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 5, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 6 to 56, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 57 to 66, inclusive, answered orally.

Air Corps Operations.

Noel O'Flynn

Question:

67 Deputy Noel O’Flynn asked the Minister for Defence the number of air ambulance and other emergency missions flown by the Air Corps in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the type of aircraft involved; the types of mission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17719/09]

The role of the Air Corps as set out in the White Paper on Defence is to provide a range of military and non-military services in support of the State. These services include the provision of an air ambulance service on the basis of agreed arrangements with the Department of Health & Children, and the provision of assistance in relation to civil emergencies in response to requests from the An Garda Síochána, and the principal response agencies such as the Irish Coast Guard. These services are provided as the need arises and within the available capability of the Air Corps, having regard to both current and contingent operational commitments. Details of Air Ambulance and other emergency missions flown by the Air Corps since 2007 are presented in the tabular statement.

Mission Type

Aircraft

Number of Missions 2007

Number of Missions 2008

Number of Missions 2009

Air Ambulance

Helicopter

51

44

20

Gulfstream IV

1

0

0

Learjet 45

17

12

0

Beechcraft

8

10

0

CASA

20

21

14

Search and Rescue

Helicopter

9

3

3

CASA

8

3

1

Aid to the Civil Power

Helicopter

20

13

0

CASA

1

0

0

Total

136

106

38

European Council Meetings.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

68 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Defence the details of the concept of the European military Erasmus initiative contained in a recent General Affairs and External Relations Council declaration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17913/09]

The proposal to launch a European Military young officers exchange scheme, modelled on Erasmus, was one of the major initiatives of the French EU Presidency and was formally adopted by the Council of the European Union in November 2008. The European Military Erasmus initiative seeks to establish a military exchange programme for European military officers undertaking their initial training and education. It would enable young officers to complete some of their initial training in another Member State.

This will be a voluntary initiative, with participating Member State academies bilaterally working out agreements. Ireland supports the initiative and feels that the concept of shared training could be of particular benefit to smaller countries. It should be noted, however, that Ireland has already developed a flexible and effective working relationship between the Defence Forces and foreign military academies, which accommodates requirements for officer and non commissioned officer (NCO) education and training. The primary objective of the Military Erasmus is to enhance the capacity of European Armies to work together and to reinforce the potential for co-operation and to strengthen their interoperability to conduct increasingly complex multinational crisis management and peace support operations.

In order to advance this initiative, Member States have established an Implementation Working Group working under the aegis of European Security and Defence College (ESDC) Executive Academic Council. To date there have been two meetings of the Implementation Working Group and the Defence Forces have been represented at both. The purpose of the Implementation Working Group is to agree on a number of practical matters for encouraging and facilitating exchanges between their national training colleges, with assistance from the European Security and Defence College. The measures will relate to cooperation between military universities, exchanges during basic military training and the provision of a forum for specialised military training and education. These measures will be implemented at both European and national level and based on existing bilateral and multilateral exchanges.

There are also plans to develop Distance Learning (DL) and a common module on ESDP will be provided as standard in the curriculum. An important aspect of the initiative from Ireland's perspective is that it is voluntary and that we are under no obligation to deliver a quota of courses. Secretary General/High Representative Javier Solana is preparing a report for Council on progress on the implementation of this initiative, which will be presented to Defence Ministers at the GAERC on the 18th May 2009.

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 66.

Army Barracks.

Phil Hogan

Question:

70 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Defence if work will commence in 2009 on renovating and converting C House, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin 6, to single officers’ quarters to alleviate the situation of officers forced to live in steel containers at that barracks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17903/09]

In the first instance I must reject the suggestion that the officers in question are being housed in steel containers. The facilities provided to the officers are individual containerised accommodation units which are of the highest standard and meet all health and safety requirements. Each of the units contain a bedroom and study area, with desk and chair, and separate ensuite toilet and shower facilities. The officers also have full access to all the other facilities available in the barracks.

In relation to the commencement of work on Block C in House in Cathal Brugha barracks, the position is unchanged since I last addressed the issue in response to question number 45 on the 10th March 2009. At that time I advised that Projects in the Capital Programme are prioritised in terms of addressing the Defence Forces operational requirements taking into account the annual capital allocation for the on-going building programme. Given the current set of priorities it is unlikely that this project will commence this year. Should the current allocation change the building programme will be reviewed and projects in the programme will be prioritised on a needs basis.

As the Deputy will appreciate, in the current economic environment, capital expenditure projects must be subject to the most rigorous analysis. As I said previously in response to this issue, additional single living in accommodation may not be required in Cathal Brugha barracks in the long term. The temporary accommodation is only used during term time with the officers in question returning to their units during holiday periods. As such, it makes economic sense to provide this type of temporary accommodation, which cost €200,000 for twenty units, rather than expend €1.5 million euro of taxpayers money on additional permanent accommodation which may actually turn out to be surplus to requirements.

Ministerial Meetings.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

71 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Defence the number of formal meetings he has had with the Permanent Defence Forces representative associations, RACO and PDFORRA, respectively, since first being appointed Minister for Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17892/09]

I had several formal meetings with RACO and PDFORRA since my appointment as Minister for Defence. I have also attended the Delegate Conference of both associations. On taking this appointment I was determined that I would operate an "open door" policy. I wanted, as far as practicable, to be available to the Representative Associations to listen to their concerns and, where possible, to address them speedily. The Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme provides the mechanism for addressing issues, which come within the associations' remit. This scheme provides a range of fora to the Associations, from formal Council and subcommittee meetings to less formal meetings and contacts.

Naval Service Vessels.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

72 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Defence if he intends to proceed with plans for the replacement of the Asgard II with a new steel hulled vessel; if estimates are available as to the potential cost; when tenders will be sought; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17778/09]

It is my intention to proceed with plans to replace Asgard II. In that regard, the Board of Coiste an Asgard has initiated planning for the procurement of a new steel hulled vessel similar in design to Asgard II. A firm estimate of the cost of a new vessel is not available at this stage. It is expected that tenders for the new vessel will be sought before the end of the year.

Defence Forces Medical Corps.

Timmy Dooley

Question:

73 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Defence if he has received advice from the Chief of Staff or the director of the Defence Forces medical corps on the use of laser eye surgery; when the Defence Forces will introduce guidelines as to the suitability of this treatment for serving troops or future possible recruits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17753/09]

The position is that there are a number of physical and medical standards laid down by the Military Authorities for entry to the Defence Forces. These requirements are based on the professional advice of the Medical Corps and having regard to the nature of the job, the duties of military service and the training undertaken by members of the Defence Forces. The Medical Corps regularly reviews the medical standards for entry to The Defence Forces.

The question of the suitability for military service of persons who have had laser surgery to correct their visual acuity is complex. It depends on a number of factors including the exact type of surgery and the amount of visual correction effected. I have just received a report from the Military Authorities on the issues relating to laser eye surgery. Once I have had an opportunity to consider the report and the recommendations I will decide on any policy changes required in this area.

Overseas Missions.

Damien English

Question:

74 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Defence if members of the Defence Forces serving in Chad will be awarded a UN MINURCAT medal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17887/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

106 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Defence if he will confirm that Irish troops serving with the UN in Chad may not qualify for UN medals for their tour of duty in view of the fact that they will fall 90 days short of the 400 required; if he will raise this matter with the United Nations with a view to securing medals for these troops; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17777/09]

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

457 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Defence the action being taken to ensure that all members of the Defence Forces who are serving or have served in Chad receive a United Nations medal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18175/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74, 106 and 457 together.

Medals are awarded to members of the Defence Forces on the basis of various criteria such as their length of service, for service overseas and for acts of bravery associated with such service both at home and overseas. Members who serve overseas on UN missions or UN mandated missions, subject to certain criteria, are eligible for the award of the UN Peacekeepers Medal. This medal is only awarded once to any one individual, irrespective of the number of overseas missions that they complete during their career.

In addition to the Peacekeepers Medal, a member who serves overseas may also be eligible for the award of a mission-specific medal by the international organization responsible for the mission. Accordingly, in this instance, qualifying personnel currently deployed to Chad as part of the EUFOR Chad/CAR mission were awarded European Security Defence Policy (ESDP) EUFOR Service Medals prior to being "rehatted" to the UN MINURCAT Mission on 15 March 2009. The qualifying criterion for the award of a UN MINURCAT Medal is at least ninety (90) days service in the theatre. Consequently, personnel returning in May will not be eligible for the award of this medal. I do not intend raising this matter with the UN authorities.

Furthermore, owing to the importance placed on the award of medals and in order to preserve the sense of value and entitlement attached to same, it is policy that only one service medal is recognised per tour of duty. Personnel deployed to Chad beyond 15 March 2009 or indeed those personnel who were ineligible for an ESDP EUFOR Service Medal, will be eligible for the award of a UN MINURCAT Mission Medal provided they meet the qualifying criteria as set down by the UN i.e. over 90 days service.

Military Medals.

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

75 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Defence if his Department is still issuing certificates in lieu of lost or destroyed 1916 and War of Independence medals; the number issued in 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17657/09]

The arrangement in question remains in place and my Department continues to issue Medal certificates signed by me in cases where the 1916 Medal or other War of Independence-related Medal has been lost, stolen or destroyed. Since its introduction in 2006, 1,364 certificates have been issued including 128 in 2008 and 50 to date in 2009.

Departmental Reports.

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

76 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Defence when the report of the consultants appointed to review the medical services of the Defence Forces will be published; if he will implement the recommendations of the report in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17924/09]

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

102 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Defence if he has received the report of the consultants appointed to review the operation of the Defence Forces’ medical services; when he proposes to publish the report; his views on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17656/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

464 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Defence if the final report of the consultants appointed by his Department to review the medical services of the Defence Forces has been received by his Department; if not, when he expects the report to be submitted; his views on the delay in receiving this report, which was scheduled for completion before the end of 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17955/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76, 102 and 464 together.

The development of the Medical Corps forms part of the agreed programme for Government. I am committed to providing a sustainable medical service to meet the needs of the Defence Forces both at home and abroad. As I stated in my answer to a question on this issue in March the final report from PA Consulting on the review of the Defence Forces Medical Services was scheduled for completion before the end of 2008. I registered my disappointment that the schedule for completion was not met. However the main objective of this consultancy is that the final Report is comprehensive, meets the requirements as detailed in the contract and can stand up to robust examination of its assessments and recommendations.

I received the report from PA Consulting, last week and am currently reviewing it. Once I have had an opportunity to consider the recommendations, I intend to publish the report and engage with all of the key stakeholders in relation to its implementation.

Ombudsman for the Defence Forces.

Michael McGrath

Question:

77 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the number of cases submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces in each year since that office was established; the number of persons making claims to that office in each of those years; the number of findings issued in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17654/09]

The Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces was established under the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004. On the 19th September 2005, Ms. Paulyn Marrinan Quinn SC was appointed by the President, upon the recommendation of the Government, as the first Ombudsman for the Defence Forces. Her term of office was extended for a further three years from 19th September 2008.

The function of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is to act as the ultimate point of appeal for, and administrative investigation into, complaints made by members (and former members) of the Defence Forces against another member (or former member) of the Defence Forces, or against a civil servant of the Department of Defence. The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces may investigate a complaint in respect of an action or decision, which may have adversely affected the complainant personally. The action or decision complained of must have occurred no earlier than the 1st December 2005.

In her Annual Reports for 2006 and 2007 the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces reported that her office received twenty-six (26) referrals in 2006 and seventy-six (76) in 2007. She also reported receiving seventy-six (76) Notifications of Complaints under section 114 of the Defence Act in 2006 and one hundred and sixty-eight (168) in 2007. Sixteen (16) Final Reports were issued in 2006 and twenty-nine (29) in 2007. In accordance with the terms of the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004, the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is independent in the performance of her duties. She is required to cause a report on the performance of her functions under the act to be laid annually before each House of the Oireachtas. In these circumstances and as her Annual Report is awaited for 2008, I do not consider it appropriate for me to report on the number of cases submitted to her Office in 2008.

Overseas Missions.

Seán Barrett

Question:

78 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Defence if he is satisfied with the fixed and rotary wing air transport support that is available to the Irish battalion in Chad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17863/09]

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

80 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Defence his views on media reports that the UN peace support mission in Chad is at half strength and has insufficient helicopter support; if Ireland may be asked to increase the number of troops contributing to this mission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17650/09]

Denis Naughten

Question:

92 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Defence if he is satisfied with the level of back-up support being provided to Irish troops in Chad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17468/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

110 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the concerns expressed by the UN’s assistant secretary for peacekeeping, Mr. Edmund Melet, that the UN operation in Chad has less than half the troops required and it is chronically short of helicopters; his views on whether these shortages may expose Irish troops to undue risk; if he has raised the matter with the United Nations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17776/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78, 80, 92 and 110 together.

On 15 March 2009, MINURCAT, the United Nation's led mission in Chad and the Central African Republic assumed operational control of the United Nations force of 2,085 personnel, including 1,877 troops re-hatted from eight EUFOR contributors. An Irish officer, Brigadier General Gerald Aherne, has been appointed Deputy Force Commander in the mission. In the eight short weeks or so since MINURCAT took over the force, the mission is facing a number of challenges — mainly force generation, a shortfall in helicopter assets and fuel shortages in Chad.

In his report last month to the United Nations Security Council on the MINURCAT mission, the Secretary-General indicated that the build-up of the force will be phased, with a period of consolidation prior to the beginning of the rainy season in June 2009. The force was expected to reach its full troop strength of 5,200 by the end of 2009 but this has now been revised downwards to 4,700 by that date. As of 30 April 2009, the MINURCAT force strength was 2,400 troops. It is likely to reach a strength of 3,000 troops by 30 June 2009. The pace of troop generation has been attributed to the brief period allowed between the United Nation's authorisation of the military component of MINURCAT and the deployment of military personnel. There has been no request from the UN and Ireland has no plans to increase its commitment to MINURCAT. In addition, the UN has only received pledges for 10 of the 18 military helicopters detailed in the force requirements. It has urged Member States to meet the shortfalls in personnel and air assets, particularly night-capable military helicopters, to ensure the mission can implement its mandate without constraint.

There are currently eight (8) fixed wing aircraft and ten (10) Rotary aircraft assigned by the UN to the MINURCAT mission. There are three (3) fixed wing and six (6) rotary aircraft located in Abéché, five (5) fixed wing and (2) Rotary aircraft in N'Djamena. Regarding helicopter support available to the Defence Forces contingent in Goz Beida, two UN helicopters are currently available to the Defence Forces serving with MINURCAT. In addition, the Defence Forces have retained the two contracted Mi-8T helicopters to support its operations in Chad. As such, there are now four helicopters based in Goz Beida.

The detailed threat assessment and reconnaissance undertaken informs decisions regarding the configuration of the contingent and its armaments and protection. In the case of MINURCAT, as was the case with the EUFOR mission, the Defence Forces have deployed a full range of force protection assets, including 18 MOWAG APCs and 4 Close Reconnaissance Vehicles and indirect fire capabilities (mortars). Together, these provide the necessary armoured protection, mobility, firepower and communications. The MOWAG APCs deployed were also deployed with the Defence Forces when they served with UNMIL in Liberia and UNIFIL in Lebanon, where they performed very effectively. The Defence Forces have also deployed a suite of robust tactical communications systems.

The fuel problems being encountered by MINURCAT are common to the whole of Chad, as there is a country-wide fuel crisis. The UN is fully exercised on the issue and all possible sources of fuel for MINURCAT contingents are being investigated by the UN to meet the mission's current needs. This includes the airlifting of fuel from a neighbouring UN mission, which has been ongoing. The UN has indicated that once sufficient fuel stock has been rebuilt in Abeche, the UN should be prepared for future countrywide crises of this nature.

Fuel conservation measures at Camp Ciara, where personnel of the Irish Battalion are based, are being constantly reviewed. While there has been some limitations on operations conducted by the Irish Battalion, the maintenance of essential "life support" systems in the Irish Camp i.e. water, cooking, sanitation, air –conditioning etc., has continued to be prioritised by the Defence Forces. The Irish Battalion has retained the capability to react to emergency situations using both air and land assets. Fuel rationing is expected to continue until the 1st of June when a new UN contract is mobilised. The situation continues to be monitored closely by the Defence Forces. I am satisfied that all necessary measures are being taken by the UN to address the various difficulties faced by the mission in its transition period.

Departmental Staff.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

79 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Defence the number of civilian employees working for his Department or the Defence Forces under short-term contracts; the number of such contracts that will expire by the end of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17780/09]

A total of nine civilian employees are employed by my Department under short term contracts to work with the Defence Forces. Contracts relating to two of these employees are due to expire by the end of 2009. My Department is currently considering the implications of the Government decision on the savings measures on public service numbers announced by the Minister for Finance on 27 March 2009 in relation to the renewal or otherwise of the contracts for the employees in question.

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 78.

Naval Service Vessels.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

81 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Defence the position in regard to the refurbishment programme for the Creidne; if he will confirm that the vessel will be available in May 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17779/09]

The refurbishment programme on theCreidne for use as a sail training vessel by Coiste an Asgard is nearing completion. The work is being carried out by the Naval Service at the Naval Base, Haulbowline, Co. Cork. The Creidne is due to commence a programme of sail training cruises on 3 July.

Defence Forces Recruitment.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

82 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Defence if he will confirm that no recruitment to the Defence Forces will take place during 2009; the strength of the Army, the Air Corps and the Naval Service as of 1 January 2009; the projected strength of each at the end of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17771/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

447 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if it is intended to increase the strength of the Army, Navy and Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18159/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 447 together.

The strength of the Army, the Air Corps and the Naval Service as of 31 December 2008 is set out in the tabular statement. The Government introduced a moratorium on recruitment to the Public Service with effect from 27th March 2009. In this context and given the reduced budgetary provision available for 2009, all recruitment to the Defence Forces has been suspended for the present.

The moratorium and the reduction in the pay budget were introduced as cost saving measures to achieve necessary savings in the pay bill in the public sector. These savings will have to be achieved. The question of recruitment is currently under review by my officials and the military authorities in consultation with the Department of Finance. The outcome of the review and any subsequent recruitment in 2009 will prioritise the operational requirements of the Defence Forces.

STRENGTH OF THE DEFENCE FORCES 31-Dec-08

LT Gen

Maj Gen

Brig Gen

Col

LT Col

Comdt

Capt

LT

Total Offrs

SM

BQMS

CS

CQMS

SGTS

CPLS

Total NCOS

PTES

Cadets

Total

Army

1

3

7

41

131

305

237

346

1,071

32

39

133

251

1,048

1,467

2,970

4,394

71

8,506

Air Corps

1

2

12

32

56

44

147

7

4

48

15

135

171

380

291

14

832

Naval Service

1

2

12

43

42

60

160

6

7

76

15

216

175

495

402

13

1,070

Total

1

3

9

45

155

380

335

450

1,378

45

50

257

281

1,399

1,813

3,845

5,087

98

10,408

Questions Nos. 83 and 84 answered with Question No. 66.

Defence Forces Equipment.

Chris Andrews

Question:

85 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Defence the major equipment purchases planned for 2009 and 2010; the progress being made in sourcing new equipment and vehicles; if the global economic downturn is resulting in a reduction in equipment prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17649/09]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

98 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Defence the way the €30 million reduction in defence spending, announced in the 7 April 2009 supplementary budget, will be achieved; the instances in which plans to acquire new equipment during 2009 will not proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17770/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 98 together.

As the Deputies are aware, there has been very significant investment in equipment and infrastructure in the Defence Forces over the past twelve years. The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces remains a key focus for me as Minister for Defence. It is, however, imperative that my Department and the Defence Forces look to whatever efficiencies we can make taking into account the current difficult economic environment and the overall financial envelope available for the Department for military equipment over the coming years.

Several important equipment purchases will be advanced in 2009 and 2010 including the acquisition of Light Tactical Armoured Vehicles, three-quarter tonne 4 x 4 vehicles and two Heavy Recovery Vehicles for the Defence Forces. The Naval Service Ship replacement programme will also be advanced this year. Where it is possible to take advantage of price reductions, these will be pursued.

The reduction of €30m will be achieved from:

The reduced costs of the Chad mission consequent on its changeover to a UN mission from March 2009 — approximately €10 million.

A deferment of certain building and refurbishment projects for the remainder of 2009 — saving approximately €6 million on new building and €3 million on refurbishment. In that regard, it should be noted that over €400 million has been spent on upgrading barracks, buildings and infrastructure across the Defence Forces Since 1997.

Reduced fuel and utility costs — approx €2 million.

The balance will be achieved by the implementation of economies across the entire Defence organisation, i.e. savings on pay and allowances and recruitment advertising etc.

Defence Forces Recruitment.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

86 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Defence the number recruited to the Reserve Defence Forces to date in 2009; the number of potential recruits in the enlistment process prior to 27 March 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Government introduced a moratorium on recruitment to the Public Service with effect from 27th March 2009. In this context and given the reduced budgetary provision available for 2009, recruitment to the Reserve Defence Force has been suspended for the present. I am advised by the military authorities that the number of recruit enlistments to the Reserve Defence Forces in 2009 prior to the moratorium was 232 and the estimated number of potential recruits in the RDF processing system prior to 27 March 2009 was 1,254.

Naval Service Vessels.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

87 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Defence the progress he expects to make during 2009 in regard to the acquisition by the Naval Service of modern new replacement vessels; if the plan will be delayed by the cuts in the funding for his Department announced in the 7 April 2009 supplementary budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17781/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

441 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Defence if agreement on funding and approval has been received to award a contract for the purchase of two offshore patrol vessels for the Naval Service; when a decision will be made on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18115/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

442 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Defence the expected timetable for the acquisition of three new vessels for the Naval Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18116/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87, 441 and 442 together.

Following Government approval in July 2007, notice of a tender competition for the purchase of replacement vessels for the Naval Service was sent to the Official Journal of the European Union on 24 August 2007. The competition is for the purchase of two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV's) with an option of a third and one Extended Patrol Vessel (EPV) with an option on a second. The options provide an effective value for money opportunity, at locked in prices, to provide replacements for Naval Service vessels, which will reach the end of their service life in the years immediately following the current replacement programme.

