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].

FÁS Training Programmes.

John Deasy

Question:

1 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of people in Waterford city and county who have received an offer of training from FÁS each month to date in 2009 under the national employment action plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15026/09]

John Deasy

Question:

2 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of people in Waterford city and county who have been given job placements by FÁS each month to date in 2009 under the national employment action plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15027/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 2 together.

The number of people in Waterford City and County who have received an offer of training from FÁS each month to date in 2009 are as follows:

January – 209,

February – 225,

March – 57.

The number who have been given job placements by FÁS each month to date in 2009 are as follows:

January – 16,

February – 18,

March – 10.

Departmental Funding.

Willie Penrose

Question:

3 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in view of the announcement (details supplied) for a fund up to €500 million, for a framework for sustainable economic renewal, which will include eco-friendly initiatives, for the purpose of business innovation, she will outline the type of projects which will be eligible for funding under the foregoing initiative; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15053/09]

Negotiations are continuing between officials of my Department, other Government Departments, Enterprise Ireland and the various parties whose cooperation and participation will be required before this Fund becomes operational.

Local Employment Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

4 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reasons for closing the Carrick-on-Suir jobs club, County Tipperary; the number of persons who were dealt with by the jobs club in 2006, 2007 and 2008; the number of persons who were separately dealt with by the local employment service for those years in Carrick-on-Suir; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14885/09]

The Carrick-on-Suir Jobs Club was closed down because it was unable to achieve the nationally agreed targets set up for these programmes.

Job Clubs are comprised of formal group sessions and informal, but structural individual support. The formal sessions take three to four hours per day for a five day week, which include groups of up to 14 job seekers. It is expected that a Jobs Club would have between 120 and 140 people per year on such sessions. The informal sessions consist of support for those who have completed the formal sessions but have yet to obtain employment and for those who need less formal support.

The Carrick-on-Suir Jobs Club had 58 participants in 2006 for formal sessions, 71 participants in 2007 and 57 participants in 2008.

The levels of activity of service in the Carrick-On-Suir Local Employment Service office (LES) for the period in question are as follows:

2006 – 350 interventions,

2007 – 561 interventions,

2008 – 950 interventions.

The new registrants seeking mediation in the LES office in Carrick-on-Suir are as follows:

2006 – 117,

2007 – 246,

2008 – 114.

Semi-State Bodies.

Ulick Burke

Question:

5 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on granting a special derogation to FÁS in order for them to be able to recruit the necessary professional training personnel to support persons facing future redundancy and unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14901/09]

The recruitment and promotion moratorium in respect of the public service is necessary as the public service pay and pensions bill, at some €20 billion per annum, accounts for some 36% of total Government expenditure. Savings in the pay bill must contribute to the overall strategy to stabilise the public finances.

Whilst FÁS as a government agency is obliged to comply with this moratorium this will not affect its ability to contract out certain training services where there is no in-house expertise within the Agency. Contracted training therefore, where appropriate, will continue in the normal way.

Following the additional training places announced in the Budget, FÁS will now be providing over 128,000 activation and training places this year. These places will encompass a range of measures being adopted by the Government to reflect the reality that people at all skills levels are losing their jobs and that it is important to provide a mix of responses in training and education best suited to the diverse needs of the newly unemployed to ensure that they possess relevant skills and remain close to the labour market.

Job Creation.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

6 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the subsidy or allowance paid to foreign direct investment companies in respect of each new job created; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14909/09]

IDA provides financial assistance to companies wishing to locate in Ireland or expand their existing operations here. This assistance is broken down into the following grant types — Employment Grants or Capital Grants, Research and Development (R&D) Grants and Training Grants.

The level of investment offered to individual companies varies from company to company depending on a number of factors for example — cost of project; competition; regional impact; statement on wage benchmark; the benefit to cost ratio; indirect job impact, and Exchequer payback.

The Forfás annual employment survey calculates the cost per job sustained in IDA Ireland supported companies by taking into account all IDA Ireland expenditure to all firms, in the period of calculation. Only jobs created during and sustained to the end of each seven-year period are credited in the calculations. The latest figure available is for the period 2001 to 2007 and is €12,577.

Departmental Funding.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

7 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the grants, financial supports or other funding are available to a counselling agency (details supplied). [14921/09]

Under the auspices of my Department there are two ways in which Irish businesses can apply for financial support.

My Department's Agency, Enterprise Ireland offers a number of categories of funding included financial assistance for Irish companies starting up, as well as to help with growth, and research and development.

The 35 County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs), established by the Government in October 1993, to develop indigenous enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity at a local level and, primarily, the development of small and micro enterprises, may also provide grant assistance to micro-enterprises (10 employees maximum) in the start-up and expansion phases in manufacturing, tourism and services.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

8 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the criteria by which Enterprise Ireland judges business to be innovative and therefore deserving of funding; if these criteria are overly restrictive in the current business environment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14966/09]

Enterprise Ireland (EI) operates in accordance with the provisions of the Industrial Development Acts, 1986-2003. This governing legislation sets out the powers and functions of EI as well as stipulations regarding grants and incentives. In this context and in line with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Enterprise Ireland Policy Statement 1998, there are a number of criteria with respect to eligibility for Enterprise Ireland support. Enterprise Ireland clients accordingly fall into three categories:

Manufacturing and internationally traded services companies employing ten or more people (and with a focus on exporting);

Innovation led start-ups with the potential to grow on international markets (and entrepreneurs with the ability to initiate projects that can compete in international markets); and

Irish-based food and natural resource companies that are overseas owned or controlled.

Enterprise Ireland assesses applications for financial assistance according to a number of criteria in order to ensure value for money to the exchequer, utilising a range of mechanisms and criteria, including cost benefit modelling, commercial evaluation and technical assessment.

Enterprise Ireland offers a comprehensive selection of services, including financial and non-financial supports to companies with a business strategy that encompasses all elements required for business success, including:

The "Innovative HPSU offer" to support the development of start-ups with a high potential for growth. Under this programme, Enterprise Ireland provides a financial contribution towards a company's business plan where it involves the development of innovative and technological products, services or processes.

The Innovation Vouchers initiative, which stimulates the small business community to build links with the research community.

I am satisfied that Enterprise Ireland continues to support and drive investments in innovation and to act as an advocate for the benefits of such investments. Supports are tailored to eligible companies to ensure the most relevant support is offered to these companies.

I understand that neither my Department nor the Agencies under the aegis of my Department has had any direct contact with the particular agency referred to by the Deputy.

Redundancy Payments.

Tom Hayes

Question:

9 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views, in view of the delay experienced by employers in having statutory redundancy payments rebated by her Department, on allocating additional staff to this task, in a similar manner to the Department of Social and Family Affairs in processing unemployment assistance applications, particularly in view of the fact that this issue is causing cash-flow problems for smaller enterprises. [15008/09]

Both the Tánaiste and I are acutely aware of the difficulties which the inability to deliver an acceptable turnaround of redundancy rebate payments is giving rise to for both individual employees and the business community and together, we are taking steps to address the issues. The difficulties arise due to the unprecedented increase in the number of Redundancy Payment claims lodged with the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department in the latter part of 2008 and, to date in 2009.

Since the start of 2009, I have allocated 15 staff to the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department and 11 additional staff are due to be assigned to the Unit very shortly. In addition, my officials have been in discussions with the Department of Finance on the possibility of redeploying staff from other Departments to work in the Redundancy and other Employment Rights areas of my Department which are experiencing considerable pressure at the moment. Agreement has been reached with the Department of Finance and arrangements are now being put in place.

Furthermore, I have made arrangements that the information centre of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) will take all redundancy specific calls to enable the staff in the Redundancy Payments Unit to concentrate on and prioritise the processing of redundancy payment claims.

I can assure the Deputy that this matter is under constant review in my Department and that every effort is being made to deal with an increasing backlog in an attempt to ensure that claimants get the best possible service at, what is for them, a very difficult time.

Unemployment Task Force.

Tom Hayes

Question:

10 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of people on the task force for unemployment in the mid-west region; the Government agencies and private individuals or groups represented on that task force; the number of meetings which have taken place to date; and the recommendations made by the task force. [15011/09]

The Task Force comprises the following members:

Denis Brosnan (Chairperson)

John Herlihy

John Fitzgerald

Martin Cronin

Roger Downer

Brian O'Connell

Anita Higgins

Ken Sullivan

Kay McGuinness

Vincent Cunnane (Chief Executive).

Mr. Cronin and Mr. Cunnane are the Chief Executives of Forfás and Shannon Development, respectively. The remaining members are from the private sector. I understand that the Task Force has been meeting every two weeks and I am expecting an interim report from the Task Force in the near future.

Parliamentary Questions.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

11 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will clarify her statement in reply to a recent parliamentary question (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15031/09]

There are a number of expressions of interest from different parties in acquiring at least elements of the business and both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are actively exploring options with interested parties. Time is needed to assess these proposals by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. We would like to see the SR Technics Group do what it can to facilitate this, such as helping to promote the capabilities and skills available at the Dublin facility, agreeing to an orderly wind down of the facility to give IDA Ireland an opportunity to promote the location to interested parties, and maintaining assets and equipment at the site for a number of months.

It is not proposed to take the Irish operation into public ownership. The sector operates on the basis of a competitive market and the Dublin operation will have to compete on a level playing field with other companies in the same market.

Redundancy Payments.

Beverley Flynn

Question:

12 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo is entitled to be considered for a redundancy package. [15082/09]

In general, a redundancy situation exists where for instance, an employer is engaged in a process of rationalisation/reorganisation, requires fewer employees to do work of a particular kind, for reasons of downsizing or company closure etc. Redundancy is therefore related to the job, not the person concerned.

Under the existing statutory redundancy legislation, an employee who is absent from work on grounds of ill-health can be made redundant provided a genuine redundancy situation exists in the employment and the employer is willing to make him/her redundant. It must be borne in mind that it is the employer who decides, in the first instance, whether or not a redundancy situation exists in the employment and who should be made redundant.

The online redundancy calculator located on the Department's website at www.entemp.ie can be used to calculate an individual's entitlement for statutory redundancy. The calculator is programmed to take into account instances of non-reckonable service such as, for example, periods of sick leave. Non-reckonable service in respect of redundancies notified/declared on or after 10th April, 2005 is applicable only to the final 3 years of service, ending on the date of termination of employment. Thus, if an employee was working in a company for a total of 22 years, the non-reckonable service applies only in respect of the last 3 years — all such absences are fully reckonable in respect of the first 19 years.

Pension Provisions.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

13 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence (details supplied). [14926/09]

Mary Upton

Question:

16 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance the position of research workers who must transfer or reclaim their contributions into pension funds after a two year period, in relation to the pension levy (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14992/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 16 together.

Public servants who are members of public service pension schemes are liable to pay the pension-related deduction legislated for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. On this basis, third-level researchers on fixed-term and temporary contracts must pay the deduction, since they are members of the relevant occupational pension schemes. They are just one of many groups of non-permanent public servants paying the deduction.

Distinctions between public servants on the basis of whether they are permanent or temporary, and if temporary what contract duration applies, are irrelevant insofar as liability to pay the deduction is concerned. The pay of the post, in terms of whether it features incremental progression, is likewise irrelevant.

In recent years fixed-term researchers in third-level institutions have been made pensionable, and this has significantly improved the attractiveness of a research career. These researchers accrue pensionable service even for short-duration appointments and that service can be aggregated with past and future service in other pensionable public service employment.

Section 6 of the Act provides for a refund of the deduction in certain circumstances, and should reassure third-level researchers on short-term non-renewable contracts who have no prior public service employment history and who may be concerned about accruing no pension benefit at the expiry of their contract due to insufficient service. A deduction refund may be payable provided that the departing employee has accrued no benefits under any public service pension scheme, has not received a payment in lieu of scheme membership and has not transferred the service to another public service pension scheme.

Section 8 of the Act grants the Minister for Finance a limited special discretion to exempt groups of public servants from payment of the deduction. Specifically, where he is satisfied that due to exceptional circumstances, a particular class or group of public servants are materially distinguished from other classes or groups who are subject to the deduction, then the Minister may fully or partly exempt this group from paying some or all of the deduction, if he believes it would be fair and equitable to do so.

The deduction is required at a time of great pressure on the public finances and takes account of the valuable pension benefits available to public servants.

In light of all the above factors, I am satisfied that it is fair and appropriate that public servants on fixed-term and temporary contracts, including third-level researchers, are subject to the pension-related deduction. In the event that any class or group of public servants makes an appeal for exemption from the deduction under section 8 of the Act then such an appeal will be considered.

Flood Relief.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

14 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Finance if funding has been put in place in respect of flood relief works for Johnstown village in County Kildare. [14928/09]

Officials at the Office of Public Works met with Kildare County Council on 13 March 2009 as part of the Steering Group overseeing this project. It was agreed, in the light of the outcome of the preliminary investigations that had been undertaken, that OPW and Kildare County Council would continue to work together towards completing a detailed design for the proposed works. The Local Authority will complete a Cost Benefit Analysis and an Environmental Appraisal, with OPW funding as part of this process.

It was further agreed that, when the detailed design has been completed to the satisfaction of the OPW and Kildare County Council, and if the proposed solution is economically and environmentally viable, a decision would then be taken as to the possibility of funding such works.

