany.

The Government will continue to consider other initiatives to provide assistance to redundant apprentices to facilitate their progression and completion of their apprenticeships.

Departmental Reports.

Mary Upton

Question:

116 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will implement the recommendations contained in the report of the advisory group on media mergers published on 2 January 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7284/09]

The Advisory Group on Media Mergers was established in 2008 to review the current legislative framework regarding the public interest aspects of media mergers. As I have previously indicated to the Dáil, the Group's Report, published on 2nd January 2009, and the eleven recommendations contained therein are being considered in the context of the ongoing wider review of the operation and implementation of the Competition Act 2002. It is my intention to bring forward legislation during the course of 2009 to reform aspects of competition law, including provisions concerning media mergers, and to implement the merger of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority in accordance with the Government decision on the rationalisation of State Agencies as announced by my colleague the Minister for Finance during the course of the Budget speech.

Departmental Staff.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

117 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Taoiseach if, in relation to departmental staff and bodies under the remit of his Department, he will provide details of those remuneration arrangements which are currently in excess of a benchmarking recommendation or a recommendation from the Review Body on Higher Remuneration or which are subject to a personal rate; the position and grade the person is currently holding in each case; and the rationale for making a higher payment than that recommended in each case. [6963/09]

There are no Departmental remuneration arrangements within my Department which are currently in excess of a benchmarking recommendation or a recommendation from the Review Body on Higher Remuneration. This also pertains to the bodies under the aegis of my Department.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

118 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Taoiseach the number of economists employed in his Department at present and their roles; the number of economists employed in his Department each year since 1997 and their roles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6964/09]

There are no designated economist positions in my Department.

Departmental Programmes.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

119 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Taoiseach the steps he has taken to ensure the cycle to work scheme, introduced in the Finance (No. 2) Act 2008, can be availed of by officials in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6965/09]

My Department is considering the detailed arrangements that will be required to implement the cycle to work scheme provided for under Section 7 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 2008. My Department is currently in discussions with the Government Supplies Agency on how the proposed scheme might be put into operation and the correct procurement procedures put in place.

Departmental Bodies.

David Stanton

Question:

120 Deputy David Stanton asked the Taoiseach. further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 3 February 2009, if the Government working group on Dáil reform which was established on 27 January 2009 has held its first meeting; when he expects the group to conclude its work and publish proposals on Dáil Éireann reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7329/09]

Over the past fortnight I have been in informal contact with the members of the Working Group. In this context, I have discussed the broad area of Dáil Reform and asked the members to assess where real progress could be made within the shortest possible timeframe. An inaugural meeting of the Group is planned for the coming weeks. I anticipate that the details requested by the Deputy will be finalised at that meeting. Those details will be made available in future responses and correspondence when available.

National Statistics.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

121 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Taoiseach the number of 18, 19, 20 and 21 year olds in the State each year since 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7553/09]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following table.

Population by single year of age from 1999 to 2008

Age

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

18

68,359

67,296

65,685

63,009

61,239

60,140

59,899

58,326

55,183

56,085

19

67,485

66,582

65,545

64,576

61,551

61,528

60,352

60,346

57,669

54,743

20

64,252

67,905

67,597

66,355

64,203

62,824

64,101

64,091

61,764

58,337

21

61,714

64,395

68,057

67,865

67,363

64,952

63,418

65,466

66,862

62,689

State Total

3,741,647

3,789,536

3,847,198

3,917,203

3,979,853

4,045,188

4,133,839

4,239,848

4,339,026

4,422,077

Job Protection.

Damien English

Question:

122 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has initiated national job protection schemes; her plans to implement such strategy in view of the continuing rise in unemployment levels; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7750/09]

The Government is determined to do all in its power to tackle the rise in numbers of people finding themselves without work or with reduced working weeks. Our approach in tackling the issue is multi-faceted and centres on restoring our public finances, protecting employment across the economy, re-training those without work and attracting new investment and jobs to our shores.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs fund a number of Schemes which provide a subsidy to a person's wage. These include employment supports available to persons in receipt of welfare payments that are designed to assist and facilitate people on social welfare payments to return to the active labour force. Included in these measures is the Back to Work Allowance (BTWA). The BTWA scheme is designed to assist the long-term unemployed, lone parents, people with disabilities and other social welfare recipients to return to work. There are two strands to the scheme, the Back to Work Enterprise allowance for the self-employed and the Back to Work Allowance for employees. These allowances provide a monetary incentive for people who are dependant long-term on social welfare payments to make the return to work financially attractive and viable.

Financial support is also available to those who are engaged in short-time employment through the payment of Jobseeker's Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance in respect of those days that the person is unemployed. In addition to that outlined above, my Department, through FÁS, funds and operates a Wage Subsidy Scheme that provides financial incentives to employers, outside the public sector, to employ disabled people who work more than 20 hours per week.

Finally, I can say that my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, has asked the Commission for Energy Regulation for an immediate review of energy pricing and an analysis of options for bringing down electricity and gas prices for householders and businesses. Such action sends out a clear signal that in Government we are addressing issues of real concern to employers who need to get costs down in order to compete effectively in the global marketplace, resulting in more jobs being protected across our economy. It is one example of the many steps that we are in the process of taking to best protect the long term sustainability of our economy.

Employment Rights.

Richard Bruton

Question:

123 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a company which wins a contract in open competition from a State agency has obligations under transfer of undertakings legislation in respect of the employees of the previous contractor; and if the successful company is taking some employees from the previous contractor if there are restrictions on the way in which workers are selected for recruitment. [6960/09]

The current Irish law in the area of "transfer of undertakings" is the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 — Statutory Instrument (S.I.) No. 131 of 2003. The Regulations implement the mandatory (i.e mandatory to transpose) provisions of EU Council Directive 2001/23/EC of 12 March 2001 which is aimed at safeguarding the rights of employees in the event of a transfer of an undertaking, business or part of a business to another employer as a result of a legal transfer (including the assignment or forfeiture of a lease) or merger. Section 21 of the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006 transposed a provision of the European Directive relating to the information to be provided by the original employer to the new employer.

It is open to individuals to seek legal advice to determine, in any case, if the specifics of their particular situation might constitute a Transfer of Undertaking. However, in accordance with the Transfer of Undertaking Regulations, it would be a matter for a Rights Commissioner to determine in law if any particular case does in fact constitute a transfer of undertakings situation.

While my Department cannot provide legal advice in respect of any specific case, I would point out that the European Commission has issued a guidance document on European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings in the area of transfer of undertakings and outsourcing or contracting-out. That document indicates that the ECJ has found that in a situation where a services contract for a labour-intensive service such as office cleaning or security services (as distinct from an assets-based service such as public transport where other rulings apply) has been outsourced and where the contract subsequently moves to a new contractor, it may be considered a "transfer of undertakings" for the purposes of the Transfer of Undertakings Directive if the new employer takes over a major part, in terms of their numbers and skills, of the employees specially assigned by the previous contractor to the provision of the services in point.

However, as indicated above, the circumstances of each individual case would have to be considered by a Rights Commissioner, in the first instance, in the light of all previous case law, including ECJ case law. Any such case should be taken within six months of the date on which an employee considers that there has been a contravention of the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations. An application to a Rights Commissioner can be made by the employee, or by a representative (including a trade union representative) by contacting the Rights Commissioner Service of the Labour Relations Commission, Tom Johnston House, Haddington Road, Dublin 4, or phone 01 6136700.

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 99.

Michael Ring

Question:

125 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on correspondence sent to her regarding a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [7098/09]

The current Irish law in the area of "transfer of undertakings" is the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 — Statutory Instrument (S.I.) No. 131 of 2003. The Regulations implement the mandatory (i.e mandatory to transpose) provisions of EU Council Directive 2001/23/EC of 12 March 2001 which is aimed at safeguarding the rights of employees in the event of a transfer of an undertaking, business or part of a business to another employer as a result of a legal transfer (including the assignment or forfeiture of a lease) or merger. Section 21 of the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006 transposed a provision of the European Directive relating to the information to be provided by the original employer to the new employer.

It is open to individuals to seek legal advice to determine, in any case, if the specifics of their particular situation might constitute a Transfer of Undertaking. However, in accordance with the Transfer of Undertaking Regulations, it would be a matter for a Rights Commissioner to determine in law if any particular case does in fact constitute a transfer of undertakings situation.

While my Department cannot provide legal advice in respect of any specific case, I would point out that the European Commission has issued a guidance document on European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings in the area of transfer of undertakings and outsourcing or contracting-out. That document indicates that the ECJ has found that in a situation where a services contract for a labour-intensive service such as office cleaning or security services (as distinct from an assets-based service such as public transport where other rulings apply) has been outsourced and where the contract subsequently moves to a new contractor, it may be considered a "transfer of undertakings" for the purposes of the Transfer of Undertakings Directive if the new employer takes over a major part, in terms of their numbers and skills, of the employees specially assigned by the previous contractor to the provision of the services in point.

However, as indicated above, the circumstances of each individual case would have to be considered by a Rights Commissioner, in the first instance, in the light of all previous case law, including ECJ case law. Any such case should be taken within six months of the date on which an employee considers that there has been a contravention of the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations. An application to a Rights Commissioner can be made by the employee, or by a representative (including a trade union representative) by contacting the Rights Commissioner Service of the Labour Relations Commission, Tom Johnston House, Haddington Road, Dublin 4, or phone 01 6136700.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

126 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number in relation to the newly announced FÁS employer based redundant apprentice rotation scheme, and the restrictions in place which exclude those employers who have laid off apprentices since January 2007, of employers in the brick and stonelaying, carpentry and joinery, electrical, plastering and plumbing sectors whom she expects to be in a position to take apprentices on in this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7122/09]

I launched the Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme on 29th December 2008. The scheme provides support to employers to provide on-the-job training to redundant apprentices while they have released their employed apprentice to a scheduled Phase 4 or Phase 6 off-the-job training phase in the Institutes of Technology. A total of €4 million has been allocated to the scheme to provide up to 500 on-the-job training places during 2009.

To be eligible for the Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme, employers must not have made an apprentice redundant in the period since 1st January 2007. This eligibility criteria is to ensure that employers, who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the apprentice in the completion of their apprenticeship, would be supported by taking a redundant apprentice into their employment to enable the redundant apprentice to complete their on-the-job training. There are over 2,200 employers for the trades of Bricklaying, Carpentry and Joinery, Electrical, Plastering and Plumbing who are eligible to participate in the Scheme for the rotation period now commencing for the April term.

Industrial Development.

Áine Brady

Question:

127 Deputy Áine Brady asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the policy her Department and its State agencies, including Enterprise Ireland, are pursuing to encourage companies that are in the retail and distribution sector (details supplied) to expand to other countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7290/09]

Enterprise Ireland's remit is to work with Irish controlled manufacturing and internationally-traded services companies employing ten or more, innovative high-potential growth start-up companies, and overseas owned companies in the food, drink and timber sectors. The services sector is a key focus of Enterprise Ireland. A dedicated International Services Business Unit was established in 2007. The key objectives of Enterprise Ireland's Services Strategy, which I launched in October 2008, are:

to accelerate the international growth of existing Enterprise Ireland Internationally Trading Services clients and sectors;

to grow substantially the base of Irish Internationally Trading Services companies in Ireland; and

to build a substantial footprint and export sales in new emerging services sectors.

In 2008, the Services Strategy Group published the Report "Catching the Wave" in which areas of opportunity for Irish companies to establish commercial presence abroad were identified, including the retail and wholesale sector. State intervention in relation to these opportunities is limited to ‘soft supports' such as:

Management capability development, specifically dealing with running a growth oriented business

Access to professional mentors with sectoral knowledge in domestic and international markets

Access to innovation supports

Access to Enterprise Ireland's overseas network

Introductions to private/public venture capital funds.

On 10 February 2008, Enterprise Ireland co-hosted a half-day conference with Retail Excellence Ireland. This allowed Enterprise Ireland to present the supports available and afforded retailers the opportunity for one-to-one contact with Enterprise Ireland staff to discuss international prospects. I would also encourage any business in the retail sector, or other sectors, to consider the opportunities of the all-island market place to expand their business. InterTradeIreland, the all-island trade and business development body, provides practical advice and support to businesses to help them pursue new cross-border business opportunities, develop new products and processes and to attract equity investment.

Grant Payments.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

128 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of grants paid to a company (details supplied) in County Cork over the past five years; the measures being taken to recover these moneys in view of the recent liquidation of its subsidiary company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7317/09]

Payment and repayment of grants are day-to-day operational matters for the Industrial Development agencies. I do not have any role in the day-to-day operations of these agencies.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

129 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of additional full-time FÁS courses which will be provided in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7333/09]

It is proposed to deliver 67 additional full-time training courses in 2009. These courses will be delivered under the FÁS Training Initiatives Strategy, which enhances the traditional mix of courses currently being offered by FÁS. The initiative is designed for highly employable persons who wish to add to their existing skills set and improve their prospects of re-entering the labour market.

Questions Nos. 130 and 131 answered with Question No. 99.

Job Losses.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

132 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she proposes to take to ensure the restoration of confidence in the manufacturing sector with particular reference to stemming the flow of jobs to other EU and non-EU economies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7525/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to replace manufacturing jobs lost to other economies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7526/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 133 together.

The Irish economy is now one of the most globalised in the world. As a consequence, the uncertainty created by the current international financial crisis has had a significant impact on our economy. Our comparative advantage will increasingly lie in the production of knowledge-intensive goods and services. With that in mind, a range of policies is being pursued to enhance competitiveness and improve the business environment for manufacturing.

Competition, both for investment and goods and services in the global economic environment that Irish business functions in, is keener than ever. Innovation, and the productivity gains that flow from it, are the new foundations for competitiveness. In order to sustain and grow the manufacturing sector, Irish based manufacturing enterprises will be encouraged and assisted to continue the progression to high value added sectors and activities, and continue to increase productivity through investments in human capital, technology and innovation. Our priority remains the creation of high quality, sustainable employment, driven by companies with higher profitability that are technologically advanced and prove a better fit with the competitive characteristics of our economy.

The "Report of the High Level Group on Manufacturing", launched in 2008, identified the focused actions needed by employers, employees and Government to respond to challenges and take advantage of opportunities to further develop the sector in Ireland. The report sets out a number of recommendations directed at key areas of innovation and productivity leading to transformational change, reskilling and management development for the innovative firm, and increasing awareness and take up of existing supports. The Social Partners agreed, as part of the review of "Towards 2016", that a Manufacturing Forum should be established, in line with the recommendations of the High Level Group on Manufacturing. This matter is currently being progressed by my Department in consultation with the Department of An Taoiseach and the Social Partners.

I am determined to maintain and improve our focus on developing indigenous industry, where we are working consistently and successfully to build Irish exports in world markets. The newly established Growth Fund is designed to assist Enterprise Ireland's small to medium sized clients achieve greater competitiveness by improving their export potential. This will be achieved by increasing gross output and productivity whilst also maintaining existing employment levels in clients throughout the country. I also recently announced Enterprise Ireland's "Going Global Fund" which is aimed specifically at locally traded companies that have successfully established businesses in Ireland and wish to explore opportunities to sell abroad.

In the area of foreign direct investment (FDI), Ireland still manages to punch above its weight when it comes to attracting overseas investment. While costs are higher, we have responded by positioning ourselves as a location for more advanced activities, with more qualified and better paying jobs. The pipeline of new business, for which IDA Ireland is competing, is strong and we remain confident that Ireland will manage to secure significant investment from key target sectors such as Pharmaceuticals, Biopharma, Medical Technologies and Information and Communications Technology.

The government is committed to ensuring that we continue to create an environment for enterprise that remains among the most favourable in the world and which will position us for long term economic growth through the adoption of this series of proactive policies and strategies that best serve the interests of the manufacturing sector.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has studied the number of job losses in the services sector with a view to retention of such employment in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7527/09]

In 2008 there were 90,342 persons in permanent employment in Enterprise Agency-assisted International Traded and Financial Services firms; the attached Table shows the number of full-time jobs created and lost in similar sectoral firms between 2004 and 2008. As one of the most globalised economies in the world, the uncertainty created by the current international financial crisis has had a significant impact on the Irish economy. This has created strains in the labour market that reflect the present international economic downturn. Our comparative advantage will increasingly lie in the production of knowledge-intensive goods and services. With that in mind, a range of policies are being pursued to enhance competitiveness and improve the business environment for services.

We continue to be one of the world's leading service exporting countries. Over the next ten years, services will be one of the key drivers of Ireland's economic success and job creation. The report of the Services Strategy Group, "Catching the Wave: A Services Strategy for Ireland", sets out new policy proposals on how we can ensure the continued development and growth of Ireland's services sector and outlines how to maximise the future returns to the country from services activities in all enterprises, both current and potential. Three strategic aims for future services policy in Ireland are identified in the report:

Realising the opportunities to further grow and diversify Irish services exports;

Encouraging internationalisation, where Irish service enterprises establish operations in overseas markets;

Recognising the important role of Irish service enterprises that trade locally on the domestic market, and ensuring that these are efficient and productive.

Implementation of the recommendations of the Services Strategy Group — some of which are already being acted on by the Enterprise Agencies — will enable Irish service companies to exploit new and exciting opportunities, such as eLearning, business and financial services, professional and consultancy services and others.

I am determined to maintain and improve our focus on developing indigenous industry, where we are working consistently and successfully to build Irish exports in world markets. The newly established Growth Fund is designed to assist Enterprise Ireland's small to medium sized clients achieve greater competitiveness by improving their export potential. This will be achieved by increasing gross output and productivity whilst also maintaining existing employment levels in clients throughout all counties. I recently launched Enterprise Ireland's strategy for the internationalisation of Ireland's services sector, which aims to promote a significant increase in exports sales in this sector by 2015. I also announced Enterprise Ireland's "Going Global Fund" which is aimed specifically at locally traded companies that have successfully established businesses in Ireland and wish to explore opportunities to sell abroad.

We are fully committed to strengthening the competitiveness and productive capacity of the economy. Our priority remains the creation of high quality, sustainable employment, driven by companies with higher profitability that are technologically advanced and prove a better fit with the competitive characteristics of our economy. Towards that end we must ensure that we continue to create an environment for enterprise that remains among the most favourable in the world and which will position us for long term economic growth through the adoption of a series of proactive policies and strategies that best serve the interests of the services sectors.

Enterprise Agency-assisted Services sector firms

2004

2005

2006

2,007

2,008

Total 04-08

Full-time Job Gains

10,086

10,541

11,639

12,123

10,016

54,405

Full-time Job losses

-8,069

-7,796

-5,947

-7,724

-7,532

-37,068

Job Creation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

135 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs expected to be created in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7528/09]

Ireland is currently experiencing an economic downturn and a general slowdown in employment in all sectors. Indeed many countries throughout Europe and around the world are experiencing similar difficulties in their labour markets. The global economic turmoil makes it difficult to predict the outcome for job creation in 2009. The Government is, however, taking specific measures to address the economic downturn and to ensure that job creation is optimised in 2009. Specifically the Enterprise Development Agencies of my Department are working to hard ensure that we continue to grow the economy and jobs.

Global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will decline and almost all economic commentators are predicting a difficult year in 2009. However, on a daily basis, IDA is working closely with its clients in making every effort to keep them operating in Ireland while minimising the job losses encountered. It is important to recognise that even in turbulent economic times there is still FDI to be won and our competitors will not be slow in targeting opportunities. A firm focus and a positive attitude in our ability to win FDI, by all stakeholders, are key ingredients to a successful outcome.

For indigenous industry it is extremely difficult to predict an outcome for 2009 given the difficult circumstances Enterprise Ireland (EI) clients are operating in. However, EI is focused on supporting clients to maximise export sales and consequently employment, by continuing to invest in companies to help them plan strategy, build capability, access markets and research, finance start-ups and innovation. Success in securing export sales will be a key driver of job creation and sustainability in 2009. In addition, during 2009 the County and City Enterprise Boards will continue to support enterprise development and job creation through the provision of both direct and indirect assistance to micro-enterprises and will ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development at local level.

Insurance Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

136 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she is satisfied that all insurance products on sale here qualify under the trade descriptions legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7529/09]

The sale of insurance products is essentially regulated by the Financial Regulator under the Central Bank Acts and as such I have no direct function in the matter.

Retail Sector.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

137 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she is satisfied that the retail sector here is sufficiently well placed to compete in the market; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7530/09]

The current economic climate is creating difficult trading conditions for all sectors of the economy, including the retail sector. In these circumstances it is all the more important that we ensure that Irish businesses remain competitive so that they can compete in the marketplace. In this regard I am fully conscious of the findings of the recent Forás report into the retail sector which showed that in a number of areas operating costs in this jurisdiction were higher than in the neighbouring jurisdiction of Northern Ireland and the UK.

As Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, I am fully committed to ensuring that we tackle those areas of our cost base which are affecting our national competitiveness and our ability to compete. In this regard, the Deputy will be aware of developments in the area of energy prices with the recent announcement of greater competition for domestic users and the engagement by my colleague the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with energy companies in relation to energy costs for larger commercial users. These initiatives are intended to ensure that there will be significant reductions in energy prices across the board before the end of the year. Such reduction in energy costs will clearly be of significant assistance in protecting employment and maintaining business activities. In addition, the Government has committed under the Framework for Economic Renewal to examining other cost factors such as charges at local level, which I am aware is a particular concern for the retail sector.

In so far as my Department is concerned, a key priority of the Department is to reduce the administrative burden on Irish business by 25%, or €500 million per annum, by the end of 2012. The new Companies Consolidation Bill will radically overhaul company law in Ireland and consolidate the existing thirteen Companies Acts into one. This will result in a further reduction in red tape and cost for business and will improve Ireland's competitive position as a location for business investment.

It is important that we renew our focus on tackling those factors which are eroding our competitiveness. Government, businesses, employees and consumers all have a role to play in helping to restore our competitiveness and thereby ensuring that we can continue to have a vibrant economy with thriving sectors, including the retail sector, providing valuable employment, increasing the level of trade and contributing to the national exchequer. The initiatives outlined above demonstrate the Government's intentions to play its role in this regard.

Job Protection.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

138 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the expected number of jobs at risk in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7531/09]

The latest forecasts from the Department of Finance, as set out in the January Stability Programme Update, indicate that job losses will exceed gains with employment contracting by around 85,000 or 4% for the year as a whole. Notwithstanding this the level of employment in the economy will be close to 2 million as a result of the substantial employment gains made since the mid-1990's. Unemployment is forecast to continue to rise this year and to average 9.2% for the year as a whole. In the current global economic climate, multinational companies are restructuring their global operations leading to global job cuts. Ireland therefore will inevitably be affected. On a daily basis, IDA is working with its Clients making every effort to keep Clients operating in Ireland while minimising the job losses encountered.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) is working hard to retain jobs in existing companies by improving competitiveness and access to overseas markets and focusing on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs in setting up new high potential start up companies. In recognising the significant changes in the current economy EI is currently in the process of finalising its revised Strategy and Client Offer. In the interim Enterprise Ireland continues to operate under its strategy Transforming Irish Industry 2008-2010 which is focused on Growth, Innovation and Leadership Development. During 2009 Enterprise Ireland will continue to work on expanding the positions that clients have won to-date in overseas markets and will be putting additional focus on capitalising on emerging opportunities.

In addition, during 2009 the County and City Enterprise Boards will continue to support enterprise development and job creation through the provision of both direct and indirect assistance to micro-enterprises and will ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development at local level.

Industrial Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

139 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action she has taken or proposes to take to encourage foreign direct investment in jobs here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7532/09]

In relation to manufacturing and internationally traded services, IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ireland and its regions. IDA's main focus on securing investment from new and existing clients is in the areas of High End Manufacturing, Global Services (including Financial Services) and Research, Development and Innovation. In addition IDA is focusing on new sectors such as Clean Tech, Services Innovation and Convergence. IDA is confident that there are further FDI opportunities for Ireland in these key sectors, which will be augmented in the future by a number of emerging technologies and new business models.

IDA has developed a strong base of existing clients, which make a significant contribution to the wealth generation and development of the Irish Economy. Furthermore, these companies have had a positive impression in Ireland and this provides a solid basis for future growth. IDA continues to work with its existing client base to deepen and further embed their investments in Ireland. It has an active programme of engagement with clients to identify and target new investment opportunities from these clients.

