Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 9 to 75, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 76 to 82, inclusive, answered orally.

National Museum.

John Deasy

Question:

83 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has consulted with the National Museum regarding the impact of the decision not to proceed with the exhibition space on the accessibility of artefacts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16458/09]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the development of the new Centre Block building at the National Museum at Collins Barracks.

The development of the Centre Block has not been cancelled. Progress on the project is at an advanced stage and the tender documents for the project are now finalised. As I stated in my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 8585/09 and 8521/09 on 3 March 2009, officials of my Department have been engaged with the Office of Public Works and the National Museum in order to ensure that the project will be well placed to progress immediately when funding becomes available.

National Stadium.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

84 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if any of the proposed sports development programme at Abbotstown is to proceed in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16510/09]

Brendan Howlin

Question:

95 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the progress made to date in relation to discussions between his Department and the National Sports Campus Development Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16356/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

103 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the cost of the Abbotstown National Stadium project for each year since 1999 to date in 2009; the breakdown of same by year; if he will include costs not associated with the National Aquatic Centre but accrued by this project during the period 1999 to 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16351/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 84, 95 and 103 together.

As I have previously stated in response to questions on the overall development of the national sports campus project, I have been engaged in discussions with the NSCDA as to how we might best advance matters during 2009 and following years taking into consideration the current difficult economic constraints. While it is not possible at this time for the project to proceed in accordance with the original schedule and target completion date, I have nonetheless decided to sanction the lodging of a planning application by the NSCDA for Phase 1 of the National Sports Campus, which includes provision of:

a multi-sport National Indoor Training Centre to provide world-class training facilities for more than 20 sports;

Sports Science and Medical facilities; accommodation for sportsmen and women;

all-weather synthetic pitches for community recreational access; and

a National Field Sports Training Centre catering for Rugby, Soccer, Gaelic Games and Hockey.

Throughout the planning process, I intend to keep the situation under review and to continue discussions with the Authority to examine options for the delivery of the project going forward.

The Abbotstown facilities, when completed, will provide a much needed range of training and competitive facilities for our finest sportspersons. Through the National Aquatic Centre an excellent sports facility in the development of swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and water polo has already been provided.

The former State Laboratory building has been refurbished and now provides the headquarters of the FAI.

Refurbishment work on the former Central Meat Control Laboratory is nearing completion and will provide a headquarters for the Irish Institute of Sport.

In order to address the question of the issue of costs associated with the broader project since 1999 to date, it is necessary to outline the historical background. As I have explained in an earlier response to a Deputy's question, the concept of a sports campus at Abbotstown emerged from the 1999 PricewaterhouseCoopers feasibility study "A Stadium for a New Century." In January 2000 the Government adopted the study and decided to proceed with the development of Sports Campus Ireland at Abbotstown with Stadium Ireland as its centrepiece. At this time the Government also decided to build the National Aquatic Centre to be ready for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in June 2003. The National Aquatic Centre, the first element of the Campus, was completed on time and within budget at a cost of €62.5 million and was opened in March 2003.

The Government subsequently decided in January 2004 to proceed with the development of Lansdowne Road as a 50,000 capacity stadium and at the same time also approved the phased delivery of a sporting campus at Abbotstown to include training, sports science, medical and administrative facilities. From 2004 to the end of 2008, therefore, the combined total of both capital and current expenditure on the National Sports Campus was €19.2 million. Of that amount, some €7.3 million capital was spent on the refurbishment of the former State Laboratories as the new headquarters for the FAI, which was completed within budget in November 2007. Since then and up to the present juncture, an amount of €2.6 million capital has been incurred in developing the design for the Phase 1 facilities as provided for in the Development Control Plan prepared for the National Sports Campus and progressing these plans to planning application stage. A budget of €1.7 million capital has been provided for the refurbishment of the former Central Meat Control Laboratory to provide a permanent headquarters for the Irish Institute of Sport. The renovation of the former State Laboratories and Central Meat Control Laboratory form part of the NSCDA's strategy of maintaining and refurbishing the existing facilities and buildings on the Abbotstown site for use by the wider sporting community in conjunction with the development of sports facilities.

Departmental Agencies.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

85 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if, in view of the economic downturn, he plans to reduce or amalgamate the various bodies under his remit which are dealing separately with different elements of sport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16358/09]

There are four bodies, each with its own statutory base, involved in the administration of elements of sports policy.

The Irish Sports Council, which is funded by my Department, has a statutory role in encouraging the promotion, development and co-ordination of sport. The Irish Sports Council Act, 1999 states that the ISC has responsibility for developing "strategies for increasing participation in recreational sport and to coordinate their implementation by all bodies (including public authorities and publicly funded bodies) involved in promoting recreational sport and providing recreational facilities".

The ISC's mission is "To plan, lead and coordinate the sustainable development of competitive and recreational sport in Ireland". In that context, the ISC operates many programmes to promote, and support participation in, sport for all.

The ISC has been central to developing sporting ability leading to high performance, while at the same time driving participation levels in conjunction with the National Governing Bodies, Local Sports Partnerships, the Institute of Sport, Coaching Ireland and the Olympic and Paralympic Councils.

In 2006, the Government approved the establishment of the Irish Institute of Sport. The Institute, which has no statutory basis, has been working with the National Governing Bodies of Sport and the elite athletes in ensuring that they have available to them the most up-to-date supports as they prepare to represent Ireland at international events and the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As Deputies will be aware, it was the intention to introduce legislation to enable the Irish Sports Council to establish subsidiaries and that the Institute would be given such legal status. However, as I indicated to Deputies in January, in responding to the OECD Report on Public Sector Reform and in particular to its recommendations on the number of agencies involved in public administration, I have decided not to establish the Institute as a subsidiary of the ISC. I will therefore not be proceeding with legislation to enable the ISC to establish subsidiaries.

As regards the status of the Institute, it is functioning under the aegis of the Irish Sports Council and this will remain the position.

Coaching Ireland, which is a non-statutory body, also functions under the aegis of the ISC, which provides an annual budget for its operation. The remit of Coaching Ireland is to lead the development of coaching on the island of Ireland. Its key work is the development and implementation of the Coach Development Model for all sports. Coaching Ireland's role is to work with each NGB to fully establish and deliver the Coach Development Model in their sport.

The National Sports Campus Development Authority was established under legislation with a specific remit of delivering the National Sports Campus project. I will be dealing more specifically on my plans for the Campus project in replying to other parliamentary questions on the subject. However I will not be making any change to the status of the Authority at this time.

Horse Racing Ireland is established under legislation to fund and promote the thoroughbred industry and has overall responsibility for the administration of Irish horse racing. Bord na gCon controls the promotion and operation of greyhound racing and all aspects of the greyhound industry. Both of these organisations operate on a stand-alone statutory basis and I will not be changing their status.

As regards the status of these bodies each of which oversees a distinct element of sports policy, I have no plans at present to reduce or amalgamate any of these bodies nor do I believe that any such reduction or amalgamation would be of any benefit to Irish sport.

Arts Projects.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

86 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the progress that has been made in relation to the digitisation of national cultural institution collections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16480/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions 47821 and 47825 on 27th January 2009.

I wish, however, to confirm to the House that progress is continuing to be made with the digitisation of state papers and the paper based collections of the relevant national cultural institutions, commensurate with the availability of resources. In particular, the Deputy may wish to note that the digitised records of the 1911 Census returns for Dublin City and County were made available free of charge on the National Archives Census Website since December 2007. The 1911 returns for Antrim, Down and Kerry were added to the website in December 2008. It is planned that the remainder of the 1911 returns will be published on the website during the late spring and summer of 2009, beginning with those for Donegal, Cork, Wexford, Galway and Offaly, and all of the 1901 returns are due for publication by the end of 2009.

During the 16 months from the launch of the Census Website in December 2007 up to March 2009, the number of visits to the Census Website was more than 5,000,000 (five million) and the number of hits on the site has exceeded 74,000,000 (seventy four million). As previously stated, on a single day — 23 December 2008, which was the first full day after the launch of the 1911 returns for Antrim, Down and Kerry, there were more than 80,000 visits and 570,000 hits.

As resources permit other archives of major importance for genealogy will be added to the National Archives suite of websites in 2010 and subsequent years. In addition, a number of projects leading to the publication of archives of primarily historical interest on the web are currently under consideration, with a view to commencing the publication of a series of archives during 2009 and 2010.

Departmental Agencies.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

87 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will clarify the funding position for the Irish Institute of Sport as well as its future status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16509/09]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

97 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will confirm the legal status of the Irish Institute of Sport in view of the fact that no enacting legislation has been introduced; if such legislation will be introduced; if this body will exist as a unit of the Irish Sports Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16364/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87 and 97 together.

In 2006, the Government approved the establishment of the Irish Institute of Sport. The Institute has been working with the national governing bodies of sport and the elite athletes in ensuring that they have available to them the most up-to-date supports as they prepare to represent Ireland at international events and the Olympic Games.

The budget for the Institute in 2009 which is provided by the Irish Sports Council from its annual budget is €1.5 million.

As Deputies will be aware, it was the intention to introduce legislation to enable the Irish Sports Council to establish subsidiaries and that the Institute would be given such legal status. However, as I indicated to Deputies in January, in responding to the OECD Report on Public Sector Reform and in particular to its recommendations on the number of agencies involved in public administration, I have decided not to establish the Institute as a subsidiary of the ISC. I will therefore not be proceeding with legislation to enable the ISC to establish subsidiaries.

As regards the status of the Institute, it is functioning under the aegis of the Irish Sports Council and at this stage I have no intention of changing this arrangement.

Question No. 88 answered with Question No. 82.

Sports Funding.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

89 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will elaborate on the five year strategic plan for the development of future sports funding here; if this is open to submissions from members of the public, politicians, academics and so on; if this is linked with the national audit of sports facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16346/09]

My Department is currently finalising a five-year strategic plan to inform the future development of necessary sporting facilities throughout the country. An inter-agency steering group, chaired by my Department, was established to oversee the development of the strategy.

A wide range of stakeholders were consulted in order to generate a clear picture of the important issues to be considered in the provision of sports facilities including Government Departments, local authorities, NGBs, LSPs, sports clubs and interested individuals.

The aim of the strategy is to provide high-level policy direction for future investment/grant assistance at national, regional and local level. It is intended to identify the facilities requirement for sport so that participation at reasonable cost is feasible for those who wish to engage in sport at either amateur or elite level.

The strategy is also examining the wider economic, health and social case for continued investment in sports facilities. It aims to develop an agreed and integrated approach to planning, funding, provision and management of sports facilities and to prioritise areas for future investment to ensure continued impact in the relevant areas. The strategy will also take into account the results of the National Audit of Sports Facilities, which is ongoing at the moment.

A wide range of stakeholders were consulted in order to generate a clear picture of the important issues to be considered in the provision of sports facilities including other Government Departments, local authorities, national governing bodies of sport, local sports partnerships, sports clubs and interested individuals.

The strategy is at an advanced stage and prior to finalisation it is my intention to publish on the Department's website and invite views from interested parties.

Natural History Museum.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

90 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the progress made on the reopening of the Natural History Museum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16464/09]

The position, as stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No 8515/09 on the 3rd of March 2009, is that a programme of works for the Natural History Museum has been agreed between the National Museum of Ireland, the Office of Public Works and my Department. This programme of works, which is designed to facilitate the reopening of the Museum in September of this year, is ongoing.

The Deputy may also wish to note that the National Museum is opening a new exhibition entitled "Treasures of the Natural History Museum" this Friday in the Riding School at Collins Barracks with the official launch next Wednesday 6th May. This exhibition showcases key items from the Natural History Museum's collection. This will allow the public access to the collection in advance of the re-opening of the Natural History Museum in Merrion Street.

Sports Capital Programme.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

91 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism further to Parliamentary Question No. 53 of 3 March 2009, the number of schools and sports clubs which made joint applications under the sports capital programme 2008; the number which were successful; the amount granted to these applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16350/09]

Under the Sports Capital Programme, which is administered by my Department funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Since 1998, over €725 million has been allocated to over 7,400 projects across the country.

Primary and post-primary schools may only apply to the Sports Capital Programme for funding jointly with local sports clubs or community groups.

Under the 2008 Sports Capital Programme, 9 schools made joint applications with local sports clubs. One of these applications was successful and a sum of €160,000 was allocated to the project. Since 2003 a total of €5.3m has been allocated to 48 joint applications made by schools and sports clubs.

Under the 2008 Sports Capital Programme, schools making joint applications with local sports clubs were required to provide evidence of formal agreements with local clubs that guarantee the clubs access to school facilities for at least 30 hours per week throughout the year. In assessing applications, extra marks are also awarded to sports clubs that can show that they are allowing local schools to use their facilities.

Departmental Agencies.

Noel Coonan

Question:

92 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the proposal to amalgamate the National Archives with the National Library is still his policy; his views on whether this is in the best interest of the archives and the library; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16447/09]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

109 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the progress on legislation to amalgamate certain bodies under the aegis of his Department; when it is expected this legislation will come before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16365/09]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

316 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the status of proposals 25, 26 and 27 contained within annex D of budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16281/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 92, 109 and 316 together.

A consultative process is underway with the Directors of the national cultural institutions involved whereby consideration is being given to the future arrangements necessary to give effect to the decisions to combine the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Crawford Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Ireland, while retaining their separate brand identities, and to merge the National Archives, the Irish Manuscripts Commission and the National Library.

The Department is working on the Heads of a Bill to give effect to the required legislative changes. These changes will include amendment of the National Cultural Institutions Act, 1997, the National Archives Act, 1986 and the National Gallery Acts, 1854 to 1963 and the creation of new legislative provisions. It is my intention that the best structures for our national cultural institutions will be put in place. It is not possible at this stage to state when the legislation will come before the Houses of the Oireachtas but work on it is a priority of the Department.

With regard to the decision that Culture Ireland is to remain a part of the Department rather than be established as a statutory agency, I can report to the House that this decision has been implemented.

Tourism Industry.

Billy Timmins

Question:

93 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the actions he has taken with regard to cost issues affecting the hotel and catering industry; if action will be taken to address such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16506/09]

I am fully aware of the many issues affecting the hotel and catering industry, including the issues of costs and competitiveness, as are all of my cabinet colleagues. I keep in regular contact with the key industry representative groups, including the Irish Hotels Federation and the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, and have received detailed submissions from them in the context of the recent Supplementary Budget, which was the subject of detailed discussion and consideration by the Cabinet over a number of preparatory meetings.

Tourism is an internationally competitive industry that is, like all other industries, facing challenging times, due both to recent international economic developments and movements in exchange rates — particularly in traditional source markets such as Great Britain and the United States. In that regard, it is important that all service providers — private and public — are aware of the need to sustain competitiveness if we are to continue to attract overseas visitors. Price increases should be avoided and every effort should be made to reduce costs to industry where this is possible.

Fáilte Ireland has a range of measures to help the tourism industry to address these concerns. Business Finance Workshops and seminars covering topics, such as costs and margins, cost control, pricing and cash-flow management, which are crucial to effective management of businesses in today's environment are being rolled out. Fáilte Ireland's Performance Plus Programme provides management tools in a number of important areas such as financial benchmarking and business diagnostics so that owners and managers can comprehensively assess the strengths and weaknesses of their enterprise and receive an action plan to address areas that need attention. The Web check Programme identifies ebusiness needs and guides owners to solutions to boost web performance. Business Mentoring Programmes, Tourism Learning Networks, Management and Professional Development also form part of the suite of enterprise supports available to the industry. The industry is responding well to the initiatives and the take up on the programmes is very positive.

I regularly discuss costs and competitiveness issues affecting tourism with my colleagues both at cabinet and bilaterally with a view to ensuring that the needs of the tourism industry are addressed across all Government policy areas.

Question No. 94 answered with Question No. 82.
Question No. 95 answered with Question No. 84.

Departmental Funding.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

96 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the funding provided by him to Comhaltas Ceoltóri Éireann; the way this funding is decided; his views on whether this funding represents the best value for money for the promotion of traditional arts and music here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16353/09]

Jack Wall

Question:

111 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the funding provided by the Exchequer to Comhaltas Ceoltóri Éireann; if this is the only funding given to support Irish culture by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16354/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 96 and 111 together.

In 2004, Comhaltas Ceoltóri Éireann launched a five year Capital Development Programme with the aim of enhancing its network of regional development resource centres around the country and in Northern Ireland, in order to build on and support its existing activities. Stemming from the agreed Capital Development Programme, my Department paid out capital grants to the value of €15.6m to Comhaltas Ceoltóri Éireann from 2005 up to the end of 2008. In the same period, current funding totalling €57,000 was paid to Comhaltas.

My Department's 2009 (REV) Estimates provides a further €2.775m for that programme, which is now almost complete.

Comhaltas Ceoltóri Éireann plays an important role in maintaining and developing traditional arts and music through its hundreds of branches in Ireland and around the world. This work has been ongoing since the 1950s and has helped to sustain our traditional music culture both at home and abroad. Comhaltas provides music, dance, storytelling and language classes through this network of branches. The organisation also runs the Fleadh Cheoil Irish music competition that culminates annually in the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann all-Ireland final.

In 2009 my Department is providing almost €169m to support the arts, culture and film sector in Ireland. Each of these sectors is an essential component of the Irish cultural milieu. At 1.6% of available funding, Comhaltas' allocation from those resources is by no means disproportionate.

Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 87.

Departmental Agencies.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

98 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his plans to implement the key recommendations of the two reviews of Ireland’s performance in the Beijing Olympics carried out by the Irish Sports Council and the Olympic Council of Ireland; his views on the divergent views in these reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16240/09]

I wish to refer the Deputy to priority question number 77 (16367/09) which I have answered earlier today.

Joan Burton

Question:

99 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the fact that Tourism Ireland received €19.5 million in budget 2009 and the marketing fund received over €48.5 million; the way Tourism Ireland can justify its budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16361/09]

Tourism Ireland was established on foot of the Good Friday Agreement and formally incorporated on 11 December 2000. The Company is accountable to the North South Ministerial Council with funding for its operations being provided by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and by my Department in the South in accordance with agreed ratios. The current agreed ratios are 3.4:1 for administration costs and 2:1 for marketing costs with my Department providing the higher proportion in both cases. The Tourism Ireland budget line is used to, inter alia, meet the costs of its staffing and offices in Dublin and Coleraine and supports its marketing presence in 22 locations overseas.

The Tourism Marketing Fund supports the marketing of Ireland internationally on an all-island basis, the marketing of access routes and the international marketing of niche special interest products.

Tourism Ireland's primary remit is to promote the entire island of Ireland as a holiday destination in overseas markets and it is generally regarded as being highly successful in this regard. Last year alone, over 7.8 million overseas visitors came to the Republic of Ireland generating an estimated €4.8 billion in revenue (including carrier receipts and cross border expenditure). Accordingly, I am satisfied that the money spent on overseas marketing is justified and provides real and significant benefits for the Irish economy.

Tourism Ireland prepares a detailed Business Plan for its activities each year to be approved by the North South Ministerial Council. The plan sets out in detail how its targets will be achieved and contains a specific section highlighting how value for money for all planned expenditure will be secured.

Departmental Reviews.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

100 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund review will be completed and published; if party spokespersons will have an opportunity to review same before further legislation regarding this fund is brought before Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16363/09]

Government support for the horse and greyhound racing industries is provided under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund, which was established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001.

In 2004, the Government put in place regulations to increase the limit of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund from €254m to €550m to continue the Fund for a further four years to 2008. By the end of 2008 a total of €545.8m was paid out of the Fund. The remaining balance in the Fund at the start of 2009 was €4.2m. €68.1m has been allocated to the Fund for 2009.

Funding of both of these agencies supports two very important productive industries and helps to sustain the important role of horse and greyhound breeding & training enterprises in the development of the rural economy. These industries, together, account for an estimated 27,500 direct jobs, generate very substantial economic activity and make a vital contribution to the rural economy including farm incomes. The funding given to the greyhound racing sector helps in sustaining a tradition that has existed for hundreds of years and in underpinning the economic activity in what are in many instances less affluent regions of the country.

This funding has allowed Ireland to develop into a world centre of excellence for horseracing. Horse Racing Ireland has undertaken a capital investment programme that has underpinned growth in the sector.

The Fund has also contributed significantly to the almost €90 million that has been invested in the improved facilities now available at greyhound tracks around Ireland.

A review of the Fund is nearing completion and will be submitted to the Government in due course in the context of deciding on the future funding of these industries. Any extension of the Fund will require the approval of the Government and the Oireachtas. In finalising the review of the Fund I intend to take into account the comments made by the members of the Oireachtas during the recent discussions at the meetings of the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and in the House itself during the making of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations, 2009.

I have already given an undertaking to the Joint Committee to have a discussion on the review and I will adhere to this.

Arts Funding.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

101 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he intends to provide ongoing support and encouragement to the arts in its various forms at local and national level for the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16413/09]

Government Policy on the Arts is set out in the Programme for Government and is elaborated further in my Department's Statement of Strategy. My policy on the arts is to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, increase access to and participation in the arts, and make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life.

The State appreciates and values the contribution the arts sector makes to the internationally renowned artistic reputation of this country. Even within the current economic constraints I do not consider investment in the arts culture and creative sectors as somehow "discretionary".

The Arts Council is the State agency charged primarily with the promotion and funding of the arts. I continue to monitor and review the resources at my disposal to facilitate the Council in its vital work so as to enable it to provide ongoing support and encouragement to the arts in its various forms at local and national level.

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 82.
Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 84.

Cultural Institutions.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

104 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if an audit has been conducted on the security arrangements in place at the National Gallery, the National Museum and other such institutions here; and his views on proposals in this regard. [16244/09]

The onus is on each National Cultural Institution to ensure that all necessary security measures are taken to protect and secure the collections in their care, the buildings in which they are housed and the safety and security of all staff and visitors. The Boards and management of the institutions are very aware of this responsibility.

Security reviews are undertaken as appropriate, and, self-evidently, are not a matter of public discourse.

Departmental Reports.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

105 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the reason for the lack of progress on implementing the arts and education report; his views, in view of the lack of action being taken by him on this issue, on whether it is a priority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16349/09]

As I stated in previous replies on this topic, the recommendations contained in this comprehensive Report have implications for this Department, the Department of Education and Science and the Arts Council. These issues will have to considered in the light of final 2009 financial allocations to all concerned, but with overall reduced funding, it is probable that all available resources will be concentrated on maintaining existing services and commitments rather than embarking on new areas of expenditure.

The recommendations will be kept under review in the light of future allocations and changing circumstances.

Departmental Agencies.

Joe Costello

Question:

106 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on whether it is possible to merge Tourism Ireland and Bord Fáilte to save money, create efficiencies and ensure that there is one unified body for tourism here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16360/09]

As part of the Good Friday Agreement, tourism was designated an area for cooperation under the North-South Ministerial Council. In December 1998, the parties to the Agreement decided that a publicly owned limited company would be established by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the then Bord Fáilte Éireann to carry out functions aimed at promoting tourism to the island of Ireland. The company, Tourism Ireland Limited, was formally incorporated on 11 December 2000.

The Company is accountable to the North South Ministerial Council with funding for its operations being provided by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism in the South. The primary remit of the company is to promote the entire island of Ireland as a tourist destination in overseas markets. It is generally regarded as being highly successful in this regard, by its international peers as well as the tourism industry on the island, with estimated overseas visitors to the island of Ireland increasing from 6.96 million in 2001 to 8.8 million last year representing growth of 26% over that period. The company has offices in Dublin and Coleraine as well as representation in 22 locations overseas. It works closely with Fáilte Ireland, NITB, and the tourism industry in delivering its remit.

Fáilte Ireland was established under the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003 to encourage, promote and support tourism as a leading indigenous component of the Irish economy. In this regard, its primary functions are the development of quality tourism product, domestic tourism marketing, tourism standards, enterprise support, capacity building and human resource development for the tourism industry. While it makes a vital contribution and does an excellent job, Fáilte Ireland does not have an all-island remit.

In summary, Tourism Ireland's role is to maximise the number of visitors coming to the island of Ireland from overseas while Fáilte Ireland's role is to ensure that the tourism experience in the south is to the highest possible standard. I am satisfied that both organisations have key complementary roles to play in maintaining the valuable contribution of tourism to Ireland's economy. I do not believe that a return to pre-1998 arrangements is appropriate.

Both organisations are aware of the need to ensure maximum value for the money received from the Exchequer and this is reflected in the close cooperation between the two agencies in their operations as well as in their business planning.

Sports Facilities.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

107 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the timeframe for receiving reports from the remaining local authorities regarding the national audit of sports facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16348/09]

The nationwide audit of sports facilities is being carried out in stages to help speed up the availability of information. Phase one, which focuses on national and regional sports facilities, has now been completed within my Department. Phase two of the audit, which is a more complex undertaking to establish a record of existing sports facilities at local level and identifying the need for future provision, commenced in 2008 with the assistance of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Local Authorities. My Department has to date received 20 completed returns and reminders have been sent to the Local Authorities who had not submitted their returns by the end of January closing date.

The audit is part of a wider exercise to put in place a more strategic approach to the provision of sports facilities in Ireland. My Department is currently finalising a five-year strategic plan to inform the future development of necessary sporting facilities throughout the country. The aim of the strategy is to provide high-level policy direction for future investment and grant assistance at national, regional and local level. The strategy also identifies the wider economic, health and social case for continued investment in sports facilities. It aims to prioritise areas for future investment and to ensure continued impact in the relevant areas.

Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 82.
Question No. 109 answered with Question No. 92.

Olympic Games.

Jack Wall

Question:

110 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on requests to establish a committee to oversee preparation for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16366/09]

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Task Force was established in August 2006 to ensure Ireland can identify and maximise the complete range of opportunities arising from our proximity to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London 2012. The Task Force included experts from the sport, tourism, cultural and business sectors and was supported by staff within my Department.

The Task Force report makes a number of recommendations arising from an audit carried out of high quality sports facilities in Ireland and the findings of a report by Indecon International Economic Consultants on the economic evaluation of the benefit to the island of Ireland of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. It highlights the opportunities for Ireland from the London 2012 Games in the sport, tourism, cultural and business sectors.

I am considering the implementation of the recommendations of the London 2012 Task Force Report taking account of the current economic situation and my meetings with the key high performance stakeholders to identify the challenges which must be met in the preparation of our team for the London Games.

The Irish Sports Council (ISC), which is funded by my Department, has statutory responsibility for encouraging the promotion, development and co-ordination of competitive sport and the achievement of excellence in competitive sport. In this regard the ISC works in partnership with the Irish Institute of Sport, the Olympic Council of Ireland, the Paralympic Council of Ireland and the relevant national governing bodies of sport in the preparation of Irish athletes for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The ISC established a review group to examine the preparations and performances at the 2008 Beijing Games in order to prepare for the 2012 London Games. The overall aim of the review was to make recommendations to the ISC in respect of structures, programmes and investment policy that should be pursued based on the outcomes of the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) have also carried out a review of the performance of Irish Athletes at the Beijing Games.

Since the completion of the Beijing Games I have completed a series of meetings with a number of the key stakeholders involved in the support of our elite athletes to discuss how we can best build on the success we had in Beijing and the supports required in terms of coaching, programmes, facilities and funding to ensure the optimum performance of Irish athletes at the London 2012. I have also met with representatives of the Irish Sports Council and the Olympic Council of Ireland to discuss their views on the existing high performance structure in place and suggested improvements for the London 2012 Olympics including the targeting of a small number of Olympic sports in an effort to win more medals.

The key challenge arising from these meetings and the findings in the reviews undertaken by the ISC and the OCI 2012 is to ensure that the high performance strategy for the London 2012 games is reflective of these findings and it is my intention that this will happen.

Question No. 111 answered with Question No. 96.

Equal Opportunities Employment.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

112 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Taoiseach the extent to which his Department is meeting the agreed national target figures for employment of persons with a disability; and when in each case this target will be met or surpassed. [16127/09]

My Department exceeds the 3% employment requirement of people with disabilities with 5.9% of the current employees having disclosed disability. Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 gave legal status to this 3% employment requirement which, formerly, had been a target.

Departmental Expenditure.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

113 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach the number of expense account credit cards paid by his Department; the credit limit on each card; the amount spent on expense account credit cards since 2004 to date in 2009; the instances in which the annual expenditure on a single card exceeded €5,000 with the grade of the credit card holder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16169/09]

The total number of official credit cards currently held by my Department is 25. One official has a credit limit of €6,350, five of the cards have credit limits of €4,000, and the remaining nineteen have credit limits of €2,500.

The following table details the annual expenditure on official departmental credit cards from 2004 to end of March 2009:

Year

Total amount spent on credit cards by Department

2004

108,820

2005

93,333

2006

132,843

2007

129,508

2008

88,520

2009 (Jan-March)

7,633

The table below details the instances where the annual expenditure on a single card exceeded 5,000 and grade of the card holder in each instance.