Site Acquisitions.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

15 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 188 of 24 March 2009, if the site acquired for the new Garda divisional headquarters has a lawful connection to the public foul sewer; if all licensing requirements for such connection have been completed; if the site is currently available for immediate construction works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14973/09]

The vendor of the site acquired for the new Garda Station provided the connection to the public foul sewer as required under the conditions of the Contract for Sale. Completion of the necessary licensing requirements is in train. The site is available for construction to begin, subject to the availability of necessary funding and prioritisation by the Garda Authorities.

Question No. 16 answered with Question No. 13.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

17 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children when an Irish delegation will travel to Vietnam to discuss the proposed agreement with regard to the proposed agreement for inter country adoption between Ireland and Vietnam; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14886/09]

The Adoption Bill, 2009, which will give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption, was published on Friday, 23 January, 2009.

Under the new legislation, prospective adoptive parents will be able to adopt from countries that have also ratified the Hague Convention or from countries with which Ireland has a bi-lateral agreement that conforms to Hague Convention principles.

While it is true to say that Ireland's current Agreement with Vietnam is based on Hague Convention principles, as part of our preparations for the new legislation, we need to ensure that the Agreement reflects the Hague Convention as comprehensively as possible. A new Agreement allows the opportunity to elaborate and strengthen some of the existing provisions and, as such, to meet the standards that have been set in draft legislation. There have been considerable developments in inter-country adoption in Vietnam since the Agreement was signed five years ago. This progress also needs to be reflected in any new Agreement.

In December, 2008, the Irish Government issued a formal request to the Vietnamese Authorities which stated that it wished to enter into immediate discussions with a view to negotiating a new, follow-up, Agreement to the existing one — which will expire on 1 May, 2009. The Vietnamese Authorities responded positively to Ireland's request.

Ireland offered to provide the Vietnamese Authorities with the text of a draft agreement as a basis for negotiations. A draft Bi-lateral Agreement for Inter-country Adoption was delivered on 6 March, 2009, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, to the Vietnamese Authorities for their consideration. The Vietnamese Government has since invited a delegation from Ireland to visit Vietnam to discuss the provisions of the draft Bi-Lateral Agreement provided. The delegation will travel to Hanoi in the coming weeks for an intensive round of discussions on this draft Bi-Lateral Agreement.

I would like to again reiterate my personal commitment, and the commitment of the Government, to conclude an agreement with Vietnam.

As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland has a long and positive relationship with Vietnam, but I must also emphasise the need to respect the authority of that jurisdiction, having regard to the sensitive nature of discussions regarding inter-country adoption.

The work to prepare for and advise the Government on this issue and the implementation of the Government's decisions is being given the highest priority. These are complex matters that require careful consideration. At all times, the Minister and the Government, and officials advising them, are guided by the need to respect and protect the best interests and rights of the child.

Michael McGrath

Question:

18 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to an adoption inquiry (details supplied). [14890/09]

Michael McGrath

Question:

19 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps being taken to ensure that a bilateral adoption agreement is put in place between Ireland and Russia prior to the enactment of the Adoption Bill 2009. [14888/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 19 together.

As the Deputy may know, my office has been liaising closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs to identify and negotiate with countries who continue to seek homes abroad for children in need of alternative care which cannot be provided domestically. We are working actively to assess the possibilities of entering into bilateral agreements with a small number of countries.

My office is currently in discussions on a draft bilateral agreement with Vietnam and is also examining the possibility of negotiating bilateral agreements with the Russian Federation and Ethiopia. As regards the Russian Federation, my office is undertaking preparatory work to consider the contents of such an agreement, including anticipating the likely requirements of the Russian Federation.

I am aware that there are people who have received declarations of eligibility and suitability to adopt outside the State and may intend adopting from Russia. The decision regarding country of choice is a matter for prospective applicants. This choice obviously should have regard to their personal preference, their knowledge of and/or connection with the proposed country of origin, the status of the country as a contracting state either to the Hague Convention or a bilateral agreement.

While every effort will be made to conclude a bilateral agreement with countries from which children have traditionally been adopted by Irish applicants, in advance of any of the proposed changes in Irish law taking effect, it must be acknowledged that these matters will be determined to a considerable degree by the Governments of these sovereign states.

However, I would respectfully suggest that any applicant seeking to proceed with an adoption from a non-Hague country or a country with which Ireland does not have a bilateral agreement should have regard to the likelihood of the adoption being completed in advance of the Bill being commenced.

Legislative Programme.

Michael McGrath

Question:

20 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects the Adoption Bill 2009 to pass all stages and be enacted. [14889/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Adoption Bill, 2009, was initiated in the Seanad and recently passed Committee Stage in that House. The Bill will continue to be prioritised by Government for its passage through the Oireachtas.

Ambulance Service.

Ulick Burke

Question:

21 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ascertain from the Health Service Executive the reason that they have not engaged with the Health Information and Quality Authority in organising a clinical and quality audit process for private ambulance organisations seeking to work in support of the HSE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14902/09]

Ulick Burke

Question:

22 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ascertain from the Health Service Executive the range of issues that the head of the national ambulance service and those accompanying them discussed with private medical insurers particularly issues including the utilisation of private ambulance companies and to inform them of the HSE engagement with the clinical indemnity scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14903/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 22 together.

As these are service matters, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply

Hospitals Building Programme.

Billy Timmins

Question:

23 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to her decision not to proceed with the promise of having a dedicated 34 bed unit open in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin by mid 2010 (details supplied); if in view of the circumstances this decision will be reversed and sanction will be given to proceed with this vital unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14904/09]

Billy Timmins

Question:

24 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to new cystic fibrosis patients’ facility which was promised for St. Vincent’s Hospital Dublin by 2010; will the promise to provide this facility be honoured and sanction given; and if she will make a statement on the matter [14905/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 24 together.

I have consistently emphasised the need to improve facilities and services to persons with cystic fibrosis and we have made considerable progress in this regard over recent years. On the staffing side, some 48 additional staff (19 at St Vincent's), including consultant, nursing and allied health professionals, have been appointed.

There have also been significant improvements to the physical infrastructure at St. Vincent's Hospital as the national adult tertiary referral centre for patients with cystic fibrosis. These include the refurbishment last year of accommodation to provide eight single en-suite rooms for the exclusive use of people with cystic fibrosis.

In addition a new ward block, which is to replace existing accommodation, will include appropriate isolation facilities and accommodation for cystic fibrosis patients as required. It has been agreed that the project will proceed to tender and be operational as early as possible in 2011.

The project will proceed on the basis that payment to the contractor will be made at the end of the construction phase. This is a different way of funding the project as it involves the construction company financing the development up to the final phase of construction. The method previously envisaged for this project would have involved staged payments throughout the construction period.

I am very pleased that an innovative way has been found to deliver this project. In the current challenging environment we need to find new solutions and devise new ways of progressing important projects such as this. This is one of them. The project has always been a priority and never ceased to be so. I want to see it progressing now with urgency.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

25 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an outpatient appointment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork who has been waiting some time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14908/09]

The management of out-patient waiting lists is a matter for the HSE and the individual hospitals concerned. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the Executive for direct reply.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

26 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if phase 3C of Naas General Hospital, County Kildare, is included in the Health Service Executive revised capital plan for the remainder of the national development plan; and if so, when construction will commence. [14936/09]

In drawing up its capital programme, the Health Service Executive is required to prioritise the capital infrastructure projects to be progressed within its overall capital funding allocation under the National Development Plan, taking account of the NDP targets for division of capital investment between the Acute and the Primary, Community and Continuing Care sectors.

The Executive has recently submitted a draft capital plan which sets out its proposed capital priorities in the context of the adjusted capital allocation notified in Budget 2009 and the further adjustments announced in February in the Government Decision on the Implementation of the Framework for Stabilisation, Social Solidarity and Economic Renewal. Consultation on this draft capital plan is currently ongoing between the HSE and my Department. The draft capital plan will now require some further adjustment to take account of the revised capital envelope announced in the Supplementary Budget on 7th April.

Details on individual projects will not be known until such time as the capital plan for 2009 is approved.

Health Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

27 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting times in respect of hearing tests for children in County Kildare, in Newbridge and at Tallaght health centres. [14948/09]

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

Emmet Stagg

Question:

28 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the allocations to County Kildare for home care packages in 2007, 2008 and 2009; and the number of people in County Kildare on the waiting list for home care packages. [14949/09]

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

Emmet Stagg

Question:

29 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people in County Kildare awaiting admission to a long-term bed in public nursing homes in County Kildare and their circumstances, be it in acute hospital beds, living at home, or in private nursing homes. [14950/09]

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

Emmet Stagg

Question:

30 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children and adults awaiting assessment for occupational therapy in Kildare and west Wicklow. [14951/09]

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 Service Staff.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

31 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of occupational therapists working in the Kildare and west Wicklow service; and the number of vacant posts which remain unfilled. [14952/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

33 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of speech and language therapists working in the Kildare service; and the number of posts which remain unfilled. [14954/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 33 together.

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

In view of the current economic position, as a measure to implement savings measures on public service numbers, the Government has decided that, with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010, no post in the public sector, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, or the payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade. The decision also applies to temporary appointments on a fixed-term basis and to the renewal of such contracts. Arrangements have been put in place for the health sector that aim to ensure that key services are maintained insofar as possible and that there will be flexibility in relation to the filling of key frontline posts for various grades, including Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists, to allow for the continued development of integrated health care, particularly primary and community care, care of the elderly and people with disabilities.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, and taking account of the above Government decision, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public, and I have accordingly referred that part of the Deputy's question to the Executive for attention and direct reply.

Health Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

32 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children awaiting assessment for orthodontic treatment in Kildare; and the number of children awaiting orthodontic treatment. [14953/09]

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

Question No. 33 answered with Question No. 31.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

34 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting time for eye tests for children in Maynooth and Naas health centres in County Kildare. [14955/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

35 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans by the Health Service Executive to open a modern health centre in Kilcock, County Kildare. [14958/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

36 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount allocated in 2009 for the home help services in Kildare and west Wicklow. [14959/09]

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

Emmet Stagg

Question:

37 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people currently availing of home help services in Kildare and west Wicklow; and the number assessed as requiring home help but have no service at present. [14960/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Seán Barrett

Question:

38 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children if account will be taken of the special circumstances of widowed persons over 70 years old, whose automatic entitlement to a medical card has been removed due to their assessment as single persons, and whose housing overheads and living expenses are virtually undiminished; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14971/09]

The Health Act 2008 allows for a surviving spouse of an over 70 medical card holder to retain their card for a period of 3 years provided that:

the death occurred on or after 1st January 2009;

the surviving spouse/partner was aged 70 or over at the time of the death;

the surviving spouse remains within the €1,400 weekly income limit for a couple.

After 3 years, the surviving spouse will be assessed under the €700 single weekly income limit.

I moved an amendment during the legislation's passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas to ensure that a person aged 70 or over would not lose his/her medical card as an immediate consequence of the death of a spouse.

My Department examined the options available to ensure that the trauma is minimised for an elderly person whose spouse dies. I am satisfied that the provision in the legislation offers the best solution from a non-discrimination point of view.

A surviving spouse aged 70 or over, who no longer qualifies for a medical card after 1st January may apply to the HSE for a card under the existing net income thresholds, which take account of medical, nursing and other relevant expenses.

The HSE may also issue a medical card on a discretionary basis if the person would otherwise be caused undue hardship in providing general medical and surgical services for themselves and any dependants. Such persons are encouraged to apply to the HSE for a discretionary card.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Joe McHugh

Question:

39 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will prioritise a review of the National Treatment Purchase Fund and the consultants’ contracts in view of ongoing budgetary constraints on hospitals and health care providers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14983/09]

I have no plans to review the statutory remit of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). The Fund has submitted its proposals for activity levels in 2009 and these are currently the subject of discussion with my Department. In line with Government policy, the NTPF must, of course, achieve optimum value for money in discharging its remit. The Fund will continue in 2009 to arrange in-patient and out-patient care for persons on hospital waiting lists. At my request, the NTPF, working with the HSE and the hospitals, will maintain a particular focus again this year on reducing the number of persons waiting for more than twelve months for treatment. I am pleased to say that, as a result of the efforts made by all concerned during 2008, the total number of persons waiting over 12 months was reduced by 66%, from 4637 to 1576 between December 2007 and December 2008.

Last December I indicated that I was not prepared to sanction salary increases for consultants who signed up to the new consultants' contract until I was satisfied that reformed work practices were being implemented and there was a demonstrable benefit to the public health system.

The HSE has since undertaken a verification exercise, the results of which show that the majority of consultants are demonstrably engaged in the implementation of new work practices. In the light of the HSE's findings, I intend that this contract will be honoured because it is fundamental to changing the manner in which our public hospitals operate.

The commencement of payment of the new contract rates for medical consultants will be addressed in the context of decisions which I will be making on the HSE Service Plan within the next two weeks.

Health Service Staff.

Noel Coonan

Question:

40 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to reinstate a community welfare officer (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the timeframe for the move; the reason same has not happened; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14987/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Noel Coonan

Question:

41 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the consequences of the proposed centralisation of the medical card section in a town (details supplied) in County Tipperary to Dublin; the way it will affect patient service; the way it will affect the administration personnel who provide the service regarding their employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14988/09]

Under the Health Service Executive's 2009 Service Plan it has been agreed that the processing of medical card applications will be centralised and will transfer to the Executive's Primary Care Reimbursement Service in Dublin. The change is being implemented on a phased basis and is designed to deliver a better and more cost effective service.

