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 10, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 11 to 34, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 35 to 43, inclusive, answered orally.

Departmental Funding.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

44 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if all groups operating under the LEADER funding programme are functioning and available for grant applications; if due to the economic downturn there will be a reduction in the funding agreed to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8952/09]

I can confirm, in respect of the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme, that contracts have been signed with Local Action Groups and these Groups are now operational in 35 of 36 areas. Having signed contracts in late January, 35 Groups are now implementing the LEADER measures, which have a focus on quality of life in rural areas and diversification of the rural economy.

In the case of one other Local Action Group, I will be signing a contract shortly, following the completion of certain legal work in respect of the contract.

The overall value of the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme is €425m, which is almost three times the value of the 2000-2006 Leader Programmes. There are no plans at this time to reduce the funding available across the Programme or at individual grant level and I look forward to the successful implementation of the Programme, which I believe will bring very significant benefits to our rural areas.

National Drugs Strategy.

Michael Ring

Question:

45 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the fact that the roll out of the new national drugs strategy will be postponed indefinitely in view of the current economic climate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8860/09]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

62 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the role of local and regional drugs task forces; if this role will change under the new national drug strategy; if the number of drugs task forces will change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8851/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 62 together.

At the outset, I want to assure the Deputies that the roll-out of the new National Drugs Strategy (NDS) will not be postponed.

Work is ongoing on the formulation of the Strategy for the period 2009-2016. As the Deputies are aware, a Steering Group, comprising representatives of the statutory, community and voluntary sectors, is currently developing proposals in this regard and I expect to receive their recommendations by the end of March. Once I have considered them, I will be seeking Government approval for the new Strategy in April, with publication to follow as quickly as possible thereafter.

Much has changed since the current Strategy was developed and it is important that we develop a new Strategy to best address problem drug use in our country as it currently manifests itself. Like any area of public spending, we will have to implement our policies to tackle the drugs problem within the financial parameters we face in any given year. In the current economic climate, the challenge of utilising our resources effectively is even more relevant. Furthermore, it is important to note that the new Strategy will cover a period of eight years and the economic circumstances can fluctuate considerably over such a period.

The role of the 14 Local and 10 Regional Drugs Task Forces is to assess the nature and extent of the illicit drug problems in their areas of operation, to make proposals to deal with these problems, to facilitate greater local/regional focus on drugs issues and a more co-ordinated response to them and to oversee and monitor drug-related projects approved on foot of their action plans and proposals.

While the Steering Group, as part of its work, is currently considering proposals in regard to the structures to support the new Drugs Strategy, I do not envisage any substantial change to the role of the Drugs Task Forces. I have already indicated publicly that I do not expect any change in the number of Task Forces.

Departmental Expenditure.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

46 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs 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 his Department; the amount expected to be saved in his Department’s budget as a result of this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8965/09]

On foot of a recent Government Decision, the Department of Finance wrote to my Department on 23 February last with regard to effecting an 8% reduction in professional fees in relation to services provided to or funded by my Department or by relevant bodies within its ambit.

Officials in my Department have since initiated a process of engagement with all relevant service providers with a view to appropriately reducing the fees for ongoing contracts in respect of services to be provided on or after 1 March 2009. A similar process is under way in the relevant bodies within my Department's ambit.

Until such time as these processes are concluded, it is not possible to give specific details of the savings that will be achieved. I understand, however, that it is intended that estimated savings arising from the 8% reduction in professional fees will be reflected by way of reduced allocations across Departmental Votes in the Revised Estimate Volume when it is published.

British-Irish Council.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

47 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on his participation in the meeting of the British-Irish Council in Cardiff on 20 February 2009. [8968/09]

I attended the meeting along with the Taoiseach and spoke on social inclusion issues and on the Irish language.

Departmental Programmes.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

48 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will review the boundary areas under the CLÁR programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8911/09]

As the Deputy is aware, the CLÁR Programme is a targeted investment programme for rural areas, which was launched in October 2001. The areas covered by the Programme were reviewed in 2002 and, again, in 2006 and as a result, CLÁR now covers parts of 22 counties and all of Co. Leitrim and benefits a population of nearly 727,000. I have no plans at present for any further review of the areas covered by CLÁR.

Drugs Seizures.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

49 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on whether the record seizure of drugs in 2008 amounting to more than €210 million reflects the continuing high level of demand for drugs; the additional steps he will take to reduce demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8971/09]

An Garda Síochána and the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners have achieved significant success in recent years in relation to the number of drugs seizures, and the amount and value of the drugs involved, and I congratulate both organisations in this regard.

The increase in seizures reflects the greater emphasis placed on the drugs problem during the period of the current National Drugs Strategy (NDS). Numbers in the Garda National Drugs Unit, the primary unit within An Garda Síochána charged with responsibility for law enforcement in relation to drug supply, have increased and additional Divisional Drugs Units have also been established. The work of these Units is supported by the Organised Crime Unit, now established on a full-time basis, and by the Criminal Assets Bureau, among others. At the same time, Gardaí generally deal with drug-related issues as they arise on an on-going basis.

Drug seizures by the Customs Service have also significantly increased. Their Coastal Watch Programme has been in place since 2001, a new Customs patrol vessel has been commissioned, mobile X-ray scanning technology has been acquired and the number of drug detector dog teams has also been increased.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the drugs market is global and increased co-operation at an international level is also a current feature. This was well illustrated by the large cocaine seizure off Cork late last year, which was facilitated by the Irish participation in the Maritime Analysis Operations Centre — Narcotics based in Lisbon. This Centre involves seven EU countries coming together to counter the threat of drugs trafficking and in fulfilling its role, Ireland has deployed both Garda and Customs personnel in Lisbon.

Allied to supply reduction measures, demand reduction are also a key component of our NDS. Our focus in terms of demand reduction is primarily on the areas of treatment, rehabilitation and prevention.

The Research Outcome Study in Ireland (ROSIE), carried out by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, showed that treatment for opiate use has resulted in a significant reduction in the usage of all drugs reported by those who enter and remain engaged in treatment. Overall numbers in treatment now stand at approximately 12,700, with 8,600 of those in receipt of methadone. Successful engagement with treatment not only has significant benefits for the individuals involved, but also for their families, their wider communities and for society in general.

Meanwhile, a National Drugs Rehabilitation Implementation Committee was established towards the end of 2008 and I hope that progress will now be expedited on the implementation of the recommendations of the Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation.

As regards prevention, the NDS has focussed on four main areas:

Early School Leaving;

Drugs education in a school setting — particularly initiatives such as Walk Tall and SPHE;

Drugs education outside the school setting involving the development of diversionary responses aimed at young people at risk as well as the general youth population; and

National and local awareness campaigns.

I would expect to see initiatives under these headings being further developed in the coming years.

A new Drugs Strategy is now being formulated for the period 2009-2016 and this will continue to target both supply reduction and demand reduction measures. In this context, a significant emphasis on prevention will be retained, combined with treatment and rehabilitation measures to aid those already involved with drugs. At the same time there will continue to be a need to focus on supply reduction also to counteract the effect of the global drugs market on Ireland.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

50 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian O’Shea den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén fáth nach bhfuil dul chun cinn i bhfad níos fearr déanta i leith líon na scéimeanna teanga atá daingnithe aige agus foilsithe faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8920/09]

I dtús báire ba mhaith liom a chur i gcuimhne don Teachta go bhfuil gach foráil d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla i bhfeidhm ó mhí Iúil 2006. Maidir le scéimeanna teanga tá 89 scéim a chlúdaíonn 161 comhlacht poiblí ar fad daingnithe agam agus foilsithe ó tháinig an t-Acht i bhfeidhm i 2003. Anuas ar sin, tá 33 céad scéim teanga eile, a chlúdaíonn 59 comhlacht poiblí, á n-ullmhú. Chomh maith leis sin, tá fógra eisithe agam chuig 31 comhlacht faoi alt 15 den Acht ag ceangal orthu athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar a gcéad scéim teanga agus dara scéim teanga a hullmhú agus a sheoladh chugam le daingniú. Fágann sé seo go bhfuil 64 dréacht scéim á n-ullmhú nó á mheasúnú ag mo Roinn i láthair na huaire. Tá na scéimeanna uilig atá aontaithe go dáta chomh maith le liosta de na scéimeanna atá á n-ullmhú ar fáil ar shuíomh idirlín an Choimisinéir Teanga, www.coimisineir.ie.

Mar is eol don Teachta tá tréimhse sé mhí ag Comhlacht poiblí le dréacht scéim teanga a ullmhú agus a chur faoi mo bhráid le daingniú. Tuigfidh an Teachta gur doiciméid chuimsitheach reachtúla iad scéimeanna teanga agus go minic go dtarlaíonn go leor plé agus idirbheartaíocht idir oifigigh mo Roinn-se agus na comhlachtaí poiblí ón am a chuirtear dréacht scéimeanna ar fáil go dtí go n-aontaítear iad. Ní miste dom a lua freisin gur chuir mé próiseas comhairliúcháin ar bun, ag tús na bliana 2008, maidir leis na tosaíochtaí ar cheart a bheith ann don dara babhta scéimeanna teanga. Ag éirí as an bpróiseas sin, tá roinnt tosaíochtaí aitheanta ag mo Roinn don dara babhta scéimeanna a bheidh le tógáil san áireamh ag gach comhlacht poiblí agus a ndréacht scéimeanna á n-ullmhú acu.

Ní miste dom a lua chomh maith go raibh tosaíochtaí eile agam ó thaobh cur i bhfeidhm an Achta le blianta beaga anuas. Mar shampla ar an 1 Deireadh Fómhair 2008, tar éis próiseas cuimsitheach comhairliúcháin, a cuireadh tús leis i 2006, agus tar éis gur phlé mé an t-ábhar leis an gComhchoiste Oireachtais um Ghnóthaí Ealaíona, Spóirt, Tuarasóireachta, Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta ceithre uair, rinne mé Na Rialacháin um Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 (Alt 9) 2008. Táim cinnte go bhfuil tábhacht ar leith ag baint leis na Rialacháin seo a chinnteoidh go mbeidh an Ghaeilge i bhfad níos feiceálaí sa saol poiblí feasta. Sa bhreis ar sin, i 2006 rinne mé Na Rialacháin um Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 (Comhlachtaí Poiblí) 2006 a tháinig i bhfeidhm ar an 1 Bealtaine 2006. Ba í an fheidhm a bhí ag na Rialacháin sin ná an Chéad Sceideal den Acht a choinneáil cothrom le dáta trí na tagairtí do chomhlachtaí poiblí nach ann dóibh a thuilleadh a bhaint amach agus trí chomhlachtaí nua a thabhairt faoi bhráid an Achta. Tá i gceist agam tuilleadh Rialacháin a dhéanamh chun an chéad Sceideal den Acht a choinneáil cothrom le dáta i mbliana agus chuige sin i rith 2008 thug mo Roinn faoi obair ullmhúcháin ar dhréacht de na Rialacháin sin.

Gach rud san áireamh mar sin, tá mé thar a bheith sásta leis an dul chun cinn atá déanta go dáta maidir le cur i bhfeidhm an Acht Teanga i gcoitinne agus maidir le haontú scéimeanna teanga go sonrach.

Departmental Schemes.

Simon Coveney

Question:

51 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of applicants who applied for Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge on a county basis for the past three years; the number of applicants who were successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8862/09]

The details requested by the Deputy regarding the number of applications for grants under Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge on a county basis for the past 3 years and the outcome of the application process are set out in the Table. TABLE: Number of applicants for Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge on a county basis for period 2005-08 and outcome of application process.

County

School year

Applications received

Received full grant

Received reduced grant

Refused

Not yet examined

Donegal

2005/06

1,132

716

325

91

0

2006/07

1,157

726

365

65

1

2007/08

1,187

721

357

87

22

Mayo

2005/06

284

71

126

87

0

2006/07

280

60

132

84

4

2007/08

295

47

101

123

24

Galway

2005/06

1,445

1,211

173

56

5

2006/07

1,372

1,129

179

59

5

2007/08

1,294

1,032

161

65

36

Kerry

2005/06

393

213

150

30

0

2006/07

410

202

163

45

0

2007/08

366

184

145

34

3

Cork

2005/06

181

63

98

20

0

2006/07

186

74

94

18

0

2007/08

176

73

78

24

1

Waterford

2005/06

71

25

45

1

0

2006/07

72

39

28

5

0

2007/08

65

34

28

3

0

Meath

2005/06

59

26

31

2

0

2006/07

68

42

26

0

0

2007/08

72

37

17

16

2

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 42.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

53 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the expected expenditure by his Department in 2009 from the proceeds of the dormant accounts fund; the figures for each of the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8896/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

66 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which it is intended to fund his Department in 2009 from the proceeds of the dormant accounts fund; the degree to which this varies with each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8853/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 66 together.

The post-Budget provision in my Department's Vote for 2009 is €13m in respect of commitments to projects approved under measures administered by my Department and financed from the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAF). The proposed allocation for 2009 represents an increase of approx. one-third on the 2008 overall expenditure level. All expenditure incurred will be reimbursed to my Department by the National Treasury Management Agency in the normal way.

My Department paid €0.25m in 2006, €5.45m in 2007 and €9.56m in 2008 to projects selected for funding from the DAF. In addition, the Government approved the allocation of €16m to part-fund the Rural Social Scheme in each of the years 2006 — 2008 from the Fund. As this Scheme is being fully Exchequer funded in 2009, no allocation is being made this year from the DAF in this regard.

Prior to 2006, the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursement Board approved all allocations from the DAF.

Departmental Funding.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

54 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if Waterways Ireland has made representations to his Department for the provision of funding for improvements to any of the canals within its remit to provide better facilities for users of the canals from a tourist as well as local perspective with special emphasis on moorings or marinas, angling or walking facilities; the funding requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8958/09]

The provision of funding for Waterways Ireland is considered in the context of the business plan and corporate plan priorities approved periodically by the North/South Ministerial Council, having regard to the financial resources available to the two sponsor Departments concerned — my own Department and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland.

Waterways Ireland's plans for improvement of the navigations under its control in this jurisdiction, including the provision of service blocks, moorings and marinas, are set out in the organisation's work programme under the NDP 2007–2013. Progress in this regard will, of course, be dependent on the financial resources that can be made available over the period of the NDP, taking account of the current economic challenges.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Liz McManus

Question:

55 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding provided under the dormant accounts fund since its inception; the geographical spread of the applications for funding; the number of successful applicants; the number refused funding; if there is a waiting list for funding; if so, the position of providing such funding to these groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8956/09]

The Dormant Accounts Fund Acts provides for an annual transfer by credit institutions and insurance undertakings of monies in accounts determined to be dormant into the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAF). Since its establishment in May 2003 to the end of December 2008, the net transfers to the DAF have totalled some €306.3m.

The value of the Fund at end December 2008, net of liabilities, was some €21.7m. This excludes the amount of some €46m currently maintained in a Reserve Account to meet reclaims and to cover expenses. The reserve is currently set at 15% of the total moneys received by the Fund and not yet reclaimed. Further allocations to specific measures must await information on the value of funds liable to transfer from financial institutions later this year.

The geographical spread of the applications received for funding under each round is set out in the Table.