Ireland is now seen by the global business environment as a prime location for Research Development and Innovation functions. IDA has played a key role in establishing this competitive advantage for Ireland and is heavily involved with all stakeholders in the RD&I space. The increase in the R&D tax credit available to companies, which was announced in the Budget last December, will increase Ireland's attractiveness as a location for R&D activity and will provide a well-targeted stimulus for such value-added activities. R&D in Ireland has expanded dramatically in recent years reflecting the Irish government's massive injection of funding into the sector.

In an effort to drive business development and secure further foreign direct investment, IDA has recently undertaken a number of initiatives including a 10% shift in resources from non-business generation to business generation. The Agency has opened new offices in the United States and, from within existing resources, has expanded by 20% the number of its people in the United States and has deployed extra resources in London and Frankfurt.

In an effort to diversify the source of foreign direct investment, IDA opened a new office in Mumbai last year to target Indian investment. At the same time the Agency continues to explore opportunities to market Ireland for FDI in emerging economies in areas such a China, Russian Federation and Brazil. In addition the Agency continues to provide novel and tailored property solutions to prospective investors through its strategic sites initiative and by the development of business parks throughout the country.

Despite the credit crunch, Ireland has continued to attract significant high end FDI. In 2008 there was a 14% increase over the previous year in the number of investments secured. IDA remains guardedly optimistic of Ireland's ability to continue attracting high level of FDI in 2009 and beyond. In fact, 2009 has shown some success already with a number of new investments won that have a potential to create 200 jobs.

FÁS Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

140 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which she will extend or improve the ability of FÁS to meet its greater demands arising from the emerging economic downturn; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7533/09]

My Department, through FÁS, is taking a number of steps in order to meet the greater demands arising from the economic downturn. In the context of job search supports, FÁS is working to provide sufficient front-line staff in the National Employment Service to provide for a major increase during 2009 of Employment Action Plan (EAP) referrals from the Department of Social and Family Affairs as well as unemployed persons seeking job search assistance voluntarily. The aim is for a combined FÁS/Local Employment Service (LES) capacity of 147,000 EAP interviews, as well as other redundant and caseload clients. This will be achieved, in the main, by the LES providing, for the first time, a large-scale direct referral capacity for EAP clients. In addition, FÁS has begun the process of increasing its own Employment Services capacity by the internal redeployment of staff.

In respect of services for those interviewed by the Employment Service, Job Clubs are being re-focussed on assisting those who are ‘job-ready' to find work. In addition to this, overseas jobs will be highlighted through the European Employment Service (EURES).

Regarding training programmes, I recently announced the availability of 51,000 new training places under the FÁS Training Initiatives Strategy. These places are in addition to the 27,000 previously planned for 2009 under the Bridging Foundation Training, Specific Skills Training and Traineeships Programmes. These programmes will provide short training courses for those who have recently become unemployed.

The Training Initiative Strategy enhances the traditional mix of course offerings and will be delivered through three core-training initiatives, Short Courses, Night Courses and Online Courses. The courses are for highly employable persons who wish to add to their existing skills set and improve their prospects of re-entering the labour market. The night courses offer further flexibility and the online courses provide an excellent option for those who need a fast flexible intervention and who prefer a self directed E learning and blended learning environment. To ensure that the training offered remains highly relevant to the needs of the labour market, FÁS has also been looking at updating the content of certain training initiatives. This has resulted in the introduction of new courses for redundant construction workers in developing environmental/energy areas.

FÁS has also responded to the increase in the level of redundant apprentices especially in the construction and related sectors by providing the following supports:

The Department of Social and Family Affairs immediately refer redundant apprentices to FÁS for assistance.

Following this immediate referral, the FÁS Employment Services and FÁS Services to Business Divisions work in collaboration to provide guidance and support in sourcing a new employer and to consider further options. FÁS has amended the scheduling rules for off-the-job training to permit redundant apprentices to progress to their next off-the-job training, at Phase 2, Phase 4 and Phase 6, in accordance with the existing scheduling criteria.

FÁS introduced an Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme to provide support for employers to provide on-the-job training to redundant apprentices when they have released their employed apprentice to a scheduled Phase 4 and Phase 6 off-the-job training phase in the Institutes of Technology.

Leargas have provided funding under the EU's Leonardo da Vinci programme to support the placement of 26 redundant apprentices with overseas employers to complete their Phase 7 on-the-job training assessments.

ESB Networks have agreed a programme with FÁS to provide on-the-job training to eligible redundant electrical apprentices at Phase 5 and Phase 7. This programme will provide up to 400 places over a period of eighteen months and will be funded by ESB Networks.

Finally, redundant apprentices may also avail of existing specific skills training courses, which are trade related to enhance their employable skills and they may also avail of a range of trade-related night courses, which are available in FÁS training centres.

Job Protection.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

141 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has had direct contact with representatives of the manufacturing and services sectors with a view to safeguarding employment in these areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7535/09]

Maintaining the competitiveness of the enterprise sector in Ireland is a priority issue for my Department and our development agencies. In order to sustain and grow the manufacturing sector, Irish based manufacturing enterprises will be encouraged and assisted to continue the progression to high value added sectors and activities, and continue to increase productivity through investments in human capital, technology and innovation.

In the course of my engagements, I have met a wide array of people, representative of all sectors and levels of the Irish economy. All of these meetings deepen my own and my Department's understanding of the particular concerns and difficulties of those operating in the current economic environment. The Irish economy is now one of the most globalised in the world. As a consequence, the uncertainty created by the current international financial crisis has had a significant impact on our economy. Paramount amongst my concerns, and those of the Government, is how to sustain and create employment in these difficult times. The challenge is to create the conditions in which the different sectors can best prosper and avail of an economic upturn when it materialises.

In 2008, my Department facilitated the development of two reports examining in a detailed manner the attributes and needs of the Manufacturing and Services sectors, respectively, with a view to developing strategies for their success in the future. The "Report of the High Level Group on Manufacturing", identified the focused actions needed by employers, employees and Government to respond to challenges and take advantage of opportunities to further develop the sector in Ireland. The report sets out a number of recommendations directed at key areas of innovation and productivity leading to transformational change, reskilling and management development for the innovative firm, and increasing awareness and take up of existing supports. The Social Partners agreed, as part of the review of "Towards 2016", that a Manufacturing Forum should be established, in line with the recommendations of the High Level Group on Manufacturing. This matter is currently being progressed by my Department in consultation with the Department of An Taoiseach and the Social Partners.

We continue to be one of the world's leading service exporting countries. Over the next ten years, services will be one of the key drivers of Ireland's economic success and job creation. The report of the Services Strategy Group, "Catching the Wave: A Services Strategy for Ireland", sets out new policy proposals on how we can ensure the continued development and growth of Ireland's services sector and outlines how to maximise the future returns to the country from services activities in all enterprises, both current and potential. Implementation of the recommendations of the Services Strategy Group — some of which are already being acted on by the Enterprise Agencies — will enable Irish service companies to exploit new and exciting opportunities, such as eLearning, business and financial services, professional and consultancy services and others.

I am determined to maintain and improve our focus on developing indigenous industry, where we are working consistently and successfully to build Irish exports in world markets. The newly established Growth Fund is designed to assist Enterprise Ireland's small to medium sized clients achieve greater competitiveness by improving their export potential. This will be achieved by increasing gross output and productivity whilst also maintaining existing employment levels in clients throughout all counties. I recently launched Enterprise Ireland's strategy for the internationalisation of Ireland's services sector, which aims to promote a significant increase in exports sales in this sector by 2015. I also announced Enterprise Ireland's "Going Global Fund" which is aimed specifically at locally traded companies that have successfully established businesses in Ireland and wish to explore opportunities to sell abroad.

The government is committed to ensuring that we continue to create an environment for enterprise that remains among the most favourable in the world and which will position us for long term economic growth through the adoption of this series of proactive policies and strategies that best serve the interests of the manufacturing and services sectors.

EU Funding.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

142 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will apply for funding from the EU globalisation adjustment fund in order to support the retraining of workers who are losing their jobs in a company (details supplied); the estimated timeframe within which she expects to have an application made to the EU Commission; the amount she expects to apply for; the expected timeframe of a decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7769/09]

Funding is available from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for the retraining of workers in EU Member States made redundant as a result of changing global trade patterns. Strict eligibility criteria apply to the making of applications under the Fund. My Department is considering whether these criteria may be met at the company referred to so as to facilitate the making of an application in due course for co-financing under the Fund to assist workers to be made redundant there.

Notwithstanding the position in relation to the making and timing of any potential application to the European Commission for European Globalisation Adjustment Fund assistance, FÁS has been at the forefront in providing intervention and support to employees who have been made redundant or who are facing redundancy. FÁS is currently in contact with the company management to discuss the services available from FÁS and the potential needs of the employees. Each response will be tailored on a case-by-case basis. FÁS Services to Business Unit will also be involved in these consultations and a judgment will be made in relation to the level of FÁS intervention required.

Redundancy Payments.

Jack Wall

Question:

143 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, further to a previous parliamentary question (details supplied), progress has been made to ensure an applicant receives their entitlement under the Redundancy Act in view of the fact that the person attended an employment tribunal on 20 February 2008, the decision of which was that the applicant was entitled to their redundancy payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7770/09]

Payment of statutory redundancy is, in the first instance, a matter for the employer. The former employer of the applicant is deceased and subsequently, when my Department initiated communication with the representatives of the former employer, it was understood that there was a willingness to honour the statutory redundancy entitlement of the applicant. However, despite extensive efforts by the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department to progress this issue, it now appears that the applicant's claim to the employer for payment is not being progressed.

Accordingly, and in the light of the positive decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal in favour of the applicant, it has now been decided to process the claim for redundancy payment through the Social Insurance Fund with a view to my Department directly paying the claimant in this instance. My Department will then, in the normal manner, pursue the recovery of the moneys paid out and all related costs from the representatives of the former employer.

Pension Provisions.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

144 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if public servants who are members of a pension fund that is not part of the State pension scheme will be subject to the proposed public service pension levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6988/09]

The pension related deduction applies to public servants who are employed by or hold an office or position in a public service body and who are members of a public service pension scheme, or who are in receipt of a payment in lieu of membership of a pension scheme. The definition of a "public service pension scheme" is set out in section 1 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2009. A public servant who is not a member of (or specifically excluded from) a public service pension scheme, as defined in the legislation, or who is not in receipt of a payment in lieu of membership of such a pension scheme would not be subject to the deduction. If the Deputy has in mind public servants who pay into a private pension fund that is not part of their occupational arrangements, the deduction as proposed would not affect such payments.

Public Service Contracts.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

145 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the nature of the public private partnership for the National Conference Centre; the timescale envisaged for repayments; if the ultimate ownership will be with a private partner or the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7144/09]

The Consortium, to whom the National Conference Centre (NCC) Contract was awarded, are required to Design, Build and Finance the Conference Centre and to Operate and Maintain it (DBFOM) for a period of 25 years, after which time it will revert to the State. Payments for the facility will be spread over 25 years and will commence once the NCC is open for business.

National Lottery Funding.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

146 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if he proposes a new policy direction in respect of the allocation of national lottery funding in 2009 in view of the economic circumstances. [7627/09]

Under Section 5 of the National Lottery Act, 1986, the surplus from the National Lottery may be used for: Sport and other recreation; national culture (including the Irish language); arts (within the meaning of the Arts Act, 1951); health of the community; and for such other purposes as the Government may determine. The following additional categories have been so determined: youth, welfare, national heritage, and amenities. Under the legislation, the allocation of funding among the categories is a matter for the Government. There is no specific formula for the allocation of funding among categories. The Government decides on an annual basis how the surplus from the National Lottery is to be allocated in the context of the overall Estimates process.

Tax Code.

James Bannon

Question:

147 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance the reason persons (details supplied) in County Longford who have retired back to Ireland from the UK are being charged such a high rate of VRT on two vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6984/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that one of the persons in question sought exemption from Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) on two vehicles imported on 1 October 2008. In his application for the exemption in respect of those two vehicles, he claimed that the transfer of residence from the UK took place on that date. Exemption from VRT on those two vehicles was refused because the person in question had, several months previously, been granted exemption from VRT on another vehicle based on the fact, declared by himself, that he had transferred residence from the UK on 2 January 2008. Having examined the completed documentation and the evidence supporting both the date of acquisition of that vehicle and the date of transfer of residence, Revenue granted the VRT exemption based on 2 January 2008 as the transfer date.

By virtue of Statutory Instrument No. 59 of 1993, paragraph 4(5)(b), VRT exemption on the grounds of transfer of residence cannot be granted if such exemption was availed of in the previous five years. Furthermore, to qualify for VRT exemption on transfer of residence, the applicant must have had possession of and used the vehicle outside the State for at least six months prior to transfer. One of the two vehicles that was refused the exemption was only acquired one month before the persons' declared date of transfer of residence while the second vehicle was acquired one week after that date.

On the basis of the details supplied in respect of the two vehicles in question at present, indicative VRT liabilities of €862 and €2,385 respectively apply. The final VRT liabilities cannot be determined until the vehicles are inspected by Revenue. Sligo Vehicle Registration Office has been in recent communication with the person in question and, having regard to his circumstances, arrangements are being made to inspect the vehicles at a location close to his residence for his convenience.

Pension Provisions.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

148 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the status of an application (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6990/09]

Discussions are in train with the trustees and the administrators of the five older universities and certain non-commercial semi-State bodies with a view to providing consistency and clarity for the future in terms of meeting the liabilities of the funded pension schemes. In that context, and provided all the schemes concerned agree, it is proposed that the assets of these schemes would be transferred to the State together with the liabilities which would then be effectively met by the State on a pay-as-you-go basis. Legislation would be required to give effect to the proposal.

Tax Code.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

149 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that the 1% income levy does not apply to State pensions of married couples; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7001/09]

The position is that the relevant legislation provides for a specific exemption from the income levy in respect of social welfare payments, including the State pension, together with payments that are of a similar type or character made by other Departments or State agencies. A full list of the similar type payments is set out in Appendix A to the "Frequently Asked Questions on the Income Levy" which is posted on the Revenue Commissioners website (www.revenue.ie).

Billy Timmins

Question:

150 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow who is in receipt of a superannuation pension and is paying the 1% levy; if this is correct; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7003/09]

The position is that all individuals are liable to pay the income levy if their gross income (excluding social welfare payments) exceeds the threshold of €18,304 per annum or in the case of individuals 65 or over, if their gross income exceeds the income exemption limit of €20,000 per annum. In addition, persons who are full medical card holders are exempt from the income levy. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person referred to in the Deputy's question is over the age of 65 and the income received from the superannuation pension exceeds the threshold limit, which makes her liable to pay the 1% income levy. If, however, she is the holder of a full medical card she is excluded from the income levy and is entitled to a refund of any levy paid.

Tax Collection.

Jack Wall

Question:

151 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if an income tax assessment form will be forwarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7033/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Form 11 2008 was received on 18 February, 2009 and was processed on 19 February, 2009. A notice of assessment will issue to the taxpayer shortly.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

152 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the number of individuals employed in the Civil Service who are also in receipt of a Civil Service pension; the amount paid to same in respect of their employment and in Civil Service pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7119/09]

I would point out to the Deputy that the reply below is in respect of my own Department and offices under the remit of my Department only. My other ministerial colleagues will provide the information separately in respect of their own Departments. By employment I understand the Deputy to refer to the full or part time employment of retired civil servants as part of the staffing of the Department. In this regard, I am not aware of any such cases in my Department. Retired civil servants are however engaged by the Department and some of the Offices under my Department's remit, from time to time for specific tasks or projects. Such engagements are normally remunerated on a fee basis but in some cases, indeed, retired civil servants have provided their services without any additional remuneration.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that records of past employments of new recruits are not captured in such a way as to provide a dedicated basis for compiling the information requested by the Deputy. Accordingly, the specific information requested is not available.

The OPW has a current workforce of over 2,000 which rises by approximately 500 during the summer months. This workforce is made up of civil servants and State Industrial employees, including seasonal and on-call workers. The Office does not record the past employment of recruits in such a way as to provide a complete and composite basis for compiling the information requested. This would require the setting up of separate statistical records through the examination of each individual staff member's file, assuming the staff member provided the information in the first instance.

However, I am advised that during 2008 four retired District Inspectors from the OPW were re-employed by the OPW and earned a total of €72,641.82 between them. Their annual pension entitlements as of 1 September 2008 amount to approximately €57,200 between them. Both figures provided are made up of different individual amounts. In relation to other offices under the remit of my Department, the following is the position:

Public Appointments Service — one permanent staff member

Valuation Office — one officer (13 weeks to cover Term Time absence).

In the other offices under my Department's aegis, there are no such people employed.

Garda Stations.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

153 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance when a contractor will be appointed and when work will commence on Castleisland Garda station, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7148/09]

Castleisland Garda Station is on the priority list of the Garda Building Programme for 2009. Under the Capital Works Programme Framework, all public sector construction projects are required to be carried out under the new form of contract. It is necessary, therefore, to re-tender construction projects, such as Castleisland Garda Station, which had been tendered under the previous GDLA form of contract, but where no contractual commitment had been entered into. Accordingly, the tender documentation for Castleisland Garda Station is being revised to comply with the ‘New Conditions of Contract for Public Works Contracts'. Invitation to tender will remain subject to the availability of funding and the priority afforded to the project by An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Tax Collection.

Dan Neville

Question:

154 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [7216/09]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners and I have been advised that Revenue has made contact with the individual concerned with a view to resolving the matter of payment of Capital Gains Tax due.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

155 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if it is possible for a person who has incurred losses on a rental property as a result of refurbishment expenses to set that off against their PAYE income; and the circumstances in which it is possible to make such a write off. [7222/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in a rental situation, where allowable expenses exceed rents, the loss can only be used to reduce a person's taxable rental income from Irish sources in years subsequent to that in which the loss arose. There are no circumstances in which a rental loss can be set off against a person's PAYE income.

Departmental Schemes.

Jack Wall

Question:

156 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the value of the prize bond scheme to the Exchequer for each year for the past three years; the value of the scheme at present; the breakdown of the funds generated by the scheme used in each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7224/09]

The amounts outstanding in the Prize Bond scheme at the end of each of the past three years are as follows:

Year

2006

589

2007

631

2008

803

The amount currently outstanding (19 February 2009) is €829 million.

The breakdown of sales and repayments of Prize Bonds in each of the past three years are as follows:

Year

Sales

Repayments

(€m)

(€m)

2006

133

104

2007

145

103

2008

276

104

Prize Bonds are Government securities which, instead of paying interest, entitle holders to participate in weekly draws for cash prizes. Net receipts are used for funding the National Debt.

Tax Code.

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

157 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if there are plans to introduce a new property tax on second homes that would include enterprises such as those that provide self-catering holiday accommodation on a commercial basis. [7225/09]

In Budget 2009, I announced the Government's intention to introduce an annual charge of €200 on non principal private residences. This charge will be levied and collected by local authorities, and will be underpinned by legislation to be introduced by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Any proposals for a more general property tax like all proposals for new tax or expenditure measures, will fall to be considered in the context of the ongoing development of budgetary and economic policy.

Tax Collection.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

158 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the action he will take in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7231/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that each spouse is treated individually throughout the year by their employer/pension provider when the income levy is applied. According to Revenue records, the person in question is aged over 65; therefore the €20,000 per annum (€385 per week/€1,667 per month) exemption is applied each pay period. On that basis no refund can be made during the year. After the end of the tax year the person can claim a refund of the income levy from the Revenue Commissioners. He will be due a full refund of the levy provided the combined income (excluding any social welfare payments) is less than €40,000, double the single threshold.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

159 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance if the recently revealed deposit of €7.45 billion by a bank (details supplied) in Anglo-Irish Bank is the only deposit of this type of which he is aware; if other deposits of this nature occurred at other times in the preceding five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7331/09]

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

160 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance if Anglo Irish Bank made deposits in a bank (details supplied) similar in nature or type to the recently revealed deposit of €7.45 billion by the bank in Anglo Irish Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7332/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 and 160 together.

As the Deputy will be aware Anglo Irish Bank is now a nationalised bank and operating on a commercial basis at arms length from Government. Certain transactions between Anglo and IL&P that took place last year, prior to nationalisation, have given rise to serious concern and are subject of investigations. In a press release on Friday 13 February 2009 Anglo indicate the following:

"Anglo Irish Bank Corporation has had an active counterparty relationship with ILP for a long period of time. As part of ongoing business activity, this relationship has included placements and receipts of deposits from bank and non-bank affiliates, with transactions categorised as deposits from banks or non-retail customers as appropriate. Since the onset of the global liquidity crisis, this level of business activity intensified to significant levels and reflected the mutual provision of support by each institution. Anglo Irish Bank confirms that it sought and received deposits from ILP during 2008, including the last two weeks of September 2008.

Anglo Irish Bank's Annual Report & Accounts explain the following in respect of the Group's balance sheet which totalled €101 billion at 30 September 2008:

1. Loans and advances to banks included short term placements of €7.5 billion with ILP.

2. In the course of its business Anglo Irish Bank receives deposits from non-bank affiliates of banking groups which are shown within non-retail customer funding.

3. Where no set-off arrangements exist between deposits and loans, accounting standards require that such deposits are recorded separately as liabilities in the balance sheet.

4. At 30 September 2008 Anglo Irish Bank had deposits of some €7.3 billion relating to Irish Life Assurance plc.

We wish to clarify that the interbank placements with ILP were not cash collateral for deposits from Irish Life Assurance plc and no set-off arrangements existed.

Anglo Irish Bank confirms that ILP asked for and was provided with interbank deposits throughout 2008 and significant funding through a €3.45bn security repurchase arrangement as at 30 June 2008. Half of this amount matured on 3 July with the remainder maturing on 4 September. Anglo Irish Bank was asked for and provided to ILP significant funding through another security repurchase arrangement involving a total of €4.1bn in December 2008. This arrangement was unwound at their request on 23 December 2008. At 31 December 2008 Anglo Irish Bank had provided funding totalling €0.9bn to ILP and received funding totalling €0.4bn from ILP. The Bank confirms that all transactions have been appropriately recorded in its books and records and financial statements and in its daily, weekly and monthly regulatory returns."

IL&P in a press release also on 13 February 2009 indicate that in addition to the specific transactions mentioned in the Deputy's question the following inter-bank arrangements were in place.

"Additional Financial Information:

In the interests of clarity, Irish Life & Permanent plc (IL&P) is making disclosure of the nature and extent of the Group's dealings with Anglo Irish Bank (Anglo) across each institution's reporting dates. We emphasise again that each of these transactions was properly accounted for in the Group's [Irish Life & Permanent plc] books and records and were fully disclosed in our regular reports and returns to the Financial Regulator.

Deposits lodged with Anglo Irish Bank: On 31 March 2008, at the request of Anglo,IL&P, through its subsidiary Irish Life Assurance (ILA), deposited €750 million overnight on receipt of €1 billion cash into Permanent TSB which was offered as collateral in respect of the deposit.

During September, at the request of Anglo, IL&P, through its subsidiary ILA, deposited a total of €3.45 billion with Anglo in five separate deposits [on dates from 26 September to 29 September] accepting €3.45 billion of cash into Permanent TSB which was offered as collateral in respect of these deposits. These transactions matured on the 2 and 3 October.

On 29 September, IL&P was contacted by Anglo on three separate occasions requesting further advances which were declined as further collateral was unavailable from Anglo to support such deposits.

On 30 September, following the introduction of the Government Guarantee Scheme, and again at the request of Anglo, IL&P, through its subsidiary ILA, agreed to place a total of €4 billion on deposit overnight with Anglo on receipt of €4 billion into Permanent TSB which was offered as collateral in respect of these deposits. This transaction occurred in four tranches. These transactions matured on 1 October.

As part of IL&P's ongoing wholesale funding programme, the bank enters into normal secured interbank transactions of short term duration with a number of participants including the ECB. In accordance with market norms, these involve the pledging of eligible mortgage assets in exchange for cash with the transactions being accounted for as interbank deposits.

At 30 June 2008 IL&P had outstanding €7.73 billion of such transactions. Anglo's participation in these transactions amounted to €3.33 billion. These transactions were correctly accounted for as interbank deposits in the interim accounts of IL&P.

There were no material collateralised transactions with Anglo at 31 December 2008."

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

161 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if his Department has accounts with Anglo Irish Bank or carried out transactions through Anglo Irish Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7452/09]

The Department of Finance has no accounts with Anglo Irish Bank, nor has it carried out transactions through that bank.