Under the new arrangements, the HSE will be aiming for a turnaround time of 15 days or less for all medical card applications. Emergency applications will be dealt with immediately with a card issuing within 24 hours. There will be no affect on the assessment of people whose income exceeds the income guidelines but have a case to be considered on medical or hardship grounds.

Local Health Offices will continue to provide advice and necessary supports to people applying for medical cards. They will also deal with queries of a general nature about the medical card scheme and, along with the HSE National Helpline (1850 24 1850), will handle enquiries from clients in respect of their medical card entitlements.

The new arrangements will also deliver significant efficiencies by making greater use of shared services for both internal administration and direct service delivery.

This is a good example of the type of innovation signalled in the Transforming Public Services Programme announced by the Taoiseach last November. It demonstrates how the HSE can deliver improved services within the more limited resources available in a way which meets the needs of citizens in a modern society.

Hospital Staff.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

42 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will appoint two additional full time neurophysiologists to Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14989/09]

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

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

43 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support persons (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [15010/09]

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.

Child Care Services.

Frank Feighan

Question:

44 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children the way a child care centre (details supplied) can honour subventive places in between reviews; her proposals to ensure that these services can continue; and the plans she has put in place to ensure these state of the art facilities do not become redundant. [15016/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006-2010, under which the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) is being implemented.

Services participating in the CCSS receive annual funding on the basis of the number of qualifying parents recorded as using the service in a particular reference week, generally set in late September of each year. To provide for changes in parent profiles, which may alter the service provider's overall costs, providers are encouraged to include this contingency at the beginning of each year when they are calculating the cost price of the service(s) provided. Services may apply mid-year to have their funding reviewed, where they believe they would benefit from additional funding as a result of a significant increase in the number of qualifying parents. In 2009, services were advised that they should have requested a review by 26 March and that the reference week will be that ending on 3 April. Where a review results in an increased level of funding, this will be calculated with effect from 1 April.

As the funding is paid on the basis of the number of qualifying parents using a service at a particular point in time, the increase in funding will apply from that date and cannot be applied retrospectively. It is also noted that the facility for a mid-year review is optional and services with lesser numbers of qualifying parents are not required to seek a reduction in their grant level. I am satisfied that the arrangements in place are satisfactory and provide for much greater flexibility than was the case under the previous support scheme, under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (EOCP), which allocated funding for a period of 3 years.

I understand that services participating in the CCSS have been provided with detailed guidelines regarding the scheme including the review process, by the Childcare Directorate of my Office. I also understand that the service in question has recently applied for a review of their 2009 funding and have been asked to forward completed returns to the Childcare Directorate. When this new information is processed the service will be advised of any changes to their funding allocation.

The Deputy will be aware of the announcement in this week's Budget speech of the introduction of a free pre-school year for eligible children from January next. I very much welcome this important investment in our children's futures as a mark of this Government's ongoing commitment to children. The provision of a year's free pre-school will promote equality of opportunity at the most important developmental stage of children's lives. The development will also help to sustain thousands of jobs in the childcare sector.

Proposed Legislation.

Frank Feighan

Question:

45 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is legislation in place to curb head shops; and her plans to ensure head shops are properly controlled. [15018/09]

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and regulations made thereunder regulate and control the import, export, production, supply and possession of a range of named narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances listed in the Schedules to the Act. Substances are scheduled under the Act in accordance with Ireland's obligations under international conventions and/or where there is evidence that the substances are causing significant harm to public health in Ireland. Items available for sale in so-called "head shops" are currently not scheduled under Misuse of Drugs legislation. The list of scheduled substances is kept under ongoing review. For example, in 2006 psychotropic ("magic") mushrooms, which were on sale in such outlets, were banned and their possession and sale is now illegal. On 31 March last BZP was similarly subjected to legislative control measures and criminal sanctions.

My colleague Mr John Curran, Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, who has responsibility for co-ordinating the National Drugs Strategy, has identified headshops as an area of concern, and is currently considering the options available to more effectively control the activities of headshops.

Medical Cards.

Frank Feighan

Question:

46 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the over 70s GMS card will re-issue to a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon; and the reason they received a further application to complete one month after returning the first complete application. [15019/09]

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

Health Services.

Frank Feighan

Question:

47 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure four nursing care hours are not cut back in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [15020/09]

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

Cancer Screening Programme.

James Reilly

Question:

48 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the percentage of women here being routinely screened by BreastCheck as at 31 January 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15022/09]

The matter raised by the Deputy is the responsibility of the National Cancer Screening Service. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Chief Executive Officer of the Service to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the matter raised.

Services for People with Disabilities.

James Reilly

Question:

49 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm the amount of money spent to provide for artwork in the new disability centre in Athlone, County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15024/09]

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.

Hospital Services.

Frank Feighan

Question:

50 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that cancer care facilities in Sligo will not be interfered with until proper and satisfactory alternatives are put in place and that patient care and lives will not be put at risk by attempting to transfer them or their care to non-existent or overstretched facilities elsewhere. [15030/09]

The matter raised by the Deputy relates to the provision of healthcare services and accordingly, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on the matter.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

51 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Carlow who is on a waiting list will be admitted to Tallaght hospital in view of their deteriorating health condition. [15050/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. The National Treatment Purchase Fund arranges treatment for patients who have been on a surgical waiting list for more than three months. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

52 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the entitlement to a medical card in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15056/09]

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

Rail Network.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

53 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Transport if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 183 of 18 December 2008, there has been further progress on this issue; and the amount of capital funding available in 2009 for each of the capacity improvements required to the Maynooth suburban line. [14932/09]

I understand from Iarnród Éireann that discussions are ongoing with the relevant local authorities on the removal of level crossings on the Maynooth line.

Improvements to the Maynooth line will commence in 2010 as part of the build up of electrification and re-signalling in advance of the Dart Underground of which the Maynooth line is an integral part.

Road Network.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

54 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Transport the reason funding to Kildare County Council for regional and local road grants in 2009 was reduced by 13% when the national allocation only fell by 2%. [14934/09]

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a matter for Kildare County Council to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State grants.

Road grants for regional and local roads are allocated annually under a number of grant categories. The level of grants allocated to individual authorities is determined each year having regard to a number of factors including the total funds available in a particular year, eligibility criteria for the different grant schemes, road pavement conditions, length of road network, the need to prioritise projects and competing demands from other local authorities. In determining the annual regional and local road grant allocations, the overall objective is to resource each local authority appropriately in relation to their ongoing and specific needs.

The multiplicity of criteria applying to road grants, together with the impact from year to year of individual projects as they advance from commencement to completion, necessarily entails divergence in the annual levels of allocation to individual local authorities.

Rail Network.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

55 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Transport the amount of capital funding allocated in 2009 for the Kildare route project; if the project is on schedule; and the expected completion date. [14935/09]

The Exchequer capital amount currently allocated from my Department's Estimate for 2009 in respect of the Kildare Route Project is €60m.

I understand that excellent progress has been made to date on the Kildare Route Project and that it is expected to finish on time and on budget in early 2010, with services commencing shortly thereafter.

Road Network.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

56 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide details, including the location and nature of the proposed projects by the National Roads Authority and the estimated cost of each that has been submitted by him for approval by the Department of Finance under the new policy where all capital projects not contractually committed require the approval of the Department of Finance. [14962/09]

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. The construction, improvement and maintenance of individual national roads is a matter for the National Roads Authority under the Roads Act 1993 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Road Signage.

Joe McHugh

Question:

57 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport if he will incorporate the comhstádas-equal status on future road signage in the 20 year plan for the teanga; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14982/09]

The Minister for Transport may, under section 95 of the Road Traffic Act 1961, give general or particular directions to the road authorities in relation to traffic signs.

Directions are contained in the manual "Traffic Signs Manual 1996" in relation to the use of Irish and English on traffic signs. The Minister for Transport is satisfied with these directions and he does not intend to change them.

Parking Regulations.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

58 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport the circumstances under which wheel clamping is legal; the circumstances in which wheel clamping carried out by persons on public highways by the Garda Síochána or persons with statutory authority is legal; if private companies are employed on a contract basis in respect of wheel clamping; the contractual nature of the relationship between private companies and State companies on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14994/09]

An authorised person under Section 101b of the Road Traffic Act 1961, as amended, can fix an immobilisation device (clamp) to a vehicle parked in contravention of any prohibition or restriction imposed under Sections 35, 36 and 36A of the Road Traffic Act 1994.

The Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations, 1997 to 2006 sets out parking controls for the purposes of section 35. Parking offences for the purposes of sections 36 and 36A are set out in any by-laws made by a local authority under those provisions.

Powers to clamp vehicles are also available to the Gardaí and local authorities under Section 97 of the Road Traffic Act 1961. The employment of private companies as authorised persons to carry out statutory functions is a matter for each local authority as is the detail of the contracts.

Pension Provisions.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

59 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the details of the retirement package for the former chief executive of Aer Lingus; if Government members on the board of Aer Lingus were consulted on this matter; if he was consulted on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15033/09]

The retirement package for the former chief executive of Aer Lingus Group plc is a matter for the board of the company. I have no role in such matters. The mandate of the State's directors on the Board is to seek to ensure that decisions of the company that have significant implications for wider Government, aviation or regional development policies are considered at board level.

Road Safety.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

60 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport if he has ordered a reduction in advertising used by the Road Safety Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15034/09]

Road safety is a priority for Government, and the Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012, which was launched in October 2007, is the key framework for actions by the various departments and agencies involved.

The final allocation to the Department of Transport and the Road Safety Authority for this year will be published in the Revised Estimates Volume which will follow the recent Supplementary Budget Statement.

The RSA will continue its activities in 2009, making best use of both Exchequer funding and the fee income generated by the agency. The road safety strategy remains the way forward agreed by the Government, for the RSA and for all other agencies involved, with the objective of continuing to save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.

Taxi Regulations.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

61 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15079/09]

Only taxis licensed by the Commission for Taxi Regulation, which are categorised as small public service vehicles, are entitled to apply for hire or reward on public roads. The enforcement of this requirement is a matter for the Commission for Taxi Regulation and the Gardaí. The position in relation to large public service vehicles, which are defined in legislation as vehicles, accommodating more than eight passengers, is that any operator using any such vehicle for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward must have a Road Passenger Transport Operator's Licence (RPTOL), issued by the Department of Transport. The requirements to obtain an RPTOL are set out in European and Irish law, and include requirements regarding financial standing, professional competence and good repute. This means, insofar as professional competence is concerned, that at least one person in the firm, known as the Transport Manager, must hold a Certificate of Professional Competence. The RPTOL grants the holder access to the profession of public bus operator. The holder of an RPTOL is then entitled to engage in private hire.

For example where the general public phone a taxi firm to hire a taxi, and if that taxi firm also holds a Road Passenger Transport Operator's Licence (RPTOL) from the Department of Transport, then it is a matter for the taxi firm to decide what type of vehicle to dispatch. However, it should be emphasised that any vehicle so used, depending on its size, must be either a properly licensed taxi or a large public service vehicle bus that is authorised on an RPTOL.

Enforcement of compliance with licensing requirements relating to large public service vehicles is a matter for the Gardaí and the Road Safety Authority.

Drug Treatment Programme.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

62 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a person (details supplied) in County Waterford was not allowed to continue their methadone maintenance programme while they served four months in prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14917/09]

All decisions about the medical treatment afforded to this person while in prison custody were taken by the prison doctor.

Garda Strength.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

63 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Garda strength on 1 April 2009 in each of the Garda stations in the Leixlip Garda district and the Naas Garda district in County Kildare. [14930/09]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 28 February 2009, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strengths of the Garda Stations referred to by the Deputy were as set out in the following table:

Leixlip Garda District

District

Number

Carbury

3

Celbridge

19

Kilcock

8

Leixlip

33

Maynooth

15

Naas Garda District

District

Number

Ballymore Eustace

Clane

8

Kill

3

Naas

106

Resource levels are monitored on an ongoing basis by Garda Management in each District and Division, in conjunction with crime trends and other demands made on An Garda Síochána. The situation will be kept under review and the needs of the areas referred to by the Deputy will be fully considered within the overall context of the needs of policing requirements throughout the country.

Proposed Legislation.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

64 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made in preparing legislation to resolve the issue of unregulated management companies operating in apartment and traditional housing estates. [14957/09]

Legislation to address the Law Reform Commission's recommendations on multi-unit developments is in the course of being drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel as a matter of priority. The aim is to publish the Bill in the next Session.

The principal focus of the new Bill will be on ensuring good governance of property management companies and similar bodies which comprise the owners of units within multi-unit developments and which exercise management functions in relation to such developments. It is also intended to include provisions for the resolution of disputes arising in relation to such matters. The policy aspects extend to my Department, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

As regards the operation of management companies in traditional housing estates, this is primarily a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and his Department. I am aware that Department issued a guidance document to all City and County Managers in February 2008 stating that the formation of management companies must not be a requirement in planning conditions for traditional housing estates except in the most exceptional circumstances, and outlining the Department's policy regarding the taking in charge of such estates.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

65 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if funding has been allocated by his Department for the installation of a closed circuit television monitoring system in New Ross town, County Wexford; when money can be drawn down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14975/09]

The Community-based CCTV Scheme is designed to provide financial assistance to qualifying local organisations towards meeting the capital costs associated with the establishment of local community CCTV systems.