Of the 8,649 application received to date, 8,154 applications have been assessed with 5,962 or 73% deemed successful. The number of applications not recommended or deemed ineligible for funding to date has amounted to 2,192 or 27% of assessed applications.

All applicants are notified of the outcome of their applications, following decisions by the Government. The Deputy will appreciate that the number of approvals under each measure are made having regard to the resources available and the quality of applications received. Given the nature of the application, assessment and approval processes, the issue of waiting lists does not arise.

County Breakdown of Applications Received under each Round of Funding

County

Round 1 — 2004/05

Round 2 — 2006

Round 3 — 2007

Round 4 — 2008

Total

Carlow

16

47

44

3

110

Cavan

7

49

75

8

139

Clare

24

98

58

4

184

Cork

181

244

353

44

822

Donegal

57

219

200

23

499

Dublin

560

902

750

192

2,404

Galway

111

222

190

36

559

Kerry

68

161

131

10

370

Kildare

21

84

54

7

166

Kilkenny

31

84

52

7

174

Laois

13

37

48

2

100

Leitrim

27

40

40

5

112

Limerick

57

160

122

39

378

Longford

32

27

28

10

97

Louth

36

65

72

11

184

Mayo

45

153

157

9

364

Meath

5

91

83

11

190

Monaghan

8

76

48

4

136

Offaly

7

42

57

2

108

Roscommon

38

70

45

10

163

Sligo

53

86

58

7

204

Tipperary

54

109

108

14

285

Waterford

60

131

93

9

293

Westmeath

23

63

63

7

156

Wexford

33

102

92

15

242

Wicklow

34

75

94

6

209

UK

1

1

Total all Counties

1,602

3,437

3,115

495

8,649

Drugs Use.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

56 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he or his Department had consultations with the Department of Health and Children, any health organisations such as the World Health Organisation, or any of his fellow EU Ministers or at EU level in regard to research of the effects of a created drug (details supplied) on those who use cocaine and alcohol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8954/09]

The joint National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and National Drug Strategy Team (NDST) report, "An Overview of on Cocaine Use in Ireland", published in 2007, identified cocaethylene as a dangerous naturally occurring by-product of using cocaine and alcohol together. When people mix these substances, the human liver combines them in the system to form cocaethylene and this is more toxic than using either drug alone. As one might expect, data from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System indicates that cocaine and alcohol are being used together. While the combination of the two drugs intensifies euphoric effects, cocaethylene can cause more serious physical harm, particularly to the cardiovascular system, as well as having the potential to increase the risk of sudden death.

Heightening awareness of the risks associated with the use of alcohol and cocaine was a fundamental element of the national cocaine awareness campaign undertaken by the HSE in 2008. Allied to this, Drugs Task Forces undertook local campaigns focusing on cocaine to dovetail with the national campaign. Funding of €0.5m was provided to the Task Forces for this purpose in 2008.

Departmental Funding.

Liz McManus

Question:

57 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of projects that have been assisted under the community service project scheme; the funding drawn down since its inception; if the budget is to be reduced; the effect this will have on the projects that are in receipt of funding or are to receive funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8957/09]

My Department commenced operating the Community Services Programme (CSP) on 1st January 2006. The Programme supports a range of community business and social enterprises to deliver a diverse range of local services and employment opportunities. The Programme 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.

During 2008, 359 individual projects received funds totalling €44.32m to support the delivery of services and employment. This compares with:

314 projects in receipt of funding in 2007 totalling €41.02m; and

273 projects in receipt of funding of €37.45m in 2006.

Total funding to projects over the three years, therefore, amounted to €122.8m. The proposed level of funding available to projects for 2009 is €48.47m and my Department estimates that the Programme will be supporting between 445 and 450 projects by the end of this year.

At the end of 2008, the Programme supported 1,940 manager and staffing positions. This is expected to grow to at least 2,200 positions by the end of 2009.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Willie Penrose

Question:

58 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of top up grants made available to group water schemes in each year for the past three years; the funding allocated; the geographical areas covered by the funding; if there is a waiting list for such funding; if so, the number of applications on the list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8961/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the CLÁR Programme has enhanced the level of funding provided for group water schemes. The total funding approved under the CLÁR Group Water Scheme measure for 2006, 2007 and 2008 is in the region of €15.8m with 122 water schemes receiving funding as detailed in Table A.

As the Deputy will be aware the CLÁR Water and Sewerage schemes were closed to new applications on the 8th August 2008. All eligible applications on hand in the Department at that date have been processed and funding approved where appropriate. There is no waiting list.

In Gaeltacht areas, additional funding of €310,134 has been provided for 12 Gaeltacht Group Water Schemes which were also approved funding under CLÁR and are included in Table A. €183,762 has been provided for 4 Gaeltacht Group Water schemes which are not in a CLÁR area or who have not applied for funding under the CLÁR Group Water Schemes. A breakdown of all Gaeltacht Group Water Schemes is detailed in Table B.

There are 2 new applications for funding under the Gaeltacht Scheme and these are currently being evaluated.

Table A

2006 Schemes

2006 Funding

2007 Schemes

2007 Funding

2008 Schemes

2008 Funding

Carlow

Cavan

2

448,127.00

0

0

Clare

4

272,931.00

6

827,509.44

4

347,049.86

Cork

2

24,231.00

3

90,512.00

3

230,605.44

Donegal

6

433,731.00

13

944,256.99

3

631,511.14

Galway

5

997,448.00

6

338,338.47

3

1,165,634.56

Kerry

12

612,882.40

4

738,820.42

Kilkenny

Laois

1

49,604.77

Leitrim

5

404,091.90

3

363,012.10

Limerick

1

94,413.69

1

73,429.61

Longford

4

216,341.00

3

64,269.71

Louth

Mayo

4

1,554,466.00

7

2,313,642.84

3

1,590,906.83

Meath

Monaghan

1

342,319.44

Offaly

1

150,029.92

1

36,311.28

Roscommon

1

4,635.00

1

10,313.09

Sligo

1

119,555.98

Tipp Nth

1

14,785.31

Tipp Sth

Waterford

Westmeath

2

102,074.00

4

177,391.27

1

76,012.97

Wicklow

Total

30

4,053,984.00

62

6,027,651.72

30

5,779,559.71

Table B

2006 Schemes

2006 Funding

2007 Schemes

2007 Funding

2008 Schemes

2008 Funding

Donegal

*4

48,006

***4

31,623.00

Galway

**2

163,306.30

4

229,625.00

Mayo

1

15,240.00

Cork

1

6,096.00

Total

7

226,552.30

4

31,623.00

5

235,721

*Includes one application not in receipt of CLÁR funding.

**Includes one application not in receipt of CLÁR funding

***Includes two applications not in receipt of CLÁR funding.

Job Creation.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

59 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the action he will take arising from the report presented to him by the Western Development Commission which forecast that the region’s creative sector could generate employment for some 13,000 people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8969/09]

Working with regional businesses and partners, the Western Development Commission has commissioned and completed baseline research to examine the current situation of the creative sector in the Western Region and to identify the issues the sector faces which impact on its future development.

I understand that the WDC intends to engage with stakeholders to identify specific initiatives that can be implemented in 2009 and following years based on the recommendations in the report.

Departmental Funding.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

60 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding funding under the various headings for funding or grants available from his Department; if there has been changes, reductions or withdrawal of funding from any of the schemes as operated by his Department since June 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8962/09]

In 2007, the amount spent by my Department was €505.401m, as shown in the published Appropriation Account. This can be broken down as follows (in accordance with the current structure of my Department's Vote):

€158.605m for Developing Communities,

€51.518m for Tackling Drugs Misuse,

€107.013m for Rural Development,

€92.598m for Gaeltacht and Islands Development,

€7.769m for Promotion and Maintenance of the Irish Language,

€69.776m for North-South Co-Operation and

€18.122m for Administration.

The 2008 accounts have not yet been audited. However, the provisional outturn for 2008, including the information sought by the Deputy, will be contained in the Revised Estimates Volume, which is currently being finalised by the Minister for Finance and will be published shortly.

It is obviously necessary to take account of the current economic reality and of the pressure on the public finances and against that background, priority has been given to frontline services. Inevitably, some schemes will be affected.

Rural Transport.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

61 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the rural transport scheme; the number of persons who have used the system to date; the number who used the system who are in receipt of free travel passes; his plans to extend this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8963/09]

The Department of Transport and Marine operates the Rural Transport Programme, which goes some way towards fulfilling rural transport needs through the provision of day-time services.

As the Deputy will be aware, I announced the launch of the Rural Transport Night Scheme on a pilot basis in April 2007 to provide night-time transport services in certain remote rural areas. I am informed that a total of 63,218 passengers used the pilot service for the period May 2007 to September 2008, of which 35,335 were free travel pass holders.

I am providing funding for the continuation of the Rural Transport Night scheme for the first quarter of 2009 pending my consideration of a review recently carried out by officials in my Department.

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 45.

Security of the Elderly.

Joe Carey

Question:

63 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the level of funding which is available for community alert groups under the scheme of community support for older people in 2009; the funding allocated on a county basis from 2008 to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8883/09]

The Community Alert Programme operates under the aegis of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and is a community-based initiative in rural communities dedicated to improving the quality of life of people in rural communities. Community Alert groups work closely with my Department to ensure that older people are supported to provide for the security needs of their homes.

Funds are provided through my Department under the Scheme of Community Support for Older People to assists qualifying older people to offset the cost of installing monitored personal alarm systems, door and window locks, door chains, security lighting, smoke alarms and in the case of qualifying older people living on our offshore islands, interior emergency lighting. The Scheme is open to people aged 65 and over who have a genuine need for assistance and is administered by community and voluntary organisations throughout the country, with support provided by my Department.

Maximum individual grants provided under the Scheme are as follows:

€300 in respect of the once-off installation cost of socially monitored alarms;

€200 in respect of physical security equipment;

€200 in respect of security lighting;

€50 in respect of smoke alarms; and

€150 in respect of interior emergency lighting for qualifying older people living on our offshore islands.

Applications under the Scheme are accepted throughout the year and can be made through any local community and voluntary group. The Deputy should note that eligibility is not confined to Community Alert groups and the Department accepts applications from all Community and Voluntary organisations. Information on such groups is available from my Department and a list of Groups approved under the Scheme in recent years is available on my Department's website — www.pobail.ie.

The Table sets out the level of funding paid under the Scheme to Community Groups in each county for 2008 and for the first two months of 2009.

County

2008 (01/01/2008-31/12/2008)

2009 (01/01/2009-27/02/2009)

Carlow

46,408

Cavan

68,001

2,621

Clare

116,918

34,028

Cork

509,166

38,778

Donegal

107,979

14,058

Dublin

1,179,621

112,537

Galway

308,335

5,231

Kerry

180,707

12,351

Kildare

102,039

21,417

Kilkenny

39,117

288

Laois

114,646

2,416

Leitrim

49,064

Limerick

177,140

300

Longford

26,687

4,590

Louth

139,216

21,875

Mayo

177,333

4,390

Meath

121,331

3,754

Monaghan

40,326

2,500

Offaly

84,689

12,481

Roscommon

36,874

11,677

Sligo

37,341

1,662

Tipperary

136,852

700

Westmeath

137,161

1,770

Wexford

159,165

15,139

Wexford

74,524

1,900

Wicklow

141,380

6,960

Total

4,312,014

335,430

Irish Language.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

64 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the plan from the Government committee for the conservation of the Irish language will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8972/09]

Work is under way at present on the development of a 20-year Strategy for Irish. The work builds on the Government's Policy Statement on Irish published in December 2006.

During the course of last year, my Department, with assistance from Fiontar DCU, who were engaged as independent consultants to assist with development of the Strategy, undertook a wide-ranging public consultation process on the key issues to be addressed by the Strategy. The consultation process included a series of public meetings and an on-line survey. My Department subsequently published a discussion document based on suggestions and feedback from the public during the consultation process. The discussion document, which addressed the various elements considered as relevant for the Strategy, was presented at a further series of public meetings to give the public an additional opportunity to express views and make recommendations in relation to the proposed Strategy.

In addition to the public consultation process, Fiontar DCU consulted with the key stakeholders — both in the public and voluntary sectors — in relation to their specific recommendations for the Strategy and convened a group of international experts with expertise on language policy issues to advise on the process.

A document has been submitted to me and is being examined. As the Deputy will be aware, a Cabinet Committee has been established to examine issues in relation to the Gaeltacht and the Irish language. I anticipate that the draft Strategy will be presented to the Committee before being submitted to Government. The intention is that an integrated strategy for the Irish language will be agreed and published in due course, when the current process of deliberation is completed.

National Drugs Strategy.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

65 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of calls received by the Dial to Stop Drugs campaign; if there is a geographical spread attached to the calls; if the calls to date have proved to be a successful means of obtaining information; the proposals or actions taken to date to address the concerns outlined in the information received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8964/09]

David Stanton

Question:

81 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 321 of 17 February 2009, the efforts he is making to ensure that further funding to the €300,000 dormant accounts funding received for 2009 be made available from his Department or other sources for the continuation of the Dial to Stop Drug Dealing campaign after 2009 in view of the success of the programme which has only received €150,000 funding to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8849/09]

David Stanton

Question:

82 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 321 of 17 February 2009 if a decision has been finalised on the specific local and regional drugs task force proposals for the next phases of the Dial to Stop Drug Dealing campaign for 2009; when these phases are due to begin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8848/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 65, 81 and 82 together.

As the Deputies may be aware, I launched the Dial-to-Stop Drug Dealing Campaign in September 2008. The first phase was run across five Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces areas with funding being provided by my Department (€100,000) and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (€50,000). The confidential number used in the campaign is open for all to use, regardless of which area they come from and this was highlighted during the national launch.

Overall, I believe that the campaign to date has proved to be successful. According to the latest information, I understand that there have been well over 1,400 calls to the phone-line that have generated in excess of 360 information reports to the Gardaí.

The information reports have been referred to a wide geographical spread of Garda stations for follow up. The calls are spread right across the country, including areas that have not directly run a campaign. In all the areas where the campaign is being rolled out, I understand that the local Gardaí are following strong lines of enquiry resulting from the information arising from the free phone number.

The Gardaí have also confirmed that there has been a number of seizures and arrests on foot of information received including:

the seizure of substantial quantity of cannabis in one area;

the seizure of substantial quantity of cannabis and a firearm in another area; and

the seizure of substantial quantity of heroin in one area.

The next phases of the campaign will be funded with €300,000 from the Dormant Accounts Fund and will facilitate a further 10 campaigns. Phase 2 of the campaign will run in the following areas:

Southern RDTF;

Cork LDTF;

South East RDTF;

Mid-West RDTF;

North Dublin City and County RDTF.

The final phase will cover the East Coast and Midlands RDTFs and Bray, Dun Laoghaire and Finglas/Cabra LDTFs.

With regard to any future funding, as the Dormant Accounts funding is once- off in nature, the €300,000 referred to above is the total that will be allocated. As the allocation for funding for drugs initiatives in my Department in 2009 is fully committed, I regret that there is no scope, at present, for further campaigns.

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 53.