Instances where annual expenditure on a single card exceeded 5,000 and grade of the card holder in each instance

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

7 instances

4 instances

11 instances

9 instances

3 instances

No card holder has exceeded 5000 in this period

Programme Manager (1)

Director (1)

Assistant Secretary (1)

Secretary General (1)

Director (1)

Head of Government Information Services (1)

Assistant Principals (3)

Director (1)

Assistant Secretary (1)

Principal Officer (1)

Assistant Secretaries (2)

Programme Manager (1)

Directors (2)

Assistant Principal (1)

Assistant Principals (3)

Government Press Secretary (1)

Principal Officer (1)

Deputy Government Press Secretary (1)

Assistant Principals (3)

Principal Officers (3)

Private Secretary (1)

Assistant Principals (3)

Departmental credit cards are used for official purposes only. They are also allocated to officials where the facility will be of practical use in meeting the requirements of official business, for example, to facilitate meeting of travel expenses and official entertainment while away from the office, the procurement of goods and services such as on-line conferences bookings, air travel, purchase of IT equipment and library supplies.

The use of official credit cards is closely monitored by the Department's Finance Unit. Expenditure must be supported by receipts which must be submitted by card holders each month as part of the approval process for the associated expenditure. The allocation and use of official credit cards are reviewed on an ongoing basis, with a view to minimising the number of cards allocated, and credit limits are assigned in line with requirements for official use on a case by case basis.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

114 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to his Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16336/09]

The only legislation from my Department enacted in the years 2007 and 2009 was the Statute Law Revision Act 2007. The Act repealed some 3,200 statutes enacted before 6 December 1922. It did not originate from Brussels.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

115 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17369/09]

There are 48 Public Servants currently serving in my Department who are in receipt of Long Service Increments at a gross cost of €135,293.27. This amount is subject to Tax, PRSI, income and pension levies.

Company Closures.

Finian McGrath

Question:

116 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support staff of a company (details supplied); and the position regarding investment talks. [16215/09]

Since the company announced its plans to close its Dublin operations, IDA Ireland and I have had numerous meetings with the company to express my concern regarding the effect the closure will have on the economy of North Dublin and the effect of the loss of 1135 highly skilled jobs on the Irish aviation sector.

IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland established a team to market the operation internationally through their overseas office network and have held discussions with over 15 companies to encourage them to put forward investment proposals to take over all or part of the operation. Following receipt of proposals, a full evaluation will take place and each proposal will be considered on its merits and long-term viability.

The company has indicated that it has received up to 30 expressions of interest in parts of the operation and has stated that any approach or proposal would be considered in detail and evaluated in full on its merits and potential long term benefit.

At this stage, SR Technics has received 5 bids from interested parties for parts of the business and are currently assessing these bids. Following the assessment process, SR Technics will select a successful bidder. In tandem with this process the agencies are in discussions with the interested parties on an ongoing basis to assess the viability of the bids so as to be in a position to offer appropriate support to the successful bidders to maximize the level of sustainable employment in the resulting operations.

Work Permits.

Denis Naughten

Question:

117 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if Romanian and Bulgarian nationals may be fully entitled to work in the State without a work permit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16153/09]

In 2006, the Irish Government decided that, following their accession to the EU, nationals of Romania and Bulgaria would still have to apply for work permits in order to work in Ireland. Following a review of the situation in 2008, Government decided to maintain this requirement. The considerable challenges now posed as a result of the downturn in the global economic environment and its direct impact on the labour market have been factors influencing this decision.

While nationals of Romania and Bulgaria have to apply for employment permits in order to work in Ireland, they are given preferential access to our labour market, ahead of non-EEA nationals. In addition, many Romanians and Bulgarians are enabled to work in Ireland without an employment permit, including certain Romanians and Bulgarians who were resident in Ireland prior to January 2007, those who are the spouse or dependant of an EU national and those who are self employed in the State. In addition, Romanians and Bulgarians who have been in the State on a valid employment permit for an uninterrupted period of 12 months or longer are not required to renew their employment permit in order to remain in the workplace.

Redundancy Payments.

Dan Neville

Question:

118 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will ensure statutory redundancy is awarded without further delay to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [16214/09]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department has processed the redundancy lump sum application for the person concerned. Payment of the claim will issue before the end of week ending 1 May 2009.

Departmental Agencies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

119 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of the proposal to amalgamate the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority; the date by which this amalgamation is expected to be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16284/09]

As the Deputy is aware, during the course of the Budget speech last October, my colleague the Minister for Finance announced the merger of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority as part of the rationalisation of State Agencies. It is my intention to bring forward legislation during the course of 2009 to implement this merger.

Departmental Reports.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

120 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 121 of 31 March 2009, if she is satisfied that the situation with regard to late payments is as portrayed in a survey (details supplied); if in view of the findings of that report, she will commission a comprehensive survey of late payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16285/09]

I am aware of the survey to which the Deputy refers and the reported findings in relation to late payments.

As indicated in the response to Parliamentary Question No. 121 of 31 March 2009, developments in the financial sector and wider economy have broadened the concerns for SMEs in gaining access to working capital. Initiatives to address access to working capital were also addressed in that response.

I have no plans to undertake a survey of late payments at this stage. As the Deputy may be aware, the European Commission has just recently made proposals for amending the Late Payments Directive, 2000/35/EC. My Department has sought comments from the SME representative bodies in advance of negotiations of the proposal in the relevant EU Council working group.

Work Permits.

Dan Neville

Question:

121 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a work permit will be processed without further delay for a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [16298/09]

The Employment Permits Section informs me that it has no record of an application in this case.

Departmental Funding.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

122 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the level of funding she has provided to Skillnets for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16300/09]

Public funding provided to all training programmes managed by Skillnets Limited amounted to €24.5m in 2007, to €26.7m in 2008 and to €10.3m to date this year.

The pressures on public finances and increased levels of unemployment have resulted in increased funding being applied to training those without work and part-time workers. It is in this context that funding for the Skillnets Training Network Programme for those in work is being reduced this year.

My Department's total budgetary allocation for training people in employment as set out in the recent Revised Estimates Volume is €122m. An amount of approximately €14.6m is being provided to fund Skillnets training for those at work.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

123 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to her Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16329/09]

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to legislation enacted or made by my Department in 2007 is available as Appendices 6 and 7, respectively, in the 2007 Annual Report for my Department and which is available on our website at www.entemp.ie. Appendix 9 of the Report contains information in relation to EU Directives transposed during the year. The same information up to end March 2009 is set out in the table.

The Question asked by the Deputy does not request such information in respect of 2008; however, this information is being compiled at present for publication in my Department's 2008 Annual Report, which will, or course, be available on my Department's website.

Name of Legislation Made or Enacted in Jan-Mar 09

If EU-based, please cite relevant reference

National (Y/N)

Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003 (Commencement) Order 2009 (S.I. 13 of 2009)

N/A

Y

Company Closures.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

124 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of all the expressions of interest for a company (details supplied) at Dublin Airport; when she expects progress on these proposals to maintain jobs at this centre of aviation maintenance and engineering; if she has recently met with the chief executive officer of the company; if not, the reason for same; the efforts she and her colleagues are taking to facilitate the 26 senior apprentices at the company who want to finish and qualify as aviation technicians; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16397/09]

Since the company announced its plans to close its Dublin operations, IDA Ireland and I have had numerous meetings with the company to express my concern regarding the effect the closure will have on the economy of North Dublin and the effect of the loss of 1135 highly skilled jobs on the Irish aviation sector.

IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland established a team to market the operation internationally through their overseas office network and have held discussions with over 15 companies to encourage them to put forward investment proposals to take over all or part of the operation. Following receipt of proposals, a full evaluation will take place and each proposal will be considered on its merits and long-term viability.

The company has indicated that it has received up to 30 expressions of interest in parts of the operation and has stated that any approach or proposal would be considered in detail and evaluated in full on its merits and potential long term benefit.

At this stage, SR Technics has received 5 bids from interested parties for parts of the business and are currently assessing these bids. Following the assessment process, SR Technics will select a successful bidder. In tandem with this process the agencies are in discussions with the interested parties on an ongoing basis to assess the viability of the bids so as to be in a position to offer appropriate support to the successful bidders to maximize the level of sustainable employment in the resulting operations.

As regards apprentices, FÁS is currently engaging with other stakeholders in the Air Craft Maintenance Sector (Public and Private) in an effort to source on-the-job training for this group of Air Craft Mechanics.

Industrial Development.

Willie Penrose

Question:

125 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the support and assistance available for new business start ups, and small businesses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16595/09]

The County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) can provide support to new business start-ups and micro-enterprises (i.e. small businesses with 10 employees or fewer). Subject to certain eligibility criteria new and developing enterprises may qualify for financial support from the CEBs in the form of Feasibility, Employment and Capital grants. All of the CEBs operate to the same criteria in relation to the assistance which they can offer i.e. they can support the establishment and/or the development of enterprises provided that the projects, which should generally be in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector, have the capacity to achieve commercial viability and which over time may develop into strong exporting entities. In addition, the CEBs deliver a range of non-financial supports to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow.

The CEBs also work to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. During 2009 they will continue to support enterprise development through the provision of both direct financial assistance (in the form of capital, feasibility and employment grants) and through indirect or "soft support" assistance, ensuring that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development.

Community Employment Schemes.

Billy Timmins

Question:

126 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the process in place to enable community employment schemes to take on a new member in view of the fact that all new appointments have to be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16616/09]

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

The CE programme is sponsored by groups wishing to benefit the local community, namely voluntary organisations and public bodies involved in not-for-profit activities.

Community Employment participants and supervisors are employed by the local community sponsors, who are separate legal entities under the Companies Act and, as such, sanction for their recruitment by the Minister for Finance is not required.

The Government Decision of 27/3/09 in respect of Implementation of Savings Measures for Public Service numbers does not relate to participants or supervisors on Community Employment Schemes.

Company Closures.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

127 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her progress in finding a new buyer for a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16636/09]

Since the company announced its plans to close its Dublin operations, IDA Ireland and I have had numerous meetings with the company to express my concern regarding the effect the closure will have on the economy of North Dublin and the effect of the loss of 1135 highly skilled jobs on the Irish aviation sector.

IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland established a team to market the operation internationally through their overseas office network and have held discussions with over 15 companies to encourage them to put forward investment proposals to take over all or part of the operation. Following receipt of proposals, a full evaluation will take place and each proposal will be considered on its merits and long-term viability.

The company has indicated that it has received up to 30 expressions of interest in parts of the operation and has stated that any approach or proposal would be considered in detail and evaluated in full on its merits and potential long term benefit.

At this stage, SR Technics has received 5 bids from interested parties for parts of the business and are currently assessing these bids. Following the assessment process, SR Technics will select a successful bidder. In tandem with this process the agencies are in discussions with the interested parties on an ongoing basis to assess the viability of the bids so as to be in a position to offer appropriate support to the successful bidders to maximize the level of sustainable employment in the resulting operations.

Industrial Relations.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

128 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action she has or will take in ensuring that a company (details supplied) is kept open; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16637/09]

Lufthansa Airmotive currently employs some 460 workers at its Rathcoole facility and has been planning to introduce a new engine facility, which would both secure the future and lead to increased jobs at the plant. As part of this process, the company has been seeking agreement with the workers for the introduction of flexible working arrangements and work practice reforms.

Following failure to agree, I discussed the situation with both management and unions and the full services of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court were provided to assist in finding a way forward. Following six LRC hearings and a full Labour Court hearing, the staff at the plant, last week, voted against the proposals drawn up by the Labour Court by a margin of 17 votes out of 279 cast. In a statement last Wednesday, the company said it had halted the planned investment in the new engine line and had also issued protective notice to all workers.

Following this, as a further and maybe a final opportunity to try and resolve the problem, the National Implementation Body, consisting of Government, employer and union representatives met with representatives from Lufthansa Technik Airmotive and UNITE, SIPTU and TEEU regarding the implications for the future of the Rathcoole plant.

In the course of discussions, both sides recognised the seriousness of the situation and expressed a firm desire to reach a speedy solution in the interests of maintaining the Rathcoole facility. The NIB recommended that both parties engage in urgent and intensive discussions, in the context of the Labour Court's Recommendation and presided over by IBEC and ICTU, to allow the $40m investment and jobs to be secured.

I understand that, following intensive discussions, a new set of proposals were agreed by unions and management at the facility and that the workers accepted these proposals.

I very much welcome this outcome which has come about due to the pragmatic and constructive approach adopted by management and unions at the Rathcoole facility.

Employment Rights.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

129 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there is a legal mechanism to allow an employer to ballot all staff within a company on a matter relating to the employment of staff, and not just those within a recognised union; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16638/09]

The Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006 enables employers and employees to agree a variety of arrangements whereby employees within a company may cast their preference for certain types of information and consultation arrangements.

The main purpose of the Act is to provide for the establishment of a general framework setting out minimum requirements for the right to information and consultation of employees in undertakings with at least 50 employees. It provides a general right to information and consultation for employees from their employer on matters that directly affect them.

The Act does not lay down a detailed procedure for an employer to conduct a ballot of all staff within a company but refers at Sections 8, 9 and 11 to a procedure "for the casting of a preference" by those employees. The statutory provision is sufficiently flexible to allow employers to choose from a variety of methods in facilitating their employees in approving different types of information and consultation arrangements. The Act requires employers to ensure, however, that any approval method adopted is secure, confidential and can be independently verified in the event of a dispute.

The Act also prescribes procedures for the election of employee representatives where this accords with the preference of employees. In the event of arrangements being approved for the democratic election or appointment of employees' representatives, the employer is obliged to facilitate such arrangements and to cover the cost of the nomination and selection procedure. Where it is the practice of an employer to conduct collective bargaining negotiations with a trade union or excepted body, which represents 10% or more of the employees, the employees who are members of that Trade Union or excepted body are entitled to elect or appoint their own employees' representative(s) on a pro rata basis.

The Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act, 2006, affords employers and employees a wide degree of autonomy in devising their own information and consultation arrangements. In order to encourage agreement on such arrangements, the conditions and limitations attached to them under the Act are few. This affords the parties the opportunity to develop information and consultation arrangements that are tailor-made to their particular needs.

Work Permits.

Jack Wall

Question:

130 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position of a person on a work permit when the employer can no longer continue trading; if the person can seek a new employment; the State entitlements to which they are entitled; if the person can remain in this State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16643/09]

The position is that if a foreign national on a valid work permit is made redundant then they have a period of 3 months, assuming their immigration status is in order, to source other employment and apply for a new employment permit.

Access to State entitlements is a matter for the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Industrial Development.

Denis Naughten

Question:

131 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will request that Enterprise Ireland expedite a project (details supplied) in County Roscommon; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16759/09]

I understand from Enterprise Ireland (EI) that details of the project in question were received by the agency on 21 April, 2009. This is an alternative proposal to the one approved by EI in June, 2006. As is the case with all re-submissions for funding, due diligence is being conducted on the alternative proposal. This proposal will then have to go to a decision making Board within EI. Notwithstanding this, I understand from EI that all efforts are being made to expedite the matter.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

132 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17363/09]

Long Service Increments are part of the standard terms and conditions that apply to particular grades across the Civil Service. As in the case of all increments, Long Service Increments are only payable subject to a satisfactory performance rating being achieved under the Performance Management Development System.

215 members of staff of my Department are currently in receipt of long service increments at a cost of €615,292 for 2009.

Motor Taxation.

James Bannon

Question:

133 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford who lived in the UK but returned to live with their parents here due to ill health, should be charged €4,088 VTR on a second-hand car costing €6,000, which they bought while on a visit to the UK in December 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16275/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person in question declared the vehicle for registration at Tullamore Vehicle Registration Office on 24 March 2009. The V5 UK registration document, which was presented in support of the application, was issued on 24 February 2009 by the UK Authorities and shows the date of acquisition of the vehicle as 12 February 2009.

Since 1 July 2008 Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) is based on the CO2 emissions from a car and is calculated as a percentage of the Open Market Selling Price in the State, which was €11,357 in the case of this vehicle. The CO2 emissions specified on the supporting documentation attracted the highest rate of VRT of 36% resulting in a charge of €4,088.

In relation to the person having resided in the United Kingdom, the Permanent Relief (including exemption from VRT) under Transfer of Residence Regulations provides that, in the case of VRT, a person must have had their normal residence outside the State at the time of transfer and have had possession of and have actually used the vehicle outside the State for at least 6 months before your transfer to Ireland. Consequently, the person in question does not satisfy the necessary criteria in this regard.

Tax Code.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

134 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the anomaly whereby a cohabiting couple are treated as a single household for social welfare eligibility purposes, yet for Revenue Commissioner purposes they are treated as two individuals and may not benefit from each other’s tax credits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16139/09]

The position is that cohabitating couples are expressly recognised for the purpose of social welfare law but are not recognised for the purposes of income tax law. Although this may appear contradictory, the main aim of both the welfare code and the tax code is to uphold the constitutional right of married couples not to be treated less favourably than unmarried couples.

The basis for the current tax treatment of married couples derives from the Supreme Court decision in Murphy vs the Attorney General (1980) which held that it was contrary to the Constitution for a married couple to pay more tax than two single people living together and having the same income.

The treatment of cohabiting couples for the purposes of social welfare is primarily a matter for the Minister for Social Community and Family Affairs. However, my understanding is that it is also based on the principle that married couples should not be treated less favourably than cohabiting couples. This was given a constitutional underpinning following the Supreme Court decision in Hyland v Minister for Social Welfare (1989) which ruled that it was unconstitutional for the total income a married couple received in social welfare benefits to be less than the couple would have received if they were unmarried and cohabiting.

Ministerial Staff.

Richard Bruton

Question:

135 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the employment terms under which persons (details supplied) were employed; and if these positions or contracts were open to public competition. [16164/09]

In March, the Government, on my request appointed Dr Alan Ahearne as one of my Special Advisers. The manner in which such appointments are required to be made is specified under the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 and does not involve public competition. That Act also requires me to lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas, within 60 days of the appointment, certain documents including Dr Ahearne's contract of employment. Arrangements to do so are in train.

The other person mentioned by the Deputy is not employed in my Department.

Judicial Remuneration.

Joe Behan

Question:

136 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Finance if the members of the Judiciary are liable to pay the income levy; if the members of the Judiciary who opt in to pay the pension levy will be identified; the number of members of the Judiciary who have decided to not opt in to pay the pension levy; and if he will propose a change to Bunreacht na hÉireann to ensure that all members of the Judiciary, without exception, be compelled to pay the pension levy. [16171/09]

I can confirm that Members of the Judiciary are liable to pay the income levy. The Deputy will be aware that in early April, the Chief Justice announced that arrangements have been made to enable judges to pay the pension related deduction voluntarily. I will not be announcing the names of those who choose to pay the contribution as it is entirely a personal matter for each judge. I have no proposals to make a constitutional change of the kind suggested by the Deputy.

Tax Code.

Finian McGrath

Question:

137 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied). [16200/09]

The position is that Mortgage Interest Relief for principal private residences will continue for first-time buyers and others who bought their homes within the last 7 years. From the first of May 2009 Mortgage Interest Relief is only being withdrawn for those individuals that have already been in receipt of mortgage interest relief for more than seven years. I believe the decision to curtail the relief is justified given the significant recent reduction in interest rates and in house prices. In addition relief will continue to be available for qualifying loans taken out to purchase a new home, or for the repair, development or improvement of an individual's principal private residence.

It is important to point out that the maximum reduction in relief available to individuals as a result of this curtailment will be €900 per annum or €75 per month for a couple and €450 per annum or €38 per month for a single person.

Average Industrial Wage.

Seán Connick

Question:

138 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the average industrial wage for each of 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16222/09]

The average industrial wage for 2005 was €30,310 as measured by the old CSO survey ‘Industrial Earnings and Hours Worked'.

The average industrial wage as measured by the new release ‘Earnings and Labour Costs' is used for the subsequent years. The two measures are not directly comparable but the new series provides better coverage of earnings data.

The averages for 2006 and 2007 were €31,010 and €32,730, respectively. Data for Q4 2008 is not available from the CSO and is due to be released no later than April 30th. As a result, the average industrial wage for 2008 has not been confirmed. However, the average industrial wage for the four quarters to Q3 2008 is estimated at €33,355.

From Q4 2004 to Q3 2008, the cumulative increase in the average industrial wage was 11.4%.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

139 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify if the income exemption limits that apply to the new levy introduced in 2009 are to be calculated excluding social welfare income which is not subject to the levy. [16271/09]

The position is that all payments made by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, and similar type payments made by other government departments and agencies, are specifically exempted from the income levy and are disregarded for the purposes of determining an individual's income for the application of the income levy.

Departmental Schemes.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

140 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if Members of the Oireachtas may avail of the three year paid career break for public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16286/09]

As Members of the Oireachtas are not employed in a civil or public service capacity they will not be eligible to participate in the three year career break scheme announced in the Supplementary Budget. By virtue of their constitutional status, the granting of career breaks would not be compatible with the role and duties of Members of the Oireachtas.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

141 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16287/09]

Long service increments, payable after 3 and 6 years' service on the maximum of the scale, were introduced as part of restructuring deals agreed for various grades under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW). Payment of such increments is dependent on the individual recipients attaining the appropriate rating under the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS).

The following table lists the information requested by the Deputy in respect of my Department and Offices under the aegis of my Department.

Organisation

Number of staff in receipt of long service increments

Cost

Department of Finance

175

€590,121

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

2,251

€3.9m

Office of Public Works

244

€778,576

Valuation Office

52

€198,591

State Laboratory

20

€51,000

Public Appointments Service

18

€57,707

Commission for Public Service Appointments

Nil

Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General

21

€75,836

Office of the Ombudsman

22

€72,500

Office of the Appeal Commissioner

Nil

It should be noted that in most cases, the amounts concerned represent the maximum cost in a full year. In the time available, it would not be possible to calculate the exact cost, having regard to the timing of the payments during the year, or if periods of unpaid leave were taken, which would impact on the timing of the increments.

Investment Securities.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

142 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the value of funds held in bearer bonds here; the way such bonds are assessed by the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16294/09]

There is no data available on the total value of funds held in bearer bonds here. These debt securities can be issued by both public and private institutions.

In general, income arising from or gains on the disposal of bearer bonds is liable to tax in the same manner as income or gains arising on other bonds.

In the case of an Irish resident individual, interest or discount income arising on the bonds would be taxable at the beneficial owner's marginal rate of income tax.

Where the bond is held by a company, the rate of tax applicable depends on whether the income arises in the course of the company's trade. If the income is trading income, then the appropriate tax rate is 12.5% whereas if the income is considered to be investment rather than trading income, the rate of corporation tax applicable will be 25%.

Interest income arising on securities issued under the authority of the Minister for Finance or issued by certain public bodies is exempt from tax where the securities are beneficially owned by persons who are not ordinarily resident in the State.

Withholding tax does not apply to interest payments on securities issued under the authority of the Minister for Finance or issued by certain public bodies.

As regards other (non-Government) securities, in general withholding tax at the standard rate must be deducted by a company from payments of interest to persons whose usual place of abode is in the State.

Bearer bonds are chargeable assets for capital gains tax (CGT) purposes unless they are securities issued under the authority of the Minister for Finance or issued by certain public bodies.

Financial Services Regulation.

Finian McGrath

Question:

143 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [16319/09]

I presume the Deputy's question refers to the redemption fee applied by mortgage providers in circumstances that a customer seeks to break a fixed rate mortgage. Mortgage lenders in Ireland generally seek to recover costs of funds when a borrower with a fixed rate mortgage agreement seeks to terminate the agreement some time before the term agreed.

Traditionally redemption fees were articulated with the institution specifying that a given number of months interest would apply. Over time, they have generally moved towards a mechanism which reflects the difference between the contracted rate and current market rates applied to the amount outstanding for the remaining fixed period. Where a redemption fee is payable on a housing loan the mortgage agent has to inform the consumer about it at the outset.

Compensation sought by the lender reflects the cost to the institution of obtaining the funds on the capital market at a certain cost, as against selling them on at a related price. Institutions fund the fixed rate agreement through funding on markets, generally through interest rate swaps. This allows them to hedge their exposure to interest rate fluctuations. Where the borrower seeks to repay the loan before the contractually agreed fixed term in an environment where interest rates have declined, the institution is exposed to re-investment risk, i.e., it will be unable to re-lend the funds at a rate related to their cost, due to intervening market fluctuations.

Ireland is relatively unusual in the EU context in that borrowers have an absolute legal right to repay their loan early as set out in Section 121(1) of the Consumer Credit Act 1995. However Section 121 goes on to recognise that while a consumer will not be liable to pay an early redemption fee with respect to a variable rate loan, this exemption from redemption fees does not apply where the rate of interest is fixed or is fixed for one year.

The Deputy may wish to note that as part of the preparations for the EU White Paper on Mortgage Market Integration, which was published in December 2007, the Mortgage Industry and Consumer Expert Group agreed that lenders should receive a compensation when a consumer repays his or her fixed rate loan earlier than at its contractual termination.

There are significant benefits for both individual householders and for the stability of the housing and financial sector overall from greater take-up of fixed rate mortgages and it would not be advisable to embark on any course of action which could impact adversely on the cost and availability of fixed rate mortgages in the future.

On 26 March 2009, I undertook, in this House, to contact the Consumer Director of the Financial Regulator on the subject of customers who wish to switch from a fixed rate mortgage. On foot of that my Department has contacted the Financial Regulator to request confirmation that the redemption costs for switching from a fixed rate mortgage cover funding costs only and that there are no other costs included in these charges. The Financial Regulator has confirmed to my Department that it is looking into this matter and that it will revert shortly. I will advise the Deputy of the outcome of the Financial Regulator's consideration of this matter.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

144 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to his Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16331/09]

The details requested by the Deputy are contained in the following table.

Legislation pertaining to the Department of Finance

Year

Legislation

Did the legislation originate from Brussels or was it purely national

2007

Finance Act

National*

2007

Finance (No. 2) Act

National*

2007

Ministers and Secretaries (Ministers of State) Act (No. 33 of 2007)

National

2007

Appropriation Act

National

2007

Assets Covered Securities (Amendment) Act (No. 13 of 2007)

Partly required by Ireland’s EU obligations

2007

Markets in Financial Instruments and Miscellaneous Provisions Act (No. 37 of 2007)

Partly required by Ireland’s EU obligations

2008

Finance Act

National*

2008

Finance (No. 2) Act

National*

2008

Appropriation Act

National

2008

Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act (No. 18 of 2008)

National

2009

Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act (No. 7 of 2009)

National

2009

Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Act (No. 1 of 2009)

National

2009

Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act

National

*Primarily National but may also include some provisions resulting from directives adopted at EU level.

National Pensions Reserve Fund.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

145 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the amounts he plans to pay into the National Pensions Reserve Fund annually in 2009, 2010 and 2011; the location from which these funds will be sourced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16521/09]

The Supplementary Budget for 2009 published on 7 April 2009 provides for a contribution of €3 billion from the Exchequer to the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) in 2009. It projects that no contribution will be required in 2010 and that the contribution in 2011 will be €1.449 billion.

The National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000 requires the payment from the Exchequer to the Fund each year of an amount equivalent to 1% of GNP as estimated at the time of the Budget. The Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2009 amended the 2000 Act to provide that the Minister for Finance may, in certain circumstances, direct the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission to invest in listed credit institutions and that the Minister may contribute to the Fund for the purpose of such a directed investment, with any such additional contribution to be offset in following years against the requirement to make an annual contribution. These amendments arose from the Government's decision, announced on 11 February 2009, to provide a total of €7 billion to recapitalise Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland, of which €4 billion would be provided by the NPRF from its own resources and the balance of €3 billion from the Exchequer, by means of a frontloading of the Exchequer contributions to the NPRF for 2010 and 2011.

The Budget for 2009 published on 14 October 2008 had provided for a payment of €1.584 billion from the Exchequer into the National Pensions Reserve Fund. The provision for a payment of €3 billion from the Exchequer to the Fund in 2009 contained in the 2009 Supplementary Budget involves the payment of an additional €1.416 billion to the NPRF this year. The projections for GNP for 2010 and 2011 contained in the Supplementary Budget would require annual contributions to the NPRF of €1.403 billion and €1.463 billion in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Based on these projections, the additional €1.416 billion contribution in 2009 means that no annual contribution would be needed in 2010 and would reduce the 2011 annual contribution to €1.449 billion, as published.

The contributions to the NPRF are funded from the Exchequer in the same way as any other expenditure commitment.

Redundancy Payments.

Richard Bruton

Question:

146 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the potential unfairness of applying the composite rate of levies which he proposes for 2009 which appears to apply to redundancy payments made before 1 May 2009. [16545/09]

The treatment of taxable redundancy payments paid prior to 1 May will be considered in the context of the preparation of the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

147 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he has had inquiries from members of the public regarding changes in the tax treatment of retirement lump sums; and if he plans to make clear his policy in this area in order that people can make these important decisions for their lives on an informed basis. [16546/09]

Simon Coveney

Question:

151 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance if there are proposals to change the system of taxation of retirement lump sum payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16592/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 151 together.

My Department has been receiving enquiries on this issue and there have been a number of other Parliamentary Questions in recent months.

The position is that under statutory pension schemes and pension schemes approved by the Revenue Commissioners, there is no liability to income tax in respect of retirement gratuities or lump sums paid to members of such schemes on retirement. Provided members of such schemes and any lump sum payments comply with Revenue rules in this area, there is no liability to income tax on the retirement lump sum payment. In this regard, it should be noted that the tax arrangements for retirement lump sums apply in respect of pension schemes in both the public and private sectors.