I am advised that the scheme by New Ross Town Council for the provision of CCTV in the town is ready to proceed to contract stage and accordingly, a request for drawdown of funds has been made by Pobal who administer the scheme on behalf of my Department. This request is currently being processed.

Private Security Services.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

66 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied with the performance of the Private Security Authority; if his attention has been drawn to complaints that oppressive conditions are being imposed on ordinary installers of alarm systems and that, as a result, jobs are being threatened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14976/09]

The Private Security Authority, established under the Private Security Services Act 2004, is the regulatory body with responsibility for regulating and licensing the private security industry in the State. The Authority is an independent body operating under the aegis of my Department. I have no role, therefore, in relation to operational decisions taken by the Authority.

I am satisfied with the performance of the Private Security Authority in introducing a licensing regime to the private security industry, and I am supportive of its overall aim of promoting positive change in the industry, to the benefit to both consumers and providers of security services.

Following the introduction of licensing, it is an offence to provide a service without a licence or to employ an unlicensed operator. The aim of licensing is to regulate and monitor contractors providing security services and to improve standards in the provision of these services. Both the industry and public are benefiting from the rising standards that regulation has brought about.

I am informed by the Authority that contractors applying for a licence, including in the intruder alarm installer sector, are required to provide the following standard documentation in support of their application:

Completed Application Form

Valid Tax Clearance Certificate

Completed Garda Vetting Form

Evidence of attainment of the required technical and security management sector standard.

I am satisfied that these requirements are reasonable and in no way place an oppressive burden on applicants.

Contractors, including the intruder alarm installer sector, are also required to pay a licence fee. I am informed by the Authority that the current licence fee structure in this regard reflects the differences which exist between the different sectors within the private security industry. It comprises two elements, an administration fee of €1,000 and a turnover fee based on the annual turnover of a contractor. The licence issued by the Authority is valid for a two year period.

There are currently 494 intruder alarm installers licensed by the Authority. This compares to 490 at the end of 2007 and 501 at the end of 2008. While the number of licensed contractors has remained steady over the past 18 months, the Authority expects that the current downturn in the construction industry will have an impact on the number of contractors operating in the sector.

Visa Applications.

Jack Wall

Question:

67 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position of an application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14984/09]

The person concerned has been granted Leave to Remain in the State for the period to 14 April 2009. This decision was conveyed in writing to the person concerned by letter dated 14 April 2008.

The person concerned is required to apply in writing for the renewal of this permission. As my Department's records show no evidence of such a renewal application having been made to date, it is recommended that the person concerned should do so without further delay.

Crime Levels.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

68 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons arrested and charged for knife related crime in Dublin for the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and to date in 2009; the steps the Garda Síochána is taking to tackle knife related crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14990/09]

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.

Though legislation on the use of knives and similar weapons is already very strong and heavy penalties are already in place, I am moving to strengthen the law in this area. In that context, I sought and received proposals from the Garda Commissioner on strengthening the law on knife crime. These include:

increasing the penalties for possessing a knife in a public place;

creating an extended power of search without warrant in certain circumstances; and

the introduction of a prohibition in relation to swords.

I have accepted these proposals and the forthcoming Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will take account of them. Drafting of the Bill has now been completed, and it is intended to publish it shortly. It is my intention that it will be considered by the Oireachtas at the earliest possible opportunity.

In addition, I have directed the drafting of a new Firearms and Offensive Weapons Order which will deal with the issue of swords. In particular, I will be banning the sale of samurai swords.

On 5 February, the Garda Commissioner and I launched a Knife Awareness Campaign by An Garda Síochána with the objective of informing and educating young people in particular on the dangers of carrying knives and with the aim of reducing the number of incidents of knife crime. The campaign is making targeted use of meetings featuring local sports stars and role models, regional media campaigns and on-line media supports.

Residency Permits.

Jack Wall

Question:

69 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position of an application for residency by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14999/09]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his recent Parliamentary Question No. 151 of Thursday 19 February 2009, in this matter. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

Business Permission Applications.

Denis Naughten

Question:

70 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 169 of 2 April 2009, the number of applications on hand in the years in question at year end; if he will provide an explanation as to the way his Department dealt with 79 more applications in the past three years than were on hand and received in the period; the main reason applications were refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15000/09]

The Immigration Services Section of my Department informs me that there were 79 Business Permission applications pending at the end of 2003 which accounts for the discrepancy referred to by the Deputy. The number of cases on hand at the end of each year were as follows:

Year

Cases on hand on at end of the year

2003

79

2004

233

2005

511

2006

431

2007

61

2008

29

I am further informed that detailed records as to the main reason why applications were refused in the past five years are not collated on this basis and are not available. The Deputy should note that decisions are made on a case by case basis and that reasons for refusal vary depending on the merits of the individual application.

Garda Strength.

Tom Hayes

Question:

71 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when additional gardaí will be allocated to Tipperary Town; when additional community gardaí will be allocated to Tipperary Town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15002/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

72 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when additional gardaí will be allocated to Cashel, County Tipperary; when additional community gardaí will be allocated to Cashel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15003/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

73 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when additional gardaí will be allocated to Clonmel, County Tipperary; when additional community gardaí will be allocated to Clonmel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15004/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

74 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when additional gardaí will be allocated to Cahir, County Tipperary; when additional community gardaí will be allocated to Cahir; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15005/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

75 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when additional gardaí will be allocated to Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary; when additional community gardaí will be allocated to Carrick-on-Suir; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15006/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 71 to 75, inclusive, together.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 28 February 2009, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength and the Community Policing strength of each of the Garda Stations referred to by the Deputy were as set out as follows:

Garda Station

Station Strength

Community Policing

Cashel

13

Tipperary Town

34

2

Cahir

46

1

Carrick-On-Suir

11

Clonmel

52

6

The Commissioner recently launched a new National Model of Community Policing for An Garda Síochána. This new model will build on the success of existing good community policing practice and I look forward to the implementation of this plan. A National Community Policing Office will be established within Garda Community Relations Section and and it is intended that every District Officer throughout the country will take ownership of community policing within their area of responsibility.

Asylum Support Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

76 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a person (details supplied) in County Galway will be transferred to self-catering accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15060/09]

I am informed by the Reception and Integration Agency that it does not have any record of a request from the person in question for a move to self-catering accommodation.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

77 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if they will be transferred to self-catering accommodation in view of their medical needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15061/09]

I refer the Deputy to Question No. 364 of Tuesday, 21 October 2008 and the written reply to that question. The person concerned applied for asylum on 3 March 2005. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 13 April 2007, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for subsidiary protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person submitted an application for subsidiary protection in the State in accordance with these regulations. This application is under consideration. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person will be notified in writing of the outcome.

If the subsidiary protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will be considered under section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, and section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the file will be passed to me for decision. In relation to the second part of the Deputy's question, the Reception and Integration Agency is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision and dispersal. The person concerned and his family are availing of accommodation at the Old Convent Accommodation Centre, Ballyhaunis, County Mayo. The agency previously received requests for transfer to self-catering accommodation for this family and found that there were insufficient grounds to support such a transfer. The family continues to be provided with accommodation by the agency in accordance with the direct provision policy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

78 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15062/09]

I refer the Deputy to Question No. 125 of Thursday, 23 October 2008 and the written reply to that question. An asylum application was submitted on behalf of the person concerned, an infant child born in mid-2007, on 20 November 2007. This asylum application was refused following consideration of the case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 21 May 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for subsidiary protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). An application for subsidiary protection in the State has been submitted on behalf of the person concerned. This application is under consideration. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person will be notified in writing of the outcome. If the subsidiary protection application is refused, the case file of the person, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, and section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file will be passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

79 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15063/09]

I refer the Deputy to Question No. 124 of Thursday, 23 October 2008 and the written reply to that question. The person concerned arrived in the State on 15 April 2005 and applied for asylum. The second reference number refers to the child of the person who was born in the State later that year and is included as a child dependant on her mother's asylum claim. The asylum application of the person concerned was refused following consideration of the case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 20 April 2007, that the Minister proposed to make deportation orders in respect of her and her child. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of deportation orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons she and her child should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for subsidiary protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person submitted an application for subsidiary protection in the State in accordance with these regulations. This application is under consideration. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person will be notified in writing of the outcome.

The person concerned also claimed asylum in the United Kingdom on 9 May 2007. In accordance with the provisions of the Dublin II Regulations, the UK requested that Ireland agree to the return of the person concerned to this State as the person was in the UK without permission and having regard for the fact that Ireland was the Dublin II regulation state responsible for examining the asylum application of the person concerned. The person, accompanied by her dependant child, was returned to this State. The application for subsidiary protection in the State submitted by the person will now be examined. If the subsidiary protection application is refused, the case file of the person, including all representations submitted, will be considered under section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, and section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person will be passed to me for decision. The Deputy might wish to note that any decision made in relation to the person concerned will apply equally to the dependant child referred to in his question.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

80 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15064/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 1021 of Wednesday 24 September 2008 and 173 of Thursday 26 June 2008 and the written Replies to those Questions.

The person concerned applied for asylum on 13 August 2002. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 29 August 2003, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

81 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the application for citizenship in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15065/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 137 on 12 February 2009. The position remains as stated.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

82 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected status regarding the application for family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15066/09]

I would point out to the Deputy that there is no application for family reunification in the case he refers to. The situation is that the person concerned was granted permission to remain in the State under the revised arrangements for non-EEA parents of children born in Ireland prior to 1 January 2005 know as the IBC/05 scheme. This permission was subject, however, to the condition that it does not confer any entitlements or legitimate expectation on any other person, whether related to her or not, to enter the State.

My Department has a record of the person concerned having 2 other child dependants in the State. One child is under the age of sixteen and is covered by the permission to remain granted to her parent. The other child, who is over sixteen, was issued a letter by my Department on the 19 March 2008 informing him that he has permission to remain in the State in line with the permission already granted to his mother who is registered up to 5 October 2010.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

83 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected status regarding the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15067/09]

I have been informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that they have recently been in contact with the person referred to by the Deputy in relation to her immigration status. Further documentation has been requested from the person concerned in order to facilitate the Immigration Division in examining her case.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

84 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected status regarding the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15068/09]

I have been informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that they have recently been in contact with the person referred to by the Deputy in relation to her immigration status. Further documentation has been requested from the person concerned in order to facilitate the Immigration Division in examining her case.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

85 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected status regarding the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15069/09]

I have been informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that they have recently been in contact with the person referred to by the Deputy in relation to her immigration status. Further documentation has been requested from the person concerned in order to facilitate the Immigration Division in examining her case

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

86 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the decision of deport in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15070/09]

I refer the Deputy to the Reply to Parliamentary Question No. 222 of Thursday, 3 April 2008. The status of the person concerned remains as set out in that Reply.

The person concerned continues to meet the presentation requirements of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) in accordance with Section 8(1)(b) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended. He is due to present again on Thursday 23 April 2009.

I am satisfied that the applications made by the person concerned for asylum and for temporary leave to remain in the State, together with all refoulement issues, were fairly and comprehensively examined and, as such, the decision to deport him is justified.

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State.

The enforcement of the Deportation Order is, and remains, an operational matter for the GNIB.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

87 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected status regarding the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15071/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 168 of Thursday 25 September 2008 and the written Reply to that Question.

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

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 30 December 2004, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

88 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15072/09]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that the person in question made a Family Reunification application on behalf of her son in June 2006 and a decision issued in June 2007 refusing the application.

The legal representative of the person concerned subsequently resubmitted a new application that has been forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996.

On completion of the investigation the Commissioner will prepare and forward a report to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and on receipt of the Commissioner's report the application will be considered further.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

89 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15073/09]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 14 June 2001 and applied for asylum on 18 June 2001. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 9 January 2004, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State i.e. why she should not be deported.

Her case was then examined under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996, as amended, on the Prohibition of Refoulement. Consideration was given to representations submitted on her behalf by her legal representative for permission to remain in the State. On 3 February 2005, my predecessor refused permission to remain temporarily in the State and instead signed a Deportation Order in respect of her. Notice of this order was served by registered post requiring the person concerned to present herself at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 on Tuesday 13 November 2007 in order to make travel arrangements for her removal from the State. She failed to present as required and was classified as evading her deportation. Should she come to the notice of the Gardaí, she would be liable to arrest and detention. She should, therefore, present herself to the GNIB without any further delay.

An application for Family Reunification was made in respect of the person concerned by her husband in April 2007. Said application was withdrawn by the husband of the person concerned and he was notified of this by letter dated 17 October 2007. A fresh application for Family Reunification was made in February 2008. Subsequently by letter dated 12 January 2009, the legal representative of the person concerned advised my Department that its client wished to withdraw her application for Family Reunification. Said application was deemed withdrawn and the legal representative of the person concerned was notified of this by letter dated 29 January 2009.

I am satisfied that the applications made by the person concerned for asylum and for temporary leave to remain in the State, together with all refoulement issues, were fairly and comprehensively examined and, as such, the decision to deport her is justified.

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State.