State Guarantees.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

162 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance his views on a recent funding proposal from a group (details supplied); and when he expects to make a decision on same. [7518/09]

The proposal referred to by the Deputy has been thoroughly examined. Officials from my Department met the unions and discussed the issue in detail. However, following very careful consideration, the Government has indicated to the unions that it is not in a position to provide the state guarantees which would be required by the proposal.

Public Service Contracts.

Sean Fleming

Question:

163 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works will arrange for a completion of works (details supplied) in County Laois before the end of February 2009. [7539/09]

Work on furze cutting on the Heath will be completed by end February, 2009.

Tax Code.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

164 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if married persons over the age of 65 years with one income are tax exempt; the limit for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7567/09]

The position is that an annual exemption from income tax applies for 2009 in respect of those married persons aged 65 years and over whose total income does not exceed €40,000. This limit can be increased by an additional €575 for the first and second dependent child and €830 for each subsequent dependent child. I should point out that where a married couple's income rises slightly above the exemption limits they can be taxed under the marginal relief system. Under this system the exemption limits continue to be applied and the couple is taxed at 40% on all income above the exemption limit until their level of income is such that it would be more favourable to be taxed under the normal tax system of credits and bands.

Brian Hayes

Question:

165 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the amount of tax revenue that has been forgone by the decision to abolish tax on transactions of contracts for difference since 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7622/09]

A contract for difference (CFD) is a form of derivative instrument that enables an investor to take a position on a share in a company and its likely performance (either a rise or fall in share value) without owning the shares. A CFD in itself does not attract a stamp duty liability and it was never the case that it did. A purchaser of a CFD does not buy the shares and therefore he or she is not liable for stamp duty. The seller of the CFD is exposed to a risk that the price for the share concerned will move. To hedge this risk, the seller of the CFD purchases the share itself.

It is not the case that stamp duty on transactions related to CFDs was abolished in 2006. Up to that year, financial institutions relied on the application of either market maker or broker/dealer relief to ensure that a stamp duty charge on shares purchased in connection with a CFD did not arise. In March 2006, Revenue issued a clarification note which stated that, in its view, these reliefs did not apply to shares bought to hedge CFD exposure. This clarification notice was subsequently withdrawn and the Finance Act 2007 introduced the new intermediary relief, which ensured that the purchase of shares to hedge a CFD would not attract stamp duty.

Following the announcement by my predecessor of a review of the law as it relates to stamp duty on share transactions underpinning CFDs and the withdrawal of the Revenue clarification notice, Revenue accepted that, given the likelihood of that business transferring to non-Irish shares, it was unlikely that there would be any real loss of stamp duty arising from allowing market maker relief or broker/dealer relief to be claimed in a CFD-related share purchase. There is no reason to assume this position changed with the introduction of intermediary relief. Indeed, the yield from stamp duty on share transfers rose from €406 million in 2006 to €608.7 million in 2007, although it decreased to €419.4 million in the following year, reflecting the overall decline in share transactions in the current global economic downturn.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Joe McHugh

Question:

166 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the plans in place to free up working capital for small businesses to survive in the short term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7638/09]

As part of the recapitalisation package announced on 11 February, Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland reconfirmed their December commitment to increase lending capacity to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by 10% and to provide an additional 30% capacity for lending to first time buyers in 2009. If the mortgage lending is not taken up, then the extra capacity will be available to SMEs. AIB and Bank of Ireland have also committed to public campaigns to actively promote small business lending at competitive rates with increased transparency on the criteria to be met. Compliance with this commitment will be monitored by the Financial Regulator. The banks will make quarterly reports, with the first report to end March 2009 to be submitted by end April 2009.

The recapitalised banks have also agreed to engage in a ‘clearing group' chaired by a Government representative and including representation from business interests and State agencies. The purpose of this group will be to identify specific patterns of events or cases where the flow of credit to viable businesses appears to be blocked and to seek to identify credit supply solutions. There will also be an independent review of credit availability which will be funded by the banks but managed jointly by the banks, Government and business representatives.

A Code of Conduct for Business Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises was published by the Financial Regulator on 13 February. This code will apply to all regulated banks and building societies and will facilitate access to credit, promote fairness and transparency and ensure that banks will assist borrowers in meeting their obligations, or otherwise deal with an arrears situation in an orderly and appropriate manner. The business lending code includes a requirement for banks to offer their business customers annual review meetings, to inform customers of the basis for decisions made and to have written procedures for the proper handling of complaints. Where a customer gets into difficulty the banks will give the customer reasonable time and seek to agree an approach to resolve problems and to provide appropriate advice. This is a statutory code and banks will be required to demonstrate compliance.

Furthermore, a €100m environmental and clean energy innovation fund is being established by each of the recapitalised banks. A quarterly report to the Financial Regulator of the loans made and the purposes for which they have been made will be required. The banks have also agreed to each provide €15m to a new seed capital fund with Enterprise Ireland. The banks funding will be matched as appropriate by funding under Enterprise Ireland's Seed and Venture Capital Programme and/or by funding from other national or international investors. It is expected that much of these funds will be utilised by SMEs.

Tax Yield.

Dara Calleary

Question:

167 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance the excise returns from the off-licence sector on a monthly basis since July 2007; and his views on trends within the figures. [7644/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that data on excise returns are not captured in such a manner as to provide a basis for compiling information on excise yields from any particular sector. It is not possible therefore to provide the information requested by the Deputy.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

168 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the new bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam; the contacts she has had with the Vietnamese Government on this matter in recent months; if applications for referral will not be accepted after 1 April 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7471/09]

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

171 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding negotiations on the renewal of a bilateral agreement (details supplied). [7797/09]

Bernard Allen

Question:

172 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the bilateral agreement for the purpose of adoption between Ireland and Vietnam in which families have been informed that it may not be renewed when it expires on 30 April 2009 and which will have serious consequences both for Irish families and many Vietnamese children. [7847/09]

Jack Wall

Question:

173 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if the adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam is not completed before 1 May 2009, the arrangements or guidelines which will be put in place to ensure that families who have an application with the agencies will have their adoption agreed to in the interim between 1 May 2009 and when the new agreement is signed (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7940/09]

Jack Wall

Question:

174 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position of the adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam; if the discussions in relation to a new agreement have been completed; if not, the proposed date for such a completion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7941/09]

Finian McGrath

Question:

175 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the issues raised in correspondence from persons (details supplied). [7946/09]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

176 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children if the bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam has been renewed; if so, the date on which it was renewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7954/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

217 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in renewing the bilateral agreement with Vietnam for the adoption of Vietnamese children by Irish couples; and if she will ensure that a new agreement is in place by the end of April 2009. [7301/09]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

219 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has sent the text of a draft agreement to the Vietnamese Government in relation to inter-country adoption between the two countries; if not, if she will ensure that this happens; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7308/09]

Michael Noonan

Question:

220 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in the event of a new adoption agreement not being finalised with Vietnam by 1 May 2009, she will put in place contingency arrangements to enable persons who are in the process of adopting or are intending to make application for adoption of a Vietnamese child before 1 April 2009 to proceed to a conclusion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7311/09]

Mary Upton

Question:

229 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children when the renewal of the bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam will be finalised to allow inter-country adoptions between Ireland and Vietnam to continue (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7476/09]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

233 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she expects the new adoption agreement with Vietnam to be in place by 1 May 2009; and if not, if she will arrange to postpone the closure date on the existing arrangements until the new agreement is in place. [7546/09]

Brian Hayes

Question:

236 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children when a new bilateral agreement between Vietnam and Ireland in respect of adoptions will be in place, in view of the fact that the existing agreement comes to an end on 30 April 2009, the substantial number of Irish couples who wish to adopt children from Vietnam, and the lengthy process which they have to go through before being given approval by Irish authorities; if she will give a guarantee that this matter will be resolved by 30 April 2009, in view of the proposals for new legislation in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7623/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 168, 171 to 176, inclusive, 217, 219, 220, 229, 233 and 236 together.

The Irish Government formally notified the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in October last that there would be no automatic renewal of the Agreement when the five year term expires on 1 May, 2009. While Ireland's current agreement is based on Hague principles, there is a need to elaborate the Agreement to reflect the standards of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption more comprehensively. This is in line with Ireland's own commitment to ratify the Hague Convention. It is also relevant to reflect the experiences gained by both sides over the first five years of a formal relationship between the two States. This approach is also part of the preparations for new adoption legislation in which it is proposed that a bilateral agreement will be required between Ireland and any State which has not ratified the Hague Convention. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has not yet ratified the Convention. Officials travelled to Vietnam in November, 2008 to meet with the relevant authorities dealing with intercountry adoption as well as the embassies of other governments to discuss intercountry adoption in Vietnam and progress towards ratification more generally.

In December 2008, following a Government decision on the matter, the Irish Government issued a formal request to the Vietnamese Authorities advising that the Government wished to enter into discussions immediately for the purpose of negotiating a new bilateral adoption Agreement to follow on from the existing Agreement. In order to expedite the negotiation process, Ireland offered to provide the Vietnamese Authorities with the text of a draft agreement as a basis for negotiations. The Vietnamese authorities responded positively to Ireland's request to enter into formal negotiations and the proposal that Ireland would prepare a first draft.

Work on a draft agreement requires careful and detailed consideration by a number of parties including the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General's Office and the Adoption Board. An initial text was prepared by my Office in December and the draft is now at an advanced stage. It will be finalised shortly once legal advices have been received on outstanding matters. It is anticipated that this will be forwarded to the Vietnamese Authorities for their consideration in the immediate future.

The issue of contingency arrangements in the case of an Agreement not being reached by 1 May, 2009 was raised by the Government in a December 2008 communication to the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese authorities formally advised on proposed contingency arrangements on Friday, 13 February, through the Irish Embassy in Hanoi. My Office subsequently prepared and circulated a public information note on the contingency plans to prospective adoptive parents through the Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency and the adoption support groups. I want to emphasise that these are contingency plans in the event of an Agreement not being reached by 1 May 2009. My officials and I are continuing to pursue the successful conclusion of a bilateral agreement with Vietnam as a priority. The Irish government will continue to seek to re-visit the contingency arrangements which have been put in place over the course of and in light of negotiations on a new agreement.

I feel obliged to remind the House that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a sovereign state and decisions it makes regarding the internal regulation and management of the adoption of its children must be treated sensitively as appropriate to a sovereign state. I respectfully suggest that demands for guarantees or changes to contingency arrangements are matters which fall to be dealt with as part of the negotiation process on a bilateral basis. At this stage, I cannot pre-empt either Government's deliberative process as those negotiations advance. My priority is to advance the process and avoid debate outside of that process which could potentially jeopardise or interfere with discussions with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

I can assure you that the work to prepare for and advise the Government on this issue, and to implement the Government's decisions, has been given, and continues to be given, the highest priority. These are complex matters which require careful consideration. At all times, the Government, and I, and the officials advising us, are guided by the need to respect and protect the best interests and rights of the child.

Youth Services.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

169 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and budget of youth cafes funded by her Department each year in 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7560/09]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

234 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and budget of youth cafes funded by her Department each year in 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; further to Parliamentary Question No. 223 of 18 November 2008, if she brought her proposals to Cabinet; and when the report will be published. [7558/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169 and 234 together.

The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA) did not provide funding to youth cafés in 2006, 2007, 2008 or to date in 2009. The OMCYA has been allocated €750,000 from Dormant Accounts for the development of a structured programme of youth cafes in 2009. Final decisions on the operation of this programme are still under consideration.

The focus of the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF) which is now under the remit of the OMCYA is not on the provision of youth cafés. However a number of the facilities built under the YPFSF include a youth café area incorporated within the facility. The objective of the Fund is to attract "at risk" young people in disadvantaged areas into these facilities and activities and divert them away from the dangers of substance abuse. The Youth Affairs Section that transferred from the Department of Education and Science to the OMCYA as of 1 January, 2009 has also provided funding in recent years to a small number of youth work projects that provide youth cafe facilities for young people.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

170 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and budget of voluntary bodies that her Department funds to provide youth and sporting facilities for young people. [7562/09]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

235 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and budget of voluntary bodies that her Department funds to provide youth and sporting facilities for young people. [7559/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 170 and 235 together.

The Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF) was established in 1998 to assist in the development of preventative strategies/initiatives in a targeted manner through the development of youth facilities, (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists or has the potential to develop. Applications for funding under the YPFSF are made through the relevant Development Group which determines the suitability of proposals against priorities identified for the area and funding is allocated to relevant projects taking account of this advice amongst other criteria.

To date, over €150m has been allocated under the Fund of which €66m is capital funding towards approximately 214 projects in existing YPFSF areas. In 2008 €4.916m capital funding was provided to support 26 capital projects and €18.1m current funding was allocated to support approximately 150 current projects and programmes and the employment of over 408 people.

Funding from the Youth Affairs budget (€52.6m in 2008) supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for young people. These are delivered in the main by voluntary youth organisations. In particular, funding is provided to 31 national or major regional youth organisations through the Youth Service Grant Scheme. Funding for this Scheme amounted to €13.4m in 2008. In addition, funding of €20.98m was provided to 182 projects under the Special Projects for Youth Scheme as well as €8.73m for 104 projects under the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (Round 1 funding stream mainstreamed to Department of Education and Science in 2004 and 2006). While funding for these two latter Schemes is channelled mainly through the VECs, the projects are operated by voluntary youth organisations.

Questions Nos. 171 to 176, inclusive, answered with Question No. 168.

Food Labelling.

Denis Naughten

Question:

177 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce country of origin labelling in the white meat sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7818/09]

John Deasy

Question:

230 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the draft revised food labelling regulations being proposed by the European Commission; if these revised regulations include the mandatory disclosure of origin of food products and ingredients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7492/09]

John Deasy

Question:

231 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the timescale for consideration and adoption by the EU Council of Health Ministers of the draft revised food labelling regulations being proposed by the European Commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7493/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177, 230 and 231 together.

At present EU food labelling legislation is harmonised by Council Directive 2000/13/EC, transposed in 2002, with seven amendments since. In January 2008, the European Commission presented its proposals on updating and harmonising this legislation. The proposal is still under discussion and it is not expected that the Regulation will be finalised before the end of 2009.

Currently, country of origin must be displayed on the label for beef and veal. The draft EU Commission proposal makes allowance for voluntary Country of Origin Labelling for food products. In addition the Commission has proposed that "where the country of origin or the place of provenance of the food is not the same as the one of its primary ingredient(s), the country of origin or place of provenance of those ingredient(s) shall also be given". Furthermore, it proposes that "for meat, other than beef and veal, the indication on the country of origin or place of provenance may be given as a single place only where animals have been born, reared and slaughtered in the same country or place. In other cases information on each of the different places of birth, rearing and slaughter shall be given".

In November 2008, Ireland submitted a proposal to the Commission that, for all food products, country of origin labelling should be mandatory. This issue is currently being discussed at EU Working Group level. The Department of Health and Children will continue to advocate in support of this proposal.

Health Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

178 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the plans by the Health Service Executive to centralise administrative services; if so, the implications for facilities and staff in offices throughout the country at which such services are currently administered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6969/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Finian McGrath

Question:

179 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [6981/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

180 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the waiting list for children’s dental treatment at a centre (details supplied); the efforts being made to shorten these delays; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6995/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

181 Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will give national recognition to the card that is carried by many people who suffer from memory loss as a result of acquired brain injury; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7026/09]

I met with the acquired brain injury advocacy group BRI late last year where they raised the question of an identity card for people with an acquired brain injury. In addition BRI wrote to me recently regarding this and other issues. I have no funds at my disposal to provide for BRI's proposals, however I will forward their proposals to the Health Service Executive for its consideration in the context of priorities and available funding.

Billy Timmins

Question:

182 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if funding will be sanctioned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7030/09]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Billy Timmins

Question:

183 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if therapy will be sanctioned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7031/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Youth Services.

John Deasy

Question:

184 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to minimising the impact of the cuts from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to the youth service budget on young people and youth services in Waterford city and county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7042/09]

John Deasy

Question:

185 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that reductions in funding from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to youth organisations working in Waterford city and county may lead to the closure of youth projects and youth initiatives which are working to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors such as social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment; if she will give a commitment to protecting these initiatives and projects from cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7043/09]

John Deasy

Question:

186 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the work of hundreds of volunteers in youth organisations will be undermined if there is a cutback in the funding to voluntary youth organisations in Waterford city and county by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; if she will give a commitment to protect funding for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7044/09]

Michael Creed

Question:

187 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to minimising the impact of the cuts from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to the youth service budget on young people and youth services in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7061/09]

James Bannon

Question:

188 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to minimising the impact on young people and youth services in County Longford and County Westmeath, of the cuts by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, to the youth service budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7062/09]

James Bannon

Question:

189 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the reductions in funding by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to youth organisations working in County Longford and County Westmeath, which may lead to the closure of youth projects and youth initiatives, which are working to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors such as social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment; if she will give a commitment to protecting these initiatives and projects from cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7063/09]

James Bannon

Question:

190 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the work of hundreds of volunteers in youth organisations will be undermined if there is a cutback in the funding to voluntary youth organisations in Longford and Westmeath by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; if she will give a commitment to protect funding for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7064/09]

Michael Creed

Question:

191 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the work of hundreds of volunteers in youth organisations will be undermined if there is a cutback in the funding to voluntary youth organisations in County Cork by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; if she will give a commitment to protect funding for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7069/09]

Michael Creed

Question:

192 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that reductions in funding from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to youth organisations working in County Cork and in particular in towns such as Macroom, Ballincollig, Newmarket and Kanturk may lead to the closure of youth projects and youth initiatives which are working to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors; if she will give a commitment to protecting these initiatives and projects from cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7070/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

193 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to minimising the impact of the cuts from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to the youth service budget on young people and youth services in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7088/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

194 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that reductions in funding from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to youth organisations working in County Clare may lead to the closure of youth projects and youth initiatives which are working to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors such as social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment; if she will give a commitment to protecting these initiatives and projects from cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7089/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

195 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the work of hundreds of volunteers in youth organisations will be undermined if there is a cutback in the funding to voluntary youth organisations in Clare by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; if she will give a commitment to protect funding for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7090/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

196 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to minimising the impact of the cuts from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to the youth service budget on young people and youth services in Dublin mid-west; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7100/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

197 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that reductions in funding from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to youth organisations working in Dublin mid-west may lead to the closure of youth projects and youth initiatives; if she will provide a commitment to protecting these initiatives and projects from cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7101/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

198 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the work of hundreds of volunteers in youth organisations will be undermined if there is a cutback in the funding to voluntary youth organisations in Dublin mid-west by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; if she will provide a commitment to protect funding for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7102/09]

Frank Feighan

Question:

205 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to minimising the impact of the cuts from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to the youth service budget on young people and youth services in Roscommon and south Leitrim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7132/09]

Frank Feighan

Question:

206 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to reductions in funding from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to youth organisations working in County Roscommon and south Leitrim which may lead to the closure of youth projects and youth initiatives which are working to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors such as social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment; if he she will commit to protecting these initiatives and projects from cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7133/09]

Frank Feighan

Question:

207 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the work of hundreds of volunteers in youth organisations will be undermined if there is a cutback in the funding to voluntary youth organisations in County Roscommon and south Leitrim by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; if she will commit to protecting funding for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7134/09]

Bernard Allen

Question:

222 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to minimising the impact of the cuts to the youth service budget on young people and youth services in Cork city; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7448/09]

Bernard Allen

Question:

223 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that significant reductions in funding to youth organisations working in Cork city may lead to the closure of youth projects and youth initiatives which are working to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors such as social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment; if she will commit to protecting these initiatives and projects from cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7449/09]

Bernard Allen

Question:

224 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the work of hundreds of volunteers in youth organisations will be undermined if there is a cutback in the funding to voluntary youth organisations in Cork city; if she will commit to protecting funding for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7450/09]

Dara Calleary

Question:

240 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that reductions in funding to youth organisations working in Mayo may weaken youth projects and youth initiatives which are working to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors such as social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment; if she will give a commitment to protecting these initiatives and projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7646/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 184 to 198, inclusive, 205 to 207, inclusive, 222 to 224, inclusive, and 240 together.

As the Deputies are aware, the youth sector has received considerable financial support over the past number of years. Funding expanded from €35.5m in 2004 to €52m in 2008. While this funding has allowed for some expansion in the sector including the roll out of a number of sections of the Youth Work Act, 2001 and actions cited in the National Youth Work Development Plan, there has been a growing emphasis on consolidation of services.

It is intended that the 2009 Youth Affairs budget of over €48m will continue to focus on supporting existing youth programmes and services for young people including those with fewer opportunities. I have met with the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), which represents some 50 youth organisations, and am aware of the valuable work carried out by the youth work sector, including its strong volunteer base, both in the particular areas referred to by the Deputies as well as across the country. I wish to assure the Deputies that every effort will be made to minimise the impact of the reduction in funding available to the youth sector and to preserve and maintain existing provision in so far as is possible.

Health Services.

Noel Coonan

Question:

199 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting lists for speech and language therapy services in each service area in north Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7111/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Noel Coonan

Question:

200 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting lists for physiotherapy services in each service area in north Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7112/09]

Noel Coonan

Question:

201 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting lists for occupational therapy services in each service area in north Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7113/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 and 201 together.

As the Deputy's questions relate to service matters I have arranged for the questions to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

202 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 20 in view of the fact that there are ongoing difficulties surrounding patient care; the way she plans to resolve the problems arising from this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7123/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Mary Upton

Question:

203 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Dublin will receive an appointment for an assessment; the reason for this delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7129/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Mary Upton

Question:

204 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children when an early intervention team, under the Disability Act 2005, serving Dublin north, will be in place and fully operational; the reason for this delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7130/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Questions Nos. 205 to 207, inclusive, answered with Question No. 184.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

208 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when the promised primary health care unit for Athlone will be provided; the schedule of accommodation; and timeframe for construction and completion. [7164/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Child Care Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

209 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of young people who have left State care and foster care in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 with a statistical breakdown of the reason they left care including return to family, breakdown of care arrangement or turning 18 years. [7166/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

210 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for refusal of the claim by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6 for repayment under the health repayment scheme. [7193/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Frank Feighan

Question:

211 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 110 of 12 February 2009, if in view of the fact that enhanced subvention is governed by an Act, it is legally justified that the Health Service Executive does not allow hard pressed families in County Roscommon the opportunity to apply for enhanced subvention; the reason enhanced subvention is non-existent in Counties Roscommon and Leitrim while it is available in other areas within the HSE west; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that some families are deprived of this facility; and if she will ensure that this anomaly is dealt with ensuring all elderly persons in need of nursing home care are treated equally regardless of what county they reside in. [7242/09]

The Health (Nursing Homes) (Amendment) Act 2007 allows for enhanced subvention to be paid. However, there is no maximum amount set for enhanced subvention. The amount paid is at the discretion of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and will vary depending on the following criteria:

the assessed means of the applicant,

the cost of care in the individual case compared to the level of fees in the locality,

the amount of basic subvention payable,

the amount of resources available for the scheme,

the need for the HSE to ensure that the available resources are distributed in a way that supports applicants as evenly as possible across the country.

Therefore, this is a service matter and it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Mental Health Services.

Damien English

Question:

212 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and nature of complaints made to the Health Service Executive against mental health units and intellectual disability services here for the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 in tabular readable form. [7243/09]

Damien English

Question:

215 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of complaints that have been fully investigated, had an investigation commenced but not finalised and had no investigation in relation to complaints made to the Health Service Executive against mental health units and intellectual disability services here since 2007 to date in 2009 in tabular readable form. [7246/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212 and 215 together.

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Damien English

Question:

213 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that she has been made aware of all complaints made to the Health Service Executive against mental health units and intellectual disability services here since 2007 to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7244/09]

Damien English

Question:

214 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has full access to the details of all reports and documents regarding investigation of all complaints made to the Health Service Executive against mental health units and intellectual disability services here since 2007 to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7245/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 and 214 together.

The Health Service Executive is not required to notify the Department of all complaints received under their internal investigation procedures. However the Executive routinely liaises with the Department on the implementation of their Serious Incident Management Policy and Procedures.

Question No. 215 answered with Question No. 212.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

216 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7299/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 217 answered with Question No. 168.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

218 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied). [7307/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Questions No. 219 and 220 answered with Question No. 168.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

221 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when the draft national standards for residential services for people with an intellectual disability, which were recently put forward to her by the Health Information and Quality Authority, will be put on a statutory footing; her views on whether these standards, when implemented, will have an impact on the lives of those people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7336/09]

A Standards Advisory Group was established by HIQA to develop National Quality Standards on Residential Services for People with Disabilities. The Group comprised officials of HIQA, my Department, the HSE, service providers, organisations representing people with disabilities and service users, and met on a number of occasions during 2008, with a finalised set of draft Standards being agreed in early summer 2008. Following this, a public consultation process was initiated by HIQA and the proposed standards were presented to the Board of HIQA last month and were subsequently submitted to the Minister for Health and Children for approval.