Following Stage 1 of the tender competition for the OPVs, Stage 2 of the competition commenced on the 12th September 2008 with the issue of an Invitation to Tender to the shipbuilders who had been short-listed as part of the Stage 1 process. This document included a very detailed ship specification. The detailed tender responses were returned to the Department by the shipbuilders on the 11 November last. The Tender evaluation commenced immediately and continued for a number of weeks. Consultants were engaged under contract to assist with the tender evaluation. A preferred bidder has been selected and contract negotiations have recently commenced. No contract has yet been signed. However, I expect to bring this matter to Government shortly.

Subject to Government approval on funding, it is expected that the new vessels will be delivered for acceptance by the Naval Service on a phased basis between 2011 and 2013. The expected timetable for the delivery of the first OPV will be approximately 30 months after the date of signing of the contract whilst the specified delivery date for the second OPV will be approximately 37 months after the date of signing of the contract. If the Department exercises its option of purchasing a third OPV, a mutually agreeable delivery date shall be negotiated. These timelines are indicative and do not prejudice the right of the Department to adjust or alter the delivery schedule at the contract negotiation stage.

In the current difficult economic environment, it is important that we look to the efficiencies which all parts of the public sector can make so as to continue to deliver high quality public services within a more constrained financial resource envelope. However, it is also important that we continue to invest in public services so as we can maintain service levels into the future. Within the resources available to us, to maintain capacity, we need to continue the process of modernisation and reinvestment in the Defence Forces generally, into the future. The Naval Service Ships Programme is part of this process.

The acquisition of these modern new vessels will ensure that the Naval Service will be fully equipped to carry out its day to day roles in enforcing the State's sovereign rights over our waters and our fisheries and meeting Ireland's obligations in the area of maritime safety and security and fisheries protection. In relation to the larger EPV, the Department intends to complete the contract negotiations in relation to the OPV before the second stage of the EPV competition is initiated. As with the OPVs, any decision to award a contract for the purchase of an EPV must be approved by the Government.

Overseas Missions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

88 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the expected number and location of overseas Defence Force deployments in the next 12 months, whether under the aegis of the UN, EU or joint operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17811/09]

Margaret Conlon

Question:

113 Deputy Margaret Conlon asked the Minister for Defence the number of Irish Troops serving on UN mandated missions; the location of those missions involving more than 12 Irish Defence Force personnel; the expected duration of these missions; if he expects Irish participation in any of these missions to come to an end in the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17653/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 113 together.

Ireland has offered, through the UN Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS), to provide up to 850 military personnel for overseas service at any one time. This figure equates to some 10% of Ireland's standing Army (excluding Reserves) and demonstrates Ireland's commitment to the cause of international peace. This is the maximum sustainable commitment that Ireland can make to overseas peacekeeping operations. Ireland is currently contributing 779 Defence Forces personnel to 12 different missions throughout the world. Full details of all personnel currently serving overseas are listed in the tabular statement attached.

The main overseas missions, in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed, are the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) with 421 personnel, the NATO-led International Security presence (KFOR) in Kosovo with 239 personnel and the EU-led operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, ALTHEA, with 44 personnel. Other personnel are serving as monitors and observers with the United Nations, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Staff are also deployed at the organisational headquarters of the EU, OSCE and NATO. The commitment to MINURCAT will be for an initial period of 1 year to 14 March 2010. Subject to the renewal of the mandate, a satisfactory review of the mission and available resources, I would propose, subject to Government approval, to extend the Defence Forces participation on a year to year basis thereafter. Participation by the Defence Forces in the NATO-led International Security presence (KFOR) in Kosovo is reviewed by the Government on an annual basis.

Following on from the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) meeting on 10 November 2008, the EU-led Operation "ALTHEA" in Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to change from its current configuration of some 2,200 troops, to a support and training operation. This transition is now expected to commence after the next meeting of the Peace Implementation Council in June 2009 and should take approximately six (6) months to complete. Ireland currently has Government approval to continue to provide a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with this mission in its current configuration up to 31 December 2009, subject to renewal of UN authority for the mission beyond 20 November 2009 to 31 December 2009.

Members of the Permanent Defence Force Serving Overseas as of 01 May 2009

Number

1.

UN Missions

(i)

UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) HQ

8

(ii)

UNTSO(United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation) — Israel, Syria and Lebanon

12

(iii)

MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara)

3

(iv)

MONUC (United Nations Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo)

3

(v)

UNOCI (United Nations Mission in Ivory Coast)

2

(vi)

MINURCAT (United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad) — HQ

13

MINURCAT (United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad) — 99th Inf Battalion

408

Total

449

UN Mandated Missions

(vii)

EUFOR (EU-led Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina)

44

(viii)

EUFORTCHAD/RCA (EU-led Operation in CHAD and the Central African Republic) OHQ — Paris

16

EUFORTCHAD/RCA (EU-led Operation in CHAD and the Central African Republic) FHQ — Chad

4

(ix)

KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo) HQ

18

KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo) 39th Inf Group

221

(x)

ISAF (International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan)

7

Total number of personnel serving with UN Missions

759

2.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

(i)

OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina

2

(ii)

OSCE Mission in Belgrade — Serbia

1

(iii)

Staff Officer, Higher Level Planning Group, Vienna

1

Total number of personnel service OSCE

4

3.

EU Military Staff

Brussels

7

4.

Military Representatives/Advisers/Staff

(i)

Military Adviser, Permanent Mission to UN, New York

1

(ii)

Military Adviser, Irish Delegation to OSCE, Vienna

1

(iii)

Military Representative to EU (Brussels)

4

(iv)

Liaison Office of Ireland, NATO/PfP (Brussels)

2

(v)

Military Representative to NATO/PfP Co-ordination Cell/Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Mons. Belgium

1

Total number of Defence Forces personnel serving overseas

779

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 66.

Defence Forces Promotions.

Jack Wall

Question:

90 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the concerns expressed by the representative organisations about the implications for morale of the ban on promotions within the Defence Forces; the steps he will take to counter same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17772/09]

The savings measures on public service numbers were introduced by the Government on 27 March as part of the response to the current unprecedented economic challenges. I am sensitive to the career aspirations of the many excellent members of the Permanent Defence Force. I understand that the impact of the moratorium will lead to disappointment. However, it must be set against the dramatic deterioration in the economic environment and the action being taken in response.

The Defence Forces have improved in every respect since 2000 through the implementation of the White Paper. This represents a significant public service success story. The organisation is in a healthy state both in terms of personnel and equipment. I intend, within the resources available, to retain the capacity of the organization to operate effectively across all roles. This will represent a significant challenge in the coming years and I will work closely with the Chief of Staff in meeting it. The men and women of the Defence Forces have over the years risen admirably to that challenge of change and modernisation. They are now being asked along with other Public Servants to rise to this particular challenge. I have no doubt that they will do so with the same sense of public service they have displayed in the past.

Defence Forces Deployment.

Denis Naughten

Question:

91 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Defence the steps which are being taken to provide for additional personnel numbers in Custume Barracks, Athlone, County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17469/09]

I wish to refer the Deputy to my reply to question 91 on Tuesday 10th March last. There have been no further developments since then.

Question No. 92 answered with Question No. 78.

Overseas Missions.

Peter Kelly

Question:

93 Deputy Peter Kelly asked the Minister for Defence if the use of dietary and body building supplements by Defence Forces personnel in Chad has been prohibited by military authorities; if personnel were notified in advance of this prohibition; if this prohibition applies to all Defence Force personnel, whether serving at home or overseas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17746/09]

I am advised by the Military authorities that the Director of the Defence Forces Medical Corps has recommended that all personnel should be discouraged from the use of dietary supplements/muscle building agents of any kind unless taken under medical advice. The Director has also advised that their use by personnel deployed on overseas duty should be forbidden. Any person who believes that he or she requires supplements are advised to consult with a military Medical Officer who will advise accordingly.

This recommendation stems from a routine search of baggage for personnel deploying to CHAD with the 99 Infantry Battalion earlier this year during which Military Police Personnel noted food supplements being consigned with luggage. Upon medical advice, the Officer Commanding directed that food supplements were to be removed from baggage and their consignment to Chad was not permitted. As this issue had not been foreseen, personnel for this flight would not have been notified in advance.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

94 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Defence if a decision has been made as to the future participation by Ireland in the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina; if it is intended to keep Irish troops there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17651/09]

The EU operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina — Operation "Althea" — was established in December 2004, under the authority of UN Security Council Resolution 1575 of 22 November 2004, to replace the NATO-led Stabilisation Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SFOR). On 20 November 2008, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1845 (2008) renewing EUFOR's mandate for a further period of 12 months. The Defence Forces have participated in EUFOR since December 2004, having previously been a participant in SFOR since 1997. Currently, a total of 44 Defence Forces personnel are serving with the EU-led operation.

Following on from the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) meeting on 10 November 2008, which I attended, the EU-led Operation "ALTHEA" in Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to change from its current configuration of some 2,200 troops, to a support and training operation. This transition is now expected to commence after the next meeting of the Peace Implementation Council in June 2009 and should take approximately six (6) months to complete. Ireland currently has Government approval to continue to provide a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with this mission in its current configuration up to 31 December 2009, subject to renewal of UN authority for the mission beyond 20 November 2009 to 31 December 2009. Participation by the Defence Forces in the EU follow-on mission is not under consideration.

Defence Forces Operations.

Peter Kelly

Question:

95 Deputy Peter Kelly asked the Minister for Defence the number of call-outs made by the bomb disposal unit in the greater Dublin area, the Munster area, the Connaught-Ulster area and the Leinster area in 2008 and to date in 2009; the number of these that turned out to be a hoax; if there has been an increase in the number of hoax call-outs; the cost associated with all EOD call-outs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17745/09]

The information sought by the Deputy is not compiled in the manner requested. Each Brigade of the Defence Forces records information on calls out in its own area. The total number of calls out responded to by each Brigade for 2008 and to the period ended 24 April 2009 is set out in the following table:

Brigade

2008

2009 (as at 24/04/09)

East

111

34

South

37

4

West

20

10

DFTC (Curragh)

12

5

Total

180

53

The following table indicates the total number of hoaxes as a percentage of total calls out for the period 2006-2009 (24th April 2009):

Year

Total number of calls out

Number of hoaxes

Hoaxes as percentage of total calls out

%

2006

101

8

8

2007

98

11

11

2008

180

58

32

2009 (24th April 2009)

53

19

36

The cost of each individual call out is not recorded separately but costs include: the salary and allowances of the team (i.e. one officer, one NCO and one driver), fuel for the distance travelled by the vehicle to and from the location of the incident and any ordnance used to dispose of the device. The Defence Forces EOD team is required to treat all suspect devices as real until the EOD Officer confirms the nature of the suspect device. The determination as to whether a suspect device is viable or hoax can only be made following detailed inspection by the EOD Officer.

National Emergency Plan.

Seán Connick

Question:

96 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Defence when the task force on emergency planning last met; the items discussed; if there is a programme of simulated exercises in place for 2009; the nature of these exercises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17748/09]

I chair the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning which includes Ministers, senior officials of government departments, senior officers of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces and officials of other key public authorities, which have a lead or support role in Government emergency planning. The Government Task Force meets on a regular basis. The most recent meeting took place last week, on Wednesday 29th April.

While the details of matters discussed at meetings of the Government Task Force are confidential, I can confirm that the Task Force examines current risks and supports coordination arrangements for emergency planning across Government. At last week's meeting, the Task Force received a comprehensive presentation from the Department of Health and Children on the public health situation with regard to human cases of influenza type A H1N1 (Human Swine influenza). Also, each meeting of the Task Force has, as a standing agenda item, an assessment of the current security threat, which is provided by An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.

With regard to simulated exercises, I have, on many occasions stressed to the members of the Task Force the importance of conducting regular exercises. Departments have submitted details of their exercise plans for the current year. These are strategic exercises, varied in nature, and include table-top and live exercises. This year, exercises are being conducted in areas such as search and rescue, pollution control, airport and other transport emergencies and exercises aimed at testing inter-agency communication arrangements.

Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 66.
Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 85.
Question No. 99 answered with Question No. 66.

Defence Forces Operations.

Mary Upton

Question:

100 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Defence the number of cash in transit escorts provided by the Defence Forces during 2008; the amount of personnel hours involved in these operations; the amount paid by banks or financial institutions for this service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17775/09]

The number of cash in transit escorts provided by the Defence Forces in 2008 was 2,210. The average number of personnel per escort was 8 and the average duration of an escort was 10.9 hours. This gives a total of approximately 193,000 personnel hours expended by the escort teams on cash in transit escorts in 2008. Costs in respect of the service provided in the twelve month period to the end of December 2008 are currently being prepared by my Department. A sum of €7.34 million was paid by the banks for the provision of this service in 2007.

Ministerial Transport.

Michael McGrath

Question:

101 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the number of hours flown by all aircraft including fixed and rotary wing as part of the ministerial air transport service in 1996 and 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17655/09]

The Ministerial Air Transport Service is provided by the Air Corps to facilitate members of the Government in fulfilling their official engagements at home and abroad. The Service is primarily provided by the Gulfstream IV and Learjet 45 aircraft, which were specifically acquired for that purpose. The Gulfstream IV was acquired in December 1991, and the Learjet 45 entered service in January 2004 as a replacement for the Beechcraft Kingair. Until recently, the Beechcraft continued to be used as a back up aircraft for short and medium haul flights, in addition to its primary pilot training role. The CASA maritime patrol aircraft have been used infrequently for Ministerial Air Transport missions where no MATS aircraft has been available for operational or technical reasons.

Helicopters are used from time to time for ministerial air transport in situations where, for operational reasons, fixed wing aircraft may not be available, the point of destination may not be close to an airport and in circumstances where there is a requirement for greater flexibility than can be delivered by fixed wing aircraft. The information requested by the Deputy regarding the number of hours flown on Ministerial Air Transport in 1996 and 2006 is presented in the tabular statement:

Type of Aircraft

Hours Flown 1996

Hours Flown in 2006

Gulfstream IV

890

558

Beech Kingair

290

135

Helicopters

147

53

Learjet 45

301

CASA

5

TOTALS

1,327

1,052

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 76.
Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 64.
Question No. 104 answered with Question No. 66.

Drug Testing Programme.

Timmy Dooley

Question:

105 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Defence the changes he has made to the Defence Forces drug testing programme; the number of personnel tested under the programme in 2008 and to date in 2009; the number and rank of those who tested positive; the type and class of drugs detected; the action taken when a member tests positive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17752/09]

On 11 March last I signed into effect new Regulations covering the operation of the Compulsory Random Drug Testing programme (CRDT) in the Irish Defence Forces. The Irish Defence Forces policy on drug and substance abuse or misuse is based on the premise that unlawful possession, supply or use of a controlled drug is incompatible with membership of the Defence Forces. Any member who tests positive is liable to be removed from the Defence Forces. A CRDT programme aimed at deterrence was introduced in October 2002.

A review of the existing regulations became necessary arising from a High Court judgment last year. The new Regulations strengthen the administrative process, which follows a positive test result. They also provide for the introduction of Targeted Drugs Testing, in certain circumstances, which may be afforded to an individual with their agreement for a period not greater than 18 months. The main changes introduced in the case of a positive test include:

Additional time for an individual to make representations;

A more structured approach to the consideration of individual representations by a Commanding Officer and a Formation Commander;

The appointment of an Appeals Officer to conduct a hearing in the event of an appeal;

The facility for a Formation Commander to defer, for a period not exceeding eighteen (18) months, a decision on discharge/retirement or retention of an individual;

Targeted Drug Testing regime for use in association with the Formation Commander's discretion regarding deferral of a decision on discharge/retirement or retention.

When a member tests positive, they are afforded the opportunity to have a "B" sample tested independently. In the event that this also tests positive, the individual is assigned to duties of an administrative nature. At the same time, the administrative process as laid down in Administrative Instruction A7 Chapter 3 is initiated. This provides for the submission of representations by the individual prior to a recommendation being made by the Commanding Officer as to whether the person should be retired/discharged, retained or retained conditional on participation in a Targeted Drug Testing programme.

If the individual does not accept the recommendation, it is open to them to make further representations to the Formation Commander who may then appoint an independent Appeals Officer to conduct an appeal "de novo". Having considered the issues and any written or oral representations, the Appeals Officer makes their recommendation as to whether the person should be retired/discharged, retained or retained conditional on participation in a Targeted Drug Testing programme. The recommendation is considered by the designated authority and a decision made regarding which course of action is to be followed.

The objective of Targeted Drugs Testing is to ensure that an individual, who has previously tested positive for the presence of a controlled drug but who conditionally remains in service as a result of a decision of their Formation Commander, is performing his/her military duties devoid of the presence and/or influence of any controlled drug or substance. Targeted Drugs Testing (TDT) may be invoked for a period of up to 18 months in circumstances where, at the discretion of a Formation Commander, a decision/recommendation is deferred on the retention or otherwise of an individual who has had a positive test result on a CRDT or a TDT. TDT will only be invoked with the agreement of the individual concerned. TDT involves the individual agreeing to submit to targeted drugs testing, in addition to the random selection process, for a period of up to 18 months, the commencement of which will be determined by the formation commander or equivalent.

An individual who agrees to submit to targeted drugs testing may expect to be tested up to six (6) times over a maximum period of eighteen months. As with CRDT, no prior notification of the date/dates of targeted testing will be given. Targeted tests will be conducted in a similar manner to that prescribed for CRDT. An individual who has a positive test result recorded against him/her on a TDT will be dealt with in the same manner as a positive test result on a CRDT. The following table shows the numbers of tests conducted in 2008 and 2009 to date, as well as outlining the results:

Year

No. tested

Positive tests

Positives by Rank

Drug type

2008

1,129 PDF

4 PDF

All Private Rank

3 THC

779 RDF

2 RDF

(Cannabis)

2 Cocaine

1 Barbiturates

2009 (to date)

559 PDF

1 PDF

Private Rank

1 THC

155 RDF

(Cannabis)

Question No. 106 answered with Question No. 74.

Overseas Missions.

Chris Andrews

Question:

107 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Defence if reports that Irish troops serving in Chad have been ordered not to play football or other sports due to the risk of injury and that troops are being served cold meals because fuel supplies are low are untrue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17648/09]

In exercising his statutory duty of care to his troops, the Irish Commander of the 99th Infantry Battalion deployed with the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) conducted a risk assessment of all activities, including sporting activities, carried out by personnel deployed in the theatre of operations. It was the Commander's assessment that the risk of hospitalisation or permanent repatriation of personnel due to sports injuries was not acceptable to him as all personnel are required for operational deployments on immediate notice. He, therefore, imposed a ban on competitive contact and other sports such as soccer and volleyball.

I might add that a wide range of sporting activities including unarmed combat skills, running and the use of a well equipped gymnasium is available to troops based in Camp Ciara. Any restrictions on contact sports are purely for the benefit of the troops. The fuel shortage in Chad has not impacted on the maintenance of essential "life support" systems in the Irish Camp i.e. water, cooking, sanitation, air-conditioning etc. As such, members of the Permanent Defence Force deployed to Chad are served three hot meals, with multiple choices, each day.

Defence Forces Operations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

108 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if it is intended to increase naval and air surveillance in view of the need to combat drug trafficking or other criminal activity which may become more lucrative in the current economic climate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17812/09]

The Naval Service provides the maritime element of the Defence Forces and has a general responsibility to meet contingent and actual maritime defence requirements. The Naval Service operates eight general purpose patrol ships. All eight ships are involved in coastal and offshore patrolling and surveillance for the State in that part of the seas where State jurisdiction applies. The primary day-to-day tasking of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State's obligations as a member of the European Union. However, as the need arises, Naval Service vessels are deployed to other duties such as aid to the civil power and drug interdiction operations.

The current Exclusive Fishery Limits extend to 200 miles offshore and cover an area of 132,000 nautical square miles. The Naval Service currently patrols the entire 200 mile limit and periodically patrols beyond these limits to protect specific fisheries. These patrols are carried out on a regular and frequent basis and are directed to all areas of Irish waters as necessary. The number of Patrol Vessels on patrol in Irish waters at any one time varies between three and eight. The Naval Service is committed to having at least three vessels on patrol within the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone at any one time. All vessels are multi-tasked in the sense that they also undertake general surveillance, security and other duties while on patrol. Naval Service patrols are complemented by assistance provided by the Air Corps. The Air Corps Maritime Squadron carries out aerial surveillance of territorial waters using the two CASA maritime patrol aircraft.

Responsibility for the prevention of drug trafficking rests primarily with the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners. Responsibility for the prevention of crime, including people trafficking, rests primarily with An Garda Síochána. However, the White Paper on Defence provides for a security role for the Naval Service and the Air Corps to assist and support the civil authorities in this important work. Government measures to improve law enforcement in relation to drugs, including the establishment in 1993 of a Joint Task Force involving An Garda Síochána, the Customs Service and the Naval Service, have helped to maximize the effective use of Naval Service resources in combating drug trafficking.

The Air Corps provide air support and on occasion, carry the Customs National Drugs Team in an observational capacity for the purpose of monitoring vessels suspected of drug trafficking and other illegal activities. There is close co-operation between the civil authorities and the Naval Service and the Air Corps in discharging this important mission.

Consultancy Contracts.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

109 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Defence the reason for the 67% increase in the Estimates for his Department in respect of consultancy services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17784/09]

An amount of €100,000 has been provided in Subhead A7 of Vote 36 for expenditure on consultancy services in 2009. The outturn for this Subhead in 2008 was €60,000. The total gross provision in Vote 36 for 2009 is 6% less than the outturn for 2008. The increased provision in Subhead A7 for 2009 is required to support the Department's ongoing programme of value for money and business process reviews.

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 78.

Air Corps Operations.