The enforcement of the Deportation Order is, and remains, an operational matter for the GNIB.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

90 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15074/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 14 March 2005 on his own behalf and on behalf of his minor son. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 30 January 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him and his son. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of Deportation Orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he and his son should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

91 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15075/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 11 January 2005. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 30 January 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

92 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15076/09]

I refer the Deputy to my previous answer to his Parliamentary Question No. 727 of 27th January 2009.

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department that a Family Reunification application was received in April 2007.

The application was forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. The investigation has been completed and the Commissioner has forwarded a report to my Department.

A decision to approve this application has recently issued to the person in question.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

93 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected position on the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15077/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 328 of Tuesday 25 November 2008 and the written Reply to that Question.

The person concerned applied for asylum on 20 January 2004. As part of the process of having his asylum claims investigated, the person concerned was invited to attend for interview at the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner on 15 September 2004. The person concerned did not attend for interview on this date, nor did he furnish an explanation for his failure to attend. Consequently, he was informed, by letter dated 21 September 2004, that the Refugee Applications Commissioner had recommended to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform that he should not be declared to be a refugee, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13(2) of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended). The person concerned was also informed that there was no appeal against such a recommendation.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 7 October 2004, sent by registered post to his last known address, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. This letter was returned to my Department marked "gone away".

The case of the person concerned now falls to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Citizenship Applications.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

94 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 578 of 24 March 2009 in respect of an application for citizenship by a person (details supplied) in County Cork and in view of the circumstances pertaining when a decision will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15078/09]

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

Officials in that Section inform me that documentation has been requested from the person concerned. Further processing of the application will continue once the requested documentation is received.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

95 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will reconsider his decision not to proceed with a new round of grants under the local authority swimming pool programme in 2009. [14945/09]

It is not intended to launch a new round of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme at this time. The matter will be reviewed again later this year.

Grant Payments.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

96 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he is planning to support and fund 50% of the cost of building a new facility for a college (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14970/09]

My Department has received correspondence from the college referred to by the Deputy in relation to development of a new facility. The college has been asked to submit a formal application for assistance under my Department's Scheme for Community and Recreational Facilities in the Gaeltacht. Upon receipt of a completed application, my Department will proceed to examine it in the normal way, having regard to the conditions of the scheme and taking into consideration the funding available to my Department for such projects.

Frank Feighan

Question:

97 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if financial help will be made available to community groups which must have professional audit accounts available when applying for grants which is placing community groups under financial pressure; and if he will recommend a less expensive way of providing means when providing accounts with applications. [15015/09]

The Deputy will be aware that community and voluntary organisation are subject to the same compliance requirements under Company Law and other relevant legislation as other private and commercial organisations. Depending on the nature of the funds granted, community groups applying for grants are required to provide some evidence of their financial affairs either by the submission of simple statements of income and expenditure for smaller organisations where the level of grant is low, or audited financial statements where the grant is significant and the beneficiary is a registered as company or co-operative.

As a general rule, my Department has taken the opportunity to ensure that the financial reporting requirements are proportionate to the level and nature of grant assistance and that the accountability and reporting obligations required by this House are met to a satisfactory level. As with all our programmes and schemes, guidance notes, operating manuals and staff support is available to groups receiving funding to assist them in complying with these requirements. These requirements are not additional to the legislative or regulatory requirements under which such groups operate. Where the opportunity has arisen, my Department has streamlined the application and reporting requirements to ensure that additional costs are not imposed.

In these circumstances, I have no plans to provide additional financial support of the type suggested by the Deputy.

Community Development.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

98 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Pobal has withdrawn its contract from an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 12 and will cease funding of this partnership which represents an area containing three of the five most disadvantaged areas here and that this organisation was informed at a very late stage, after staff were put on protective notice, about an appeals procedure which is not set down in Pobal’s operational guidelines; if he will commit to retaining a community based partnership in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14884/09]

My Department is aware of the issues and process that led to the Pobal decision to withdraw the LDSIP contract from the organisation in question. I do not see an interventionist role for me in the matter. My Department and Pobal are working to secure arrangements so that the area will receive the necessary resources from a range of relevant programmes.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

99 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if funding has been allocated by his Department for the installation of a closed circuit television monitoring system in New Ross town, County Wexford; when money can be drawn down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14977/09]

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.

The House will be aware that I introduced the RAPID Leverage Schemes in 2004. Under these schemes, my Department tops up the funds of other Departments and agencies to provide small-scale local projects such as playgrounds, traffic measures, improved health facilities, CCTV, and top-up funds for projects promoted by sporting organisations under the Sports Capital Programme.

The lead agency in relation to the project referred to in the Deputy's question is the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and it is that Department which deals directly with applications and allocations under this scheme.

Anti-Poverty Strategy.

Michael McGrath

Question:

100 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of direct Exchequer financial support that has been provided to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service over the past three years; and her views on whether MABS is equipped to deal with the range and volume of cases presenting in the current economic climate. [14887/09]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is the main Government funded service which provides assistance to people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. There are 53 independent companies with voluntary boards of management operating the local services throughout the country. In addition, the MABS National Telephone Helpline is available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday at lo-call number 1890 283 438 and budgeting and money management information can be accessed 24 hours a day at www.mabs.ie.

In 2008, over 16,600 new clients approached the MABS for assistance with debt difficulties and the telephone helpline dealt with almost 11,000 callers. This year 5,200 new clients have approached the service and the telephone helpline has received over 6,280 calls up to the end of March. The MABS companies operate an appointments system for meeting clients. Clients with urgent difficulties are prioritised for attention and dealt with promptly. Less urgent cases are referred to the Telephone Helpline.

In 2009, almost €18 million has been provided to fund the service. The allocations for 2006, 2007 and 2008 were €16.42m, €17.67m and €17.95m respectively. The additional investment in the MABS that has been possible in recent years has strengthened the capacity of the service to deal with the increased demand for service. There are now 252 money advice staff employed throughout the country and the Telephone Helpline, introduced in December 2007 has been strengthened to provide an immediate response to clients seeking information and advice. Over 90% of callers to the Helpline find that their money management and budgeting issues can be resolved with the assistance of the helpline advisor. Some 10% of callers are referred to the local MABS for appointment. The Helpline is further assisting local services manage their appointment lists by providing an initial preliminary MABS service to clients and ongoing support while they await their appointment with their local money advisor.

The money advisors throughout the country focus on providing assistance, advice and intense support to people who have financial difficulties. The money advisor works out a budget, negotiates on behalf of the client with all creditors to secure better terms for the client in managing the repayment of the debts. Where required by the client, the money advisor can assist with setting up a special account with their local Credit Union into which an agreed amount of money is lodged regularly and from which each month the money advisor makes the repayments to the creditors on behalf of the client. They provide ongoing support to people who successfully overcome their financial difficulties.

Focused training programmes designed to equip money advice staff and local management boards to meet the demands on the services are provided by MABS NDL the national support company. In addition, MABS NDL has introduced a number of community education and other initiatives to assist the local services in managing their increased caseloads. These include a money management education programme for people facing redundancy to inform them about managing on a reduced income and how to avoid getting into debt.

I am confident that the MABS is well equipped to provide a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances. The MABS advises that people coping with debt difficulties should make an approach to the MABS, via any of the channels. This can be the first positive step in addressing debt difficulties.

Pension Provisions.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

101 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the average length of time it takes to process a claim for a contributory state pension for an Irish citizen when that citizen has previously resided in the UK; the number of applications processed for the years 2007 and 2008; the number outstanding for 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14910/09]

A person who resides in Ireland, and who has previously worked in the United Kingdom, must apply to the Department for State Pension Transition or State Pension Contributory. The person's standard Irish pension entitlement will be fully processed within 4 weeks of receipt of their claim (where all required information is available), and they are notified of the outcome. Most applicants apply in advance of reaching pension age, and currently over 90% are processed by due date of entitlement.

Where previous UK employment is indicated or a UK insurance number is noted on their record a copy of the person's pension application and full Irish insurance record (on forms E202/205) are sent to the UK authority, to have any possible entitlement to UK pension examined by the Department of Works and Pension.

In cases where no standard (Irish) State Pension Transition/Contributory entitlement is established, or where a reduced rate Irish pension (up to 75%) is awarded, the UK authority is additionally requested to forward the person's UK insurance record to the Department, as the aggregation of the UK insurance record with their Irish record under EU Regulations, may enhance their pension entitlement. Once this record is received, the person's pension claim is reviewed to ensure that they are receiving their maximum entitlement.

These cases are recorded within the numbers for the overall EU Regulation so it is not possible to identify UK cases separately.

Family Support Services.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

102 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if there are plans to increase funding for counselling service organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14919/09]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

103 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the grants, financial supports or other funding are available to a counselling agency (details supplied). [14920/09]

I propose to take questions 102 and 103 together.

The Family Support Agency provides funding through a Scheme of Grants to voluntary and community organisations providing marriage and relationship counselling, marriage preparation courses, child counselling in relation to parental separation and bereavement counselling and support on the death of a family member. The focus of the scheme is on support for the voluntary sector with the development of counselling and support services in the community for families, to enhance stability in family life, and to assist families and their members to deal with difficult periods which they may experience.

Over €11m was made available under the Scheme for 2008 and 600 organisations received funding. Funding of over €7.8m for 29 major organisations who have been identified for multi-annual funding was announced in February. The balance of applications for funding under the 2009 Scheme have been processed and there will be a further announcement on funding, amounting to nearly €3.5m, shortly. No application for funding has been received from the organisation referred to by the Deputy. Overall, this means that funding of over €11.3m will be made available for the Scheme in 2009.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

104 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if there is scope for examining whether a person (details supplied) in Dublin 20 is entitled to a back to work scheme. [14967/09]

According to the department's records, the person referred to by the Deputy made an application for Jobseeker's Benefit on 17/2/09. On the basis of the information he supplied, he did not fulfil the condition for Jobseeker's Benefit whereby a person must be fully unemployed for at least 3 days in any period of 6 consecutive days. Consequently, he did not qualify for benefit.

He does not appear to have made an application under the back to work allowance scheme. To qualify for this allowance, an application must be submitted in advance of starting work and the person must be in receipt of a qualifying payment for a specific length of time immediately prior to commencing employment or self employment.

Departmental Staff.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

105 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if extra staff will be deployed to the social welfare offices in Kilbarrack and Coolock, County Dublin to cope with the increase in social welfare applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14991/09]

Following on a review of the staffing levels in local offices due to the increased number of claims for jobseeker's payments, an additional 2 staff were assigned to Kilbarrack Local Office and 3 staff to the Coolock office. Coolock Local Office was the parent office for Balbriggan Branch Office up to the time the office closed in late 2008 following the retirement of the Branch Manager. The Department is planning to open a local office in Balbriggan and is working with Office of Public Works to acquire suitable accommodation. An additional 9 staff have been assigned to the Coolock office to deal with the Balbriggan claims as an interim measure until the new office is opened.

It is recognised that the provision of additional staff in itself will not deal with the rising claim load. Since early 2008, we have been reviewing claim forms and all aspects of the work associated with claim processing with a view to streamlining wherever possible. By introducing streamlining initiatives, I am trying to ensure that people are paid as quickly as possible and the process is as easy as it can be for people claiming jobseeker payments.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Denis Naughten

Question:

106 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount paid in early child care supplement in 2006, 2007, 2008 and to the end of March 2009, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15001/09]

The Early Childcare Supplement was introduced in April 2006 and is administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs on behalf of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The expenditure on the Early Childcare Supplement (ECS) for 2006, was €292 million, the corresponding figure for 2007 was €417 million and for 2008 was €477 million. The expenditure in 2009 (to end of March) is some €74.5 million. Since January 2009 the ECS payment is monthly in arrears.

Pension Provisions.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

107 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason there is no legal protection for the pension entitlements of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the further reason the Pensions Board cannot assist a person in these circumstances as confirmed by them and the Pension Ombudsman cannot help a person in these circumstances as confirmed by that office; and the action she is taking to ensure that pension entitlements of workers of a company are fully secured. [15012/09]

Defined benefit (DB) pension schemes such as the scheme to which the Deputy is referring are required to comply with the Funding Standard provisions set out in the Pensions Act. This requires DB pension schemes to maintain sufficient assets to enable them discharge all accrued liabilities. Where schemes do not satisfy the Funding Standard, the sponsors/trustees must submit a funding proposal to the Pensions Board to restore full funding within an agreed timescale (minimum of 3 years).

Where a DB scheme wind-ups on the insolvency of its employer, the order in which the liabilities of the scheme are discharged is also determined by the provisions of the Pensions Act. Simply put, the priority order is as follows:

Firstly, any benefits secured by members by way of additional voluntary contributions;

Secondly, future benefits to those scheme members who are already in receipt of a pension or have reached normal retirement age;

Thirdly, benefits to current employees who are members of the pension scheme and former employees with entitlement to preserved benefits;

Finally, any subsequent benefits not yet discharged.

The Pensions Act does not impose an obligation on employers of DB schemes to make up any shortfalls that may arise in their pension funds. However, employers have been willing to contribute towards such shortfalls.

My Department, together with the Pensions Board, will continue to monitor the situation in relation to the underfunding of DB schemes. The Pensions Board and the Pensions Ombudsman's office work to ensure that all legal and administrative obligations are carried out by individual schemes, their employers and trustees. They can, and do, pursue such cases where companies renege on these obligations.