As I mentioned in my budget speech on 7 April last, the Commission on Taxation is examining various aspects of pension tax treatment, including the treatment of retirement lump sum payments and I expect to be dealing with the Commission's recommendations in the 2010 budget in December.

Richard Bruton

Question:

148 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his views on introducing a differential rate of tax on rental income instead of the restriction on the allowability of interest payments; and the arguments that led him to choose the restriction on interest as opposed to other measures that might have raised extra taxation from this sector. [16547/09]

As part of the normal lead-up to the budget, an examination of tax incentive schemes and tax reliefs is undertaken in the context of the ongoing development of budgetary and economic policy. Arising from an examination of the various schemes which provide tax relief for rental income properties, I decided to reduce the interest relief from 100% to 75% as a deductible expense in calculating income tax on rental income from residential properties. This is part of the process of unwinding tax expenditure in this area. I have also asked the Commission on Taxation to investigate options in this area, which I plan to return to in the near future.

Departmental Schemes.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

149 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that by participating in the cycle to work scheme employers do not have a duty of care towards the employee in relation to those employees cycling to and from work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16569/09]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the cycle to work scheme that became available from 1 January this year. There is no provision in the tax code that imposes a duty of care on employers toward employees who participate in the scheme. Such issues are a matter for agreement between each employer and its participating employees. Accordingly, the circular implementing the cycle to work scheme in the Civil Service, and which may also be used by the wider public service will, for example, set out the responsibilities of the employee in relation to the proper use and maintenance of the bicycle.

Tax Code.

Jack Wall

Question:

150 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is due a tax rebate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16579/09]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the tax liability of the person concerned has been reviewed and that a refund will issue next week.

Question No. 151 answered with Question No. 147.

James Bannon

Question:

152 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance his plans to reduce VAT on tractors which stands at 21.5% in the Republic of Ireland as opposed to 15% in Northern Ireland, leading to farmers purchasing tractors in the North and the UK which potentially will result in 99% of tractor businesses here being closed by the end of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16622/09]

The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. In many cases, new tractors are subject to Irish VAT irrespective of where they are purchased, and as such VAT would not be a factor that would influence a farmer in purchasing tractors outside the State. A new tractor purchased in the UK by an Irish VAT-registered farmer is treated as an intra-community acquisition and is subject to Irish VAT. The VAT registered farmer must account for VAT at 21.5% and is entitled to an input credit for the VAT if the tractor is used in his farming business.

If a farmer is not registered for VAT, he is obliged to register if he makes purchases totalling more than €41,000 from other EU Member States in any year. In these circumstances the farmer must also account for Irish VAT but may not be entitled to a corresponding input credit. If a farmer is not registered for VAT and his purchases from other EU Member States do not exceed €41,000 in any year, he will be subject to UK VAT on a new tractor purchased in Northern Ireland, however because of the cost of new tractors, this is unlikely to arise. With regard to second-hand tractors being imported from the UK, such vehicles are subject to UK VAT.

It would not be possible to reduce the VAT rate applicable to farm machinery without reducing the rate on all goods and services to which the standard VAT rate of 21.5% applies. A 1% reduction in the standard rate of VAT would cost €390 million in a full year.

I am conscious of the difficulties being encountered by the farm machinery business, however, given the current Exchequer deficit position, the budget 2009 policy decision of increasing the standard VAT rate continues to be necessary in order to support the public finances. We are borrowing to fund day to day public services which is unsustainable as future generations will be required to pay higher taxes unless we correct our public finances.

Regarding the differential in VAT rates resulting from the temporary reduction in the UK standard VAT rate from 17.5% to 15% up to the end of 2009, the VAT rate is not the only factor in the differentials North and South of the border. The weakening of sterling has had, and is having, a far more significant impact on relative prices than any VAT changes in this regard.

As a small open economy, many of our standard rated goods are imported, and cutting the VAT rate could benefit the economies from which we import more than our own. In other words, while, it might help the consumer, it would not be the most effective way of helping our own economy.

National Asset Management Agency.

Michael McGrath

Question:

153 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the human resource requirements anticipated at the National Asset Management Agency; the recruitment procedures that will be deployed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16693/09]

Legislation to establish and govern the operation of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) will be introduced during the summer legislative session. Initial work on the preparation of the legislation is under way in parallel with preparation for the operation of the NAMA. I am currently considering the establishment of NAMA on a non-statutory interim basis with a view to undertaking the initial scoping work required. This will include work on assessment of the human resource requirements and potential recruitment processes.

Public Service Contracts.

Michael McGrath

Question:

154 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the procurement procedures that apply to construction projects of all public bodies in terms of tendering within Ireland and in the EU; and the different requirements that apply depending on the value of contract involved. [16694/09]

The procurement procedure for a public works contract comprises a qualitative selection and an award stage. Qualitative selection involves the assessment by a public body of all applicants who have expressed an interest in a tender competition in order to determine which of them have the competency to undertake the work. The award stage, on the other hand, deals with the evaluation of tenders received from selected candidates, with the contract being awarded to the most competitive tenderer.

In relation to the procurement procedures that apply to projects above the EU thresholds, public bodies must comply with directives 2004/17/EC and 2004/18/EC, as transposed into national law by SI No. 50 of 2007 and SI No. 329 of 2006. With regard to contracts below the EU threshold, the principles of transparency, non-discrimination, proportionality and fairness under the EU treaties must be observed.

Pension Provisions.

Michael Ring

Question:

155 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person would have to pay a pension levy in view of the fact that the person is pension age and continues to work a small number of hours. [16754/09]

I am fully aware of people's concerns following the introduction of the pension-related deduction. However, the key objective is the realisation of the savings needed from the public service pay bill, given the severe economic and budgetary circumstances we face.

The approach to the pension related deduction is that it applies generally given the fact that public servants enjoy the benefits of a public service pension which provides for greater security and more favourable terms than the generality of private sector pensions. It is not limited to those below pension age or to those in full time work. The criteria for making the deduction is set out in section 2(1)(b) of the Act. The pension related deduction is a reasonable means of reconciling the need to achieve the necessary savings while the recent Supplementary Budget changes have ameliorated the impact on lower paid staff.

Child Care Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

156 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the grants available through her Department for assisting with the running of a community facility (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16267/09]

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

Applications for grant funding under the NCIP are processed in the first instance, by the County Childcare Committees (CCC's) and are then forwarded to Pobal, who assess and administer grant applications on behalf of my Office. I understand, from inquiries I made with Pobal, that an application by the group concerned for funding under the CCSS, which provides subvention to community child care providers to enable them to deliver child care services at reduced rates to eligible parents, is currently in the assessment process with Kildare County Childcare Committee.

Health Service Staff.

Brian Hayes

Question:

157 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children when an appointment will be made for an occupational therapist for the Dublin west area for children with special needs from six years of age upwards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16599/09]

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

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

158 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to make grants available under the Dormant Accounts Fund suicide prevention measure; if she will confirm that the economic climate will not effect the provision of these grants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16631/09]

Funding decisions are made by Government on the basis of recommendations made by the Economic and Social Disadvantage Interdepartmental Committee, which is chaired by my colleague, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, through POBAL, invited applications for funding under the suicide prevention measure.

My Department is considering the assessments made by POBAL of the applications received and, in light of the current national economic situation, is also considering the timeframe for the funding of this measure. Recommendations in this regard will be made to the Interdepartmental Committee shortly.

Pension Provisions.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

159 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason staff at the Central Remedial Clinic are subject to the pension levy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16639/09]

The Central Remedial Clinic is a public sector employer for the purposes of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009 (section 1(i) refers). All employees of the Central Remedial Clinic have access to the Voluntary Hospital Superannuation Schemes 1969 and 1977.

Health Levy.

Michael Ring

Question:

160 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to an issue regarding the health levy (details supplied). [16706/09]

In accordance with the provisions of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008, any person who is over 70 years of age is exempt from paying the health levy contributions. This exemption applies regardless of whether a person over 70 years of age holds a medical card or not.

Departmental Reports.

Damien English

Question:

161 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if there are barriers preventing the publishing of the report compiled by the Vaccine Damage Steering Group that was presented recently to her; if she intends to publish the report in the public domain; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16860/09]

James Reilly

Question:

165 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will publish the report on options for compensation in respect of individuals damaged by a vaccine (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16154/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 and 165 together.

I have recently received the report of the Vaccine Damage Steering Group and I am currently considering its recommendations. It is my intention to publish the report when I have completed my deliberations.

Services for People with Disabilities.

James Reilly

Question:

162 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if adequate funding will continue to be made available for the provision of training programmes in Prosper Fingal in September 2009 for adults who attend the long term disability services provided by Prosper Fingal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17112/09]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

219 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a query (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16527/09]

Richard Bruton

Question:

225 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the threat to the day care service for people with a disability at a centre (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will seek a report from the Health Service Executive to ascertain if the plan is consistent with stated objectives. [16561/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162, 219 and 225 together.

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

Medical Cards.

Noel Grealish

Question:

163 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of non-Irish nationals who have full GMS cards and doctor visit cards; the cost of same to the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16130/09]

The information sought by the Deputy is not provided as a matter of routine by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to my Department. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Child Care Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

164 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a matter (details supplied). [16152/09]

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the implementation of the new scheme to provide a free Pre-School year of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) which was announced recently by the Minister of Finance.

The scheme will allow children to avail of a free playschool place in their pre-school year, which will be provided for three hours per day, five days per week for 38 weeks. It will also allow children in their pre-school year who are attending a full or part-time daycare service to avail of a free session of two hours and 15 minutes per day, five days per week for 50 weeks. As the new scheme will be introduced from January next, the first full year will be from September 2010 and children availing of the scheme in January 2010 will have a reduced period of free pre-school provision.

Participating children must, normally be aged between three years three months and four years six months on 1 September of each year. Exceptions will be allowed where children have special needs or it is necessary to accept children at an older age due to the enrolment policy of the local primary school. Participating services will receive capitation of €64.50 per week where children attend for 38 weeks, and €48.50 where they attend for 50 weeks of the year. Services will receive payments at the start of each term. Where the child is attending full-day or part-time childcare, the service will be required to reduce the child care fees by the amount of the capitation.

The scheme will be open to almost 5,000 private and voluntary pre-school services and officials in my Office will be writing to these by the end of May 2009 to provide further details and to advise them of the application process. Pre-school leaders will be expected to have a qualification in child care to FETAC level 5 or 6 qualifications, or equivalent or to be in the process of completing their qualification. All services will be required to provide an educational programme consistent with the principles of Síolta and appropriate to the age of participating children. A national team of Síolta co-ordinators will assist services in meeting these standards.

Question No. 165 answered with Question No. 161.

Hospital Services.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

166 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there are no neurosurgical facilities at University College Hospital Galway; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that such facilities would be of benefit to the population of Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16158/09]

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

Health Repayment Scheme.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

167 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason an application for refund of nursing home charges on behalf of a person (details supplied) has not been processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16160/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Richard Bruton

Question:

168 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the problems that have arisen since the processing of medical cards for persons aged 70 and over have been centralised away from local offices to the primary care reimbursement service; if she has requested detailed reports on delays, on unexplained withdrawal of cards, and confusion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16163/09]

Up to the start of this year, medical card and GP visit card applications were processed in the 32 local health areas. However, under the Health Service Executive's (HSE) 2009 Service Plan, the processing of all medical card and GP visit card applications will be centralised and will transfer to the Executive's Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) in Dublin. The change is being implemented on a phased basis and has commenced with the PCRS processing all medical card applications for persons aged 70 or over.

Following enactment of the Health Act 2008, the HSE wrote to all medical card holders aged 70 years and over in January 2009. Persons who were in receipt of a medical card on a non means tested basis were requested, if over the income limits set out in the Act, to make a declaration to the Executive, on or before 2 March 2009.

The HSE has reported to my Department that to-date, 19,954 medical cards for persons aged 70 and over have been returned or removed from the medical card register. 10,690 of these cards were returned to the HSE by persons aged 70 or over whose weekly income was in excess of the specified thresholds and a further 9,264 medical cards were removed from the medical card register as part of a data quality exercise, where for example, the HSE had been advised that the card holder is deceased or the card holder was not known at the address, etc. The vast majority of people in the over 70s age group retained their medical cards.

The Executive has also reported to my Department that it has advised doctors regarding clients that have been notified to the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) as deceased, gone away or where duplicates exist. In circumstances where a card holder has been removed from the medical card register and they are still entitled to a medical card, the person or their GP should advise the HSE immediately and as soon as the details are confirmed, the client's medical card eligibility will be restored. The HSE has received contact from a number of doctors and individuals in this regard and these cases are being worked through.

The introduction of the new over 70s medical card scheme has resulted in a high number of telephone calls and inquiries to the PCRS. The Executive reports that while there can be delays experienced at certain times of the day, over 94% of callers speak to a customer service representative on the day that they call. The new central office has dealt with in excess of 80,000 telephone inquiries in the first quarter of 2009, and has processed in excess of 7,000 new medical card applications.

The Executive reports that Local Health Offices continue to deal with queries of a general nature about the medical card scheme and will provide any assistance needed with the application process, and, along with the National Helpline (1850 24 1850), will deal with inquiries from clients in respect of their medical card entitlements and completion of application forms.

Child Care Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

169 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the preliminary costings on the proposed year of pre-school announced in the 7 April 2009 budget; the participation levels assumed in the costings; the capital grants which are envisaged to establish the service; the annual running costs; and her role in the development of the scheme and its implementation. [16166/09]

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the introduction of the recently announced scheme to provide a free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).

The scheme is expected to cost approximately €170 million per annum. This figure has been estimated on the basis that the capitation grant of over €2,400 per annum will be paid in respect of some 70,000 participating children. As parents are not required to enrol their children in the pre-school year, a participation rate of 90% of eligible children has been assumed. As the age range for eligibility covers a 15 month period (i.e. children must be aged between three years three months and four years six months at 1 September), the participation rate of 90% takes account of the full cohort of children who could be enrolled. (The number of live births in Ireland in 2005 was 61,042, rising to 64,237 in 2006 and 70,620 in 2007.) As the majority of children start school at the age of five, most participating children in January 2010 are expected to be aged four with a significant minority aged three. The 15 month age range is provided for to facilitate parents in aligning their children's pre-school year with the year they commence school.

Pre-school services include full- and part-time day care services as well as sessional playschool services and a wide range of fees apply across these services, which number almost 5,000. Almost 1,000 of these services are not for profit voluntary services participating in the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) and the average fee charged for sessional playschool in these services is €50 per week. The annual capitation fee of over €2,400 amounts, in the case of a sessional playschool, to €64.50 per week over 38 weeks. For full- and part-time services providing a pre-school year of two hours 15 minutes per day, five days a week for 50 weeks, the annual capitation fee amounts to €48.50 per week. The capitation fee and its application on a weekly basis are considered reasonable. They also compare very favourably to the capitation fee paid to private and voluntary pre-school services participating in Northern Ireland's Pre-School Programme Expansion Scheme, which amounts to £30 per week.

Many of the 5,000 existing private and voluntary pre-school services will have already received capital grant aid under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (EOCP) and or the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP). More than 65,000 additional child care places will have been created by the end of 2010 as a result of this investment. Additional capital funding to make more places available is not considered necessary and I am aware from representations received from pre-school services in recent months that many are currently reporting vacancy rates of up to 25% in their facilities. I am also aware of a number of people now considering investing in a child care business of their own, many of them existing qualified child care workers, as this new scheme will allow them a degree of certainty which exists in very few areas of economic life today. Finally, many services which to date have only been open in the morning, citing lack of demand for an afternoon session, are now considering offering an additional session to meet an increase in local demand. As I said at the time of the announcement, some instances of under-supply may arise in the initial period of implementation of the scheme, however my Office and the city and County Childcare Committees will monitor the situation carefully, to maximise the beneficial impact of the scheme for parents and children.

The scheme to provide a free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) will be administered directly by officials in the Childcare Directorate of my Office, working in liaison with the Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Science which is co-located in my Office. The City and County Childcare Committees and the National Childcare Voluntary Organisations are also expected to play key roles in implementing the scheme. The cost of administering the scheme is expected to be small, certainly less than 1% of funding allocated to the scheme.

Medical Cards.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

170 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of general medical services scheme patients nationally who were sent review forms in 2007 and 2008; the number of forms returned; the process for following up non-returned review forms; the number of patients deleted from the GMS patient list in 2007 and 2008; the categories of reasons for deletion from the list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16175/09]

Details of the number of medical card holders and GP visit card holders are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The figures are provided on a net basis, showing the balance after new cards have been issued and other cards, as appropriate, have been deleted from the Executive's database, e.g. following a review of a person's circumstances.

The information sought by the Deputy is not provided as a matter of routine by the HSE to my Department. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

171 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children if staffing allocation levels at the primary care reimbursement service have changed in view of recent plans to centralise the PCRS review of medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16176/09]

Under the Health Service Executive's (HSE) 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 (PCRS) in Dublin. The change is being implemented on a phased basis and is designed to deliver a better and more cost effective service.

The Executive reports that there are no plans to close any of local offices that currently process medical card applications and there have been no changes to the staffing allocation levels at the PCRS. However, the process will involve a reassignment of existing human resources within the HSE. 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 inquiries 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.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

172 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [16189/09]

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

Health Service Executive Property.

John O'Mahony

Question:

173 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the premises that are being rented or leased in the Health Service Executive western area; the location of each unit and the cost of renting each for 2007 and 2008 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16191/09]

Arrangements in relation to the rental or leasing of premises is a service matter and the question has therefore been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

174 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive a date for admission to St. Vincent’s Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16205/09]

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

Medical Cards.

James Reilly

Question:

175 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite a medical card due to a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16216/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

176 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the medical, surgical and consultative services currently provided in Bantry General Hospital, County Cork; and the budget provided for the running of Bantry General Hospital in 2009 and each of the previous four years. [16223/09]

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

Health Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

177 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in County Cork will receive further speech therapy sessions. [16233/09]

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.

Denis Naughten

Question:

178 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the eligibility criteria for child care facilities that wish to cater for the new pre-school year scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16234/09]

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the implementation of the new scheme to provide a free Pre-School year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), which was announced recently by the Minister of Finance.

The scheme will allow children to avail of a free playschool place in their pre-school year, which will be provided for three hours per day, five days per week for 38 weeks. It will also allow children in their pre-school year who are attending a full or part-time day day care service to avail of a free session of two hours and 15 minutes per day, five days per week for 50 weeks. As the new scheme will be introduced from January next, the first full year will be from September 2010 and children availing of the scheme in January 2010 will have a reduced period of free pre-school provision.

Participating children must, normally be aged between three years three months and four years six months on 1 September of each year. Exceptions will be allowed where children have special needs or it is necessary to accept children at an older age due to the enrolment policy of the local primary school. Participating services will receive capitation of €64.50 per week where children attend for 38 weeks, and €48.50 where they attend for 50 weeks of the year. Services will receive payments at the start of each term. Where the child is attending full-day or part-time child care, the service will be required to reduce the child care fees by the amount of the capitation.

The scheme will be open to almost 5,000 private and voluntary pre-school services and officials in my Office will be writing to these by the end of May 2009 to provide further details and to advise them of the application process. Pre-school leaders will be expected to have a qualification in child care to FETAC level 5 or 6 qualifications, or equivalent or to be in the process of completing their qualification. All services will be required to provide an educational programme consistent with the principles of Síolta and appropriate to the age of participating children. A national team of Síolta co-ordinators will assist services in meeting these standards.

Positive Ageing Strategy.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

179 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the first inter-departmental group charged with managing the National Positive Ageing Strategy first met; the number of times it has met since that date; when the promised public consultation on the National Positive Ageing Strategy is due to commence; the form that consultation will take; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16235/09]

The cross-Departmental group to assist in the preparation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy comprises representative from ten Government departments as well as the Central Statistics Office. Formal meetings of the group took place on 9 December 2008 and 21 January 2009.

At the moment I am finalising my plans for the public consultation process to inform the strategy, the details of which I will be announcing in the next week or so.

The intention is that the staff of the National Council on Ageing and Older People will be subsumed into the Department of Health and Children and will join the Office for Older People to support the preparation of the new strategy. The legislation to dissolve the council, the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009, is now at Second Stage in the Dáil.

Water Quality.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

180 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children if the presence of dioxins in bottled water exposed to sunlight has been determined; and if precautionary public health measures are required to minimise exposure to dioxins. [16246/09]

I have been advised by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland that the formation of dioxins in bottled water as a result of exposure to sunlight is highly unlikely as dioxin formation requires very high temperatures which would not be reached during exposure to sunlight in this way. Accordingly, it has not been considered necessary to establish maximum levels for dioxins in bottled water at European level given that their presence or formation is highly unlikely.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

181 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of bottled water companies here which source their water from public water sources; the number of bottled water companies which source their water from private water schemes; and if fluoridated water in bottles should be labelled as such. [16247/09]

The information requested in relation to where bottled water companies source their water from is being collated by the Food Safety Authority Ireland in conjunction with the Health Service Executive and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

With regard to the requirements for labelling of fluoridated water the position is that there are three categories of bottled water — natural mineral water, spring water and other water, that is water which is neither a natural mineral water nor a spring water. European legislation and the corresponding Irish regulations (S.I No 225 of 2007) require that in the case of natural mineral waters with a fluoride concentration exceeding 1.5 milligrams per litre the label shall bear the following words (a) "contains more than 1.5 mg/l of fluoride: not suitable for regular consumption by infants and children under seven years of age", and (b) an indication as to the actual fluoride content.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Michael McGrath

Question:

182 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be given an appointment for an operation. [16258/09]

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.

Health Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

183 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the issues raised in correspondence from a group (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16259/09]

The Health Service Executive has assigned overall co-ordinating responsibility for this matter to the Area Manager for Consumer Affairs in the North East area. The Area Manager is available to liaise with former patients or support groups on the issues raised. A professional counselling support service has been put in place by the HSE for former patients of the person concerned. The service is provided by the National Counselling Service and will continue to be made available as required. The need for additional support will also be monitored by the HSE.

The National Counselling Service is a professional, accredited and confidential counselling and psychotherapy service. Counselling is provided in a confidential and supportive setting and is available at 60 locations nationwide. Individuals may of course choose to make alternative arrangements for counselling, but this is a private matter between themselves and the provider involved.

I have referred the correspondence in question to the Health Service Executive for consideration and direct reply.

Health Expenditure.

James Reilly

Question:

184 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to her statement in Dail Éireann on 10 March 2009, the amount that is spent on private health insurance, out of pocket medical expenses (details supplied) and health insurance provided by public employers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16263/09]

The OECD publication "Health at a Glance 2007" indicates that in the case of Ireland the proportion of total expenditure on health in 2005 between public and private was 78% public and 22% private. The cost of private expenditure on health care as described by the OECD is intended to represent private sources of funding on all health care, including out-of-pocket payments (both over-the-counter and cost sharing) and including expenses such as charges for doctors, dentists, opticians, prescribed medicines, hospital charges, together with private insurance programmes, charities and occupational health care. The private health insurance market in Ireland includes open membership undertakings such as VHI, Quinn Healthcare, Hibernian as well as restricted membership such as the ESB Staff Medical Provident Fund, St. Pauls Garda Medical Aid Society, Prison Officers Medical Aid Society, and others. There tends to be some delay in the availability of OECD figures. Accordingly, in order to come to a more recent estimate on a provisional basis the percentages referenced in the above OECD publication can be used together with the public funding provided for the Health Group of Votes, both current and capital, so as to estimate that the value of private expenditure on health care in 2009 may be in the region of €4 billion currently.

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

185 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive an appointment date for an outpatients clinic in the Midland Hospital, Portlaoise; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16266/09]

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

Nursing Home Closure.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

186 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received petitions and representations from the people of Carlow opposing the closure of a nursing home (details supplied); the action she has taken in response to these representations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16272/09]

I have received the petitions and representations referred to by the Deputy regarding the closure of a nursing home in Carlow. The Deputy will be aware that the Health Service Executive commissioned a review of elderly services within the Carlow-Kilkenny region, which included Bethany House. Following consideration of the review a decision was made on Tuesday 13 January 2009 by the HSE to relocate residents from Bethany House to alternative accommodation. This decision was approved as part of 2009 HSE South Service Plan.

During 2009 my Department has received and responded to various representations concerning this decision by the Executive to close Bethany House. In addition, on 20 March 2009 my Department received correspondence from the Clerk of the Joint Committee on Health and Children which included a copy of a petition calling on the Executive to review its decision to close Bethany House. Following receipt of this correspondence my Department was informed by the HSE that the last resident was relocated from Bethany House on Saturday 28 March 2009. The Executive confirmed that each person was relocated with their consent and that of a relative. On 31 March the Executive advised that it had followed up with all of the residents that were relocated and confirmed that they had all adjusted extremely well to their new surroundings.

Bethany House will continue to be used as a health care facility for the delivery of health care to the people of Carlow including some day services for the elderly.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

187 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork who is awaiting surgery will be treated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16273/09]

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.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

188 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of a medical card application by a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [16277/09]

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

Thomas Byrne

Question:

189 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of a medical card application by a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [16278/09]

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

Departmental Agencies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

190 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of proposals 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 contained within annex D of budget 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16288/09]

The primary aim of the programme of agency rationalisation within the health sector is to streamline service delivery, professional registration and policy making in a number of areas, through the integration and /or amalgamation of functions. The rationalisation programme involves a significant legislative programme and a considerable amount of work is ongoing in this area at present. In parallel, discussions with the agencies concerned is ongoing with a view to progressing the programme.

The Post Graduate Medical & Dental Board was successfully rationalised into the HSE on 1 January, 2009 as part of this programme. The following is a summary of the current position in respect of the legislative programme: The Second (Dail) stage of the Health Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2009 commenced on 2 April 2009. The Bill will facilitate the rationalisation of:

The National Council for Ageing & Older People;

The Women's Health Council;

The Drug Treatment Centre;

The Crisis Pregnancy Agency;

The National Cancer Screening Service.

The Health Information Bill will include provisions relating to Population Health Registries and those provisions will be of relevance to the incorporation of the functions of the National Cancer Registry into the HSE.

The draft general scheme of a new Nurses and Midwives Bill has been approved by Government for the drafting of the Bill. This will include provision for the dissolution of the National Council for Professional Development of Nursing & Midwifery and the incorporation of its functions into the HSE & Bord Altranais as appropriate.

The legislative changes required subsuming the Children Acts Advisory Board into the Office of the Minister for Health and Children will be put in place via the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2009.

The Health & Social Care Professionals Act, 2005 provides for the subsuming of the National Social Work Qualifications Board. Separate legislative provisions will have to be made for the dissolution of the Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) and the Opticians Board and their subsuming into the H&SCPC. This is currently under discussion in the context of finding the most appropriate fit for the various functions of PHECC and the Opticians Board, consistent with national health policy.

The amalgamation of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the Office of Tobacco Control and the Irish Medicines Board is a very complex undertaking requiring primary legislation for the dissolution of three statutory agencies and their establishment as one statutory Authority with an extensive range of powers and duties. Discussions will have to take place with a wide range of stake holders prior to the preparation of legislation.

Departmental Expenditure.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

191 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if she received or sought legal advice before attempting to abolish the training grant, living out allowance and paid lunch break for non-consultant hospital doctors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16289/09]

The implementation of cost containment measures for non-consultant hospital doctors is a matter for the Health Service Executive. I have therefore asked the Executive to investigate the matter and reply to the Deputy directly.

Health Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

192 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she plans to award moneys to allow hospitals on Dublin’s northside to involve patients, whose acute care is complete, to suitable convalescent or nursing home care who are not fit to discharge directly to their homes; and if her attention has been drawn to the fact that in some hospitals more than 13% of beds are occupied by delayed discharge patients. [16307/09]

I am aware that a significant percentage of acute hospital beds are currently occupied by patients whose discharge is delayed and that a number of major hospitals have recently made arrangements for the continuing care of patients outside of the hospital setting. The HSE has been requested to reply directly to the Deputy on the specific query raised.

Medical Cards.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

193 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6W is entitled to a medical card based on being married to a medical card holder who is over 70 years; if so, when this card will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16315/09]

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

Compensation Payments.

Michael McGrath

Question:

194 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of claims settled and compensation payments paid by the Health Service Executive, split by county, for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008, in respect of all claims against the health service; the procedure involved in settling claims; the nature of the clinical claims settled; and the consequences for individual clinicians responsible for any medical negligence leading to the settlements. [16321/09]

I have asked the State Claims Agency to compile the information requested by the Deputy and will arrange for it to be forwarded to him.

Child Care Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

195 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the 70,000 places required for the universal preschool programme will be provided; if there will be a substantial reliance on child care places provided for by the private sector; the percentage of the 70,000 places that will be provided for by public or community run child care facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16322/09]

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the implementation of the new scheme to provide a free PreSchool year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), which was announced recently by the Minister of Finance. The scheme will allow children to avail of a free play-school place in their preschool year, which will be provided for 3 hours per day, 5 days per week for 38 weeks. It will also allow children in their preschool year who are attending a full or part-time day day-care service to avail of a free session of 2 hours and 15 minutes per day, 5 days per week for 50 weeks. As the new scheme will be introduced from January next, the first full year will be from September 2010 and children availing of the scheme in January 2010 will have a reduced period of free preschool provision.