These standards will provide a national framework for quality, safe services for people with disabilities in a residential setting and relate only to adult services at present. Given current economic constraints, the timeframe for statutory implementation of these standards is at this point unclear. However, my Department will be consulting with HIQA and the HSE on how practices might be improved within the sector in advance of statutory implementation.

Questions Nos. 222 to 224, inclusive, answered with Question No. 184.

Health Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

225 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if the general practitioner service at a health centre (details supplied) in County Louth will be reinstated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7467/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Damien English

Question:

226 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the waiting time for pre-assessment tests for hip replacement patients in Cappagh Hospital, Dublin, is seven to nine months; the plans she has to reduce this waiting time in view of the fact that a large percentage of the people on this waiting list are old age pensioners; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7473/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

227 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if extra staff will be deployed to Cherry Orchard Hospital, Dublin, to deal with an increase in the workload, including applications for medical and general practitioner cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7474/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

228 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if extra staff will be deployed to health centres in the Dublin mid-west region to help community welfare officers cope with a large increase in new welfare applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7475/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 229 answered with Question No. 168.
Questions Nos. 230 and 231 answered with Question No. 177.

Youth Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

232 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will finalise the allocation to the young people's facilities and services fund; and if her attention has been drawn to the fact that organisations are having to fund operations on credit lines as no funds have been released or indicated for the first quarter of 2009. [7517/09]

Further to the Taoiseach's announcement in May 2008, arrangements to transfer responsibility for the Young People's Facilities & Services Fund (YPFSF) to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs have recently been completed. €20m has been provided this year to support the valuable work being done through the Fund. The allocation of funding to the various Channels of Funding for 2009 is now being considered by my officials and I expect the matter to be finalised shortly.

Question No. 233 answered with Question No. 168.
Question No. 234 answered with Question No. 169.
Question No. 235 answered with Question No. 170.
Question No. 236 answered with Question No. 168.

Medical Cards.

Joe McHugh

Question:

237 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the consultation which was involved in the proposed centralising of the medical card section in Ballybofey, County Donegal; the reason centralising Government has become such a dominant feature of health care provision here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7633/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Adoption Services.

Joe McHugh

Question:

238 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will ensure that the new Adoption Bill will confer on adoptive parents a wide menu of post-adoptive services, rather than confining these parents to post-adoptive services from the agency or the health board that processes their application to adopt; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7641/09]

Under the new Bill, there is no specific provision to provide post adoption services for children who have additional needs. Adopted children, who have additional needs have, and will continue to have, the same eligibility and entitlements to health, personal social services and special education needs as any child in Ireland. However, the Bill does make statutory provision for the notification by adoptive parents of the adoption on return to Ireland with a child. This notification must be made both to the Adoption Authority for the purposes of registering the child as well as to the HSE, so that the child receives all of the normal child health surveillance services available through the public health system.

As regards information and tracing for adopted persons, again, the Bill does not cover this area as there is already an effective administrative system for dealing with the issue of information and tracing. The Information and Tracing Unit in the Adoption Board provides an advice and referral service for those seeking to trace or to obtain medical or personal information. The National Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR) assists adopted people and their natural families to make contact with each other, exchange information, or to state their contact preferences.

In November 2007, the Adoption Board launched the "Standardised Framework for the Provision of a National Adoption Information and Tracing Service" to set standards and provide guidance and advice for information and tracing services providers nationally. The standardised Framework is currently being piloted nationally. In relation to Information and Tracing for persons adopted from abroad, I understand that subject to resources, the Adoption Board intends to undertake a consultation process with interested parties to determine how best to address the information and tracing needs of those who have been adopted from abroad.

Youth Services.

Dara Calleary

Question:

239 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health and Children the expenditure on the youth services budget in County Mayo from 2002 to date in 2009; if she will commit to minimising the impact of the cuts to the youth service budget on young people and youth services in Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7645/09]

With regard to funding for youth work services in County Mayo from 2002 to 2009, this information will be provided to the Deputy separately. As the Deputy will be aware, the youth sector has received considerable financial support over recent years. While this funding has allowed for some expansion in the sector, there has been a growing emphasis on consolidation of services. It is intended that the 2009 Youth Affairs budget of over €48m will continue to focus on supporting existing youth programmes and services for young people. I wish to assure the Deputy that every effort will be made to minimise the impact of the reduction in funding available to the youth sector.

Question No. 240 answered with Question No. 184.

Hospital Services.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

241 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the paediatric high dependency care unit in the Mid-West Regional Hospital, Limerick will open; if it is being given priority in terms of services urgently needed in the region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7660/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

242 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of civil servants employed in her Department who are also in receipt of a Civil Service pension; the amount paid to same in respect of their employment and in Civil Service pensions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8057/09]

During the year ended 31st December 2008 four retired civil servants who are in receipt of civil service pensions were employed by my Department. A total amount of €94,293 was paid to them by my Department during this period. The amount paid to them in respect of their individual civil service pensions is a matter for the Pay Master General's Office. In addition one officer who retired from my Department in 2004 is currently seconded to the Department from an external agency.

Sea Pollution.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

243 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport his reaction to the oil slick off the west coast in February 2009; the origin of the slick; the action he will take against those responsible for the slick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7416/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

251 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport his reaction to the oil slick off the west coast in February 2009; if he is satisfied that all actions are being taken to lessen the impact of the slick reaching the Irish coastline; the origin of the slick; the action he will take against those responsible for the slick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7415/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 251 together.

The Irish Coast Guard of my Department has the role of safeguarding the quality of the marine environment from ship sourced pollution through the provision of an efficient and effective response to marine casualty and pollution incidents from vessels and offshore platforms in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone. This includes casualty response to vessels in need of assistance and pollution response arising from the threat of, or actual spillage or loss of oil or hazard and noxious substances (HNS), which threaten the Irish coastline or related interests.

On 14 February, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) advised the Coast Guard's Marine Rescue Coordination Centre, Dublin that satellite surveillance indicated a possible pollution incident 50 miles South-west of the Fastnet Rock. The Air Corps CASA Aircraft was tasked by the Coast Guard to investigate. Photos from the CASA overflights showed the Russian aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznetsov' at anchor in 90 metres of water, and an oil tanker tendered astern. There was another Russian oil tanker and Russian ocean going tug close by. In the area of the vessels was an oil slick of approximately 22 square miles. A Coast Guard helicopter later confirmed this sighting.

The Russian Authorities confirmed on 16th February that the carrier had been carrying out a fuel transfer operation from a Russian supply tanker at sea. An internal Russian investigation is being carried out into the cause of the incident. The Coast Guard requested regular aerial surveillance flights from the UK Coastguard, using various specialist sensors onboard their aircraft. It was estimated that, the spill was between 700 and 1100 tonnes of fuel oil spreading out in distinct slicks. Estimates of oil spilt on water are highly difficult to estimate, as slick thickness can be variable over the length of the slick and, in the absence of data from a polluter, is difficult to accurately gauge.

LE Aisling, and HMS Gloucester took samples of the oil from the scene for testing by a specialist laboratory in Scotland. Results are awaited. LE Aoife also took samples for analysis. The Russian Embassy is supplying samples of the oils carried onboard the Russian tankers and the aircraft carrier and the material data sheet for the oil. The Coast Guard continue to daily monitor the slick with its own Helicopters and Air Corps Casa.

The Coast Guard contracted an Irish Shannon-based tug MV Celtic Isle which utilised skimmers and other oil recovery equipment with limited success due to the dispersed nature of the spill and weather conditions. The Coast Guard engaged, but later stood down, the EMSA recovery vessel, as their estimate of the situation supported by international advice concluded that its use would not be productive. Pollution recovery equipment has been readied at Coast Guard stores to be deployed at sea and on the southeast coastline if needed in coordination with local authorities.

Coast Guard computer modelling of the spill show that some more of the oil is expected to evaporate or dissolve into the water column. The residual oil remaining may develop into tar balls and may end up on the Irish South east coast. The Coast Guard convened an inter-Governmental Group to monitor and advise on the situation and potential impact to the coastline and marine environment. Local authorities would recover any oil coming ashore on the coast mechanically with assistance from the Coast Guard who will direct the shore response. A Russian delegation sought to meet with the Coast Guard and this was arranged.

I am satisfied with the action taken to date. The incident highlights the constant need for preparedness, prevention and response to maritime incidents. I also want to acknowledge the national and international cooperation which assisted in dealing with this incident to date. As I have stated, the Coast Guard was able to call on many state agencies in co-ordinating an effective response. Furthermore, the nature of the response and degree of support from UK agencies was much appreciated.

I want to place on the record my particular appreciation and recognition of the part EMSA plays in this area and their specific role in this case. Follow up action, including potential cost recovery, is still under consideration at this time.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

244 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the policy of foreign owned ships refuelling at sea either in Irish owned waters or in waters monitored by Irish authorities; if there is a notification mechanism in place to alert Irish authorities in the event of any accidents caused by foreign ships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7418/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

252 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the policy of foreign owned ships refuelling at sea either in Irish waters or in waters monitored by authorities here; if there is a notification mechanism in place to alert authorities here in the event of accidents caused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7417/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 and 252 together.

The Sea Pollution (Amendment) Act, 1999 prohibits refuelling at sea in Irish waters except by permit of the Minister. The Irish Coast Guard of the Department of Transport in its role to safeguard the quality of the marine environment from ship-sourced pollution issues such permits under a detailed schedule of procedures based on international guidelines. Under the same legislation there is a duty on the master of a ship concerned, involved or observing an oil pollution incident or the likelihood of an incident in excess of a certain minimum level to report the incident to the authorities. The requirements of the Sea Pollution Act, 1991 do not apply to any warship or to any ship for the time being used by the government of any country for purposes other than commercial purposes.

Fishing Industry Development.

Tom Hayes

Question:

245 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Transport if he will clarify the role of the marine survey office with regard to regulation and monitoring of gross tonnage and registered kilowatts in the fishing industry; the surveys that have been carried out on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7516/09]

The Marine Survey Office of the Department of Transport carries out the measurement of tonnage for all vessels, including fishing vessels, which fly the Irish flag. However, it has no role with respect to the regulation and monitoring of gross tonnage and registered kilowatts in the fishing industry. This is a function of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Road Traffic Offences.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

246 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport if it is the responsibility of the driver who accumulates 12 penalty points on his or her driving licence to surrender it to the Garda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7522/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

254 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport if it is the responsibility of the driver who accumulates 12 penalty points on their driving licence to surrender it to the gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7523/09]

I propose to take Questions 246 and 254 together.

Under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 2002 when a licence holder has 12 or more penalty points endorsed on their licence, a notice of disqualification issues from the National Vehicle and Driver File offices in Shannon specifying that the person will be disqualified for a period of 6 months beginning on the appropriate date and directs him or her to submit the licence to the licensing authority that granted it within 14 days. Non-compliance with such a direction is an offence. The question of the number of drivers who have 12 points on their licence is a matter for the Road Safety Authority, under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006).

Road Network.

Dan Neville

Question:

247 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Transport if he will make a statement on a matter (details supplied). [7649/09]

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. Under Section 19 of the Roads Act 1993, allocation of funding in relation to the construction and maintenance of National Roads is a matter for the NRA. The regional and local road grants allocated to Limerick County Council in 2008 and 2009 are outlined in the following table.

Year

Capital

Current (Maintenance)

Total

2008

14,060,000

4,427,200

18,487,200

2009

13,890,000

4,440,598

18,330,598

Light Rail Project.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

248 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the estimated completion and opening dates for the extension of the Green Luas line from Sandyford to Cherrywood, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6974/09]

In May of last year the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) announced the commencement of the main track-laying contract for the extension of the Luas Green Line from Sandyford to Cherrywood. I understand from the RPA that good progress is being made on the construction of this extension which is scheduled to be completed and operational by end 2010.

Road Safety.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

249 Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport if he will make it compulsory for any person who rides a bicycle to wear a helmet for protection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7027/09]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006) this is now a matter for the Road Safety Authority.

Public Transport.

Seán Barrett

Question:

250 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Transport if he will expedite the processing of the application in respect of a company (details supplied) for a licence to operate bus passenger services between Dalkey and Dublin Airport, serving intermediate points via Glasthule, Dún Laoghaire, Monkstown and Blackrock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7038/09]

The company to which the Deputy refers was advised on 16 January 2009 of the terms on which a licence could be granted in respect of the operation of the services in question. They were also afforded a period of three weeks during which they could indicate acceptance of those terms. Further clarification of the position was given to representatives of the company at a meeting with officials of my Department, held on 3rd February. I understand that the company indicated at that meeting that it would be making a further submission to my Department. That submission is awaited.

Question No. 251 answered with Question No. 243.
Question No. 252 answered with Question No. 244.

Cycle Facilities.

Damien English

Question:

253 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport, further to Parliamentary Question No. 57 of 17 February 2009, his position on including the N3, Navan to Kells road, in the national cycle route as promised in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7466/09]

The development of a national cycle network will necessarily take place over an extended period and a number of potential route types are being considered. Canal tow paths, disused rail lines, and State lands could all be used to ensure that the national network has comprehensive coverage and is achieved in the most cost effective manner. While the use of existing road infrastructure will be considered in the context of delivering a comprehensive and safe network, it is too early, at this stage, to take a definitive position on the N3 or, indeed, any individual stretch of road.

Question No. 254 answered with Question No. 246.

Road Network.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

255 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport the current and capital spending on road infrastructure in each of the past five years; the proposed current and capital spending in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7552/09]

The current and capital spending on road infrastructure in each of the past five years, and the proposed 2009 spend are set out in the accompanying table.

Exchequer Investment in National Roads 2004-2008

Year

Construction

Maintenance

Total

€ ,000

€ ,000

€ ,000

2004

1,178,959

51,328

1,230,287

2005

1,263,770

53,394

1,317,164

2006

1,582,500

55,064

1,637,564

2007

1,712,706

55,097

1,767,803

2008

1,599,577

58,210

1,657,787

The allocation for 2009 is €1,440 million (Construction) and €49.255 million (Maintenance).

State grants for regional and local roads paid to local authorities in each of the years 2004 to 2008, and the allocation for 2009, are set out in the following table.

Capital and Current Investment in Regional and Local Roads 2004-2009 allocation

Year

Capital Expenditure

Current Expenditure

2004

383,185,516

97,014,484

2005

398,273,127

102,996,873

2006

436,877,972

120,852,028

2007

478,606,096

128,918,904

2008

469,822,922

134,391,008

2009 Allocation

471,500,000

125,977,000

Travel Trade Regulation.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

256 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport his views on whether the provision of a 4% bond under the travel trade regulation is unnecessary; if the bond should be fixed at 2% and applied to travel agents renewing their licences as of 1 May 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7569/09]

Last year I asked the Commission for Aviation Regulation to undertake a comprehensive review of the travel trade legislation including the level of bonding imposed on travel agents and tour operators. The purpose of the review was to assess the operation of the current regulatory arrangements and to recommend any reforms that may be warranted. Following an extensive consultation process, the Commission submitted its report to me on 30 December 2008, which I have published on my Department's website.

I am currently examining the bonding arrangements, the Commission's recommendations in this regard, and all of the Commission's findings and recommendations. I am also consulting with the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment in the context of consumer protection generally.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

257 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport the number of civil servants employed in his Department who are also in receipt of a Civil Service pension; the amount paid to same in respect of their employment and in Civil Service pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8059/09]

There are no civil servants currently employed in my Department who are also in receipt of a civil service pension. If a Civil Servant pensioner is re-employed in the Civil Service the Abatement Principle, as per Section 1 of the Pensions (Abatement) Act 1965, applies.

Public Transport.

James Bannon

Question:

258 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in issuing public service vehicle licences to an applicant (details supplied) who has submitted all the necessary documentation to his Department for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7085/09]

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy again when the report is to hand.

Departmental Agencies.

Brian Hayes

Question:

259 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the problems there are with paying the staff employed at an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 1; if it is expected that these problems will be resolved as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6968/09]

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No. 335 of 10th February 2009. The organisation concerned has resolved the difficulties involved, has funding available to it and has paid staff.

Road Traffic Offences.

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

260 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when fixed speed cameras will be operational here; and if a decision has been taken as to the private operator that will manage the system. [6977/09]

In accordance with EU Directives, national public procurement procedures and relevant legislation, An Garda Síochána engaged in a procurement process for the provision and operation of safety cameras. As a result, a preferred supplier has been selected, and the contract discussion phase of the procurement process has commenced, with the aim of entering into a contract with the preferred supplier at the earliest opportunity. Every effort is being made to proceed with this project as speedily as possible. Until the contract discussions are concluded, it is not possible to indicate a specific timescale for the project, but it is expected that roll out will commence in the course of 2009.

Residency Permits.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

261 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will respond to correspondence from a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7034/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No 214 of 24 April 2008. I should point out that the figure of 16,639 given in that reply refers to the number of parents granted leave to remain under the IBC/05 Scheme, not the number of Irish born children. The granting of permission under the IBC/05 Scheme does not in any way confer any entitlement or legitimate expectation on any person, whether related to the applicant or not, to enter or remain in the State. All applicants are informed of this position and sign an undertaking to this effect when applying for permission to remain under the Scheme, and renewal thereunder. The position with regard to the detailed information sought in relation to various costs was dealt with in my previous reply. As the Deputy will appreciate, calculating such information would be a matter for several government departments and agencies and would involve a disproportionate use of resources.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

262 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the case of persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath who sought leave to remain here on humanitarian grounds. [7041/09]

The first named person concerned applied for asylum on 21 March 2006. She gave birth to a child in the State later in 2006. Her asylum application was refused following consideration of her 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 first named person concerned was informed, by letter dated 20 October 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 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 first named person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the first named 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 first named 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 first named person concerned is passed to me for decision.

The second named person concerned, the husband of the first named person concerned, applied for asylum on 17 May 2007. His asylum 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 second named person concerned was informed, by letter dated 24 October 2008, that the Minister proposed to make 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 second named person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the second named 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 second named 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 second named person concerned is passed to me for decision.

The third named person concerned, a child of the first and second named persons concerned, was born in the State in 2006. The Deputy might wish to note that no Deportation Order has been made in respect of this child. However, as he has no legal status in the State, he has been notified, through his mother, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), by letter dated 11 February 2009, that the Minister proposes 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. To date no such representations have been submitted on behalf of the third named person concerned.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

263 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the non-commenced sections of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 will be commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7103/09]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

264 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received draft voluntary codes on the structural separation of alcohol products from non-alcohol products when non-licensed business is carried on in premises to which an off-licence is attached from the relevant representative bodies as an alternative to section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008; his views of the draft code; if he has engaged in or will engage in consultation with other bodies such as youth and public health bodies on the usefulness of a voluntary code; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7104/09]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

265 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the timeframe for the introduction of either legislation or voluntary codes to ensure the structural separation of alcohol products from non-alcohol products when non-licensed business is carried on in premises to which an off-licence is attached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7105/09]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

266 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the relevant sections of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 permitting test purchasing by young people aged 15 to 18 will be commenced; the reason this provision has been delayed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7106/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 263 to 266, inclusive, together.

As regards implementation of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, the position is that section 9, which provides for the structural separation of alcohol products from other beverages and food products in mixed trading premises, and the test-purchasing provisions of section 14 have not yet been commenced. As the Deputy is aware, during discussions leading up to enactment of the 2008 Act, I gave an undertaking that if the objectives of structural separation could be achieved by means of adherence to a voluntary Code of Practice by the mixed trading sector, I would be prepared to defer implementation of section 9. I stipulated however that implementation of any such Code would be subject to an independent audit and verification process and that if such oversight indicated that the objectives of structural separation were not being achieved, I would have no hesitation in commencing section 9.

I am pleased to say that the Code of Practice and the accompanying oversight arrangements have now been agreed between organisations representing the mixed trading sector and both my Department and the Department of Health and Children. These details will be announced in the near future and I expect to receive the first report on implementation of the Code in September 2009.

Section 14 of the 2008 Act inserted new provisions in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 to permit test purchasing of alcohol by persons who are over 15 but under 18 years of age under the control of the Garda Síochána. The section provides for the issuing of guidelines on the procedures to be followed in test purchasing operations following consultation with the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána and the Minister for Health and Children. A Working Group, comprising representatives of my Department, An Garda Síochána and the Department of Health and Children, has been established to draw up these guidelines and I look forward to receiving their proposals in due course. Training requirements for the implementation of test purchasing are also being assessed at present.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

267 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the Sale of Alcohol Bill will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7107/09]

The Government Legislation Programme published on 26 January provides for publication of the Sale of Alcohol Bill in 2009. The Bill will modernise and streamline the laws relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol by repealing the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2008, as well as the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008, and replacing them with updated provisions.

Registration of Title.

Denis Naughten

Question:

268 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the waiting time for processing land registry dealings on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7109/09]

I have arranged for the CEO of the Property Registration Authority to compile the requested information and to forward it to the Deputy. I understand that this will be done very shortly.

Citizenship Applications.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

269 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an application for a certificate of naturalisation has been received in his Department in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim; when same was received; if it is being processed at the moment; when it is expected that a decision will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7114/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in June 2006. Officials in that Section inform me that processing of the application has commenced and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course. I am informed that the address the Deputy has provided differs from the address my Department holds on file. It is the responsibility of the applicant to keep the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) informed of any change of address in writing.

Residency Permits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

270 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will confirm the position in relation to religious volunteers and missionaries who come to Ireland on behalf of their respective churches and where such persons are fully supported financially and are not a burden economically to this State, in so far as their being allowed to stay beyond a three year remit is concerned; if such persons are entitled to re-enter Ireland on the basis of supported and vouched missionary responsibilities from their respective churches for a second three year period; if his attention has been drawn to the number of churches so affected (details supplied); if non-EU Roman Catholic missionaries are required to leave Ireland after three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7141/09]

Non-EEA religious and volunteer workers who, for immigration purposes, register their presence in the State are granted Stamp 3 which indicates that they are not entitled to participate in the labour market and that they are dependent on their employing church or organisation for their upkeep, finances and medical needs. The persons concerned must not be an economic burden on the State.

Although the policy was to permit such persons remain in the State for a maximum period of 3 years, the vast majority of religious and volunteer workers were granted renewal of their permission to remain on an annual basis in excess of that period. More recently, a number of religious and volunteer workers were refused registration for immigration purposes as those persons were in excess of 3 years in the State. Their cases were subsequently referred for further consideration to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service for a decision as to whether to renew their permission to remain. The applications were considered on a case by case basis and the majority of the persons concerned were allowed remain in the State for a further period of 1 year.

In regard to non-EU Roman Catholic missionaries they have been and are treated in the same way as outlined above. Officials of my Department met with representatives of the various churches referred to in the Deputy's Question. My officials are reviewing the immigration policy and arrangements which should apply to various classes of migrants including religious and volunteer workers. The submissions made by the churches referred to by the Deputy will be considered in that context.

Criminal Prosecutions.

Simon Coveney

Question:

271 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of people jailed here for not paying their television licence fee each year for the past 30 years; the average length of time spent in jail for not having a licence or for not paying a fine in relation to not having a licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7159/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the information requested is not readily available. Figures for persons jailed for not paying their television licence fee are not available for the past 30 years. However, figures for the last six years are set out in the table below. These figures relate to persons committed to prison for breach of the Broadcasting and Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1988 where a fine or a prison sentence or indeed both may be imposed for not having a television licence.

Year

Total

2003

15

2004

51

2005

52

2006

31

2007

32

2008

54

I can advise the Deputy that whilst the average length of time spent in prison is not readily available, the indications from the Irish Prison Service are that such periods are relatively short in duration. I am informed that the gathering of the specific information requested would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort and could not be justified in current circumstances where there are other significant demands on resources. However, I can advise the Deputy that persons held in custody for these reasons comprise a tiny fraction of the overall prisoner population. To illustrate this point, figures relating to 20 February, 2009 indicate that there was only 1 person in custody for non-payment of fines in relation to not having a television licence.

Citizenship Applications.