As I have previously mentioned, the Government is conscious of the pressures on employers and scheme trustees, arising from the very significant losses incurred by pension funds over the last year and from economic conditions generally. It is Government policy to support the continuation of DB schemes, where possible. The recent measures announced by the Government will ease the pressure on underfunded schemes by allowing more time to recover losses. In addition, the Government is currently considering a number of options in relation to the ongoing security of occupational pensions. Any decisions in this regard will be made in the context of the National Pensions Framework which will be finalised shortly.

Social Welfare Code.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

108 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the steps she is taking to ensure that persons with high monthly mortgage repayments such as a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 are not better off by remaining on the live register rather than working as a result of the way in which the means testing of jobseeker’s allowance and mortgage interest supplement currently operates. [15051/09]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes mortgage interest supplement, is administered on behalf of the department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive.

Mortgage interest supplement provides short-term support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only.

The Executive has advised that the person concerned has made an application for mortgage interest supplement. Further information has been sought from the person concerned in order to process his application. The Executive has further advised that a decision will be made on the application when the requested information has been provided.

Mortgage interest supplements are normally calculated to ensure that a person, after the payment of mortgage interest, has an income equal to the rate of SWA appropriate to their family circumstances less a minimum contribution, currently €18, which recipients are required to pay from their own resources. Many recipients pay more than €18 because they are also required, subject to income disregards, to contribute any additional assessable means that they have over and above the appropriate basic SWA rate towards their accommodation costs.

In order to qualify for mortgage interest supplement, a person must satisfy a number of statutory qualifying conditions. Claims are determined on the basis of the merits of each individual case and in accordance with all of the statutory qualifying conditions. One of the statutory qualifying conditions is that the claimant or his or her spouse is not engaged in remunerative full-time work. Section 198(6) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 refers. Article (6)(3) of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Supplementary Welfare Allowance) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 412 of 2007) provides "a person shall be regarded as being engaged in remunerative full-time work where he or she is so engaged for not less than 30 hours per week."

Under Section 196(2) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, where a person and his/her spouse are members of the same household, "their needs and means shall be aggregated and shall be regarded as the means and needs of the claimant." In these circumstances, the income of an applicant for mortgage interest supplement and his or her spouse is taken into account when assessing means.

The assessment for the existing mortgage interest supplement scheme provides for a gradual withdrawal of payment as hours of employment or earnings increase. Those availing of part-time employment and/or training opportunities can continue to receive mortgage interest supplement subject to their satisfying the standard means assessment rules. Since June 2007, where a person has additional income in excess of the standard weekly rate of supplementary welfare allowance, the first €75 of such additional income together with 25% of any additional income above €75 is disregarded for means assessment purposes. This ensures that those engaging in part-time work or participating in training schemes are better off as a result of taking up such an opportunity.

In view of the current economic environment, the Department has commenced a review of the administration of the mortgage interest supplement scheme. The main purpose of the review is to consider how the mortgage interest supplement scheme can best meet its objective of catering for those who require assistance on a short-term basis, where they are unable to meet mortgage interest repayments on their sole place of residence. Legislative and operational issues arising in the existing mortgage interest scheme, including the cap on hours of employment, are also being examined as part of this review.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

109 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position in relation to an application for jobseeker’s allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15059/09]

The claim for jobseeker's allowance, by the person concerned, was refused by a Deciding Officer of the Department on 16 February 2009 on the grounds that she did not satisfy the Habitual Residence conditions.

An appeal was opened on 3 March 2009 and, I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal.

On receipt of the response the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer for early consideration.

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

Social Welfare Benefits.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

110 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the extent of medical examinations by medical assessors of applicants for disability allowance bearing in mind the experience of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15083/09]

The Medical Review and Assessment system is the principal control mechanism for all illness and disability schemes administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Medical Assessors carry out desk assessments of medical evidence/reports supplied by customers and where required, conduct in person assessments in order to provide a second medical opinion for the guidance of Deciding and Appeals Officers. All assessments are carried out in accordance with the accepted guidelines of the Irish Medical Council.

All applications for Disability Allowance have to be examined by Medical Assessors to determine if they satisfy the medical conditions applying to the scheme. This assessment is based on the medical evidence contained in the application form completed by the applicant's GP. The Medical Assessor may decide on the basis of the medical evidence in the application that the applicant meets the medical conditions for Disability Allowance or that further medical evidence is required or that the applicant should attend for an in person assessment.

In order to satisfy the medical criteria for Disability Allowance a person must by reason of a specified disability be substantially restricted in undertaking employment of a kind which, if the person was not suffering from that disability, would be suited to the person's age, experience and qualifications.

A person may be regarded as being substantially restricted in undertaking suitable employment where he or she suffers from an injury, disease, congenital deformity or physical or mental illness which has continued or, in the opinion of a deciding officer or an appeals officer, may reasonably expect to continue for a period of at least 1 year.

In the case, referred to by the Deputy, the medical part of the application form was completed by the customer's GP on 12 November 2008 who agreed that his patient was fit to attend a medical examination, if required. On examination of the application the Medical Assessor expressed the opinion that a medical examination was required and this was arranged for 13 January 2009.

In carrying out the medical assessment on 13 January 2009 the Medical Assessor reviewed the customer's medical history and considered all available medical evidence. She conducted a relevant clinical examination and following this, expressed the opinion that the person concerned did not satisfy the medical criteria for receipt of Disability Allowance as the customer's condition was unlikely to last for a year.

Following an appeal, the person concerned was called for a second medical assessment and was examined by a different Medical Assessor on 25 March 2009. This Medical Assessor also expressed the opinion that the customer's condition was unlikely to last for a year.

Both assessments were conducted in a fair, equitable, impartial and independent manner to the highest standards in accordance with accepted medical practice and ethics and were submitted to the Department's Chief Medical Adviser for approval. Every effort has been made to ensure that the interests of the customer concerned were fully safeguarded and all procedures were carried out correctly and in accordance with the Irish Medical Council guidelines.

This case is now being dealt with by the Appeals Office which in its decisions acts independently of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The Social Welfare appeals system is designed to ensure every appellant's case gets full and satisfactory consideration.

Homeless Services.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

111 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the breakdown of the way the allocated 5% increase in expenditure for homeless services as outlined in budget 2009 will be spent; the organisations which will receive this increase in funding; the portion of this increase which will go to front-line services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14915/09]

My Department is responsible for funding accommodation and related costs of adult homeless services and the Health Services Executive is responsible for funding care related costs. Definitive allocations have not yet been issued by my Department for 2009. Housing authorities have been advised, however, of the need to prioritise front line services in the deployment of resources and of the need to prioritise resources towards progressing the key strategic objectives of the Government's homeless strategy, The Way Home, particularly the provision of suitable accommodation and necessary support to end long-term occupation of emergency homeless facilities.

Planning Issues.

Richard Bruton

Question:

112 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the revenue which is raised on an annual basis from planning submission fees, broken down by category; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14918/09]

The amount collected by planning authorities (based on returns made to my Department) for submissions and observations on planning applications, from 2004 to 2007, is set out in the following table. The data received in my Department are not broken down into different categories of planning application. Fees collected by planning authorities for submissions and observations on planning applications.

Area

2004

2005

2006

2007

Carlow

6,980

8,080

9,481

8,440

Cavan

9,140

8,690

10,480

9,220

Clare

13,128

16,330

46,056

53,599

Cork

19,693

54,362

63,560

61,320

Donegal

18,680

21,364

26,580

23,575

Dun Laoghaire — Rathdown

71,674

63,298

84,804

119,840

Fingal

37,325

51,508

47,720

28,720

Galway

20,020

18,580

20,725

19,620

Kerry

21,580

35,700

31,000

21,855

Kildare

30,800

30,224

32,681

36,400

Kilkenny

8,900

15,549

15,085

13,737

Laois

6,750

7,870

6,300

14,200

Leitrim

3,280

4,064

2,300

4,980

Limerick

14,048

5,800

19,278

23,424

Longford

2,960

5,620

12,106

4,996

Louth

14,711

17,228

23,993

26,817

Mayo

20,620

12,190

14,120

42,779

Meath

33,942

36,625

26,196

47,033

Monaghan

3,680

5,480

6,760

5,620

Offaly

9,980

5,480

10,400

14,180

Roscommon

9,800

10,280

6,345

6,200

Sligo

4,080

7,400

9,760

10,920

South Dublin

30,680

35,498

21,224

28,873

Tipperary North

6,761

3,403

10,432

9,400

Tipperary South

8,548

12,080

23,190

31,787

Waterford

10,780

11,225

18,640

12,740

Westmeath

9,318

12,062

12,775

9,340

Wexford

19,103

24,944

22,540

21,500

Wicklow

25,511

25,335

31,940

30,020

Cork City Council

17,055

26,600

22,180

27,280

Dublin City Council

69,702

106,880

106,747

108,303

Galway City Council

7,770

11,545

10,920

11,460

Limerick City Council

4,900

5,800

6,395

4,340

Waterford City Council

5,880

4,920

18,040

4,880

Total

597,779

722,014

830,752

897,398

Local Government Reform.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

113 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he will publish the White Paper on Local Government Reform. [14931/09]

I am currently finalising the content of the White Paper on Local Government, for Government consideration and subsequent publication.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

114 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received contract documents for the Castlewarden to Ballygoran water supply scheme in County Kildare. [14944/09]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 1117 of 27 January 2009. The position is unchanged.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Tom Hayes

Question:

115 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the responsibilities the local authorities have when tenants of social housing are being violent, anti-social, and intimidating persons in their neighbourhood; if they are required to take action on such a matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14968/09]

The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1997 sets out the powers available to housing authorities and, where appropriate, approved housing bodies to deal with anti-social behaviour in their housing stock. The exercise of these powers in individual cases is a matter for the relevant authority or housing body to decide. Under Section 34 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008 it is proposed that each authority be required to draw up and adopt an anti-social behaviour strategy and I am examining the scope for committee stage amendments to the Bill that will further extend the powers of housing authorities and approved bodies in this area.

Actions of a criminal nature by individuals are, in the first instance, a matter for An Garda Síochána.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Joe McHugh

Question:

116 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of the proposed new water and sewerage treatment plant for Magheranan, Letterkenny, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14980/09]

The Letterkenny Sewerage Scheme is included for funding in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007-09.

I approved Donegal County Council's tender documents for the wastewater and sludge treatment elements of the scheme in April 2008 and my Department is now awaiting submission of the Council's tender recommendation.

Legislative Programme.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

117 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his Department has completed its list of amendments to the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15013/09]

Work is continuing on a number of substantive amendments to the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008 which I hope to table at Committee Stage in the Dail. These include provisions in relation to the tenant purchase of apartments; amendments to provide a statutory basis for the making of homelessness action plans; and provisions for a new affordable homes purchase scheme. I am also looking at the scope for further changes to existing anti-social behaviour legislation that will enhance the role of housing authorities in this area.

Finally, there will be a number of less substantive amendments together with the standard housekeeping and consequential amendments. All of the Government's proposed amendments will be published, in the normal way, in advance of Committee Stage.

Local Authority Housing.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

118 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he will take in view of the fact that in excess of 4,000 vacant houses under the affordable housing scheme may by in the possession of local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15014/09]

Information from local authorities indicates that the number of affordable units on hands nationally is now in the region of 3,700 units. Many of these are already in process of sale or will be sold in the coming months.

In light of analysis by the Affordable Homes Partnership and engagement with local authorities, a circular has now issued to authorities setting out guidance in relation to the stock of affordable homes, highlighting the need for effective action to achieve early sale of units to eligible affordable purchasers, with particular emphasis on effective marketing and sales. Local authority annuity loan limits are being increased to €220,000 to assist relevant purchasers in the current market, where private finance has become more difficult to access.

In tandem with the focus on sales, authorities are being asked to evaluate all options available to them and the circular sets out possible alternative options to bring into use any affordable units which may not be possible to sell to affordable purchasers at this time. These options include Transfer of affordable properties to the Rental Accommodation Scheme for a period; Sale to local authority tenants under the Incremental Purchase Scheme; Use of affordable properties for a period as a social housing support under a leasing arrangement where appropriate.

My Department will continue to monitor and support local authorities' work to address these challenging issues, and will adapt and develop the approaches involved as necessary in the evolving housing market and economic climate.

Register of Electors.

Willie Penrose

Question:

119 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will clarify the position whereby people who are registered on the register of electors in a certain location and who have moved over the past month or two to a different location and who wish to re-register for voting in this new area are permitted to do so under the electoral law; the position pertaining to the foregoing scenario; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15052/09]

In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority.

Under section 15 of the Electoral Act 1992, as amended by section 6 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001, a person who is on the Register of Electors and moves residence from one constituency or local electoral area to another can apply for entry in the Supplement to the Register at their new address, provided they have authorised the registration authority to delete their name from the Register in respect of their previous address.

The relevant application form (RFA 3) is available from registration authorities or can be downloaded at www.checktheregister.ie. Individuals not on the Register, or who have moved address as set out above, can avail of the Supplement up until 15 days before the next polling day, i.e. Monday 18 May in the case of the Local and European elections being held on 5 June 2009.