Joe Costello

Question:

67 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the actions taken to date to highlight the dangers of the use of cocaine as a result of the national advisory committee on drugs report indicating the use of the illicit substance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8951/09]

In February 2008, my predecessor, Minister of State, Pat Carey TD, launched the National Awareness Campaign on Drugs, "The Party's Over". This campaign was developed by the HSE, in consultation with many of the key Departments and Agencies involved in tackling problem drug use, including my own Department.

The initial aim of the campaign was to communicate the dangers of cocaine use, with a particular focus on so called "recreational cocaine users" in the 15-34 age group. The choice of cocaine, and the targeting of younger people, arises directly from the evidence of the 2006/07 Drugs Prevalence Survey, which itself confirmed the findings of the joint NACD/NDST report mentioned by the Deputy.

The campaign utilised appropriate media, such as social network websites, billboard and bus advertising as well as radio advertising to target this age group and this approach will be continued.

The Health Promotion Unit of the HSE also published two leaflets "Know The Facts About Drugs" and "Cocaine The Facts" to accompany the campaign. In addition, a drugs information website www.drugs.ie was developed and launched in conjunction with the campaign.

To dovetail with the national campaign, funding of €500,000 was allocated from my Department for cocaine awareness campaigns at a local and regional level to be delivered through the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces. The Task Forces, through their interaction with communities and groups on the ground, are considered best placed to deliver meaningful, appropriate and focussed campaigns.

A workshop was also held with the Drugs Task Forces to share learning and information and to assist them in planning their individual campaigns.

In addition, many of the Drugs Task Forces already have in place a number of valuable initiatives, including events such as "Awareness Weeks". Such initiatives have proven to be effective as many of them focus on the issues particular to their own localities.

Departmental Programmes.

Joe Costello

Question:

68 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of applications received for the provision of funding under the CLÁR programme in respect of the past two years; the number received to date in 2009; the amount of funding drawn down in each year; if there is a waiting list; the number of such applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8950/09]

The CLÁR Programme provides funding and co-funding to Government Departments, State Agencies, Local Authorities and Leader Groups to accelerate investment in selected priority developments in areas that have suffered significant depopulation. These investments support physical, economic and social infrastructure across a variety of measures.

Table A outlines the number of applications received for 2007, 2008 and the number received to date in 2009.

It is important to note that for a number of measures marked with an * in the table applications are not made directly to the programme. Funding is approved on the basis of co funding/top up arrangements with other Government Departments. In these cases the numbers in the table reflect the numbers of grants approved rather than applications made.

Table B outlines the funding drawn down during 2007, 2008 and 2009 to date.

There is no waiting list for the provision of funding under the CLÁR programme. There are a small number of applications in relation to the CLÁR School Play Facilities and one under the Voluntary Ambulance measures which are being processed at the moment. Decisions will be made in these cases as soon as possible.

Applicants to the programme who submitted applications after the closing date for any of the suspended measures are being informed on an ongoing basis that as the measure under which they are applying for funding is closed and that their applications cannot be processed.

Table A: CLÁR Applications received during 2007 and 2008

MEASURE

Applications received 2007

Applications received 2008

Applications received 2009 to date

Coillte

9

6

LIS roads

19

1

Class II & III roads

24

23

Bridges

5

7

CLAR Flashing Amber Safety lights

9

0

Public Water and Sewerage

8

16

Group Water

13

18

Group Sewerage

4

4

Water Conservation Measure

2

0

Village Enhancement

11

2

Bi-lingual Signage

22

50

4

Sports Top Up*

271

0

Gaeltacht Top-up*

8

24

Health Measure*

0

1

Voluntary Ambulance

2

3

1

Three Phase Electricity

152

143

Community Initiatives

6

1

Schools Play Facilities

198

55

1

Coastal/Harbours*

27

26

Total

790

380

6

Note: Applications from Local Authorities and other Government Departments for programmes such as the Class 2 & 3 roads and Health are counted as one application but include multiple projects. For example the Health application includes 31 projects some of which have several elements.

Table B: CLÁR Expenditure 2007-2009 to date

MEASURE

Expenditure 2007

Expenditure 2008

Expenditure 2009 (to date)

Flashing Safety Lights

1,510,466.35

280,630.34

Coillte Roads

491,065.77

456,618.64

LIS Roads

2,318,104.46

3,000,947.82

Class 2 & 3 Roads

2,826,863.02

2,869,865.61

Bridges

116,615.51

94,824.35

Public Water &Sewerage Schemes

2,782,487.58

3,620,102.22

178,602.22

Group Water Schemes

1,426,853.95

5,332,499.20

391,057.85

Group Sewerage Schemes

131,937.22

175,146.50

Tax incentive Shannon

594,374.00

Water Conservation measure

245,533.18

Village Enhancement

807,258.49

465,610.78

LA Housing

233,548.16

365,150.38

Community Initiative

876,875.51

619,394.33

Gaeltacht

423,783.96

542,260.30

26,552.53

Bi-lingual Signage Scheme

20,796.37

38,003.45

14,171.46

Sports Capital Grants Top Up

1,754,642.00

1,672,300.00

144,000.00

Minor Health Projects

117,196.62

Voluntary Ambulance

241,589.94

535,526.06

School Outdoor Play Facility

1,020,156.18

533,840.02

57,195.15

Fibre Optic

5,342.15

9,294.83

Wireless internet

16,063.83

Single to Three phase Electricity

1,750,214.03

1,604,161.97

30,000.00

Courthouses Enhancement

50,000.00

Coastal and Harbour Development

82,500.00

1,471,872.65

826,135.91

Western Rail Corridor

1,862,563.00

283,851.00

NIRSA CLÁR mapping

4,247.10

4,264.65

TOTAL

21,329,360.88

24,178,471.45

1,847,126.27

Integration Issues.

Denis Naughten

Question:

69 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the role of his Department in migrant integration issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8760/09]

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has responsibility for integration matters. The Minister of State for Integration has the role of providing policy advice on integration to me in respect of relevant programmes of my Department.

Commemorative Events.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

70 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has, as part of the Famine commemoration or otherwise, plans to introduce a programme of supports to restore and maintain famine graveyards, improve access to Famine graveyards or develop Famine graveyards as commemorative sites open to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8712/09]

The Deputy will be aware that, as Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, I am responsible for ensuring that appropriate arrangements are in place to commemorate the Great Famine with an annual Memorial Day.

The Committee has agreed four main points for this year's commemoration:

The national event will take place in Skibbereen, Co. Cork, on May 17th;

A parallel international event will be held in Canada on May 10th;

Communities around the country should be encouraged to hold their own local events to commemorate the Great Famine; and

All public and sporting events should observe a minute's silence on the National Famine Memorial Day.

In relation to the Deputy's specific query regarding the restoration, maintenance and development of Famine graveyards, the direct funding of such activity is not a matter for my Department. I should add, however, that under the Rural Social Scheme, which is funded by my Department, it has been possible for minor maintenance works to be carried out by communities in their local graveyards.

Industrial Development.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

71 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his Department has been involved in discussions regarding Údarás na Gaeltachta being subsumed into or having a closer operational relationship with either the Industrial Development Authority or Enterprise Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8975/09]

As I informed the House in relation to today's Priority Question No 35, consideration is being given to possible amendments to the Údarás na Gaeltachta Acts arising on foot of recommendations in the report of the linguistic study of the use of Irish in the gaeltacht and the deliberations of the Cabinet Committee on Irish and the Gaeltacht.

I should point out to the Deputy that I am informed by Údarás na Gaeltachta that there is regular co-operation between it and Enterprise Ireland and the IDA with a view to attracting inward investment and developing job-creating enterprise in Gaeltacht areas.

Departmental Expenditure.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

72 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the way it is intended to effect the 10% savings reductions in the costs of his ministerial office, as announced on 3 February 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8967/09]

Since my appointment as Minister, I have been conscious of the need at all times to reduce costs and ensure value for money and a number of initiatives have already been implemented in my office to that end.

With regard to the specific issue of a further reduction of 10% in the costs associated with Ministerial offices, I can confirm that my Department is reviewing all costs arising from the operation and administration of my office, including staff costs, travel and subsistence, stationery, telecommunications, entertainment and any incidental expenses arising. On foot of this review, I am confident that the required 10% savings will be identified and implemented. I should add that if any opportunities for further savings are identified, these will also be implemented.

Drugs Task Forces.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

73 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make further cuts to the local and regional drugs task forces in the second half of 2009; and if he has audited the impact that further cuts will have for service provision. [8837/09]

Drugs Task Force projects have been approved funding for the first six months of 2009 and this expenditure will be reviewed before allocating the remaining six months funding. Until that exercise is complete, I cannot say if further savings will be required in the context of available funding this year.

In the context of the current economic climate, all Drugs Task Forces have been asked to identify savings across their areas of responsibility. I appreciate that this will involve some difficult choices having to be made, but given the community-based role of the Task Forces, it is a matter for them to identify measures to enable them to work within their allocated budgets.

I would like to assure the Deputy that my primary concern has been — and continues to be — the protection of front-line services delivering vital programmes and initiatives in areas worst affected by problem drug use. I am confident that the funding being provided to Task Forces in 2009 — which will be of the order of €34.6m — will continue to facilitate the delivery of a wide range of community-based initiatives to address problem drug use.

Departmental Funding.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

74 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding allocated to recreational and sporting clubs in each of the past three years to promote youth activities as an alternative to anti-social behaviour and drug misuse; the areas to which the funding was allocated; the results to date of the projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8959/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism has responsibility in relation to the provision of financial assistance for sporting facilities. 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. Addressing anti-social behaviour is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform. I should also inform the Deputy that responsibility for the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF) 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 and programmes to benefit communities and to enable them to enhance the quality of life of every member of their local area. The RAPID Programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to tackling the spatial concentration of poverty and social exclusion within 46 designated RAPID areas nationally. It is a matter for individual lead Departments to report on their investments in RAPID areas.

The Deputy will be aware that, in 2004, I introduced the RAPID Leverage Fund to provide financial support for small-scale projects in RAPID areas, which are endorsed by the RAPID Area Implementation Teams. Under this scheme, my Department provides an additional grant of up to 30% of the funds allocated under the Sports Capital Programme operated by my Colleague, the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism for projects in or serving RAPID areas. Funding of €13m has been allocated since 2004 under the Sports Capital Programme.

Following the enactment of the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Act 2005, funding is ring-fenced annually to support priority projects in RAPID areas. Since 2007, 15% of the annual €7.5million available under the RAPID Additionality Measure is allocated to sports and youth related activities.

There is no specific funding for recreational and sporting clubs to promote youth activities. However, capital funding was provided under the 2008 Regional Youth Initiative for the development of dedicated youth facilities in Regional Drugs Task Force (RDTF) areas not covered under the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund YPFSF. Sixteen projects were approved. These were suitable community based, youth focussed proposals that linked into the overall drug prevention strategy for the particular area. The sixteen projects will play a meaningful and ongoing role in diverting young people away from the dangers of drug use.

Under the Premises Initiative Fund, which addresses the accommodation needs of community based drugs projects in Drugs Task Force areas, capital funding may also be provided for youth focused projects.

In conclusion, while programmes and schemes operated by my Department do not provide specific budgets for youth activities, organisations working for young people may benefit from a number of wider programmes. Details in relation to the programmes referred to above for 2006 to 2008 (inclusive) is provided in the Appendix.

APPENDIX

2006

Support or programme

Number of recreational & sporting clubs

Funding allocated to promote youth activities as an alternative to anti-social behaviour and drug misuse

Areas to which the funding was allocated

RAPID

107

€3.792m

RAPID areas in Carlow, Cavan, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Meath, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford

National Drugs Strategy.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

75 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the services in place to deal with children from the ages of ten to 18 years who are susceptible to drug misuse; the way the new national drugs strategy will focus on young people under 18 years who are at risk of addiction or who are already addicted to one or more drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8850/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the HSE has statutory responsibility for the provision of treatment services for under-18s who report with problem substance use. I understand from them that under-18s are prioritised for treatment as they present.

Three actions in the current National Drugs Strategy relate to provision of treatment services for young people. These involve the development and implementation of guidelines for treatment of under-18s, access to counselling services and the incorporation of family therapy in the treatment provided.

Guidelines for treatment of under-18s were developed by the HSE in 2006 and these are now being utilised in the development of services across the HSE regions. While services in some areas are readily available, the ease of access to treatment services across all HSE regions is not uniform. However, significant improvements are being made in the effort to expand services across the country and to have counselling and family therapy readily accessible. Meanwhile, services for under-18s developed by Local Drugs Task Force projects have complemented HSE services, with counselling and family therapy services available in some locations.

While acknowledging that methadone treatment is not appropriate for all under-18s who become involved with heroin use, the HSE advises that there are no waiting lists for access to a methadone programme for this cohort.

More generally, there is a recognition that problem substance use by young people is not usually attributable to any single factor — rather a number of wider societal risk factors have been shown by research to be evident among many reporting with problem substance use. Therefore, addressing the needs of the under-18 age group, and particularly those at risk among that cohort, is a priority not just for the National Drugs Strategy, but also across the relevant statutory agencies. Policies are being developed and implemented by a number of Departments and agencies to address these risk factors through the provision of youth supports and services. These services have been consolidated within the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

Meanwhile, as the Deputy is aware, work is ongoing on the formulation of the new Drugs Strategy and I expect to receive the recommendations of the Steering Group in the coming weeks. I would envisage that the need for continued and renewed emphasis on the provision of services for under-18s who report with problem substance use will feature in their proposals.

Drugs Use.

Martin Ferris

Question:

76 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he has taken to monitor and highlight the increase in use of crystal meths, crack cocaine and the re-emergence of a more potent heroin, Chinese Snow; and the steps he has taken to inform support services and medical practitioners as to the symptoms and complications associated with abuse of said drugs on their own or with other drugs. [8838/09]

The Early Warning Emerging Trends Committee of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs meets regularly to monitor emerging trends in problem drug use and they signal issues and concerns as they arise. The Alcohol and Drug Research Unit of the Health Research Board (HRB), who are represented on that Committee, also provides up-dates on any developments on international drugs markets that may be of relevance in Ireland. I am also aware that the HSE have an early warning system in place to alert treatment services to any significant changes, emerging concerns or significant incidents.

Arising from concerns raised in regard to crack cocaine in Dublin's North Inner city, the HRB undertook research in the matter and I launched their report ‘Crack Cocaine in the Dublin Region — an evidence base for a crack cocaine strategy' last October. This was followed up with a seminar last month (‘Building a response to Crack Cocaine') that was attended by policy makers and service providers across the sectors. The report showed that the number of people using crack cocaine in Ireland remains low, with current users representing 1% of treated problem drug users. However, we want to avoid a situation where the numbers increase to more serious levels and we are working towards having a sustainable response in place should this happen. The findings of the report also indicated that the growth of crack cocaine use was mainly among problem drug users so any response will have to take account of the poly-substance nature of the misuse involved.

Given that many drug users are involved in poly-drug use, the approach now is to have treatment services in place to deal with the individual, regardless of the drug, or combination of drugs, they use.

In November 2007 the Gardaí hosted an international conference on crystal meth that focussed on establishing a threat assessment in view of the increase in availability of methamphetamine within the European Union. The conference also highlighted international responses, including treatment, to the threat from crystal meth. Crystal meth, which has not manifested itself to a significant degree in Ireland, is most likely to be used by problem drug users and, as with crack cocaine, the treatment response required will need to address the poly-substance nature of the drug users' habits.