Damien English

Question:

272 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress of an application by a person (details supplied) in County Meath; when he will make a decision on this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7223/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2006. Processing of the application has been completed and I have reached a decision. The person in question was informed of my decision in a letter issued to them via their legal representatives on 22 January, 2009.

Visa Applications.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

273 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the basis on which a stamp three is granted; if it can be renewed; if so, the conditions under which it can be renewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7226/09]

There is a variety of purposes for which immigration Stamp 3 may be given to a non-EEA national when registering with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. The same entitlements and conditions are not applicable to all non-EEA nationals who are granted stamp 3 as this stamp, in line with the other immigration stamps, is granted subject to the circumstances of each individual case.

In general categories of persons who may be granted stamp 3 are listed below. However, this is not an exhaustive list.

non-EEA visitors

non-EEA retired persons of independent means

non-EEA Ministers of Religion and members of Religious Orders

non-EEA spouse/dependant of an employment permit holder.

The issue of renewal is dependent on the circumstances of each case and all renewals are on a case by case basis.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

274 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made in the establishment of a centre for excellence in universal design as provided for under the Disability Act 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7247/09]

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design was established in the National Disability Authority on 1 January 2007 under the Disability Act 2005 (Commencement) Order 2005. The Centre is now fully operational and may be contacted by phone: 01-6080456, fax: 01-6609935 or by e-mail: info@ceud.ie. The centre also has a dedicated website which may be accessed at the following address: http://universaldesign.ie.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

275 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on extending temporary or long-term residency on humanitarian grounds in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7292/09]

I would refer the Deputy to the earlier Replies given to his Parliamentary Question Nos. 979 on Wednesday 26 September 2007 and 243 on Thursday 24 April 2008 setting out the status of the persons concerned. Since then, the case of the family concerned was examined under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996, as amended, on the Prohibition of Refoulement. Consideration was given to all representations submitted on their behalf, including those by their legal representative, for permission to remain in the State.

On 27 January 2009, I refused permission to remain temporarily in the State and instead signed Deportation Orders in respect of the family concerned. Notice of these orders was served by registered post which obliges the persons concerned to leave the State. The persons concerned are required to present themselves at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 on Tuesday 3 March 2009 in order to make travel arrangements for their removal from the State.

Further representations by the persons concerned seeking temporary leave to remain in the State were received on 17 February 2009. At present these representations are under consideration by officials in my Department. As soon as a decision is made in this matter, the persons concerned and their legal representative will be notified. In the meantime, the persons concerned should comply with their presentation requirements with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). The enforcement of the Deportation Orders is, and remains, an operational matter for the GNIB.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

276 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the application for citizenship will be concluded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7293/09]

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

Officials in that Section inform me that processing of the application has commenced and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course. However, I understand that the person concerned is a refugee and in accordance with the Government's obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees every effort is made to ensure that applications from persons with refugee status are dealt with as quickly as possible.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

277 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in processing the garda clearance request by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service for a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7447/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in November, 2006. Officials in that section will be forwarding the application to me for a decision in the very near future.

Garda Operations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

278 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [7479/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is in the Coolock Sub-District. Local Garda management is aware of difficulties being experienced by residents in the area as a result of anti-social behaviour. A number of referrals have been made under the Juvenile Diversion Scheme, and fixed charge notices for public order offences have been issued following other incidents. Two members of the local Community Policing Unit are specifically allocated to this area, who liaise with the local community. The area is subject to regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit and Garda Mountain Bike Units, supplemented by the District Detective and Drugs Units, the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel.

Current policing policy in the area is predicated on the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence against persons and property, the prevention of public order offences and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life of the residents. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of the policing service in this area.

Departmental Agencies.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

279 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if recent vacancies arising from resignations from the board of the Equality Authority have been filled; if so, when the new directors were appointed and who they are; if they will be in receipt of remuneration for serving as members of the board; when the practice of remunerating members of the board commenced; the number of members of the board there are; the amount they are being paid; the number of members of the board there have been since the authority was established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7481/09]

As indicated in my reply to Question No. 699 of 27 January 2009, two recent vacancies on the Board of the Authority have been filled by me, under the Employment Equality Act 1998, following nominations made by IBEC. The persons so appointed are Ms Rhona Murphy and Mr Peter White. They were appointed with effect from 26 January 2009. There are four vacancies remaining. Under the Act of 1998, ICTU have been invited to nominate two persons, one male and one female. There are 12 persons now serving on the Board.

Fees are payable to members of the Board of the Authority under the Act of 1998. The fee for ordinary Board members, as implemented in August 2007, is €9,000 a year and for the Chair the fee is €14,000. The serving Board of the Authority is the third since its establishment in 1999, taking over from the Employment Equality Agency. 37 persons in total have served to date as Board members, of whom 8 have served on two of the three Boards.

Departmental Expenditure.

Finian McGrath

Question:

280 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [7514/09]

The total amount paid to assist the Stardust Victims Committee in meeting the legal and expert costs associated with participation in the independent examination process has been €400,000.

Road Traffic Offences.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

281 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if gardaí have the ability to check the number of points on a licence while at a road check point; the number of drivers who have 12 points on their licence; the amount of disqualified licences handed in to the gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7522/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that An Garda Síochána are notified by the Department of Transport when a person has accumulated twelve penalty points on his/her driving licence and has been disqualified from driving. This information is then recorded on the PULSE system for the information of all members of An Garda Síochána in the enforcement of the relevant provisions of road traffic and transport legislation and is available to members of An Garda Síochána carrying out roadside checks. I am also informed that a person, having accumulated twelve penalty points, is required to surrender his/her driving licence to the licensing authority which granted it and not to An Garda Síochána. Information in relation to the number of drivers with twelve penalty points endorsed on their licence record is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Transport.

Prison Staff.

Sean Fleming

Question:

282 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the competition for recruitment of prison officers which commenced in 2007; the number who applied for these positions; the number who passed the first round examination; the number who were contacted regarding stage two of this competition; the number who were called for interview; the number who are awaiting to be called for interview; the number who have been offered positions; the number who are still being dealt with by this process; if those who were contacted regarding stage two of the competition will be called for interview; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7540/09]

In 2007 the Irish Prison Service held an open competition for Recruit Prison Officers. The total number of applications received was 6,199. Of that number, 1,782 candidates passed the aptitude test (Stage 1). On order of merit the top 1,438 candidates were invited to interview (Stage 2). Of the 1,438 candidates who were invited to interview, 375 candidates have already been offered positions from the 2007 competition. A further 202 candidates who successfully completed the interview from the 2007 competition remain on a panel and may be offered positions. No further candidates will be called for interview from the 2007 competition.

Crime Levels.

John O'Mahony

Question:

283 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of offences committed by persons on bail in County Mayo for each of the years 2006 to 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7542/09]

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 him.

Public Order Offences.

Finian McGrath

Question:

284 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [7545/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the location referred to is in the Store Street Garda Division. Local Garda management is aware of incidents of anti-social behaviour in the area, which are of particular concern to local residents and the business community in the area. Regular meetings to discuss matters of mutual concern, including issues relating to public disorder and anti-social behaviour, are held between local Garda management and personnel of service providers in the area. Any issues raised at these meetings are addressed.

All members of An Garda Síochána are tasked with enforcing criminal legislation, including those relating to public disorder and anti-social behaviour. The area is the subject of regular on-going patrols by members of the local Community Policing Unit and other personnel in the Division. Current policing policy in the area is predicated on the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence against persons and property, the prevention of public order offences and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life of residents and businesses. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of the policing service in the area.

Garda Deployment.

Willie Penrose

Question:

285 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in the context of the reconfiguration of the Garda divisions, additional Garda resources have been allocated to Kinnegad, County Westmeath, in view of the increase in population in this area and its hinterland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7547/09]

The Garda Síochána's Policing Plans for 2008 and 2009 contain the Garda Commissioner's proposals to realign Garda Divisional boundaries to make them coterminous with local authority boundaries to facilitate both local Garda and local authority management in the administration of Joint Policing Committees as provided for under Section 22(1) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that a project board was established to analyse the policing needs of the new Garda Division of Westmeath and that local Garda management is fully satisfied that effective and efficient policing will continue to be delivered in the areas affected by the proposed changes. I am further informed by the Garda authorities that Kinnegad Garda Station forms part of the Westmeath Garda Division which has a personnel strength of 239 Gardaí (all ranks) as at the 20th of February 2009. It is anticipated that an additional ten Gardaí (all ranks) will be allocated to the Westmeath Division in conjunction with the next allocation of Probationer Gardaí following attestation in the next month.

National Age Cards.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

286 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of national age cards that have been issued annually since its establishment in 1999; the method of recording information on the cards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7554/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following table contains the number of Garda national age cards issued from 2003 to 2008. Compilation of the number of cards issued before 2003 would entail a disproportionate use of Garda resources. I am further informed that the applicant's name and date of birth are extracted from the application form submitted through the applicant's local Garda Station. These details are then made available to the printing company contracted to print the cards. The age card is designed with state of the art security features, including the latest generation kinegram (moving image), a high level security hot foil and invisible UV features with the Garda crest logo painted in invisible blue UV ink.

Year

Number of Age Cards Issued

2008

35,269

2007

31,653

2006

33,856

2005

34,822

2004

44,472

2003

57,695

Crime Prevention.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

287 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide details of the knife crime campaign; the organisers contracted to run the campaign; the budget for the campaign; the timeframe of same; the locations of the road show; the methods of advertising and promoting the campaign; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7555/09]

While the number of murders committed involving knives showed a welcome decrease last year from 37 to 15, the overall number of crimes committed using knives is a matter of concern. On 5 February, the Garda Commissioner and I launched a Knife Awareness Campaign by An Garda Síochána with the objective of informing and educating young people on the dangers of carrying knives and with the aim of reducing the number of incidents of knife crime.

It is planned that the campaign will include meetings in schools and community centres around the country featuring local sports stars and role models for young people. One meeting was held last December as a pilot project in The Base, Ballyfermot. The location of the remaining meetings will be decided in the light of information on the areas that show higher than average levels of knife crime. The roll out of meetings will be supported by print and broadcast media initiatives that will be designed to be specific to the locality of the meeting. Further meetings will be carried out by Community Gardaí around the country who will be equipped with resources, with the aim of maximising the reach of the campaign through school visits.

The campaign will be supported online by a dedicated website www.howbigdoyoufeel.ie and a presence on social networking websites such as Bebo, Facebook and Twitter, as well as uploaded videos and a viral video. This will help deliver the campaign message through media that its target audience find accessible and feel comfortable with. Information leaflets on the campaign will also be made available to young people and their parents. The campaign is also due to feed into other programmes which support youth workers on youth diversion projects, thereby enabling the campaign message to reach at-risk young people. It is expected that the cost of the campaign will be approximately €200,000.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

288 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason he decided not to put measures in place for a product (details supplied) as was previously mooted; his views on this product; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7556/09]

The marketing and sale of spirit-based alcoholic drinks supplied in lightweight plastic containers, and the possibility of restricting the circulation of such products, continues to be the subject of review by my Department and the Department of Health and Children. While it is not clear that such products are actively marketed with young people in mind, the fact that the containers are light, portable and easy to conceal means that they could be attractive to persons under the age of 18. The problem arose in 2004 in relation to vodka sachets (known as "Bullseye Baggies") which had been placed on the market and which appeared to be directed at young people. On that occasion, my Department sought and obtained the cooperation and agreement of the licensed trade — both the on-trade and off-trade — not to market the product and this strategy proved effective and successful.

The experience is that where any such product is already in free circulation within the EU internal market, difficulties arise in prohibiting or restricting its circulation and consumption within a single country. In the event of the problem re-emerging, my intention would be to again ask both the drinks industry and the licensed trade for their support and cooperation in refusing to market and supply the product. I am pleased to say that there is now a high level of awareness of the extent of alcohol-related harm in our society and anything that is likely to exacerbate or add to existing problems should be avoided.

Proposed Legislation.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

289 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the consultation process for the White Paper on crime; the budget for same; the methods being used for the promotion of and community involvement in the process; when the consultation process commences and where; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7557/09]

I can inform the Deputy that my Department will employ a range of consultation methods to ensure an extensive and inclusive range of input in the development of the White Paper on Crime. Costs arising will be met from within existing Departmental resources. Members of the public, community groups and others will all have an opportunity to share their views and experiences. A key element in the process will be the production of a series of discussion documents designed to stimulate debate on relevant topics. Further information is available on my Department's website, which also provides an opportunity to express views on the process and to register for updates.

Garda Deployment.

Joe McHugh

Question:

290 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether An Garda Síochána resources in Inishowen are sufficient in view of the fact that Inishowen towns and villages all circle Derry city; his further views on whether Inishowen’s proximity to Derry city is of fundamental importance in the context of policing; his plans to increase Garda resources in Inishowen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7634/09]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of the 31st January 2009, 98 Gardaí from the following 10 Garda Stations in the Donegal Division are providing a policing service in the Inishowen Peninsula:

District

Station

No. of Gardaí

Buncrana

Buncrana

50

Buncrana

Burnfoot

16

Buncrana

Carndonagh

5

Buncrana

Clonmany

1

Buncrana

Culduff

1

Buncrana

Malin

5

Buncrana

Moville

9

Buncrana

Muff

2

Letterkenny

Carrigans

5

Letterkenny

Newtowncunningham

4

Significant numbers of additional personnel have been allocated to the Division in recent times, including a unit of the Divisional Traffic Corps based in Buncrana and the establishment of a Rural Community Policing Initiative for the Inishowen Peninsula. A Divisional Crime Manager has also been appointed to assist in the monitoring and analysing of crime trends. Additional civilian support staff have also been assigned to the Garda Districts concerned, releasing members of An Garda Síochána for patrolling and other duties within the Districts.

Given the geographical location of these Garda Districts there are significant levels of ongoing cross border cooperation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Border Superintendents attend bi-monthly crime meetings in Enniskillen and at Garda Headquarters. At local level, cross-border crime meetings are held on a monthly basis with regular, sometimes daily, interactions regarding individual incidents and other criminal activity. It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to allocate personnel throughout the Force taking everything into account and the situation in the Inishowen peninsula will be kept under review.

Public Order Offences.

Dara Calleary

Question:

291 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of public order offences committed after 10 a.m. in each month since July 2007 in tabular form on a county basis; and his views on trends within the figures. [7643/09]

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 him.

Policing Committees.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

292 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in producing guidelines for the community policing fora; and when the roll-out of local community policing fora to all local drugs task force areas can be expected. [2652/09]

In September 2008, I made, with the approval of the Ministers for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government, and Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, amended guidelines which provide for the establishment of a joint policing committee in each local authority area where there is not yet a committee established. The Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides for the establishment of local policing fora (LPF) by joint policing committees. Work by a drafting group chaired by my Department is almost complete on a set of guidelines for the LPFs. In accordance with the National Drugs Strategy, on finalisation of these guidelines priority will be given to the establishment of LPFs in the local drug task force areas.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

293 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of civil servants employed in his Department who are also in receipt of a Civil Service pension; the amount paid to same in respect of their employment and in Civil Service pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8058/09]

There are currently 8 retired civil servants in receipt of a Civil Service pension whose services are currently retained by my Department. In 2008, the payments to these individuals ranged from €7,534 to €59,583 and the total amount was €266,023. All of the individuals concerned are paid in accordance with the provisions of the Pensions (Abatement) Act, 1965 whereby the amount paid in salary plus the pension payable cannot exceed the salary payable prior to retirement.

Civil Service pensions are for the most part paid by the Paymaster General's Office under the aegis of the Department of Finance. The services provided by the individuals concerned included acting as a Confidential Recipient (Whistleblower) under the Gárda Síochána (Corruption or Malpractice) Regulations and services relating to the Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board, the Inspectorate of Prisons, release of records under the National Archives Act, 1986 and other miscellaneous activities.

Emigrant Support Services.

Enda Kenny

Question:

294 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the situation in regard to undocumented Irish citizens being detained in US prisons prior to deportation, that the average stay is 45 to 56 days, that many of the undocumented involved are traumatised as a consequence, and that they are required to serve sentences with persons on criminal convictions; if he will make contact with the United States citizenship and immigration services in respect of non-criminal detainees being deported promptly after arrests; his views on their plight; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7192/09]

The Government attaches the highest importance to resolving the plight of our undocumented citizens in the United States and their welfare, like the welfare of all Irish citizens abroad, is a key priority for my Department. I am aware that concerns have been expressed concerning the length of detention of Irish citizens in the United States, prior to their deportation. While the official figures available to us indicate that the numbers of undocumented Irish being detained and deported have not increased significantly in recent years (see table), I can understand that the anxiety and stress which detention and deportation cause is very real.

Our Embassy and the Consulates in the United States provide consular assistance to Irish nationals who have been detained and who are awaiting deportation. Officials liaise closely with the relevant authorities in the U.S. and, where requested, with the detainee's family in Ireland, throughout the deportation process. The Embassy and Consulates seek to minimise the detention period, including by assuring US authorities that formal documentation can be provided without delay to enable departure. They have also, over the years, assisted in expediting the deportation process where there have been particular medical or other humanitarian issues. Our Ambassador in Washington has raised with the US authorities the issue of the detention and deportation of Irish citizens and requested that their particular circumstances be taken into account. In addition, through the Emigrant Support Programme, the Government provides funding to a number of organisations who work with the undocumented Irish in the United States, including those who have been detained and who are awaiting deportation.

Deportation figures (2000-2008) provided by the US Department of Homeland Security

Year

Total

Criminal

Non-criminal (Immigration related)

2000

29

15

14

2001

50

17

33

2002

64

15

49

2003

69

17

52

2004

63

24

39

2005

43

12

31

2006

39

12

27

2007

42

17

25

2008

66

18

48

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

295 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of civil servants employed in his Department who are also in receipt of a Civil Service pension; the amount paid to same in respect of their employment and in Civil Service pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8056/09]

There is no civil servant currently employed in my Department who is also in receipt of a civil service pension. However, there are seven employees who are in receipt of pensions relating to their previous service in either the Defence Forces or An Garda Síochána. Details of the salary scales of the staff in question are given below in tabular format.

Grade

Salary Scale (per week)

Number in receipt of pension

Services Officer

€419.73 – €559.59 (non-PPC) €438.41 – €589.03 (PPC)

5

Civilian Driver

€667.43

2

My Department cannot provide information on pension payments to individual officers as this is a matter for the Department of Finance. Personal Pension Contribution (PPC) scales apply where officers were employed since 6 April 1995, pay class A rate of PRSI and make a personal pension contribution.

Arts Funding.

Brian Hayes

Question:

296 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the amount of funding allocated to Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Éireann in the budget 2009; the amount sought by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann at this time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6958/09]

The provision of current funding for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is a matter for the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. No provision was made in my Department's 2009 Abridged Estimates Volume for Capital programme for Comhaltas. However, the question of funding for Comhaltas being provided in my Department's Revised Estimates Volume for 2009 is being finalised in discussions with the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Sports Funding.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

297 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the principle of funding for GAA players in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7016/09]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

298 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has had discussions with the Irish Sports Council regarding the principle of funding for GAA players in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7017/09]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

299 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has made specific funding available to the Irish Sports Council to provide funding for GAA players in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7018/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 297 to 299, inclusive, together.

The funding of the Gaelic players' grant schemes is a matter for the Irish Sports Council (ISC) in the context of the distribution of its budget for 2009. In light of the current economic constraints and the reduction in the ISC's allocation of funding in the 2009 Estimates, I am having discussions with the Council on optimum funding options, in order to maintain its existing programmes while building on recent progress. The future funding of the Gaelic players' schemes is being considered in that context.

National Concert Hall.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

300 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the nature of the public private partnership for the National Concert Hall; the timescale envisaged for repayments; if the ultimate ownership will be with a private partner or the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7143/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to PQ. 2482/09 on 28th January 2009. The redeveloped National Concert Hall is being procured by means of a Design/Build/Finance/Maintain Public Private Partnership. It is envisaged that payments will be over the 25-year period of the contract. The ownership of the site and facility remains with the State. These will be licensed to the Private Partner for the contract period.

Abbey Theatre.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

301 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the nature of the public private partnership for the Abbey Theatre; the timescale envisaged for repayments; if the ultimate ownership will be with a private partner or the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7145/09]

A Public Private Partnership contract for the proposed new National Theatre (Abbey) project has not been awarded yet. I would refer the Deputy to my answer to Parliamentary Question No 113 on Wednesday 28 January 2009 for the current position.

Sports Capital Programme.

Michael McGrath

Question:

302 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position in relation to the drawdown of a sports capital grant by a club (details supplied) in County Cork. [7285/09]

The grantee in question was provisionally allocated a grant of €200,000 for the development of an all-weather training pitch in 2006. A provisional grant allocation is subject to the terms and conditions of the Programme, which include the execution of a Deed of Covenant and Charge. A Deed provides,inter alia, for a refund of the grant in the event of the facility not continuing to be used for the purpose for which the grant was allocated. The Department’s legal adviser, the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO), deals with the grantee’s solicitor in executing this Deed. My Department has been advised by the CSSO that there are a number of legal matters outstanding in this regard and that it wrote to the grantees’ solicitors on February 11 2009. The position at close of business yesterday was that the CSSO had yet to receive a response to its correspondence.

There are a number of additional matters that have to be addressed before my Department can provide formal approval for the project. These were outlined in detail in a letter to the grantee from my Department on July 7 2008 and include, inter alia, the submission by the grantee of quotations for the grant assisted works to ensure that value for money is secured in the use of public funds. The club in question contacted my Department by telephone on January 2 last stating that they would address the matters raised in my Department’s July 2008 letter. To date my Department has not received any further contact from the grantee.

In order to progress payment of this grant, the club is advised to respond to my Department's letter of July 7 2008. The club's solicitors should also continue to liaise with the CSSO with a view to addressing all outstanding legal formalities.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Ulick Burke

Question:

303 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has reallocated funds originally ring-fenced for the swimming pool at Loughrea, County Galway as a public private partnership; if the project as originally proposed will not proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7457/09]

The position is that following meetings between Galway Co. Co., the Chief State Solicitor's Office and my Department, advice was sought from the Attorney General's Office on issues that were pertinent to the contractual arrangements reached between Galway Co. Co. and a private developer in relation to the project. This advice was conveyed to Galway Co. Co. on 7 November 2008 advising that the Department would not be in a position to fund the project and asking for alternative proposals from Galway Co. Co. as to how they wished to proceed. Galway Co. Co. responded to the Department on 3 December outlining further points that they wished to have taken into consideration. In the meantime the Department is continuing to assess the options available in relation to the project.

Sports Capital Programme.

Michael Creed

Question:

304 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if an organisation (details supplied) received a sports capital grant from his Department in 2006, 2007 or 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7497/09]

The grantee in question was provisionally allocated a grant of €50,000 towards development of a natural playing surface under the 2008 Sports Capital Programme. On November 28th 2008 my Department formally approved the project and now awaits submission of original, valid and paid invoices by the grantees to the Sports Capital section so that the grant can be paid. The club did not submit an application under the 2006 and 2007 Sports Capital Programmes.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

305 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of civil servants employed in his Department who are also in receipt of a Civil Service pension; the amount paid to same in respect of their employment and in Civil Service pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8050/09]

There are no civil servants employed in my Department who are also in receipt of a civil service pension.

Grant Payments.

Mary Upton

Question:

306 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make funding available to a social services centre (details supplied) in Dublin 12 to carry out essential repairs so the centre can continue to provide its valuable services to the community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7570/09]

My Department funds a Programmes of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations. Priority is given to organisations with a focus on addressing disadvantage or where evidence of need has been clearly identified in their communities. It is possible that the work required to be undertaken by this organisation's premises could be funded either under the refurbishment scheme or under the scheme to support the replacement of equipment in community centres.

Details of the Programme are available on my Department's website (www.pobail.ie) under the section dealing with Community and Voluntary Supports. Given that criteria apply and funding is limited, it is not possible to establish if the centre in question is eligible until an application has been completed and submitted for consideration.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Joe Carey

Question:

307 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the refocused measure for general water scheme top-ups in respect of 2009, which was to be announced in late 2008, will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6975/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, one of the more successful aspects of the CLÁR Programme has been the level of funding provided to the various Water and Sewerage measures over the years. Funding approved under those measures rose from approximately €2.4m in 2002 to more than €16m in 2008. In total over €45m has been approved to date for water and sewerage schemes since the programme was launched in 2001. Currently, there is in excess of €17m in outstanding commitments under these measures.