Participating children must, normally be aged between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months on the 1 September of each year. Exceptions will be allowed where children have special needs or it is necessary to accept children at an older age due to the enrolment policy of the local primary school. Participating services will receive capitation of €64.50 per week where children attend for 38 weeks, and €48.50 where they attend for 50 weeks of the year. Services will receive payments at the start of each term. Where the child is attending full-day or part-time child care, the service will be required to reduce the childcare fees by the amount of the capitation.

The scheme will be open to almost 5,000 private and voluntary preschool services and officials in my Office will be writing to these by the end of May 2009 to provide further details and to advise them of the application process. Approximately 80% of preschool services which are notified to the HSE are in the private commercial sector and 20% are community not for profit services. Preschool leaders will be expected to have a qualification in child care to FETAC level 5 or 6 qualifications, or equivalent or to be in the process of completing their qualification. All services will be required to provide an educational programme consistent with the principles of Síolta and appropriate to the age of participating children. A national team of Síolta co-ordinators will assist services in meeting these standards.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

196 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to her Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16333/09]

In 2007, seven Acts were approved by Dáil Eireann pertaining to my Department. These Acts are listed as follows. Those marked with an asterisk are the Acts which included provisions meeting or reflecting European Union requirements.

Health (Nursing Homes) (Amendment) Act 2007 Health Insurance (Amendment) Act 2007

Health Act 2007 Pharmacy Act 2007

Medical Practitioners Act 2007

Child Care (Amendment) Act 2007 Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2007.

To date in 2009 no legislation pertaining to my Department has been approved by Dáil Eireann. However, there are currently four Bills before the Oireachtas. These are:

Nursing Home Support Scheme Bill 2008

Adoption Bill 2008

Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008

Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009.

Health Services.

Michael Creed

Question:

197 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be given an appointment for orthodontic works; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16341/09]

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

Michael Creed

Question:

198 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the significant cut in funding by the Health Service Executive to a group (details supplied); if in view of the increased demand for their services she will review this reduction in funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16342/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

199 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the assistance that can be given towards the cost and availability of transport for a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath who has to travel monthly by bus to Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, for treatment on a non-malignant brain tumour and who has been informed that the monthly visits will have to continue indefinitely. [16344/09]

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

Emmet Stagg

Question:

200 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 447 of 24 March 2009, when funding will be decided upon in regard to the day placement of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [16369/09]

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.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

201 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children when a response will issue to Parliamentary Question No. 208 of 31 March 2009. [16370/09]

My Department has made inquiries of the Health Service Executive regarding the status of its reply to the Deputy's Parliamentary Question No. 208 of 31 March 2009 and the Executive reports that a reply issued to the Deputy on 20 April, 2009 in this matter.

Ambulance Service.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

202 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the controls which will be put in place, when the Kildare ambulance control centre is closed on 31 August 2009, to ensure that ambulances designated to cover Kildare on stand-by will not be rerouted by the central control centre to deal with requests in Dublin. [16371/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

203 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the last rheumatoid arthritis doctor’s contract was not renewed in Manorhamilton, County Leitrim; if the current doctor is a rheumatoid arthritis specialist; if not, if one will be appointed for Manorhamilton; if so, when they are expected to be appointed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16373/09]

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

Positive Ageing Strategy.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

204 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the national positive ageing strategy as committed to in the programme for Government 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16374/09]

The development of a National Positive Ageing Strategy is a key commitment for my Office. Considerable preparatory work has taken place and the Cross Departmental Group to assist in the preparation of the Strategy is in place. At the moment I am finalising my plans for the public consultation process to inform the Strategy, the details of which I will be announcing in the next week or so. In addition, the staff of the National Council on Ageing and Older People, which is being subsumed into the Department of Health and Children, will join the Office for Older People to support the preparation of the new strategy. The legislation to dissolve the Council, the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009, is now at Second Stage in the Dáil.

Health Services.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

205 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that adequate transparency was observed in the tendering process undergone by nursing homes for the winter initiative scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16375/09]

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

Hospital Staff.

Seán Connick

Question:

206 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Health and Children if the moratorium on recruitment in the public service applies to hospital consultants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16378/09]

Seán Connick

Question:

207 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Health and Children if the moratorium on recruitment in the public service applies to a position (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16379/09]

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

The Government decided that, with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010, no post in the health sector, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, nor may the payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade be made. The employment control framework specifically exempts Medical Consultants from the moratorium. In line with the new contractual arrangements agreed with Medical Consultants and to provide for a consultant-led service, the number of hospital consultants will be increased but there will be compensatory savings by suppressing Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor posts. I have asked the Health Service Executive to examine the specific post referred to by the Deputy and to reply directly to him.

Mental Health Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

208 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if the proceeds from the sale of psychiatric hospitals will be retained for the development of the mental health services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16386/09]

'A Vision for Change' the Report on the Expert Group on Mental Health recommended that a plan to bring about the closure of all psychiatric hospitals should be drawn up and implemented and that the resources released by these closures should be re-invested in the new mental health service infrastructure requirement. The Departments of Finance and Health and Children have agreed in principle to the release of the proceeds of the disposal of properties prior to 2006 for reinvestment in mental health capital development. The arrangements for property disposal require Department of Finance approval in each case, the lodging of the proceeds as Exchequer Extra Receipts and the re-Voting of the funds for approved projects. Disposals to date amount to over €42m and a submission detailing the projects to be funded from these disposals was received from the HSE on 12 February last. At a meeting between officials from my Department and the HSE to discuss the matter, it was agreed that the HSE would forward a revised submission to my Department and this is expected shortly.

Denis Naughten

Question:

209 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 521 of 27 January 2009, the number of such facilities inspected to date; the number to be inspected in the remaining part of 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16387/09]

The Inspectorate of Mental Health Services Business Plan for 2009 includes the inspection of twenty community facilities. Inspections for 2009 have recently commenced, however no community facilities have as yet been inspected this year.

Denis Naughten

Question:

210 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 328 of 8 July 2008, the position regarding the national review and associated issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16390/09]

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

Health Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

211 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will sanction additional home help support for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [16400/09]

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

Hospital Staff.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

212 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the effect of the recruitment ban in the Health Service Executive on the acute hospital services and community health services in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16406/09]

The Government decided to introduce a moratorium across the public service, with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010. This means that no post in the health sector, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, nor may the payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade be made. The HSE will be focusing on the redeployment of existing staff to assure frontline services are protected. It is seeking a high level of flexibility from staff and unions to achieve this. In addition, certain posts in the health sector may be filled, as outlined below. The employment control framework specifically exempts the following front line posts from the moratorium: Medical Consultants, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Clinical Psychologists, Behaviour Therapists, Counsellors, Social Workers, and Emergency Medical Technicians. The framework actually allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800 wtes) for the health sector.

In line with the new contractual arrangements agreed with Medical Consultants and to provide for a consultant-led service, the number of hospital consultants will be increased but there will be compensatory savings by suppressing Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor (NCHD) posts. The focus on these key grades is in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding has already been provided. The overall result will be to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care. As announced in Budget 2009, there will also be a 3% reduction in management and administrative grades in sections of the health sector. This will streamline management structures in the health service and will further reduce health employment in 2009.

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

Hospitals Building Programme.

Pat Breen

Question:

213 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will make funding available to refurbish facilities at a hospital (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16407/09]

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

Hospital Staff.

Richard Bruton

Question:

214 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if emergency staff will be subject to the recruitment freeze; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16414/09]

The Government decided to introduce a moratorium across the public service, with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010. This means that no post in the health sector, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, nor may the payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade be made. The HSE will be focusing on the redeployment of existing staff to assure frontline services are protected. It is seeking a high level of flexibility from staff and unions to achieve this. In addition, certain posts in the health sector may be filled, as outlined below. The employment control framework specifically exempts the following front line posts from the moratorium: Medical Consultants, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Clinical Psychologists, Behaviour Therapists, Counsellors, Social Workers, and Emergency Medical Technicians. The framework actually allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800 wtes) for the health sector.

In line with the new contractual arrangements agreed with Medical Consultants and to provide for a consultant-led service, the number of hospital consultants will be increased but there will be compensatory savings by suppressing Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor (NCHD) posts. The focus on these key grades is in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding has already been provided. The overall result will be to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care. As announced in Budget 2009, there will also be a 3% reduction in management and administrative grades in sections of the health sector. This will streamline management structures in the health service and will further reduce health employment in 2009.

Child Care Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

215 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the capital funding originally designated for each county child care committee in 2009; the capital spend in each case; the implications this will have for the new preschool scheme announced in the supplementary budget; the implications of the new preschool scheme on current funding for community child care facilities from January 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16417/09]

I wish to advise the Deputy that, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006 — 2010 (NCIP) which is implemented by my Office. As the Deputy will be aware, the finalisation of the latest portfolio of capital grant applications, under the NCIP, was delayed pending the introduction of the recent Supplementary Budget. Following decisions in the budget the capital allocation now available for 2009/2010 will be sufficient to meet existing capital grant commitments and will not provide for the approval of any additional grant applications. Pending a decision in this regard, indicative capital budgets in respect of 2009 had not issued to the City and County Childcare Committees.

The new Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme to provide a free-preschool year, which was announced in the Supplementary Budget and which will commence in January 2010, will be funded from resources re-directed from the Early Childcare Supplement (ECS) which is being abolished form the end of this year. This scheme will be open to some 5,000 existing preschool services and is not expected to be affected by the decision regarding additional capital grant applications. Funding amounting to €170 will be allocated to provide for the new ECCE scheme and will be additional to the funding provided for the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS). Services participating in the CCSS will also be eligible to apply for the new scheme and receive increased funding in 2010.

David Stanton

Question:

216 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding made available and due to be made available in 2009 through the national child care investment programme through capital and other types of grants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16515/09]

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006-2010. The NCIP was initially allocated capital funding of €378 million to cover a five year period up until the end of 2010. Capital expenditure in the region of €170 million has been provided to support child care developments in the private and community childcare sector since the programme was introduced in 2006. However, with the economic downturn and a resulting decrease in the numbers of children attending preschool services it is not proposed to approve any new capital grant applications this year or in 2010. The investment to date is expected to create more than 25,000 additional child care places.

Funding amounting to almost €160 million has been made available to support the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) which was introduced in January 2008 and will run until the end of 2010. Funding provided under this scheme amounted to €52 million in 2008 and is expected to increase to €56 million in 2009. This extra funding is necessary to provide for new services participating in the scheme and for additional parents using child care services. Funding of €1million has been provided to the County Childcare Committees for 2009 to support the National Childminding Initiative and a further €0.25 million has been allocated to the Parent and Toddler initiative under the programme.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

217 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [16519/09]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

218 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin. [16520/09]

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.

Question No. 219 answered with Question No. 162.

Hospital Services.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

220 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if antenatal classes will be provided for a person (details supplied) in County Cork at Cork University Maternity Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16528/09]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

221 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of places available in antenatal classes at Cork University Maternity Hospital; the number of applicants for such classes; the provision made to accommodate expectant mothers who are public patients in circumstances where there is no place available at CUMH; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16529/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 221 together.

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

Cancer Screening Programme.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

222 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether it is acceptable that general medical services patients are charged for the taking of cervical smears under the cervical cancer screening programme for women aged 25 to 60 years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16534/09]

The rollout of a national cervical screening programme is the most efficient population approach to preventing and controlling cervical cancer. CervicalCheck provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60 who are eligible for screening.

Women can arrange an appointment to have a smear test with a CervicalCheck registered smeartaker (doctor or practice nurse) of their choice at a convenient time and date. In general, women aged between 25 and 44 are advised to have a smear test every three years and if aged between 45 and 60, a smear test every five years is advised.

Details of registered smeartakers can be found at www.cervicalcheck.ie. There are 2,700 registered smeartakers listed on this website.

Cervical smear testing is not currently provided by GPs or family planning clinics under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme. However, where cervical smears form part of recognised protocols for the ongoing treatment of individual patient illnesses, they should be provided free of charge to eligible women under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme. Any necessary follow-up treatment is available to all women, including medical card holders, within the public hospital system.

If the Deputy wishes to provide additional information on this particular case, the matter can be referred to the Health Service Executive for further investigation.

Health Service Expenditure.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

223 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount the Health Service Executive south has paid to solicitors in legal fees; the number of solicitors employed for this sum; the amount paid to each individual solicitor and the percentage of this payment which was in respect of cases pursued involving the payment of hospital bills; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16536/09]

As this is an administrative matter appropriate to the HSE, it has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Mental Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

224 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she will take to provide accommodation for the 319 people with an intellectual disability currently living in psychiatric hospitals, despite stated policy that this is not appropriate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16558/09]

The discharge of clients with Intellectual Disability who are inappropriately placed in psychiatric hospitals is an important policy objective. 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.

Question No. 225 answered with Question No. 162.

Hospital Accommodation.

Richard Bruton

Question:

226 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds dedicated to the treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis and their location; the activity rate and occupation rate of these beds by patients with cystic fibrosis; and her plans to further develop the care facilities for such patients. [16580/09]

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. The Government has provided additional revenue funding of €6.78 million since 2006 to the Health Service Executive to develop cystic fibrosis services. The investment to date has facilitated the recruitment of some 48 additional staff, including consultants, nursing and allied health professionals across the country. A further €1.6m has been provided by the HSE in its 2009 Service Plan.

In addition, a number of significant capital developments are being progressed for cystic fibrosis patients throughout the country, including at St. Vincent's and Beaumont Hospitals.

My Department has asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy on the specific service issues raised.

Hospital Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

227 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received a report on the activities of the heart and lung transplant unit here; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that patients have to opt either to go on the Irish list or on the list for Newcastle-on-Tyne; the reason for requiring this restriction on choice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16581/09]

I have received the 2008 Annual Report of the Organ Procurement Service from Beaumont Hospital. This report outlines activity data for organ donation and organ transplantation in Ireland for 2008 for all solid organs, including hearts and lungs. Heart and lung donation and transplantation are particularly challenging. In 2008, there were eighty-one organ donors, from which ten hearts, seven single-lungs and one double-lung were retrieved for transplant. Four hearts and four single-lungs were transplanted into matching patients in Ireland. The other organs were sent overseas for transplant operations.

I am aware that patients have to opt to go on one transplant list. This is to ensure that potential organ recipients in Ireland and the United Kingdom are treated equally in terms of access to organs that become available so that one group is not disadvantaged compared to the other. As the details of the operation of the organ transplant list is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

In relation to organ donation and transplantation generally, my Department has published draft proposals to regulate organ donation and transplantation for public consultation. My Department, with the HSE, is also investigating other issues in the area of organ donation and transplantation with a view to improving the system.

Health Service Staff.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

228 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to deal with the understaffing that exists within the Health Service Executive department which deals with foster care in County Wexford in order that people who have expressed an interest in providing foster care are not left for months without a response; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16619/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

James Bannon

Question:

229 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford has been refused domiciliary care allowance in respect of their foster child to whom they are giving full-time care and attention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16620/09]

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.

James Bannon

Question:

230 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason promised capital grant funding of €744,000 to a group (details supplied) for new child care facilities is no longer available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16621/09]

As the Deputy is aware the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006 — 2010 is implemented by my Office with the assistance of Pobal, who manage the day to day operation of the programme.

As the Deputy may be aware, the finalisation of the latest portfolio of capital grant applications, under the NCIP, was delayed pending the introduction of the recent Supplementary Budget. Following decisions in the budget the capital allocation now available for 2009/2010 will meet existing capital grant commitments but will not be sufficient to allow for the approval of any additional grant applications. It is therefore not possible to approve the capital grant application for the group referred to by the Deputy at this time. A letter issued to the group on the 21st April advising them of this outcome.

Health Services.

Mary Upton

Question:

231 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children when the matter of payment of fees to chiropodists will be resolved; if her attention has been drawn to the problems that are being caused for elderly and diabetic patients due to the lack of decision in this matter; if she is satisfied that her Department is meeting the requirements of EU legislation in this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16632/09]

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

Nursing Home Subventions.

Mary Upton

Question:

232 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the support available to families whose relatives are in private nursing home facilities and where the nursing home resident has had, to date, sufficient savings to meet that cost but where those funds have been eroded; the options open to the nursing home resident and families of the resident in the absence of the fair deal legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16633/09]

The Nursing Home Subvention Scheme provides financial assistance to older people towards the cost of maintenance in a private nursing home.

The scheme is governed by the Health (Nursing Homes) (Amendment) Act, 2007. Under the Act, the maximum amount for basic subvention is €300 per week. The Act also provides for enhanced subvention to be paid. However, there is no maximum amount set for enhanced subvention. The amount paid is at the discretion of the HSE and will vary depending on the following criteria:

the assessed means of the applicant,

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

the amount of basic subvention payable,

the amount of resources available for the scheme,

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

In order to qualify for a subvention, an individual must be:

(a) sufficiently dependent to require maintenance in a nursing home, and

(b) unable to pay any or part of the cost of maintenance in the home. In order to determine this, they must undergo a means assessment which takes account of their income and assets.

The legislation provides for an individual's means to be reviewed. In addition, the HSE's National Guidelines for the Standardised Implementation of the Subvention Scheme state that an individual's means should be reviewed at least on an annual basis. This would take account of reductions in a person's income or level of savings. However, the Guidelines further state that reviews of means can be undertaken at any time, when the means of the client warrant a review.

At present, there are approximately 15,500 residents in private nursing homes. Of these, approximately 9,000 are in receipt of subvention. A further 3,000 are in "contracted" beds in private nursing homes. People in contract beds pay public nursing home charges and the State pays the balance of the cost.

Finally, a person may also apply to the HSE for a public long-term care bed. However, access to a public bed is subject to availability.

Commissions of Investigation.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

233 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to receive the Leas Cross report; if families will be given advanced copy of same; if it will be published in full; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16696/09]

The Final Report from the Commission of Investigation, established to investigate the management, operation and supervision of the former Leas Cross Nursing Home is due to be completed and submitted to me by 15th May, 2009. Before the report can be submitted, the Commissions of Investigation Act, 2004 requires that any person or persons identifiable from the report be shown the report, or relevant portions thereof, and be given an opportunity to comment or make submissions.

This Commission was established by the Government, under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, in the light of the gravity of the issues raised by previous reviews into this nursing home and the resultant public concern surrounding these matters generally. This Act provides that a Commissions's Final Report shall be published as soon as possible after submission to a specified Minister, subject to the other requirements of the Act. It was originally intended that the Final Report of this particular Commission would be published and I wish to re-iterate that this remains the position. Following receipt and consideration of the Final Report, I will then be in a position to determine the appropriate steps to be taken, including the issues raised by the Deputy, with a view to publishing the Report of the Commission at the earliest possible date.

Medical Cards.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

234 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be reached in respect of a medical card application for a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the reason for the delay in dealing with this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16708/09]

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

Nursing Home Subventions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

235 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if further assistance can or will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in relation to nursing home fees (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16792/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

236 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue to persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16793/09]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

237 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16794/09]

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

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

238 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the condition of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16800/09]

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.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

239 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17366/09]

Neither my Department or the HSE receive additional funding for incremental pay increases, including long service increments. My Department is expected to meet such costs if any, from within the overall pay allocation. The costs of increments, including long service increments will vary at any point in time depending on the length of service of existing staff and the replacement of those retiring or resigning from the Department. A similar situation applies to the HSE and the other agencies under my remit with no additional funding made available for such costs. The Executive and the agencies are required to address the issue from within their existing allocations. Accordingly the Department does not collect any information regarding incremental pay costs.

State Airports.

Pat Breen

Question:

240 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport the date in 1968 on which the red zones in the vicinity of Dublin Airport were designated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16145/09]

As set out in previous replies to the House, the present ‘red zones' were proposed in March 1968 by the then Department of Transport and Power, which was at that time responsible for functions currently carried out by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) (formerly Aer Rianta) and by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). The incorporation of the red zones into the local authorities' Development Plans was, and is, a matter for the local authorities.

Landing Rights.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

241 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport his views on recent proposals by the European Commission to temporarily freeze the EU’s 80% requirement rules on the use of landing slots at EU airports in order for an airline to maintain the slots from season to season in view of the difficulties in the airline sector; if he or his Department have made a submission to the European Commission on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16195/09]

Regulation (EC) No. 95/93, commonly referred to as the EU Slots Regulation, lays down rules for the allocation of take-off and landing ‘slots' at airports in the Community where capacity is constrained. The Commission has adopted a legislative proposal to amend the EU Slots Regulation to suspend the ‘use it or lose it' rule set out in the Regulation under which a carrier must use slots allocated to it for 80% of the time during the relevant season in order to be entitled to the same series of slots for the following season. The legislative proposal is subject to co-decision by the Council and the European Parliament is currently being discussed in both fora.

Following consultations with stakeholders in the aviation sector in Ireland, I consider that the adoption of the proposal would not be in the best interests of stakeholders in the aviation sector in Ireland. At Dublin Airport which is the only slot coordinated airport in the State, the proposal could increase the likelihood of some carriers withdrawing services for summer 2009 season as they would not face the consequences of losing the slots for summer 2010 season if they were not operated in summer 2009. The proposal could also negatively impact on Irish carriers growth plans, particular Ryanair and Aer Lingus services from bases outside of Ireland.

In the discussions to date on the proposal in the Council, Ireland has indicated that it is opposed in principle to the proposal on the basis that it could negatively impact on competition amongst carriers and on consumer choice and that it could also restrict the ability of airports to manage capacity in the most efficient manner.

Departmental Agencies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

242 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport the status of proposal number 14 in annex D of Budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16292/09]

Outline proposals for the amalgamation of the Air Accident Investigation Unit of the Department of Transport, the Railway Accident Investigation Unit of the Railway Safety Commission and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board are being prepared by officials of my Department.

When these proposals are sufficiently developed, I will bring the matter to Government as necessary.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

243 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to his Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16337/09]

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

Road Network.

Phil Hogan

Question:

244 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Transport the precise revised reductions in expenditure for non-national roads for each local authority area for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16385/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

255 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the reduction for each local authority in the State in the previous allocation for local and regional roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16701/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 and 255 together.

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads, in its area, is a statutory function of each individual local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants paid by my Department.

Following the Supplementary Budget of 7 April 2009, revised allocations were notified to local authorities on 14 April 2009, in respect of regional and local roads. The initial and the revised allocations are set out in the following Table.

2009 Initial Allocations

2009 Revised Allocations

County Councils

Carlow

7,503,699

5,196,199

Cavan

18,396,025

13,052,025

Clare

21,767,498

16,032,498

Cork

61,242,343

43,880,723

Donegal

38,392,397

28,664,397

Dunlaoghaire-Rathdown

8,711,699

6,109,699

Fingal

8,170,866

5,788,866

Galway

33,557,804

24,234,746

Kerry

24,361,139

17,985,097

Kildare

24,578,264

15,769,264

Kilkenny

15,396,813

11,373,699

Laois

12,453,928

9,045,928

Leitrim

12,622,699

8,960,699

Limerick

18,330,598

13,190,198

Longford

8,798,799

6,380,799

Louth

13,158,636

10,920,631

Mayo

30,351,746

22,316,746

Meath

21,312,473

16,566,473

Monaghan

17,018,199

12,445,199

North Tipperary

14,739,598

11,008,598

Offaly

11,351,699

8,180,699

Roscommon

17,847,265

13,118,265

Sligo

14,924,751

10,706,899

South Dublin

13,826,899

8,250,899

South Tipperary

15,029,998

10,762,998

Waterford

17,601,699

13,672,699

Westmeath

17,748,365

13,941,365

Wexford

17,744,046

12,784,498

Wicklow

23,878,820

20,603,820

City/Borough Councils

Cork

6,979,000

4,264,000

Dublin

18,325,656

12,682,450

Galway

3,805,000

1,674,000

Limerick

4,210,000

2,294,000

Waterford

5,170,000

2,289,000

Clonmel

721,740

488,903

Drogheda

644,000

405,000

Kilkenny

625,000

393,000

Sligo

2,225,000

1,993,000

Wexford

675,000

443,000

Town Councils

Arklow

287,000

177,000

Athlone

581,000

359,000

Athy

287,000

177,000

Ballina

287,000

177,000

Ballinasloe

287,000

177,000

Birr

287,000

177,000

Bray

624,000

385,000

Buncrana

287,000

177,000

Bundoran

204,000

126,000

Carlow

605,000

373,000

Carrickmacross

287,000

177,000

Carrick-On-Suir

287,000

177,000

Cashel

204,000

126,000

Castlebar

287,000

177,000

Castleblaney

204,000

126,000

Cavan

287,000

177,000

Ceannanus Mor

287,000

177,000

Clonakilty

287,000

177,000

Clones

204,000

126,000

Cobh

287,000

177,000

Dundalk

624,000

385,000

Dungarvan

287,000

177,000

Ennis

605,000

373,000

Enniscorthy

287,000

177,000

Fermoy

287,000

177,000

Killarney

287,000

177,000

Kilrush

204,000

126,000

Kinsale

287,000

177,000

Letterkenny

581,000

359,000

Listowel

287,000

177,000

Longford

287,000

177,000

Macroom

204,000

126,000

Mallow

287,000

177,000

Midleton

287,000

177,000

Monaghan

287,000

177,000

Naas

605,000

373,000

Navan

605,000

373,000

Nenagh

287,000

177,000

New Ross

287,000

177,000

Skibbereen

204,000

126,000

Templemore

204,000

126,000

Thurles

287,000

177,000

Tipperary

287,000

177,000

Tralee

605,000

373,000

Trim

287,000

177,000

Tullamore

287,000

177,000

Westport

287,000

177,000

Wicklow

287,000

177,000

Youghal

287,000

177,000

Denis Naughten

Question:

245 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport the steps that will be taken to address the funding issue for south Roscommon roads following his meeting with the National Roads Authority on 16 April 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16399/09]

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.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

246 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport the percentage of budget cuts planned for regional and non-national roads from the 2009 budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16522/09]

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads, in its area, is a statutory function of each individual local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants paid by my Department.

The Supplementary Budget of 7 April 2009 revised the road grant allocations originally notified to local authorities on 2 February 2009. That initial allocation has been reduced by 26%.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

247 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport the amount of funding allocated to non-national, regional and local roads in each county for each year from 2000 to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16523/09]

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads, in its area, is a statutory function of each individual local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants paid by my Department.

Regional and Local Road Grant allocations from 2000-2009 are set out in the following tables.