As with other stimulant drugs, counselling is the main form of effective treatment and the HSE has been working over the past two years on the development and implementation of a National Addiction Training Programme that will provide appropriate training for people to deal with all substances.

While I am aware of china white and china red as terms for forms of heroin, and of snowballing and snow as cocktails of drugs, I have not previously heard the term "Chinese Snow". In any case, as with crack cocaine and crystal meth, the response required to any variations in the heroin that may become available in Ireland will, as outlined above, most likely relate to the poly-substance nature of such misuse and the need for treatment facilities to be able to respond and deal with all drugs that an individual user presents with.

Departmental Programmes.

Willie Penrose

Question:

77 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding drawn down in regard to the RAPID areas for an area (details supplied); the number of projects funded for each year since the commencement of the programme; the number of projects awaiting funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8960/09]

The RAPID Programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to tackling the spatial concentration of poverty and social exclusion within 46 designated RAPID areas nationally. As I have indicated to the House on a number of occasions, it is a matter for individual Departments to report on the provision of funding and progress on delivery with respect to projects under their responsibility in the RAPID areas. In support, Pobal collects data from each RAPID area in respect of funding allocations received by projects from Government Departments and local state agencies. The latest data in respect of the programme is available on Pobal's website under the RAPID section — http://www.pobal.ie/live/RAPID — and the Deputy may find it useful to access this information.

I initiated the RAPID leverage schemes in 2004 in order to support small-scale projects identified locally by the Area Implementation Teams in each of the RAPID areas. These schemes are co-funded by the relevant agencies and fund projects that focus on estate enhancement, graffiti removal, traffic calming, community closed-circuit television, health and sports facilities, and the provision of playgrounds and multi-use games areas. In 2007 I agreed to co-fund the provision of facilities in schools located in, or mainly servicing children from, RAPID areas.

I can confirm that since the start of the RAPID Leverage Scheme in 2004, 30 projects in this RAPID area attracted €807,874 in funding. So far, €503,588 has been drawn down. The remainder, €304,286 will be provided to individual projects as they are completed, subject to submission of a valid claim. Table 1 below gives a breakdown of projects by year.

Table 1: Number of RAPID Leverage Scheme projects by year

Year

Number of Projects

2004

5

2005

10

2006

3

2007

6

2008

6

Total

30

Departmental Expenditure.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

78 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the way in respect of the announcement of 3 February 2009, it is intended to achieve the general administrative reductions in regard to his Department; the amount expected to be saved in his Department’s budget as a result of this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8966/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

79 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which funding by his Department is expected to be prioritised in 2009; if financial cutbacks are expected to affect one sector more than another; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8852/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 79 together.

As signalled in this House yesterday, the Government is considering a number of measures, which are likely to involve a combination of both revenue-raising and expenditure adjustments, to maintain a prudent fiscal outturn for 2009 and to provide the basis for a sustainable approach to the current financial situation. Across Government, we will be undertaking a range of difficult decisions, but our approach is to do this in as balanced a way as possible. The effects of this in terms of my Department's allocations will be set out in due course in the Revised Estimates Volume.

I can assure the Deputy, as previously indicated to the House, that my primary concern is to continue to make every effort to ensure that the front-line services provided by, or supported through, my Department — especially those focused on the needs of the most disadvantaged communities — are protected to the greatest extent possible.

Drugs Task Forces.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

80 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of drugs task forces in place; the areas covered by such; the reports received by his Department from each group; the resultant actions taken as a result of such reports; the liaison or action taken between his Department and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform as a result of such reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8955/09]

There are 14 Local and 10 Regional Drugs Task Forces currently in place. The locations are listed in the Appendix.

The work of the Drugs Task Forces is overseen by the National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST). The NDST is a cross-sectoral Team with representatives from relevant Government Departments and Agencies, including my own and the community and voluntary sectors are also represented on it.

In addition, a member of the Team acts as liaison person on each of the Task Forces. Through these structures, the NDST addresses and make recommendations on issues arising at local level and receives reports on progress by groups.

The NDST reports to my Department and to the Inter-departmental Group on Drugs (IDG), which I chair. Through these fora, I am kept apprised of the work of the Drugs Task Forces and I receive regular reports and updates from the various players engaged in the National Drugs Strategy, including the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (D/JELR).

The Deputy should also note that, in the context of the consultation process for the new National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016, my officials and I met with representatives from the D/JELR. In addition, the D/JELR has a representative on the Steering Group established to oversee the development of the new Strategy and, along with the others on the Group, they will be playing a significant role in the development and roll-out of the new Strategy.

Appendix

Local Drugs Task Forces

Ballyfermot LDTF

Ballymun LDTF

Blanchardstown LDTF

Bray LDTF

Canal Communities LDTF

Clondalkin LDTF

Cork LDTF

Dublin 12 LDTF

Dublin North East LDTF

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown LDTF

Finglas Cabra LDTF

North Inner City LDTF

South Inner City LDTF

Tallaght LDTF

Regional Drugs Task Forces

East Coast Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown and Wicklow

Mid-West Clare, Limerick and Tipperary NR

Midlands Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath

North East East Cavan, Louth, Meath and Monaghan

North West Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo and West Cavan

Northern Area North Dublin City and Fingal

South Western South Dublin City, South Dublin, Kildare and West Wicklow

South East Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary SR, Waterford and Wexford

Southern Cork and Kerry

Western Galway, Mayo and Roscommon

Questions Nos. 81 and 82 answered with Question No. 65.

Forbairt Ghaeltachta.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

83 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Eamon Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén dul chun cinn atá déanta i leith an triúr áisitheoir pobail sna Gaeltachtaí beaga, An Rinn, Ráth Chairn agus Uíbh Ráthach, a chur ar ais ina bpoist; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8977/09]

Tagraím don Teachta na ceisteanna dála roimhe seo a bhaineann leis seo –uimhir 311 agus 312 ar an 24 Feabhra 2009. Mar atá léirithe, baineann fostaíocht foirne na gcomhlachtaí forbartha áitiúla comhtháite leis na comhlachtaí iad féin. Níl aon fheidhm agam iontu.

Grant Payments.

Denis Naughten

Question:

84 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when a decision will be made on applications under the school outdoors playing facilities enhancement scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8761/09]

There are currently 16 applications in relation to the CLÁR Primary School Outdoor Play Facilities Enhancement Scheme within my Department. In relation to the majority of these my Department is awaiting replies to queries. Decisions will be made in all cases as soon as possible. If the Deputy has a specific query in relation to any particular application, I will be happy to assist, on receipt of the relevant information.

Polasaí don Ghaeilge.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

85 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Eamon Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad iad na ciorruithe atá curtha i bhfeidhm agus atá le cur i bhfeidhm i 2009 ó thaobh na Gaeilge de agus ó thaobh na Gaeltachta de ag a Roinn; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8976/09]

Mar a fógraíodh sa Teach seo inné, tá céimeanna á bhreithniú ag an Rialtas, gur dócha go mbeidh idir méaduithe ar ioncaim agus coigeartuithe i ndáil le caiteachas i gceist, d'fhonn a chinntiú go mbeidh toradh fioscach críonna do 2009 agus go mbeidh bunús ann do chur chuige inbhuanaithe i ndáil leis an staid airgeadais reatha. Beidh cinntí deacra le déanamh thar réimse an Rialtais agus beimid ag iarraidh é sin a dhéanamh ar an mbealach is cothroime is féidir. Beidh éifeachtaí sonracha an phróisis sin i ndáil leis an soláthar a chuirfear ar fáil do mo Roinnse — soláthar don Ghaeilge agus don Ghaeltacht san áireamh — le hathaint nuair a fhoilseofar an t-Imleabhar Meastachán Athbhreithnithe ar ball.

Is féidir liom a chinntiú don Teachta, mar a chuireadh in iúl don Teach cheana, go leanfar de gach iarracht a dhéanamh chun a chinntiú go dtabharfar cosaint feadh ár gcumais do na seirbhísí túslíne a chuirtear ar fáil ó mo Roinnse, nó a fhaigheann tacaíocht uaithi.

Job Creation.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

86 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has, under any of the schemes or funding available to him, created or is proposing to create initiatives to either protect or promote small and medium enterprises within areas for which his Department has responsibility and in which there have been redundancies or job losses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8953/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment has primary responsibility in relation to the promotion of small and medium enterprises. However, my Department operates a range of initiatives, schemes and programmes that support the growth of business and enterprise. Relevant schemes include the 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme (RDP), the CLÁR programme, the Community Services Programme, the Enterprise scheme for non-Gaeltacht offshore islands, and Rural Recreation schemes.

My Department is responsible for the implementation of the LEADER elements of the 2007-2013 RDP. A key objective of the programme focuses on the diversification of the rural economy and specifically provides €48.26m to support micro-enterprises. This funding will complement the supports provided by the County Enterprise Boards and will focus, in particular, on the development of indigenous rural resources in artisan food, forestry, marine, rural / agri-tourism, cultural heritage and community promoted enterprises; the development of recreational tourism and other complementary tourism supports and environmentally friendly initiatives.

In addition to the above, I would draw the Deputy's attention to the work of Údarás na Gaeltachta and the Western Development Commission (WDC), which are agencies under the aegis of my Department. Údarás na Gaeltachta are working to reverse the downward employment trend in the Gaeltacht (with a target of 800 new jobs annually) and effect the transition from a declining manufacturing sector to employment in services, including Irish-language centred employment.

Community Development.

Michael Ring

Question:

87 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will incorporate a value for money review into the new rural development programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8859/09]

All Rural Development Programmes, including previous LEADER Programmes, are subject to ongoing evaluation and this is set out in the EC regulations governing the respective programmes. In the context of the new Rural Development Programme, the EC regulation governing the Programme provides for a mid-term evaluation, the objective of which is to propose measures to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the implementation of the Programme. There is also provision for an ex-post evaluation of the Programme.

These evaluations will examine the degree of utilisation of resources, the effectiveness and efficiency of the programming, and the socio-economic impact of the Programme, while also identifying best practice and the factors contributing to the success or failure of the Programme's implementation.

The Managing Authority for the Programme, which is the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the Irish context, is obliged to conduct the mid-term and ex-post evaluations in 2010 and 2015 respectively. These evaluations will be publicly available.

Departmental Statistics.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

88 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the projects which have gone over the timescale and budget within her 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. [9101/09]

Officials in my Department are currently compiling the information sought by the Deputy. However, we are not in a position to provide the information requested given the relatively short time available to my Department since the Question was tabled. As soon as the information is collated from across my Department I will be in further contact with the Deputy.

Tax Yield.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

89 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the revenue that would be gained and lost in a full year by a 1% change in the standard rate of tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9051/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year yield and cost to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2009 incomes, of changing the standard rate of tax by one percentage point would be of the order of €560 million. This figure is provisional and subject to revision.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

90 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the revenue that would be gained and lost in a full year by a 1% change in the higher rate of tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9052/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year yield and cost to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2009 incomes, of changing the higher rate of tax by one percentage point would be of the order of €220 million. This figure is provisional and subject to revision.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

91 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the revenue that would be gained and lost in a full year by a €100 change in the standard rate band; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9053/09]

I assume that the change mentioned by the Deputy is to apply in similar measures to single and widowed persons and lone parents. Double this amount is assumed to apply to married couples.

On this basis, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year yield and cost to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2009 incomes, of changing the standard rate band by €100 would be of the order of €17 million.

This figure is provisional and subject to revision.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

92 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the revenue that would be gained and lost by a 1% change in the higher rate of VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9054/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year cost/yield to the Exchequer of a reduction/increase in the 21.5% standard rate of VAT by 1 percentage point is €390 million. The estimates provided are based on current expectations of VAT yield in 2009.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

93 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the revenue that would be gained and lost in a full year by a 1% change in the lower rate of VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9055/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year cost/yield to the Exchequer of a reduction/increase in the 13.5% reduced rate of VAT by 1 percentage point is €300 million. The estimates provided are based on current expectations of VAT yield in 2009.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

94 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the revenue that would be gained and lost in a full year by a €1 increase in excise duties on 20 cigarettes and corresponding increases in other tobacco products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9056/09]

It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to a €1 (VAT inclusive) price increase on a 20 packet of cigarettes. I am informed by The Revenue Commissioners that the revenue that would be gained in a full year by this increase and corresponding increases in other tobacco products is estimated to be €182 million.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

95 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the yield in each of the past five years from taxes on inheritances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9057/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information available in respect of the yield from inheritance tax is as follows:

Year

Inheritance Tax

€m

2004

171.3

2005

196.7

2006

299.4

2007

314.5

2008*

291.8

*The figure for 2008 is provisional and subject to revision.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

96 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the revenue that would be gained and lost in a full year by a 1% change in the rate of capital gains tax. [9058/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year gain or loss to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to the expected 2009 outturn, of a 1% change in the rate of capital gains tax (CGT) is estimated to be in the range of €35 million to €39 million.

CGT is very dependent on individual behaviour and a change in rate may not produce a corresponding increase or decrease in tax yield. In current economic conditions any estimate of additional yield must be treated with caution. In addition increasing the rate could, in theory, lead to a reduction in yield from the tax.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

97 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the revenue that would be gained and lost in a full year by a 1% change in the rate of inheritance tax. [9059/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year yield or loss to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to expected 2009 outturn, of a 1% change in the rate of inheritance tax, is estimated to be in the region of €11 million.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

98 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the revenue that would be gained by a 10% reduction and by a 20% reduction in the thresholds for all groups of inheritance tax. [9060/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year gain to the Exchequer of a 10% and 20% reduction in the inheritance thresholds is estimated to be in the order of €19 million and €37 million respectively.

These estimates are based on transactions recorded in 2008.

Decentralisation Programme.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

99 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the current and capital expenditure provided for in 2009 to progress decentralisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9061/09]

As I announced in my Budget statement, the Government has reviewed the decentralisation programme and has identified priority elements which should proceed at this time. In prioritising the projects which are going ahead, the Government has taken account of the human resource aspects of the programme, commitments already made, the costs involved and the business readiness of organisations to move. An Exchequer capital envelope for decentralisation projects of €72 million in 2009 was provided for in the Budget. While there is no central provision for current expenditure, liabilities will be met from the voted expenditure for each of the decentralising organisations.

Any changes to the Estimates as announced on Budget Day will be included in the Revised Estimates Volume due to be published shortly.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

100 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance the priorities and objectives for the operation of Anglo Irish Bank which would guide the risk management strategy referred to in his speech on 12 February 2009; if the remuneration package agreed for the bank executives includes a correlation with compliance with all ethics regulations, and financial controls as well as performance; if the management staff of the bank are fully conversant with ethics for public servants, financial regulations and risk management for every trade done in the banks name and its implications for the future bank balance sheet of the bank in order to change the culture of out of control marketing and sales that has operated in the bank previous to nationalisation; the system of internal auditing that will be established to ensure compliance and accountability for all transactions undertaken; the actions that have been taken to introduce regulatory reform of the banking and financial system; and if there will be an opportunity for public input into proposals for reform. [9084/09]

Anglo Irish Bank was taken into public ownership on the 21 January 2009. At that time the board of the bank was reconstituted under the chairmanship of Mr Donal O'Connor. The bank continues to trade as a commercial entity and the board and management of the bank continues to manage the bank on and independent and commercial basis, at arms length from Government.