In relation to the Water and Sewerage schemes I had hoped to announce re-focused measures late in 2008 which would focus on group water scheme top ups and the provision of sewerage schemes in small villages. However In the current economic climate I am currently reviewing the CLÁR programme as a whole, having regard to demand, the funding available and the level of outstanding commitments. In this context, I will consider the reintroduction of modified Water and Sewerage measures when circumstances allow.

Community Development.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

308 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the contract between Pobal and his Department regarding the community service project schemes expires; if there is a plan to continue these schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7156/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

309 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when he will announce the community service project budget for 2010; if it is expected that some projects will be discontinued; if new projects will be accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7157/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 308 and 309 together.

The Community Services Programme (CSP) supports a range of community business and social enterprises to deliver a diverse range of local services and employment opportunities. It has a particular focus on employing people who are currently without work or have limited employment opportunities, and delivering services through community and voluntary organisations where gaps exist. My Department undertakes policy development and project approval for the Programme while Pobal at present administers the CSP on a day-to-day basis, under a service level agreement.

Currently, the Programme is working with over 350 projects which are providing good quality employment to over 2,100 people. By the end of this year, I expect the number of projects approved under the Programme to rise to around 445 and these will provide an estimated 2,600 people with employment opportunities. The provision in my Department's Vote for the CSP in 2009 is €50.85m. Each year, a number of projects leave the Programme for a variety of reasons and are replaced by projects which are successful under the annual call for proposals. I would expect that this practice will continue this year. Funding for the Programme for 2010 and future years will fall for consideration in the context of the annual Estimates process for my Department.

Inland Waterways.

Michael Ring

Question:

310 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress, or otherwise, regarding the provision of private mooring facilities beside the Waterways Ireland marina at Leitrim village in County Leitrim; if Waterways Ireland is satisfied with the progress of the developer to date in fulfilling its obligations as agreed with its engineers; and if he is confident that the extra mooring places will be open before the summer 2009 season. [7316/09]

I have been informed by Waterways Ireland that it has entered into an agreement with the developer of the project referred to by the Deputy, which involves a lease for access purposes of Waterways Ireland property in return for the provision of public moorings by the developer. Progression of the project, including the planned moorings, has been slow but I understand that Waterways Ireland continues to liaise with the developer in this regard. However, progress to final completion is a matter for the developer as this is essentially a private development rather than a Waterways Ireland project.

Community Development.

John Deasy

Question:

311 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will request a public body (details supplied) to reverse the withdrawal of funding that is resulting in the termination of the employment of an Áisitheoir Pobail in Gaeltacht na nDéise; if he will provide additional funding to reverse this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7460/09]

John Deasy

Question:

312 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has received a request for a meeting from a number of community organisations (details supplied) in County Waterford to discuss the consequences that will result from the termination of the employment of an Áisitheoir Pobail in Gaeltacht na nDéise; when he will grant such a meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7461/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 311 and 312 together.

The employment of staff by integrated local development companies such as Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta is a matter for the companies themselves in which I have no function. In relation to funding it is worth noting that MFG have been allocated the largest amount for any group under the recently announced Rural Development Programme.

Michael Creed

Question:

313 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the recent changes regarding the level of grant aid available for new micro-enterprises in Gaeltacht areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7506/09]

The Deputy will be aware of the EU Guidelines on State Aid and of the revised maximum rates of intensity, which came into effect on 1 January 2009. In the context of the Gaeltacht, those changes, which have been laid down at EU level, affect enterprises in the Múscraí Gaeltacht only, where the maximum aid rate available for initial investment has been reduced from 30% to 20%. While I acknowledge that the reduced rate adds to the challenge for Údarás na Gaeltachta in its efforts to promote and encourage enterprise in the Gaeltacht area of Múscraí, I can assure the Deputy that an tÚdarás will continue to assist micro-enterprises in all of the Gaeltacht areas, including Muscraí, based on the merits and needs of each case.

Voluntary Sector Funding.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

314 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number and budget of voluntary bodies that his Department and agencies under the aegis of his Department provide with funding for youth and sporting facilities [7561/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has responsibility for a range of schemes which provide assistance, including financial assistance, to the youth work sector. The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism has responsibility in relation to the provision of financial assistance in relation to sporting facilities. I should also inform the Deputy that responsibility for the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund transferred from my Department to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on 1st January 2009.

My Department provides a range of supports to community and voluntary organisations to enable them to enhance the quality of life of every member of their local area and to make full use of the facilities they have available to them. Under the RAPID Leverage Scheme operated by my Department top-up funding of €2.9m. was allocated to projects that are in or that serve RAPID areas under the Sports Capital Programme 2008. In addition 15% of the €7.5m available under the RAPID additionality measure under Dormant Accounts is allocated to sports and youth related activities. Údarás na Gaeltachta provides annual funding of €300,000 to Óige na Gaeltachta Teo. to support youth activities throughout the Gaeltacht.

In general, other programmes and schemes operated by my Department do not provide specific budgets for youth are not provided for this purpose. However Organisations working for young people may benefit from a number of wider programmes such as:

the Programme of Supports for Locally Based Community and Voluntary Organisations,

the LEADER programme delivered by integrated LEADER/Partnership companies,

the Local Development Social Inclusion Programme delivered by integrated LEADER/partnership companies,

Community Development Programme delivered by community development projects,

Gaeltacht and Islands Grant Schemes,

local drugs task force funding,

Western Investment Fund operated by the Western Development Commission,

More detailed information in relation to these schemes and programmes can be found on my Department's website, www.pobail.ie.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

315 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of civil servants employed in his Department who are also in receipt of Civil Service pensions; the amounts paid to same in respect of their employment and in Civil Service pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8052/09]

I understand that my Department does not currently employ any civil servants, who are also in receipt of a civil service pension. Occasionally, my Department engages a retired civil servant with particular expertise, to carry out a specific task on behalf of the Department. Such individuals are paid a fee for carrying out such work and pension abatement rules apply to the payment of such fees.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

316 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of money paid under the early childhood allowance scheme in 2008 in respect of children who are not resident here. [7075/09]

The Early Childcare Supplement is administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs on behalf of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The total expenditure on the Early Childcare Supplement (ECS) in 2008 was €477m. The ECS expenditure for 2008 in respect of non resident children was approximately €4.5m.

Pension Provisions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

317 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she is satisfied that all pension funds have operated in a fashion expected to protect the consumer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7534/09]

The primary responsibility for the administration of a pension scheme rests with the trustees of the scheme. The trustees must, at all times, act in the best interests of the members and are required under the Pensions Act, and subject to regulations, to provide for the proper investment of the resources and for compliance with the funding standard requirements in the case of defined benefits schemes.

The recent and rapid downturn in the world economy has changed the economic landscape and has had a significant worldwide impact on the performance of pension funds. The indications are that Irish pension funds have lost in excess of 30% of their value in the last 12 months. While it is expected that the number of defined benefit schemes failing the funding standard will increase sharply as a result of current market conditions, the extent of the problem will not be fully apparent until schemes carry out their next actuarial assessment and report the results to the Pensions Board as required under the Pensions Act.

This unprecedented situation has raised new challenges for employers and trustees of both defined benefits and defined contribution schemes. There are no easy answers to these problems but the Government has recently put in place the following short term measures to ease the funding standard requirements on pension schemes:

granting additional time for the preparation of funding proposals, as a temporary measure;

dealing as flexibly as possible with applications for approval of funding plans;

allowing longer periods for recovery plans in appropriate circumstances;

allowing the term of a replacement recovery plan to extend beyond the end date of the original plan;

taking into account voluntary employer guarantees in approving recovery plans;

rejecting recovery plans which fail to demonstrate an appropriate investment approach.

Defined Contribution (DC) schemes are relatively immature and for many people there will be adequate time to recoup some or all of the losses which have occurred. There are particular concerns for those who may be at, or close to, retirement and who are required to purchase an annuity on retirement. While good practice would suggest a conservative approach to investments in the last number of years, in the current environment, these scheme members could realise a significant loss in the value of their pension fund. In the circumstances, the Minister for Finance recently announced measures to allow such scheme members a period of up to two years to purchase an annuity. There is, of course, the risk that those availing of the deferment option could sustain further losses and this has been clearly outlined in guidance notes issued by the Pensions Board. As indicated, these are short-term measures. Further measures designed to protect the interest of the consumer will be reflected in the national framework on pensions which the Government plans to launch shortly.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

318 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of money paid under the child benefit scheme in 2008 in respect of children who are not resident here. [7074/09]

The total expenditure on Child Benefit (CB) in 2008 was approx €2.46 billion. The CB expenditure for 2008 in respect of non resident children was approximately €20.9m.

Social Welfare Code.

Michael Ring

Question:

319 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the legal position regarding a rent allowance issue (details supplied). [7076/09]

Rent supplements are subject to a limit on the amount of rent that an applicant for rent supplement may incur. Rent limits are set at levels that enable the different types of eligible households to secure and retain basic suitable rented accommodation, having regard to the different rental market conditions that prevail in various parts of the State. The objective is to ensure that rent supplement is not paid in respect of overly expensive accommodation having regard to the size of the household.

Setting maximum rent limits higher than are justified by the open market would have a distorting effect on the rental market, leading to a more general rise in rent levels and in landlord income. This in turn would worsen the affordability of rental accommodation unnecessarily, with particular negative impact for those tenants on lower incomes. The legal basis for the setting of rent limits is provided for under Article 9(2)(i)(iii) of Statutory Instrument 412 of 2007. Article 9(3) of these regulations provides that a rent supplement shall not payable where the amount of rent exceeds the appropriate maximum amount of rent, as determined in the regulations, having regard to family circumstances and the location of the residence of the person concerned.

Notwithstanding these limits, the Health Service Executive has the discretion to award rent supplement above or below the prescribed rent limits, having regard to local rent levels or to meet the particular needs of an individual. Guidelines provide for the payment of rent supplement where the rent is above the statutory rent limit, in the following circumstances:

where there are special housing needs related to exceptional circumstances for example, disabled persons in specially-adapted accommodation or homeless persons,

Where the person concerned is entitled to an income disregard and has sufficient income to meet his or her basic needs after paying rent, taking into account the appropriate rate of Rent Supplement that is otherwise payable in the case.

where the tenant will be in a position to re-assume responsibility for his/her rent within a short period.

Where rent is paid in excess of the statutory limits, the post-rent income of the rent supplement recipient must not be less than the rate of supplementary welfare allowance appropriate to that person's family circumstances, less the minimum contribution of €18 a week towards the rent payment. These discretionary powers available to the Health Service Executive ensure that individuals with particular needs can be accommodated within the rent supplement scheme and specifically protects against homelessness.

School Meals Programme.

Enda Kenny

Question:

320 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the analysis carried out on the extent of food waste arising from the school meal programme; the assessments that were carried out in respect of quantities wasted in 2007 and 2008 in regard to the 1,638 schools in the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7136/09]

The school meals programme gives funding towards the provision of food services for disadvantaged school children through two schemes. The first is the long-standing statutory urban school meals scheme, operated by local authorities and part-financed by the Department of Social & Family Affairs. The second is the school meals local projects scheme through which funding is provided directly by the Department to participating schools and local and voluntary community groups who are running their own school meals projects.

Under the School Meals Local Projects scheme, the Department funds schools and school-based community organisations in respect of food costs only, subject to various conditions. Funding is issued on the basis of a rate per child, per meal, per day. It is the responsibility of the school or project to ensure that food is purchased only for children in attendance. All schools or projects have to submit financial returns to the Department which detail the numbers and types of meals provided and the numbers of children benefiting. These returns are backed up by receipts for food costs incurred. School principals making returns have to certify the number of meals provided and the number of pupils benefiting. This is to ensure that all funding is used for the purpose for which it is intended and that no wastage occurs. Officials from the Department make visits to a number of participating schools throughout the year as a control measure.

The Department can confirm that it is currently investigating an allegation in relation to the operation of the School Meals programme. The Department cannot comment on individual cases of fraud or abuse until they have been successfully prosecuted through the courts.

Departmental Staff.

Mary Upton

Question:

321 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a job facilitator post is in place at all social welfare offices; the availability of such persons to those seeking employment; the average waiting time for an interested party to receive access to a job facilitator; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7142/09]

FÁS is the National Training and Employment Authority and the main agency to provide jobseeking support to all individuals on the live register who are seeking employment or education opportunities. The Department of Social and Family Affairs facilitators work closely with FÁS and other agencies at national and local level to identify and target appropriate education, training and development opportunities for social welfare recipients. The facilitator programme is designed as a targeted approach involving active case management and the development of an individualised progression plan. Under the National Development Plan (NDP) the Department has expanded its facilitator network. A facilitator service is available to its customers at local offices. When a person wishes to see a facilitator, the relevant facilitator is notified, and an appointment is scheduled for the person.

The Department is committed to providing a quality customer service. In the current economic climate the demand for the facilitator service is elevated. Waiting times to see a facilitator may vary nationwide. Actual waiting times for individual facilitators are not available. Facilitators make every effort to contact all interested customers as quickly as possible. Additional resources provided to the facilitator network under the NDP will help to ensure that the facilitator service is more responsive to the needs of customers.

Social Welfare Code.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

322 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the way income tax, tax levies and so on are treated in the means test for jobseeker’s allowance; if a different set of rules applies to a person’s application when their spouse is working and the spouse’s earnings form part of the means test than when a person living with family is assessed on the basis of their parents’ income; the rationale for same; if she is satisfied that the different sets of rules treat applicants equally; and if she will undertake to review and change the rules relating to the assessment of a spouse in order that it is based on actual household income. [6437/09]

The cash income (excluding all social welfare payments) of a claimant and his or her spouse or partner is assessable as means for the purposes of jobseeker's allowance. A range of disregards apply depending on the source of the cash income. Where the spouse or partner of a claimant has earnings from employment, social insurance contributions, the health contribution, superannuation/PRSA contributions and trade union subscriptions are disregarded. €20 per day worked is then disregarded (up to a maximum of €60 per week) and 60% of the balance is assessed. The same arrangements apply when the claimant is in employment. Where a claimant or his or her spouse or partner is in receipt of cash income from another source, social insurance contributions, the health contribution and PRSA contributions are disregarded as well as any expenses incurred in relation to any form of self-employment.

The current arrangements for jobseeker's allowance are designed to incentivise claimants to enter, re-enter or, in the case of a spouse or partner, to remain in the workforce. Income tax and the income levy contributions are not disregarded as to do so would mean that part of such deductions would be repaid vi a the jobseeker's allowance scheme. In the case of income tax assessable under Schedule E, a one-earner married couple with no children are not liable for income tax where earnings are below €27,450 per annum (€31,950 in the case of a one-earner married couple with children and €36,600 in the case of a two earner married couple). The income levy only applies where individual annual income is in excess of €18,304 per annum.

Where a claimant for jobseeker's allowance is aged under 25 years of age, the yearly value of any benefit or privilege enjoyed by that person by virtue of residing with a parent or step-parent is assessed as means. This is calculated as a percentage of the net disposable income (including social welfare payments other than child benefit, fuel allowances and guardian's payments) available to the household after a range of deductions. Deductions are allowed for income tax, the income levy, PRSI, superannuation/ PRSA contributions, private health insurance contribution, trade union subscriptions as well as rent or mortgage payments.

When the net income is calculated, a disregard of €600 per week for a two parent family and €470 per week for a one parent family is applied. An additional disregard of €30 applies for all children up to 18 years of age who are not getting a welfare or HSE payment in their own right and for all children over 18 years in full time education irrespective of their age. 34% of the balance is assessed as the weekly value of the benefit and privilege enjoyed by the claimant. The means testing arrangements relating to the assessment of benefit and privilege are therefore fundamentally different then those applying in the case of jobseeker's allowance. This reflects the fact that the purpose of the assessments differs. Any changes to the current arrangements for jobseeker's allowance would have to be considered in a Budgetary context including the availability of resources.

Pension Provisions.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

323 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the action she will take in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7228/09]

The social welfare pension rights of those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties are protected by the homemaker's scheme which was introduced in and took effect from 1994. The scheme allows up to 20 years spent caring for children under 12 years of age or incapacitated adults to be disregarded when a person's social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes.

However, the scheme will not of itself qualify a person for a pension. The standard qualifying conditions, which require a person to enter insurance 10 years before pension age, pay a minimum of 260 contributions at the correct rate and achieve a yearly average of at least 10 contributions on their record from the time they enter insurance until they reach pension age, must also be satisfied.

There are also a number of other ways in which pension entitlements can be protected. People who qualify for payments such as carer's allowance or carer's benefit may, subject to conditions, qualify for credited contributions for the period during which they receive the payment. In addition, over the last 10 years, the Government has taken a number of measures to make qualification for contributory pension easier. These include a reduction in the yearly contribution rate required for a minimum pension from 20 to 10, and the introduction of special measures such as the pre-53 pension.

The Green Paper on pensions considered a number of issues related to the qualifying conditions for a social welfare contributory pension. A framework for future pensions policy is being developed and the issue of contribution conditions will be further addressed in that context. It is expected that the framework will be finalised shortly. As the person concerned will not reach pension age for several years, it is not possible to say whether she would qualify for a pension at that stage as her entitlement will be assessed under the qualifying conditions pertaining at that time.

Social Welfare Code.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

324 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, further to a previous parliamentary question (details supplied), if she will change the regulation which states that a person must pay at least one reckonable class A contribution on return to Ireland from an EU member state in view of the difficulties in finding employment albeit for one week, for people who otherwise have full entitlement to jobseeker’s benefit, that is, sufficient contributions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7229/09]

From 5 January 2009, in order to be entitled to receive Irish jobseekers benefit, a customer will require a minimum of 104 social insurance contributions paid since entry into insurance. In addition, they must have at least 39 contributions paid or credited in the relevant tax year, and at least 13 of these contributions must be paid contributions. For a person applying for Jobseekers Benefit in 2009, the relevant tax year is 2007. The person referred to in the previous parliamentary question does not meet the qualifying conditions for Irish Jobseekers Benefit under national law as they did not have at least 39 paid or credited contributions in Ireland in the relevant tax year. This is because they were employed in the UK at this time, and paying social insurance contributions there.

Because the person concerned was last insurably employed in the UK, and does not have any entitlement at present under Irish domestic legislation, the UK authorities are, under EU Regulations, the competent authority for the payment of Jobseekers Benefit. The person's entitlement to UK Jobseekers Benefit can be decided under UK domestic legislation or under EU Regulations. The latter allows for the aggregation of their Irish and UK contributions to assist in meeting the qualifying conditions. Any application for unemployment benefits should therefore be made to the UK authorities. This can be facilitated either by direct contact with the UK authorities, or through one of my Departments Local Offices. Once a person qualifies for UK Jobseekers Benefit they can arrange under EU Regulations to have the entitlement exported to Ireland.

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. As a Member State of the European Union, we are bound to apply the Regulations governing social security rights of people living and working in the EU, in accordance with the objective of the EC Treaty of the free movement of persons. The rules exist to provide clarity as to which state is competent to pay social security benefits, and also to provide an equitable sharing of costs amongst states.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

325 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Galway will be assessed for a jobseeker’s allowance. [7241/09]

The person concerned applied for a jobseeker's allowance payment on 27 November 2008. He was requested by a Social Welfare Inspector to provide details of his parents' income. However, he failed to provide the necessary information and consequently his claim was closed. He was informed of this on 29 January, 2009.

He made a fresh application on 11 February 2009 and a Social Welfare Inspector is scheduled to meet him on 3 March 2009 to assess his means. On completion of enquiries a decision will be made as soon as possible and he will be notified of the outcome. Under Social Welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by Deciding Officers and Appeals Officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

326 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when disability allowance will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7294/09]

An application for disability allowance, by the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer of the Department on 25 November 2008 on the grounds that he did not satisfy the statutory means assessment for eligibility to this allowance. He appealed this decision and, I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that this case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

327 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is entitled to the household package; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7296/09]

According to the records of the Department, the person concerned has not made an application for the household benefits package. An application form has now issued to her as a result of this representation. On receipt of the completed application form, a decision will be made and she will be notified of the outcome.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

328 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when rent allowance will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7297/09]

Rent Supplement is administered on behalf of the department by the Health Service Executive (HSE) as part of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. The Executive has advised that the person concerned has applied for rent supplement. He was requested to provide further information in relation to land which he owns. A decision will made on the application of the person concerned for rent supplement when he provides the information as sought by the HSE.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Michael Ring

Question:

329 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the outcome of an appeal for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [7412/09]

An application for carer's allowance by the person concerned was disallowed by a Deciding Officer of the Department on 8 January 2009 on the grounds that she was not providing full-time care. She appealed this decision on 21 January 2009 and I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that there is no outcome as yet in this case. The Chief Appeals Officer will write to the Deputy when the appeal has been determined. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Departmental Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

330 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if extra staff will be deployed to the social welfare office in Clondalkin to cope with the increase in social welfare applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7456/09]

The Department recently undertook a review of the staffing levels in Local Offices due to the continued increased number of claims for jobseeker's payments. Four additional posts are to be assigned to Clondalkin Local Office. Two officers have already been assigned to the office and arrangements are in train to fill the remaining two posts.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

331 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason on two recent occasions money was not available for pensions and welfare payments at Finglas Post Office (details supplied); the steps her Department is taking to ensure that payments are available to claimants on time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7470/09]

The Department has been advised by An Post that Finglas Post Office had sufficient funds to meet expected demand in the run-up to Christmas 2008, and on 7 February 2009. From time to time some slight delays may occur at an individual Post Office due to the use of time-locked safes.

Social Welfare Code.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

332 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her intentions in relation to increasing or decreasing pension and welfare rates for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7628/09]

Social welfare rates of payment for 2010 will be considered later this year in a Budgetary context and having regard to available resources.

School Meals Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

333 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will provide details of her Department’s investigation into the school meals scheme. [7629/09]

The school meals programme gives funding towards the provision of food services for disadvantaged school children through two schemes. The first is the statutory urban school meals scheme, operated by local authorities and part-financed by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The second is the school meals local projects scheme through which funding is provided directly by the Department to participating schools and local and voluntary community groups who are running their own school meals projects.

Under the School Meals Local Projects scheme, all schools or projects have to submit financial returns to the Department which detail the numbers and types of meals provided and the numbers of children benefiting. These returns are backed up by receipts for food costs incurred. School principals making returns have to certify the number of meals provided and the number of pupils benefiting. This is to ensure that all funding is used for the purpose for which it is intended. Schools may be asked to provide more detailed information or clarification if necessary.

The Department can confirm that it is currently investigating an allegation in relation to the operation of the School Meals programme. The Department cannot comment on individual cases of fraud or abuse until they have been successfully prosecuted through the courts.

Departmental Agencies.

Joe McHugh

Question:

334 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if plans are in place to relocate existing Money Advice and Budgeting Service offices in County Donegal to other locations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7635/09]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is the main Government funded service which provides assistance to people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. There are 53 independent companies with voluntary boards of management operating the local services throughout the country. In 2009 almost €18 million has been provided to fund the service.

There are currently 3 MABS Companies operating in Co Donegal. North Donegal MABS is located in Letterkenny and has an outreach office in Buncrana. South Donegal MABS is located in Donegal town and provides services to Donegal town, Killybegs, Ballybofey, Stranolar and Ballyshannon. West Donegal MABS is located in Derrybeg and provides services to the West Donegal Gaeltacht region. There are no plans to re-locate the existing MABS offices in County Donegal.

Social Welfare Code.

Joe McHugh

Question:

335 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding self-employed workers’ entitlements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7636/09]

Joe McHugh

Question:

336 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her position on self-employed workers’ entitlements; if she will refer specifically to the entitlements of self-employed workers whose working week has been cut from five or six days to three days due to economic difficulties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7642/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 335 and 336 together.

Workers are insured under the Social Welfare Acts as either employed or self-employed contributors. All workers, both employed and self-employed, are obliged to pay PRSI contributions as a percentage of their personal reckonable income. The range of benefits and pensions to which different groups of workers may establish entitlement reflects the risks associated with the nature of their work. This in turn reflects the rate of contribution payable.

Self-employed persons aged between 16 and 66 years are liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 3% and are consequently eligible for a narrower range of benefits than general employees who, together with their employers, pay a total social insurance contribution of 14.05%, excluding levies, under the full-rate PRSI Class A. These contributions provide entitlement to a range of contingency-based payments under various social insurance schemes. PRSI Class S contributors are entitled to the following payments: the Widow's or Widower's (Contributory) Pension; the Guardian's Payment (Contributory); the State Pension (Contributory); Maternity Benefit; Adoptive Benefit, and the Bereavement Grant.