Seán Connick

Question:

111 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Defence the number of hours flown by the Air Corps aircraft on all training and operational duties in 2008; the breakdown of these flying hours and the percentage of flying time spent on training, on air ambulance, search and rescue, ministerial transport, security, aid to the civilian power and other duties in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17747/09]

The role of the Air Corps as set out in the White Paper on Defence is to provide a range of military and non-military services in support of the State. These services include the provision of a 24 hour general helicopter capability for a variety of tasks, including Garda Síochána support; the provision of a Ministerial Air Transport Service, the provision of fishery protection patrol services to agreed standards, the provision of an air ambulance service on the basis of agreed arrangements with the Department of Health and Children, and the provision of an appropriate capability to meet training requirements. In 2008, Air Corps aircraft flew in excess of 11,000 hours across a range of mission taskings. A detailed breakdown of the hours flown is presented in the tabular statement:

Air Corps Flying Hours 2008

Types of Missions

Hours Flown

Percentage of Total Flying Time

%

Air Ambulance

252.7

2.29

Search and Rescue

14.6

0.13

MATS

921.8

8.35

Military Support

1,528.5

13.85

Aid to the Civil Power

2,141.3

19.40

Maritime Patrol

1,665.9

15.09

Other Duties

367.8

3.33

Training

3,782.2

34.27

Maintenance Support

196.0

1.78

Service Support

166.7

1.51

Total Hours

11,037.5

100.00

Departmental Reports.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

112 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Defence the value for money and policy reviews to be undertaken by his Department in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17785/09]

The Government's Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative is overseen by the Value for Money and Policy Review Central Steering Committee. Government Department's are required to submit review topics for inclusion in a rolling programme of Value for Money Reviews. The Department of Defence reviews approved by Government for inclusion in the 2009-2011 round of Value for Money and Policy Reviews are: A Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Force; A Value for Money Review of the Training of General Service Recruits. The Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Force will be undertaken in 2009. In addition, work is currently ongoing to complete a Value for Money Review of Military Training Lands.

Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 88.

Ministerial Transport.

Margaret Conlon

Question:

114 Deputy Margaret Conlon asked the Minister for Defence the number and type of Air Corps aircraft used by the ministerial air transport service; the way the hourly direct and total costs are calculated; the cost headings used to calculate direct and total costs; the cost headings which are fixed and which are variable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17652/09]

The Ministerial Air Transport Service is primarily provided by the Gulfstream IV and Learjet 45 jet aircraft, which were specifically acquired for that purpose. Until recently, the Beechcraft Super King Air 200 turbo-prop aircraft was also used as a back up aircraft for short and medium haul Ministerial Air Transport missions, in addition to its primary pilot training role. The 2 x CASA maritime patrol aircraft are used infrequently for Ministerial Air Transport missions where no MATS aircraft are available for operational or technical reasons.

There are a total of 8 military helicopters in operational service with the Air Corps at present, comprising 6 x AW139 utility helicopters and 2 x EC135 P2 light utility helicopters. These helicopters are used from time to time for ministerial air transport in situations where, for operational reasons, fixed wing aircraft may not be available, the point of destination may not be close to an airport and in circumstances where there is a requirement for greater flexibility than can be delivered by fixed wing aircraft.

My Department follows the normal practice in the aviation business of costing aircraft by reference to the average cost per flying hour. This is done under either of two headings:

The direct cost, i.e. the costs which are additional to those associated with having the aircraft and which only arise when the aircraft is flown. These include maintenance, technical requirements, fuel and support services; and

The total cost, i.e. the direct cost plus the costs associated with having the aircraft, i.e. depreciation and personnel costs.

The fixed costs are those which arise from having the aircraft regardless of whether it is flown or not. These include depreciation and personnel costs. The variable costs are those impacted by the level of activity of the aircraft, i.e. the hours flown. Such costs include maintenance, fuel and support services. The costs associated with Air Corps aircraft used in the provision of the Ministerial Air Transport Service are as follows:

Aircraft

Average Direct Cost Per Hour

Average Total Cost Per Hour

Gulfstream

4,050

7,890

Learjet

1,270

2,950

Beechcraft

1,320

1,770

CASA

1,335

2,821

EC 135

430

1,590

AW 139

1,470

3,130

Departmental Reports.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

115 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Taoiseach if his Department has commissioned internal or external reports in relation to his Department or bodies under the aegis of his Department in the past five years; if so, the objectives of such reports; the cost of same; if such reports have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17402/09]

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of my Department is detailed in the schedule below:

Title of Report

Year

Objective

Cost

Laid before Houses of the Oireachtas (yes / no)

Annual Report 2003 (published 2004) (Annual Reports are produced internally but are published for both internal and external use)

2004

Progress report on the Department’s Strategy Statement

26,352

Yes

Strategy Statement 2005-2007 (Strategy Statements are produced internally but are published for both internal and external use)

2004

As required every three years or within 6 months of the appointment of a new Taoiseach/Government

16,201

Yes

Review of Usability and Accessibility of the Department’s Websites[Internal report]

2005

To ensure that the Department of the Taoiseach is meeting the commitments in it’s Customer Charter in relation to it’s websites and publications

37,890 inc VAT

No

Employee Opinion Survey 2005 (Report was undertaken by an external consultant for internal use only. Results of the EOS are not published.)

2005

As above

22,990

No

Annual Report 2004 (published 2005) (Annual Reports are produced internally but are published for both internal and external use)

2005

Progress report on the Department’s Strategy Statement

28,976

Yes

Department of the Taoiseach Scheme (2005-2008) under Section 11 of the Official Languages Act 2003

2005

To fulfil our requirements under the Official Languages Act 2003 in relation to the delivery of our services to the public through the medium of Irish.

6,222

No

Annual Report 2005 (published 2006) (Annual Reports are produced internally but are published for both internal and external use)

2006

Progress report on the Department’s Strategy Statement

17,082

Yes

Employee Opinion Survey 2007 (Report was undertaken by an external consultant for internal use only. Results of the EOS are not published.)

2007

An EOS has been carried out every 2 years since 2001 to ascertain staff perceptions in relation to a range of themes including organisational climate, communication, managing performance, motivating and developing people and management style. The results of the survey are then used to inform management on relevant issues.

18,081

No

Title of Report

Year

Objective

Cost

Laid before Houses of the Oireachtas (yes / no)

Annual Report 2006 (published 2007) (Annual Reports are produced internally but are published for both internal and external use)

2007

Progress report on the Department’s Strategy Statement

12,183

Yes

Strategy Statement 2008-2010 (Strategy Statements are produced internally but are published for both internal and external use)

2007

As required every three years or within 6 months of the appointment of a new Taoiseach/Government

8,000

Yes

Knowledge Management Vision Document[Internal report]

2008

To examine how the department currently create store and manage knowledge and to outline the vision for managing Knowledge going forward.

2,269 inc VAT

No

Annual Report 2007 (published 2008) (Annual Reports are produced internally but are published for both internal and external use)

2008

Progress report on the Department’s Strategy Statement

8,041

Yes

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of the bodies under the aegis of my Department are detailed in the schedule below:

Title of Report

Year

Objective

Cost

Laid before Houses of the Oireachtas (yes / no)

Value for Money and Policy Review of the National Economic and Social Development Office

2008

As part of the implementation of the Government’s Value for Money Review and Policy Review Initiative, a review of the National Economic and Social Development Office and its constituent bodies — the National Economic and Social council, the National Economic and Social Forum and the National Centre for Partnership and Performance was undertaken.The main objectives of the Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative are to: analyse Exchequer spending in a systematic manner; and provide a basis on which more informed decisions can be made on priorities within and between programmes.

3,375.90

No*

*This Review has been signed off by the NESDO Value for Money Steering Group and has been submitted to the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach for consideration. Following his approval it will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and forwarded to the relevant Select Committee. It will also be published on the Department's website.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

116 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Taoiseach if he has received reports from bodies under the aegis of his Department in relation to their operation; if such will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17403/09]

The following is the information requested by the Deputy in respect of the reports I have received from the bodies under the aegis of my Department in relation to their operations.

National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO)

The National Economic and Social Development Office's Annual Report 2007 was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas by my Department on 8 July 2008. NESDO are currently drafting their 2008 Annual Report and it is expected to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas by the end of June 2009.

Central Statistics Office (CSO)

I have received reports in relation to the operation of the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in the form of the CSO Statement of Strategy 2004-2006 and the CSO Statement of Strategy 2008-2010. These documents set out the CSO corporate objectives for the time period stated. Both documents were laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and were made available on the CSO website www.cso.ie. In addition, a CSO Statement of Strategy Progress Report 2006, providing an update on the Statement of Strategy 2004-2006 was made available to the Oireachtas Library and was published on the CSO website in April 2008. The CSO's Statement of Strategy Progress Report 2008 is currently being finalised and will be made available to the Oireachtas Library shortly.

The National Statistics Board (NSB)

I also received reports from the National Statistics Board (NSB) of relevance to the operation of the CSO. The Implementation of Strategy for Statistics 2003-2008 Progress Report details progress made on the NSB's Implementation of Strategy 2003-2008 which set priorities for the compilation and development of official statistics in Ireland. The NSB Survey of CSO Users 2006 assessed how successfully user needs were being met. The NSB Survey of CSO Users 2006 and the Implementation of Strategy for Statistics 2003-2008 Progress Report were both laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and are also available on the NSB website www.nsb.ie

Ireland Newfoundland Partnership

The Ireland Newfoundland Partnership was established in 2001 on foot of a Memorandum of Understanding and came under the aegis of my Department in 2004. They have submitted their Annual Reports to me since 2004. There is no requirement to lay the Annual Report before the Houses of the Oireachtas and their most recent reports are available on their website www.inp.ie

The National Forum On Europe

The National Forum On Europe produced a series of nine Reports covering each phase of the Forum's work. These Reports were circulated to all Members of the Oireachtas at the time of their publication. The Forum also produced a range of other information material which was circulated to Members of the Oireachtas.

Departmental Expenditure.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

117 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Taoiseach the cost to the Exchequer of the annual budget of the National Centre for Partnership and Performance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17669/09]

The National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP) is a constituent body of the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) which is funded by Subhead B of my Department's vote. The provision in the Revised Estimate for this year for the NCPP is €1.175m. Of this, €0.717m relates to pay and €0.458m relates to non-pay expenditure.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

118 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the annual expenditure on external legal costs by his Department in each of the past five years; the annual expenditure on external legal costs by each of the agencies under his aegis in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17846/09]

The following tables detail the annual expenditure on external legal costs by my Department and agencies under the aegis of my Department in each of the past five years:

Department of the Taoiseach

Year

Annual Expenditure on external legal costs

2009 (Jan-March)

Nil

2008

1,727

2007

12,197

2006

60,846

2005

4,448

2004

23,270

NESDO

Year

Annual Expenditure on external legal costs

2009 (Jan-March)

Nil

2008

19,954

2007

26,710

2006

Nil

2005

Nil

2004

Nil

Independent Commission of Inquiry

Year

Annual Expenditure on external legal costs

2009 (Jan-March)

Nil

2008

157,950

2007

407

2006

Nil

2005

Nil

2004

Nil

Commission of Investigation

Year

Annual Expenditure on external legal costs

2009 (Jan-March)

Nil

2008

Nil

2007

10,938

2006

20,854

2005

Nil

2004

Nil

Central Statistics Office

Year

Annual Expenditure on external legal costs

2009 (Jan-March)

Nil

2008

1,706

2007

Nil

2006

Nil

2005

Nil

2004

Nil

EU Funding.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

119 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way the EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund which was launched two years ago under Regulation 1927/2006 is being promoted here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17373/09]

My Department monitors those collective redundancies in the State, which are potentially eligible for support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. Eligibility criteria include reaching specific numerical levels of redundancy, timeframes and compliance with notification procedures and globally related causes for unemployment. Applications may only be made by a Member State and no promotion of the Fund is material in that sense. My Department is responsible for the making of applications for EGF assistance to the European Commission where it judges a valid application can be made. Promotion of the EGF in the broader sense of ensuring any new developments, requirements, procedures, statistics or other information are made known to Member States and their citizens is a matter in the first instance for the European Commission. It operates a dedicated website in respect of the Fund.

Departmental Agencies.

Brian Hayes

Question:

120 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cost of running the Science Foundation Ireland administration since it was established; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17694/09]

Since its establishment in 2000, initially as a sub- committee as Forfás and subsequently on a statutory basis under the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Act, 2003, Science Foundation Ireland's (SFI) focus has been clearly on research excellence to enhance Ireland's human capital in strategic areas of scientific endeavour relevant to the future competitiveness of Irish industry and enterprise. SFI invests in building world-class research teams, increasing the number of high quality researchers in Ireland and through these teams the output of new knowledge, opportunities and talented people including a stream of PhDs. The SFI administration costs over the period 2000-2008 is as set out in the table below.

2000/1

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Pay

0.4

0.9

1.0

1.3

2.7

3.2

3.5

4.4

Non-pay

2.2

3.1

3.4

3.8

4.6

4.5

4.8

5.0

Total Administration costs per annum

2.6

4.0

4.4

5.1

7.3

7.7

8.3

9.4

SFI Capital expenditure

8.8

31.0

65.0

108.5

122.2

139.8

155.7

161.0

Administrative costs as a % of overall SFI expenditure

22.8%

11.4%

6.3%

4.5%

5.6%

5.2%

5.1%

5.5%

At the end of 2008 SFI was directly supporting a total of 2,650 researchers engaged in high quality international peer reviewed research. SFI research teams leverage further non-SFI funding that supports an additional 1,537 researchers in industry.

SFI is connecting its funded research teams with industry primarily through its Centres for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSETs) programme and the Strategic Research Clusters (SRCs) programme. SFI is currently supporting 9 CSETs and 17 SRCs. It is through these industry-embedded research groups, which are formally linked to over 123 multinational and small to medium high-tech enterprises that SFI is supporting the retention of employment of over 53,000 people in high-value jobs in Ireland.

Furthermore, the SFI funded research groups have also been integral to IDA Ireland's strategy of attracting more R&D-based foreign direct investment to Ireland and are underpinning the significant IDA wins in R&D in recent years. In 2008 alone just over 40% of the IDA's client portfolio of awards made had a significant R&D component, which is a direct consequence of the Government's significant investment in the science arena in recent years, primarily through SFI.

Redundancy Payments.

Tom Hayes

Question:

121 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when an application by a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary for payment of redundancy from the social insurance fund will be processed. [17382/09]

A notification of redundancy form RP50 was received on 7 April, 2009 by the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department in respect of the individual concerned. A request has been communicated to her former employer to discharge his liability under the Redundancy Payments Acts by paying the employee her statutory lump sum and, having done so, to advise the Department.

In the event that this employer cannot discharge his liability in favour of the former employee, the employer must provide a letter from his Accountant or Solicitor attesting to this fact and provide documentary evidence to substantiate inability to pay. This would include submitting the most recent statement of accounts proving inability to pay the statutory redundancy entitlement to this employee. This information has been requested from the employer as a matter of urgency. Upon receipt of the necessary information, the Redundancy Payments Section can then proceed to complete the processing of the claim. If the employer fails to provide a response within a reasonable time frame, the individual in question would be advised to apply to the Employment Appeals Tribunal for a determination of Redundancy. The Redundancy Payments Section will, on receipt of a favourable determination, make the payment to the employee.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

122 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her proposals to make it mandatory for all employers to have appropriate personal insurance cover for all of their employees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17385/09]

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees while they are at work. Employers' liability insurance enables employers meet the cost of compensation for employee injuries or illnesses, which occur while employees are working for an employer. While employer liability insurance is not compulsory under Irish law, surveys carried out in respect of employers' liability and public liability insurance indicate that approximately 90% of companies were covered either by commercial or self-insurance.

The introduction of a statutory requirement for companies to have certain minimum levels of insurance cover in place would represent a radical departure from current practice. I believe that any such proposal would need very careful consideration and would involve detailed consultation both across Government and with a range of key stakeholders. Currently, I do not have nor am I aware of any proposals regarding the introduction of compulsory employers' liability insurance.

Departmental Programmes.

Phil Hogan

Question:

123 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the administrative arrangements in respect of the graduate placement scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17387/09]

The Work Experience Scheme, which was announced in the Supplementary Budget, will provide 2,000 six-month places to individuals who are unemployed and it will also include the placement of graduates. This scheme will provide invaluable work experience to individuals who are unemployed, who have just left college or have very limited experience of the workplace. The places will be created on a cost neutral basis, as the State's payment will be equivalent to social welfare Job Seeker Benefit/Allowance weekly rates. The details including the administrative arrangements of the Work Experience Scheme are currently being drafted by officials in my Department and other Government Departments. It is expected that these details will be agreed as soon as possible and the scheme will be launched in the coming weeks.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

124 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her proposals to provide compensation for employees injured at work when the employer goes into receivership and no employee liability insurance was in place beforehand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17388/09]

Employers' liability insurance enables employers meet the cost of compensation for employee injuries or illnesses, which occur while employees are working for an employer. While employer liability insurance is not compulsory under Irish law, surveys carried out in respect of employers' liability and public liability insurance indicate that approximately 90% of companies were covered either by commercial or self-insurance.

I do not have nor am I aware of proposals to provide compensation for employees injured at work when the employer goes into receivership and no employee liability insurance was in place beforehand. Redress may of course be available through the Civil Courts. As is the case with proposals to make employer liability insurance mandatory (PQ 122), any such proposal for compensation of the type to which the Deputy refers in respect of companies in receivership would similarly represent a radical departure and would require detailed consideration and analysis across Government and with all relevant stakeholders.

Official Travel.

Jack Wall

Question:

125 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of companies from Kildare South that have accompanied her or An Taoiseach on the trade missions that they have made in each of the past two years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17413/09]

Since becoming Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, in May 2008, two of the Trade Missions which I have led had participating companies located in Co. Kildare. On last week's Mission to Saudi Arabia/Qatar, there were two such companies; one from Kill and one based at The Curragh. On the Trade Mission to the United Arab Emirates in November 2008, one company from Clane participated.

In January 2007 the former Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, T.D. led a Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia/UAE. with five companies from Kildare participating. Of those five, two were from Naas, one from Rathangan, one from Kill, and the other from The Curragh. One of the Trade Missions led by the present Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D., was to China in October 2008, which had a total of five participants from Co. Kildare. Of those five, three were based in Maynooth, one in The Curragh and one in Athy. In addition to the businesses listed above, it may be the case that other companies who participated in Trade Missions had their principal base (and their stated address) elsewhere in the country, but they may operate facilities in Co. Kildare also.

Industrial Development.

Jack Wall

Question:

126 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if progress has been made in regard to the sale or use of Industrial Development Authority lands in south Kildare (details supplied); if she or the IDA has had further meetings with Kildare County Council as to possible partnership agreements for the use of these lands as incubation or commercial units; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17414/09]

The management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio is a day-to-day operational matter for the Agency, as part of the statutory responsibility assigned to it by the Oireachtas, and it is not a matter in which the Minister of the day has any involvement. I am informed by IDA Ireland that, at present, the Agency has approximately 2.27 hectares remaining available in Monasterevin, approximately 1.77 hectares remaining available in Athy, (Woodstock), and approximately 1.53 hectares remaining available in Castledermot. The Agency has no lands in Kildare town.

I understand that IDA approved the sale of all these lands to Kildare County Council at its Board Meeting on 9th April,2003, but this transaction was never finalised due to a failure in negotiations. IDA is currently reviewing the future use of the lands. As part of this, in November 2008 IDA had meetings with Kildare County Council to determine their interest in the acquisition of these lands. In January 2009, Kildare County Council confirmed that due to the present financial position facing Kildare County Council the local authority would not be in a position to purchase the sites.

Science and Technology Sectors.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

127 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the latest estimate of the value of science and technology focused companies to the economy here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17447/09]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

128 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the potential of future growth in the science and technology sectors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17448/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127 and 128 together.

The drive to encourage Irish companies to use science and technology to increase competitiveness and value added is a significant pillar of Government Policy, as recognised in the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation and the Smart Economy Framework. This applies equally not only to technology driven sectors such as the information and communications technology and bio-pharma sectors, but as much to the traditional sectors such as food production and to the services sector. Competitiveness in these latter sectors is increasingly being influenced by science and technology driven innovation. Therefore the impact of science and technology innovation is now broadly spread across a wide sector of Irish enterprises.

The recently published CSO data on Business Expenditure on Research and Development (BERD) shows total expenditure by companies on Research and Development has increased from €900 million in 2001, to €1,105 million in 2003, to €1,329 million in 2005, to €1,598 million in 2007 and to an estimated €1,684 million in 2008. This amounts to an increase of 87% in expenditure by business enterprises on research and development over the seven year period. In 2007 there were almost 13,900 persons engaged in research and development activities in Ireland of whom 8,300 were researchers. All of this research and development effort is supporting significant economic activity across Irish enterprises.

Over 40% of IDA investments in 2008 were in Research and Development and amounted to approx. €420 millions in investment. Significant new R&D announcements in 2008 included investments by many world class companies including Boston Scientific, Oriflame, Business Objects, Synopsis, EMC, IBM (three separate announcements) ON Semiconductor, AON Corp., and CITI.

The impact of research, development and innovation on indigenous industry is also significant. Enterprise Ireland provides a broad spectrum of support, including a number of significant research and development programmes, to indigenous enterprise. Companies supported by Enterprise Ireland programmes contributed over €4bn in new exports sales over 2005-2007 with total exports in 2007 of more than €13 billion. Enterprise Ireland client companies are estimated to have secured over €1 billion in new export sales in the challenging conditions of 2008.

Direct expenditure in the Irish economy by agency assisted Irish owned companies in 2007 was 11% of GNP. Enterprise Ireland (EI) clients directly spent an estimated €19.6bn in the Irish economy, with over €9bn being spent on materials, €4bn being spent on services and €6bn spent on payroll in 2007. Additionally, these companies sourced the majority of their materials and services in Ireland. The value added by Enterprise Ireland client companies reached over €14bn in 2007, up from under €9bn in 2000. Over the same period value added per person employed increased to €99,700, from €57,400 in 2000. EI client companies had employment of 145,758 in 2008 of which 70% was spread throughout regions outside Dublin, delivering strong economic impact to communities all over Ireland. It is estimated that well over 100,000 jobs are indirectly supported in the economy due to these businesses.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is also connecting its funded research teams with industry through its investment in research activities linked to Ireland's economic development in the fields of ICT, Biotechnology and Sustainable energy/Energy efficient technologies. Through its Centres for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSETs) and the Strategic Research Clusters (SRCs) programmes, SFI currently supports Irish enterprise by providing funding for 9 CSETs and 17 Strategic Research Clusters. These 26 centres are currently partnering with 123 distinct multinational corporations and small medium enterprise indigenous companies, who collectively employ approximately 53,000 people in Ireland. This R&D investment is aimed at anchoring and embedding these companies further in Ireland. In addition, another 34 multinational companies are collaborating with SFI funded researchers under other SFI programmes, notably the Principal Investigator Programme.

The Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation sets an ambitious target of growing BERD to €2.5 billion by 2013. While the trend over the period 2001 to 2009 is positive, the current global economic environment will provide a serious challenge to the effort to deliver the growth targets. However, the comprehensive program of supports in place from Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, coupled with the investments by Science Foundation Ireland, create a sound platform for the future growth of the innovation driven economy, and will place Irish based companies in a strong position to capitalise on an upswing in the economy when it comes.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

129 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the strategies she has in place to promote science and technology in both education and business; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17449/09]

The Government has made a major commitment, through the substantial investment set out in the Strategy for Science, Technology & Innovation (SSTI) 2006-2013 and the National Development Plan (NDP) 2007-2013, to making the transition to a knowledge-economy. The ambition is that "Ireland by 2013 will be internationally renowned for the excellence of its research, and will be to the forefront in generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress, within an innovation driven culture."

The Government is committed to making this vision a reality and making Ireland a key location for leading edge research and development, and a location for high quality jobs that are underpinned by knowledge and high skill levels. The targets within the Strategy, which relate to business and education sectors, include:

Increased participation in the sciences by young people;

Significant increase in the numbers of people with advanced qualifications in science and engineering;

Transformational change in the quality and quantity of research undertaken by enterprise — both directly and in cooperation with third level institutions;

Enhanced contribution of research to economic and social development across all relevant areas of public policy including agriculture, health, environment and the marine and natural resources;

Increased output of economically relevant knowledge, know how and patents from those institutions;

Increased participation in international S&T cooperation and transnational research activity;

An established international profile for Ireland as a premier location for carrying out world class R&D;

Greater coherence/exploitation of synergies in the development of S&T policy on the island of Ireland.

The First report on the implementation of the SSTI was published in December last and is available at www.entemp.ie/publications/science/2008/firstreportonSSTI. This report, together with the initial findings from the latest Business Expenditure on R&D (BERD) survey for 2007 and 2008, which was published in March of this year and is the most recent high level indicator of R&D investment, confirms that substantial progress has been made in achieving these objectives. Both reports provide evidence that the Government's integrated strategy is working, as seen in the following internationally comparable key indicators:

Total R&D spending has almost trebled over 10 years and Ireland's total expenditure on R&D had risen to 1.56% of GNP at end 2006. Total R&D spending across all sectors of the economy is expected to climb to €2.6bn in 2008 (1.66% of GNP). This is an OECD derived indicator called Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD), common to all OECD members.

Business Expenditure on Research and Development (BERD) rose to an estimated €1.56 billion in 2006 — a 17% increase on the previous year — almost double the level recorded in 2000. This trend continued in 2007 with BERD climbing to €1.60bn. It is estimated that BERD will reach €1.68bn in 2008.

The ratio of BERD to economic activity as measured by Gross National Product increased from 0.96% in 2005 to 1% in 2007. It is likely that this ratio will rise further in 2008 to an estimated 1.08% of GNP.

Higher Education R&D spending has almost quadrupled in current terms over 10 years and is now at the EU and OECD average levels. This increased investment in the higher education sector is having a significant impact in terms of human capital development, feeding through to attraction of FDI and commercialisation.

The number of research personnel employed in R&D activities across the business sector in Ireland rose to 13,861 in headcount terms in 2007.

Early estimates of R&D activity levels point to sharp increases in the number of firms performing significant R&D (>€2mn), with 164 significant R&D performers in 2007 compared to 118 in 2005.

There also appears to be evidence of firms who were smaller performers of R&D in 2005 stepping up activity to become larger performers in 2007.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) has developed a range of schemes to ensure we have the capacity to capture and transform the ideas and advances coming from higher education research into commercial reality. EI and IDA are working closely with companies to strengthen the research and technological base of the enterprise sector in order to drive productivity, competitiveness, exports and jobs. In 2008 EI assisted 698 companies to perform R&D. Over the period 2000 to 2007, EI supported 430 High Performance Start-Ups, 40% of which were specifically R&D projects. This investment yielded sales of €638 million, exports of €344 million and generated employment for 5,500 people.

Many of the education aspects of the SSTI are primarily the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science. However, my Department does have responsibility for Science Foundation Ireland and the Discover Science and Engineering programme. Science Foundation Ireland, through its supports for world-class researchers and the creation of world class research centres in higher education institutions, is creating a stream of highly skilled research talent and building Ireland's reputation as a location for R&D activity. Growth in researcher capacity, led by Science Foundation Ireland, coupled with the enhanced R&D tax credit, continues to be a major attraction for overseas investors, and is resulting in a series of significant industrial R&D investments in Ireland by IDA supported companies. Over 40% of IDA investments in 2008 were in R&D with approx. €420 millions of investment. Currently there are about 170 IDA supported companies with a significant R&D mandate with a spend of approx. €1.7 billion. Significant new R&D announcements in 2008 included investments by many world-class companies including Boston Scientific, Oriflame, Business Objects, Synopsis, EMC, IBM (three separate announcements) ON Semiconductor, AON Corp., and CITI.

The Discover Science and Engineering (DSE) Programme aims to raise the general level of awareness of the physical sciences and to raise the level of student uptake of the physical sciences at second and third level. The DSE Programme will continue to play an important role in encouraging young people to study science and technology and in enhancing general science awareness. Despite the current global upheaval, the Government is committed to investing in Ireland's science base as one of the key cornerstones underpinning future jobs in Ireland and the linchpin of our transformation to the Smart Economy. The challenge, for the immediate future, will be to effectively manage the implementation of the Government's Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation in a much tighter resource environment.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

130 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount her Department has contributed to the Discover Science and Engineering programme for each year since its establishment; the way budgetary cutbacks have been implemented in 2009; the effects of these cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17450/09]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

131 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action she is taking to encourage greater awareness of science and technology among the public and students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17452/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 131 together.

The Discover Science and Engineering Programme was established in late 2003 to promote an awareness and understanding of the importance of science and engineering in a modern knowledge-based economy. The Programme is administered by Forfás on behalf of my Department. Discover Science and Engineering (DSE) aims (i) to raise the general level of awareness of the physical sciences; (ii) to raise the level of student uptake of the physical sciences at second and third level; (iii) to promote a positive attitude towards careers in Science, Engineering and Technology; and (iv) to promote a greater understanding of science amongst the public/society. The amounts provided by my Department for the Programme since its establishment are in the table.

To ensure that the DSE Programme remains strategically relevant and operationally efficient, an evaluation was sought by my Department in 2007. The evaluation was carried out by an independent panel of experts, who presented their final report in late 2008. The overall finding by the panel was that the DSE Programme represents very good value for money and is playing an important role in encouraging young people to study science and technology and in enhancing general science awareness. The panel outlined a number of recommendations to improve the strength and efficacy of the Programme in delivering its objectives. A key finding was that the remit of the Programme should continue to focus on the physical sciences and engineering and also extended to comprehend the promotion of maths literacy, to promote the increased take up of higher-level maths at second level, and to promote career opportunities which require a high level of maths competency.

The current financial exigencies have dictated the level at which the DSE Programme can be resourced in 2009. All of the recommendations made in the evaluation are currently being studied by the DSE Programme team in conjunction with my Department and having regard to the resources available. These discussions have confirmed that the DSE Programme team will focus, for the remainder of this year, on delivering its key strategic objectives of promoting study in the priority areas of science, engineering and technology. Within resource constraints, the Programme team is now gearing up to replicate at second level the success it had with programmes like Discover Primary Science at primary level and is extending its remit to promote maths as a key underpinning discipline.

The reduced funding for the Programme will inevitably lead to changes and a reduction in some activities. At the same time, the DSE team is attempting to counter the effect of this reduction by looking at other options of delivering on its objectives such as greater use of the internet and by strengthening its coordination role with its key education, industrial and outreach partners. In this regard, DSE will continue to support engineering through its own initiatives and through funding partnerships.

Year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Funding Provided

€1.5 m

€2.0 m

€4.0 m

€5.0 m

€5.25 m

€2.685 m

Departmental Staff.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

132 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff in her Department, including their grades and responsibilities, charged with promoting science and technology; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17454/09]

The Office of Science, Technology and Innovation (OSTI) forms part of the Science, Technology and Intellectual Property Division of my Department which also includes the Intellectual Property Unit and the Patents Office. An Assistant Secretary General has overall responsibility for the Division. The role of the OSTI is to develop, promote and co-ordinate Ireland's Science, Technology and Innovation Policy and Ireland's policy in EU and International Research Activities. Currently there are 16.6 staff serving across the 3 business units of the OSTI. The grade breakdown is as follows:

1 Assistant Secretary

3 Principal Officers

5 Assistant Principal Officers

2.6 Higher Executive Officers

3 Executive Officers

2 Clerical Officers

Another officer, at Administrative Officer level, who works part-time on a 50% basis, is currently on Maternity Leave. The 3 business units in the OSTI are as follows:

Cross-Departmental Science Technology & Innovation Policy, Governance and Awareness Unit.

Industry Research & Development/Financial Co-ordination Unit.

EU — International/ Science Foundation Ireland & EU Structural Funds Unit.

(1) The Cross-Departmental Science Technology & Innovation (STI) Policy, Governance and Awareness Unit: This unit comprises 4 staff currently with 1 Principal Officer, 1 Assistant Principal Officer, 1 Executive Officer and 1 Clerical Officer. The unit has responsibility for the development of Ireland's national policy on STI under the aegis of the Cabinet Committee on STI via, in particular, the work of the Interdepartmental Committee on Science and Technology, and its operational mechanisms. One of the principal tasks of the unit is to drive and coordinate the implementation of the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 and measure its impact against pre-defined targets and metrics.

The section also supports and monitors the integrated awareness programme, Discover Science & Engineering, which is administered by Forfás, with the aim of increasing the numbers of students taking up Science Engineering and Technology as a career and promoting science literacy generally. Other key responsibilities for the unit include promoting North/South Cooperation in Science and Technology and also driving implementation in groups established under the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 (SSTI), such as the Higher Education Research Group (HERG), the Health Research Group and the Enterprise Feedback Group.

(2) The Industry Research & Development/Financial Co-ordination Unit comprises 5.8 staff in total with 1 Principal Officer, 2 Assistant Principal Officers, 0.8 Higher Executive Officer and 1 Clerical Officer. This unit is responsible for the development, promotion and co-ordination of industry research and development policy, primarily through the implementation of the SSTI. The section is also responsible for:

The research funding allocated to Enterprise Ireland and consequential policy issues arising from Ireland's investments through it;

The improvement and operation of structures for implementation of the SSTI through Technology Ireland; and

Co-ordinating and overseeing effective management of Subhead F (Science, Technology and Innovation Programmes) of the Department's vote.

(3) The EU — International research policy/ Science Foundation Ireland & EU Structural Funds Unit comprises 6.8 staff in total with 1 Principal Officer, 2 Assistant Principal Officers, 1.8 Higher Executive Officers and 2 Executive Officers. This unit deals with Ireland's engagement with EU and international research policy issues and Ireland's membership and involvement with organisations such as the European Space Agency amongst others. The unit also has responsibility for basic research funding allocated to Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and consequential policy issues arising from Ireland's investments through it. The third significant element of this unit's work relates to contributing to the effective management and drawdown of EU Structural Funds by Ireland related to EU co-funded research activities under the Productive Sector Operational Programme 2000-2006 and the National Strategic Reference Framework 2007-2013 relevant to the enterprise development agencies.

The promotion of Science and Technology issues undertaken by the OSTI is also complemented by the work of 2 other staff, who are currently serving in the Private Office of the Office of the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation. These officers, one Executive Officer and one Clerical Officer, assist with the co-ordination of Science and Technology related activities on behalf of the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Mr. Conor Lenihan TD.

Redundancy Payments.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a redundancy payment issue referred to her Department by the Labour Relations Commission in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be resolved shortly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17487/09]

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department and the Labour Relations Commission has checked to see if a redundancy payments issue has been referred for the individual in question but there is no record of a submission from this person. In the circumstances, and given the fact that two previous questions have been asked in the case of the individual in question, should the Deputy wish to provide further information to me which would clarify the issue, I would be happy to renew enquiries.

Company Closures.

Finian McGrath

Question:

134 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the proposals in relation to a company (details supplied). [17534/09]

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 Development.

Seán Connick

Question:

135 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the role that exports produced by foreign companies located here play in the Irish economy; her further views on the importance of assisting these companies to access new export markets for their Irish produced products; if she will instruct Enterprise Ireland to promote the export of these Irish products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17586/09]

Enterprise Ireland is the government agency responsible for the development and promotion of the indigenous business sector. Its mission is to accelerate the development of world-class Irish companies to achieve strong positions in global markets resulting in increased national and regional prosperity. Enterprise Ireland's key focus, for companies headquartered in Ireland, is covered under five areas of activity : Achieving export sales, Investing in research and innovation, Competing through productivity, Starting up & scaling up and Driving regional enterprise. Enterprise Ireland estimates that export gains of up to €1 billion will be achieved by its client companies this year despite the unprecedented global economic environment.

IDA Ireland's mission is to win for Ireland the best in international innovation and investment and, working in partnership with other Irish organisations, to enhance the best of Irish capabilities and talents and match them to the best of global investment. Foreign direct investment is a key component of Ireland's economic system and IDA Ireland will continue to develop new value propositions and work processes that will reflect Ireland's competitive advantages in an increasingly competitive market place. FDI is a key driver of Irish exports and is an important element of Ireland's economic recovery. IDA supported exports have grown by c.50% since 2000 and account for 60% of total Irish Exports. IDA Ireland provides a range of financial incentives to support capital, employment, training, research, development and innovation activity as well as advice, facilitation and property services to prospective and existing clients in an effort to grow FDI. In 2008, IDA announced 130 new investments, up 14% on the previous year creating circa 8,800 new jobs and securing investment of circa €2 billion.

As regards assistance to access export markets many such supports are available to FDI companies operations in Ireland, although some efforts are confined to SMEs or are relevant only to companies headquartered in Ireland. I have asked IDA and Enterprise Ireland to review their operations to ensure that FDI companies can avail of all supports appropriate to their circumstances.

Export Services.

Brian Hayes

Question:

136 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the resources that have been expended on the Enterprise Ireland initiative on exporting construction services abroad for delivery of the smart economy as set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17595/09]

The Smart Economy Document commits Enterprise Ireland to providing a construction sector export service to assist companies and professionals to market their products and services abroad. The agency is devoting considerable resources to meeting this commitment. Enterprise Ireland has reorganised its Department Structure to put the required emphasis on Construction. Expert appointments have been made in London, Dublin and two Gulf States. The agency is working with the RIAI (Arch) and the ACEI (Consulting Engineers) and held a series of seminars on exporting.

Enterprise Ireland has led construction specific missions to Russia, Poland, Romania, Saudi and the Gulf States. Arising from this activity Enterprise Ireland has registered in excess of 100 new Construction Clients and approved grant assistance to 100 Construction Clients to explore new markets. There are 29 clients on the Leadership for Growth initiative designed specifically for the construction industry. Many of the participants have taken part in the missions and grant assistance referred to above. Moreover, their participation in L4G has led to the formation of various formal and informal consortia to pursue business opportunities.

Over 100 agency Clients have registered on the London Olympics tender and the sector will be significantly representative of the recently introduced Stability Fund. Enterprise Ireland has also approved funding for the Construction Technology Industry Association. The latter are preparing an application for industry led research support.

Economic Competitiveness.

Brian Hayes

Question:

137 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps taken to achieve the 25% reduction of administrative burdens placed on business as included in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014 in areas (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17597/09]

My Department is charged with leading the cross-Government drive to reduce red tape costs for business. We are doing this in a prioritised way, drawing on the experiences of other Member States who are also involved in this international effort. Departments are currently identifying the "Information Obligations", contained in their legislation, likely to be causing the biggest burdens for business. This will encompass all areas of regulation affecting business, including Taxation, Health & Safety, Statistics, Employment, and Company Law.

When the top Information Obligations have been identified, these priorities will be measured and, following this, simplification plans will be developed, detailing how the reductions are to be carried out. Work is now well advanced in my own Department, in measuring information obligations in Company Law, Employment Law, and Health & Safety Law. In parallel to this process, the High-level Group on Business Regulation, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, was set up to deal with specific business suggestions and issues relating to red tape. The Group consists of senior civil servants as well as business and trade union members. The Group has been examining concrete areas in which the administrative burden of regulations on business can be reduced.

The issues already addressed by the High-level Group are estimated to have saved Irish business some €20 million in administrative costs annually through cutting out paperwork, revising the rules for small businesses and making better use of on-line services. If the work of the Group is to produce optimal benefits, business, and especially small business, must continue to submit the practical proposals and concrete suggestions they have regarding the areas where they feel the burden is greatest. Small businesses in particular have a lot to gain from participating in this process and making known areas where they feel over-burdened by red tape. The Group will continue to find solutions by opening up dialogue with relevant Departments and Agencies.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Brian Hayes

Question:

138 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures that have been taken in the retraining of construction workers in line with the projected future green economy as set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17599/09]

FÁS is involved in the funding and provision of a number of programmes to retrain construction workers in the requisite skills pertaining to the green economy in line with the document ‘Building Ireland's Smart Economy A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014'. Relevant programmes include:

Gas safety and installation courses:

‘G.I.S. Gas Installer — Safety' to upgrade the skills and knowledge of persons in gas safety features so as to enable them to work safely on domestic installations and non-domestic gas pipe work.

‘G.I.D. Gas Installer — Domestic' to provide the necessary skills and knowledge to install, maintain and service domestic gas installations and equipment in accordance with current standards and regulations. This course is currently available in Dublin (Ballyfermot Training Centre) and Cork.

Sustainable Energy courses:

Solar Thermal Installer

Heat-pump Installer

Bio-mass boiler Installer

These courses aim to develop the necessary skills, knowledge and competence of plumbers, electricians, fitters and other suitably qualified construction workers to design, install and commission domestic solar hot water heating, bio-mass and heat-pump systems in a safe and competent manner. Courses are currently available in Dublin (Ballyfermot Training Centre) and Cork.

Building Energy Rating: This course provides the necessary skills, knowledge and competencies to suitably qualified participants to produce Building Energy Rating Assessor (BER) labels and advisory reports for new and existing dwellings in accordance with current standards and regulations. The course is currently available in Dublin (Cabra Training Centre).

Smart/Intelligent Building Systems: This course provides qualified electricians or suitably qualified applicants with the skills, knowledge and competence to install, configure and test an intelligent building control system using KNX/EIB technology. This course is currently available in Dublin (Loughlinstown Training Centre).

Insulation technologies and techniques: This course provides general construction trades persons with skills and knowledge in the areas of insulation materials, techniques and technologies, and provides plasterers with external wall rendering techniques for existing and new buildings. FÁS is also currently planning the following courses:

Micro-Electricity Generation Wind Turbine and Photovoltaic Courses: These courses are being developed in close co-operation with Sustainable Energy Ireland and will enable Installers to safely install appropriate micro-generation equipment up to 11Kw 3 phase or 6Kw single phase in size, in line with the current requirements as defined by E.S.B. networks. These courses are scheduled to be available in summer 2009 subject to budget approval and will be available in the Dublin (Finglas) and Galway Training Centres.

Passive House Building: This course will be aimed at construction workers and will provide the skills and knowledge to understand and use the technology associated with the passive house construction method/standard. The course is scheduled to be available in late 2009.

Since 2007 FÁS Services to Business have also delivered a number of programmes in Energy Efficiency, Renewable Technologies, Carbon Footprint Calculation and Reduction, Waste Prevention, Water Protection and Waste Water Treatment, aimed at the general workforce including construction workers. These programmes included the following:

Programmes

Waste Management

Waste Facility Operative

Radon Gas Remediation & Prevention

Laboratory Procedures

Water & Waste Water Plant Operation

Water Protection & Nutrient Mgmt Planning

Environmental Management Systems

Environmental Inspection Skills

Litter Warden Training

Packaging Prevention

Energy Efficiency & Renewable Technologies

Hazardous Good Awareness

Water Sampling Techniques

Construction & Demolition Waste Management

Building Regulations

Supervision of Timber Frame Erection

Road Worker Training Programme

Site Suitability Assessment Training Programme

Site Suitability (Out Wintering Pads)

Site Suitability (Earth Lined Stores)

Carbon Footprint Reduction

In addition, under the Skillnets Training Networks Programme a number of relevant training courses are currently provided to participants, including construction workers, in knowledge areas such as Building Energy Rating, Low Carbon Energy Assessment, Air Permeability Training, Energy Savings and Water Hygiene.

Industrial Development.

Brian Hayes

Question:

139 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way the multinational community will be incentivised to intensify (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17601/09]

IDA Ireland provides a range of financial incentives to support capital, employment, training, environmental and RD&I activity as well as advice, facilitation and property services to prospective and existing clients in order to maintain and grow FDI output and employment in Ireland. IDA is particularly focused on both encouraging and assisting its client companies to move up the value chain in terms of both carrying out higher skilled operations and expanding their presence in Ireland. The aim of this is to retain its existing clients, improve the quality of employment opportunities in Ireland and increase the positive economic impact. IDA has now established a dedicated team focusing on winning FDI projects in the Services Innovation sector.

Ireland is now seen by the global business environment as a prime location for Research Development and Innovation (RD&I) functions. IDA has played a key role in establishing this competitive advantage for Ireland and is heavily involved with all stakeholders in RD&I. In 2008 there was a strong flow of substantial new IDA supported R&D investments by multinational companies. These commitments by major knowledge based companies such as Fidelity, Nortel, Coca Cola, Citi and DePuy demonstrates Ireland's reputation in R&D and services innovation activities. Multinationals' expenditure on RD&I in Ireland amounted to €1.12 billion in 2006 (latest available data). In 2008, IDA supported clients announced 56 RD&I projects with a projected investment of circa €420 million.

The multinational community will continue to be incentivised to intensify innovative, high-value activity and technological convergence that will provide quality jobs; IDA will continue use research funding in conjunction with SFI, Enterprise Ireland and IDA to instil a commercialisation culture in third-level institutions alongside the now embedded teaching and research culture. Recent government initiatives in the Finance Bill such as the increase in the ‘R&D Tax Credit from 20-25% and the proposed enhancements on Ireland's IP offering announced in the April Budget will enhance Ireland's product offering.