The Board of the bank is preparing a comprehensive business plan which is being designed to ensure the bank's long term viability. This report will be submitted to me in the near future. Further the new Board has commenced a full review of governance and internal approval procedures to ensure that the governance and operation of the bank, including the internal audit function, is a model of best practice in this regard. This review is being carried out with the assistance of outside expertise and I am assured by the Board that the recommendations will be fully implemented.

As stated, the bank is being run on an arms length commercial basis and decisions in relation to remuneration of staff, human resource management, and internal audit systems are consequently a matter for the Board. It goes without saying that Anglo Irish Bank, its Board and its staff, are subject to compliance with the relevant legal and regulatory codes. Furthermore, since nationalisation, Anglo-Irish Bank Corporation is a public body for the purposes of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 to 2001 and the relevant employees of the bank are subject to the provisions of these Acts. The Board has been informed of the application of this legislation to the bank.

With regard to executive remuneration, in line with the other covered institutions, the remuneration of directors and senior executive staff at Anglo Irish Bank is being considered by the Covered Institution Oversight Committee (CIROC) established under the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme 2008. The Scheme provides for controls on executive remuneration in institutions covered by the Guarantee. The Scheme requires each covered institution to prepare and submit a plan to structure the remuneration packages of directors and executives so as to take account of the objectives of the Credit Institution (Financial Support) Act 2008, which include maintaining financial stability in the best interest of the public, and minimising the potential cost to the Exchequer and taxpayers. CIROC has reported to me and I am considering the report.

The Government has stated that it will examine proposals for the management and reduction of risks within financial institutions with respect to specific exposures in land and development, having regard to international developments. As indicated I will be bringing forward proposals on this as a matter of priority. Ongoing work at European Central Bank level and in the EU will inform the process.

Finally, the Deputy will be aware the Government is committed to the introduction of new standards of banking regulation and new standards of corporate governance, which will restore our reputation and move us to the forefront of best international practice. The Minister for Finance be bringing proposals to Government very shortly in relation to the reform of the Central Bank and the supervision and regulatory functions of the Financial Regulator. This will build on best international practice. Any legislative proposals in this regard will be progressed through the Oireachtas in the normal way.

Tax Refund.

Sean Fleming

Question:

101 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance when the deposit interest retention tax refund claim will be approved and granted in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois. [9088/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they have received a claim for repayment of deposit interest retention tax in respect of the years 2004 to 2007 inclusive. Revenue has processed the claims and a cheque in respect of the tax overpaid will issue to the taxpayer within the next week.

Grant Payments.

James Bannon

Question:

102 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance when a person (details supplied) in County Longford will be granted their urban renewal grant which has been sanctioned since 30 January 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9102/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant claim form for Owner-Occupier relief, and some supporting documentation was received on 29 January 2009 from the person in question.

The Sligo Revenue office has been in contact with the person to obtain documents omitted and clarifications of some information provided. When the outstanding documentation and clarifications are received, the claim for Owner-Occupier relief will be processed without delay.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Richard Bruton

Question:

103 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the components of the equity and liabilities of the six Irish guaranteed institutions which were not guaranteed at 30 September 2008 and 26 February 2009, respectively, listed by each category of capital, quasi-capital, undated subordinated debt and bonds maturing after September 2010; if he is monitoring movements between guaranteed and non-guaranteed liabilities in each of the covered institutions. [9123/09]

The Financial Regulator has advised me that in the time available, it has not been possible to identify and assemble the information requested. I will write to the Deputy with material as soon as possible.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

104 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for nursing home subvention in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [9023/09]

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

Health Services.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

105 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an appeal of domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [9067/09]

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.

Pharmaceutical Sector.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

106 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention was drawn to the problem regarding the sale here of counterfeit pharmaceuticals (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9071/09]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

107 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children the discussions she has had with the World Health Organisation in regard to the global pharmaceutical counterfeiting industry (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9072/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 107 together.

I am advised by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) that no counterfeit medicines have been identified in the legal supply chain in Ireland. The IMB, in cooperation with Revenue, focus on the illegal supply of medicines by Internet websites with a view to protecting public health. The IMB inspects manufacturing and distribution facilities to ensure that all medicinal products made available through the legal supply chain are of good quality and safe.

Ireland participates in a range of initiatives and actions focused on preventing counterfeit medical products from gaining access to the Irish, European Community and other international markets. The sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals is not just a challenge for national governments. This illicit trade is cross-border and transnational by its very nature and as such can only be successfully tackled by way of appropriate actions by the international community.

My Department and the IMB participate in the Council of Europe (CoE) initiatives to prevent counterfeit medical products entering the market. Two CoE groups are actively attended by IMB experts on pharmaceutical crime. One such group has just completed the first draft of a convention on counterfeit medical products. The draft will be negotiated among member states with a view to having it put before the CoE Council of Ministers in 2010. The other CoE group has developed and delivered multi-sector training in the investigation of counterfeit medical products. IMB officials and Irish Revenue Customs received this training during 2008.

My Department and the IMB also support the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative known as the International Medical Product Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (IMPACT). Ireland participates in the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime (PFIPC), which is the enforcement advisor to WHO/IMPACT Enforcement Committee.

In 2008 and 2009, as part of "Operation Pangea", (involving 11 countries and Interpol) the IMB participated in the International Internet Day of Action, which targeted rogue Internet websites that are suspected of supplying counterfeit medicines.

At EU level, a draft Directive on the prevention of the entry into the legal supply chain of medicinal products which are falsified in relation to their identity, history or source has been put forward by the EU Commission. The overall aim is to strengthen existing EU legislation (Directive 2001/83/EC) to protect EU citizens from the dangers of fake medicines. The proposed Directive will be considered at both European Parliament and the Council of Ministers as part of the co-decision procedure before it can be translated into law. Officials from my Department are fully involved in these discussions.

Eating Disorders.

James Reilly

Question:

108 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of recommendations of the Obesity Task Force that have been implemented in full; the recommendations which have been implemented in full; the action that was taken in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9073/09]

Implementation of the recommendations of the National Taskforce on Obesity is ongoing. A wide range of initiatives have been taken by various Government Departments and Agencies.

Since becoming Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion, I have made tackling obesity one of my keys priorities. It is my intention to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that a coherent approach is adopted to the implementation of the recommendations. For this reason and in order to give a new impetus to the issue, I established a multi-sectoral group on obesity, comprising representatives of all stakeholders, including experts from key Government Departments and agencies, the food industry and relevant Non-Government Organisations. Its first task is to report by Easter on the progress to date in the implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force and the actions being taken.

Health Services.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

109 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 whose child will have no day placement when they reach 18 years even though their needs will not change; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9074/09]

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.

Jack Wall

Question:

110 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive notification of a procedure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9075/09]

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

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

111 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will meet a group (details supplied) to discuss their concerns regarding changes to the Vietnamese inter-country adoption agreement; and if her attention has been drawn to the urgency of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9085/09]

I have advised the House over recent weeks on the situation regarding inter-country adoption in Vietnam. I can inform the Deputy that officials met the group in question today to discuss their concerns.

Health Services Property.

Tom Hayes

Question:

112 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive has approved land for sale in respect of the site of a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if so, when the next step in the process will take place for the HSE to get this land transferred and ready for sale. [9089/09]

Estate management of the Health Service Executive property portfolio is a service matter and the question has therefore been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

113 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if the administrative function, that is, assessment and processing of applications for a medical card for the over 70 year olds will continue to remain with the Health Service Executive south or if there are plans to transfer this function to another geographical area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9096/09]

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

Nursing Home Subventions.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

114 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position with regard to the payment of funds under the nursing home repayment scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 who is deemed to be non compos mentis; the person who is therefore charged with the responsibility of such funds; and the position with regard to the person. [9097/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

James Bannon

Question:

115 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford has been refused the domiciliary care allowance in respect of their daughter, despite having appealed the decision on hardship and severe disability problems grounds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9103/09]

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.

James Bannon

Question:

116 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath has been refused the domiciliary care allowance in respect of their son, despite hardship and severe disability problems; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9104/09]

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.

Health Services.

Martin Ferris

Question:

117 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the Health Service Executive’s plans to centralise to Dublin, health schemes such as the medical card, drugs payment, ophthalmic and immunisation scheme despite the difficulties this will create for service users in the regions who will have to contact Dublin for assistance as well as the possible loss of jobs to those working with the HSE in the regions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9124/09]

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

Public Transport.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

118 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Transport the status of an application by a company (details supplied) who have submitted an application for a bus route licence from Galway Airport to Fairgreen, Galway City centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9065/09]

My Department received an application on 12 February 2009 from the operator referred to by the Deputy for the provision of bus passenger services from Galway Airport to Fairgreen Galway City. In accordance with long standing practice, details of applications received by my Department remain confidential until a decision is made.

The operator has been informed that this application is currently being processed and will be considered under the provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932. My Department will contact the operator with the outcome of their considerations in due course.

Departmental Programmes.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

119 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport 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. [9099/09]

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

Garda Stations.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

120 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position with regard to the building of a Garda station (details supplied); when he expects construction to get underway; the reason for delays at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9048/09]

The position with regard to the matter raised by the Deputy remains as outlined in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 388 (ref.: 32363/08) of 30th September last.

Criminal Prosecutions.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

121 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prosecutions that took place in each of the years 2004 to 2008 in respect of shops, off-licences and other such premises selling alcohol to persons aged under 18 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9112/09]

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.

Proposed Legislation.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

122 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the recommendations of the Kopp report on the State Forensic Laboratory that have been implemented to date and which remain to be implemented; the number of additional personnel who have been appointed to the State Forensic Laboratory since the publication of the Kopp report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9113/09]

I refer the Deputy to my response to Parliamentary Question Number 70, of 25th February, 2009 which inter alia sets out the position in relation to the implementation of the Kopp Report on the State Forensic Laboratory.

Garda Deployment.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

123 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí appointed to the Garda National Drugs Unit in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9114/09]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of the Garda National Drugs Unit on 31 January 2009, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 60. The GNDU is based in Dublin Castle and deployed nationally to support Divisional Drugs Units as and when required.

The personnel strength of the Drugs Unit in each Division on 31 January 2009 was as set out in the following table:

Division

Strength

D.M.R.S.C

20

D.M.R.N.C

15

D.M.R.N

33

D.M.R.E

10

D.M.R.S

27

D.M.R.W

32

Waterford/Kilkenny

15

Wexford

13

Tipperary

14

Cork City

24

Cork North

8

Cork West

6

Kerry

11

Limerick

14

Donegal

8

Cavan/Monaghan

11

Sligo/Leitrim

8

Louth

8

Clare

6

Mayo

6

Galway

13

Roscommon/Longford

3

Westmeath

12

Meath

3

Carlow/Kildare

8

Laois/Offaly

10

Wicklow

11

Total

349

It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to allocate personnel throughout the Force taking everything into account. The situation will be kept under review and the allocation of Gardaí to these Divisions will be fully considered by the Commissioner within the overall context of policing requirements throughout the country.

Prisoner Transfers.

Joe Costello

Question:

124 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will repatriate a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9212/09]

The person referred to by the Deputy has made six separate applications for transfer to a prison in this jurisdiction under the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. All of these have been refused and the person concerned has been notified of the reasons for these refusals.

As the Deputy is aware, the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons does not confer an automatic right on any prisoner to be transferred nor does it confer an obligation on any State to comply with a transfer request.

Residency Permits.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

125 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the rule that was introduced in 2007, for volunteer workers from non-EU countries that come to work here with churches and voluntary bodies, which means that these workers can only stay here for a maximum of three years; if in view of difficulties this rule is causing to churches and voluntary bodies, it is proposed to change this rule; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9239/09]

A general policy has been in place for a number of years to the effect that religious and volunteer workers in the State should remain for a maximum of 3 years. However, this policy, while remaining in force, has not been rigorously applied and such volunteer workers have on a case by case basis been facilitated with further renewals, although it is not intended that such permissions be open-ended.

The particular immigration status given to religious and volunteer workers indicates that they are not entitled to participate in the labour market. It was also understood they are dependent on their employing church or organisation for their upkeep, finances, and medical expenses or the person concerned could of course organise their own private medical insurance. My Department is currently reviewing the policy in relation to religious and volunteer workers and when that process is completed the terms and conditions governing this category of temporary migration will be set out clearly for the benefit of all parties.

Sports Capital Programme.

Sean Fleming

Question:

126 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when outstanding issues in relation to the payment of a grant under the sports capital programme to an organisation (details supplied) in County Laois will be dealt with. [9087/09]

The grantee in question was provisionally allocated a grant of €70,000 under the sports capital programme in 2004. 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 the legal issues are now close to being finalised on foot of documentation received today from the grantee's solicitor. Accordingly, my Department will shortly be in a position to issue formal approval in respect of this grant and will provide every assistance to the grantee in question to expedite the payment of the grant.

Departmental Funding.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

127 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if there is financial assistance available from his Department for a community (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9090/09]

I have no statutory responsibility for the matters raised in the Deputies question.

Community Development.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

128 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding to be made available for the staffing of the Collinstown Park Sports Hall, Clondalkin, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9232/09]

My Department is currently concluding contract details with the South Dublin VEC to enable funding of the order of €450,000-€500,000 to be provided in 2009 under the Community Services Programme to ensure that services provided at four dual-use school and community facilities are maintained. While separate figures have not been established for the Collinstown facility, my understanding is that the services will be of equal quality across the four centres.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

129 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding awarded by way of grant or other form of aid to various groups throughout County Kildare in the past two years; the degree to which it is expected to improve or increase such aid in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9251/09]

The amount of funding awarded by way of grant or other form of aid to various groups throughout County Kildare in the past two years is outlined in the following table. It is obviously necessary to take account of the current economic reality and of the pressure on the public finances in the operation of these schemes and inevitably there will have to be changes affecting the funding of schemes. Against that background, priority will be given to frontline services.

Name of organisation

Amount awarded 2007

Amount awarded 2008

Scheme /programme/ measure awarded

*Kildare Community Partnership

842,652.00

792,335.00

Local Development Social Inclusion Programme

*OAK Partnership (Offaly & Kildare Partnership)

463,467.00

483,188.00

Local Development Social Inclusion Programme

19th Kildare Salesian Scouts

3,600.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

5th Kildare (Athy) Scout Den

0.00

40,000.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Abbey Project

0.00

66,301.00

Drugs Initiatives

Accord

50,920.00

0.00

Feds and Nets Scheme

Accord

0.00

47,000.00

White paper funding scheme to support national organisations in the Community and Voluntary sector

Allenwood Comm Dev Assoc Ltd

12,990.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Aontas Ogra

5,000.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Athy Community Council Ltd

5,400.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Athy Community Development Project

91,260.00

109,541.00

Community Development Programme

Athy Community Development Project

0.00

17,968.00

Dormant Account — RAPID additionality

Athy District Resource Centre

10,350.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Athy Recreational Community Hall

0.00

600.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme: Sports Capital Top-Up 2008

Athy Rowing Club

3,750.00

0.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme:Sports Capital Top-Up 2007

Athy Rugby Football Club

5,400.00

0.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme: Sports Capital Top-Up 2007

Athy Sports & Acrobatics Club

5,700.00

0.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme: Sports Capital Top-Up 2007

Athy Town AFC

0.00

21,000.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme: Sports Capital Top-Up 2008

Athy Town Council

200,000.00

0.00

Dormant Account — RAPID additionality

Athy Town Council

66,000.00

0.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme:Playgrounds

Athy Town Council

0.00

66,000.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme:Playgrounds

Athy Travellers Support Group

8,860.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Athy Travellers Support Group Ltd.