Self-employed workers are not insured against short-term benefits such as illness and jobseeker's payments — these are only available to persons covered by PRSI Classes A, E, H and P. This reflects the need for coverage for various contingencies, the rate of contributions that self-employed persons pay, the practicalities of administering and controlling access to short-term payments, and the annualised system of contributions that these same persons enjoy. A system of separate arrangements for employed and self-employed workers within a social insurance context is common in other European social protection systems.

Self-employed people can apply for the means-tested Jobseeker's Allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. In this context, it may be noted that entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance for a self-employed person is primarily based on means, as opposed to the number of days being worked.

Their means would be taken as any net profit that they will earn in the coming 12 months. While their income from the previous twelve months is used as an indication in estimating their likely future earnings, it is not simply assumed that the previous year's earnings will be received in the coming year. Instead, account is taken of the potential for significant upward or downward variations in income from one year to the next.

Asgard II.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

337 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Defence when he will proceed with the salvage operation for the Asgard II; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6971/09]

Michael McGrath

Question:

341 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Defence his views on the raising of the Asgard II. [7302/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 337 and 341 together.

At its last meeting, the Board of Coiste An Asgard had a full discussion on the possibility of salvaging the Asgard II. The unanimous view of the Board was that a salvage operation should not be pursued any further. Having carefully considered the Board's report to me, I have accepted its recommendation. Spending in the region of €2 million on a salvage effort, the outcome of which is uncertain, is a risk that we cannot afford at this time. A real risk exists whereby more than €2 million could be expended on a salvage effort that proves unsuccessful or, following which, the vessel is found to be damaged beyond repair. The fact is, that until the vessel is salvaged, it would not be possible to assess whether it can be restored and the cost of doing so. Clearly, the greater the damage, the higher the cost of restoration.

The Asgard II is a 30-year-old wooden vessel that would have faced ever-increasing maintenance costs in the years ahead. The Board was of the view that vessels that even after a full restoration the vessel might have on-going maintenance problems. In addition, the possibility of increased regulatory requirements by the Department of Transport could add substantially to the cost of restoration. The Board also took into account the view that parents of potential trainees may be reluctant to allow their children to sail on a vessel that has sunk.

While the name "Asgard" has been associated with two important vessels, it is also about sail training and introducing young people to the experience of sailing. My priority is to ensure the continuation of the sail-training scheme. I have accepted the Board's recommendation to initiate planning for the procurement of a new vessel that will be similar in design to Asgard II but with a steel hull (a steel hulled vessel would be less expensive to build and maintain than a wooden hulled vessel). I would also hope that the future Asgard III would have facilities to cater for persons with physical disabilities, something the Asgard II could not.

I know that it was a very difficult conclusion for the Board to reach, but it is one I accept as being right and sensible. The costs and risks involved in attempting to salvage and restore Asgard II are too great. There is no doubt Asgard II was an outstanding sail-training vessel and was held in the highest regard both at home and abroad. She was an excellent ambassador for this country for close on 30 years.

Defence Forces Recruitment.

Richard Bruton

Question:

338 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Defence if he will sanction the recruitment by the Air Corps of apprentice aircraft mechanics from the short list of people who have been vetted, sent for medical assessment and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7011/09]

I have been advised by the Military Authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force as of 31 December 2008, the most recent date for which figures are available, was 10,408. In common with other areas of the public service a reduction of 3% in payroll costs has been applied to the Defence Forces. Recruitment has been suspended pending a review of the best means to achieve the reduction in payroll costs. This includes the planned enlistment of apprentices to fill vacancies in the Air Corps. My officials and the military authorities are keeping the situation under close review on an ongoing basis. The review and any subsequent recruitment in 2009 will prioritise the operational requirements of the Defence Forces.

Departmental Programmes.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

339 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Defence the number of people who have taken part in the national sail training programme in each of the past five years; the cost to the Exchequer of the national sail training programme in each of the past five years; his plans in relation to the national sail training programme in view of the fact that the Asgard II is not to be salvaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7035/09]

The total number of trainees who have taken part in the National Sail Training Programme over the last five years is 1861. The cost to the Exchequer, through grants from the National Lottery over those years has been €4,247,000. The following is a breakdown of those figures:

Year

Grant

No. of Trainees

2008

803,000

246

2007

879,000

357

2006

749,000

286

2005

1,123,000

488

2004

693,000

484

While the name "Asgard" has been associated with important vessels, it is also about sail training and introducing young people to the experience of sailing. My priority is to ensure the continuation of the sail-training scheme. Pending the acquisition of a new vessel, the following arrangements will be put in place in the interim:

(1) A limited cruise programme (mainly in Irish waters) will be provided on the Creidne, which was used by Coiste an Asgard for sail training prior to Asgard II. It is now under the control of the Naval Service. A programme of extensive refurbishment of the Creidne is nearing completion and the vessel is expected to be available by May.

(2) An Coiste plans to reserve a number of places on an overseas sail training vessel during the tall ships races.

Asgard II.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

340 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Defence the reason the Asgard II is not to be salvaged; if he will commission the building of a new vessel to replace the Asgard II; the cost of such a commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7036/09]

At its last meeting, the Board of Coiste An Asgard had a full discussion on the possibility of salvaging the Asgard II. The unanimous view of the Board was that a salvage operation should not be pursued any further. Having carefully considered the Board's report to me, I have accepted its recommendation. Spending in the region of €2 million on a salvage effort, the outcome of which is uncertain, is a risk that we cannot afford at this time. A real risk exists that more than €2 million could be expended on a salvage effort that proves unsuccessful or, following which, the vessel is found to be damaged beyond repair. The fact is, that until the vessel is salvaged, it would not be possible to assess whether it can be restored and the cost of doing so. Clearly, the greater the damage, the higher the cost of restoration.

The Asgard II is a 30-year-old wooden vessel that would have faced ever-increasing maintenance costs in the years ahead. The Board was of the view that even after a full restoration, the vessel might have on-going maintenance problems. In addition, the possibility of increased regulatory requirements by the Department of Transport could add substantially to the cost of restoration. The Board also took into account the view that parents of potential trainees may be reluctant to allow their children to sail on a vessel that has sunk.

I have accepted the Board's recommendation to initiate planning for the procurement of a new vessel that will be similar in design to Asgard II but with a steel hull (a steel hulled vessel would be less expensive to build and maintain than a wooden hulled vessel). It is not possible at this stage to give an estimated cost of building a new vessel other than to say that it would be substantial. It is only when we receive tenders that we will know the cost. However, I am hopeful that the insured sum of €3.8m will go a long way towards funding a new ship. I would also hope that the future Asgard III would have facilities to cater for persons with physical disabilities, something the Asgard II could not.

I know that it was a very difficult conclusion for the Board to reach, but it is one I accept as being right and sensible. The costs and risks involved in attempting to salvage and restore Asgard II are too great. There is no doubt Asgard II was an outstanding sail-training vessel and was held in the highest regard both at home and abroad. She was an excellent ambassador for this country for close on 30 years.

Question No. 341 answered with Question No. 337.

Departmental Properties.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

342 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Defence if he will make a statement on land owned by his Department in Templebreedy, Crosshaven, County Cork in view of the fact that under the Cork County Development Plan 2009, Templebreedy Fort and lands are classified as a protected structure; his views on providing this land to Cork County Council to be used as a public amenity; and if he will reopen negotiations with Cork County Council regarding the transfer of these lands. [7477/09]

The lands owned by my Department at Templebreedy, Crosshaven comprises 37 acres and is no longer used for military purposes. Cork County Council recently added the structure of Fort Templebreedy to the Record of Protected Structures under Section 12(6) of the Planning and Development Act 2000. My Department had previous discussions with the Local Authority concerning the transfer of the property to it. As is current Government Policy, the disposal of any property by my Department must realise the full commercial value of that property. However, the Local Authority had sought to obtain the property free of charge and negotiations were concluded at that stage. Should the Local Authority now wish to purchase this property it should indicate this to my Department.

Army Barracks.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

343 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Defence if there are plans for the continued use of the vacated Army barracks in Lifford, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7487/09]

Lifford Barracks closed on 28th January 2009 and my Department has no plans to use this property. It is anticipated that this barracks will be disposed of, taking account of the market conditions, so as to maximise the return to the Defence Forces and generate funding for reinvestment in Defence Forces equipment and infrastructure in accordance with Government policy.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

344 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Defence the number of civil servants employed in his Department who are also in receipt of a Civil Service pension; the amount paid to same in respect of their employment and in Civil Service pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8053/09]

No civil servants in receipt of a civil service pension are employed in my Department.

Michael Ring

Question:

345 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if posts will soon be advertised for staff at a location (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if so, the number of staff who will be appointed. [6953/09]

Fit-out work on the Visitor Centre, Ballycroy National Park will be completed over the coming months. My Department is currently considering staffing options in relation to the new Centre having regard, inter alia, to potential opening arrangements and the need to achieve economies in staff payroll costs. Recruitment of any new staff that may be required will be by way of Publicly Advertised Open Competition.

Environmental Policy.

Simon Coveney

Question:

346 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide the information he has on health risks that may be involved in relation to pylons in residential areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7484/09]

The report of the Expert Group on Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields examined a wide range of issues in relation to the potential health effects of electromagnetic fields, including those produced by electric appliances in the home and from electricity pylons. It answers many of the health risk questions raised by the public in relation to the potential effects of electromagnetic fields, and is available for download on the Department's website (www.environ.ie).

With regard to Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) fields emitted by electricity power lines, the Report concluded that there is limited scientific evidence of adverse health effects. The Expert Group have recommended that precautionary measures be used, where appropriate, and that Ireland continue to adopt and enforce the international guidelines developed by the International Commission on Non-ionising Radiation Protection and endorsed by the World Health Organisation and the European Union. Further information on the World Health Organisation views can be found on their website www.who.int.

Planning Issues.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

347 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will clarify if planning permission is required from local authorities for works carried out under the forest road grants scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7511/09]

The forest road grants scheme is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Section 4(1) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 sets out certain broad categories of development that are exempted developments for the purposes of the Act. Section 4(1)(i) includes, inter alia, development consisting of the construction, maintenance and improvement of non-public roads serving forests and woodlands and works ancillary to that development, not including the replacement of broadleaf high forest by conifer species.

Local Authority Housing.

Richard Bruton

Question:

348 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will approve a pilot scheme by Dublin City Council to allow some affordable housing to be released under a rent to buy scheme or under home choice or through other approaches in view of the fact that there is a high rate of refusal at present due to the price of units being set quite a while ago and difficulty in obtaining mortgages. [6966/09]

My Department maintains close contact with Dublin City Council in relation to affordable housing and any proposals from the City Council in that regard will be fully considered. In addition, the Affordable Homes Partnership has been requested by my Department to examine the position generally of affordable housing on hand in selected areas, in conjunction with the relevant housing authorities, with a view to identifying actions that might assist in the sale of such units. The issues in this regard are under active consideration.

Richard Bruton

Question:

349 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the extent to which the housing budget for 2009 has been used to acquire or lease properties from developers at lower prices than have been available under outstanding affordable or direct build contracts; and the number of housing units he hopes to acquire for social or affordable clients in 2009. [6967/09]

It is up to individual housing authorities to plan the composition and delivery of their social housing investment programmes in line with housing needs in their areas and by reference to the Exchequer funding allocations available to them. As part of the preparation of their housing programmes local authorities have been asked to look to the acquisition and leasing of housing units as a means of obtaining good value for money in current market conditions. These programmes will be considered by my Department as part of the annual Housing Action Plan review process which is due to commence shortly.

It is expected that in 2009 good progress will be made in achieving social housing output at a level needed to meet National Development Plan targets. The position in relation to affordable housing delivery is the subject of ongoing review having regard to the rapid changes that are taking place in the private housing market.

Environmental Policy.

Finian McGrath

Question:

350 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will support a matter (details supplied). [6970/09]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 344 of 3 February, 2009, in which I outlined the work underway to phase out incandescent light bulbs. In the reply to Question No. 5 of 27 November 2008, I addressed medical concerns relating to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and I acknowledged that halogen incandescent bulbs provide an alternative for anyone who finds CFLs to be unsuitable. The European Commission in the proposed Regulation on phasing out incandescent light bulbs has considered the health and safety of the users in setting the energy efficiency requirements for household lamps. This Regulation will be implemented under the 2005 EU Ecodesign of Energy-Using Products Directive and is a matter for the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Register of Electors.

Martin Ferris

Question:

351 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will make a statement on the fact that many people, particularly in apartment complexes, appear to be missing from the new electoral register. [6979/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

357 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the recent findings of the National Youth Council of Ireland, based on a survey of 1,000 young people, that 26% of young people aged 18 to 25 were not on the electoral register; the action he will take to address same before the local and European elections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7172/09]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

365 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if additional resources have or will be deployed to local authorities (details supplied) to address the discrepancies that have come to light with the electoral register in the Cork East constituency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7548/09]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

366 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he is taking to ensure that the electoral register is up to date in the constituency of Cork East; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7549/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 351, 357, 365 and 366 together.

In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty to ensure, as far as possible and with the cooperation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register. In working to compile the Register for 2007/08, local authorities undertook and completed, with assistance from my Department, the most extensive registration campaign in decades. On the basis of the work undertaken, I am satisfied that local authorities achieved a significant improvement in the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register compared to previous years. The task for local authorities, in relation to the Register for 2009/10, was to maintain and build on the progress made to date.

Local authorities were required to publish the Draft Register for 2009/10 on 1 November 2008 and people had until 25 November to check it to ensure that their details are accurately entered on the Register. My Department ran an advertising campaign to encourage people to check that they are on the Draft Register and to notify their city or county council of any errors or omissions no later than 25 November. Authorities were required to publish the Final Register for 2009/10 by 1 February 2009 and this is now available for checking. Individuals not on the Register can avail of the supplement to the Register up until 15 days before the next polling day i.e. Monday 18 May in the case of the Local and European elections being held on 5 June 2009.

Looking to the future, the Programme for Government contains a commitment to establish an independent Electoral Commission. The Commission's responsibilities will include taking charge of the compilation of a new national rolling electoral register. My Department appointed consultants to carry out preliminary research on issues arising in relation to establishment of the Electoral Commission. I published the relevant report for consultation on 10 February 2009.

Energy Efficiency.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

352 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the fact that there is no obligation on landlords to supply a building energy rating and advisory report to tenants when properties are rented, he has conveyed that information to bodies like the Private Residential Tenancies Board and Fáilte Ireland; if he is satisfied that they are familiar with the requirement and are advising the private rental and holiday accommodation sector to comply accordingly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7015/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

355 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will change the template supplied by Sustainable Energy Ireland for energy rating purposes of rental property in view of the fact that the computer template supplied by SEI does not recognise features such as under floor heating and thermostats on water and heating systems and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7158/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 352 and 355 together.

The EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings, which was transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2006 — 2008, introduced a requirement for a Building Energy Rating (BER) system. Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), which operates under the aegis of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, has been designated as the Issuing Authority with responsibility for the ongoing administration of the BER Scheme.

The Regulations require that any person who offers a building for sale or letting on or from 1 January, 2009 or any agent acting on their behalf, is required to produce a copy of the BER certificate to any person expressing an interest in purchasing or taking a letting in the building. A person who contravenes these requirements commits an offence, unless the building in question is specifically exempted under Article 3 of the Regulations, and is liable, on prosecution by the Building Control Authority in whose functional area the building is situated, to a fine not exceeding €5,000.

The Private Residential Tenancies Board and Fáilte Ireland have no formal role in ensuring that the private rental sector and the holiday accommodation rental sector respectively comply with the Regulations. Notwithstanding this both bodies are aware of the Regulations and have indicated that they will take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the requirement for BER certificates within their respective sectors. My Department will also continue to work closely with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, SEI and the 37 local Building Control Authorities to promote awareness of the obligations which arise under the Regulations.

I understand that under-floor heating and thermostats on water and heating systems are recognised by the calculations methodology, known as the Dwellings Environmental Assessment Procedure or DEAP, which underpins the Building Energy Rating System. Detailed advice in relation to the operation of this software can be obtained from SEI.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

353 Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will allocate funding for the sewerage treatment plant at Waterville, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7028/09]

The Waterville Water Supply and Sewerage Scheme is approved for funding in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007 — 2009. Kerry County Council's tender recommendation for the provision of the water and waste water treatment plants at Waterville is under examination in my Department and a decision will be conveyed to the Council shortly.

Local Authority Housing.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

354 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if local authorities are having their budgets for insulation projects reduced to help fund the new national insulation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7080/09]

At present, funding for the retrofitting of insulation in local authority stock is provided either as part of a central heating grant provided under the National Central Heating Programme or is funded by the local authority from its own resources under its annual Improvement Works Programme.

Under the National Central Heating Programme 2004-2008 the Department has co-funded the installation of central heating, and associated insulation and energy efficiency improvements, in some 26,000 local authority dwellings at a cost to the Exchequer of €125 million. A further €12 million has been allocated in 2009 to complete the programme, with local authorities overseeing the installation of some 2,100 units commenced in 2008. Local authorities also have delegated sanction for the use of their internal capital receipts, subject to approval by my Department of an annual improvement works programme, and may direct resources to projects which are deemed most meritorious of funding in their authority. Works funded under this programme may include the installation of insulation and other measures to improve energy efficiency in their stock.

As part of a national programme for the "greening" of the social housing stock, some €50 million in exchequer funding has been set aside in 2009 to support a range of initiatives to improve the energy efficiency of the stock. This programme will include support for the first round of Towards Carbon Neutral and insulation retrofitting projects, as well as providing funding to assist local authorities in improving the energy rating of its dwellings, due to be re-let during the year, and to advance the overall energy efficiency in apartment complexes.

Question No. 355 answered with Question No. 352.

Election Management System.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

356 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the proposal of the National Youth Council of Ireland to reduce the voting age to 16 for the upcoming local and European elections; the action he will take in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7171/09]

In accordance with electoral law, a person must be eighteen years of age or over in order to vote. This is consistent with the position in most countries, including the EU Member States. While electoral law is subject to ongoing review, there is no proposal at present to reduce the voting age in Ireland.

Question No. 357 answered with Question No. 351.

Archaeological Sites.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

358 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the work carried out by a committee (details supplied) which was established by him; the steps taken to progress the work of this committee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7173/09]

I appointed the Lismullin Advisory Committee to advise me on the conduct of the archaeological works at Lismullin, carried out under the Directions issued on 12 June 2007 by my predecessor as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The Committee concluded that preservationin situ of the national monument at Lismullin was neither feasible, nor in the best interests of the archaeological remains, and, on the Committee’s advice, archaeological works began on 7 August 2007. The Project Archaeologist, Consultant Archaeologist and site director liaised closely with the Committee on the conduct of the works.

All archaeological works in relation to that part of the national monument at Lismullin within the land take for the M3 motorway have now been completed in line with the Directions issued and under the guidance of the Lismullin Advisory Committee. In accordance with its terms of reference, the Committee continues to provide advice to the NRA and its consultants in relation to the analysis and reporting of the archaeological finds at Lismullin. Full reports of all the archaeological excavations carried out will be lodged with my Department in 2009 and I will ensure these are made available publicly.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

359 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position in relation to a request to a committee (details supplied) regarding proposals for a garden of remembrance at Lismullin Henge, County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7174/09]

No such request has been received by my Department, nor by the Lismullin Advisory Committee.

Building Regulations.

Willie Penrose

Question:

360 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if there has been a change made to the relevant regulations requiring payments to be made to planning authorities in relation to fire certificates prior to the construction of the building; if so, when same was changed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7300/09]

I assume the Question refers to the provisions of Section 5 of Part 2 of the Building Control Act 2007, which will introduce a number of amendments to the existing fire safety certification process. A Fire Safety Certificate (FSC) is currently required before construction work commences on new non-domestic buildings and apartment blocks and extensions to, or material alteration /change of use of, existing buildings.

Section 5 of the 2007 Act contains a new provision for the submission of a 7 Day Notice to a Building Control Authority, before grant of the relevant FSC, where a person intends to commence work on the construction of a building, or an extension of, or a material alteration to, a building. It must be accompanied by a valid application for an FSC and by a Statutory Declaration stating that the application for the relevant FSC has been completed in all respects and complies with the requirements of the Building Regulations; that any works commenced before the FSC is granted will comply with the Regulations; and that the person will carry out any modifications which may be required by the FSC, when granted, within such period as may be specified by the Building Control Authority.

There is also a new provision for a Revised Fire Safety Certificate where an application for an FSC is made before grant of planning permission for the works, if required by the subsequent permission, or where significant revision has been made to the design or works of a building for which an FSC has been granted. In addition, there is provision for a Regularisation Certificate where a building has been commenced or completed without an application for an FSC, where such Certificate is required. An application for such Certificate must include a Statutory Declaration from the applicant that the works carried out are in compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations. The Building Control Authority is empowered to specify that the Regularisation Certificate will not have effect unless any conditions /additional works required by the Authority are carried out within a period of 4 months after it is granted. I intend to introduce the necessary Regulations to give effect to the provisions of Section 5 of the 2007 Act, which will include relevant fees in respect of these provisions, at an early date.

Local Authority Staff.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

361 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if local authority staff will benefit from bonuses as a result of performance indicators or another bonus system related to the home choice scheme for new houses and the planned lease scheme for new houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7303/09]

Each local authority manager who wishes to participate in the Performance Award Scheme must submit a statement of objectives to the Committee for Performance Awards (CPA) for the Local Government sector for approval. In the case of eligible grades other than the manager, the objectives must first be agreed with the manager and then be considered and approved by the CPA. Awards are determined by the CPA, based on achievement in the relevant year for the approved objectives. No objectives have yet been agreed for 2009.

Local Authority Housing.

Joe Carey

Question:

362 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will approve funding for the continuation of works to rejuvenate an estate (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7304/09]

A Remedial Works Scheme application in relation to the estate in question was received late last year and, following an evaluation process, my Department has informed Kilrush Town Council that it is favourably disposed towards the proposed project and would, subject to available funding, like to have it progress under the Remedial Works Programme 2009-2011. In a letter, which issued on 9 February 2009, the Council was advised that the progression of the project will, however, be contingent on certain details of design, costing and phasing being reviewed and agreed with my Department. The information in this regard sought by my Department is awaited.

Private Rented Accommodation.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

363 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he has taken to prevent overcrowding in properties that are rented out to tenants by private landlords; if he has plans to strengthen the existing regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7494/09]

The key regulations governing the standards of private rented accommodation are the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008. These regulations specify minimum requirements in relation to a range of matters such as structural repair, absence of damp and rot, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, natural light and safety of gas and electrical supply; they do not refer to overcrowding.

The issue of overcrowded houses is dealt with in Part IV of the Housing Act 1966. Under that Act, a housing authority may request information from the owner or occupier of a house such as will allow that authority to determine if a house can be deemed to be overcrowded, having regard to section 63 of the Act. The housing authority may serve notice on the owner of a house specifying the maximum number of persons that may occupy a house without causing overcrowding and where the owner of a house is causing or permitting the house to be overcrowded, may require the owner to desist from causing or permitting such overcrowding within a period not exceeding twenty one days. Any person who neglects or refuses to comply with these requirements is guilty of an offence.

My Department provides significant resources to assist housing authorities in the performance of their functions under the Housing Acts in relation to the enforcement of the regulatory regime governing private rented accommodation. However, it is a matter for each individual authority to decide the specific details of the enforcement strategy for its area.

Inland Waterways.

Sean Fleming

Question:

364 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a visit by his Department’s staff to a location (details supplied) in County Laois; the contact they have had with the fisheries board regarding trying to carry out improvement works in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7538/09]

Grantstown Lake is situated within Grantstown Wood Nature Reserve, which is owned and managed by my Department and is visited by staff of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department on a regular basis. As part of the management objectives for the reserve my Department is seeking to allow fishing on the lake on a controlled basis and to that end has contacted the Southern Regional Fishery Board with a view to discussing the issues involved.

Questions Nos. 365 and 366 answered with question No. 351.

Local Authority Housing.

Bernard Allen

Question:

367 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the legislation that he promised would be introduced that will allow Cork City Council to sell apartments and flats to their tenants many of whom have been waiting over 20 years to purchase and who should be paying off a mortgage instead of paying rent. [7551/09]

Work is continuing to address the outstanding issues relating to the tenant purchase of local authority apartments. I hope legislative proposals for a viable apartment sales scheme can be finalised in time for consideration during the Committee Stage debate on the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008.