IDA is targeting convergence technology as a key growth area. A dedicated team are working to target investment in this area with a key focus on the intersection of life sciences and ICT; both areas where IDA has a significant track record. An example of success so far in this ‘new' sector is the Intel TRIL project with an investment commitment of $30 million. The TRIL Centre brings together world-class industry and academic experts who are inventing and testing new technologies with older people, and their families, to support them in continuing to live independently.

In addition, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is playing a central role in Ireland's sustainable economic renewal as outlined in the Government's "Building Ireland's Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal". SFI has a number of programmes, which are specifically designed to promote strong industry/academic collaborations such as the Centres for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) programme and the Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) programme.

To date, SFI has made awards to 9 CSETs and 17 SRCs in total. These industry-embedded research groups are linked to 123 multinational and small to medium high-tech enterprises that employ over 53,000 people in high value jobs in Ireland, including many of the world's leading firms such as Intel, Hewlett Packard, GSK, IBM and Medtronic. In recent years, SFI has gradually shifted the focus of investments from individually-led investigator groups to groups within enterprise clusters with over double the number of SFI funded world-class Principal Investigators now being located within the CSETs and SRCs when compared to the 2004 position. These groups have been integral to IDA Ireland's strategy of attracting more R&D-based foreign direct investment to Ireland. For example, in 2008 alone just over 40% of the IDA's client portfolio of awards made had a significant R&D component, which is a direct consequence of the Government's significant investment in the science arena in recent years, primarily through SFI and the Higher Education Authority. These SFI funded activities are consistent with promoting research and development as a key part of the enterprise agenda, assisting as they do the retention and attraction of quality employment in Ireland, and thereby increasing output and jobs in Irish industry.

Brian Hayes

Question:

140 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps taken since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014 in areas (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17604/09]

The development of a "smart" or knowledge based economy is a critical opportunity to enable Ireland to negotiate the present economic difficulties and to sustain a national recovery. Since the Government strategy document was published in December 2008, there has been a constant focus on achievement of the targets set out by the strategy and progress, in the specific areas identified, has been as follows:

R&D Tax Arrangements

The Finance (No. 2) Act 2008 introduced a number of changes to the R&D Tax Credit Scheme to further encourage companies to invest in research and development. The rate of the tax credit was increased from 20% to 25%, the year 2003 was set permanently as the base year for the purposes calculating eligible incremental R&D expenditure, a new provision was introduced to allow a cash refund option over three years in respect of unused credits (a provision of particular assistance to pre-revenue firms), and the qualification criteria was eased in respect of the tax credit on R&D building costs.

Competence Centres

Competence Centres are collaborative centres of excellence established and led by industry that are resourced by highly-qualified researchers associated with research institutions who are empowered to undertake market focussed strategic R&D for the benefit of industry. The Competence Centre initiative has been designed jointly between EI and IDA. To date 65 companies have become involved in establishing 7 Competence Centres nationally. In addition, a major collaborative centre, Functional Foods Research Centre, is currently being funded through Enterprise Ireland.

Initiatives in seven separate areas were selected for the Initial Research Phase of the programme, of which the following collaborative groups have been issued a contract to proceed with the initial research phase work viz:- Applied Nanotechnology, Advanced Manufacturing Productivity, Energy Efficiency in Manufacturing, Composites Materials, and CMOS Circuits. In addition, a BioEnergy Competence Centre has been approved for research phase funding and the contract will be issued subject to budgetary considerations and an IT Innovation Competence Centre is still in the approval process with a decision from the evaluation panel expected in May.

Following this first research phase, the five initiatives — viz. Applied Nanotechnology, Advanced Manufacturing Productivity, Energy Efficiency in Manufacturing, Composites Materials, and CMOS Circuits, will be going forward to the next phase of their establishment which will involve the selection of a Host Institution in summer 2009 and approvals of Technology Leaders in Autumn 2009 to manage the centres. Work to develop business plans for 2010 will continue in respect of the Energy Efficiency and Manufacturing Productivity initiatives and it is expected that these business plans will go forward for funding, subject to that approval. The Competence Centre Programme is providing an important link which leverages the expertise built up in the research community for the benefit of a wide range of enterprises, and will contribute to competitiveness in these companies.

Tax Code.

Brian Hayes

Question:

141 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps taken in relation to the revision of the arrangements for the taxation of intellectual property since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17605/09]

The Minister for Finance, in his 7 April 2009 budget speech, announced that a "scheme of tax relief for the acquisition of intangible assets, including Intellectual Property" will be included in the legislation giving effect to the budget. The Finance Bill will be published this month.

Departmental Bodies.

Brian Hayes

Question:

142 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the manufacturing forum as set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014 has been formed; and the number of meetings it has had. [17606/09]

The Manufacturing Forum has not yet been formed but I expect to appoint its members very shortly.

Science and Technology Sectors.

Brian Hayes

Question:

143 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the specific measures that have been taken to increase public and industry wide focus on commercial opportunities available (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17608/09]

Among the functions of the Department's enterprise development agency, Enterprise Ireland, is the provision of a range of supports aimed at realising the commercial potential of Ireland's research community. These supports include the Commercialisation Fund, the Campus incubator Programme and the Technology Transfer Strengthening Fund.

(1) The Commercialisation Fund

Over recent years, there has been a significant increase in the levels of national funding available for research. In order to ensure that the Irish economy will derive a return on this investment, researchers are being encouraged and supported to deliver commercially relevant research results. The goal is to create new spin out companies and technologies which can help firms to move beyond their existing product and service offerings and explore new markets. Among the supports provided, is a Commercialisation Fund which delivers funding to supports academic researchers to undertake commercial, outcome-driven research and to bring that research to a point where it can be transferred into industry.

During 2007 and 2008 support was provided to 298 commercially relevant projects. In the same period outputs from research funded through the Commercialisation Fund have facilitated the creation of 17 company start-ups and 60 advanced enterprise relevant technologies. To date, a portfolio of 400 pieces of technology have been created and are now available for companies to develop. To boost this process, a new Business Partners Programme has been established to facilitate entrepreneurs' access to this portfolio and to develop new start-up companies.

(2) Campus Incubation Programme

Enterprise Ireland's campus incubation programme provides a protective environment on Third level campuses where new companies can grow significantly in their formative years. The programme is designed to foster entrepreneurship and drive campus company creation, to support balanced regional development and to help realise the commercial potential of Ireland's research community. Spending time in these facilities gives an emerging company access to expert business development support, academic R&D expertise as well as a high-quality office location.

More than €50 million has been invested under the programme over 10 years which has created business incubation centres on the campus of each Institute of Technology around the country, as well and 6 specialised bio-incubation facilities in universities and 6 business incubation facilities. The impact of this investment can now be seen in the level of activity at the centres: currently there are 240 companies using campus incubation centres, which employ over 1,000 persons. Many of the centres are approaching full capacity and Enterprise Ireland is currently engaged in discussions with a number of the host institutions about supporting an expansion of the centres.

(3) Technology Transfer Strengthening Fund

The presence of effective Technology Transfer offices in Third Level institutions is an important factor in increasing the level of intellectual property (IP) transferred to industry from research. Technology Transfer offices also facilitate the development of high quality and effective systems and policies to ensure that IP is identified, protected and transferred, where possible, into companies in Ireland.

The Technology Transfer Strengthening Fund supports the employment of technology transfer professionals in universities, to allow the institutions to manage their intellectual property and engage with companies in an effective manner. A level of investment is planned to ensure that over the next 5 years Ireland's technology transfer offices are adequately resourced to effectively carry out their role of capturing research results for economic benefit, as an integral part of the research environment. In the last two years the Enterprise Ireland supported Technology Transfer Offices facilitated the creation of 29 Start-up companies, 490 invention disclosures, 271 patent applications and 107 technology licence transfers.

Departmental Agencies.

Brian Hayes

Question:

144 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there has been significant progress in the survey of collaborations and co-operation between enterprise agencies as set out in the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014; if she will provide examples of this collaboration; and if significant gaps have been found. [17610/09]

My Department, in conjunction with Forfás and the other Industrial Development agencies, has commenced a review to see if there can be further improvement in collaboration between the agencies and to identify any gaps in their support programmes and their implementation. A project Steering Group has been established, chaired by my Department and also including representatives from Forfás, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Shannon Development and Údarás na Gaeltachta. It is anticipated that the project will be completed by Quarter 4, 2009.

There are a number of mechanisms already in situ that facilitate collaboration across the agencies. The powers and functions of each agency are set out in one body of legislation, the Industrial Development Acts. While IDA and Enterprise Ireland serve different client bases, they operate similar schemes and programmes. The specific role of each agency in relation to matters such as Science and Technology and Training is also set out in the legislation, which avoids overlaps or duplication in agency mandates. Forfás delivers policy advice to the Minister on the programmes of all the agencies and Forfás has powers under legislation to co-ordinate the work of all of the agencies involved in industrial development. Forfás also operates a Business information System which monitors all agency programmes.

This allows general reviews of enterprise policy, such as the review Ahead of the Curve carried out and published recently by the Enterprise Strategy Group, to assess the impact of all of the programmes of the Industrial Development agencies and to make recommendations on how they can be improved. The work of the agencies in inputting to policy on matters such as Skills, Competitiveness and Science and Technology is centralized in Forfás, again avoiding overlaps or duplication. At a more administrative level, responsibilities for matters such as pensions and accommodation for all the agencies is also centralized in Forfás. As with all agency programmes, collaboration between the agencies is reviewed from time to time to see if it can be further improved, and that is the purpose of the current review.

Skills Development.

Brian Hayes

Question:

145 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps taken since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014 to prioritise flexible learning initiatives targeted at up-skilling the workforce; and the initiatives that will be funded. [17611/09]

My Department, through FÁS, continues to prioritise the need to assist and up-skill those who have become unemployed as a result of the current downturn in the economy. In 2009 FÁS estimates that it will be in a position to deliver over 6,000 training courses under the Training Services, Community Services and Services to Business categories. In conjunction with FÁS, my Department has taken a range of steps to expand services to the unemployed and promote a flexible learning environment tailored to the specific needs of the individual. In addition to the 51,000 FÁS training places announced in February, a further 18,725 training places for the unemployed were provided in the Supplementary Budget to bring the total number of training and work experience activation places funded by my Department in 2009 to approximately 128,000.

As part of these measures FÁS has re-aligned its focus to provide a more flexible delivery of training interventions for individuals to include on-line, evening and blended learning training options in addition to the more traditional mix of course offerings. The aim of these additional training places is to offer increased flexibility and flexible learning options to enable the unemployed and those who wish to further develop their skill-sets and competencies to secure employment as soon as possible.

Skillnets continues to provide flexible and effective training solutions to companies. Its enterprise-led approach ensures that networks can identify and access relevant, high-quality and cost-effective training relative to the needs of its member companies and contribute to the upskilling of the national workforce. Skillnets is also managing a new training networks programme, entitled Finuas, devised to provide support for a targeted upskilling programme within the international financial services industry. The programme, which will provide co-financing and development support for enterprise-led training and upskilling, will address identified skills gaps and enhance the current skills base necessary to attract and retain investment within the sector. The programme is scheduled to commence in June 2009.

Departmental Bodies.

Brian Hayes

Question:

146 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of times the advisory council of business leaders set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014 has met; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17634/09]

I have not as yet established the Advisory Council of Business Leaders. However, I am in receipt of ongoing advice from the heads of the enterprise development agencies that report to my Department, as well as from business leaders and representative groups around the country. This has assisted in framing the Government's response to the economic situation and difficulties, which are being faced by business.

Employment Support Services.

Mattie McGrath

Question:

147 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason, in view of the economic climate, there are only three FÁS job clubs in the south east; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17750/09]

FÁS Job Clubs were introduced in 1999 to assist people who were actively seeking employment by providing support for the job search process and an environment in which it could be carried out. Independent Sponsor Groups are contracted by FÁS on a year to year basis to run the programme. In order to ensure that programmes respond appropriately to local needs FÁS carries out an annual review of the need for and the value provided by each programme. FÁS will consider the need for further Job Clubs in the South East in the light of the changing economic situation.

EU Funding.

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

148 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when moneys will be available in Limerick from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to assist with redundant workers (details supplied); the amount of funding her Department is projecting that will be provided by the EU; the amount that will come from the State in matching funding; the purpose for which these moneys will be used; the organisations that will be in receipt of these moneys; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17831/09]

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

149 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the contacts that have taken place between her and the European Commission in relation to the use of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in Limerick; if the regulations governing the fund will be redrawn; the reason moneys from the fund are not in place in Limerick; when the moneys will be in place; the stumbling blocks that exist to releasing funds in Limerick immediately; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17832/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 149 together.

My Department, in conjunction with the relevant State agencies, is currently preparing an application for EGF support in respect of the redundancies announced at Dell's Raheen plant and directly related redundancies in the Mid-West Region. In order to ensure that a reasoned and detailed case satisfying the stringent EGF eligibility conditions is advanced with the greatest prospect of success the technical process of collection, verification and analysis of supporting data and the development and costing of a tailored package of applicable measures for each individual redundant worker is currently under way. In this context there has been ongoing consultations with the European Commission on technical issues related to the making of a relevant application for Dell.

As currently provided for funding is available from the European Globalisation Fund (EGF) for the retraining of workers in EU Member States made redundant as a result of changing global trade patterns where, inter alia, at least 1,000 workers have been made redundant within a 4 months period and have been individually notified of redundancy. This is not currently the case in relation to Dell.

However, the Regulation governing the EGF is being revised at present to ensure that it responds more effectively and efficiently to the needs of EU workers made redundant due to the adverse effects of globalisation including now as a result of the current global economic and financial crisis. The proposed changes include the halving of the current threshold number of redundancies, an increase in the EU co-financing rate from up to 50% to 65% and the doubling of the implementation period from 12 to 24 months. All these measures, which were supported by Ireland during negotiations at the European Council, should make the Fund more accessible. These measures would apply retrospectively to all applications made between 1 May 2009 and 30 December 2011.

The revised Regulation has yet to be formally adopted by both the European Parliament and the European Council Irrespective of the timing or eventual outcome of any EGF application the Government has already begun to put in place relevant supports to facilitate those workers facing redundancy in Dell to retrain, to improve their skills or to pursue educational opportunities in order to assist in their reintegration into the workforce. FÁS has put in place a dedicated team to assist Dell workers and has offered its full range of training and employment supports to assist the first batch of 480 Dell workers being made redundant in the period to the end of April. Both group based and one-to-one occupational guidance interviews conducted by the FÁS team in February were attended by 345 and 325 workers respectively, while ECDL training was delivered to those 60 workers who requested it.

A dedicated website, www.túsnua.ie to assist redundant workers in assessing their options for alternative employment or further education in the Mid-West Region has also been put in place through collaboration between University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology, FÁS, the County and City Enterprise Board, Enterprise Ireland and several other regionally located bodies. The majority of such supports are being provided, mainly through FÁS, from the State's own resources in the interim. Any subsequent co-financing received under the EGF will serve to defray some of the costs of supports already being provided or planned.

As I have stated previously in this House a valid EGF application submitted in due course on behalf of Dell and related redundancies is being prepared and will be made without any undue delay with the aim of providing the maximum level of permitted supports and attracting the maximum level of EU co-financing to the benefit of the relevant redundant workers.

Departmental Expenditure.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

150 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the annual expenditure on external legal costs by her Department in each of the past five years; the annual expenditure on external legal costs by each of the agencies under her aegis in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17839/09]

The detailed information being sought by the Deputy, going back to 2004, is currently being compiled across my Department. However, in the short time available to me since the Deputy tabled this Question, I am not in a position to provide those details at present. A full response will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Redundancy Payments.

Tom Hayes

Question:

151 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when full redundancy payment will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [17995/09]

As Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment I do not have a role in the administration of individual cases. The administration of individual cases is a day-to-day matter for FÁS as part of their responsibility under the Labour Services Act 1987.

Retail Sector Developments.

Willie Penrose

Question:

152 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the media reports that a company (details supplied) intends to start replacing products sourced here with products sourced in the United Kingdom; if in this context, she has conducted an evaluation of the impact of same on the consumer foods industry here in terms of lost income and jobs for the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18129/09]

Willie Penrose

Question:

156 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has met or if she will meet with representatives of a company (details supplied) to discuss their plans to replace products sourced here with products sourced in the United Kingdom, particularly in view of the commitments given by the company that it is committed to buying Irish products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18134/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 152 and 156 together.

The Deputy will appreciate that issues in relation to the strategies employed by businesses, including in the area of sourcing supplies, are primarily matters for the businesses themselves. The need to reduce costs and streamline operations at all stages of the supply chain is an established feature of modern business practice. This has been the reality for manufacturing firms in Ireland and elsewhere for some considerable time and has brought undoubted benefits to consumers in terms of lower prices for manufactured goods. Nevertheless, I am aware of the concerns that have been expressed in relation to the possible implications for employment in Ireland particularly if changes in supply chain arrangements reduce the level of purchases by retailers from Irish producers.

With regard to the specific instance referred to in the Deputy's Questions, I am aware of the announcement earlier this week by the organisation concerned regarding changes it has made in relation to the sourcing of certain internationally branded products. I would advise the Deputy that I have for some time been engaged in discussions with all the various elements of the retail trade, including with the organisation concerned, in order to bring greater clarity as to the reasons for the current differential in retail prices between this jurisdiction and Northern Ireland and the UK. In this regard, the organisation concerned did meet with my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Billy Kelleher, on Tuesday 28th April 2009 to outline the details of the changes in its sourcing arrangements, which it announced this week. The Deputy will note that in its public comments that the organisation concerned has advised that the changes in its supply strategy are focused on its contractual relationships with international suppliers and that it does not envisage that its new strategy will directly impact on its Irish suppliers, who will continue to compete with internationally sourced products.

The future viability and success of the retail sector, including all its constituent parts, is vitally important to the national economy. It is essential, therefore, that the focus of all those in the sector, whether they be suppliers, manufacturers, distributors or retailers, is on ensuring that the sector delivers in terms of providing the best value for money for consumers whilst also minimising the negative impact of the current trading conditions on employment.

Departmental Offices.

Willie Penrose

Question:

153 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to establish the office of retail ombudsman to deal with disputes between retailers and suppliers, similar to that recently recommended by the UK Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18131/09]

I understand that the ombudsman referred to in the Deputy's Question relates to a proposal made by the UK Competition Commission to introduce a scheme to deal with disputes between retailers and suppliers. It is important to point out that the Commission's proposal is currently the subject of a public consultation process and that no formal decision has been made at this stage to introduce an ombudsman's scheme in the UK. It is not possible, therefore, to say when any such scheme will be introduced in the UK and what form any such scheme might take, or indeed if such a model would be appropriate in an Irish context.

Insofar as the relationship between retailers and suppliers in this country is concerned, whilst the negotiation of commercial contracts between such parties is essentially a matter for the contracting parties themselves, the Competition Acts contain specific prohibitions prohibiting retailers from engaging in certain practices in their dealings with suppliers. Should the Deputy have any evidence of retailers engaging in prohibited practices, I would urge him to bring such evidence to the attention of the Competition Authority in order that it may be investigated fully.

Proposed Legislation.

Willie Penrose

Question:

154 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to bring forward fair trade legislation; when it will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18132/09]

I understand the Deputy is referring to fair trade in the context of fair and equitable terms and conditions between parties in a contractual business relationship. In general, contract law, enforceable in the Courts, governs the terms and conditions entered into by contracting parties.

In so far as competition law has an effect on business relationships, this is in the form of prohibition of certain anti-competitive practices such as price-fixing, applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage, making the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other party of supplementary obligations which by their nature or according to commercial usage have no connections with the subject of such contracts, abusing a dominant position, requesting "hello" money and imposing resale price maintenance. It is my intention to bring forward legislation during the course of 2009 which, inter alia, will be informed by the consultation process undertaken in 2007/08 on the operation and implementation of the Competition Act 2002.

Retail Sector.

Willie Penrose

Question:

155 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the growing concerns among food suppliers here regarding the abuse of buying power by certain retailers which can lead to a situation in which such suppliers are not recovering costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18133/09]

The Deputy refers in his question to concerns regarding possible abuses by certain undertakings in the retail sector. I would advise the Deputy that the Competition Acts specifically provide that any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position in the State or in any part of the State is prohibited. Should the Deputy have any evidence of undertakings in the retail sector engaging in the abuse of a dominant position, I would urge him to bring such evidence to the attention of the Competition Authority in order that it may be investigated fully.

In addition to prohibitions in relation to instances of abuse of dominance, the Competition Acts contain further specific provisions prohibiting retailers from engaging in certain practices in their dealings with suppliers. Again any evidence of retailers engaging in such prohibited practices should be brought to the attention of the Competition Authority.

Question No. 156 answered with Question No. 152.

Redundancy Payments.

Jack Wall

Question:

157 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding an application for statutory redundancy payment by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18140/09]

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department has checked to see if a redundancy payments claim has been lodged for the individual in question but currently there is no record of a claim having been submitted. In the circumstances, if the Deputy wishes to provide me with further information which would help to clarify the matter, I would be happy to renew enquiries.

Jack Wall

Question:

158 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding an application for statutory redundancy payment by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18141/09]

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department has checked to see if a redundancy payments claim has been lodged for the individual in question but currently there is no record of the claim having been submitted. In the circumstances, if the Deputy wishes to provide me with further information which would help to clarify the matter, I would be happy to renew enquiries.

Departmental Programmes.

Brian Hayes

Question:

159 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the steps that have been taken since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014 to prioritise projects focusing on e-Government. [17633/09]

There have been a number of important developments with eGovernment since the publication of "Building Ireland's Smart Economy" in December 2008. As the Deputy will be aware, the focus over the past year has been on making progress with those 20 specific services included in the European Commission's eGovernment Benchmarks and those eight specific services identified in the Dáil Joint Motion on eGovernment of 30 April 2008. Good progress has already been achieved with a number of these and work is ongoing with others. Therefore, at this stage, approximately 70 services are fully available online, and forms can be downloaded electronically for hundreds more.

The Government's aim is to have a rolling eGovernment Programme in place. With that in mind, my Department issued Circular 6/09 on Arrangements for eGovernment in March of this year. It requires all Departments, Offices, Agencies, and all non-commercial public bodies and authorities to develop detailed eGovernment plans by end of June 2009. These plans must set out additional projects they intend to undertake from hereon in. These plans will be subjected to regular monitoring by my Department and reporting to Government.