0.00

2,000.00

Dormant Account — RAPID additionality

Ballitore Development Assoc

3,555.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Bleach & District C A

4,539.00

4,078.57

Community Supports for Older People

Breaking Through Ltd

71,500.00

0.00

Feds and Nets Scheme

Name of organisation

Amount awarded 2007

Amount awarded 2008

Scheme /programme/ measure awarded

Breaking Through Ltd

0.00

73,000.00

White paper funding scheme to support national organisations in the Community and Voluntary sector

Caragh C A

4,141.20

0.00

Community Supports for Older People

Carers Association Naas

0.00

8,660.00

Community Supports for Older People

Castledermot Comm Serv

1,870.60

0.00

Community Supports for Older People

Castlemitchell Gaelic Football Club

5,400.00

0.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme: Sports Capital Top-Up 2007

Celbridge C A

3,106.16

0.00

Community Supports for Older People

Celbridge Community Council

0.00

7,274.98

Community Supports for Older People

Churchtown Community Dev Assoc

6,636.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Community Drug Team

203,000.00

340112.00

Drugs Initiatives

Griese Youth Theatre

19,990.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

HSE

0.00

3,000.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme: Health Sector Co-Fund 2008

John Resource Centre

15,363.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Kilcock Branch Dyslexia Assoc

6,381.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Kildare Branch Down Syndrome Ireland

3,160.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Kildare Community Partnership

15,000.00

0.00

Dormant Accounts — Recreation Development for Disadvantaged Youth

Kildare Community Partnership

0.00

15,500.00

Dormant Account — RAPID additionality

Kildare European LEADER 11 Teo

404,693.00

411,536.00

Rural Social Scheme**

Kildare European LEADER 11 Teo

1.04m

569,944.00

LEADER Programmes

Kildare Sports Partnership

0.00

53,516.00

Dormant Account — RAPID additionality

Kildare Traveller Action Ltd

5,700.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Kildare Volunteer Centre

112,150.00

126,690.00

Scheme to Support Volunteers and volunteering

Leixlip Resource Centre

6,009.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Lions Club Kildare

11,500.00

0.00

Community Supports for Older People

Maynooth Kilcock Lions Club

0.00

480.00

Community Supports for Older People

Meals on Wheels

0.00

30,000.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme: Health Sector Co-Fund 2008

Name of organisation

Amount awarded 2007

Amount awarded 2008

Scheme /programme/ measure awarded

Monasterevan Old Folks

885.30

2,815.09

Community Supports for Older People

Muintireas

0.00

964.00

Community Supports for Older People

Naas & District C A

30,115.28

30,600.00

Community Supports for Older People

National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education

36,500.00

0.00

Feds and Nets Scheme

Network Kildare

17,340.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Newbridge Ass Care of Elderly

11472.90

4,423.68

Community Supports for Older People

Newbridge Family resource Centre

22,354.00

0.00

Drugs Initiatives

Newbridge Resource Centre

15,826.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Newtown Donadea A R

3,542.50

700.00

Community Supports for Older People

North-West Kildare CDP

107,980.00

112,300.00

Community Development Programme

Prosperous Comm Youth

38,900.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Rathangan Core Group

0.00

16,645.00

Community Supports for Older People

Rathangan Parish Welfare

3,346.10

0.00

Community Supports for Older People

Rose Bud Brownie Unit

2,025.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Sisters Of Charity of Jesus & Mary

5,400.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

St John of God Kildare Services

7,070.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

St. Michael’s Boxing Club

10,500.00

0.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme: Sports Capital Top-Up 2007

St. Vincent’s Athy

0.00

67,000.00

RAPID Leverage Scheme: Health Sector Co-Fund 2008

Staplestown C A

985.30

2,600.00

Community Supports for Older People

Teen Challenge

170,000.00

0.00

Drugs Initiatives

The Bridge CDP

150,690.00

130,000.00

Community Development Programme

The Bridge CDP

1,058.50

4,635.50

Community Supports for Older People

The Evergreens

864.00

1,573.40

Community Supports for Older People

Tir na Mona

682.00

0.00

Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations

Women’s Integrated Network

0.00

36,016.00

Dormant Account — RAPID additionality

National Drugs Strategy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

130 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans to increase or offer support to the various community groups throughout County Kildare in urban or rural areas with particular reference to those involved in drug rehabilitation programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9252/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

135 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans to increase or improve financial assistance to groups, bodies or agencies, voluntary or statutory, involved or proposing to get involved, in drug rehabilitation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9257/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 135 together.

As I have previously advised the Deputy, funding for the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces in 2009 will be approximately €34.6m. Of this, over €23m is being allocated to the LDTFs while over €11m is being earmarked for the Regional groups.

In relation to Co. Kildare, which is part of the South West RDTF area, the following allocations have been made: Abbey Project — funding of €150,000 has been provisionally allocated in 2009 to provide a number of services such as drop-in, family support, referral, counselling, holistic therapies and advice and information on housing to drug users and their families from Celbridge and the surrounding areas; Community Drug Team for Kildare and West Wicklow — for 2009, funding of €350,000 has been provisionally approved for this service which will expand and complement existing treatment services along with family support and early responses to young people at the early stage of drug misuse; and Newbridge Family Resource Centre — in 2007, an amount of €22,354 was approved under the Premises Initiative in respect of the purchase and installation of a semi-permanent structure for the Centre to provide a dedicated drop-in facility for "at risk" youth.

Some of the other funding provided to that Drugs Task Force also provides benefit broadly across their region of operation, including Co. Kildare. In addition, in the region of €80,000 has been made available to Teen Challenge, a rehabilitation project at Shechem House, Richardstown, Co. Kildare, arising from applications through the South Inner City LDTF in Dublin. This funding is in respect of the first half of 2009.

Overall, in the region of €22m was spent in 2008 on projects in Task Force areas with a treatment and rehabilitation focus. Funding for the majority of these projects will continue in 2009, albeit in some cases, possibly at a somewhat reduced level. Roughly 70% of the LDTF projects focus on treatment/rehabilitation, while over 44% of the regional projects have a similar focus.

In addition to this, funding approved in 2008 towards three homeless-related rehabilitation projects will continue in 2009 in the amount of €500,000. The Deputy should also note that the National Drug Rehabilitation Implementation Committee was set up late 2008 by the HSE. The Senior Rehabilitation Coordinator to chair and lead the work of the group was also appointed at that time. A number of meetings have been held to date and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of their deliberations over the coming months and years.

Departmental Programmes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

131 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which the CLÁR programme is intended to expand or retract in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9253/09]

The CLÁR Programme provides funding and co-funding to Government Departments, State agencies and local authorities to accelerate investment in selected priority developments in areas that have suffered significant depopulation. These investments support physical, economic and social infrastructure across a variety of measures. The measures introduced under the Programme reflect the priorities identified by the communities in the selected areas.

The CLÁR programme budget for 2009 currently stands at €16.9.m and represents a reduction on the 2008 allocations. I would emphasise, however, that one of the strengths of the CLÁR Programme has always been its ability to focus on priority needs in CLÁR areas. The CLÁR programme will continuously be refocused to deal with the priorities for those areas, especially in the current difficult economic climate.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

132 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which the RAPID programme is intended to expand or retract in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9254/09]

The RAPID Programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to tackling the spatial concentration of poverty and social exclusion within 46 designated RAPID areas nationally. As I have indicated to the House on a number of occasions, it is a matter for individual Departments to report on the provision of funding and progress on delivery with respect to projects under their responsibility in the RAPID areas. In support, Pobal collects data from each RAPID area in respect of funding allocations received by projects from Government Departments and local state agencies. The latest data in respect of the programme is available on Pobal's website under the RAPID section — http://www.pobal.ie/live/RAPID — and the Deputy may find it useful to access this information.

I initiated the RAPID leverage schemes in 2004 in order to support small-scale projects identified locally by the Area Implementation Teams in each of the RAPID areas. These schemes are co-funded by the relevant agencies and fund projects that focus on estate enhancement, graffiti removal, traffic calming, community closed-circuit television, health and sports facilities, and the provision of playgrounds and multi-use games areas. In 2007 I agreed to co-fund the provision of facilities in schools located in, or mainly servicing children from, RAPID areas. €6.09m has been allocated in 2009 for the RAPID leverage schemes. I am satisfied that this year's allocation will be sufficient to enable further good progress to be made with small-scale co-funded projects in RAPID areas in 2009.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of community based projects which received support from his Department in each of the past five years; the extent to which this is expected to alter in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9255/09]

It has not been possible within the time available to compile the information sought. I am arranging for this work to be compiled and the material provided directly to the Deputy as a matter of priority.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals to increase support to community based groups involved in alleviating the social impact of the economic downturn in both urban and rural communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9256/09]

Against the background of the current economic reality and of the pressure on the public finances, my priority is to make every effort that front-line services provided through my Department, especially those focused on the needs of the most socially deprived communities, are prioritised. With regard to alleviating the social impact of the economic downturn in both urban and rural communities, my Department has a range of programmes, schemes and measures supportive of the rural economy, tackling unemployment among the disadvantaged and enterprise development.

As the Deputy will be aware, the new Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013 includes particular measures in relation to rural enterprise development and the diversification of the rural economy. Funding under the LEADER elements of the RDP for the period 2007-2013 will amount to €425.4 million — almost treble the €150 million available for LEADER activities for the 2000-06 period. The measures under the RDP are expected to result in over 12,000 new jobs during the lifetime of the programme.

Rural recreation, rural tourism and marine leisure offer opportunities for attracting more visitors to Ireland's regions and thus positive impacts for local economies including employment. This Department promotes the countryside as a recreational resource and has introduced a number of initiatives to boost walking tourism, including the appointment of walk managers and the establishment of a countryside forum, Comhairle na Tuaithe. In 2007, Fáilte Ireland estimated that 511,000 overseas visitors participated in walking activities in Ireland, who spent some €339 million in total.

The Services for the Unemployed Measure of the Local Development Social Inclusion Programme (LDSIP) specifically supports individuals into employment and self-employment through education, training, work experience, job placement, enterprise and the social economy. During 2008 27807 adults were supported under the services for the unemployed measure. As the Deputy will be aware, the Community Services Programme provides employment opportunities for people from disadvantaged groups, including people with disabilities, long-term unemployed, travellers, lone parents and rehabilitated drug misusers. Nearly 2,400 people are employed in the 372 Projects currently approved for funding. By the end of 2009, I estimate that more than 2,600 people will be engaged by CSP supported projects.

The Rural Social Scheme currently provides employment for some 2,700 persons, mainly low and medium income farmers and fishermen. The work undertaken on the Scheme benefits communities and can help generate economic renewal at a local level and alleviate the social impact of the economic downturn. In addition to the above, I would draw the Deputy's attention to the work of Údarás na Gaeltachta. Údarás na Gaeltachta are working to reverse the downward employment trend in the Gaeltacht (with a target of 800 new jobs annually) and effect the transition from a declining manufacturing sector to employment in services, including Irish-language centred employment. The organisation also provides supports for community based projects in the areas of language development, child care, youth services and rural development.

Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 130.

Planning Issues.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

136 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has had discussions with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with a view to ensuring that the housing requirements of rural populations are met by way of provision in the various county development plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9258/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

137 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the discussions he has had with the various local authorities with a view to ensuring continued indigenous growth in rural communities with particular reference to planning permissions to facilitate such population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9259/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together.

Planning permission is primarily a matter for local authorities under the relevant legislation and guidelines issued by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

As I have said before in the House, I believe that balanced physical planning is crucial and it is to ensure this balance that the National Spatial Strategy clearly sets out the principals on which one-off houses should be granted in the countryside. It clearly articulates the right of those, with a connection to the countryside by way of background or by way of employment, to live and be granted planning permission in rural Ireland. I and my officials have regular contacts with Ministers and officials in the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and various Local Authorities on issues concerning rural development.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

138 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans to support community based groups involved in the various projects which have previously received support or might be eligible to receive support under the schemes operated by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9260/09]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department supports a broad range of community based groups across a wide range of programmes including local and community development, rural development, Gaeltacht, islands, volunteering and drugs strategy. It is obviously necessary to take account of the current economic reality and of the pressure on the public finances in the operation of these schemes and inevitably there will have to be changes affecting the funding of schemes. Against that background, priority will be given to frontline services.

Child Support.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

139 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of Irish nationals who were found not to satisfy the habitual residence condition in the periods July to December 2004, July to December 2005, July to December 2006, July to December 2007, July to December 2008, and to date in 2009. [9217/09]

The requirement to be habitually resident in Ireland was introduced as a qualifying condition for certain social assistance schemes and child benefit with effect from 1 May 2004. It was introduced in the context of the Government's decision to open the Irish labour market to workers from the 10 new EU Member States, without the transitional limitations which were imposed at that time by most of the other Member States. The effect of the condition is that a person whose habitual residence is elsewhere would not normally be entitled to social welfare assistance or child benefit payments on arrival in Ireland.

The information requested is set out in the following table. Figures for February 2009 are not yet available.

Period

Irish nationals refused under HRC

July to December 2004

176

July to December 2005

309

July to December 2006

239

July to December 2007

186

July to December 2008

176

January 2009

21

Carer’s Strategy.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

140 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position in relation to the publication of a carer’s strategy. [9299/09]

During 2008 an interdepartmental group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, with secretariat support provided by my Department, undertook work to develop a national carers strategy. Unfortunately, in the current economic climate it is not possible to consider introducing any developments in services for carers at this time. In that context, rather than publishing a document which does not include any significant plans for the future, the Government has decided not to publish a strategy at this time.

The Government is acutely aware of the sacrifices made by the many people who care for others and has sought to make many improvements in services and supports for carers. Over the past decade weekly payment rates to carers have greatly increased, qualifying conditions for carer's allowance have significantly eased, coverage of the scheme has been extended and new schemes such as carer's benefit and the respite care grant have been introduced and extended.

I appreciate that it is disappointing for carers and the people for whom they care that we are not in a position to publish a strategy at this time. I met with some of their representatives earlier this week to inform them of this difficult decision taken by Government.

I also wanted to acknowledge all those who took the time to make submissions as part of the public consultation process and to assure them that those submissions were considered in detail by the working group and will inform our thinking in the future. The Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Department of Health and Children, including the Health Service Executive, are committed to working with the carer representative groups to deliver services in a more effective way to support the carer groups in the valuable work they do in supporting carers.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

141 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position in relation to the reform of supports for lone parents. [9300/09]

The Government discussion paper, "Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents", put forward proposals to tackle obstacles to employment for lone parents and other low income families. These included proposals for the extension of the National Employment Action Plan to focus on lone parents, focused provision of child care and the introduction of a new social assistance payment for low income families with young children.