Waste Disposal.

Simon Coveney

Question:

368 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 382 and 383 of 17 February 2009, if the general and hazardous waste deposited at Haulbowline in the period 1977 to 2001 at all material times and currently was covered by a waste permit pursuant to Directive 75/442/EEC on waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7654/09]

Simon Coveney

Question:

369 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 382 and 383 of 17 February 2009, if there is no waste permit, the person who is the lessor or owner of the former steelworks site at Haulbowline Island at present; if therefore they are in breach of Directive 75/442/EEC on waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7655/09]

Simon Coveney

Question:

370 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his policy in relation to the dumping of toxic waste at the former Irish Steel site, in view of the fact that there was no licence issued in respect of the dumping of waste on the site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7656/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 368 to 370, inclusive, together.

In the context of the introduction of the licensing system provided for in the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, the facility in question applied to the EPA for, and was granted, an Integrated Pollution Control Licence. Such licences encompass the full range of environmental impact of an activity, including the management of waste arising as a result of the activity. However, the company went into liquidation before the conditions in the licence could be met and the liquidator could apply to the High Court to disclaim the IPC licence. The judgment, on 29 July 2004, found as a matter of fact that the IPC licence was granted after the company had ceased production of steel and that the conditions of the licence could not be applied retrospectively. A lacuna thus arose as regards the regulatory status of the facility. The resolution of this lacuna must involve a determination of the future use of the site and the appropriate regulatory arrangements that should apply to it.

My Department has continued to exercise responsibility for the care and maintenance of the site, the ownership of which is vested in the Minister for Finance. Cork County Council acts as the Department's agent in that regard. Elements of site clearance have been necessary to avoid negative environmental impacts and for health and safety reasons. It has also involved an extensive site investigation to determine the extent of environmental damage and to guide further Government consideration of the future development and use of the site. These activities have been carried out in close consultation with the EPA and Cork County Council, which are the appropriate environmental regulatory authorities. I will bring proposals to the Government on the future utilisation of the site soon. The resulting decision will indicate the further regulatory requirements which may need to be met.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

371 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of civil servants employed in his Department who are also in receipt of a Civil Service pension; the amount paid to same in respect of their employment and in Civil Service pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8055/09]

I assume the question refers to the full-time or part-time employment of retired civil servants as part of the staffing of my Department. I am not aware of any retired civil servants who are employed in my Department on a full-time or part-time basis. Retired civil servants are engaged by my Department from time to time for specific and time-bound tasks or projects. Such engagements are normally remunerated on a fee per day basis.

Departmental Programmes.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

372 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the source of the funding in respect of the national insulation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7079/09]

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

373 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the estimated duration of the national insulation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7081/09]

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

374 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the amount of funding he proposes to allocate to the national insulation programme in other years if the scheme is to be continued past 2010. [7082/09]

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

375 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the way it is calculated that 4,000 jobs will be created by the national insulation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7083/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 372 to 375, inclusive, together.

Along with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, I launched the National Insulation Programme for economic recovery on 8 February. The programme entails a three pronged approach to addressing the legacy of older housing with poor energy efficiency standards. In so far as schemes in the programme under the aegis of my Department are concerned, the home energy saving scheme has been allocated Exchequer funding of €50 million for 2009. Some €20 million has been allocated to the warmer homes scheme — Exchequer funding of €15 million from my Department's Vote and a further €5 million between ESB and Bord Gáis.

Improving the energy efficiency of local authority housing is a key objective for the Government. To that end, a €50 million fund has been set aside in 2009 to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive energy efficiency programme. The programme will include a number of elements including support for the first round of towards carbon neutral and insulation retrofitting projects. In addition, funding will be used to help local authorities to improve the energy rating of dwellings due to be re-let during the year and to advance the overall energy efficiency in apartment complexes.

Investment in the programme in 2010 and subsequent years will be a matter for the Government to determine in the context of the annual Estimates process and decisions on the capital programme. The estimate provided for job creation arising from the national insulation programme for economic recovery arises from assessments of the impacts of the home energy saving pilot programme run in 2008 and other ongoing similar programmes, including the warmer homes scheme. The estimates employ Irish and international metrics for job creation according to the market activity stimulated by support funds. They do not include tertiary benefits to the economy, nor are they "net" of jobs lost in certain industries, such as the construction industry. They are calculated by extrapolating from data collected in the 2008 HES pilot by assuming the multiplier effect — the amount of private capital in addition to Government spending — and considering how much of that goes into labour costs, an assumption about wages, the amount of associated building energy rating assessors and the amount of indirect job creation.

Simon Coveney

Question:

376 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the projects which have gone over the timescale and budget within his Department since September 2007 to date in 2009; the length of time each project has run over; and the cost that time and budget over runs have cost to date. [7198/09]

The following table sets out the projects within this Department, which have gone over timescale and budget since September 2007; the length of time each project has run over and the cost associated with such overruns.

Project

Time Overrun (Months)

Cost of Overrun

Supply and installation of Storage Area Network

3

0

Building of new HQ for Western Regional Fishery Board

4

0

MANs Phase II*

5

0

The MANs Phase II timescale were originally announced in 2005. However, the design stage (which commenced after the announcement), was extended in order to provide for a level of engagement with local authorities aimed at minimising the need for any subsequent design changes. Twenty-nine networks were completed in 2007 with a further 29 completed in 2008. An additional two networks are currently under construction. These two networks were contracted in conjunction with major infrastructure projects in the locations to minimise disruption and achieve economies of scale.

Telecommunications Services.

Simon Coveney

Question:

377 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the length of time the national broadband scheme is currently running over its original schedule since first announced; the amount of money the over-run has cost his Department; the number of consultations he has commissioned in relation to the NBS; and the cost of these consultations. [7199/09]

Significant time, expertise, human and financial resources have been invested to ensure the optimum outcome and best possible broadband service from the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) procurement process. In the initial stages of the competitive dialogue procurement process, which, by its nature, is not of a defined duration, anticipated timelines for contract award were indicated, including December 2007 and June 2008. A judicial review challenge, which impacted on the proposed timelines, was commenced in spring 2008 and concluded in July 2008. My Department successfully concluded the evaluation process and the award of the NBS contract to Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd within four months of issuing the final ITT documentation on 25 August 2008.

I am satisfied that the well designed and thorough procurement process was undertaken by my Department within the shortest possible timeframe, that it has resulted in the appointment of a service provider who will make available quality, affordable broadband to all premises in the NBS area and that the cost of doing so represents good value for public money. No overrun costs have been incurred by my Department and the amount of the Exchequer contribution to 3 is capped at €79.8m for the duration of the contract, thereby representing some 36% of the total investment cost. The NBS project is also eligible for EU co-funding under the European Regional Development Fund.

The initial scoping exercise for the Scheme involved broad consultation with representative service providers across all platforms (mobile, wireless and fixed operators). Similar broadband schemes were examined (Northern Ireland, Scotland, UK regions). Meetings were held with Regional Authorities, Departmental counterparts in Northern Ireland, European Commission officials and industry representative bodies. No specific open forum consultation event was held.

Simon Coveney

Question:

378 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the length of time the metropolitan area networks phase II project is currently running over its original schedule since it was first announced; the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on the project; the amount the time over-run has cost his Department; the number of consultations he has commissioned in relation to the MANs phase II; the cost of these consultations; and the reason behind the delay in signing the management contract for MANs phase II. [7200/09]

Under Phase ll of the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) Programme a total of 88 networks covering 94 towns were approved. It had been envisaged that the networks would be completed by the end of 2007. However, the design stage was extended in order to provide for a level of engagement with local authorities aimed at minimising the need for subsequent design changes. Twenty-nine networks were completed in 2007 with a further 29 networks completed in 2008. A further 2 networks are currently under construction.

In December 2007 I suspended the construction of the remaining 28 networks covering 29 towns pending the outcome of the Value for Money and Policy review of Phase l of the MANs Programme and other analyses, including the consultation paper on Next Generation Broadband Networks. Approximately €98 million has been spent to date on Phase ll MANS. This amount includes Local Authority contribution of approximately €9 million, all construction costs, design and associated programme management costs. All networks were constructed under a fixed price contract. Apart from the detailed engagement with local authorities, my Department has not engaged in any consultations on the MAN Programme specifically.

The engagement of an MSE 2 is the subject of a procurement process and is currently in the contract negotiation phase with the preferred bidder e/Net. While the decision to suspend the construction of 28 of the Phase II MANs did give rise to a delay in the procurement process, I expect this process to conclude by the end of March. It is crucial that the procurement process yields maximum value for money. Accordingly, the process cannot be rushed and will only be concluded when such value is secured.

Proposed Legislation.

Simon Coveney

Question:

379 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the cost of researching, drafting and publishing the Energy White Paper 2007; and if he is committed to delivering the targets and measures set out in this paper in the specified timeframe. [7201/09]

The external costs associated with publishing the Government's Energy Policy White Paper comprised €30,664.29 for design and printing and €4,785.79 for translation into Irish. Consultation research and drafting of the White Paper were conducted within the Department and within existing resources. The Energy Policy White Paper, reinforced and augmented by the Programme for Government, set out a comprehensive range of policy actions, measures, goals and targets. These are designed to deliver on security of supply, sustainability and competitiveness over the period to 2020 and are resulting in a transformed landscape for the Irish energy sector.

The Government's ambitious policy actions and measures have different timelines and challenges. Work is ongoing in relation to all the actions with demonstrable delivery across a range of key immediate challenges. My priority is to oversee and accelerate sustained implementation of our energy policy priorities and commitments in partnership with my Government colleagues and with all stakeholders. I am satisfied that sustained and tangible progress is being made across the measures in the Energy Policy Framework and the Programme for Government.

Departmental Reports.

Simon Coveney

Question:

380 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the cost of the Review of the Security of Ireland’s Access to Commercial Oil Supplies September 2008; the action he has taken since the publication of this report; and the action he will take in relation to this issue and the issue of Ireland’s oil reserves over the next 12 months. [7202/09]

Simon Coveney

Question:

381 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the details of the report into the security of Ireland’s oil reserves; the action he will take as a result of this report; the cost of commissioning this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7203/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 380 and 381 together.

The report on the review of the security of Ireland's access to commercial oil supplies was commissioned by my Department on foot of a commitment in the Government White Paper "Delivering a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland — the Energy Policy Framework 2007-2020". Given that Ireland is 100% dependent on imports for its oil requirements and that oil represents approximately 56% of our total energy needs, it was considered crucial that this analysis was undertaken to identify any weaknesses in Ireland's position with regard to securing adequate supplies of oil.

The report was carried out on behalf of my Department by international oil consultants, Purvin and Gertz, and Irish energy consultants, Byrne and O'Cleirigh, at a cost of €271, 754 (inclusive of VAT). The report found that in normal circumstances, there is no significant risk to Ireland in terms of availability of commercial oil, or the capability of Ireland's oil industry to procure oil. The report noted that the principal risk to commercial oil supply arises from some weaknesses in the infrastructure links for importing, storing and distributing oil supplies. The three principal ports for importing large oil cargoes are Dublin, Whitegate and Shannon Foynes, with Dublin accounting for 45% of Ireland's oil imports. Other ports are used for smaller shipments and transhipment from the larger ports.

In light of Ireland's key dependency on Dublin Port, the consultants recommended that any redevelopment of Dublin Port should recognise the importance of maintaining adequate capacity for commercial oil importation and storage. The consultants also suggested that options for accommodating larger ships at Dublin, Whitegate and Shannon should be considered. The report has been furnished to the Department of Transport and to Indecon consultants, who are currently undertaking a study of the role of Dublin Port on behalf of the Department of Transport.

The report also recommends investigation and consultation on a range of large-scale, long-term proposals, including the development of a commercial distribution and strategic oil facility outside of Dublin, with pipeline connection to Dublin Port and a possible pipeline from the refinery at Whitegate to the new facility. These proposals will be examined very carefully, in consultation with stakeholders, particularly the oil industry. The report recognised that the pipeline proposal would not necessarily be justified from either a commercial or security of supply perspective.

The consultants also recommended that the Government undertakes a broad analysis of the future for the refining operation at Whitegate. Approximately 25% of Ireland's oil products are refined in Whitegate. Under the 2001 Sale and Purchase Agreement for the Whitegate and Bantry facilities between Government and the owners of these facilities, the owners have legal obligations to operate these facilities until 2016. My Department will be engaging with the owners of the refinery, the oil industry, and stakeholders generally, with a view to considering options for the future of these facilities beyond 2016.

While the report found that there is currently no significant risk to supplies of oil, or the ability of the oil industry to import oil for onward distribution, in normal circumstances, it pointed to measures that would minimise the effects of any major disruption to oil supplies, such as a blockage at Dublin Port. In particular, the report suggests that the National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA)should increase the level of strategic stocks held on the island of Ireland, so that adequate stocks would be available to deal with any disruptions to port infrastructure. The Government's Energy Policy Framework 2007-2020 already commits to the rebalancing of strategic oil stocks in favour of wholly owned stocks on the island of Ireland, subject to value for money considerations. NORA has recently placed a notice in the Official Journal of the EU seeking expressions of interest by consultants to manage a tender process for the procurement of additional storage on the island. The findings of this P&G report will critically inform this process and the report will be provided to tenderers.

As regards the position with the oil reserves generally, Ireland is fully compliant with its obligations to maintain 90 days' of strategic oil stocks exclusively for use in the event of an oil supply disruption. Ireland holds its strategic stocks through a combination of stocks held by industry, and stocks held in Ireland and abroad by NORA. In planning for any possible disruptions, my Department is also examining the links between oil and gas disruption, and is coordinating planning so that the necessary supplies of oil to cater for fuel-switching in the event of a gas disruption can be catered for. This would be particularly important for electricity generation.

Departmental Agencies.

Simon Coveney

Question:

382 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the cost of the Commission for Energy Regulation to the taxpayer; the number of staff employed by the CER each year from 2005 to date in 2009; the cost of the staff at the CER; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7204/09]

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) is funded through a levy on the energy sector and does not receive Exchequer funding. The CER reports annually on staff and costs in its annual report, which is laid before the Oireachtas each year. CER will provide the specific data for 2005 to date as requested, to the Deputy directly.

Departmental Programmes.

Richard Bruton

Question:

383 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the recently announced grants for the installation of high performance boilers and insulation will be extended to include work that has been recently completed or is currently under way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7219/09]

Joe Carey

Question:

384 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the new insulation grant scheme will provide assistance to home owners for the replacement of windows and doors or the provision of proper insulation of windows and doors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7230/09]

Michael Noonan

Question:

388 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the installation of new draught-proof double glazed windows will be included as work eligible for the award of the insulation grants announced recently by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7312/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 383, 384 and 388 together.

The Home Energy Saving Scheme which I launched on 8 February last, provides grant assistance to homeowners for attic and wall insulation, efficient boilers and heating controls. These measures were selected for inclusion in the scheme, with the assistance of SEI, which has built up a considerable expertise on residential energy efficiency matters as part of their statutory remit and in the course of their oversight of the pilot phase of the scheme in 2008. SEI recommended these measures as the most likely to deliver significant energy savings to homeowners at the least cost. Insulation of windows and doors is not eligible for grant assistance under the scheme. My Department and SEI will however be keeping the scheme under review including the scope for adding other measures to the Scheme subject to budgetary and technical considerations.

The scheme is open to anybody owning a house that was built prior to 2006. Homeowners and landlords will be able to apply under the scheme from next month. In the meantime, homeowners can register their interest with SEI on 1850 927000 or athes@sei.ie Homeowners may arrange to have a building energy rating carried out immediately, if they wish, but this is not a requirement for participation in the scheme. However, homeowners should not undertake any remedial work until they have received grant approval from SEI. Accordingly work underway or recently completed will not be eligible for grant assistance.

Fisheries Protection.

Michael Ring

Question:

385 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason the fisheries board (details supplied) is charging an extortionate amount for a licence. [7237/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

386 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the cost of a licence (details supplied) for the past ten years in tabular form. [7238/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 385 and 386 together.

Licence duties for commercial salmon fishing are set by the Minister, on foot of an Order, the most recent being the Fisheries (Commercial Fishing Licences) (Alteration of Duties and Fees) Order 2007 (SI. No. 812 of 2007), approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas. These fees are uniform across all fisheries regions and are currently reviewed on an annual basis. There was no change in duties between 1988 and 2004, when increases were applied to account for movement in the Consumer Price Index in the intervening years.

In 2007, following cessation of mixed stock fisheries at sea and as part of a suite of conservation measures for the management of the wild salmon fishery, a salmon conservation component was applied to all commercial and recreational licences, the holders of which continue to harvest salmon. This component represents 50% of the licence fee collected. The income generated from this component is reinvested by the Fisheries Boards in the rehabilitation of wild salmon habitat and stocks throughout the country. For 2009 I decided not to increase the fees for any salmon fishing licence.

I am advised that certain waters around the country are designated as special tidal waters and draft net users are required to obtain a Special Draft Net Licence to fish these waters. Under the Rivers Owenmore and Owenduff (Tidal Waters) Order 1967 (SI No. 33 of 1967), the tidal waters of Owenmore and Owenduff are so designated and attract the licence fee referred to by the Deputy.

The following table shows the duties charged for draft net licences and special draft net licences from 1999 to 2009.

Year

Special Draft Net Licence Fee

Draft Net Licence Fee

1999

144.75

107.92

2000

144.75

107.92

2001

144.75

107.92

2002

144.75

107.92

2003

144.75

107.92

2004

245.00

180.00

2005

254.00

186.00

2006

260.00

190.00

2007

520.00

380.00

2008

545.00

398.00

2009

545.00

398.00

Energy Prices.

Simon Coveney

Question:

387 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the announced reduction in energy prices can be expected in view of the recently announced energy review. [7288/09]

The Commission for Energy Regulation will shortly complete its review of options for a reduction in electricity and gas prices, taking account of all relevant factors. I have also engaged with IBEC and with the major suppliers of the Large Energy Users. The timing and nature of decisions in relation to energy prices will be informed by the outcome of the Energy Regulator's review and my own discussions with the enterprise and energy sectors.

Question No. 388 answered with Question No. 383.

Telecommunications Services.

John O'Mahony

Question:

389 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of public service answering points here; the number of staff employed at each point; if he has studied the expenses involved in upgrading the PSAP network to include the eCall road safety technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7330/09]

Eircom provides the existing Public Service Answering Points (PSAP) network for the answering of emergency calls. The number of PSAPs and the staff numbers employed at each point is an operational matter for Eircom. I have no function in the matter. My colleague, the Minister for Transport, is monitoring developments in relation to the eCall concept, which is still under development in Europe. It would be premature to consider the deployment of the eCall technology at this stage.

Electricity Pylons.

Simon Coveney

Question:

390 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide the information he has in relation to pylons in residential areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7484/09]

The planning and development of electricity transmission and distribution line infrastructure are matters for EirGrid and ESB respectively. I have no function in relation to the siting of pylons for the purposes of electricity infrastructure development. If the Deputy has specific queries in relation to pylons in residential areas, I can arrange for him to discuss these directly with officials from EirGrid or ESB as appropriate.

Telecommunications Services.

Sean Fleming

Question:

391 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the district electoral divisions in County Laois that are not part of the national broadband scheme; the reason they are not part of the scheme; and the details of the broadband service available in each of these districts. [7537/09]

The objective of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) is to provide access to affordable, scaleable broadband services to rural areas, many of which do not currently have any broadband service. The NBS will be rolled out on an electoral division (ED) basis and will address EDs that are without adequate broadband services. The following tables show the EDs in County Laois, which will be covered under the NBS and those which will not.

In designing the NBS scheme, which was approved by the EU Commission, my Department needed to strike a balance between reaching as many unserved areas as possible and minimising the impact of the scheme on businesses already providing broadband services in rural areas, thereby minimising market distortion in accordance with EU State Aid rules. Where an ED is completely unserved or partially covered by any broadband service provider it is included in the NBS. EDs that are substantially covered by an existing broadband service provider are deemed to be served and thereby excluded. Details of the availability of broadband services in the specific areas not covered by the NBS are available at www.broadband.gov.ie.

County Laois — Electoral Divisions To Be Covered Under The National Broadband Scheme

Name

Ed Reference No.

Arderin Ed

107003

Ballybrophy Ed

107010

Ballylehane Ed

107013

Ballyroan Ed

107015

Blandsfort Ed

107017

Brisha Ed

107020

Caher Ed

107021

Cardtown Ed

107024

Castlecuffe Ed

107025

Clonmore Ed

107032

Coolrain Ed

107034

Cuffsborough Ed

107035

Cullahill Ed

107036

Donore Ed

107041

Dysartgallen Ed

107045

Emo Ed

107046

Errill Ed

107047

Garrymore Ed

107050

Grantstown Ed

107053

Kilcoke Ed

107055

Kildellig Ed

107057

Kyle Ed

107063

Kyle South Ed

107064

Lacka Ed

107065

Marymount Ed

107067

Moneenalassa Ed

107069

Nealstown Ed

107075

Rathaspick Ed

107082

County Laois — Electoral Divisions Not Included In The National Broadband Scheme

Name

Ed Reference No.

Name

Ed Reference No.

Abbeyleix Ed

107001

Garrymore Ed

107050

Aghmacart Ed

107002

Graigue Ed

107051

Arderin Ed

107003

Graigue Rural Ed

107052

Ardough Ed

107004

Grantstown Ed

107053

Arless Ed

107005

Jamestown Ed

107054

Ballickmoyler Ed

107006

Kilcoke Ed

107055

Ballinakill Ed

107007

Kilcolmanbane Ed

107056

Ballyadams Ed

107008

Kildellig Ed

107057

Ballybrittas Ed

107009

Killabban Ed

107058

Ballybrophy Ed

107010

Killermogh Ed

107059

Ballycarroll Ed

107011

Kilmullen Ed

107060

Ballyfin Ed

107012

Kilmurry Ed

107061

Ballylehane Ed

107013

Kilnaseer Ed

107062

Ballylynan Ed

107014

Kyle Ed

107063

Ballyroan Ed

107015

Kyle South Ed

107064

Barrowhouse Ed

107016

Lacka Ed

107065

Blandsfort Ed

107017

Luggacurren Ed

107066

Borris Ed

107018

Marymount Ed

107067

Borris-In-Ossory Ed

107019

Meelick Ed

107068

Brisha Ed

107020

Moneenalassa Ed

107069

Caher Ed

107021

Moneymore Ed

107070

Capard Ed

107022

Mountmellick Rural Ed

107071

Cappalough Ed

107023

Mountmellick Urban Ed

107072

Cardtown Ed

107024

Mountrath Ed

107073

Castlecuffe Ed

107025

Moyanna Ed

107074

Castletown Ed

107026

Nealstown Ed

107075

Clash Ed

107027

Newtown Ed

107076

Clonaslee Ed

107028

O’moresforest Ed

107077

Clondarrig Ed

107029

Portarlington South Ed

107078

Clonin Ed

107030

Portlaoighise Rural Ed

107079

Clonkeen Ed

107031

Portlaoighise Urban Ed

107080

Clonmore Ed

107032

Raheen Ed

107081

Colt Ed

107033

Rathaspick Ed

107082

Coolrain Ed

107034

Rathdowney Ed

107083

Cuffsborough Ed

107035

Rathsaran Ed

107084

Cullahill Ed

107036

Rearymore Ed

107085

Cullenagh Ed

107037

Rosenallis Ed

107086

Curraclone Ed

107038

Rossmore Ed

107087

Dangans Ed

107039

Sallyford Ed

107088

Donaghmore Ed

107040

Shaen Ed

107089

Donore Ed

107041

Shrule Ed

107090

Doonane Ed

107042

Stradbally Ed

107091

Dunmore Ed

107043

Tankardstown Ed

107092

Durrow Ed

107044

Timahoe Ed

107093

Dysartgallen Ed

107045

Timogue Ed

107094

Emo Ed

107046

Tinnahinch Ed

107095

Errill Ed

107047

Trumra Ed

107096

Farnans Ed

107048

Turra Ed

107097

Fossy Ed

107049

Vicarstown Ed

107098

Energy Conservation.

Jack Wall

Question:

392 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the way a community group can apply to Sustainable Energy Ireland to register its interest in taking part in the warmer homes scheme; the number and location of community based organisations currently involved in the scheme; the way the scheme is administered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7550/09]

The Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS) provides funding to Community Based Organisations for the installation of energy efficiency measures including cavity wall