To support this work, my Department has established a website on eGovernment specifically for civil and public service bodies. This website provides them with a range of resources to aid and guide them in developing and progressing eGovernment projects. In this regard, my Department has produced a working definition of eGovernment projects that should be included in individual plans. It includes projects that are organisation-specific, cross-organisational, sector-specific or cross-sectoral, and it highlights eight categories of project types such as those providing online information, online transactions, automated transactions, triage facilities, and full business transformation opportunities. This definition may be changed over time as opportunities and priorities develop. Additionally, my Department has produced an eGovernment Planning Advisory Note which provides public bodies with assistance on how to develop a project plan and helps to ensure that such plans contain full details on ownership; timelines; facilities being offered; costs; benefits and impacts; capacity of the organisation to deliver; monitoring arrangements; and progress to date.

Progress has also been made with a number of central eGovernment operations. A central ePayments facility, operated by the Local Government Computer Services Board, is now being used by approximately 60 different public bodies for over 30 different service types worth about €20 million per annum. Since assuming responsibility for the Public Services Broker, my Department has simplified its operation, and integrated its portal with other Government websites such as www.gov.ie, www.citizensinformation.ie, and www.ros.ie. My Department has also implemented a simplified technology solution for the electronic publication of death events to civil and public service. This solution provides a way for authorised public service staff to access records of all recently-registered deaths in a simple and secure way. It is now being used by 6 civil service Departments and Offices, 20 Local Authorities, and a number of HSE functions. Plans are in place to extend this solution to also facilitate the electronic publication of birth and marriage events subject to business needs being identified and the necessary regulatory changes being implemented. My Department has also commenced work on the integration of customer identity data from seven sources around the civil and public service, using the "Public Service Identity dataset". Once completed, this will allow public bodies to better establish the identity of persons in order to maximise re-use of such data and to aid the process of administrative simplification.

My Department is providing the Cabinet Committee on Transforming Public Services with regular updates on developments and progress. Additionally, it is providing the Government with comprehensive progress reports every six months. The first such report was submitted in March 2009. Finally, my Department is working on developing brochures to explain to people what services are available online, how they can use them, and how they will benefit them. It is intended to publish these in the latter half of the year.

Coastal Erosion.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

160 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance the funds that have been provided in 2009 for works to combat coastal erosion in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17663/09]

The Office of Public Works assumed responsibility for coastal flood risk management and coastal erosion in January this year. The Commissioners of Public Works will shortly be writing to Local Authorities, to request them to identify significant coastal erosion issues in their areas, their proposals for dealing with them and the order of priority in which they consider they should be addressed. The Commissioners will prioritise projects based on overall response from the local authorities and will allocate funding for projects, which are considered viable on economic, environmental and social grounds. OPW will continue the practice of working closely with Local Authorities to deal with coastal erosion issues. Funding will be allocated from the overall provision for flood risk management and coastal erosion on a project rather than a geographical basis.

Pension Provisions.

Finian McGrath

Question:

161 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [17676/09]

Section 22 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009 provides that the Minister for Finance may, after consultation with the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, make a Pensions Insolvency Payment Scheme (PIPS), providing for the payment of monies to or in respect of relevant pensioners. The Act does not provide for the inclusion or exclusion of any particular pension scheme in PIPS. One of the main aims of the scheme is to support pension schemes in the greatest need. For that reason, and having regard to a number of factors, the Government decided to offer PIPS to insolvent pension schemes of insolvent companies, that is, companies which may not be in a position to assist schemes in meeting the original pension commitment made to pensioners.

It is my intention to bring forward the necessary regulations giving effect to PIPS shortly. Once that has been done, it is open to any pension scheme that meets the criteria to apply to participate. The principal qualifying conditions for PIPS are that the sponsoring employer must be insolvent (in accordance with the definition used in the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984) and the defined benefit pension scheme must be in deficit.

Departmental Staff.

Seán Connick

Question:

162 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Finance if he will facilitate a transfer for a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17372/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that staff transfers take place in accordance with agreed procedures and the needs of the work of the organisation. In this context, the person in question has been informed of the position in relation to her application on a number of occasions. The Commissioners have also advised me that they have arranged for the person in question to be reminded of the relevant rules and procedures.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

163 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if there is special tax treatment of foster parents; if foster parents are entitled to special tax credits or other payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17383/09]

The position is that foster parents are treated for tax purposes in the same manner as other individuals. However, under the provisions of section 192B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, certain payments made by the Health Services Executive to foster parents in respect of children in their care are exempt from income tax.

The payments in question are:

payments made in accordance with article 14 of the Child Care (Placement of Children in Foster Care) Regulations 1995,

payments made in accordance with article 14 of the Child Care (Placement of Children with Relatives) Regulations 1995, and

payments made at the discretion of the Health Service Executive in respect of a person who was in foster care until the age of 18 and who continues to reside with the foster parent after the age of 18. The exemption from income tax applies to such payments until the person reaches 21 years of age or completes his or her full time education or indefinitely in the case of a person with a disability.

Similar payments made in accordance with the law of any other EU Member State are likewise exempted for income tax.

Phil Hogan

Question:

164 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance the basis of calculation for private crèche facilities; the reason such facilities are rateable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17444/09]

I should point out that the Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Valuation Act 2001 and that I, as Minister for Finance, have no function in decisions in this regard. The Valuation Act 2001, which came into effect on 2 May 2002, provides that all buildings used or developed for any purpose, including constructions affixed thereto, are rateable unless expressly exempted under Schedule 4 of the Act. Such exempt buildings would principally include those used for public worship, education and health care provided on a not-for-profit basis, and charitable purposes. The Act maintains the long-standing position that commercial facilities — including all private childcare facilities such as play schools, pre-schools, crèches and Montessori schools — are liable for rates. The basis of rateable valuation for all commercial property is net annual value (NAV) i.e. the rental value of the property. Like all commercial properties the valuations of private crèche facilities are determined by reference to the values of comparable properties on the same valuation list.

Any individual ratepayer who has concerns about the valuation of their property or of any part thereof, including its rateability or the method of calculation may, on payment of a statutory fee of €250, apply to the Valuation Office for a revision of the valuation. If dissatisfied with the outcome, they may appeal to the Commissioner of Valuation in the first instance and subsequently to the independent Valuation Tribunal. There is also a further right of appeal to the High Court and ultimately to the Supreme Court on a point of law.

I have no plans to provide for special treatment of private childcare facilities under the Valuation Act which provides that all buildings used for commercial enterprises are valued in a fair and equitable manner. Exceptions to this key principle would be quickly followed by demands for similar treatment from other interests involved in commercial activity, which in equity would be difficult to resist. The process could thus substantially reduce local authority revenues.

Tax Collection.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

165 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the status of the request for a refund of tax following unemployment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17445/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer's claim was processed on the 14th April 2009. No tax refund issued as no tax had been deducted in the taxpayer's employment in 2009.

Pension Provisions.

Joan Burton

Question:

166 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on allowing people in financial difficulty through loss of employment or income to access a proportion of their AVC or PRSA contributions during the period of financial distress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17461/09]

The rationale for giving tax relief for contributions to various types of retirement savings products is to encourage and promote savings over the long term in order that individuals will have an adequate replacement income in old age. A pension fund is not a "rainy day" fund in the normal sense of that term. Emerging demographic indicators point to increasing numbers of people living longer, with a longer period spent in retirement than previously. Any proposal, however well intentioned, that would allow pre-retirement access by individuals to retirement savings could significantly reduce the quantum of pension savings available to those individuals in old age.

Revenue approval of pension schemes, including AVC schemes, is given on the basis that a scheme can only provide "relevant benefits" as defined by Section 770 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. This means, essentially, that benefits may only be paid at the point of retirement (usually from age 60) or on earlier death. The legislation governing Revenue approval of PRSA products contains a similar provision. I have no plans to amend these provisions. However, employees may take "early retirement" benefits from both a pension scheme and a PRSA, anytime from age 50. This may provide some immediate assistance to employees in that age group who find themselves in a redundancy situation.

Tax Collection.

John Perry

Question:

167 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that a person (details supplied) in County Sligo is issued with a tax clearance certificate for 2007 by the Revenue Commissioners as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17478/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there is no record of receipt of an application for the relevant Tax Clearance Certificate from the person (details supplied) who has been contacted by the Sligo Revenue Office. An application Form TC1 has been posted to him and he has been informed that he may also apply electronically. His application, when received, will be processed at the earliest opportunity.

Departmental Staff.

Denis Naughten

Question:

168 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance his plans to recruit seasonal guides for Office of Public Works sites here; the number employed on a permanent basis at each site; the number employed at each site on a seasonal basis in 2008; the planned numbers for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17528/09]

The Commissioners of Public Works plan to recruit up to 310 seasonal guide/information officers this year to service visitor requirements at various heritage sites throughout the country. The following table details, on a site by site basis, both the numbers of guides employed on a permanent basis at present and the number who were employed on a seasonal basis in 2008. It is anticipated that a peak total of approximately 420 guide/information officers, both seasonal and permanent will be employed in 2009.

Current number of permanent guides

Number of seasonal guides (peak 2008)

Site

30/04/09

01/07/08

Battle of the Boyne

7

6

Blasket Islands

0

11

Derrynane House

0

3

Emo Court

0

4

Garinish Island (Illnacullin)

0

3

John F. Kennedy Park

0

4

Kilmainham Gaol

12

8

Tax Collection.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

169 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork for a tax refund under MED1. [17539/09]

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the application for a tax refund by the person in question has been processed and a cheque will issue.

Departmental Expenditure.

Brian Hayes

Question:

170 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the steps that have been taken to reprioritise capital investment programmes towards more labour intensive projects and provide examples of projects which have been prioritised since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014. [17593/09]

My Department has already been analysing the labour intensity of capital projects with a view to redirecting resources in that regard on an ongoing basis. We are also very aware of the need to boost employment. The Government has already reallocated €150 million from within the overall capital allocation for 2009 in February last, to areas that, while providing a high economic return to the State, are also labour intensive. Of this €150 million, €75 million was provided for energy efficiency measures. €55 million of this was allocated to the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (D/CENR) and €20 million to the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (D/EHLG).

The remaining €75 million has been allocated to the school building programme. Further decisions on reallocation will be decided in a Budgetary context for 2010 and beyond. Details of the operation of these schemes and individual projects instituted under them are a matter for the Ministers for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Environment, Heritage and Local Government; and Education and Science, respectively.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Brian Hayes

Question:

171 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the steps already undertaken to protect mortgage holders in banks participating in the guarantee scheme as set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014 in relation to areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17600/09]

A number of steps have been taken in the areas the Deputy refers to since the publication of the Framework document in December 2008. The Financial Regulator published its Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears on 13 February 2009 in keeping with the Government's announcement on recapitalisation. The new mandatory Code builds on the existing voluntary Code of Practice issued by the Irish Banking Federation and incorporates a requirement for the lender to wait at least six months from the time arrears arise before taking legal action. The two recapitalised banks, Bank of Ireland and AIB, have each committed that they will not commence court proceedings for repossession of a principal private residence until after twelve months of arrears appearing, where the customer continues to cooperate reasonably and honestly with the bank. Under the Code of Conduct, a lender may not seek repossession until every reasonable effort has been made to agree an alternative repayment schedule with the borrower. The Financial Regulator's Code will strengthen consumer protection by putting the Code on a statutory footing thus requiring all mortgage lenders, including sub-prime lenders, to comply with its provisions.

As the Deputy is aware, the Government funds the Money Advice Budgeting Service (MABS) which provides valuable help to those in difficulty. A new debt protocol agreement to be finalised shortly with MABS and the Irish Bankers Federation will provide added reassurance for borrowers with the most difficult issues. I am in regular contact with the Financial Regulator on all matters relating to banking and I am assured that those institutions covered under the Government's Bank Guarantee Scheme are monitored for compliance with the Code of Conduct.

Tax Code.

Brian Hayes

Question:

172 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the steps have been taken since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014 to realise tax measures in areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17603/09]

The provisions of section 31 of the Finance (No 2) Act 2008 provide for relief from corporation tax for their first 3 years of operation for companies incorporated on and from 14 October 2008 that commence to carry on a new trade in 2009. The tax treatment of restricted and forfeitable shares was put on a statutory basis in Section 12 of Finance (No. 2) Act 2008.

As regards Section 31, the relief is granted by reducing the corporation tax on the profits of the new trade and on the gains from disposal of assets used for the purpose of the new trade to nil. Full relief is available where the corporation tax otherwise payable by the company in respect of any of its first 3 years is €40,000 or less. There is marginal relief where the corporation tax liability is between €40,000 and €60,000. The scheme of relief is currently being finalised in the context of seeking State-aid clearance from the EU Commission.

Public Procurement Policy.

Brian Hayes

Question:

173 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the steps that have been taken to deliver centralised and specialised procurement as set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014; the money that has been saved by this measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17631/09]

The National Public Procurement Policy Unit (NPPOU) has been established in the Office of Public Works. The NPPOU will manage the purchase of goods and services common to all areas of the public service, e.g. office equipment, furniture and fittings, fuel, electricity, printing, stationery and office supplies, uniforms and transport fleets. Staff seconded to the Unit will be required to have an appropriate level of knowledge and experience of public procurement. The NPPOU will deliver savings from leveraging the public service's buying power and administrative efficiencies arising from the elimination of tendering for similar goods and services by a wide range of public service bodies. A target of €25 million in savings for 2009 has been set.

The NPPOU will be the main driver in the development of eProcurement in the public sector. In fulfilment of the Government's eProcurement Strategy, the Department of Finance has been responsible to date for the development of an eTenders system, under which 2,100 contracting authorities and 48,800 suppliers have registered as users. It is intended that the new Unit will assume this responsibility. It is envisaged that the new Unit will introduce a fully integrated end to end system inclusive of eTenders and eEvaluation. E-Auctions will also be developed by the NPPOU; to that end, a tender for electricity for Central Government Departments will be conducted through eAuction on a pilot basis in the coming weeks.

Public Service Staff.

Brian Hayes

Question:

174 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the steps that have been taken to achieve a unified public service labour market since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014. [17632/09]

Since the publication of the Report "Building Ireland's Smart Economy A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal" and the Report of The Task Force on the Public Service, the Government has established a Cabinet Committee, chaired by the Taoiseach and a Steering Group of Secretaries General, to support the work of the Cabinet Committee. The Cabinet Committee has held three meetings to date and has set in train a programme of work based on the ambitious timelines recommended by the Task Force. In addition a Programme Office has been put in place in the Department of the Taoiseach to support the work of the task based groups established to address the cross-cutting issues arising.

The Task Force recommended that the Government should create a Public Service made up of a single flexible labour market and talent pool. There should be a facility to redeploy staff across sectoral boundaries to areas of greatest priority. It also recommended that a senior public service should be created as an enabler for the development and mobility of leaders across the public service. The Cabinet Committee is advancing all of these recommendations with a focus on locating staff where they are most needed to improve customer service.

Addressing the particular issue of a unified labour market, the Government recognises that the ability to deploy public servants effectively and efficiently across the system, to areas of greatest need, is critical to cost savings and efficiency across the public sector. In the light of the constraints on the public finances and in particular the moratorium on recruitment and promotion across the public sector, there is a critical need to maximise the use of existing resources and to develop appropriate redeployment mechanisms. I announced in Budget 2009 a programme of rationalisations of state agencies as a first step in an ongoing programme of agency rationalisation and reform. In addition the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes that I established to review public service staffing levels and spending, will report in June. The report of the Group will help to identify the scope for moving staff across the public service to areas of greatest priority.

Tax Code.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

175 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance when, arising from his budget announcement of changes in pension related deductions for public servants to ameliorate the impact on lower paid public servants, the new arrangements will come into effect; if it is intended to refund deductions made at the higher, pre-budget rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17638/09]

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 introduced a pension-related deduction of 3% on the first €15,000, 6% on the next €5,000 and 10% on the remainder of the remuneration of public servants. In order to ameliorate the impact of the deduction on lower paid public servants with a partial offset by an increase on earnings above €60,000, new rates and bands have been introduced with effect from 1 May 2009, as follows:

First €15,000 of earnings — exempt

Between €15,000 and €20,000 — 5%

Between €20,000 and €60,000 — 10%

Above €60,000 — 10.5%

The deduction for the initial two month period 1 March to 30 April 2009 has been made in accordance with the rates provided for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. The revised rates will apply for the period 1 May to 31 December 2009.

Joe Carey

Question:

176 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance if he will end the travel tax imposed on Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17685/09]

As the Deputy is aware, I announced in Budget 2009 that an air travel tax would come into force in respect of passengers departing from Irish airports on and from 30 March 2009. A general rate of €10 per passenger would apply, with a lower rate of €2 for shorter journeys. The Finance (No. 2) Act 2008 confirms the introduction of an air travel tax from 30 March 2009. However, I took account of concerns raised by the regional airports particularly those on the western seaboard. The lower rate of €2 will apply to departures from any Irish airport where the destination is 300kms or less from Dublin airport. This means that all Irish departures to locations such as Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow will be subject to the €2 rate.

We currently face significant financial challenges and the air travel tax is an important revenue raising measure. Ireland is not unique in regard to applying a tax on air travel. Other countries within the EU apply similar taxes including, the UK and France, as do Australia and New Zealand. The proposed rates for the Irish air travel tax are not unreasonable both for shorter and longer journeys, when compared to rates in other countries.

It should be recognised that tourists will only be subject to the tax on their return journey. The additional €10 or €2 in the context of a much larger purchasing decision involving travel, hotel expenditures etc. shouldn't have much of an effect on tourist numbers. I appreciate the airline industry continues to go through a difficult period. However, this difficult trading period has, in addition to weak world economic activity, been largely driven by a massive spike in oil prices. Oil prices have now halved from the all-time high prices experienced last year.

Mary Upton

Question:

177 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance if he will address the concerns of research staff in relation to the pension levy taking account of certain issues (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17703/09]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

179 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17715/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 and 179 together.

Public servants who are members of public service pension schemes are liable to pay the pension-related deduction legislated for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. On this basis, third-level researchers on fixed-term and temporary contracts must pay the deduction, since they are members of the relevant occupational pension schemes. They are just one of many groups of non-permanent public servants paying the deduction. Distinctions between public servants on the basis of whether they are permanent or temporary, and if temporary what contract duration applies, are irrelevant insofar as liability to pay the deduction is concerned. The pay of the post, in terms of whether it features incremental progression, is likewise irrelevant.

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

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

In light of all the above factors, I am satisfied that it is fair and appropriate that public servants on fixed-term and temporary contracts, including third-level researchers, are subject to the pension-related deduction. I might add that, as the Deputy may be aware, in order to ameliorate the impact of the deduction on lower paid public servants (with a partial offset by an increase on earnings above €60,000) I announced, in the Supplementary Budget of 7 April 2009, a change to the structure of the deduction which will exempt the first €15,000 of earnings. This should be of benefit to third-level researchers.

Finally, in relation to the bodies listed in the Schedule to the Act ('Bodies to which the definition of ‘Public Service Body' does not apply) I would point out that these are organisations with a commercial remit and have pay and pensions which are not funded by the Exchequer. Accordingly, such bodies would not be liable to pay the pension-related deduction.

Tax Collection.

James Bannon

Question:

178 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath has not received the 20% refund due to them on fees in respect of a postgraduate diploma; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17714/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no record of having received a claim in respect of a tax refund for tuition fees paid by the person (details supplied). To qualify for relief the postgraduate course must:

be carried out in an approved College (National College of Ireland is an approved college)

be of at least one academic year but no more than 4 academic years in duration

lead to a postgraduate award on either a thesis or an examination and

the person taking the course must already have a primary degree or equivalent qualification.

A claim form is available at www.revenue.ie and a receipt from the college should accompany the claim.

Question No. 179 answered with Question No. 177.

Economic Competitiveness.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

180 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 200 of 3 February 2009, the loss to the Exchequer arising from cross-Border shopping in 2008 and 2009; if he will publish said report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17722/09]

The report on the Implications of Cross Border Shopping for the Irish Exchequer, which was prepared by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the CSO was published on my Department's website on 20 March 2009. The report notes that the main causes of price differentials between goods in Northern Ireland and the Republic, are operating costs, profit margin (mark-up), taxes and the rapid depreciation of Sterling against the Euro (depreciation of around 30% between January and December 2008). While changes in the standard VAT rates have widened some price differentials, their impact remains small compared to the size of the change in the exchange rate.

The report estimates the value of cross-border shopping in 2008 in the range of €350m to €550m and the potential loss in Exchequer revenues due to cross-border shopping arising from reduced VAT and excise yields at between €58m and €90m (the higher estimate represents under 0.5% of the total VAT and excise revenue in 2008). In addition to the VAT and excise loss, there is a possible corporation tax revenue loss that is tentatively estimated to be in the range of €15m to €24m. However, it should be noted that all estimates for corporation tax revenue are provisional and should only be considered as indicative of the potential loss.

In regard to 2009, if the exchange rate remains at close to current levels, the estimated value of cross-border shopping is put in the range of €450m to €700m, and the estimated VAT and excise revenue loss is put at between €72m and €112m, and a possible corporation tax revenue loss in the range of €20m to €31m. With a view to improving the data available, Revenue and the CSO are working on questions to be included in the Quarterly National Household Survey that should facilitate a more detailed assessment of cross-border shopping in the future.

Tax Code.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

181 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Finance his intentions in relation to the Shannon tax scheme; if he will extend the duration of same; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a considerable amount of pre-planning work had been completed in some areas in relation to this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17725/09]

Section 29 of the Finance Act 2007 introduced a pilot tax based scheme for tourism facilities in the mid-Shannon area. The scheme is aimed at encouraging the development of new tourism infrastructure, or the refurbishment of existing tourism infrastructure, in the mid-Shannon area.

The scheme provides for tax relief in the form of accelerated capital allowances over 7 years for qualifying construction and refurbishment expenditure incurred in the qualifying period. The scheme is essentially confined to certain tourism infrastructure buildings and structures, the criteria for which are out in guidelines which were issued by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism in consultation with the Minister for Finance. The qualifying period for the scheme is 3 years from the commencement date of 1st June 2008. Projects wishing to avail of relief must get approval in advance (for which an application must be made within 1 year of the commencement of the scheme) and also must get formal certification after completion. This approval and certification is given by a special board established for the purposes of the scheme and carried out in accordance with the scheme guidelines.