Any proposed new payment cannot be introduced without co-ordinated supports and services being put in place by other Departments and Agencies. The Senior Officials Group on Social Inclusion is working on an implementation plan to progress the non-income recommendations. Issues including access to child care support, education, training and activation measures are being discussed with the relevant Departments and Agencies in tandem with the development of a new payment scheme.

To further inform the process, the Department, with the co-operation of FÁS, the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Education and Science, tested the proposals in both an urban and rural setting: Coolock, Dublin and Kilkenny. These studies were carried out to facilitate the development of the policy and operational details of the new scheme. The process involved both lone parents and qualified adults. It was carried out on a voluntary basis and the take-up was low.

The experience has however highlighted how both lone parents and qualified adults are not a homogenous group, are of different ages, have experienced different routes into their current situation and have different needs. Educational levels of those who participated were generally low, there was little or no engagement with FÁS, some participants intended to return to full or part-time work when their child was a few months old; others, however, had been out of the work force for a considerable period of time. Earnings from previous employment were generally low. For almost all of those intending to return to work, affordable child care is a critical issue.

Officials in the Department continue to work on developing the proposed new income support payment and the experience of this engagement process is feeding into the development of our approach to working with lone parents and qualified adults.

Social Insurance.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

142 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the steps being taken to lift the PRSI ceiling. [6307/09]

Under the PRSI system social insurance contributions are compulsorily payable by employers and employed and self-employed workers. Employees contributions are determined by reference to reckonable earnings in a weekly period, and are subject to a range of thresholds and an annual ceiling. Approximately 76 per cent of workers pay PRSI Class A and Class H at the rate of 4 per cent and accrue entitlement to a range of benefits and pensions under various social insurance schemes. Employees with incomes below €352 per week are exempt from paying PRSI. Once they earn above this level their total income, up to the annual ceiling, is chargeable to PRSI but they are entitled to a PRSI-Free Allowance of €127 per week.

The employee PRSI ceiling is reviewed annually in accordance with the legislative stipulations of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005. The legislation requires that changes in the average earnings of workers, as recorded by the Central Statistics Office, be taken into account in this regard. In the 2009 Budget the employee ceiling was increased by €1,300 from €50,700 to €52,000. Any future changes to the PRSI ceiling would have to be considered in a budgetary context.

Asgard II Salvage.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

143 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Defence if he will reconsider his decision to leave the Asgard II on the seabed (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9094/09]

I have already outlined my reasons for accepting the unanimous recommendation of the board of Coiste an Asgard not to proceed with the salvage of Asgard II. The main reason for that decision was that I considered that the risks were too great to commit to spending a sum in the region of €2 million at this time on a salvage effort where the outcome is uncertain. I also had to consider the cost of restoration, which cannot be accurately assessed until after the vessel is raised. Obviously, the greater the damage caused to the vessel, the higher the cost of restoration. The decision not to proceed with a salvage operation was taken after very thorough consideration of all relevant factors and I regret that I am not in a position to reconsider that decision. However, as I have already stated, while I cannot commit public monies to a salvage operation, I will consider any realistic and funded proposals from private individuals or groups with regard to the future of Asgard II.

Community Development.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

144 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if there is financial assistance available from his Department for a community (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9091/09]

Departmental Statistics.

Phil Hogan

Question:

145 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government 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. [9100/09]

My Department's capital programmes include responsibility for Housing, Water Services, Environmental Protection, Fire Services, Libraries and other capital projects implemented primarily by local authorities but also by my Department. The scale of these projects ranges across social and affordable housing projects both by local authorities and voluntary bodies, provision of water supply and waste water treatment systems, construction and upgrading of fire stations and libraries, and improvement works at six National Parks.

I am satisfied that good progress is being made in advancing these programmes in a timely and efficient manner. As all of these programmes involve many hundreds of live projects, with widely varying values, at various stages of implementation. The compilation of the information sought would involve a disproportionate amount of time and work by my Department including contact with local authorities and voluntary bodies.

Local Authority Boundaries.

Pat Breen

Question:

146 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when a White Paper on his proposals for a boundary extension will be published; his views in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9107/09]

I am currently finalising the White Paper on local government, which I expect to publish following Government consideration. In this context I will be dealing with a range of issues, including local authority boundaries.

Local Authority Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

147 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, for the purposes of section 161 of the Local Government Act 2001, a person holds two employments with two different local authorities, neither of which separately exceeds the salary of a clerical officer, that person can run for the local government elections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9237/09]

The provisions governing local authority membership and local authority employment are set out in sections 13 and 161 of the Local Government Act 2001. Under section 13 of the Act, a person employed by a local authority who is not the holder of an employment designated by order under section 161 is disqualified from being elected or co-opted to, or from becoming a member of, a local authority.

The employments designated under section 161 of the Act are those employments whose maximum remuneration, on the last date for receipt of nominations at a local election, does not exceed the maximum remuneration for the grade of Clerical Officer. While the application of the legislation is being examined by my Department, its interpretation either generally or in specific circumstances is a matter for the Courts.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

148 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will abandon his plans to have taxpayers money spent on purchasing carbon offsets in respect of Government flights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9236/09]

I have no proposals to abandon the Irish Government Offsetting Scheme. The Scheme will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver social improvements in Ireland's priority Overseas Development Aid countries in Africa by improving access to renewable and clean energy technology. The overall cost of the Scheme, estimated at some € 420,000 per annum, is modest relative to the benefits likely to accrue.

The Scheme is designed to be optimal in terms of administrative efficiency and accountability and will have the added advantage of increasing awareness of the global warming implications of air travel among official travellers and their Departments and Offices. The Renewable Energy and Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), who will operate the Scheme on Ireland's behalf, are providing their services free of charge. I propose to review the operation of the Scheme in 2011.

Nuclear Plants.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

149 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to a recent report by the British Nuclear Decommissioning Authority into the Mox Production Plant at Sellafield; and the steps that he will take on foot of this report. [9238/09]

I assume the question refers to documents recently published by the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on its Plutonium Topic Strategy, in particular the NDA Plutonium Strategy — Credible Options Technical Analysis (January 2009), which states as its purpose "to outline the credible options for a future management strategy for the UK civil stockpile of separated plutonium".

Ireland has long been concerned about the risk to this country posed by the large and complex nuclear reprocessing site at Sellafield. The policies and actions of the Government continue to reflect the firm position that Sellafield's continued operation poses risks of real and legitimate concern to Ireland and that it should be decommissioned and closed in a safe and orderly manner. Since coming into office I have articulated this position at all appropriate opportunities.

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

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

These measures are valuable from Ireland's viewpoint, are working well, and represent considerable and real added value to the necessarily co-operative relationship between Ireland and the UK on these matters. The Bi-Lateral Agreement on Early Notification of a Nuclear Incident; direct access to the UK Radiation Monitoring System (RIMNET); access for the Garda Síochána to Sellafield; access for the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) to Sellafield and other facilities; significantly improved information exchanges; co-operation on emergency planning with the UK; and improved and ongoing contacts at regulator and official level on nuclear issues, all provide objective evidence of real improvements.

In this context of improved communication with the UK authorities on matters relating to Sellafield, my Department regularly participates in relevant policy development consultations conducted by the UK authorities. In October 2008 my Department participated in a consultation on Plutonium Options by the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and expressed the Government's concern over the risks posed by the operation of the Sellafield plant and by the transport of nuclear materials by sea. This consultation was part of the process leading to the recent publication by the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority of a Plutonium Strategy — Credible Options Technical Analysis. My Department will continue to use all appropriate opportunities to communicate Ireland's concerns in these matters to the UK authorities.

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

Telecommunications Services.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

150 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the dark fibre services that will be available through the technical solution proposed by a company (details supplied) between the Telehouse in Derry and the Letterkenny and Monaghan mandatory locations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9020/09]

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

151 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the terrestrial connection that is proposed by a company (details supplied) between the submarine landing point and the telehouse facility in Derry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9021/09]

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

152 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the technical solution proposed by a company (details supplied) will guarantee 99.999% availability between the three mandatory locations of Derry, Letterkenny and Monaghan and New York; the way this will be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9022/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 to 152, inclusive, together.

The Kelvin project is a €30m North-South project approved for 75% EU funding under the Interreg IVA Cross Border Cooperation Programme between my Department and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in Northern Ireland, our joint partners in the project. €12m of Irish Exchequer funding has been approved for the project, of which €9m will be refunded to the Irish Exchequer from EU funds. The contract for the Kelvin Project was awarded in late December 2008 and is now being implemented by Hibernia Atlantic.

The Kelvin project will provide high speed direct international broadband connectivity to the North West of Ireland at a very competitive cost, in particular for the towns of Derry, Letterkenny, and Monaghan. The contract for the Kelvin project requires 99.999% availability at these mandatory locations. Dark fibre on the link between the Telehouse in Derry and the mandatory locations in Letterkenny and Monaghan will be available for use by companies for the provision of services.

I understand that Hibernia Atlantic are proposing to operate an optic fibre connection between the submarine cable landing point and the Telehouse in Derry. The completed network providing direct international connectivity under the Kelvin Project will make the entire region more attractive for international business and for foreign direct investment and will improve Ireland's overall international connectivity.

Foreshore Licences.

Pat Breen

Question:

153 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a foreshore licence will issue for a project (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9080/09]

An application for a foreshore lease to facilitate construction of a pier at Doonbeg Co Clare was received on 9 October 2007.

The application was circulated to my Department's consultees in the normal way.

Issues have been raised by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding potential impacts of the proposed development on underwater archaeology. The applicant has submitted observations regarding the issues raised and these have been forwarded to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for its further consideration. Every effort is being made by my Department to expedite consideration of this case.

Harbours and Piers.

Pat Breen

Question:

154 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to Parliamentary Question No. 393 of 1 July 2008 the status of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9078/09]

The pier at Doonbeg is the property of Clare County Council and responsibility for its repair and upkeep rests with the Local Authority in the first instance.

In 2008, funding of €525,000 was allocated by my Department for development works at Doonbeg, Co. Clare. However, this project did not progress in 2008 as the necessary statutory permissions were not in place. My Department has, however, received an application from Clare County Council for funding under the 2009 Fishery Harbours and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme for improvements at the pier.

This application, together with all other applications for funding under the 2009 Fishery Harbours and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, will be given consideration subject to available exchequer funding and overall national priorities providing all the necessary statutory permissions are in place.

Pigmeat Sector.

Michael Creed

Question:

155 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when and the means by which the Dutch authorities contacted his Department in relation to the discovery of PCBs in pork fat samples; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9083/09]

On the evening of December 5th 2008 an official from the Dutch food safety authority phoned an official in my Department seeking information on contents of my Department's Press Release which had been issued the previous day. The Press Release indicated the detection of marker PCBs in pork fat samples.

My understanding is that a similar enquiry was made to the FSAI on the same evening.

Dan Neville

Question:

156 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on a matter (details supplied). [9093/09]

The agreement concluded with pig processors in December involved making available a facility of €180 million from the public finances to assist processors in funding the recall and destruction of certain pork products from the market and product in storage. As a result of that agreement, processing plants were able to resume operations within a week.

To date, a total of €37.16m has been paid to processors as interim payments. Funding is also being provided to pay for relevant verification, rendering and destruction services. In addition, ex gratia payments are being made to those pig producers whose animals are being destroyed as a result of the dioxin incident. None of these herds is located in Co. Limerick.

In the context of general initiatives to assist the sector, Teagasc has prepared a development strategy for the Irish pig industry, which identifies the issues facing the sector and makes certain recommendations. The ‘Pig Industry Strategy Steering Group', which includes representation from my Department and all sectors of the industry, has been established for the purpose of furthering those recommendations. This group will identify, prioritise and promote actions needed to ensure a viable sustainable future for the pig sector.

Bord Bia is also very active in promoting the sector. Following on from the dioxin issue, the Bord plans a number of relevant marketing and promotion initiatives. On the Irish market a series of promotional campaigns are planned. These commenced this month and focus on building awareness and loyalty to the Bord Bia Quality Mark. These will underline the quality of Irish pigmeat and will communicate its origin.

A customer reassurance programme will continue in export markets. This will entail

Continued direct Bord Bia contact with customers, placing key information about the Irish pigmeat industry in context and demonstrating the integrity of Irish health controls,

A trade communications programme designed to position the capability of the Irish pigmeat sector and the safety and quality measures in place to influence key decision makers in the retail, food service and manufacturing sectors and

A programme to maximise international market access for Irish pigmeat products. This will involve communications activities designed to build confidence among national authorities and opinion formers in markets based around Ireland's health controls.

Grant Payments.

John Perry

Question:

157 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will ensure that a REP scheme four payment is made in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9095/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007-13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. The first payments for 2008 REPS 4 applications issued in the last week of January to those whose applications required no correction following the administrative checks. Further payments continue to be made as applications are cleared.

Queries have arisen during the administrative checks on the plan of the person named and it is currently under further examination.

Departmental Programmes.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

158 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there are further incentives and reliefs to assist a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9109/09]

There are no grants or reliefs available from my Department for assisting in home feed mixing operations.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

159 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be awarded a REP scheme three payment. [9120/09]

Payment will issue to the person named within the next 10 days.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Pat Breen

Question:

160 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will clarify the situation regarding REP scheme four; his plans to phase in payments in line with his recent decision on the farm waste management scheme; if funding is available in the long-term for this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9122/09]

My Department's Vote for 2009 includes a provision of €355 million for REPS. I have previously indicated my intention to make REPS available to farmers as a scheme that meets environmental imperatives and consumer demands for environmentally-friendly food production.

School Transport.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

161 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason transport costs for pupils in Ticknevin, Carbury, County Kildare, attending a school (details supplied) in County Offaly have risen from €33 per annum in 2006, to €126 per annum in 2007, to €168 per annum in 2008 and to more than €300 per annum in 2009; and if he will reduce the transport chargers being imposed. [9024/09]

The Budget 2009 increases in school transport charges will apply from the start of the 2009/10 school year. The annual charges in 2006 and 2007 were in fact €99 and €138 respectively.

In order to minimise the overall impact, these charge increases will apply to the 55,000 eligible post-primary pupils and children availing of concessionary transport. Charges will continue to be waived in the case of eligible post-primary children where the family is in possession of a valid medical card. A maximum family rate of €650 will also be applied. My Department has also given parents the option of spreading the amount over two payments due in July and December 2009.

The costs in school transport, a service delivered by Bus Eireann on behalf of my Department, have been increasing arising from a range of issues such as: — In ensuring a comfortable and safe transport service for over 135,000 children daily travelling to and from school, measures to ensure the highest standards including the phasing out of the 3 for 2 seating arrangement on both primary and post-primary services, providing all children with an adult seat each; — The addition of a considerable number of vehicles to address capacity shortfalls arising from the decision to provide each child with an individual seat and the equipping of all dedicated school buses with safety belts; — increased demands to meet the needs of special needs children; — Parental choice.

The overall spend in 2009 is now estimated to be €194m — a reduction of €2m in the revised allocations as a result of efficiencies. Furthermore, there have been increases in the school transport charges in the 2009 Budget.

Taking into account the factors outlined, it is not envisaged that there will be a reduction in either the estimated expenditure or the charges.