Table 1: Regional & Local Road Grant Allocations 2000-2004

2000 Allocation

2001 Allocation

2002 Allocation

2003 Allocation

2004 Allocation

County Council

Carlow

3,241,666

3,664,752

4,024,089

4,208,389

3,969,741

Cavan

12,370,943

14,156,146

15,554,708

15,439,921

15,659,376

Clare

12,790,872

14,560,787

15,988,519

15,718,621

16,799,620

Cork

30,009,692

34,706,670

37,546,826

36,554,163

38,510,640

Donegal

20,319,514

23,531,152

26,909,708

27,173,437

27,901,208

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

10,348,365

16,038,374

12,578,000

9,007,366

9,166,000

Fingal

4,710,560

7,473,678

9,916,076

9,288,000

12,821,954

Galway

19,217,562

22,151,926

24,083,665

24,940,326

24,959,334

Kerry

14,090,964

16,041,954

17,640,884

18,145,534

18,496,892

Kildare

11,916,509

25,119,282

21,180,925

15,207,097

18,486,215

Kilkenny

8,065,122

9,305,530

10,653,092

10,536,092

10,604,497

Laois

6,375,863

7,295,284

7,908,803

7,788,303

7,954,332

Leitrim

7,900,945

9,078,099

9,958,487

9,998,862

10,117,491

Limerick

12,040,519

13,647,964

14,741,492

16,224,892

16,880,350

Longford

5,581,324

6,421,838

7,156,680

7,056,879

7,234,891

Louth

4,877,572

5,583,623

6,221,884

6,337,859

6,199,055

Mayo

15,948,884

18,514,492

20,476,759

19,918,068

22,829,132

Meath

11,585,090

17,758,938

19,928,284

21,224,098

23,289,825

Monaghan

10,882,176

12,569,124

13,618,512

13,674,097

13,787,629

North Tipperary

7,324,814

8,381,926

9,110,002

9,098,072

9,407,733

Offaly

6,084,204

6,944,602

7,592,621

7,448,621

7,876,394

Roscommon

10,556,983

11,900,667

12,963,417

12,723,076

13,031,804

Sligo

7,653,956

8,819,089

9,532,110

9,956,755

10,154,111

South Dublin

5,723,979

7,235,488

12,143,177

14,498,904

20,667,760

South Tipperary

7,729,404

8,856,293

9,613,423

9,432,748

9,756,443

Waterford

7,221,153

8,868,360

9,317,562

9,650,734

10,500,595

Westmeath

6,006,369

6,840,063

7,547,835

7,319,835

7,617,161

Wexford

9,630,188

11,066,071

12,075,894

12,900,392

12,714,613

Wicklow

7,341,372

9,153,606

8,946,226

10,302,118

10,879,317

City/Borough Council

Cork

3,762,234

5,377,341

5,747,322

6,034,695

8,016,208

Dublin

19,470,164

21,190,077

19,836,758

14,929,000

11,547,837

Galway

2,412,502

2,180,977

2,682,000

2,758,015

1,822,000

Limerick

1,664,553

2,790,122

3,996,182

3,735,000

4,269,668

Waterford

2,134,624

2,698,193

4,619,482

6,707,000

10,637,072

Clonmel

552,336

690,738

488,000

508,000

775,000

Drogheda

495,198

469,803

548,670

568,500

570,000

Kilkenny

173,954

457,106

505,000

525,000

552,000

Sligo

606,935

897,705

1,065,000

1,150,000

1,105,000

Wexford

173,954

436,790

488,000

508,000

530,000

Town Council

Arklow

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Athlone

173,954

436,790

488,000

488,000

510,000

Athy

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Ballina

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Ballinasloe

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Birr

123,165

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Bray

379,652

469,803

522,000

522,000

550,000

Buncrana

123,165

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Bundoran

148,559

590,428

169,000

169,000

178,000

Carlow

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

532,000

Carrickmacross

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Carrick-on-Suir

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Cashel

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Castlebar

173,954

344,099

540,000

340,000

503,000

Castleblaney

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Cavan

123,165

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Clonakilty

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Clones

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Cobh

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Dundalk

379,652

469,803

522,000

522,000

550,000

Dungarvan

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Ennis

352,987

436,790

488,000

488,000

532,000

Enniscorthy

123,165

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Fermoy

123,165

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Kells

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

253,000

Killarney

427,902

534,560

390,000

240,000

253,000

Kilrush

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Kinsale

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Letterkenny

173,954

350,448

415,000

240,000

510,000

Listowel

377,112

406,316

232,500

189,000

178,000

Longford

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Macroom

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Mallow

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Midleton

123,165

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Monaghan

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Naas

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

532,000

Navan

123,165

217,125

240,000

240,000

532,000

Nenagh

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

New Ross

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Skibbereen

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Templemore

123,165

152,369

169,000

169,000

178,000

Thurles

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Tipperary

123,165

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Tralee

558,685

584,080

755,000

780,000

789,500

Trim

123,165

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Tullamore

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Westport

237,441

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Wicklow

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Youghal

173,954

217,125

240,000

240,000

253,000

Table 2: Regional & Local Road Grant Allocations 2005-2009

2005 Allocation

2006 Allocation

2007 Allocation

2008 Allocation

2009 Allocation*

County Council:

Carlow

6,102,486

7,178,227

7,667,071

7,714,650

5,196,199

Cavan

15,918,634

17,564,357

18,853,428

18,358,422

13,052,025

Clare

17,771,307

20,776,281

22,144,959

21,753,949

16,032,498

Cork

41,933,282

52,825,361

60,726,347

65,334,761

43,880,723

Donegal

28,298,562

39,005,923

44,595,166

43,118,931

28,664,397

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

8,901,296

9,205,000

14,841,650

9,384,150

6,109,699

Fingal

9,433,138

7,345,389

7,119,239

9,853,556

5,788,866

Galway

25,284,849

30,767,341

33,623,386

31,780,947

24,234,746

Kerry

19,055,022

23,161,906

25,250,677

24,328,557

17,985,097

Kildare

27,765,517

27,083,874

23,685,337

28,178,630

15,769,264

Kilkenny

11,056,629

13,414,112

15,131,887

15,120,272

11,373,699

Laois

8,626,569

10,622,428

12,935,313

12,659,467

9,045,928

Leitrim

10,609,518

12,606,066

13,375,901

12,617,525

8,960,699

Limerick

15,668,823

17,613,559

18,666,457

18,575,936

13,190,198

Longford

7,467,448

8,628,741

9,444,621

9,063,015

6,380,799

Louth

6,767,287

7,718,475

8,874,488

10,078,775

10,920,631

Mayo

22,033,841

28,062,577

31,625,821

30,435,187

22,316,746

Meath

29,513,483

29,913,888

29,653,934

28,402,945

16,566,473

Monaghan

14,008,038

15,804,200

17,006,610

17,094,626

12,445,199

North Tipperary

9,747,139

11,506,830

12,775,794

12,964,147

11,008,598

Offaly

8,610,161

14,322,051

11,563,685

11,483,649

8,180,699

Roscommon

13,361,089

16,002,409

17,938,263

18,514,628

13,118,265

Sligo

11,111,773

13,385,596

15,371,958

14,890,390

10,706,899

South Dublin

14,170,464

10,290,069

12,594,380

10,702,000

8,250,899

South Tipperary

10,660,265

13,187,054

14,662,008

15,016,875

10,762,998

Waterford

10,398,222

12,805,364

16,189,769

16,327,914

13,672,699

Westmeath

8,399,789

10,431,125

16,148,885

21,314,765

13,941,365

Wexford

14,445,997

16,733,657

17,576,319

17,742,026

12,784,498

Wicklow

12,593,413

18,378,522

20,147,558

23,983,866

20,603,820

City/Borough Council

Cork

6,570,037

7,360,000

7,797,795

7,544,000

4,264,000

Dublin

14,442,957

14,523,816

14,727,000

14,934,061

12,682,450

Galway

2,083,155

2,203,000

2,795,000

3,305,000

1,674,000

Limerick

4,258,846

4,220,122

5,590,655

4,150,000

2,294,000

Waterford

9,268,688

3,773,142

6,060,859

7,300,075

2,289,000

Clonmel

970,000

583,000

707,000

702,500

488,903

Drogheda

621,000

647,000

676,200

644,000

405,000

Kilkenny

566,000

607,000

625,000

625,000

393,000

Sligo

1,146,000

1,277,000

3,565,000

3,300,000

1,993,000

Wexford

545,000

583,000

673,250

715,000

443,000

Town Council

Arklow

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Athlone

525,000

563,000

581,000

581,000

359,000

Athy

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Ballina

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Ballinasloe

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Birr

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Bray

565,000

606,000

624,000

624,000

385,000

Buncrana

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Bundoran

183,000

197,000

204,000

204,000

126,000

Carlow

546,000

587,000

605,000

605,000

373,000

Carrickmacross

183,000

197,000

204,000

287,000

177,000

Carrick-on-Suir

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Cashel

183,000

197,000

204,000

204,000

126,000

Castlebar

460,000

379,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Castleblaney

183,000

197,000

204,000

204,000

126,000

Cavan

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Clonakilty

183,000

197,000

204,000

287,000

177,000

Clones

183,000

197,000

204,000

204,000

126,000

Cobh

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Dundalk

565,000

606,000

624,000

624,000

385,000

Dungarvan

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Ennis

546,000

587,000

605,000

605,000

373,000

Enniscorthy

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Fermoy

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Kells

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Killarney

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Kilrush

183,000

197,000

204,000

204,000

126,000

Kinsale

183,000

197,000

204,000

287,000

177,000

Letterkenny

525,000

563,000

581,000

581,000

359,000

Listowel

183,000

197,000

204,000

287,000

177,000

Longford

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Macroom

183,000

197,000

204,000

204,000

126,000

Mallow

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Midleton

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Monaghan

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Naas

546,000

587,000

605,000

605,000

373,000

Navan

546,000

587,000

605,000

605,000

373,000

Nenagh

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

New Ross

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Skibbereen

183,000

197,000

204,000

204,000

126,000

Templemore

183,000

197,000

204,000

204,000

126,000

Thurles

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Tipperary

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Tralee

821,000

587,000

605,000

605,000

373,000

Trim

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Tullamore

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Westport

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Wicklow

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

Youghal

260,000

279,000

287,000

287,000

177,000

*2009 Allocation following the Supplementary Budget of 7 April 2009.

Road Safety.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

248 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that vehicle owners receive a reminder by post or e-mail prior to their vehicle being due for a national car test; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16537/09]

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

Air Accident Investigations.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

249 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the new air accident investigation unit report into an incident (details supplied); if he is reviewing the staffing levels of air traffic control personnel in Dublin Airport and all national and regional airports at night in view of the AAIU report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16565/09]

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) of my Department has statutory responsibility for investigating aircraft accidents and serious incidents in the State under the Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of Accidents and Incidents) Regulations, 1997 (S.I. No. 205 of 1997).

The Chief Inspector submitted a report on this incident to me on 9th April. Three safety recommendations are made in the report including a recommendation that the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) examine the manning levels at the tower at Dublin airport at night and during periods of routine maintenance.

Under the Regulations, a national authority to whom a safety recommendation is addressed must submit a statement to the Chief Inspector, as soon as practicable after receiving the recommendation, indicating the corresponding preventative action taken or under consideration or the reasons why no action will be taken.

I understand that the IAA has recently advised the Chief Inspector that they accept the safety recommendation.

Traffic Management.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

250 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport his views on proposals to ban cars in Dublin city centre; the time frame he envisages for the introduction of a ban on cars in Dublin city centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16566/09]

Traffic management in Dublin City centre, including any proposal to ban cars in the city, is a matter for Dublin City Council, and I have no function in the implementation of such schemes.

However I fully support Dublin City Council in their efforts to improve the quality and reliability of public transport services through the implementation of bus priority measures, such as the College Green Bus Gate.

Departmental Investigations.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

251 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on his investigation into the granting of an international haulage licence to a convicted drug dealer; if he is reviewing his departmental structures and procedures for the granting of international haulage licences; if he is further reviewing, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, all international haulage licences that have been issued in view of this discovery; the contacts hehas had with An Garda Síochána on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16686/09]

I am in the process of reviewing all aspects of the decision to award a licence to the individual in question. I have already received a preliminary report on this matter, and a full report is being prepared for me. I have referred this matter to the Attorney General for advice regarding the legal issues involved. In the circumstances, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment on this matter at this moment in time.

Road Haulage Licences.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

252 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the number of national and international road haulage licences applied for in each year since 2003; the number of such applications refused; the reasons given; the number of licences which have not been renewed for each such year; the reasons given; the number of cases referred to the Garda for further checks; the outcome of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16698/09]

The table shows the total number of road haulage operator licences issued each year since 2003:

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

619

701

1373

1243

1368

954

The current licensing regime is based on EU legislation on access to the market and the profession. In general, only those who know that they will meet the criteria for obtaining a licence apply for such a licence. If an application is incomplete or does not clearly show that an applicant meets all the criteria to obtain a licence, then the application is returned and no licence issues.

If the applicant cannot subsequently correct the problems and clarify the issues raised, the licence application is refused. Such an applicant may not re-apply unless they can meet the eligibility criteria.

A road haulage licence is valid for a five year period. It is not renewable on a yearly basis. There are several reasons as to why a licence might not be renewed including the death of the operator, changed circumstances, failure to satisfy the legislative requirements, the business may have ceased trading or may have been sold.

Failure to renew a licence after a five year period is followed up by the section and referred to the appropriate authorities for further investigation where necessary, but no statistics are available on the total number of cases involved.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

253 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport if he has ever received complaints from inside or outside the State in relation to persons holding road haulage licences who had convictions; the number of such complaints received; the action taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16699/09]

A number of complaints have been received in the Road Transport Operator Licensing Unit of my Department. These complaints come from a variety of sources, including the Road Safety Authority and the Revenue Commissioners. However, it is not possible to indicate the exact number of complaints as this would involve an inspection of a substantial number of files over a number of years.

Some of the complaints received relate to licensed hauliers who may have a conviction, for example, in relation to green diesel offences.

Each complaint received is investigated by the section and enquires made with the appropriate authorities to check if the licence holder continues to comply with all the licensing requirements, including good repute, financial standing, professional competence, and vehicle documentation.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

254 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the number of persons prosecuted for not having a valid national or international road haulage licence for each year since 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16700/09]

The enforcement of road transport operator licensing legislation and any prosecutions arising for non compliance with the legislative requirements is a matter for the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána.

Question No. 255 answered with Question No. 244.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

256 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17370/09]

There are 166 civil servants in receipt of long service increments in my Department.

Long service increments are the last two pay points of the agreed pay scales. To progress to the first long service increment, an officer must complete three years satisfactory service on the previous point of the pay scale. To progress to the second long service increment, an officer must complete a further three years satisfactory service.

It is not possible to furnish the information in respect of the cost of the progression of the individuals concerned to their current long service increment within the time available. This information will be forwarded to the Deputy once compiled.

Irish Sign Language.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

257 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has been contacted by representatives of the approximately 5,000 people who use Irish sign language on a regular basis towards making the language into an officially recognised language; if so, if their request has been acted upon; and his position on the issue. [16150/09]

Representations seeking recognition of Irish sign language as an official language have been made on a number of occasions to my Department. The position is that the Government has no proposals to give recognition to Irish sign language as a third official language.

However, policy in the area of language for people with disabilities is reflected in the Education Act 1998 (learning through Irish Sign Language), the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (language assessment) and the Disability Act 2005 (Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information provided by Public Bodies).

Proposed Legislation.

Richard Bruton

Question:

258 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when it is proposed to put the National Property Services Regulatory Authority on a statutory footing and establish clearly all the powers, authorities and regulations which will govern its operation. [16571/09]

I expect that the Property Services (Regulation) Bill, which will put the Property Services Regulatory Authority on a statutory footing, will be published in the very near future.

Asylum Applications.

Noel Grealish

Question:

259 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of people living here awaiting a decision on asylum status; the cost of accommodating these people across the country; the breakdown of the nationality of these people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16131/09]

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

The number of asylum applicants awaiting a decision at first instance (ORAC) as at 31 March, 2009 was 1,013, of which 189 were on hands for over six months. The number of asylum applicants awaiting a decision at appeal stage (RAT) as at 31 March, 2009 was 3,325, of which 2,161 were on hands for over six months. A breakdown by nationality of asylum applications on hand at 31 March, 2009 is set out in the table.

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision and dispersal. The RIA currently operates 59 centres across 22 counties, accommodating 6,953 persons. Direct provision policy provides asylum seekers with full board accommodation and certain ancillary services while their applications for asylum are being processed. The outturn of the RIA for direct provision in 2008 was €91.4m.

The Deputy should be aware that the RIA also provides accommodation to persons whose asylum applications have been dealt with but who have made a request to the Minister for Leave to Remain in the State for other reasons.

Various efficiency and cost reduction measures are being implemented across INIS with a view to reducing the costs associated with asylum applications (including the cost of accommodation): implementation of the Government decision dated the 3 February, 2009 in relation to achieving an 8% reduction in spending on professional fees; engagement with contractors for asylum seeker accommodation to achieve an 8% reduction in RIA expenditure; commencement of Government agreed Value for Money (VFM) Review of spending by RIA on asylum seeker accommodation; implementation of strategies aimed at reducing asylum application numbers; establishment of ORAC Presenting Panel and an on-line system of access to Tribunal decisions, both of which are intended to speed up appeal hearings and reduce backlogs in the RAT; consolidating shared services related activities across INIS and redeploying resources to processing areas; and strategies aimed at reducing the delays and costs associated with Judicial Review proceedings, such as greater use of in-house training, expertise and precedents, resulting in less use of counsel; ongoing review of practices and procedures; and quality-proofing of decisions.

Table: Asylum applications on hand at first instance and appeal stage at 31 March 2009 by nationality

Nationality

No. of Cases on Hand

Nigeria

1,117

Pakistan

307

DR Congo

230

Somalia

191

Georgia

188

Zimbabwe

180

Iraq

157

Sudan

146

Afghanistan

113

Iran

101

Ghana

98

Albania

86

Cameroon

82

Angola

74

China

68

Algeria

67

Moldova

63

Uganda

60

Bangladesh

50

Kenya

46

Eritrea

44

Russia

43

Bhutan

42

Sierra Leone

39

Palestine

38

Guinea

37

Kosovo

37

Ivory Coast

35

South Africa

35

Ukraine

34

Togo

31

Liberia

30

Burundi

23

Malawi

23

Sri Lanka

23

Morocco

22

Belarus

20

Mauritius

19

Ethiopia

17

Croatia

16

India

16

Israel

16

Armenia

15

Congo

15

Rwanda

15

Kuwait

14

Nepal

14

Egypt

13

Niger

12

Syria

12

Brazil

11

Benin

10

Malaysia

10

Others

133

Total

4,338

Garda Deployment.

Tom Hayes

Question:

260 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a community garda will be appointed for Cashel, County Tipperary. [16132/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

261 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a community garda will be appointed for Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. [16133/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 260 and 261 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that according to the most recent figures available, there were 16 Gardaí attached to the Community Policing Unit in the Tipperary Division spread across the following stations:-

Tipperary

Sergeant

Garda

Total

Borrisokane

3

3

6

Clonmel

1

5

6

Cahir

0

1

1

Grangemockler

0

1

1

Tipperary

0

2

2

Total

4

12

16

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 the Garda Community Relations Section and it is intended that every District Officer throughout the country will take ownership of community policing within their area of responsibility. Community Policing personnel will be appointed to each Community Policing Area which is to be designated at local level in consultation with the National Community Policing Office.

Garda Stations.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

262 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide an undertaking that no one man rural garda station in County Waterford will be closed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16138/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

264 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Crusheen Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16177/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

265 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Lissycasey Garda Station, County Clare; his further views on the impact that this will have on the education which underpins the tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16178/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

266 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Quin Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16179/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

267 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Doonbeg Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16180/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

268 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Labasheeda Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16181/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

269 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Kilmihil Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16182/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

270 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Broadford Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16183/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

271 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Mountshannon Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16184/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

272 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Ballyvaughan Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16185/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

273 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Corofin Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16186/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

274 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding Inagh Garda Station, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16187/09]

Denis Naughten

Question:

292 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the discussions he has had to date with the Garda Commissioner on the closure of one member rural garda stations; his plans to discuss the matter with him and the issue of rural policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16416/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 262, 264 to 274, inclusive, and 292 together.

I am unaware of any proposal to shut rural garda stations.

The Garda Commissioner is currently preparing a long-term accommodation strategy for the Force. The strategy will seek to identify future Garda accommodation needs, taking into account anticipated policing demands. Any proposal by the Commissioner to close a station would by law have first to be included in the Garda Síochána's annual policing plan before approval by me and then laid before the Houses. The Commissioner recently stated that the Garda accommodation strategy is not targeted towards recommending the closure of Garda stations; rather it is about ensuring that Garda accommodation is safe, secure and fit for operational purpose to facilitate the ongoing delivery of the highest and most up-to-date standards of professional policing into the future.

On the question of rural policing, I was pleased to be present at the recent official opening of Ballymun Garda station when the Commissioner launched the National Model for Community Policing. This model is currently being implemented throughout the country.

Probation and Welfare Service.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

263 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans for a premises (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16174/09]

My Department, through the Probation Service, provides funding to over 50 voluntary bodies to assist with the management of adult offenders in the community and to add value to the core work of the Probation Service. The PACE organisation is one such facility which provides training and accommodation services for ex-offenders. In 2008, my Department through the Probation Service provided €1.5m to PACE.

I can confirm that my Department has not received any application from PACE for additional funds for the development of the premises the subject of this Parliamentary Question.

Question Nos. 264 to 274, inclusive, answered with Question No. 262.

Citizenship Applications.

Phil Hogan

Question:

275 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for naturalisation will be finalised for a person (details supplied) who applied in March 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16192/09]

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 March 2006.

Officials in that Division inform me that processing of the application is complete and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

Detention Centres.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

276 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number and location of all detention places for young offenders; the average monthly occupancy rate in each facility for the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the adequacy of the number of such places. [16203/09]

I assume the Deputy is referring to offenders under the age of 18 who are detained by Order of the Courts.

There are 5 places of detention for young offenders aged under 18 years of age in the State. There are 4 Children Detention Schools which come under the remit of the Irish Youth Justice Service, namely Oberstown Boys School, Oberstown Girls School and Trinity House School at Oberstown Campus, Lusk, Co. Dublin and Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre at Finglas, Dublin 11. Boys aged 16-17 years old are currently detained in St. Patrick's Institution, North Circular Road, Dublin 7, which is under the remit of the Irish Prison Service.

The certified maximum capacity and average monthly occupancy rate in 2008, (the latest period for which figures are readily available) in the 4 Children Detention Schools were as follows:

Children Detention School

Certified Capacity

Average Monthly Occupancy Rate for 2008

Oberstown Boys School

20 places

73%

Oberstown Girls School

12 places

31%

Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre

18 places

63%

Trinity House School

27 places

58%

St. Patrick's Institution is a closed medium security place of detention which houses males aged 16 to 21 years of age and has a bed capacity of 216. Juvenile offenders are defined as those aged 16 years but under 18 years of age.

The figures for the average monthly occupancy rate for this facility for the past twelve months are currently being compiled and will be provided to the Deputy as soon as they become available.

I am satisfied that the capacity of the facilities is adequate and meets the needs of the Courts.

Residency Permits.

Michael Noonan

Question:

277 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position of an application for residency in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16206/09]

The person concerned has been granted temporary Leave to Remain in the State for a one year period to 21 April 2010. This decision was conveyed to the person concerned by letter dated 21 April 2009.

Asylum Applications.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

278 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application for refugee status of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16219/09]

If an application for asylum has been made by the persons concerned, the Deputy should note that it is not the practice to comment in detail on individual asylum applications.

Bernard Allen

Question:

279 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [16303/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 29 June 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 10 November 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. 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 concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and, following consideration of this application, it was determined that the person concerned was not eligible for Subsidiary Protection in the State. The person concerned was notified of this decision by letter dated 12 May 2008.

The case file of the person concerned now falls to be considered in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended). All representations submitted, by and on behalf of the person concerned, 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 overall consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Bernard Allen

Question:

280 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on the application for residency on humanitarian grounds by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [16304/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 25 February 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 4 August 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned.

The person concerned initiated Judicial Proceedings in the High Court challenging the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in his case. The High Court refused the Judicial Review Leave Application with the consequence that the earlier decisions of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the Minister stood.

The case file of the person concerned now falls to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended). All representations submitted by and on behalf of the person concerned 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.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard Allen

Question:

281 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will revoke the deportation order on a person (details supplied). [16305/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 8 October 2003. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. The person concerned was notified of his entitlement to appeal this determination to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal but he did not do so.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 8 September 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 were submitted on behalf of the person concerned.

Following consideration of his case 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, a Deportation Order was signed in respect of the person concerned on 3 December 2004. Notice of this Order was served by registered letter dated 31 January 2005. This communication advised the person concerned of the legal requirement that he present himself at the Offices of the Garda National Immigration Bureau on a specified date in order to make travel arrangements for his deportation from the State.

The person concerned, through his legal representative, subsequently lodged an application for the revocation of his Deportation Order, pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 (11) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended). This application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the meantime, as a person subject of a valid Deportation Order, the person concerned must comply with all reporting requirements placed on him by the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

Prisoner Releases.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

282 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if day release will be granted to a person (details supplied) serving a prison sentence in Portlaoise Prison to enable them attend their child’s first holy communion on 9 May 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16309/09]

I am informed by the Irish Prison Service that this request has been refused. The person referred to by the Deputy was given a six year prison sentence (with two years suspended) for possession of drugs for the purposes of sale or supply and is not due to be released until late 2010.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

283 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to a residency application in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16310/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 1004 of Wednesday, 24 September 2008 and the written Reply to that Question.

The person concerned applied for asylum on 22 December 2004. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 21 March 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations 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:

284 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to an application for leave to remain here in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16311/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 29 September 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 November 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. 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 concerned initiated Judicial Proceedings in the High Court challenging the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in his case. The High Court refused the Judicial Review Leave Application with the consequence that the earlier decisions of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the Minister stood.

My Department has no record of an application for Subsidiary Protection having been submitted by or on behalf of the person concerned. Equally, my Department has no record of written representations in support of an application for Leave to Remain temporarily in the State having been submitted by or on behalf of the person concerned.

The case file of the person concerned now falls to be considered 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 file is passed to me for decision.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

285 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to an application for leave to remain here in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16312/09]

The person concerned has been granted temporary Leave to Remain in the State for a one year period to 21 April 2010. This decision was conveyed to the person concerned by letter dated 21 April 2009.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

286 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in respect of an appeal in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; if his attention has been drawn to the political situation in the homeland of the person and the threat to their well-being in the event of deportation; if full regard has been had for the appellants entitlements under international law in such situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16313/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 196 of Tuesday, 14 October 2008, and the written Reply to that Question.

The person concerned applied for asylum on 15 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 17 October 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations were submitted on behalf of the person concerned at that time.

By letter dated 20 February 2008, the person concerned 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 concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. The refoulement consideration will include a detailed assessment of the prevailing political and human rights situations in the country of origin of the person concerned. When this overall consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

287 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to his Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16334/09]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table:

Name of Act Passed

Wholly or mainly required by EU obligations

Partly required by EU obligations

Not required by EU obligations

2007

Courts and Court Officers (Amendment) Act 2007

Not required

Criminal Justice Act 2007

Not required

Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Act 2007

Not required

Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act 2007

Not required

Prisons Act 2007

Not required

2008

Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act 2008

Yes

Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008

Yes

Prison Development (Confirmation of Resolutions) Act 2008

Not required

Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008

Yes

Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008

Not required

Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008

Not required

2009

Legal Services Ombudsman Act 2009

Not required

Denis Naughten

Question:

288 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will publish the sale of alcohol Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16391/09]

The Government Legislation Programme published on 22 April provides for publication of the Sale of Alcohol Bill in 2009.

Denis Naughten

Question:

289 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will implement the regulations on the banning of below cost selling of alcohol in view of the recent EU approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16394/09]

The position is that the period during which the European Commission and Member States may raise questions or submit observations on the draft regulations has expired and no comments have been received. My Department is now proceeding with arrangements to finalise the regulations.

In the meantime, I have written to the Minister for Social Development in Northern Ireland, Ms Margaret Ritchie, MLA, suggesting the possibility of a joint North-South initiative to tackle alcohol promotions, especially the volume-based promotions which are designed to increase alcohol sales and which, in some cases at least, result in excessive consumption and various types of alcohol-related harm. I am of course conscious that the effectiveness of any actions taken here to restrict such promotions could be reduced if action is not taken on an island-wide basis. Some retail groups operate throughout the island and it would be desirable in my view to have a common approach to dealing with the problem.

Garda Deployment.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

290 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí in each station in County Louth by rank and location for each year since 2005 to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16410/09]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of the Garda stations in the newly formed Louth Division on the latest date for which figures are readily available, and in those stations in County Louth which prior to the formation of the Louth Division were in the Louth/Meath Division, on 31 December 2005 to 2008, was as set out in the following tables. It should be noted that a breakdown by rank is not readily available for 31 December 2005. The Deputy will also appreciate that the strength of any Division may fluctuate from time to time due to retirements, transfers, promotions etc.

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.

Louth Division — current strength based on latest available figures

District/Station

CR

DC

AC

CS

SU

INS

SG

GD

Total

Ardee

1

1

3

16

21

Castlebellingham

1

2

3

Collon

2

5

7

Louth

1

1

2

Clogherhead

1

3

4

Drogheda

1

1

3

14

86

105

Dunleer

1

3

4

Blackrock

1

4

5

Carlingford

1

3

4

Dromad

1

5

6

Dundalk

1

3

19

94

117

Hackballscross

2

8

10

Omeath

1

4

5

TOTAL

1

3

7

48

234

293

Louth Division 31 December 2005

District/Station

Total

Ardee

10

Castlebellingham

4

Collon

2

Louth

2

Clogherhead

1

Drogheda

93

Dunleer

4

Blackrock

5

Carlingford

3

Dromad

9

Dundalk

101

Hackballscross

12

Omeath

10

TOTAL

256

31 December 2006

District/Station

CR

DC

AC

CS

SU

INS

SG

GD

Total

Ardee

2

7

9

Castlebellingham

1

3

4

Collon

1

1

2

Louth

1

1

2

Clogherhead

1

1

2

Drogheda

1

1

1

12

78

93

Dunleer

1

3

4

Blackrock

1

4

5

Carlingford

1

2

3

Dromad

1

6

7

Dundalk

1

3

15

90

109

Hackballscross

2

9

11

Omeath

2

5

7

TOTAL

1

2

4

41

210

258

31 December 2007

District/Station

CR

DC

AC

CS

SU

INS

SG

GD

Total

Ardee

2

7

9

Castlebellingham

3

3

Collon

1

1

2

Louth

1

1

2

Clogherhead

2

2

Drogheda

1

1

3

13

79

97

Dunleer

1

3

4

Blackrock

1

3

4

Carlingford

1

2

3

Dromad

1

6

7

Dundalk

1

3

16

95

115

Hackballscross

2

9

11

Omeath

1

4

5

TOTAL

1

2

6

40

215

264

31 December 2008

District/Station

CR

DC

AC

CS

SU

INS

SG

GD

Total

Ardee

1

1

4

16

22

Castlebellingham

1

2

3

Collon

2

5

7

Louth

1

1

2

Clogherhead

1

3

4

Drogheda

1

1

3

14

85

104

Dunleer

1

3

4

Blackrock

1

4

5

Carlingford

1

3

4

Dromad

1

6

7

Dundalk

1

3

19

96

119

Hackballscross

2

8

10

Omeath

1

4

5

TOTAL

1

3

7

49

236

296

Garda Stations.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

291 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if improvement works have been planned for garda stations in County Louth; the nature of the works concerned; the cost of same; the expected completion date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16411/09]

The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána who work in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works, which has the responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that major refurbishment works were carried out to Ardee Garda Station in advance of it becoming a District Headquarters on 1st January 2009. I am also advised that various works including interior upgrade and improvements are planned this year for Drogheda, Carlingford, Dunleer and Dromad Garda stations at an estimated cost of €80,000. It is not possible, at this stage, to say when each of these works will be completed.

Question No. 292 answered with Question No. 262.