Housing Statistics.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

120 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if statistics are held by his Department on the number and percentage of current household mortgages that are fixed, variable and split; and if he will provide these figures. [15081/09]

My Department collates and publishes a wide range of housing statistics that inform the preparation and evaluation of housing policy. Among the areas of activity covered are statistics on:

the delivery of various social and affordable housing supports,

housing construction activity,

inspections in the private rented sector,

house prices and lending activity.

My Department collates data, on the basis of returns from the financial institutions, on mortgage approvals and these data are broken down into fixed and variable mortgage subsets. Information regarding split mortgages is not collated. The data collated pertaining to mortgages paid are not broken down into fixed, variable or split analyses. The full range of data compiled can be viewed on my Department's website, www.environ.ie.

Home Energy Saving Scheme.

Liz McManus

Question:

121 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the exclusion of persons on low incomes from the home energy saving scheme; the reason there is a minimum requirement that the grant amount in the first application must be €500 or greater; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this excludes those who only require a cavity wall insulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14894/09]

It is important to ensure a proper balance between value for money in relation to the cost of the investment in delivering energy efficiency savings measures and the value of those energy savings to the economy. SEI has put in place a requirement that applicants to the scheme install measures attracting a minimum grant payment of €500. The administrative cost of disbursing grants for relatively low cost measures below this threshold such as attic insulation or cavity wall insulation would be disproportionately high. In this context, the administrative cost for Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) of processing grants under the Home Energy Saving Scheme is relatively fixed, regardless of the amount of the grant payment concerned. SEI has worked to keep administrative costs of the Scheme to a minimum.

In regard to those on low incomes, it is the case, that €20 million has been provided to the Warmer Homes Scheme for 2009, a substantial increase on previous years. The Warmer Homes Scheme is specifically targeted at low income households. This scheme provides for the installation of a range of energy efficiency measures, including cavity wall insulation, attic insulation, boiler lagging jackets, draught proofing measures and Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). Advice is also provided to householders on minimising energy use. The scheme provides these measures free or at a nominal cost to the householder.

The Warmer Homes Scheme is expected to support energy efficiency interventions in up to 15,000 low income homes in this year alone. Further information on the Warmer Homes Scheme is available by calling 1800-250204, by emailing warmerhomes@sei.ie or at www.sei.ie/Grants/Warmer_Homes_Scheme.

Telecommunications Services.

Liz McManus

Question:

122 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on directing State agencies and Departments to use both a lo-call number and local number for members of the public to phone in view of the fact that many people have free national calls which would be more cost efficient than calling the lo-call number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14895/09]

I have no function in setting policy in this area across the public sector. My Department uses both a lo-call number and local number for members of the public. These numbers are published on the Department's website. The use of a lo-call number is appropriate for persons who do not have access to free national call services and it affords considerable savings to such persons and is, accordingly, current best practice in customer relations. Persons who have an entitlement to free national calls can of course ring the main Department number for free.

The telephone contact services of the State Agencies under the aegis of my Department are a day-to-day operational issue for these agencies and I have no function in that regard.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Liz McManus

Question:

123 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason there is no retrospective payments of grants for micro-wind turbines; his views on whether this is unfair on persons who have recently invested in this initiative prior to the introduction of this grant scheme; the reason he is incentivising the erection of additional micro-wind turbines for research purposes and excluding the research possibilities from the existing turbines; the estimated cost of this grant scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14896/09]

The micro scale generation programme, recently launched by Sustainable Energy Ireland, is assessing technical, financial and regulatory issues surrounding the deployment of small and micro generation technologies. The programme includes the future monitoring of suppliers and installers in supplying, constructing and commissioning new projects. It is not practical therefore to include projects commenced prior to the programme. It is expected the programme will support the construction of 50 projects, approximately, in a variety of technologies in diverse geographic regions from a budget of up to €2 million.

Individuals can also avail of payment for electricity exported to the grid by micro-generators at a rate of up to 19 cent per Kilowatt hour. Individuals who have already installed micro generation can also avail of this tariff once they have an approved ESB meter fitted. The meter will be fitted free of charge by ESB Networks.

Liz McManus

Question:

124 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding offshore wind projects which are currently outside the gate three process; his views on whether offshore wind projects with a potential of 1GW would make a significant impact on the 2020 target; the criteria for inclusion in the consultation process for grid application; his position on offshore wind projects; the number of applications awaiting grid connection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14906/09]

Applications for grid connections are made to ESB Networks and/or Eirgrid in the first instance. Data on grid connections has been published by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) as part of its consultation process on grid connections and additional information is published from time to time by Eirgrid.

CER and Eirgrid have calculated that 5,800 megawatts (MWs) of renewable capacity is required to achieve the 40% target in 2020. The latest figures from Eirgrid and CER show that there are currently over 1,300 MW of renewable capacity already connected to the system with a further 1,500 MW with a signed connection agreement or in the final stages of agreeing one. The recent CER decision on the "Gate 3" Round provides for connection offers for 3,900 MWs of additional renewable capacity. This Gate 3 process includes some 785MW of offshore wind capacity. Figures from CER indicate that there are in the region of 7,000 MW of further applications. There is currently no breakdown of the technologies in this latter group available.

A contribution of 1000 MWs in any one renewable technology, which the onshore wind category has already surpassed, is a significant contribution to the overall capacity requirement. Ongoing discussion with representatives of the offshore wind sector indicates that the sector has the potential to make an increasing contribution to targets from around 2012 onwards.

Telecommunications Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

125 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the 3G internet service offered by a company (details supplied) in the proposed national broadband scheme is included as a broadband internet service to the OECD’s broadband statistics. [15028/09]

Mobile network operators first launched mobile broadband services in European countries in 2007. Since its launch in Ireland in Quarter 2 2007, the demand for mobile broadband services has been growing steadily. The latest figures from the Commission for Communications Regulation show that over 25% of Irish broadband subscriptions are mobile subscriptions. The take up of mobile broadband in Ireland is well ahead of the EU-27 average.

Because mobile broadband is a relatively recent development the OECD does not yet include mobile broadband subscriptions in its periodic reports. However, the matter has been discussed at recent OECD meetings and the need to include wireless data, which encompasses mobile subscriptions, in future reports is accepted. While the finer details of how best to include and report the data needs to agreed, future OECD reports will include data on mobile broadband subscriptions.

Finian McGrath

Question:

126 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the information available on the national selection process for the national broadband scheme. [15029/09]

On 2 May 2007, my Department commenced the tender process for the National Broadband Scheme using the Competitive Dialogue Procurement procedure as set out in the European Communities (Award of Public Authorities' Contracts) Regulations 2006, which implemented Directive 2004/18/EC.

The process comprised of a number of significant stages:

Prior Indicative Notice (PIN) was published on 30 January 2007 on the etenders website. The full notice is available at www.e-tenders.gov.ie/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=JAN076137.

Contract Notice was published on etenders website on 2 May 2007. The notice is available at www.etenders.gov.ie/Search/Search_Switch.aspx?ID=49185.

By 5 July 2007, my Department had received 11 compliant responses to the first stage of the procurement process, the Pre Qualification Questionnaire. Following the evaluation of these responses, four candidates pre-qualified to enter the next phase of the procurement process. The four candidates were: BT Communications Ireland Ltd Consortium, Eircom Ltd, Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd and IFA/Motorola Consortium.

Invitation to Participate in Competitive Dialogue (ITPCD) and Revised Invitation to Participate in Competitive Dialogue (RITPCD) — the pre-qualified candidates were then invited to participate in the competitive dialogue process and to present their proposed solutions to meet my Department's initial requirements for the delivery of broadband to unserved areas of the country (ITPCD). Following this initial response and subsequent dialogue with candidates, the initial requirements and the initial contract evolved and a revised solution was requested as part of RITPCD. At each of these phases, detailed technical, commercial and contract discussions took place with the remaining candidates following my Department's evaluation of the responses.

The finalised Invitation to Tender (ITT) documentation was issued on 25 August 2008 to the remaining candidates, Eircom Ltd and Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd. IFA/Motorola Consortium and BT Communications Ireland Ltd Consortium withdrew from the process before the ITT issued.

Two bids were received on 6 October 2008 and following evaluation, the preferred bidder, Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd was selected on 25 November 2008. My Department entered into the contract with Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme on 23 December 2008. Further details regarding the award of the contract were published in the Contract Award Notice which is available at:

www.e-tenders.gov.ie/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=JAN113140 .

Information relating to the National Broadband Scheme can also be found on my Department's website at www.dcenr.gov.ie/Communications/Communications+Development.htm .

Animal Welfare.

Michael McGrath

Question:

127 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps taken to ensure the welfare of circus animals. [14897/09]

Primary responsibility for issues relating to the safety and welfare of circus animals lie with the owner or keeper of such animals. The Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1965 is the principal legislation governing the welfare of all animals in this country and this legislation is enforced by An Garda Síochána.

While my Department's responsibility in the area of animal welfare currently extends to farmed animals only, the new Animal Health and Welfare Bill, currently being drafted gives effect to a number of animal health and welfare commitments contained in the Programme for Government including a commitment for the consolidation of responsibility for the welfare of all animals within my Department.

On-farm Investment Schemes.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

128 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if all applications received under the farm improvement scheme prior to its suspension on 31 October 2007 will be processed and if approved, qualify for payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14965/09]

The 12,675 applications received by my Department under the Farm Improvement Scheme prior to its suspension for new applications on 31 October 2007 are being processed up to the level of funding provided for the Scheme in the 2006 Partnership agreement, Towards 2016.

Grant Payments.

James Bannon

Question:

129 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will receive payment under the farm waste management grant scheme in respect of a slatted shed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14995/09]

The person named is an applicant for grant-aid under the Farm Waste Management Scheme. My Department is currently examining the application and a decision will be made as soon as possible.

Denis Naughten

Question:

130 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, further to Parliamentary Question No. 204 of 11 March, 2009, if he will confirm when payment will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15032/09]

Payment of the first instalment of the Farm Waste Management grant issued to the person concerned on 19 March 2009.

Schools Building Projects.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

131 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the extension to a school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14898/09]

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is in receipt of an application for large scale capital funding from the school to which he refers. It has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria of my Department and assigned a Band rating of 2.5.

As the Deputy will be aware, in February, I announced details of 43 major building projects to proceed to tender and construction and 25 high priority projects to commence architectural planning. The project to which the Deputy refers was not included in this announcement. Therefore, it is unlikely that it will be progressed in 2009.

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

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

132 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the extension to a school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14899/09]

The proposed building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is currently awaiting the appointment of a Design Team. As the Deputy will be aware, in February, I announced details of 43 major building projects to proceed to tender and construction and 25 high priority projects to commence architectural planning.

The project to which the Deputy refers was not included in this announcement. Therefore, it is unlikely that it will be progressed in 2009. The progression of all large scale building projects, including the project in question, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

133 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Education and Science if a company which was contracted by the State to build two new primary schools in Gorey, County Wexford which engaged sub-contractors who left local businesses without substantial payment for goods and services should be considered for any more Government contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14907/09]

A school building project is a complex arrangement of contractual relationships between the client, the main contractor, specialist sub-contractors, domestic sub-contractors, suppliers of materials, suppliers of plant etc. In general all sub-contractors employed on school building projects are employed directly by the Main Contractor or indirectly by the Main Contractor through other sub-contractors. It is a matter for all sub-contractors to agree terms and conditions and a schedule of payments with the Main Contractor as their direct employer. It is unreasonable to expect any company within the chain to be held to account for issues relating to one of the other companies for which it has no direct control of. The company to which the Deputy refers is not in breach of any rules or regulations governing public procurement. As such it is open to this company to tender for any future public works contracts.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

134 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has awarded the contract for the construction of the new national school in Kill, County Kildare; and, if not, the reason for same. [14927/09]

Following an initial pre-qualification process, ten contractors were invited to tender and seven valid tenders were returned for the new school in Kill, Co Kildare. The valid tenders are currently being examined and subject to the necessary technical and financial approvals, it is expected that I will be in a position to place a contract in the near future.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

135 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of tenders received for the required extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; if a contract has been awarded; and, if not, the reason for same. [14929/09]

The school to which the Deputy refers is one of projects announced in September 2008 to be re-tendered with a view to going on site as soon as possible. For this project to go to construction it needs to be re-tendered under the new Department of Finance form of contract for public capital projects. The project has been pre-qualified and it is expected to go to tender shortly. The Tendering Authority will be the Board of Management and it will be a public tender process in the normal way. My Department has been in contact with the school authority in this regard and is providing ongoing advice and assistance.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

136 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 1623 of 27 January 2009, the amount of funding available for the purchase of sites for new national schools in 2009; and if he will purchase a site for the permanent school building for a school (details supplied) in County Kildare in 2009. [14937/09]

As the Deputy may be aware the School Building and Modernisation Programme is generally divided into a number of components or sub-programmes. These include Large-Scale Building Projects (new school buildings and major extensions/refurbishments); Devolved Schemes, Emergency Works; Site Acquisitions; Remediation programmes (asbestos removal, radon mitigation); the provision of Temporary Accommodation; Furniture and Equipment grants and the Minor Works Grant. The Deputy will appreciate that the level of funding available for site acquisitions is commercially sensitive and in the circumstances I am not in a position to disclose same, as the release of such information may prejudice future and ongoing negotiations.