My Department has also commenced a Value for Money Review of the School Transport Scheme which is to be completed before the end of the year.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Ulick Burke

Question:

162 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review his decision to reduce the teacher-pupil ratio at a school (details supplied) in County Galway despite having the required retention number on 30 September 2008; if his attention was drawn to the effect this would have on the delivery of the high quality of education at the school at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9047/09]

Paul Connaughton

Question:

164 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Science if a school (details supplied) in County Galway will lose a teacher as result of the changes that he made to the pupil-teacher ratio in budget 2009; if his attention was drawn to the fact that out of the 48 pupils enrolled in the school nine are Travellers and five have special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9064/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

175 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review the circumstances of a school (details supplied) in County Mayo and not cut the staffing levels of this school as proposed. [9118/09]

Niall Collins

Question:

176 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9199/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162, 164, 175 and 176 together.

I have consistently said that the 2009 Budget required difficult choices to be made across all areas of public expenditure. These decisions were made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. In this respect Education while protected to a much greater extent than most other areas of public expenditure could not be totally spared. The various impacts at school level were included in the Budget day announcements. Even with the Budget measures in place there will still be a significantly increased borrowing requirement in 2009.

The budget measures will impact on individual schools in different ways depending on whether enrolment is rising or declining and the degree to which any one school has more teachers than it is entitled to under the allocation processes.

In terms of the position at individual school level the key factor for determining the level of resources provided by my Department is the pupil enrolment at 30 September 2008. The annual process of seeking these enrolment data from schools took place in the autumn and the data have since been received and processed in my Department enabling the commencement of the processes by which teaching resources are allocated to schools for the school year that begins next September.

My Department has written to the primary schools that are projected to have a net loss or gain in classroom teaching posts in September, 2009. As part of my efforts to ensure that relevant information is openly available to the public detailed information on the opening position for primary schools is now published on my Department's website. This provisional list sets out the details on individual schools that, taken collectively, are projected to gain 128 posts and to lose 382 posts — a net reduction of 254 posts. It is my intention to have this information updated and ultimately to set out the final position when the allocation processes are completed.

The above allocations are provisional at this stage and reflect the initial allocation position. The final position for any one school will depend on a number of other factors such as additional posts for schools that are developing rapidly and posts allocated as a result of the appeals processes. The operation of redeployment arrangements also impacts on the final position as a teacher can remain in his or her existing school where a suitable redeployment position does not exist. The final staffing position for all schools will therefore not be known until the autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed for mainstream classroom teachers and any appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered.

Higher Education Grants.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

163 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will explain what constitutes out of term time in relation to the calculation of reckonable income for a student grant application; if income earned at weekends is considered out of term time income; if income earned in the time before a student begins a third level course is considered out of term time income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9050/09]

The assessment of means under my Department 's third level student support schemes is based on gross income from all sources of the candidate and his/her parents/guardians, where applicable, with certain social welfare and health service executive payments being exempt.

It is necessary, therefore, that information regarding all income, including that from after school/weekend employment, is accounted for when completing the grant application form. However, in the assessment of means, allowance is made for "holiday earnings" on the part of the candidate. Under the terms of the Schemes holiday earnings are considered as a candidate's reasonable earnings from employment outside of term time.

Question No. 164 answered with Question No. 162.

School Accommodation.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

165 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science the schools and the number of classroom units within each school in County Laois that are availing of accommodation under the temporary accommodation scheme; the average rental cost of each unit per annum in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9066/09]

I include for the Deputy's information details held by this Department of the schools in County Laois renting prefabricated units in the tabular statement. The latest information is that currently 20 Primary schools are renting 47 classroom units and 1 Post-Primary School is renting 11 classroom units. The average rental cost per classroom unit for Co. Laois is €13,835. As the Deputy will appreciate the cost per unit will vary depending on the size, type and age of each unit.

The demand for additional accommodation in schools has risen significantly over the last number of years, with the appointment of 6,000 extra teachers in the primary sector alone since 2002. It will continue to be necessary for prefabricated accommodation to be provided because competing priorities mean that it will not always be possible to have a permanent accommodation solution in place in a short timeframe.

Temporary Accommodation — Co. Laois

Roll No.

School Name

Address

01556F

Scoil Bhride NS

Ballyroan, Laois

07183W

St Josephs GNS

Davitt Road, Mountmellick, Laois

07183W

St Josephs GNS

Davitt Road, Mountmellick, Laois

07636K

St Fintan BNS

New Line Road, Mountrath, Laois

12692B

Kiladooley NS

Ballybrophy, Portlaoise, Laois

12692B

Kiladooley NS

Ballybrophy, Portlaoise, Laois

13643Q

Emo NS

Emo, Portlaoise, Laois

13643Q

Emo NS

Emo, Portlaoise, Laois

13643Q

Emo NS

Emo, Portlaoise, Laois

13643Q

Emo NS

Emo, Portlaoise, Laois

13643Q

Emo NS

Emo, Portlaoise, Laois

13643Q

Emo NS

Emo, Portlaoise, Laois

13643Q

Emo NS

Emo, Portlaoise, Laos

13741Q

Rath NS

Ballybrittas, Portlaoise, Laois

14260F

South NS

Ballacolla Road, Abbeyleix, Laois

14838N

Maryboro NS

Stradbally Road, Portlaoise, Laois

15446B

Gaelscoil Thromaire

Trumera, Mountrath, Laois

17064U

St Patricks NS

Ballylinan, Athy, Kildare (Laois)

17064U

St Patricks NS

Ballylinan, Athy, Kildare (Laois)

17064U

St Patricks NS

Ballylinan, Athy, Kildare (Laois)

17557U

St Abbans NS

Killeen, Mageney, Laois

17557U

St Abbans NS

Kileen, Mageney, Laois

17604D

Ratheniska NS

Ratheniska, Portlaoise, Laois

17604D

Ratheniska NS

Ratheniska, Portlaoise, Laois

17604D

Ratheniska NS

Ratheniska, Portlaoise, Laois

17617M

Scoil Chomhghain Naofa

Killeshin, Laois

17617M

Scoil Chomhghain Naofa

Killeshin, Laois

17692D

Stradbally BNS

Stradbally, Laois

18150S

Scoil an Fraoich Mhoir

The Heath, Portlaoise, Laois

18150S

Scoil an Fraoich Mhoir

The Heath, Portlaoise, Laois

18150S

Scoil an Fraoich Mhoir

The Heath, Portlaoise, Laois

18547W

Faolan Naofa NS

Baile Ui Ruain, Portlaoise, Laois

18828H

St Pauls Primary

Borris Road, Portlaoise, Laois

18828H

St Pauls Primary

Borris Road, Portlaoise, Laois

18828H

St Pauls Primary

Borris Road, Portlaoise, Laois

18828H

St Pauls Primary

Borris Road, Portlaoise, Laois

18828H

St Pauls Primary

Borris Road, Portlaoise, Laois

18828H

St Pauls Primary

Borris Road, Portlaoise, Laois

19747M

Scoil Bhride NS

Knockmay, Portlaoise, Laois

19747M

Scoil Bhride NS

Knockmay, Portlaoise, Laois

19747M

Scoil Bhride NS

Knockmay, Portlaoise, Laois

19747M

Scoil Bhride Ns

Knockmay, Portlaoise, Laois

19747M

Scoil Bhride NS

Knockmay, Portlaoise, Laois

19747M

Scoil Bhride NS

Knockmay, Portlaoise, Laois

20071L

Scoil Bhride NS

Rathdowney, Rathdowney, Laois

20224K

Gaelscoil an tSli Dala

An Bealach Mór, Buirios Mor Osrai, Laois

20224K

Gaelscoil an tSli Dala

An Bealach Mór, Buirios Mor Osrai, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

63440J

Patrician College

Ballyfin, Portlaoise, Laois

Grant Payments.

Dan Neville

Question:

166 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science the status in relation to an application for a Montessori grant made by a group (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9068/09]

My Department does not operate a Montessori grant scheme. If the Deputy has further information on the grant scheme or some reference number that can be checked I will be happy to have this further checked out within my Department.

Special Educational Needs.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

167 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will confirm that a special needs assistant and access to an individual education programme will be made available to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. [9077/09]

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

Applications for SNAs may be considered by the NCSE where a pupil has a significant medical need for such assistance and where there are identified care needs arising from a diagnosed disability. A pupil's level of care may diminish over time as the child matures. Pupils may move to a different school or on to post-primary school. In such situations, the NCSE will review and adjust the SNA support required in the school. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I understand that the local SENO is currently processing an application for an individual SNA for this child and a decision should issue shortly.

The Deputy will also be aware that the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act, 2004 makes provision for an education plan for each individual pupil with special educational needs, and this will become mandatory when the relevant sections of the Act are commenced. In preparation for this, the NCSE have published guidelines on the Individual Education Plan process and a copy issued to all primary and post primary schools at the commencement of the 2006/2007 school year. These guidelines provide advice and assistance to schools, teachers and parents on devising and implementing individual education plans. It is the NCSE's intention that these guidelines will provide a benchmark for best practice pending the implementation of the Act and that schools will use these guidelines to draw up school policies and procedures in relation to individual education plans in advance of the mandatory requirement for them to do so.

My Department encourages parents and school authorities to engage locally regarding pupils' education. In addition, schools and parents can contact their local SENO directly to discuss a pupil's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects.

Pat Breen

Question:

168 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 339 of 8 October 2008, the status of a school building project; when a technical visit will take place for a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9079/09]

The development of a building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is at an early stage. A technical inspection will be arranged in due course and consistent with the priority attaching to the project.

Thereafter, the further progression of the project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will, as with all large scale capital projects, be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the further progression of the project at this time.

Departmental Bodies.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

169 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science the names of those on the panel of the staffing appeals board; the number of times the number of times the board has met; the number of successful and unsuccessful appeals heard each year over the past five years on a county basis by the staffing appeals board; the criteria determined by him for decisions by the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9092/09]

The members of the Appeal Board are: Dr. Tom McCarthy, Chairperson, Mr. Frank Davis, Ms. Monica Healy, Ms. Mairead McGowan and Mr. Sean Nolan. The information which the Deputy requested in relation to the number of appeals considered by the Appeal Board over the past five years is as follows.

It is open to the Board of Management to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeal Board which was established to adjudicate on appeals on mainstream staffing allocations in primary schools. Details of the criteria and application dates for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule, Circular 0002/2009, available on my Department's website. The criteria are also available in Circular 0024/2007 (Appeal Board for Mainstream Staffing in Primary Schools) which is also available on my Department's website.

The Appeal Board meets in May, July and October each year to consider cases submitted. Appeals must be submitted to Primary Allocations Section, Department of Education and Science, Athlone, on the standard application form, clearly stating the criterion under which the appeal is being made. The standard application form is available from Primary Allocations Section or on my Department's website. Closing dates for receipt of staffing appeals in the current year are 29 April, 29 May and 9 October 2009.

The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Summary of Appeals: Primary Staffing Appeal Board

Year

Number of Appeals Considered

Number of Appeals Upheld

2004

68

6

2005

96

9

2006

88

11

2007

74

16

2008

49

16

Schools Building Projects.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

170 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science the companies which have been awarded the building contracts in relation to schools (details supplied) that are going ahead in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9098/09]

The tendering process for the awarding of building contracts is under way for the school building projects to which the Deputy refers. No contracts have yet been signed so it would not be appropriate for me to comment further with regard to companies involved. I can say that, subject to the necessary technical and financial approvals, contracts will be placed with the preferred bidders as soon as possible.

School Transport.

James Bannon

Question:

171 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Education and Science the way in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford can justify an almost 100% increase in school transport charges from €168 to €300, in respect of their children who live four miles from their school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9105/09]

The costs in school transport, a service delivered by Bus Éireann on behalf of my Department, have been increasing arising from a range of issues such as: in ensuring a comfortable and safe transport service for over 135,000 children daily travelling to and from school, measures to ensure the highest standards including the phasing out of the 3 for 2 seating arrangement on both primary and post-primary services, providing all children with an adult seat each; the addition of a considerable number of vehicles to address capacity shortfalls arising from the decision to provide each child with an individual seat and the equipping of all dedicated school buses with safety belts; increased demands to meet the needs of special needs children; parental choice.

The overall spend in 2009 is now estimated to be €194m — a reduction of €2m in the revised allocations as a result of efficiencies. Furthermore, there have been increases in the school transport charges in the 2009 Budget. Taking into account the factors outlined, it is not envisaged that there will be a reduction in either the estimated expenditure or the charges. My Department has also commenced a Value for Money Review of the School Transport Scheme which is to be completed before the end of the year.

Schools Building Projects.

Pat Breen

Question:

172 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 338 of 8 October 2008, if he will report on the appointment of a design team for a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9106/09]

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

Third Level Institutions.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

173 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 506 of 24 February 2009 the reason his Department is taking steps to have the management and accounting practices in the universities reviewed and examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9116/09]

In answer to the Deputy's previous Parliamentary Question of 24 February I replied that my Department was reviewing the position with TCD to ensure that the remuneration levels of the relevant staff were regularised and in full compliance with the recommendations outlined in Report No 42 of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration.

Higher Education Grants.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

174 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 447 of 24 February 2009, if an applicant for a maintenance grant can use a sworn affidavit to certify their proof of address; if not, the reason these legal documents are not accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9117/09]

The decision on eligibility for student maintenance grants is a matter for the relevant assessing authority, either the local authority or VEC, as appropriate. These bodies do not refer individual applications to my Department, except in exceptional circumstances.

In order to establish the candidate's status as an independent mature student, documentary evidence is required as proof of a candidate's ordinary-permanent address from 1 October of the year preceding entry to college. Examples of the type of documentary evidence which would establish residence are as follows: (i) utility bills, such as a telephone, gas or ESB bill; (ii) evidence of registration with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB); (iii) official documentation from any Government Department e.g. The Department of Social and Family Affairs or the Revenue Commissioners (if any). These documents must cover the period outlined. An affidavit in isolation cannot be accepted as sole proof of residency.

The awarding authorities are obliged to satisfy themselves beyond doubt that an acceptable degree of proof is submitted by the grant applicant in establishing eligibility under all aspects of the schemes. This requires the candidate to supply appropriate evidence verifying his status. If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a maintenance grant, or that the rate of maintenance grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to the relevant local authority or VEC.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by the relevant local authority or VEC and remains of the view that the body has not interpreted the schemes correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to my Department.

Questions Nos. 175 and 176 answered with Question No. 162.

Schools Building Projects.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

177 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the need for a permanent school building for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9233/09]

I wish to advise the Deputy that County Dublin VEC has agreed to dispose of a site to my Department under the terms of a 99 year lease. The Department is waiting the legal documents in relation to same from the VEC.

In light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

178 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding plans for a new community college in Lucan south, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9235/09]

I wish to advise the Deputy that a new Community College is under construction in Adamstown, which will cater for 1,000 pupils. This school building is planned to come on stream in 2009 and will operate under the patronage of County Dublin VEC. Based on current demographic trends, my Department anticipates that there will be a need for a further post-primary school in Lucan in the medium term to cater for a long-term projected enrolment of 1,000 pupils.

My Department has been in contact with South Dublin County Council regarding a potential site for future educational provision in the area, and has arranged a technical inspection of the various site options identified by South Dublin County Council. These options are currently being considered and the Department will be in further contact with South Dublin County Council in the coming weeks regarding the matter.