Garda Deployment.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

293 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on increasing the number of gardaí in the St. Johnston and Carrigans area of County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16555/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength of Carrigans Garda Station, which also covers the St. Johnston area, as of the latest date which figures are readily available, was 5. Carrigans Garda Station forms part of the Letterkenny Garda District and the personnel strength of that District was 194.

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

Residency Permits.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

294 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will expedite the processing of a long-term residency application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16562/09]

An application for long-term residency by the person referred to by the Deputy was made on 10/11/2008. Officials in the Long-Term Residency section of my Department have advised me that applications from July 2007 are currently being dealt with. In the interest of fairness, applications are processed in chronological order. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified.

Citizenship Applications.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

295 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an application for citizenship is being considered at present for a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the stage this application is at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16612/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in May 2008. That Division is currently commencing further processing of applications received in late 2007.

The average processing time from application to decision is now at 23 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average while an element of straight forward cases are now being dealt with in less than that time scale. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that the status of citizenship is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

The address that my Department holds on file is different from the current address provided by Deputy. Please note that it is the responsibility of the applicant to keep my Department informed of any change of address in writing.

Residency Permits.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

296 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a non-Irish national who has been living here for 11 years and whose parent has a right of residency and has Irish born siblings is entitled to an Irish passport; the criteria used to assess such eligibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16613/09]

In general, a person who is a national of another country has no entitlement to an Irish passport unless they apply for and are granted a certificate of Naturalisation following a period of reckonable residence in the State.

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. These conditions are that the applicant must be of full age; be of good character; have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the State amounting to four years; intend in good faith to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation; have made, either before a Judge of the District Court in open court or in such manner as the Minister for special reasons allows, a declaration in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.

In the context of naturalisation, certain periods of residence in the State are excluded. These include — periods of residence in respect of which an applicant does not have permission to remain in the State; periods granted for the purposes of study; periods granted for the purposes of seeking recognition as a refugee within the meaning of the Refugee Act, 1996. In the absence of further details relating to the specific case, the Deputy will appreciate that I am unable to provide a more detailed response.

Departmental Agencies.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

297 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the areas assigned to the 102 asset profilers working for the Criminal Assets Bureau; the breakdown by region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16614/09]

I have been informed by the Garda Authorities that the Criminal Assets Bureau is being actively utilised, in pursuance of its statutory remit, to identify and target the assets of persons suspected to derive directly or indirectly from criminal conduct. To achieve this objective the Criminal Assets Bureau utilises the services of Divisional Criminal Assets Profilers throughout the country.

Divisional Profilers have responsibility for providing a criminal asset profiling service in relation to persons or suspects operating within their division, with particular reference to those involved in drug dealing and serious criminal activity. They are making a valuable contribution to the Criminal Assets Bureau in pursuing its statutory remit, as well as ensuring that criminals are deprived of the proceeds of crime.

During the first Quarter of 2009 an additional 23 Gardaí received initial training as Divisional Profilers at the Garda College, Templemore, which increased the current complement of Garda asset profilers to 102, nationally, broken down as follows:

Region

No. of Profilers

DMR

26

North

21

South

14

East

14

West

11

South-East

15

National Support Services

1

In addition, a total of 13 personnel attached to the Revenue Commissioners have also participated in the training programme. The complement and allocation of Divisional Profilers will continue to be monitored and reviewed on an on-going basis.

Garda Stations.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

298 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when it is proposed to render safe the top floor in the garda station at Annagry, County Donegal in order to give access to toilet and bathroom facilities for the gardaí based there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16626/09]

The maintenance of Garda accommodation is based on priorities established by An Garda Síochána who work in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works, which has the responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that some upgrade works have recently been carried out at the station and that local Garda management are in contact with the Office of Public Works with a view to carrying out a survey to assess the need for possible remedial works.

Residency Permits.

Jack Wall

Question:

299 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a long-term residency application for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16644/09]

An application for long-term residency by the person referred to by the Deputy was made on 20/02/2008. Officials in the Long-Term Residency section of my Department have advised me that applications from July 2007 are currently being dealt with. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified.

Jack Wall

Question:

300 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for long-term residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16645/09]

An application for long-term residency by the person referred to by the Deputy was made on 20/02/2008. Officials in the Long-Term Residency Section of my Department have advised me that applications from July 2007 are currently being dealt with. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified.

Departmental Bodies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

301 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the activities of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism since it was established as an advisory board as announced within annex D of budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16709/09]

On 6 March, 2009, the chairperson of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) wrote to my predecessor on behalf of the Board of the NCCRI. In the course of that letter, the chairperson stated that that body is currently in the process of winding down. She also conveyed a number of recommendations on behalf of the Board regarding the need to continue to focus on addressing racism and promoting interculturalism. These recommendations will be borne in mind in the future work of my Office in this area.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

302 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the basis on which it was concluded that a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has failed to demonstrate current residency as a family dependant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16801/09]

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 674 for answer on 27 January 2009, in which the issues pertaining to the continuous residence in the State of the person in question were set out. Subsequent to that reply, the person concerned was invited to clarify the issue of his continuous residence on several occasions. The responses received from the person concerned did not address the issues raised to the satisfaction of my Department. In this regard I would refer the Deputy to my replies to Parliamentary Question No. 155 for answer on 12 March and Parliamentary Question No. 542 for answer on 24 March, 2009.

Subsequent to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 326 for answer on 31 March 2009, a response has been received to the letter referred to therein. That response is currently being assessed by the relevant officials. The representations made by the person concerned will be considered in the context of section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999, and he will be contacted directly and notified of any decisions made regarding his status in the State.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

303 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when naturalisation will be granted in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16802/09]

Applications for certificates of naturalisation from the individuals referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in August 2005. The applications were forwarded to me for decision and I decided to refuse same. Letters informing the persons concerned issued, via their solicitor, on 31 March 2009.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

304 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 385 of 22 April 2009, the status of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; the eligibility of the person for residency status in view of the fact that they are resident here on whatever basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16803/09]

As stated to the Deputy in the reply to Question Number 385 of 22 April 2009, if an asylum application for asylum has been made by the person in question, the Deputy will be aware that it is not the practice to comment on asylum applications that are pending.

Garda Recruitment.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

305 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí who are expected to retire in 2009; the duration of the moratorium on recruitment; the expected impact this will have on garda numbers in the next two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16805/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there were a total of 125 retirements during the period the 1 January 2009 to the 31 March 2009 and 111 of these were voluntary. A total of 72 members of An Garda Síochána have indicated their intention to retire during the month of April 2009, 57 during the month of May 2009; and 63 during the month of June 2009. It is not possible to predict with any certainty the number of retirements which will occur in the latter half of 2009.

The moratorium on recruitment to An Garda Síochána will apply for the duration of its application to the public service generally. The Deputy will be aware that there has been a very considerable increase in Garda resources in recent years, with the number of attested members rising from 10,968 at the end of 1997 to 11,895 at the end of 2002, to 13,755 at the end of 2007 and to 14,371 in the most recent figures. Even in this year of budgetary constraints, some 900 student Gardai will become attested which, taking into account projected retirements, will further increase the strength of the Force by the end of this year. These significant increases in Garda resources mean that the Force is well-placed to absorb the impact of budgetary constraints and to continue to provide a top-class policing service.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

306 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to those who have been successful in their application to join the Garda Síochána and have passed their physical and medical exam but are not in the current batch of 200 recruits who have commenced or are due to commence training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16806/09]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that 100 trainees have accepted invitations to commence training at the Garda College in May 2009. Currently An Garda Síochána is processing applications in respect of candidates who have been successful at the initial selection stages conducted by the Public Appointments Service. Following selection by the Public Appointments Service each applicant must undergo a Physical Competency Test, a Medical Examination and also Character Vetting. There are 56 candidates who have completed these final tests. Applicants successful at all three stages will remain on a panel and are available to be offered positions as Garda Trainees in a future intake.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

307 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17367/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 158 of 23 October 2008.

The specific information requested is not readily available in my Department and retrieving it from our systems would require a disproportionate investment of time and effort by my officials. It should be said that increments, including long service increments, are not a gratuitous bonus paid by the State to its employees. Salary scales that involve incremental credit, based on the number of years served, are common to the majority of employments. They are designed to reflect the fact that the contribution of employees increases as they become more experienced in their roles. They also provide an incentive for continued high performance, as each year's increment is awarded on the basis of performance in the previous year. The alternative to incremental progression would be a system which paid a considerably higher starting salary to employees, with no progression. It is unlikely that such a system would be either cheaper or more effective.

Finally, it is worth saying that long service increments were introduced in the public service, where they exist, as the local bargaining element of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW). Management and Unions agreed to the introduction of long service increments as an alternative to a flat rate increase that would have applied immediately to all staff. It is also worth noting that a Clerical Officer joining the Civil Service in 2009 would not receive their first long service increment until 2023 and their second long service increment until 2026.

Consular Services.

Tom Kitt

Question:

308 Deputy Tom Kitt asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the circumstances surrounding the death of a person (details supplied). [16156/09]

At the outset, I would like to inform the Deputy that my Department is in ongoing contact with the family of the Irish citizen who lost his life in such tragic circumstances in Bolivia. We have liaised with them in relation to securing the release and repatriation of his remains to Ireland and we are continuing to liaise with them on all aspects of his case.

As the Deputy will be aware, after hearing of this person's death, I immediately instructed the Irish Embassy in Argentina, which is also accredited to Bolivia, to send a diplomatic officer there to represent the Government and also to look after the concerns of the family. He initially travelled to Santa Cruz, where the death of the Irish citizen occurred, and then to the Bolivian capital, La Paz.

While in Santa Cruz, the Irish Embassy representative had extensive contact with local officials, who were helpful and cooperative. As a result, it was possible to secure the timely release of the remains and for arrangements to be put in place for the body to be repatriated to Ireland for burial.

The Embassy representative also had meetings with the Bolivian Vice President, the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Vice Minister of the Interior, the Investigating Attorney in charge of the case, and the Investigating Officer from the Anti –Crime Special Force (FELCE), who is in charge of the police investigation. He expressed the Government's concern at reports on the circumstances surrounding the death and enquired from the Bolivian authorities as to the steps they were taking to discover the facts of the case.

I have spoken and written to the Acting Foreign Minister Quintana emphasising our interest in protecting the consular rights of our citizens abroad and the duty of the Irish Government to seek the facts in a case where one of our citizens was killed in a violent incident by the security forces in another country. I made clear that the Irish Government had no involvement in or sympathy with any attempt to destabilise Bolivia or in any attempt to undermine the democratically elected President of a friendly State. Mr Quintana indicted that the Bolivian Government will provide the Irish authorities with all reports on the events in Santa Cruz and will cooperate fully in establishing the truth.

I have noted comments attributed to President Morales about a possible international panel to assist with the investigation. I believe that such a panel would add value to the investigative process and the Irish Government would be willing to participate, should the Bolivian Government decide on this course of action. I can assure the Deputy that this Department through our Embassy in Buenos Aires and the Consular Section will remain in direct contact with the family of the person referred to by him and will provide all possible consular assistance to them.

Passport Applications.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

309 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will issue a passport to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 who has been waiting since December 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16279/09]

The Passport Office has no record of an application from the person in question. An officer from my Department has been in touch with her to offer assistance with the urgent processing of a new application should this be required.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

310 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to his Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16332/09]

In 2007 Dáil Éireann passed the European Communities Bill 2006 which was subsequently enacted as the European Communities Act 2007. This Act was enacted to take account of two landmark Supreme Court judgments (Browne v AG and Kennedy v AG) which required changes to be made in the way Ireland transposes EU measures into domestic law. While the Act related to the European Union, it did not relate to any particular EU measure.

In 2007 Dáil Éireann passed the Passports Bill 2007 which was subsequently enacted as the Passport Act 2008. The Act provides a comprehensive legislative basis for the regulation and issuance of Irish passports by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The origin of this legislation was national.

In 2008 Dáil Éireann passed the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Bill 2008 which was subsequently enacted as the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Act 2008. The principal purpose of this Act is to make it a criminal offence — subject to certain exceptions — to use, develop, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile or transfer cluster munitions, explosive bomblets or anti-personnel mines, or to assist, encourage or induce any person to do so, and to provide for appropriate penalties, as required by the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. The Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted at a diplomatic conference hosted by the Government in Dublin in May 2008. This legislation did not originate from Ireland's membership of the EU.

The 28th Amendment of the Constitution Bill was passed by Dáil Éireann on 29 April 2008 and by Seanad Éireann on 7 May 2008. The Bill contained the text of the proposed amendments to the Constitution to allow the State to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon. The referendum took place on 12 June when the proposed amendment was not approved by the electorate. This legislation emanated from a treaty adopted by the Member States of the European Union. In 2009 to date, no legislation has been brought forward by my Department.

Human Rights Issues.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

311 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised with the Ambassador of Pakistan the issue of blasphemy laws which curtail freedom of speech within Pakistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16775/09]

I am concerned about a number of human rights issues in Pakistan, including the blasphemy laws. The blasphemy laws are designed to punish those judged to have engaged in derogatory behaviour towards Islam, such as insults to the Prophet Mohammed and the Qu'ran. As implemented, the laws can serve to interfere with the right of individuals to practise their religion freely and curtail freedom of speech within Pakistan.

The provisions in Pakistan's Penal Code which provide for a death sentence in certain blasphemy cases are also in breach of international standards on restricting the use of the death penalty to the most serious crimes. However, I am not aware of any cases of the death penalty having been imposed in cases involving blasphemy.

Human rights issues are raised with Pakistan in the context of our bilateral consultations with the Pakistani authorities, as well as at EU level. I shall seek to ensure that the issue of the blasphemy laws is included in future consultations. The subject was last raised in the bi-annual human rights demarche carried out by the EU Troika on 28 December which formed part of the human rights dialogue between the EU and Pakistan. On that occasion, the EU encouraged the Government of Pakistan to promote tolerance, to protect freedom of belief and freedom of expression effectively and to reform discriminatory legislation, in particular the blasphemy laws. EU Council Conclusions on 28 April and 8 December 2008 reaffirmed the importance of human rights in Pakistan as a central priority for the EU.

The blasphemy laws were also a subject of discussion during the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2008. Following the review, Pakistan undertook to introduce checks to regulate investigations into blasphemy and apostasy. Ireland, together with other EU Member States, actively participated in this review. The EU is carefully monitoring the progress that Pakistan is making on its commitment in this respect.

Combating religious intolerance has traditionally been a priority in Ireland's international policy in the field of human rights. Ireland has actively supported resolutions on the elimination of religious intolerance at the UN Human Rights Council and at the UN General Assembly, most recently co-sponsoring a resolution on the topic of discrimination based on religion or belief which was adopted at the tenth session of the UN Human Rights Council in March of this year.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

312 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17365/09]

The current authorised number of staff in the Department of Foreign Affairs is 1578. The following table sets out the number of staff in my Department who are in receipt of long service increments (LSIs), along with the associated cost.

Number of staff

Total annual cost

241

€633,400

A first long service increment (LSI 1) may be paid after three years' satisfactory service at the maximum point of the relevant salary scale. A second long service increment (LSI 2) is payable after six years' satisfactory service at the maximum point of the scale. The cost of a long service increment has been calculated as the difference between the maximum point and the relevant LSI point of the salary scale.

Departmental Expenditure.

Mary Upton

Question:

313 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the cutbacks introduced in the area of arts, sport and tourism under the supplementary budget on 7 April 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16368/09]

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Priority Parliamentary Question No. 76 of today's date.

The Supplementary Budget for 2009 was a necessary measure dictated by the current national and global economic position. The Government has taken and will continue to take whatever measures are necessary to restore and renew our economy. These measures include stabilising our public finances and supporting and stimulating economic confidence. Against this background, the Supplementary Budget was a proportionate contribution to ensuring that we are well positioned to take full advantage of a global upturn when it occurs.

It is fair to say that no sector of society can be immune, in some shape or form, from the turbulent economic conditions which we now face. Within my own remit, this applies to the arts, sport and tourism sectors. However, what I have achieved successfully is to minimise reductions in the core budgets of these sectors, in accordance with the Government's stated priority of protecting economic sectors that contribute to job creation, foreign revenue earnings and tax yield to the Exchequer. In this regard, the centrality of the role of the arts, sport and tourism sectors is recognised by their inclusion as key drivers of the economy in the Government's Smart Economy framework document, published last December.

Specifically, expenditure in relation to arts, culture and film has been reduced by €41 million from €221 million in 2008 to €180 million in 2009, a reduction of 18.5%. Within this, the reduction in current expenditure is just 6% while the reduction in capital expenditure is 42%. However, this latter figure is somewhat misleading as it primarily reflects the reduction in expenditure due to the successful completion of once-off major capital projects such as the landmark Wexford Festival Opera House and the Gate Theatre extension.

Expenditure in relation to sports, recreation services and the horse and greyhound racing industry has been reduced by €141 million from €336 million in 2008 to €195 million in 2009, a reduction of 42%. Again, however, the 2008 figure includes a once-off expenditure of €116 million in relation to the Lansdowne Road stadium project. When this sum is excluded, the reduction in relation to sport for 2009 is actually of the order of 11%. Expenditure in relation to tourism has been reduced by €16 million from €169 million in 2008 to €153 million in 2009, a reduction of 9.5%.

In summary, while I do not pretend that reductions of any magnitude are without consequence, the real rather than headline reductions in frontline allocations to the arts, sport and tourism sectors are, in fact, quite modest. They are of an order sufficient to ensure that the sectors will be successfully husbanded over the coming period, thereby retaining their essential vigour and vitality to see them through the prevailing difficult economic conditions.

Irish Language.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

314 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the funding allocated by his Department for the implementation of the 2009 to 2012 scheme for the implementation of the Official Languages Act 2003 in 2009; the level of funding which will be made available over the course of the duration of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16220/09]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

315 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the new services which will be introduced or the existing services which will be enhanced by his Department’s 2009 to 2012 scheme for the implementation of the Official Languages Act 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16221/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 314 and 315 together.

On 20 April last, I launched the Department's new scheme 2009-2012 pursuant to the Official Languages Act 2003. This scheme, the second successive one of its kind, commits the Department to the provision of a range of services in both Irish and English. In particular, the Department's new scheme continues the delivery of commitments to Irish language service provision made in its first scheme, for 2005-2008, and seeks to enhance the level of such provision over the period 2009-2012. These commitments include the maintenance of a bilingual corporate website; the provision in bilingual format of a range of corporate and policy documents, including guidelines, information leaflets and application forms; and the bilingual availability of services on an inter-personal basis in certain circumstances. Full details of the services to be made available bilingually are contained in the published scheme, available on the Department's website atwww.dast.gov.ie.

Because the implementation of the commitments in the scheme simply constitutes one component of mainstream service delivery to the Department's customers, in this case, to those customers who wish to deal with the Department through the medium of the Irish language, the Department does not maintain a separate funding allocation for Irish language service provision. Rather, the cost of such service provision is treated as part of the normal expenditure of the Department, although records are maintained of actual costs incurred.

It is not possible to estimate in advance these costs over the lifetime of the scheme, as they are dependent, in part, on the number of publications produced by the Department and the demand for Irish language services from customers.

Question No. 316 answered with Question No. 92.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

317 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the legislation approved by Dáil Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to his Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16324/09]

No primary legislation was so approved in the time period in question. On 9 April 2009, Dáil Éireann approved the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2009, which is secondary legislation of a purely national nature.

Departmental Expenditure.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

318 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the intended expenditure by his Department from the proceeds of the national lottery in 2009; the degree to which this corresponds with expenditure in previous years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16779/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

319 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the degree to which proposed expenditure by his Department in 2009 from the proceeds of the national lottery is in accordance with the criteria laid down initially for expenditure from this source; the way this compares with the pattern in the two previous years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16780/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 318 and 319 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the allocation of the proceeds of the National Lottery is a matter for the Minister for Finance. The elements of my Department's Vote which are part-funded by proceeds of the National Lottery are as follows:

Subhead C.1 — Grants for sporting bodies and for the provision of sports and recreational facilities under the Sports Capital Programme;

Subhead C.3 — Grant-in-Aid provided to the Irish Sports Council in respect of general assistance to sports organisations and expenditure in relation to sports activities; and

Subhead D.7 — Grant-in-Aid allocation provided to the Arts Council. Details of expenditure part-funded by proceeds of the National Lottery under these subheads in the last two years, together with the Revised Estimates allocations for 2009, are outlined in the table.

Sports Capital Programme

Irish Sports Council

Arts Council

Totals

2007

63,724,000

54,025,000

83,000,000

200,749,000

2008

60,137,000

57,182,000

81,620,000

198,939,000

2009

56,000,000

51,689,000

73,350,000

181,039,000

It can be seen, therefore, that there has been no change in the number or scope of subheads within my Department that are part-funded by the proceeds of the National Lottery.

Sports Capital Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

320 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the level of expenditure proposed in respect of specific major sporting or recreational projects throughout the country in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16781/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

321 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the extent to which major or minor sporting or recreational facilities have been funded in the past or are expected to be funded in the future from sources other than the proceeds of the national lottery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16782/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

328 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the degree to which he proposes to offer financial support towards the provision of sporting or recreational facilities of a major or minor nature throughout County Kildare in 2009; the way this compares with 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16790/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 320, 321 and 328 together.

Under the Sports Capital Programme, which is administered by my Department and part funded from the proceeds of the National Lottery, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Since 1998, over €725 million has been allocated to over 7,400 projects across the country.

€56 million has been provided in my Department's vote in the 2009 Estimates to cover payments to be made from the C1 subhead, out of which grants are paid for the provision of sports and recreation facilities. The proportion of this funding that is from the proceeds of the National Lottery is a matter for the Minister for Finance. This money will be paid out to grantees that have been allocated funding under previous rounds of the Programme including clubs located in county Kildare.

No decision has been taken on the timing of the next round of the Programme. Under the 2008 Sports Capital Programme, 21 projects in Kildare were allocated €1,366,500.

Arts Funding.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

322 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the degree to which funding from the proceeds of the national lottery can be diverted or are expected to be diverted towards the grant aiding of various bodies, groups or agencies involved in the promotion or development of the arts at local and community level throughout the country. [16783/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

323 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he intends by way of policy directive to groups, bodies or others under the aegis of his Department to encourage or promote the arts specifically at local level with particular reference to such local groups that have heretofore not been recognised and are eligible for support under existing criterion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16784/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

329 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the extent to which he proposes to offer grant aid or other assistance to community-based groups throughout County Kildare involved in the development or promotion of the arts with particular reference to those groups who have to date failed to qualify under existing criterions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16791/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 322, 323 and 329 together.

As I outlined in my reply of 28th January, 2009 last to Question No. 2407/09 Government Policy on the Arts is set out in the Programme for Government and is elaborated further in my Department's Statement of Strategy.

My policy on the arts is to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, increase access to and participation in the arts, and make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life.

Responsibility for the promotion of the arts at all levels throughout the country is primarily devolved to the Arts Council. The Arts Council is the principal agency through which State funding is channelled to the arts, a proportion of which is sourced from National Lottery funds and which is used for the purposes, inter alia, of grant aiding of various bodies, groups or agencies involved in the promotion or development of the arts at local and community level throughout the country.

Under the Arts Act, 2003, the general functions of the Council include the following: to stimulate public interest in the arts; to promote knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts; to assist in improving standards in the arts. The Arts Council is a statutorily independent body, funded by my Department and independent in its day-to-day operations, including in relation to its funding decisions.

My Department has taken a direct role in relation to the provision of grant-aid for arts and culture infrastructure and has allocated over €150m in funding for the capital development of facilities around the country in recent years. A total of €108m of this was drawn down by the end of 2008. The table attached to this reply outlines expenditure on capital arts projects since 2004.

The Arts Capital Programme is designed to assist in the provision of high standard arts and culture infrastructural projects thereby enhancing access to the arts throughout the country. Under the scheme facilities funded to date include theatres, integrated arts centres, galleries, art studios and other arts production and performance spaces. 120 projects across the country have been assisted under the scheme. Many of these were community based arts groups. The programme has been widely acknowledged as a significant intervention in the provision of high quality arts and culture infrastructure around the country.

Questions Nos. 324 to 327, inclusive, answered with Question No. 82.
Question No. 328 answered with Question No. 320.
Question No. 329 answered with Question No. 322.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

330 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17358/09]

There are currently 37 staff in my Department in receipt of long service increments. The estimated cost per annum of these long service increments is €126,000. In those particular payscales where long service increments are payable, such increments are paid after 3 and 6 years satisfactory service at the maximum of the scales.

Security of the Elderly.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

331 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reason the community support to older people has been discontinued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16157/09]

The Scheme of Community Support for Older People was suspended on 7th April. This was done with a view to affording my Department the opportunity to review its operation over the next few months and re-launching it later in the year.

Last week, I met with representatives of organisations involved with issues affecting older people and I have agreed with them a process that will set the broad parameters for the review and for the necessary consultation to be undertaken as part of it. I am hopeful that the review process can begin in May and be completed by mid September.

I would like to re-assure the Deputies that all applications received up to the suspension of the Scheme will be processed and approved, as appropriate, in line with the current eligibility criteria. In addition, it is important to note that the suspension of the Scheme in no way affects those who already have received a monitored alarm device.

Community Development.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

332 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the application for the funding of a community development project in a RAPID area (details supplied); and if he will support the project. [16230/09]

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

335 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has considered an application for inclusion in the community development project programme (details supplied); if funding will be secured for this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16549/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 332 and 335 together.

The Community Development Programme was closed to new applicants following a government decision in 2004. Should the programme re-open to new groups, communities in RAPID areas would receive priority consideration for inclusion. In the meantime, I have asked my officials to examine the existing resources within the locality with a view to maximising their impact in the relevant RAPID area.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

333 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to his Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16326/09]

In the years to which the Deputy refers, Dáil Éireann approved the following legislation pertaining to my Department: Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2007 on 3rd July 2007; Charities Act 2009 on 11th February 2009. I can confirm for the Deputy that these were purely national legislation.

Security of the Elderly.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

334 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when grant approval under the community support for older people will be approved for a group (details supplied) in County Waterford. [16338/09]

An incomplete application was received from the group referred to by the Deputy in mid 2008. Documentation in respect of the expenditure of the previous grant awarded to this group in 2006 was not supplied with the new application, as required under the criteria for the Scheme.

Officials in my Department have been in contact with this group on several occasions requesting this further information. To date, the required information has not been received. A further reminder letter issued recently and upon receipt of the necessary documentation, the application will be processed and funding will be provided, in accordance with the payment guidelines attaching to the Scheme.

Question No. 335 answered with Question No. 332.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

336 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of applications received for funding for the community support for older people scheme in County Louth for each year since 2005 to date in 2009; the number of applications received by location and by security item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16550/09]

The purpose of the Scheme of Community Support for Older People, which was suspended on 7th April last, was to encourage and assist the community's support for older people by means of a community based grant scheme to improve the security of its older members. Funding under the Scheme was provided for door-locks, door-chains and window locks; for security lighting; for smoke alarms and for the once-off cost of installing socially monitored personal alarms.

It is my intention to review the Scheme over the next few months and re-launch it later in the year. In this context, I recently met with representatives of organisations involved with issues affecting older people and I have agreed with them a process that will set the broad parameters for the review and for the necessary consultation to be undertaken as part of it. I am hopeful that the review process can begin in May and be completed by mid September.