I take it that the Deputy is referring to the same school as in Question No. 1623 of 27 January 2009. The acquisition of the site for this school will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to the Department for school buildings generally. In light of the many competing demands on the capital budget it is not possible to give an indicative time frame for the acquisition of the school site at this time.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

137 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if a school project (details supplied) in County Kildare will proceed to tender and construction in 2009. [14938/09]

The school to which the Deputy refers was included in my announcement on 12 February of forty three major school building projects which are to progress to tender and construction this year. The project is currently at an early stage of architectural planning.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

138 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if a school project (details supplied) in County Kildare will proceed to construction in 2009. [14939/09]

The school to which the Deputy refers was included in my announcement on 12 February of forty three major school building projects which are to progress to tender and construction this year. The project is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

139 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if the required extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare will proceed to construction in 2009. [14940/09]

The school to which the Deputy refers was included in my announcement on 12 February of forty three major school building projects which are to progress to tender and construction this year. The project is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

140 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if the required extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare will proceed to construction in 2009. [14941/09]

The school to which the Deputy refers was included in my announcement on 12 February of forty three major school building projects which are to progress to tender and construction this year. The project is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning.

School Accommodation.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

141 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if the grant of €360,000 to the board of management of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare for the provision of three permanent classrooms is available. [14942/09]

The grant referred to by the Deputy is still available to the school in question. A letter in the matter issued to the school recently.

Schools Building Projects.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

142 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will sanction the appointment of a design team for the required extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare. [14943/09]

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is in receipt of an application for large scale capital funding from the school to which he refers.

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

Schools Building Projects.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

143 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Question No. 1630 of 27 January 2009, the building projects in County Kildare in respect of new schools and additional classroom accommodation for both primary and post-primary schools which at present have not been cleared for funding; the stage each project is at; the requirements in terms of additional classrooms required for each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter [14946/09]

The information on major school building projects in County Kildare sought by the Deputy is included in the following tables. Of the projects in architectural planning listed in Table 1, those at stage 2 and 3 have all been approved to progress to tender and construction this year. The three projects at stage 1 are currently in the very early stages of architectural planning and further progress will depend on the availability of funding.

Table 2 provides the details on all schools in County Kildare which have applications with my Department for major capital works. The Forward Planning Section of my Department is currently identifying the areas throughout the country where significant additional accommodation will be required at primary and post primary level in the medium to long term. Factors under consideration include population growth, demographic trends, current and projected enrolment, recent and planned housing developments and capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places. The accommodation needs at these schools will be considered both within this context and in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Table 1: Major Projects in Architectural Planning

RN

School

Stage

Project Type

Brief

09414C

St. Laurence’s NS, Crookstown

1

New School

20 classroom school

18018S

Bunscoil Bhride NS, Rathangan

1

Extension/Refurbishment

16 classroom school

18988G

St. Raphael’s Special Sch, Celbridge, Co Kildare

1

New School

9 classroom school

17674B

SN Aine Naofa, Ard Cloc, Straffan

2

New School

16 Classroom school

18654A

Caragh NS, Naas

2

Extension/Refurbishment

15 classroom extension

11976K

Scoil Choca Naofa, Kilcock, Co. Kildare

3

Extension/Refurbishment

11 classroom extension

13350B

Scoil Bhride, Athgarvan

3

Extension/Refurbishment

4 Classroom extension

16345A

Scoil Bhride, Nurney, Co. Kildare

3

New School

8 classroom school

17662R

Scoil Bhride Kill NS

3

New School

32 classroom school

20023A

Gaelscoil Chill Dara

3

Extension/Refurbishment

5 classroom extension

20058T

Sc Uí Fhiach, Maynooth

3

New School

16 classroom school

20114D

Scoil Brid, Naas

3

Extension/Refurbishment

8 Classroom extension

20177E

Newbridge Educate Together

3

Extension/Refurbishment

16 classroom school

20192A

Scoil Atha Í, Athy (Athy B)

3

New School

8 classroom school

20271T

Scoil na Naomh Uilig, Rickardstown, Newbridge

3

New School

16 classroom school

61710C

Meánscoil Iognáid Ris, Naas

3

Extension/Refurbishment

Extension of 3,105m2 and associated works for a school with an LTPE of 1,000

Table 2: Applications for major capital works from schools in Kildare

RN

School

Project

06209J

Athy Model School

New School

11893G

St. Davids Ns Dublin Road (Kildare)

New School

13902O

Hewetsons N S Clane (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

15040T

Mercy Convent Primary School Naas (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

15040T

Mercy Convent NS, Naas

Extension/Refurb

15599D

St. Brigids Primary School Kildare Town (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

15769C

Monasterevin Convent Monasterevin (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

15870O

Scoil Chonnla Phadraig Newbridge (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

15957D

St. Patrick’s Boys NS, Rathangan

Extension/Refurb

16302F

St. Brigids N S Ballysax (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

16706G

St. Josephs Bns Kilcock (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

16707I

Scoil Naisiunta Naomh Pheadar Monasterevin (Kildare)

New School

16817P

Brannockstown N S Brannockstown (Kildare)

New School

16845U

Rathcoffey N S Rathcoffey (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

17254C

Scoil Chorbain Naas (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

17254C

St. Corban’s Primary School, Naas

Extension/Refurb

17341U

Maynooth B N S Maynooth (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

17341U

Maynooth Boys’ NS

Extension/Refurb

17872F

St. Conleths And Marys N S Newbridge (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

17873H

S N Connlaodh Naofa N Newbridge (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

17931S

S N Brighde Ticknevin (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

17968S

Ursaille Naofa Teach An Da Mhile (Kildare)

New School

18063A

S N Naomh Lorcain Levitstown (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

18093J

S N Cloch Rinnce Cloch Rinnce (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

18130M

St. Patricks Ns Johnstownbridge (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

18288B

Scoil Mhichil Naofa Athy (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

18445O

S N Scoil Treasa Kilshanroe (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

18449W

St. Conleths N S Derrinturn (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

18644U

Straffan N S Straffan (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

18650P

Newtown Ns Enfield (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

18666H

Tiremohan National School, Donadea, Naas, (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

19277B

St. Annes Special School The Curragh (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

19675N

St. Brigids N S Kilcullen (Kildare)

Special Needs

19794V

Scoil Mochua, Aghards, Celbridge, (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

19796C

St. Patricks BNS, Clane

Extension/Refurb

19797E

Scoil Naisiunta Bhride Prosperous Road (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

20114D

Scoil Bríd Oldtown (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

20192A

Gaelscoil Átha Í A.F.C. Bhaile Átha Í (Kildare)

New School

20257C

Sc Naomh Padraig, Celbridge

New School

61690W

Cross And Passion College Kilcullen (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

70660O

Curragh Post-Primary School Mcswiney Road (Kildare)

New School

70670R

Colaiste Lorcain Castledermot (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

70680U

St. Conleths Vocational School, Newbridge

Extension/Refurb

70700A

Maynooth Post Primary School Moyglare Rd (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

91371B

Leixlip Community School Celbridge Road (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

School Accommodation.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

144 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Question No. 1637 of 27 January 2009, if the forward planning section has completed its identification process; and if a Gaelcoláiste for north Kildare is included in its recommendations of new schools required. [14947/09]

The Forward Planning Section of my Department is still in the process of identifying the areas where significant additional accommodation will be required at primary and post-primary level for 2009 and onwards. Factors under consideration include population growth, demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places. Having considered these factors decisions will be taken on the means by which emerging needs will be met within an area.

Post-primary accommodation requirements in the North Kildare area, and any subsequent issues which may arise, such as the need for a new Gaelcholáiste will be considered in this regard.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

145 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science his proposals to resolve the accommodation crisis at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the fact that applications for places for September 2009 are in excess of the places currently available. [14956/09]

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

It is open to the school authorities to apply to my Department, in the meantime, for the provision of temporary accommodation to meet its immediate accommodation needs if this is deemed necessary.

Higher Education Grants.

Joe McHugh

Question:

146 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Science if grants or scholarships for postgraduate students will be abolished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14981/09]

My Department will continue to provide funding to the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology and the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences for the provision of PhD scholarships this year. However, due to current budgetary constraints, there will be some reduction in the numbers of awards made by the Councils in 2009 compared to last year.

Schools Building Projects.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

147 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the position regarding a school (details supplied); the position regarding its prospects of securing funding in the next public private partnership bundle in order that it may proceed without delay to tender, full planning permission and construction stages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14986/09]

I am pleased to confirm that my Department has recently provided funds to the Galway City Vocational Education Committee to enable them to close the sale on the site for the school mentioned by the Deputy. This school is included in my Department's PPP school building programme. Three separate bundles have been announced to date and they are progressing through the procurement process.

The make up and timing of further school bundles from this programme will be determined by my Department in consultation with the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA). The issues to be considered in the timing and bundling of these schools include site availability for each school, geographical spread and the estimated total cost of the proposed school bundle.

Institutes of Technology.

Tom Hayes

Question:

148 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the future location of classes and facilities of an institute (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the action taken on this project; the future plans in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14997/09]

My Department has recently written to the Institute referred to by the Deputy seeking a fully developed proposal regarding the proposed relocation of its campus.

The matter will be examined in full when the requested detail has been provided to my Department.

Special Educational Needs.

Finian McGrath

Question:

149 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will support persons (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [15009/09]

I understand that the child referred to by the Deputy is enrolled in a class for pupils with a Mild General Learning Disability (MGLD) which is to be suppressed this September.

I wish to assure the Deputy that there will be no pupil with a special educational need who will be without access to a special needs teacher as a result of the decision to apply the normal rules which govern the appointment and retention of teachers of special classes for pupils with a mild general learning disability.

These special classes which are to close pre-date the 2005 General Allocation Model of allocating additional teacher support to schools to enable them to meet the needs of pupils with MGLD as well as a number of other high incidence disabilities. All primary schools now have additional teaching support in place for this purpose.

All primary schools were allocated additional teaching resources under the General Allocation Model to enable them support pupils with high incidence special educational needs including MGLD. Schools can decide how best to use this allocation based on the needs of the pupils. Most pupils with a MGLD are included in ordinary classes with their peers and are supported by their class teacher. The curriculum is flexible so that teachers can cater for the needs of children of different abilities.

Teacher allocations to schools typically increase or decrease depending on pupil enrolment. In the case of classes for MGLD the normal pupil teacher ratio that applies is 11:1. My Department however permits schools to retain a teaching post where it has a minimum of 9 pupils in the class. This minimum was not fulfilled in the school referred to by the Deputy. Therefore, the school no longer qualifies to retain the class.

When the General Allocation Model was introduced, schools with additional teachers in classes for MGLD were allowed to retain the teachers for these classes. Effectively, these schools received a double allocation. The number of these special classes has decreased since 2005 in line with falling numbers as pupils are supported through the additional teaching allocation provided and schools have integrated the children into age-appropriate mainstream classes.

It had been decided not to actively suppress special classes pending the introduction, and bedding in, of the General Allocation Model. This Model is now working well and the decision was taken to suppress all special class posts which do not meet the minimum enrolment requirement with effect from the next academic year.

All of the other primary schools in the country who do not have classes for children with MGLD cater for these pupils from within the General Allocation Model.

Pupils with a MGLD, and will continue to have access to additional teaching resources to support their education.

Schools Building Projects.

Frank Feighan

Question:

150 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding a school (details supplied). [15017/09]

The post primary school project referred to by the Deputy is included in the list of seven schools which I have approved for inclusion in the 3rd Bundle of schools to be procured via Public Private Partnership.

This Bundle is in the pre procurement stage and my Department has completed a round of stakeholders' meetings in each of the locations where PPP schools are to be provided. A detailed output specification and Public Sector Benchmark will be prepared and outline planning permission will be sought for each location.

On successful completion of this process, the Bundle will be handed over to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) for procurement.

The indicative timeframe for the delivery of a PPP school currently stands at approximately 4 years from the date the Bundle is announced.

School Transport.

Frank Feighan

Question:

151 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide an outline of the school transport boundaries in every country. [15021/09]

I take it that the Deputy is seeking copies of each catchment area map in the country.

By way of general background information, catchment boundaries have their origins in the establishment of free post primary education in the late 1960's.

For planning purposes, the country was divided into about 300 geographic districts, each with several primary schools feeding into a post primary education centre with one or more post primary schools. The intention was that these defined districts would facilitate the orderly planning of school provision and accommodation needs. They also facilitated the provision of a nationwide school transport service, enabling children from remote areas to get to their nearest school.

In view of the number of catchment area maps involved, the Deputy will understand that it would be a major logistical exercise to collate and send all of these maps to him. However, if the Deputy has a particular area in mind I will arrange to have the map forwarded to him.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has commenced a Value for Money Review of the School Transport Scheme, including catchment boundaries, which is in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government. This review will be carried out as part of the 2009-2011 round of Value for Money Reviews approved by Government and, when completed, will be published and submitted to the Oireachtas Select Committee on Education and Science.

Site Acquisitions.

Tom Hayes

Question:

152 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if a site identified for Cluain Meala has been sanctioned; if not, when it will be sanctioned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15080/09]

A site currently in the ownership of the Health Service Executive (HSE) is under consideration by my Department. In view of the current budgetary constraints I am not in a position to provide the Deputy with a definite date for the acquisition of a site for this school. The further consideration of the proposed site acquisition and any subsequent building project for the school will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual school building and modernisation programme.