I am aware that a considerable amount of pre planning work has been completed in some areas in relation to potential projects. However, any proposals to extend the scheme deadlines have been and will, like all proposals for new tax or expenditure measures, be considered in the context of the ongoing development of budgetary and economic policy.

Denis Naughten

Question:

182 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance his plans to tax child benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17739/09]

The position in relation to Child Benefit is as set out in my Supplementary Budget on 7 April 2009. The Government does not believe that it is fair to pay the same level of benefit irrespective of the level of income of the recipient. In time of scare resources the Government believes support should be targeted at those most in need. My Department, together with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners are considering how best to achieve this policy objective. The tax treatment of child benefit is also being considered by the Commission on Taxation. I will be informed by its proposals on this matter.

Departmental Expenditure.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

183 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the annual expenditure on external legal costs by his Department in each of the past five years; the annual expenditure on external legal costs by each of the agencies under his aegis in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17841/09]

In general, my department uses the services of the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor, and seeks outside legal advisors in circumstances requiring legal services of a specific and/or specialist nature. The guidelines on the engagement of external support apply in such circumstances and require that such external support is procured only where essential. My department requires that each office and department confirms regularly that these guidelines are applied. The following table sets out expenditure in the years 2005 to 2008 and to date in 2009 on contracts for legal services by my department and the related offices.

Name of Office

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

€,000

€,000

€,000

€,000

€,000 (YTD)

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

6,800

9,100

14,800

18,500

4,300

Office of Public Works

State Laboratory

103

Valuation Office

26

125

20

139

666

Public Appointments Service

17

Office of the Commission for Pubic Service Appointments

66

63

130

115

3

Office of the Ombudsman

526

542

444

582

55

Office of the Minister for Finance

1,134

624

336

1,876

1

In the time available, the Office of Public Works was unable to collate the information sought. I have asked that office to communicate the relevant information direct to the Deputy.

Banking Sector Regulation.

John Deasy

Question:

184 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance if he has plans through his negotiations with the banks to assist people who wish to transfer from fixed rate mortgages to variable rate mortgages without incurring the present costs that these institutions are demanding. [17849/09]

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.

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.

Departmental Staff.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

185 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Finance if the employment of the seasonal guides and other seasonal employment at Clonmacnoise, County Offaly and other historic sites open to the public can go ahead in view of the public service embargo. [17856/09]

The Commissioners of Public Works have received sanction to recruit seasonal guide/information officers to facilitate visitor requirements at various heritage sites throughout the country that they manage. The majority have now been recruited and most of the remaining seasonal intake will be in place within the next month.

Tax Code.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

186 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the income levy rate that will apply to someone on €40,000 who worked for the first four months of the year but takes maternity leave for the remainder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18021/09]

An individual who has emoluments of €40,000 per annum but who takes maternity leave for the last 8 months of the year would have emoluments of €13,077 in respect of the first 17 weeks of the year (€40,000 x 17/52). In addition she would have a maximum maternity benefit of €280 per week for 26 weeks being €7,280. The final 9 weeks to end of year would be unpaid maternity leave.

This represents an annual income of €20,357. Of this income the maternity benefit paid by the Department of Social and Family Affairs is specifically exempted from the income levy. The balance of emoluments of €13,077 is less than the annual exempt threshold of €15,028. Therefore the individual in question would not be subject to income levy for the year. This assumes that the individual has no other income sources. Any levy deducted by the employer would be refunded on receipt of a claim after the end of the year of assessment.

Financial Services Regulation.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

187 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Finance if, in the context of his plans for the banking sector, specific effort is being made to ensure relief for persons on fixed rate mortgages who incur financial penalties if they opt to change to variable rate mortgages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18027/09]

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.

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.

Tax Code.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

188 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the entitlement to mortgage interest relief and the relevant thresholds and rates of relief that apply in the circumstances in which a couple are purchasing an apartment that they will occupy themselves when one is a first-time buyer and the other a second-time buyer with eight years expired on their first property; and if different rates apply if the second-time buyer trades up or if they retain the property. [18059/09]

As announced in my Budget Statement on 7 April last, from 1 May 2009 all mortgage holders are eligible for mortgage interest relief for a period of 7 years on any new loan taken out to purchase, repair, develop or improve their sole or main residence in the State. In the circumstances described, the couple will individually receive mortgage interest relief through the tax relief at source (TRS) system for 7 years on their portion of the new mortgage taken out to purchase the apartment where it is to be their sole or main residence.

From 1st January 2009, the rate of relief applicable to a first time buyer is 25% for the first two years. This falls to 22.5% for the next 3 years and to 20% for years 6 and 7. The rate for non first time buyers is 15%. The ceiling or maximum amount of interest eligible for TRS will be €10,000 for the first time buyer and €3,000 for the non first time buyer. If the non first time buyer is retaining their first property, they will have no entitlement to mortgage interest relief in respect of that property because the newly purchased apartment is now their principal private residence. A decision to retain their first property or not, as the case may be, will not impact on the rate of relief that will apply to their new apartment.

Tax Collection.

Jack Wall

Question:

189 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. [18082/09]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, based on the information available, no tax was paid by the person concerned in 2008 and accordingly no tax rebate is due.

Tax Code.

Finian McGrath

Question:

190 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [18122/09]

I announced in my Budget statement of 7 April that with effect from 1 May 2009 the number of tax years in respect of which mortgage interest relief may be claimed is 7 years for both first time and non first time buyers. Since the Budget the Revenue Commissioners have been working with the lending institutions on the implementation of the Budget measure. The objective is to make the implementation as straightforward as possible and to ensure insofar as possible that mortgage account holders who are entitled to mortgage interest relief under the new rules get that relief without the need for any action on their part.

Where all parties to the account are first time buyers, i.e. are in receipt of mortgage interest relief on their first mortgage for less than 7 years, Revenue has the necessary information to confirm entitlement to mortgage interest relief after 1 May 2009 in accordance with my Budget statement. Such account holders will therefore continue to receive relief through the tax relief at source (TRS) system until the end of the 7th year. This includes those mortgage holders where 2009 is the 7th year of relief. For non-first time buyers, Revenue does not currently have available to it adequate information on the duration of all such accounts or the amount of the loan in respect of which relief may be appropriate. In those circumstances it cannot make a determination as to which accounts are entitled to mortgage interest relief after 1 May 2009.

To date many of the lenders have provided information in respect of the non-first time buyer accounts to Revenue and that information is currently being processed. Where Revenue is in a position to decide with certainty from the information provided by the lender that an account holder is entitled to relief then the payment of relief through TRS will be reactivated as quickly as possible without the need for any action by the account holder. Any arrears of relief will also be automatically credited to such accounts, again without the need for any action by the account holder. Where Revenue is in a position to decide with certainty from the information provided by the lender that an account holder is not entitled to relief then clearly there will be no reactivation of relief.

Where despite the information provided by lenders Revenue cannot make a determination whether a mortgage account holder is eligible for relief, then Revenue will be writing to each such account holder this month requesting the necessary information. I believe that the approach taken by Revenue, which is focused on minimising the effort needed by individual mortgage account holders in establishing their entitlement to mortgage interest relief under the new rules is the correct one and will ensure that the appropriate relief is available to all those who have an entitlement to such relief in the fastest and most efficient manner possible.

Tax Collection.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

191 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when a tax refund will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18170/09]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that in December 2008 completed returns of income for 2006 and 2007, with supporting documentation including details of tax deducted, were requested from the person concerned. This information has not yet been received by Revenue and correspondence is ongoing with the person concerned in order to establish his tax liability for 2006 and 2007.

Disabled Drivers.

Mary Upton

Question:

192 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance if he will address the concerns of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 in relation to the driver and passenger with a disability tax relief scheme. [18176/09]

The initial application for a Primary Medical Certificate under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994, is made to the Senior Medical Officer of the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area. If the Primary Medical Certificate has been refused in this case, the named person may appeal the refusal to the Medical Board of Appeal, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. I would point out that the Medical Board of Appeal is independent in the exercise of its functions.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

193 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the bilateral agreement with Vietnam on adoption will expire; if she is negotiating a new agreement with the Vietnamese authorities; if so, when this agreement will be complete; if special temporary arrangements will be put in place to facilitate those Irish families who are almost through the process of adopting Vietnamese children but cannot proceed as a result of the lapse of the current agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17408/09]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

194 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the renewal of the five year bilateral agreement between Ireland and Vietnam which ends on 1 May 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17457/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

201 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 165 of the 18 February 2009, if she will report on the ongoing negotiations regarding the bilateral agreement between Ireland and Vietnam; if she will clarify if the current agreement remains in place while finalisation on a new agreement is reached; the implications for families who are in the process of adopting from Vietnam during this period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18295/09]

Mary Upton

Question:

202 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in signing a bilateral agreement with the Republic of Vietnam regarding inter-country adoption; when she expects a treaty to be signed; if her attention has been drawn to the impact on prospective parents of the lapsing of this agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18389/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

203 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the actions she will take to resolve the issue of inter-country adoption with Vietnam; her views on visiting the country herself to resolve issues which remain outstanding. [18402/09]

Dan Neville

Question:

204 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will make a statement on the bilateral agreement between Ireland and Vietnam; if she will travel to Vietnam to sign the new agreement; the timeframe for negotiations; the steps she is taking at present to ensure that all outstanding issues are resolved successfully; the reason she has not worked on an interim agreement until such time as the new agreement is put in place; if it is the case that the post-placement reports on the children here after being adopted are not sent to Vietnam in an acceptable timeframe; the length of time from the time the post-placement report is carried out before it reaches the authorities in Vietnam. [18301/09]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

229 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the visit by the Irish delegation to Vietnam to discuss the provisions of the renewal of the bilateral agreement regarding adoptions between the two countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17572/09]

Liz McManus

Question:

271 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will renew the bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam before the Adoption Bill 2009 is passed; the position regarding inter-country adoption, in particular such adoptions between Ireland and Vietnam; the status of the agreement between the two countries; the status of persons who had been on the list of adoption before the initial agreement was terminated; the position in this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18033/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

280 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding applications to adopt being processed in view of the 1 May 2009 deadline; when the negotiations will be finalised; the reason the delegation from Ireland did not travel to Vietnam sooner; the reason a satisfactory interim arrangement was not put in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18081/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 193, 194, 201, 202, 203, 204, 229, 271 and 280 together.

Work in relation to the bi-lateral agreement with Vietnam has been ongoing for over 14 months. During this period, there have been three visits to Vietnam, including the most recent visit to discuss the draft text of an agreement. The Deputies will be aware that Ireland offered to provide the Vietnamese Authorities with the text of a draft agreement as a basis for negotiations. A draft Bi-lateral Agreement for Inter-country Adoption was delivered on 6 March, 2009, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, to the Vietnamese Authorities for their consideration. On 2 April, 2009, the Vietnamese Government invited a delegation from Ireland to visit Vietnam to discuss the provisions of the draft Bi-Lateral Agreement provided. An Irish delegation travelled to Hanoi in the week commencing on 20 April, 2009 — the earliest opportunity provided to meet with the relevant Vietnamese Ministries — for an intensive round of discussions on this draft Bi-lateral Agreement.

The delegation was led by the Office of the Minister for Children and was assisted in discussions by the Adoption Board. Discussions were facilitated and guided locally by the Irish Embassy in Hanoi. The meetings were progressive but there are a number of residual issues and discussions on these issues are ongoing. I would like to again reiterate my personal commitment, and the commitment of the Government, to continue with these discussions with a view to bringing them to a conclusion at the earliest possible date. It is anticipated that further proposals to advance the discussions will be made to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the coming week. It is also anticipated that the Vietnamese side will revert with proposals on their part shortly.

I do not wish to speculate on the timeframe or the outcome for these negotiations as this is genuinely difficult to determine. What I can say is that efforts on the Irish side are intensive and will continue in the coming weeks. I can also say that there has been a high level of engagement on both sides. It is clear from progress so far that there is a willingness on both sides to bring these matters to a successful conclusion if at all possible. The need for a further visit will be guided by the developments in the coming days and weeks. I am committed to travelling to Vietnam at any time to facilitate the successful conclusion of these discussions as and when appropriate.

One matter that has emerged in the public comment is whether the provision of post-adoption reports is an issue. Such speculation is unfounded. The Helping Hands Mediation Agency (HHMA) received an award from the International Adoption Department in Vietnam for providing detailed post-adoption reports and has been complimented on several occasions for having an excellent system in place to ensure that all reports are returned to Vietnam on time. This is an example of where speculation on either the nature of the issues or the degree of progress being made is unhelpful and could compromise the outcome of discussions. It may also prove misleading and distressing to those applicants currently waiting to adopt.

The Adoption Board has advised that the situation in relation to adoptions and applicants is as follows: all adoptions from Vietnam, which have been registered on the Register of Foreign Adoptions, are safe and secure; all applicants who have adopted children from Vietnam and returned to Ireland but as yet, have no entry in the Register of Foreign Adoptions will be registered subject to the usual statutory requirements; applicants who have referrals in respect of children from Vietnam will be allowed to complete their adoption; there will be no new referrals from May 1st, 2009, and the process of granting Declarations (which are not country specific) is not affected by the ending of the Bilateral Agreement with Vietnam.

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

Health Service Staff.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

195 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if Health Service Executive employees are entitled to apply for the early retirement scheme outlined in the 7 April 2009 budget; the way this scheme will operate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17472/09]

Health Service Executive employees will be entitled to apply for the early retirement scheme outlined in the 7 April, 2009 Budget. The scheme is being finalised at present and a copy of the circular, detailing the way in which the scheme will operate, will be provided to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Infectious Diseases.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

196 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps being taken at airports, ports and all other points of entry into the State in relation to screening for the swine flu influenza; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17529/09]

The issue of screening at airports has been considered by the National Public Health Emergency Team on the basis of advice provided to it by the Pandemic Influenza Expert Group and has decided not to introduce screening at this time. The matter is however being reviewed on a daily basis. Health notices at Airports and Ports are in place.

Health Services.

James Bannon

Question:

197 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford is not being given the required three home help visits per day as advised by the public health nurse in respect of their mother; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17711/09]

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

Grant Payments.

Finian McGrath

Question:

198 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reverse her decision to extend the grant aid of €150,000.00 to a centre (details supplied) in order to maintain the current staff and services for the year 2009/10. [18038/09]

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.

Community Development.

Mary Upton

Question:

199 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that a project (details supplied) in Dublin 8 will be supported; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18050/09]

RAPID is a joint initiative involving the Department of Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (DCRAGA) and the Health Service Executive (HSE). While the relevant agencies were involved in the assessment of projects sent forward for consideration, the HSE as the lead agency is responsible for the contractual arrangements involved in each of these projects. The Government recently announced an examination of all current and capital expenditure as part of its decision to introduce further measures to stabilise the public finances. The HSE have subsequently resubmitted both CLÁR and RAPID programmes for re-approval to the Department of Finance. As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Child Care Services.

Mary Upton

Question:

200 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she proposes to take to alleviate the pressures on private pre-school operators when they are forced by the budget proposals to suffer a serious drop in income (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18069/09]

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 3 hours per day, 5 days per week for 38 weeks. It will also allow children in their pre-school year who are attending full day or part-time daycare services 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 pre-school provision.

Participating children must, normally be aged between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months on the 1st 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. A participating service may also operate a pre-school service which is not within the scheme.

A major benefit for pre-schools arising from the Scheme is that it will introduce certainty in their income, with payments being made at the start of each term. For many months now, I have had private pre-schools and their national bodies approaching me about high vacancy rates in services, often of 20-25%, with many on the brink of closure as a result. For many, a significant part of their cost per place is to cover for unused places, and many pre-schools which had run 2 sessions per day have cut back to a morning session only, citing lack of demand. This scheme will save these pre-schools, and allow them see out what are, in economic terms, tough times ahead for all of us.

Taking the example provided by the Deputy, the service states that they are considering increasing their fees by approximately 16% this September due to rising costs, although only water charges are mentioned as having increased. While I do not have the precise details of that service's cost base, it would be extremely unlikely that charges such as these could increase the underlying total cost by such an extent, as typically 65% of the costs associated with running a pre-school service are wage costs, which are not rising at present, and a significant portion of the remaining 35% are rental costs, which are currently falling. It would therefore appear more likely that the main reason for any increase in unit cost is under-occupancy, i.e. the total costs are being divided among a reduced number of children, thereby increasing the cost per child. However, I would be concerned that, in the current economic climate, a pre-school service which increased its fees by 16% would see an even greater level of under-occupancy from September, making the service unsustainable.

Services participating in the scheme would be expected to see increased occupancy levels and, therefore, increased total income, which, together with the payment of the capitation fee in advance at the start of each term, should make them generally more sustainable. I understand that the service in question employs 3 child care workers and the staff to child ratio required in sessional pre-schools is 1:10. A pre-school service with two sessions daily (e.g. 9am — Noon & 12:30-3:30 pm) of 30 children each would, under this scheme, receive capitation of some €147,000 for the 38 weeks of pre-school, which in most cases would be expected to result in a sustainable margin after costs such as wages, rent and local authority charges. Of course, if the service only opens for 1 session per day, this would reduce that margin, although the additional demand created by the scheme will make a second session more viable. I would still hope, however, that the margin would be sufficient for the scheme to be attractive to this service and others like it, particularly when the benefits of advance payment and guaranteed income are taken into account.

It is of course the case that some very high cost services may choose to stay out of the scheme, in much the same way as fee paying private Primary Schools choose to operate outside the national school system, however, it is hoped that the very large majority of eligible services will participate in this scheme. Participating services may charge for additional hours (e.g. when open for 4 hours per day) or for optional extras such as dancing classes etc, however, it is a fundamental principle of the scheme that children have access to free pre-school provision regardless of the ability of parents to pay for additional services.

Questions Nos. 201 to 204, inclusive, answered with Question No. 193.

Health Service Allowances.

Noel Coonan

Question:

205 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application for domiciliary care allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason for the delay in processing this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17377/09]

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

Noel Coonan

Question:

206 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application for domiciliary care allowance will issue for a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason for the delay in processing this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17378/09]

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.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

207 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children her proposals to improve the length of time it is taking to process nursing home subvention applications in Waterford city and county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17384/09]

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

Health Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

208 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Health and Children on the orthodontic services published in 2005. [17391/09]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) established an Orthodontic Review Group in 2006. One of the terms of reference for the group was to review the recommendations contained in the Joint Oireachtas Committee Reports on the Orthodontic Service in Ireland (February, 2002 and June, 2005). The Review Group's report was approved by the HSE's Management Team and published 2007. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the question raised by the Deputy. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

James Bannon

Question:

209 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford has had their medical card rescinded, despite no change of circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17393/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

210 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children when St. Joseph’s ward in Crumlin children’s hospital, Dublin, will re-open. [17417/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

211 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children when the outpatients’ department in Crumlin children’s hospital will begin working at 100% capacity again. [17418/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

212 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children when the newly opened theatre in Crumlin children’s hospital, Dublin, which is proposed to be closed from July 2009 will re-open; the length of time this theatre was in operation; the type of operations carried out in it; and the number of operations per month it is predicted will have to be postponed due to the proposed closure. [17419/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 to 212, inclusive, together.

As the matters raised by the Deputy relate to service issues they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Staff.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

213 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans to replace the contract and agency nursing staff in Crumlin children’s hospital, Dublin, with permanent staff in view of the announcement recently that the agency and contract staff were not to have those contracts renewed. [17420/09]

In order to implement savings measures on public service numbers, the Government has decided that, with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010, no post in the public sector, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade. The decision also applies to temporary appointments on a fixed-term basis and to the renewal of such contracts. Therefore when vacancies arise, each agency must reallocate or reorganise work or staff accordingly. In the case of the health sector, any exceptions to this principle, which will arise in very limited circumstances only, require the prior sanction of both the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Finance.

In order to ensure that essential front-line services provided by nurses and other health care professionals are maintained, the new employment control framework for the health sector provides for the redeployment of staff (and associated salary costs) within and across the hospital and primary, community and continuing care pillars, and from one institution to another to support the development of integrated care delivery. The way in which the Government decision will be applied in the health sector, including hospitals such as Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin is a matter for the Health Service Executive, and I have accordingly referred that part of the Deputy's question to the Executive for attention and direct reply.

Medical Cards.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

214 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) has been refused a renewal of their medical card and if she will reinstate same. [17421/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

215 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive an orthopaedic outpatient clinic appointment at Cork University Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17456/09]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

Richard Bruton

Question:

216 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the long-term charges that are appropriate for persons with a disability who are in long-term care, bearing in mind that the charges in these cases were recently increased by more than 25%; and if she will clarify that she does not intend applying rules similar to persons in long-term nursing home care to such clients. [17479/09]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

285 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to persons with an intellectual disability who are in residential care and the contributions which they are required to make towards their care; the manner in which this contribution is set; the statutory basis for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18096/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 216 and 285 together.

The Health (Amendment) Act 2005 and the subsequent Health (Charges for In-Patient Services) Regulations 2005 and the (Health Charges for In-patient Services) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 provide the legislative basis for the imposition of long stay charges. The legislation provides for two different classes of person for the purpose of levying a charge. Class 1 refers to persons in receipt of in-patient services on premises where nursing care is provided on a 24 hour basis on those premises. Class 2 refers to persons in receipt of in-patient services where nursing care is not provided on a 24 hour basis on those premises.

The Health (Charges for In-Patient Services) (Amendment) Regulations, 2008 amend the 2005 regulations and provide for the first increase in the level of long stay charges payable since 2005. The following revised level of charges will apply. In the case of Class 1 a weekly charge of €153.25 or the weekly income of that person less €44.70, whichever is the lesser. In the case of Class 2 a weekly charge of €114.95 or the weekly income of that person less €70.25 or 60% of the weekly income of that person, whichever is the lesser. The actual charge levied will vary from person to person depending on individual circumstances and under the legislation the Health Service Executive can waive or reduce the charges to avoid undue financial hardship.