All applications received up to the suspension of the Scheme will be processed and approved, as appropriate, in line with the current eligibility criteria. Details of applications received and approved under the Scheme in County Louth for each year since 2005 to date are set out in the following table:

Year

Group

Address

No of applications

Monitored Alarm Number of Recipients

Additional Pendant

Security Lighting

Smoke Alarms

Locks etc

2009

Drogheda Senior Citizens Interest Group

Drogheda

1

53

8

0

0

0

Dundalk Social Service Council

Dundalk

1

1

0

0

0

0

Knockbridge Community Alert

Dundalk

1

26

2

23

14

19

Omeath District Development

Omeath

1

15

4

0

0

0

TOTAL

4

95

14

23

14

19

2008

Carlingford Community Alert

Carlingford

2

14

0

0

0

0

Cooley Community Alert

Carlingford

1

16

6

14

14

18

Drogheda Community Services

Drogheda

2

29

0

0

0

0

Drogheda Senior Citizens Interest Group

Drogheda

3

115

13

0

0

0

Dundalk Active Retirement Group

Dundalk

1

3

0

0

0

0

Dundalk Social Services Council

Dundalk

1

1

0

0

0

0

Glenmore Castletowncooley CA

Dundalk

1

3

0

0

0

0

Kilsavan Castlebellingham Comm Alert

Kilsavan

1

26

0

26

26

26

Ravensdale & District Community Alert

Ravensdale

1

9

2

5

2

2

SVDP Blackrock

Dundalk

1

12

0

0

0

0

SVDP Dundalk

Dundalk

4

83

0

0

0

0

SVDP St Marys Conference

Ardee

1

7

2

1

0

1

Togher Community Project Group Ltd

Dunleer

1

3

1

3

1

4

Womens Lifestyle Development Group Ltd

Drogheda

1

28

2

27

27

27

TOTAL

21

349

26

76

70

78

Year

Group

Address

No of applications

Monitored Alarm Number of Recipients

Additional Pendant

Security Lighting

Smoke Alarms

Locks etc

2007

Drogheda Community Services

Drogheda

2

27

0

0

0

0

Drogheda Senior Citizens Group

Drogheda

3

43

0

0

0

0

Dundalk Active Retired Association

Dundalk

1

4

0

0

0

0

Haggardstown & Dublin Road Community Alert

Haggardstown

2

14

4

9

6

11

SVDP Blackrock

Dundalk

1

11

0

1

0

0

SVDP Dundalk

Dundalk

1

14

0

0

0

0

Togher Community Project Group

Dunleer

1

26

2

2

2

4

TOTAL

11

139

6

12

8

15

2006

Drogheda Community Services

Drogheda

2

38

0

0

0

0

Drogheda Senior Citizens Group

Drogheda

1

59

0

0

0

0

Dundalk Social Service Council

Dundalk

3

5

0

1

0

0

Knockbridge Community Alert

Dundalk

1

4

0

0

0

0

Monasterboice Community Alert

Monasterboice

2

12

0

7

21

2

SVDP Blackrock

Dundalk

1

9

0

0

0

0

SVDP Dundalk

Dundalk

4

80

0

0

0

0

Tallanstown SVDP

Ardee

1

6

0

1

0

0

TOTAL

15

213

0

9

21

2

2005

Drogheda Community Services

Drogheda

1

28

0

0

0

0

Drogheda Senior Citizens Group

Drogheda

1

45

0

0

0

0

Dundalk Active Retirement Group

Dundalk

3

0

0

0

0

0

Monasterboice Community Alert

Monasterboice

1

9

0

0

0

0

Omeath District Development

Omeath

1

4

0

4

4

4

Seatown Neighbourhood Watch Committee

Dundalk

1

27

0

28

9

33

SVDP — St Marys Conference

Ardee

1

5

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

9

118

0

32

13

37

Scéimeanna Feabhsúcháin Bóithre.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

337 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Kathleen Lynch den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an gceadófar deontas chun obair feabhsúcháin a dhéanamh i mbliana ar bhóthar áise ar Oileán Árainn Mhór, Contae Dhún na nGall; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [16628/09]

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an bhfreagra a thug mé ar Cheist Dála Uimh 525 ar 22 Aibreán 2009.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

338 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Kathleen Lynch den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil réiteach déanta go fóill maidir le cead a thabhairt tosú ar obair feabhsúcháin ar bhóthar áise i gContae Dhún na nGall ar cheadaigh an tAire deontas ina leith i mí na Bealtaine, 2008; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [16629/09]

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an bhfreagra a thug mé ar Cheist Dála Uimh 628 ar 24 Márta 2009. Tá an próiseas a luaitear ansin fós idir lámha. Tuigeann an Teachta, ar ndóigh, na dúshláin atá ann don Státchiste i láthair na huaire agus nach mór do mo Roinnse a bheith in ann a chinntiú go bhfaightear luach fiúntach ar aon chaiteachas a dhéantar.

Rural Development.

Michael Ring

Question:

339 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if a category (details supplied) is included in the criteria for the new funding for groups which was announced. [16703/09]

Axes 3 & 4 of the Rural Development Programme Ireland 2007–13 provides a range of funding measures to support rural communities and the rural economy. These measures are being implemented in accordance with the LEADER bottom-up approach to rural development by Local Action Groups all over the country.

Direct support for tourism activities is provided through the Encouragement of Tourism Activities measure, with in excess of €45m available for such investment in rural areas during the Programming period. Funding is also available to members of farm households under the Diversification into Non-agricultural Activities for the provision of tourism facilities for such as walking, cycling, angling, pony trekking and for the development of niche tourism products such as arts and crafts, speciality food provision and open farms. Total funding of €16.66m is available under this measure.

Irish Sign Language.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

340 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals to recognise Irish sign language as a third official language (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16711/09]

I have no function in relation to languages other than in relation to the Irish language, and Ulster-Scots as provided for in the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999.

I can, however, inform the Deputy that Irish Sign Language has formal recognition under the Education Act 1998. Details of the functions and services that flow from that provision were set out by the Minister for Education and Science in reply to a Parliamentary Question (Ref: 8515/07) on 6 March 2007.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

341 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17360/09]

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

Social Welfare Benefits.

Noel Grealish

Question:

342 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of non-Irish nationals in receipt of rent allowance through the Health Service Executive; the cost of same to the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16129/09]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes rent supplement, is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive. There are currently over 84,760 recipients of rent supplement of which 29,800 recipients are non Irish. The weekly cost of rent supplement for non Irish recipients is €3.8 million.

Noel Grealish

Question:

343 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of non-Irish nationals in receipt of social welfare payments; the breakdown of these social welfare payments; the number of each nationality receiving these payments; the amount being paid for qualified adults and dependent children; the cost to the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16128/09]

Any person who satisfies all the conditions for a particular social welfare scheme is entitled to that payment regardless of their nationality. The Department does not maintain statistics on the nationality of the recipient as nationality is not a determinant of eligibility. Statistical data on the Live Register is compiled and published by the Central Statistics Office. A table taken from their website is provided. This data is sourced from information collected on the nationality of claimants when they first sign on the Live Register. The totals include people who are not in receipt of a payment as well as people who are in receipt of a payment.

Persons on the Live Register classified by nationality

Nationality

Non-Irish Nationals

UK

EU15 excl. Irl. & UK

Accession states EU15 to EU27

Other

Non-Irish Nationals

Irish Nationals

Total Persons

2007

February

7,569

1,527

4,696

5,890

19,682

139,717

159,399

March

7,483

1,447

5,242

5,678

19,850

136,019

155,869

April

7,401

1,458

5,386

5,593

19,838

134,481

154,319

May

7,367

1,462

5,506

5,743

20,078

133,932

154,010

June

7,841

1,567

5,860

6,453

21,721

144,642

166,363

July

8,137

1,614

6,139

6,601

22,491

152,103

174,594

August

8,246

1,640

6,544

6,627

23,057

151,149

174,206

September

7,732

1,497

6,326

5,902

21,457

138,994

160,451

October

7,612

1,473

6,542

5,408

21,035

136,414

157,449

November

7,851

1,516

7,433

5,439

22,239

139,483

161,722

December

8,150

1,610

7,934

5,540

23,234

147,142

170,376

2008

January

8,756

1,759

10,064

5,909

26,488

154,961

181,449

February

9,073

1,858

12,545

6,247

29,723

159,762

189,485

March

9,349

1,959

13,403

6,408

31,119

166,873

197,992

April

9,401

1,921

14,166

6,483

31,971

163,627

195,598

May

9,600

1,945

14,738

6,996

33,279

168,477

201,756

June

10,268

2,146

15,623

7,831

35,868

184,943

220,811

July

10,969

2,327

16,953

8,215

38,464

199,776

238,240

August

11,426

2,446

18,581

8,648

41,101

206,283

247,384

September

11,186

2,419

19,381

8,228

41,214

199,003

240,217

October

11,584

2,654

22,285

8,077

44,600

207,351

251,951

November

12,372

2,902

26,089

8,513

49,876

218,710

268,586

December

13,279

3,211

28,950

9,015

54,455

236,908

291,363

2009

January

14,807

3,651

35,826

10,050

64,334

263,527

327,861

February

15,707

4,052

41,057

10,900

71,716

282,721

354,437

March

16,299

4,245

43,559

11,510

75,613

295,658

371,271

Social Welfare Code.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

344 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the anomaly whereby a cohabiting couple are treated as a single household for social welfare eligibility purposes, yet for Revenue Commissioner purposes they are treated as two individuals and may not benefit from each other’s tax credits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16140/09]

The social welfare and tax systems have evolved over time and in response to a variety of factors, including Constitutional imperatives as interpreted by the Courts, changing social trends and EU Directives. The EEC Equality Directive 79/9 and the subsequent Supreme Court case (Hyland v Minister for Social Welfare, 1989) led to the change in the treatment of non-married cohabiting couples in the social welfare code. The Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the total income a married couple received in social welfare benefits to be less than the couple would have received if they were unmarried and cohabiting. Accordingly, there was a constitutional imperative for the social welfare code to treat married and cohabiting couples in a similar manner. The income tax arrangements for cohabiting couples are a matter for the Minister for Finance.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

345 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved and awarded one parent family allowance. [16162/09]

The person concerned applied for a one-parent family payment on 5 February, 2009. Her claim is currently with a Social Welfare Inspector for investigation of her circumstances. The inspector has made efforts to contact her on two occasions to date. On completion of enquiries, a decision will be made as soon as possible and she will be notified of the outcome.

Under Social Welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by Deciding Officers and Appeals Officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

346 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person would be eligible to apply for carer’s benefit if they were to take the three year career break from the public service as announced in the 7 April 2009 budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16201/09]

In the recent supplementary Budget on 7 April 2009, the Minister for Finance announced the ‘Special Civil Service Incentive Career Break Scheme'. This scheme will allow civil servants who take a career break for 3 years to be paid an incentive payment of 33% of gross pay to a maximum of €12,500 per year. The career break may be allowed for family reasons, other domestic purposes (e.g. care of a relative), travel abroad, self-employment and educational purposes.

However, the circular from the Department of Finance setting out the specific terms for this career break scheme has not been finalized and I am not in a position to make a definitive judgment on eligibility for carer's benefit at this time. My officials will revert to the Deputy in writing on the issue of eligibility for carer's benefit as soon as possible.

National Carers Strategy.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

347 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the alternative strategy for the support of carers being proposed; and if he has decided not to publish the national carers strategy. [16248/09]

My strategy is to continue providing the greatly improved level of services and supports for carer's which this Government has introduced over the past decade.

During that time weekly payment rates to carers have greatly increased, qualifying conditions for carer's allowance have significantly eased, coverage of the scheme has been extended and new schemes such as carer's benefit, half-rate carer's allowance and the respite care grant have been introduced and extended.

The means test for carer's allowance has been significantly eased over the years, and is now one of the most generous means tests in the social welfare system, most notably with regard to spouse's earnings. Since April 2008, the income disregard has been €332.50 per week for a single person and €665 per week for a couple. This means that a couple with two children can earn in the region of €37,200 and qualify for the maximum rate of Carer's Allowance as well as the associated free travel and household benefits. A couple with an income in the region of €60,400 can still qualify for a minimum payment, as well as the associated free travel, household benefits package. These levels surpass the Towards 2016 commitment to ensure those on average industrial earnings continue to qualify for a full carer's allowance.

From June 2005, the annual respite care grant was extended to all carers who are providing full time care to a person who needs such care, regardless of their income. The rate of the respite care grant has also been increased to €1,700 per year in respect of each care recipient since June 2008.

In June 2006, the number of hours for which a person can engage in employment, self-employment, education or training and still be considered to be providing full time care for the purposes of carer's allowance, carer's benefit and the respite care grant was increased from 10 to 15 hours per week. Budget 2007 provided for new arrangements whereby people can receive a maximum payment equivalent to a half-rate carers allowance while receiving another social welfare payment, other than jobseekers benefit or allowance. These measures came into effect in September 2007.

In Budget 2009, I increased the rate of carer's allowance for those aged 66 or over by €7 to €239 per week and for those aged under 66 by €6.50 to €220.50 per week. These increases took effect from January 2009. Recipients of carer's allowance are also eligible for household benefits and free travel and the respite care grant.

It is estimated that the combined expenditure on carer's allowance, carer's benefit, the respite care grant and half-rate carer's allowance will be €650 million in 2009. As regards publishing a National Carers' Strategy, during 2008 an interdepartmental group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, with secretariat support provided by my Department, undertook work, including a public consultation process to develop a strategy. However, because of the prevailing economic situation, it was not possible to set targets or time lines which could be achieved. In that context, rather than publishing a document which did not include any significant plans for the future, the Government decided not to publish a strategy. This position remains unchanged.

My officials recently met with the Carers Association to discuss proposals which they had put forward in the absence of the National Carers Strategy. While the majority of the proposals relate to services provided by the Department of Health and Children and the Health Services Executive, my officials are committed to working with the Association on any proposals which can be progressed by this Department within existing resources.

Private Rented Accommodation.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

348 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her analysis of data from the Private Residential Tenancies Board regarding trends in the private rental sector for the past 12 months. [16249/09]

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source.

In recent years a significant number of people have come to rely on rent supplement for extended periods. There are currently over 84,700 people in receipt of rent supplement, an increase of almost 42% since the end of December 2007.

Rent supplements are subject to a limit on the amount of rent that an applicant for rent supplement may incur. Rent limits are set at levels that enable different types of eligible households to secure and retain basic suitable rented accommodation, having regard to different rental market conditions that prevail in various parts of the State. The objective is to ensure that rent supplement is not paid in respect of overly expensive accommodation having regard to the size of the household and market conditions.

Setting or retaining maximum rent limits at a higher level than are justified by the open market can have a distorting effect on the rental market, leading to a more general rise in rent levels and in landlord income. This in turn may worsen the affordability of rental accommodation unnecessarily, with particular negative impact for those tenants on lower incomes.

Maximum rent limits are prescribed in regulations and are time limited so that they can be adjusted in the light of rent levels generally. The most recent regulations cover the period to 31 December 2009.

The recent Supplementary Budget provided for changes to be made to the rent supplement scheme. One of the measures being introduced is the reduction in the maximum level of rent supplement payable by the State in respect of all new tenancies or on renewals of tenancies. The limits will be reduced by up 6% to 7% on average, ranging up to 10%, depending on the geographical area and household size and by reference to an analysis of rent supplement and the Private Residential Tenancies Board rent data as well as the downward trends in private rents as recently published by the CSO.

Data was provided to the Department by the Private Residential Tenancies Board on over 340,000 tenancies containing tenancy lease details up to mid-December 2008. The analysis of this data was confined to 116,000 property descriptions which met the equivalent household types used by the Department to determine rent limits. A high level analysis of the actual rents paid by these 116,000 tenants indicated that rent levels had fallen by varying percentages per county and depending on household type.

In reviewing rent levels, it was also necessary to take account of prevailing rent levels in the private rental sector generally, including an analysis of the "Private Rented Index" produced by the Central Statistics Office in March 2009 as well as data on asking prices for rent by Daft.ie, the property website, published in February 2009. According to the CSO private rent index, rents fall by almost 11% in 2008 on average and by 7 % between November 2008 and February 2009. Daft found that rents fell by almost 12% in the past year and that rents outside Dublin fell by 10% over the course of 2008 and by over 13% on average in Dublin. Daft also reported that the number of rental properties on the market more than doubled in that time.

Furthermore, an analysis of rent supplement data indicates that 34% of rent supplements are currently paid below the statutory rent limits indicating that accommodation is more readily available to rent supplement tenants than heretofore. All of the private rent sector indicators show that rents have fallen considerably in the past 12 months.

Child Support.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

349 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when children’s allowance and child benefit were introduced; the Minister who introduced same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16291/09]

The original Children's Allowance (CA) scheme was introduced in 1944. It was originally payable in respect of third and subsequent children on a non means tested basis but this was extended over time to cover all children. The scheme was introduced by Mr. Sean Lemass, TD, Minister for Industry and Commerce as the Department of Social Welfare was not established until 1947. Childrens Allowance was not means tested.

An element of overall targeting was introduced by means of an income tax ‘clawback' which meant that receiving CA in respect of any child had the tax allowance for that child reduced. However this feature was abolished over time. CA was abolished in 1986 and replaced by Child Benefit (CB). CB was introduced in April 1986 with a view to providing, inter alia, a more significant independent income for mothers whose work is in the home and to help improve the incentive to take up paid work. The change also took place in the context of improved payment levels and the abolition of child tax allowances in the income taxation code. The Minister for Social and Family Affairs at that time was Ms. Gemma Hussey, TD.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

350 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to her Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16335/09]

Four social welfare Acts have been passed by the Oireachtas during the period 2007 to date, as follows.

First, the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007 (No. 8 of 2007 enacted 30 March 2007). This Act provided for the implementation of certain social welfare improvements announced in Budget 2007. These include increases in Child Benefit, the One-Parent Family Payment income limit and the Respite Care Grant. It also provided for enhancements to the Illness Benefit, Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit and Supplementary Welfare Allowance schemes. The Act further provided for the introduction of a special rate of Carer's Allowance which is, in specified circumstances, payable simultaneously with certain other social welfare payments. In addition, the Act provided for a number of miscellaneous amendments to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. Section 36 of the Act amended the Pensions Act 1990 in relation to Trust Retirement Annuity Contracts to ensure compliance with the IORPS directive (Directive 2003/41/EC). Finally, the Act also provided for amendments to the Combat Poverty Agency Act 1986, Family Support Agency Act 2001 in relation to attendance before the Public Accounts Committee, and the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 in relation to employment data.

Second, the Social Welfare Act 2007 (No. 40 of 2007 enacted 20 December 2007). The Act provided for increases in the rates of social insurance and social assistance payments and improvements in Family Income Supplement and Widowed Parent Grant. It also provided for an increase in the weekly earnings limit below which PRSI is not payable, an increase in the income ceiling above which PRSI contributions are not payable by employed or optional contributors, as announced in the 2008 Budget Statement, in addition to changes to the Health Contributions Act 1979 to provide for an increase in the weekly and annual exemption thresholds for the Health Contribution Levy.

Third, the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2008 (No. 2 of 2008). This Act provided for the implementation of certain social welfare improvements announced in Budget 2008. These include increases in Child Benefit, Early Childcare Supplement and the Respite Care Grant. Provision was also made for an increase in income limit for the One-Parent Family Payment and change in the assessment of income for the purposes of qualification for the payment. In addition, the Act provided for a number of miscellaneous amendments to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, the Pensions Act 1990, the Family Law Act 1995 and the Family Law (Divorce) Act, 1996. The Act also contains the legislative provisions for the payment of Blind Welfare Allowance and Domiciliary Care Allowance by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, scheduled to come into effect in 2009. At that time, these schemes were administered by the Department of Health and Children.

Fourth, the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 (No. 22 of 2008). This Act provided for a number of measures as announced in Budget 2009, including the increases in the rates of social insurance and social assistance payments and improvements in the Family Income Supplement scheme, PRSI changes, and amendments to the social welfare code. It also provided for amendments to the Pensions Act 1990, the Civil Registration Act and the Citizens Information Act to assign responsibility for the provision of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service functions to the Citizens Information Board. This Act also provided for the integration of the Combat Poverty Agency and the Office for Social Inclusion, which will entail the dissolution of the Combat Poverty Agency and the transfer of permanent staff of the Agency.

Question No. 351 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

352 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when supplementary welfare allowance will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16383/09]

The Health Service Executive has advised that an appeal by the person concerned against a decision on an application for supplementary welfare and rent allowance is currently before an Appeals Officer of the Executive. The person concerned will be advised of the result of the appeal in due course.

Grant Payments.

Denis Naughten

Question:

353 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will allow for additional flexibility in the farm assist means test in view of the financial hardship being caused by Government cuts in supports to Agriculture; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16388/09]

Support for farmers on low incomes is available through the farm assist scheme which is a means-tested payment broadly similar to the jobseeker's allowance scheme. It features a more generous means test, which takes account of the specific nature of farming and, unlike jobseeker's allowance, farmers claiming this payment do not need to be available for work outside of the farm in order to qualify.

Increases in social welfare rates provided in recent years mean that it is now easier for low income farmers to qualify y for support under the scheme. For instance, the personal rate of payment has been increased by €6.50 from €197.80 to €204.30 a week from the beginning of January, while the increase for a qualified adult has been raised by €4.30 from €131.30 to €135.60 a week. Increases for qualified children have also gone up from €24 to €26 a week. This means, for example, that a low income farming family with 3 children can now receive a maximum weekly payment of €417.90, i.e. an increase of €16.80 a week (4.2%), which is ahead of the projected average increase in the Consumer Price Index of 2.5% for 2009.

Improvements in the method of assessing earnings from insurable employment, which were introduced in September 2007, provide further gains for families claiming farm assist, where either spouse is also in insurable employment. In addition, the capital disregard in the means assessment increased from under €12,700 to €20,000, from June 2005. Any further improvements in the assessment of means would have to be considered in a budgetary context.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

354 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her views on altering the day for payment of unemployment benefits at post offices from a Friday, having regard to the large volume of people attending post offices at the same time, resulting in inconvenience and delay for those persons receiving benefit; and if the matter of another day might be discussed. [16623/09]

The Department administers a variety of schemes which have weekly and monthly payment cycles. For operational and administrative reasons, and to facilitate the distribution of payments through the Post Office network, each scheme is assigned a day of the week for payment. This ensures that payments to be distributed through Post Offices are evenly spread across the week.

The majority of Job seekers benefit and allowance payments are paid on Monday and Wednesday with a small number being paid on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. A person can collect their payment on the due date or within a number of days thereafter. The post office network, and the operation of any individual post office, is a matter for An Post.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

355 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when it is proposed to fix a date for the hearing of an appeal in respect of a carer’s allowance application by a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [16627/09]

The person concerned was in receipt of Carer's Allowance from July 1999 until 4 June 2008, when, following a review, payment of the allowance to him was suspended as he did not provide a Social Welfare Inspector with information regarding his means which was required to assess his continued entitlement.

Following a number of subsequent phone calls from the person concerned, the file was sent again to the Social Welfare Inspector for further investigation. His claim was eventually disallowed on 30 September 2008 on the grounds that he had failed to disclose his means.

An appeal was opened on 20 November 2008 and I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

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

Departmental Agencies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

356 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the money advice and budgeting service has been assigned to the Citizen Information Board; if not, when this will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16640/09]

In Budget 2009 the Government announced its decision to assign responsibility for the MABS to the Citizens Information Board. The necessary legislative provision has been made in Part 4 of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2008.

The legislation provides for the amendment of the Citizens Information Acts 2000 to 2007 to extend the functions of the Citizens Information Board to include responsibilities in relation to the provision of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service. The legislation provides that the MABS will be a separate distinct service within the Citizens Information Board. There will be no change in the status of the independent MABS companies with voluntary boards of management nor in the employment status of their employees that provide the local services throughout the country. Part 4 of the legislation will be brought into effect by way of a commencement order to allow for the orderly transfer of responsibility for the MABS from the Department of Social and Family Affairs to the Citizens Information Board.

The Department is working closely with the Citizens Information Board to complete the transition arrangements. The project is being overseen by a Steering Committee comprising officials from the Department and the Citizens Information Board. It is envisaged that a six months period up to July 2009 will be required to complete the transfer arrangements. I have been advised that the project is progressing well and is on schedule for completion in early July.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

357 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the integration of the Combat Poverty Agency and the Office of Social Inclusion into her Department has been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16641/09]

In Budget 2009 the Government announced that the Combat Poverty Agency and the Office for Social Inclusion are to be integrated within the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The Government's decision was informed by the findings of a review of the Combat Poverty Agency which was undertaken on foot of a Government Decision on the 6th of June 2007.

The necessary legislative provision has been made in Part 5 of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008. The legislation provides for the dissolution of the Combat Poverty Agency, the transfer of the Agency's staff, assets and liabilities to the Minister for Social and Family Affairs and for the preparation of final accounts. Part 5 is to be brought into effect by way of a commencement order to allow for completion of the main transition arrangements.

The Department is working with the Board and staff of the Agency in implementing a plan for the transition.. The project is being overseen by a Steering Committee chaired by the Secretary General of the Department and comprised of members of the Board and staff of the Agency and senior officials of the Department. It is envisaged that the period up to 1st July 2009 is required for implementation of the transition plan I have been advised that implementation is progressing well and is on schedule for completion by the deadline of 1st July 2009.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

358 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason the child dependant allowance has not been granted to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo in view of the fact that this child is now four months old. [16707/09]

The person concerned has been awarded an increase, in respect of her son, in her one-parent family payment from 11 December 2008. Arrears of €488.00 issued to her on 23 April 2009. Under Social Welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by Deciding Officers and Appeals Officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Jack Wall

Question:

359 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if it is appropriate that a community welfare officer should ask applicants with maintenance liabilities, seeking rent supplement under the social welfare system, to seek court assistance in having a variation of the original amount of maintenance payment; the way a mother of a child can deal with such an instance or the preparatory application forms or direction her Department can give in such instances to ensure that the child or mother does nor suffer a delay in payments or expectation of income towards their welfare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16710/09]

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source.

An individual making an application for rent supplement who has recently become unemployed may have maintenance liabilities which they would have been in a position to meet while in employment. If the level of maintenance payments is now such that an individual finds they have inadequate funds with which to meet their basic needs, including accommodation needs, the most appropriate course of action would be for the individual to seek to renegotiate their maintenance liabilities to take account of their current financial circumstances.

Where maintenance orders have been made through the courts, either parent can at a later date apply to the court for the issue of a summons against the other party for the purpose of obtaining a ‘Variation Order' to have the amount of maintenance varied. Information and advice on free legal aid for the purpose of applying to the court for a maintenance order or a variation of a maintenance order or responding to a maintenance summons can be obtained by contacting the local Citizen's Information Centre or nearest law centre.

In instances where welfare support is provided to single parents in the form of one-parent family payment, the other parent (liable relative) is legally required to contribute to the cost of this payment. Liable relatives who earn less than €18,000 per annum or whose main source of income is a social welfare payment are not deemed by the Department to be in a financial position to meet weekly maintenance payments and accordingly are not assessed with a maintenance liability.

Where welfare support is provided to single parents in the form of one-parent family payment and/or rent supplement and the amount of maintenance in payment has been reduced by court order or for any other reason, it is open to that person to contact the Department or the relevant Community Welfare Officer to seek a reassessment of their entitlements to take account of the change in their financial circumstances.

Social Insurance.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

360 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will provide the schedule of the actual expenditure for each Estimate subheading for the first quarter of 2009 with a breakdown by social assistance and social insurance fund supported schemes; and if she will provide the actual income received by the social insurance fund during this period. [16758/09]

The information requested is given in the tables. Tables A and B show actual expenditure incurred and income received in the first two months of 2009 for Vote 38 and the Social Insurance Fund, respectively. The figures given are provisional and represent the most up to date information available. Full expenditure and income data to include the month of March will not be available until early May.

Table A: Expenditure under the Department of Social and Family Affairs Vote 38, 1st January-28th February 2009 (provisional)

Expenditure

Administration

A1 Salaries, Wages & Allowances

37,177,123

A2 Travelling & Subsistence

457,592

A3 Incidental Expenses

912,903

A4 Postal & Telecommunications

1,406,747

A5 Office Machinery/Office Supplies

1,850,830

A6 Office Premises Expenses

986,976

A7 Consultancy Services

52,883

A8 Payment for Agency Services

12,880,862

A9 Value for Money & Policy Reviews

49,517

A10 e-Government Related Projects

38,190

Administration Subtotal

55,813,623

Schemes

B State Pension (Non-Con)

161,131,432

C Blind Pension

2,791,249

D Child Benefit

408,532,940

E Jobseeker’s Allowance

233,894,015

F Farm Assist Scheme

13,883,568

G Employment Support Services

27,847,010

H Pre-Retirement Allowances

16,420,324

I One-Parent Family Payment

170,494,801

J Widow(er)s & Guardian Payments (Non-Con)

4,757,952

K Social Assistance & Other Allowances

956,193

L Family Income Supplement

26,766,049

M Carers Allowances

75,962,160

N Supplementary Welfare Allowances

149,532,359

O Disability Allowance

167,514,833

P Respite Care Grant

1,166,488

Q Free Schemes (Assistance)

74,703,440

R Money Advice & Budgeting Service

8,422,326

S Grant to Family Support Agency

9,467,920

T1 Grant to the Combat Poverty Agency

220,000

T2 EU Program (Progress) 2007-2013

0

U Grant to Citizens Information Board

8,200,000

V Dormant Accounts — Economic & Social Disadvantage

386,676

W. Domiciliary Care Allowance

0

X Miscellaneous Services

16,527,094

Schemes Subtotal

1,579,578,829

Gross Total

1,635,392,452

Deduct Y. Appropriations in Aid

34,841,710

Net Total

1,600,550,742

Table B: Income and Expenditure for the Social Insurance Fund, 1st January-28th February 2009 (provisional)

Income

Income from Contributions

1,333,666,199

Income from Investments

12,827,705

Total Income

1,346,493,904

Expenditure

Illness Benefit

144,888,748

Invalidity Pension

106,739,987

Occupational Injuries Benefit

17,849,583

Maternity Benefit

51,030,124

Health & Safety Benefit

96,322

Adoptive Benefit

180,409

Treatment Benefit

12,426,447

State Pension Contributory

596,483,971

State Pension Transition

15,151,476

Jobseekers Benefit

242,355,925

Widow(er)s & Guardians (Con.) Pensions

223,890,203

Widowed Parent Grant

899,500

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

15,570,428

Carer’s Benefit

4,895,425

Bereavement Grant

3,090,149

Free Schemes

51,879,117

Redundancy & Insolvency

29,016,471

Administration Expenses

33,678,000

Total Expenditure

1,550,122,285

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

361 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if mortgage support will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16796/09]

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 application for mortgage interest supplement from the person concerned has been refused and he has been notified of the decision. The person concerned has also been advised of his right of appeal against this decision to the HSE Appeals Office.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

362 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if unemployment assistance or benefit will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who has not received payment for more than three months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16798/09]

The person concerned made an application for Jobseekers Allowance on 30 January 2009. Payment of Jobseekers Allowance is subject to a means test and arrangements are being made for him to be immediately interviewed by a Social Welfare Investigator.

The person concerned person may apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance from their local Community Welfare Officer while his application for Jobseekers Allowance is being processed.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

363 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17368/09]

The number of Civil Servants in my Department who are in receipt of Long Service Increments is 1,626. An Officer may become eligible for a Long Service Increment after three years on the maximum point of the standard pay scale and thereafter for the award of a second Long Service Increment after a further three years.

The difference between the total salary including Long Service Increments currently in payment and the total value of the maximum point of the standard pay scale which would otherwise have been payable to these individuals is €3,988,604. The actual additional full year cost is slightly less than this because in any given year, there are a number of first time recipients of long-service increments who receive these payments for part of the year only. Also, in any year, a number of those in receipt of Long Service Increments may work less than a full year by reason of having availed of term-time or worksharing arrangements. It is not possible in the timescale to provide a detailed analysis of the cost of these increments based on the sum of all the individual employees concerned.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

364 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to his Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16327/09]

In the period from 1 January 2007 Dáil Éireann approved the following legislation pertaining to my Department:—

Defence (Amendment) Act 2007.

This Act was not initiated to fulfil EU obligations.

Defence Forces Reserve.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

365 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence his plans for the future of the Reserve Defence Force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16576/09]

The White Paper on Defence 2000 outlines the blueprint for the Reserve Defence Force (RDF). The Reserve Defence Force Review Implementation Plan provides for the phased enhancement of Reserve capabilities over the period to the end of 2009.

In accordance with the Plan, revised organisation structures came into effect in October 2005. The Reserve has been re-organised along similar lines to the PDF with three brigades, a Reserve Defence Force Training Authority and a dedicated Naval Service Reserve. Improvements in clothing, equipment and training have been delivered. These factors were identified as being important issues for members of the Reserve, as well as being necessary to improve the overall capability of the Reserve.

The Implementation Plan also provides for the development of an Integrated Army Reserve. A pilot scheme for the Integrated Reserve was run in 2007 and continued into 2008. Whilst numbers participating were disappointing, valuable lessons have been learned.

As with the public service generally, the Defence Organisation is required to operate with reduced funding. While the budgetary provision for training of members of the Reserve has been reduced, it will be sufficient to allow all current members of the Reserve to undertake paid training this year.

The Government introduced a moratorium on recruitment to the Public Service with effect from 27th March 2009. This moratorium prevents the planned recruitment of members of the Reserve to the Permanent Defence Force for the purpose of overseas service. This, in addition to budgetary restrictions has meant that the planned deployment of Reservists on overseas duty cannot now proceed and has been postponed for the foreseeable future. This is a disappointing development for all concerned and I would specifically like to thank those members of the Reserve who have participated in integrated training and volunteered themselves as candidates for overseas service for the interest and commitment they have shown. In light of the moratorium and budgetary restrictions, recruitment to the Reserve has also been suspended for the present.

The Reserve Defence Force has been selected as a review topic for inclusion in the 2009-2011 round of the Government's Value for Money and Policy Review initiative. It is expected that the findings of this review, the general budgetary situation together with lessons learned through the RDF Review Implementation Plan process, will assist in informing decisions regarding future plans for the Reserve.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

366 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Defence the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17361/09]

It has not been possible in the time available to compile the information requested by the Deputy. The information will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

367 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received correspondence from a group (details supplied); the position regarding the reaction and response he propose to make to the suggestions contained therein with regard to the appointment of consultants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16840/09]

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

369 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the provision of a sewerage scheme for Oughterard, County Galway; the timescale involved in the current stage and subsequent stages of the process; when it is expected that work will commence on this sewerage scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16213/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 367 and 369 together.

The Oughterard Sewerage Scheme is included for funding in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009.

Earlier this month, I gave approval to Galway County Council to make arrangements for the short-listing and appointment of consultants for the scheme on foot of the revised brief submitted by the Council to the Department in February 2009.

The first task of the consultants when appointed will be to prepare a Design Review Report so as to ensure that the most suitable and effective scheme is put forward. Successful completion of this task will lead to the preparation of the Contract Documents, which will be used to invite bids for the construction of the scheme.

The correspondence received from the group referred to is being examined and a response will issue to them as soon as possible.

Phil Hogan

Question:

368 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in respect of the planning contribution scheme, all local authorities charge house holders for connections to mains water, even if such a connection is not used by the householder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16144/09]

The Planning and Development Act 2000 introduced changes to the operation of the development contributions system, including the introduction of a statutory requirement that such contributions may now be levied only in accordance with a development contribution scheme drawn up by the planning authority and approved by the elected members following a public consultation process.

Section 48 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that planning authorities may levy development contributions in respect of public infrastructure and facilities provided by, or on behalf of, the local authority that benefit development in the area, including recreational facilities, public transport facilities and water facilities, including water and waste-water treatment facilities, drains and watermains and any matters ancillary to these.

The adoption of development contribution schemes is a reserved function of the locally elected members of each planning authority. It is a matter for the members to determine the level of contribution and the types of development to which they will apply. Details of individual development contribution schemes are available directly from each planning authority.

Question No. 369 answered with Question No. 367.

Register of Electors.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

370 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the closing dates for applications for the supplement to the postal and special voters lists in the local and European elections to be held on 5 June 2009; the closing date for any by-elections which may be held on the same date; if the closing date will be uniform throughout the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16257/09]

Sections 15A(4) and 15B(4) of the Electoral Act 1992, as inserted by section 7 and 8 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001, provide that an application by an elector to have his or her name entered in the supplement to the postal or special voters list, which is received by the registration authority on or after the third day after the date of the dissolution of the Dáil at a general election or on or after the third day after the date of the making of the order appointing polling day at a Dáil bye-election or a Presidential, European or local election, shall not have effect in relation to that election.

Section 15C of the Electoral Act 1992, as inserted by section 9 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001, provides that where an application by an elector to have his or her name entered in these supplements is received after the closing date in relation to one election but before the closing date in relation to another election, the poll at which is to be held on the same day, the closing date for the second or subsequent election shall apply to the application.

As regards the elections to be held on 5 June 2009, I made the polling day order in respect of the local elections on 31 March 2009. I will shortly be making the corresponding order in respect of the European elections. In the event of any bye-election being held on 5 June, the closing date for these supplements in respect of all elections would be 2 days after the making of the polling day order consequent on the issuing of the writ concerned.

Building Regulations.

James Bannon

Question:

371 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason persons (details supplied) in County Longford have been unable to gain satisfaction from his Department or the local council, despite assessment by the building control officer in respect of their problems regarding heat loss in their house, which was built and purchased in 2006 and which are impacting adversely on their health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16276/09]

The National Building Regulations set out the legal requirements for the construction of new buildings, including dwellings. Responsibility for compliance with the Regulations is a matter for the owner or builder of a building. Responsibility for enforcement of the Regulations rests with the 37 local Building Control Authorities. The resolution of problems arising between building owners and builders are matters between the parties concerned, namely, the building owner, the builder and, where appropriate, the builder's insurer. A comprehensive reply to the case referred to in the question is in preparation and will issue from my Department this week.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

372 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made in regard to the introduction of a national BER examination from June 2009; if the 41 exam centres including 25 mobile units have been selected; the distinction made with regard to new build and existing build as regards examinations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16301/09]

Richard Bruton

Question:

377 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he has taken to ensure that all houses for sale or rent comply with the new building energy ratings scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16415/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 372 and 377 together.

The EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings, which was transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2006 — 2008, introduced a requirement for a Building Energy Rating (BER) system. Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), which operates under the aegis of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, has been designated as the Issuing Authority with responsibility for the ongoing administration of the BER Scheme.

I understand from SEI that, following a competitive tender process initiated in October 2008, a contract with the preferred tenderer will be signed shortly with a view to commencing the National BER exams from June 2009. The preferred tenderer has a nationwide coverage of testing centres with 41 exam centres (25 mobile units and 16 fixed locations). The exam, which has been written in line with the current training specification for BER assessors, contains a broad mix of questions which cover both new build and existing dwellings.

Compliance with the Regulations when houses are being sold or let is first and foremost a matter for the owner of the house, and for any agent acting on behalf of the owner in relation to the sale or letting. The Regulations require the owner or the agent to produce a copy of the BER certificate to any person expressing an interest in purchasing or taking a letting in the building. A person who contravenes the Regulations in this regard commits an offence and is liable, on prosecution by the Building Control Authority in whose functional area the building is situated, to a fine not exceeding €5,000.

SEI has already run an extensive advertising and promotion campaign to raise public awareness regarding the BER certification system and plans to run further national and regional media campaigns by mid-year. The Law Society of Ireland has confirmed that its members when acting as legal agents for vendors or purchasers in the conveyancing of property will ensure that the requirements of the Regulations have been met.

Circular Letter BC 4/2009 — Enforcing Building Regulations Part L and Building Energy Ratings — issued to all Building Control Authorities on 17 February 2009. The Circular Letter, among other things, asked all local authorities to write to estate and letting agents within their functional area drawing their attention to the mandatory requirement for BER certificates in respect of buildings offered for sale or letting on or from 1 January 2009 and indicating that full compliance was expected from building owners and agents acting on behalf of owners.

My Department will continue to work closely with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, SEI and the 37 local Building Control Authorities to promote awareness of the obligations which arise under the Regulations.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

373 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the legislation approved by Dail Éireann in 2007 and 2009 pertaining to his Department; and if he will list and clarify what originated from Brussels and what was purely national. [16330/09]

My Department provides a detailed list of the legislative activity (primary and secondary) undertaken during the previous year in each of its Annual Reports. These reports are published on the Department's website (www.environ.ie).

A detailed list of the primary legislation approved by the Oireachtas during 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 is set out in the following tables. In each case a brief description of the Act is provided, along with the origin of the initiative (‘national' ‘EU' or ‘international').

2007 Legislation

Title

Description

Origin

Carbon Fund Act 2007

Establishes a Carbon Fund for the acquisition of Kyoto Units by the National Treasury Management Agency on behalf of the State in part fulfilment of Ireland’s climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

National

Electoral (Amendment) Act 2007

Provides for two alternative mechanisms to regulate the nomination of non-party Dáil candidates at Dáil elections.

National

Building Control Act 2007

Strengthens the enforcement powers of Local Building Control Authorities; provides for the registration of titles of certain Building Professions; and transposes into Irish law the relevant parts of the EU Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC of September 2005).

EU /National

Water Services Act 2007

Incorporates a comprehensive review, update and consolidation of all existing water services legislation, and facilitates the establishment of a comprehensive supervisory regime to ensure compliance with specified performance standards.

National

Local Government (Roads Functions) Act 2007

Provides for and facilitates the transfer of certain functions from the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government to the Minister for Transport in respect of roads.

National

2008 Legislation

Title

Description

Origin

Motor Vehicle (Duties and Licences) Act 2008

Provides for a new motor tax system based on CO2 emissions for new cars registered in 2008. Also gives a permanent legislative basis for the motor tax increases (effective from 1 February 2008) passed by Dáil Éireann in a Financial Resolution on 5 December 2007.

National

Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) (Confirmation of Orders) Act 2008

The purpose of the Bill is to confirm orders made under section 3 of the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) Act 1971 in relation to bodies established under that Act. The existing corporate bodies concerned are: — Local Government Computer Services Board — Dublin Transportation Office — Local Government Management Services Board — Affordable Homes Partnership — Irish Water Safety — Limerick Northside Regeneration Agency — Limerick Southside Regeneration Agency.

National

Motor Vehicle (Duties and Licences) (No. 2) Act 2008

Gives a permanent legislative basis for the motor tax increases (effective from 1 January 2009) passed by Dáil Éireann in a Financial Resolution on 14 October 2008.

National

Nuclear Test Ban Act 2008

Enables Ireland to implement its obligations under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

National/International

2009 Legislation

Title

Description

Origin

Electoral (Amendment) Act 2009

Provides for the revision of Dáil and European Parliament constituencies and provides for the number of members to be elected for such constituencies. The Act also revises the law relating to the Constituency Commission, and amends and gives statutory effect to certain aspects of the Local Elections Regulations 1995.

National

Electoral Amendment (No. 2) Act 2009

Regulates expenditure by political parties and candidates; to amend the Local Elections Disclosure of Donations and Expenditure Act 1999 and to amend the litterPollution Act 1997.

National

Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act (2009)

Deals with the appointment of members of the Dispute Resolution Committee of the Tenancy Tribunal under section 102 of The Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

National

Housing Grants.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

374 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason for the delay in the allocation to local authorities of funding for the housing adaptation grant and the mobility aid grant; if his attention has been drawn to the need for the allocation to be made without further delay in view of the fact that local authorities are not permitted to carry out works until funding has been allocated; when the funding will be released; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16381/09]

Denis Naughten

Question:

375 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 174 of 26 February 2009 if he will provide revised figures based on the new book of estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16389/09]

Simon Coveney

Question:

383 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when funding for the disability extension scheme will be made available to Cork City Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16593/09]

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

384 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when funds will be provided by his Department to Cork County Council in order that a person (details supplied) in County Cork, an applicant for the housing aid for older people grant with Cork County Council can complete the necessary repairs to their home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16630/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 374, 375, 383 and 384 together.

My Department's involvement with the new Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability relates primarily to the recoupment of a proportion of local authority expenditure on the payment of individual grants. These schemes, introduced in November 2007, are funded by 80% recoupments available from my Department together with a 20% contribution from the resources of the local authority. In the case of Disabled Persons' and Essential Repairs Grant Schemes, these are funded by 67% recoupments together with a 33% contribution from the resources of the local authority. The detailed administration of these schemes, including the assessment and approval of individual applications, is the responsibility of the relevant local authority. Following the recent publication of the Revised Estimates for Public Expenditure 2009, Local Authorities will shortly be notified of their allocations under the schemes in question.

Architectural Heritage.

Denis Naughten

Question:

376 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 478 of 10 February 2009, the discussions since that date with the local authority and landowners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16398/09]

I understand that a draft land management plan for the national monuments at Rathcrogran, Co. Roscommon, is currently being drawn up by the Office of Public Works and that further discussions will take place with local interests when the draft plan is available.

Question No. 377 answered with Question No. 372.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

378 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide the necessary funding to Galway City Council for sewerage facilities for houses (details supplied) in County Galway in view of the fact that the city council has given an undertaking to carry out this long-awaited work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16516/09]

The scheme referred to was not included in the list of water and sewerage schemes submitted by Galway City Council in their 2006 assessment of needs for priority capital works in their area; no supplementary proposals for such a scheme have been submitted to the Department in the meantime.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Phil Hogan

Question:

379 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he expects to meet the national development plan target to make available 27,000 new social housing units in the period 2007 to 2009 in view of the fact that 14,000 units were made ready over 2007 and 2008; the additional plans he has apart from long-term leasing, to acquire more social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16517/09]

I assume the question refers to the commitment entered into by the Government under the social partnership agreement, Towards 2016, and the National Development Plan 2007 — 2013, which was to achieve 27,000 social housing "starts" over the three year period 2007 to 2009.

We have already made considerable progress towards this target in 2007 and 2008 with some 16,000 starts/acquisitions being achieved through social housing programmes including the local authority and voluntary programmes and the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

My Department continues to explore all options for increasing the availability of social housing by optimising the use of available Exchequer supports and exploring alternative solutions to address housing needs. Local authorities are encouraged to vary the supply options according to prevailing market conditions in order to optimise the supply of social and affordable housing in accordance with the principles of Delivering Homes Sustainable Communities.

In addition to the traditional construction contracts tendered by local authorities and the long term leasing arrangements being introduced this year, other supply options include design/build contracts, Part V acquisitions, second hand acquisitions, PPP's, turnkey projects, and lease options under the Rental Accommodation Scheme. I am confident that the financial provision for housing for 2009, including €20 million in ring-fenced funding for long term lease arrangements from which I anticipate some 2,000 units will be delivered this year, will enable us to maintain strong momentum towards meeting our commitments in Towards 2016.

Local Authority Housing.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

380 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will ensure that a matter (details supplied) is dealt with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16556/09]

During March, my Department held Housing Action Plan meetings with all housing authorities. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss the direction and content of authorities' proposed housing investment programmes and particularly to consider the prioritisation of projects and the reconfiguration of the Social Housing Investment Programme as a whole, so that it can be sustained and consolidated in the changing economic and budgetary circumstances.

On foot of information furnished in the course of this round of Action Plan meetings, and taking account of the funding provided in the Revised Estimates for the Public Service 2009, I am finalising this year's Social Housing Investment Programme allocations, which will issue shortly.

The project referred to in the question will be considered in the context of Dublin City Council's overall Social Housing Investment Programme.

Urban Renewal Schemes.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

381 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will respond to a query (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16557/09]

My Department continues to provide strong support for the regeneration project across Limerick City, through ongoing liaison with the Limerick Northside and Southside Regeneration Agencies and with the local authorities in the area. Since their establishment in June 2007 the Regeneration Agencies have delivered two regeneration vision plans, developed a strong framework for inter-agency working, and provided a flexible regeneration programme that proposes a road map for a new Limerick over the next decade. This programme is currently the subject of consultation with the various stakeholders and will require significant investment of time and resources from public and private stakeholders over the period of implementation for the project.

While such planning activity is critical for the delivery of successful regeneration of disadvantaged areas, the Agencies have also achieved a number "quick wins" for the community through investment in social and physical infrastructure for the areas. In 2008 alone, 29 CCTV cameras were installed across the regeneration areas, funding was provided for community advocacy services in each of the regeneration areas, support was given for after school and school completion projects in Ballinacurra Weston and Southill, and recreational facilities in Moyross.

The City Council has also undertaken significant works to facilitate and support the regeneration process, concentrating mainly on the physical aspects of the regeneration. In 2008 alone, the Council demolished 113 units and supported the relocation of some 110 households to other areas within the Council area to facilitate enabling works on key sites. In addition, support was provided for the continuation of the successful community wardens project as well as for local community employment schemes to clean up and improve the areas.

Within the overall funding available to my Department for the provision and improvement of social housing for 2009, I intend to increase the level of support to ensure that the Limerick regeneration project continues to progress. The 2009 allocation is currently being finalised, within the context of the overall national regeneration programme and the revised estimates process. However, it is expected that the regeneration programme for the year will deliver the following: The further demolition of 150 houses; Planning on two sheltered housing schemes; Delivery of key actions under Environmental Improvement Plans for the areas; Implementation of a regeneration relocation programme; Energy efficiency improvements in houses not marked for demolition; Investment in social inclusion activities i.e. community wardens, advocacy service, homework clubs; Ongoing operation of the Regeneration Agencies; Funding for an enterprise initiative.

Planning Issues.

Niall Collins

Question:

382 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to extend the period of time applicable to planning permissions granted but not commenced in view of the slow down in the construction sector coupled with the ongoing delays in local authorities providing new and upgraded sewage infrastructure with many planning permission commencements conditional on these improvements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16575/09]

Planning permissions are typically granted for a period of 5 years, though a planning authority may, having regard to the nature and extent of the relevant development and any other material consideration, specify a longer period during which a permission is to have effect. Where a planning permission expires, the developer may seek an extension of the relevant period. Subject to compliance with certain requirements, including a requirement that substantial works were carried out pursuant to the permission during that period, a planning authority may extend the duration of a permission by such additional period as it considers necessary to enable the relevant development to be completed. This period may be further extended where the planning authority is satisfied that the relevant development has not been completed due to circumstances beyond the control of the developer.

These provisions are intended to allow flexibility within the planning system to accommodate the specific circumstances of individual developments. However, in current economic circumstances, I accept that situations may arise where, due to external circumstances beyond the reasonable control of a developer, it may not be possible to commence a development within the period originally specified in a planning permission, or to carry out substantial works under a permission.

Accordingly, in the context of the forthcoming Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009, I am considering proposals to give planning authorities further powers to extend the duration of planning permissions, in certain circumstances.

As to purported delays by local authorities in the provision of water services infrastructure, the length of time involved from first proposal of any particular water or sewerage scheme to completion of construction largely depends on the nature and complexity of the scheme and the statutory processes involved. There has been an emphasis in recent years on both addressing infrastructural deficiencies and establishing systems at Departmental level for monitoring the progress of projects and targets for dealing with procedural matters.

In the period 2000 — 2008, a total of 442 water and wastewater schemes were completed. These included many very large wastewater treatment plants in the cities and other large urban areas. The increase in wastewater treatment capacity since 2000 is equivalent to the needs of a population of 3.6 million. The Government is continuing to accord significant priority to water services investment, with €500 million being allocated in 2009, an increase of 1% over the 2008 out-turn.

Questions Nos. 383 and 384 answered with Question No. 374.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

385 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of public servants in receipt of long service increments; the cost to the taxpayer of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17364/09]

There are 328 staff in my Department in receipt of long service increments, the total cost of the payment of which is €969,934.

The year to year costs of long service increments are normally offset by corresponding reductions in costs associated with retirements and other movements by staff on long service increments and their replacement by staff on lower points.

The award of long service increments is subject to a satisfactory rating under the Performance Management Development System.

Water Pollution.

Michael Noonan

Question:

386 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if State papers from the former Department of Fisheries dealing with the pollution of lakes in the midlands in the 1970s are available to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16598/09]

Appropriate papers from the then Department of Fisheries dealing with inland fisheries matters would be eligible for transfer to the National Archives when thirty years old and would ordinarily be available to the public through the National Archives Office. If, however, the files in question relate to issues the management of which continued beyond 31 December 1978, files would not have been closed off until after the events had concluded and the papers on file may not yet be thirty years old and eligible for transfer. If the Deputy would like to be more specific in relation to his query, I will undertake to determine whether the files in question are in the Department.

Energy Conservation.

Liz McManus

Question:

387 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the proliferation of standard form restrictions that prohibit apartment residents, whether owners or tenants, from hanging their washing out to dry on their apartment balconies; his further views on whether purported aesthetic or property value considerations could or should outweigh the importance of promoting energy conservation and the avoidance of excessive and unnecessary domestic electricity consumption by drying machines, etc.; his plans to have consultations with representatives of landlords and property managers regarding abolishing the rule; if that proves ineffective, if he proposes appropriate legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16218/09]

The house rules pertaining to existing apartments are a matter for the Management Company in each complex. The owner of each apartment is a member of the Management Company and has the opportunity to propose changes in any rules that currently exist.

Reducing excessive and unnecessary electricity consumption is a key part of our energy efficiency policy and the national energy efficiency campaign — the Power of One — has promoted both energy efficiency awareness and behavioural change since 2006.

I am informed by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) that the use of tumble driers increased by 183% in the period 1987-2004/5. Wet appliances such as washing machines and tumble driers now account for 9% of all domestic electricity we use and I would therefore be supportive of any measures introduced by Management Companies that allow residents to reduce energy use and lower domestic energy bills. SEI reports that the tumble-dryer is likely the most energy intensive appliance in the average Irish home and for that reason it would always advocate that people should avoid using the tumble-dryer and to dry clothes out of doors whenever possible. This advice is conveyed in a number of places, for example the publication "Your Guide to Electricity in the Home", which is reproduced on the SEI website.

It is important to note too that the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government in 2007 issued guidelines for planning authorities aimed at promoting sustainable urban housing, by ensuring that the design and layout of new apartments provide satisfactory accommodation for a variety of household types and sizes — including families with children — over the medium to long term. The guidelines include recommendations that Communal facilities for drying clothes be provided in well-ventilated areas in some larger schemes and where this is not done, consideration should be given to the provision of drying facilities within each unit, such as screened balconies.

Electric Vehicles.

Simon Coveney

Question:

388 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will explain the deal signed with a company (details supplied) in relation to electric car roll-out; if he will publish the signed agreement; the content of the signed agreement; when he expects the mass roll-out of the electric cars here; the number of electric cars he estimates to be on Irish roads by 2011, 2015 and 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16226/09]

Simon Coveney

Question:

389 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the commitments of the ESB under the Government deal with a company (details supplied); the specific charging infrastructure that will be built by the ESB over the course of the next two years; the amount the electric car charging infrastructure will cost over the next two years; the way the ESB and Government will pay for this new infrastructure; the timescale for the construction and roll-out of a nationwide charging network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16227/09]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

397 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the way, in respect of a recent announcement by him and the ESB regarding plans to radically increase the usage of electrical vehicles, he will proceed with such moves; the timeframe for same; if the roll-out of electric vehicles will provide significant employment opportunities in this field; and the main recruiting body that will drive recruitment. [16586/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 388, 389 and 397 together.

Together with the Minister for Transport, I announced plans last year for the large scale deployment of electric vehicles in Ireland. The target of 10% of all vehicles to be powered by electricity by 2020, will represent up to 250,000 cars on Irish roads over the next 12 years. Targets for 2011 and 2015 have not been set. A number of initiatives to advance the strategy have already been put in place.

The recent Memorandum of Understanding signed with Renault-Nissan has ensured that Ireland will be one of the first countries in the world to be supplied with both Renault and Nissan electric cars. This will be a major opportunity for Ireland both in terms of our targets and more generally in relation to the economic impact of electric car development. Under the Memorandum of Understanding ESB Networks will be able to avail of a range of information on developments in electric vehicles, enabling more detailed and precise planning around infrastructure, support mechanisms and the potential benefits accruing. The Government will work with the ESB to determine how the necessary infrastructure arising from the arrangement will be put in place and how best to fund this infrastructure. The Memorandum of Understanding does not involve any cost to the Exchequer.

The Memorandum of Understanding does not convey exclusive rights in relation to the provision of electric cars. Ireland is open for business to all manufacturers in relation to electric vehicles and I look forward to building relationships with all global players in the sector. I am investigating the scope for disseminating the details of the Memorandum of Understanding. Publication of the Memorandum of Understanding in whole or in part requires the written consent of all of the parties to it. The Minister for Finance has provided a new tax incentive for businesses to purchase electric vehicles in the 2009 Finance Act. This enables businesses to write off 100% of the cost of purchase against tax under the Accelerated Capital Allowance Scheme. Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) is also developing a €1 million project on alternative transport technologies including electric vehicles.

An inter-departmental agency Taskforce has been established and is meeting regularly to progress the framework for deployment of electric vehicles in Ireland and is being chaired by my Department. The Departments of Transport, Finance, the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Enterprise, Trade and Employment along with SEI, ESB, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland are all represented on the taskforce.

The taskforce is assessing the options and timeframe for creating the necessary infrastructure for the national roll-out of electric vehicles. The Government is sending out the message that Ireland is open for business in this area and we will also take account of global developments as the technologies mature. The taskforce will report its initial findings and advise on next steps shortly. Three sub groups have been set up; a Transport/Infrastructure Group, a Fiscal Group, and an Enterprise Group.

The reports of these groups will feed into the main report being prepared by the taskforce. All issues relating to employment opportunities, the costs involved in providing car charging infrastructure and associated issues will be addressed in the report.

Broadcasting Services.

Simon Coveney

Question:

390 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the way the pull out of a company (details supplied) will affect the roll out of national digital terrestrial television; if the other original bidders are in a position to roll out DTT; if the target date is still viable for the switch off of the analogue television signal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16228/09]

The Broadcasting (Amendment) Act, 2007 puts in place a flexible framework for the licensing of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) into the future. The Act provides for the establishment of a free to air DTT service to replace the existing analogue terrestrial services offered by RTE, TG4 and TV3. The Act also provides for the development of commercial DTT services, which are anticipated to provide further choice to those who wish to avail of channels additional to the Irish free to air channels.

The Act proposes that RTE operate a single public service multiplex which provides access to the free to air Irish TV channels and that the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) will offer licences for three commercial multiplexes. RTE has already significantly progressed the roll-out of the public service multiplex and has indicated that services can be launched on a phased basis starting in autumn this year.

On 21 July 2008 the BCI announced its intention to enter into contract negotiations with Boxer DTT Ltd for the award of the three national commercial DTT multiplexes. On 20 April 2009 the BCI announced that Boxer DTT Ltd had withdrawn from contract negotiations.

The BCI has indicated that it has now approached the One Vision consortia with a view to entering into contract negotiations for the award of the three national commercial DTT multiplexes. The BCI have confirmed that they are committed to pursuing the development of DTT services in Ireland and will continue their work in that regard. I should emphasise that the BCI is an independent body and that I have no role in their licensing process.

I am cognisant of the fact that most European countries expect to switch off analogue services by 2012 and I remain committed to this target so that Ireland can continue to compete at an international level in the broadcasting and broader communications markets. Both RTE and the BCI are also aware of the importance of meeting this deadline.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Liz McManus

Question:

391 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding onshore wind projects which are currently outside the gate three process; his views on whether onshore wind projects with a potential of 30 MW which have all the required planning will be given grid connection in the future; the criteria for inclusion in the consultation process for grid application; his position on onshore wind projects outside the gate three process; the number of applications awaiting grid connection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16253/09]

Applications for grid connections are made to ESB Networks or Eirgrid in the first instance. The latest figures published by Eirgrid and the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) show that there are currently over 1,300 megawatts (MW) of renewable capacity connected to the system with a further 1,500 MW with signed connection agreements or in the final stages of agreeing one and a further 3,900 MW of capacity awaiting connections offers within the Gate 3 process. It is estimated that a combined capacity of 5800 MW is required to deliver the national target of 40% electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The combined capacity of projects built, underway and gate 3