The increase in the level of long stay charge levied is directly linked to recent increases in social welfare entitlements. The new weekly charge for Class 1 of €153.25 represents an increase of €33.25 or 27.7% on the 2005 charges and the new weekly charge for Class 2 of €114.95 represents an increase of €24.95 or 27.7% on the 2005 charges. In the corresponding period from 2005 to 2009 the rate of Disability Allowance payable has increased by €55.50 or 37.7%. The rate of Disability Allowance has increased from €148.80 in 2005 to €204.30 in 2009.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

217 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in the matter of an application for a medical card in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17518/09]

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:

218 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive a psychological assessment or electroencephalography; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17519/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

219 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if or when she will review the refusal of a medical card in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17520/09]

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

Hospital Charges.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

220 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the expected cost in the event of long-term admission to Maynooth Community Hospital in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17522/09]

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

Mental Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

221 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be offered urgent psychiatric services at St. John of God Brothers, Stillorgan, County Dublin in view of their increased level of anxiety, depression and fear; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17523/09]

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

Vaccination Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

222 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children on waiting lists for the BCG vaccination in each primary community and continuing care area; the steps which are being taken to ensure that every child is covered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17527/09]

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

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

223 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a query (details supplied). [17530/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Finian McGrath

Question:

224 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a query (details supplied). [17531/09]

Automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons aged 70 and over ceased under the Health Act 2008 which came into effect on 1st January 2009. In response to the query posed by the Deputy, I have no reason to believe that the withdrawal of automatic entitlement gives rise to any constitutional issue.

Mental Health Services.

David Stanton

Question:

225 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 355 of 22 April 2009 regarding the national review of autism services, if she will provide the terms of reference of the review; if it excludes education services provided by schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17552/09]

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.

David Stanton

Question:

226 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive is in a position to provide funding for second level students with autism and other special needs or disabilities who are due to leave special schools in summer 2009 and move to day services provided by voluntary or other support organisations; if she will provide a breakdown of students being accommodated in these services; the number of extra students who will need such services in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17553/09]

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.

Care of the Elderly.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

227 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the development of a new national positive ageing strategy, which was committed to in the programme for Government; the voluntary groups she has met with on this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17567/09]

Work is under way to develop the new Positive Ageing Strategy. At the moment I am finalising my plans for the public consultation process to inform the Strategy. I expect to seek written submissions in the next week or so as well as to establish a liaison panel of interest organisations. I am arranging to meet with the main voluntary organisations in the coming weeks and my office is already in contact with a number. I will meet The Alzheimer Society of Ireland this week and Caring for Carers next week. Competence Centres are collaborative centres of excellence established and led by industry that are resourced by highly-qualified researchers associated with research institutions who are empowered to undertake market focussed strategic R&D for the benefit of industry. The Competence Centre initiative has been designed jointly between EI and IDA .

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

228 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has worked with other Government Departments to develop operational plans clearly setting out objectives relating to older people; if so, the Departments with which she has worked; the progress made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17568/09]

Ten Government departments and the Central Statistics Office are directly involved in the work to develop the Positive Ageing Strategy. The departments are Arts, Sports and Tourism; Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Education and Science; Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Finance; Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Social and Family Affairs; Taoiseach; Transport. Work is continuing and I expect to begin the public consultation shortly.

Question No. 229 answered with Question No. 193.

Ambulance Service.

Beverley Flynn

Question:

230 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ascertain from the Health Service Executive the criteria for the allocation of calls to private ambulances for patients who have private medical insurance and are located in HSE facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17577/09]

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

Beverley Flynn

Question:

231 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ascertain from the Health Service Executive the directions given by the director of the National Hospitals Office in relation to the allocation of work to private ambulance services for the transport of patients who have private medical insurance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17578/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

232 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people on maternity leave from the Health Service Executive; the numbers expected to take maternity leave in 2009; if the people on maternity leave will be substituted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17588/09]

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

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

233 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will get an MRI scan and appointment for an ongoing medical condition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17591/09]

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

Health Research.

Brian Hayes

Question:

234 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if the action plan for health research will meet its upcoming deadline; and the main conclusions. [17607/09]

The Action Plan for Health Research is currently being prepared to meet the June 2009 deadline specified in Building Ireland's Smart Economy: A Framework for Economic Renewal launched by the Taoiseach last December. It is intended that the draft Action Plan will be submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation for consideration. As the Action Plan is in the course of preparation it is not possible to state, at the present time, what will be contained in the finished document.

Health Services.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

235 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the provision of an Alzheimer care centre, respite and long-stay and in-home facility for a group (details supplied) at a site which is provided to it on the grounds of Merlin Park, Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17639/09]

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

Cancer Screening Programme.

Joe McHugh

Question:

236 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will fund the provision of a bus service for women in County Donegal to travel to Belfast for BreastCheck programme services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17640/09]

It is not intended to fund a bus service to transport women from Donegal to Belfast for breast screening. The National Cancer Screening Service has indicated that the BreastCheck programme will commence in Donegal by September. It is vital to stress that any woman, irrespective of her age or area of residence, who has immediate concerns or symptoms should not wait for an invitation to screening from BreastCheck but should contact her GP who, where appropriate, will refer her to the symptomatic services in her area.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

237 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the roll out of BreastCheck in County Donegal will not happen in 2009; when this life saving service will be made available to the women of Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17643/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

242 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify the position regarding the roll out of BreastCheck to County Clare; if she will report on whether the moratorium on employment in the public service will affect the roll out to Clare; if so, if she will lift this embargo to facilitate the appointment of personnel to ensure the roll out of this service to the women in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17684/09]

Joe Carey

Question:

256 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will seek an exemption from the public service recruitment embargo in order to facilitate the roll out of the BreastCheck programme to County Clare in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17798/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 237, 242 and 256 together.

BreastCheck will be extended as planned to Donegal, Leitrim and Clare. I have been informed by the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) that indicative dates for the roll-out are June for County Clare, September to reach County Donegal and October to reach County Leitrim. It is vital to stress that any woman, irrespective of her age or area of residence, who has immediate concerns or symptoms should not wait for an invitation to screening from BreastCheck but should contact her GP who, where appropriate, will refer her to the symptomatic services in her area.

Within the past month, the NCSS applied for a derogation to allow the recruitment of radiographers to extend the BreastCheck service to Donegal, Leitrim and Clare. This is in accordance with procedures put in place under the recruitment moratorium. The Screening Service was permitted to proceed with interviews for radiographers while the application to recruit these posts was under consideration. I am very pleased to confirm that recruitment of radiographers in these counties can now proceed immediately. In the wider context, the scope for redeployment of staff from the HSE to the NCSS, and within the NCSS itself, will continue to be explored.

Disability Statistics.

Seán Barrett

Question:

238 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the fact that, as per the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 183 of 28 January 2009, it is planned to include a question on the number of persons with a disability in the 2011 census of population in the event of persons ticking the yes box, it would be appropriate to ask a question to establish the type of disability in order that statistical information can be compiled in areas such as autism and other sensory and physical disabilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17645/09]

The Central Statistics Office has confirmed to the Department that it is planned to include a general question on the number of persons with a disability in the 2011 census of population but not to include questions on specific disabilities.

Child Care Services.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

239 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the qualifications necessary for providers to be eligible under the new pre-school programme; her views on the difference between pre-school providers and child minders in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17664/09]

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 for Finance. In addition to the requirements regarding staff ratios, as provided for under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No. 2) Regulations 2006, a pre-school year Leader must be qualified to FETAC level 5 or 6, or equivalent thereto. During the initial period following introduction of the scheme, provision will be made to accommodate pre-school year Leaders who do not fully meet this requirement e.g. they have completed the core modules of FETAC level 5 only.

Up to 5,000 pre-school services will be invited shortly to apply to participate in the new scheme. This will include play-school sessional services and full and part-time childcare services notified to the Health Service Executive (HSE), childminders notified to the HSE and services registered with the Irish Montessori Education Board. To ensure that a satisfactory standard of pre-school provision is delivered, a minimum enrolment of 8 children is envisaged. Exceptions will be considered where, for good reason, a service has an enrolment of at least 8 children but only 3 or more are in their pre-school year and the remainder will be eligible for a pre-school year in the following year. In addition, subject to compliance with all other contractual requirements governing the scheme, child minding services with an enrolment of 5 children in their pre-school year, can apply to participate in the scheme.

All pre-school services admitted to the scheme, whether they are child minding or other types of pre-school services, will be subject to the scheme's requirements regarding the holding of a formal qualification in childcare.

Departmental Reports.

James Reilly

Question:

240 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will publish the report of the inquiry into the deaths of persons (details supplied) in view of the fact that it has been finished since October 2008 at considerable cost to the taxpayer, and the importance of the report in the context of the lack of social services and the continuing risk to families and children in particular; if she will commit to publishing this report in full; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17665/09]

I intend to publish the redacted report of the inquiry into the tragedy which occurred in Monageer in April, 2007 in the coming days. I indicated my intention to publish as much of the Report as is possible following legal determination, and this remains my intention. The legal determination referred to is the result of a detailed process of engagement with the Office of the Attorney General and the provision by that office of legal advice on the subject of publication of the report. In advance of the report's publication, I will not be commenting on its findings out of respect for the families, who will be given time to digest the contents of the report. I will be commenting on the report on the day it is being published.

Child Care Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

241 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the circumstances in which it is envisaged that a private operator in receipt of the capitation grant would be entitled to levy parents with an additional charge under the free preschool and early childhood scheme; the elements of cost for rent, rates, insurance, staff and so on; the pupil-teacher ratio which has been used in putting together the capitation payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17672/09]

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 Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is being introduced from January 2010 as a free scheme to benefit children in the key developmental period prior to commencing school. Up to 5,000 pre-school services will be invited shortly to participate in the scheme and it is hoped that the majority of these will choose to do so to maximise the availability of free pre-school year places from the earliest possible date.

Services participating in the scheme will be required to provide the pre-school year without charge. Full and part-time services will offer parents additional services for which charges are payable, in that only 2 hours 15 minutes per day will be free under the scheme. A play-school sessional may offer parents an additional 30 minutes per day for which charges are payable as only 3 hours per day will be free under the scheme. Up to 2 hours per day can be provided as an optional extra where a play-school complies with part-time service requirements. All charges made for additional service provision, including additional activities provided on an optional basis, must be agreed to by parents and appropriate programme based activities must be provided to children not participating in any such additional activity.

Almost 5,000 pre-school services operate at present, including full- and part-time daycare services as well as sessional play-school services. The overheads or operational costs of these services vary and there is also a diverse range of fees charged. Almost 1,000 of the pre-school services are not for profit voluntary services participating in the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS), with an average fee charged for sessional play-school of €50 per week. The annual capitation fee of over €2,400 amounts, in the case of a sessional play-school, to €64.50 per week over 38 weeks. For full- and part-time services providing a pre-school year of 2 hours 15 minutes per day, 5 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.

The Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No. 2) Regulations 2006, provide for a ratio of 1 staff to 8 children in full- or part-time service and a ratio of 1 staff to 10 children in a pre-school sessional service.

Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 237.

Voluntary Sector Funding.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

243 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding her Department or the Health Service Executive made available to an organisation (details supplied); if this money has been reduced in 2009; if there are plans to do so; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17689/09]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

244 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if, with regard to funding from her Department or the Health Service Executive to an organisation (details supplied), this funding has been reduced; if there are plans to do so; if this will impact on the organisation’s ability to provide special needs assistants to preschool children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17690/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 244 together.

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

Hospital Services.

James Bannon

Question:

245 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford, who had a serious car crash resulting in severe brain injury, should have to wait for urgently needed assessment at the National Rehabilitation Hospital due to a shortage of beds in view of the fact that every day’s delay could be detrimental to their care and the best possible outcome which is a cause of anxiety and distress for their family; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17710/09]

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.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

246 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she proposes to take to support the call by a group (details supplied) for a national bowel cancer screening programme; her views on the success of the Tallaght Hospital project, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17716/09]

The National Cancer Screening Service Board submitted the Expert Report on Colorectal Cancer Screening to me on 3 December 2008. The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) was also commissioned to carry out a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) on colorectal cancer screening. The HTA was submitted to me on 17 April 2009 and this is currently being examined. I am aware of the pilot colorectal screening study led by a consultant in Tallaght Hospital. The results of this study are in keeping with the findings of the HTA report that colorectal screening is effective in detecting colorectal cancer at an early stage.

Health Service Staff.

John O'Mahony

Question:

247 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children when the five vacancies for speech and language therapists in County Mayo will be filled; if she will confirm that speech and language therapy and occupational therapy are exempt from the moratorium; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17717/09]

There has been a growing demand for, and investment in, speech and language therapy services over the last number of years. A particular priority for my Department and the Department of Education and Science in recent years has been the expansion of the supply of therapy graduates. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the healthcare needs of the population into the future. In this regard, since 1997, the number of training places for speech and language therapy has been increased from 25 to 105 which represents an increase of 320%.

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 numbers employed in speech and language therapy has also grown significantly, from 282 whole time equivalents employed in December 1997 rising to 759 whole time equivalents employed in March 2009, which represents an increase of 169%. The Government is committed to ensuring continued adequate recruitment of professional staff across a range of community settings to ensure the continued development of community services. Additional funding of €20 million has been provided in 2009 for health and education services for children with special educational needs. This funding will provide a total of 125 additional therapy posts in the HSE targeted at children of school-going age. 90 of these will be in the disability services, including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

My Department recently wrote to the Health Service Executive setting out the overall approved employment control ceiling for 2009. As part of this approval, written confirmation has been provided to the HSE that the general moratorium on recruitment, promotion and the payment of acting up allowances does not apply to specific designated grades. Delegated sanction has been given to the HSE for the creation and filling of frontline posts including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy posts. The approval indicated that vacancies in existing posts in these grades may continue to be filled. New posts may also be created in these grades, up to a specified limit, provided that the HSE is satisfied in each case that there is no scope to redeploy an equivalent post from the hospital sector to the primary and community care sector.

This moratorium exemption provides for an increase in the number of therapy posts, in line with Government policy, in order to meet the requirements of integrated care delivery and primary care needs particularly in respect of children at risk, the elderly and those with disabilities. The recruitment and retention of these key front line therapy posts, including speech and language therapists, is vital to ensure continued progress in the development of community settings.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. 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. With regard to speech and language therapy posts in County Mayo, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Willie Penrose

Question:

248 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department or the Health Service Executive will ensure that the position of full-time dermatologist will be filled immediately following the resignation of the dermatologists from that position (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17734/09]

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

Hospitals Building Programme.

Willie Penrose

Question:

249 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason commitments and timelines given by her Department and the Health Service Executive are not being adhered to and are constantly extended; if in the context of the commitment to complete phase 2B, stage 2, precise details will be given as to an expected completion date together with the additional facilities that will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17735/09]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the Midland Regional Hospital at Mullingar. The Midland Regional Hospital at Mullingar forms part of the Dublin/Midlands Hospital Group and provides an extensive range of acute services to the population of Dublin/Midlands and in particular the Longford/Westmeath area. Stage 2 of the Phase 2B Capital Development at Mullingar is being considered in the context of the HSE's Capital Plan, the details of which will be available when the plan is approved.

Patient Transport.

Denis Naughten

Question:

250 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 407 of 8 July 2008, if she will provide the corresponding figure in respect of 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17736/09]

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

Ambulance Service.

Denis Naughten

Question:

251 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the latest available figures for ambulance turnaround times at each acute hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17737/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Brian Hayes

Question:

252 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason she is requiring the transfer of breast cancer patients from an actual centre of excellence, albeit non-designated, at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin to other centres (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17742/09]

Under the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), there are four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres. These centres were designated by the HSE following a recommendation from the Advisory Group set up under the NCCP. The designation of cancer centres aims to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while at the same time allowing local access to services, where appropriate. It is within this framework that the progressive transfer of cancer diagnostic and surgical services from Tallaght and other non-designated hospitals to the designated centres is taking place. Symptomatic breast disease services are the first to be transferred to the eight centres.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has designated St. James's Hospital and St. Vincent's University Hospital as the two cancer centres in the Managed Cancer Control Network for the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster region. The general catchment area for Tallaght Hospital incorporates both St Vincent's University Hospital and St James's Hospital, and the transfer of services from Tallaght will take place in a coordinated way to these two designated centres. The resources to be transferred from Tallaght and the incorporation of these resources into the specialist cancer services at the receiving hospitals will take place in accordance with patient need and choice and in line with where GPs will refer to in the future.

Only initial diagnosis and surgery are transferring from Tallaght. Medical oncology services will continue to be provided at Tallaght to serve the needs of the population in the area. The oncology day ward opened by me in June 2006 will continue to operate. It is important to emphasise that the decision to reorganise services is about achieving optimum outcomes. This is not a value judgement about the work being carried out in Tallaght or any other pre-existing centres, some of which may have had a relatively large workload but nevertheless are not among the designated centres.

Brian Hayes

Question:

253 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on a report in the media of 24 April 2009 stating that the eight designated cancer centres would not meet standards of excellence ensuring the best care for patients until the end of 2009 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17743/09]

James Reilly

Question:

262 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if, further to a newspaper report (details supplied), the Health Information and Quality Authority quality review of the remaining seven cancer centres has been completed; if she has received a copy of these reports; if she has been briefed on the findings of these reports; if these reports will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17983/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 253 and 262 together.

It is important to set the recent media reports referred to by the Deputies in context. The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) initiated a quality review of symptomatic breast cancer services in 2008. The overall objective of the review was to assess the performance of the designated cancer centres against the National Quality Standards for Symptomatic Breast Disease Services and assist in devising an implementation plan for incremental progress to becoming specialist cancer centres by the end of 2009.

The standards have been developed to provide patients with the best possible cancer care. They include standards for functioning specialist breast centres, such as the population size they should serve, the personnel employed and the physical facilities required. They also include standards for waiting times, and standards for the involvement of multi-disciplinary teams and for various diagnostic and treatment procedures. They have been developed with leading clinicians and their implementation is being led by clinicians. It is important to emphasise that as the plan is implemented, it has been, and remains, in the best interests of patients to transfer progressively their specialist care to the eight centres from other hospital settings. This is the advice provided to me and the shared position of all involved — the HSE, its National Cancer Control Programme and its interim Director, Professor Tom Keane and HIQA.

There are a number of phases in the process of meeting the entire range of standards involved. The first was a self-assessment completed and submitted by each individual hospital in Spring, 2008. The second phase involved an independent validation by HIQA, in October 2008, of the Spring self-assessment process. In January 2009, HIQA issued individual interim reports to each of the designated centres. These were based on data from the self-assessments carried out in Spring, 2008 and were not an inspection of the status of the centres in October, 2008. The interim reports were copied to the CEO of the HSE, the Secretary General of my Department and to Professor Keane in January, 2009.

The individual hospitals have prepared implementation plans in conjunction with the NCCP, which are now being implemented and monitored by the NCCP. A further inspection and assessment by HIQA is planned for the end of 2009, and these reports will be published. In relation to Waterford Hospital, the Consultant Surgeon in the Hospital, together with Professor Keane have noted that they are confident that all of the deficiencies identified in the interim assessment have/are being addressed and they expect that the Hospital will be fully compliant with the standards when the next phase of the HIQA assessment occurs at the end of 2009. I have not received details of the un-validated self-assessments carried out by Tallaght or any of the other hospitals that are not designated cancer centres.

The interim reports on the validation assessment against the Standards will assist each designated centre in identifying gaps and on where to focus their priorities for further improvement. For a number of standards, some of the designated centres were unable to provide evidence to demonstrate that they complied with the standard.  This does not necessarily mean that they were non-compliant.  HIQA reported that there is an urgent need to improve the internal monitoring and performance against the Standards and that this needs to be linked to more consistent, robust and connected governance and management arrangements at local and national levels.

The interim reports provide the centres with details of the standards that are being met and of where gaps exist. Significant progress has been made by all of the designated cancer centres in addressing the gaps in systems and services. There is ongoing liaison also between the NCCP and HIQA about compliance with the standards.

Patient Transport.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

254 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money spent by the Health Service Executive on taxis for transporting patients in County Louth for each year since 2005 to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17765/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

255 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Cavan, whose medical card is due to expire at the end of April 2009, is entitled to a renewal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17767/09]

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

Question No. 256 answered with Question No. 237.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

257 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason quinine sulphate tablets have not been approved for inclusion under the medical card scheme; and her views on extending the scheme to include this course of medication. [17799/09]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

258 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 Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17820/09]

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:

259 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a paediatric and occupational therapist assessment will be undertaken at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [17821/09]

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

Departmental Expenditure.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

260 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the annual expenditure on external legal costs by her Department in each of the past five years; the annual expenditure on external legal costs by each of the agencies under her aegis in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17843/09]

The information the Deputy is seeking is not readily available. The expenditure on external legal costs by my Department and agencies under the aegis of my Department, other than the HSE, in each of the past five years is being collated and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as it is available. With regard to expenditure on external legal costs by the HSE this is a matter for the HSE and accordingly I have referred the question to the HSE for its attention.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

261 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in the context of a growing need for Alzheimer care in Galway city and county, including respite, long-stay and in-home provision, and that a group (details supplied) is the only organisation providing the full range of services needed for sufferers from Alzheimer’s and their families in the region, and that this same organisation has secured a site, designed a purpose-built 22 bed high dependancy unit and secured full planning permission at Merlin Park Galway, she will indicate the position with regard to this issue and the funding of same, in view of the fact that all relevant documentation has been with the Health Service Executive for more than a year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17947/09]

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

Question No. 262 answered with Question No. 253

Health Services.

Bernard Allen

Question:

263 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will explain the situation whereby the Health Service Executive is moving patients from a six-week period for chiropody services in the north Lee area of Cork to a ten-week period due to cutbacks; and if she will examine the situation whereby people in their 70s and 80s are having their service effectively cut in half. [17986/09]

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

Bernard Allen

Question:

264 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [17987/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

265 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will establish a paediatric unit at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17988/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Pat Breen

Question:

266 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Clare on medical grounds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17994/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

267 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ascertain the reason an allowance payment to a person (details supplied) in County Cork has been reduced. [18003/09]

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.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

268 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will refer a person (details supplied) in County Cork for surgery under the National Treatment Purchase Fund. [18010/09]

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.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

269 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review the access of out-of-hours general practitioner services to patients’ critical medical histories in view of the sudden death on 14 February 2009 of a person (details supplied). [18018/09]

As the Health Service Executive has operational responsibility for the GP out-of-hours service, it is appropriate for the Executive to provide the information sought by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

270 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of a medical card application by a person (details supplied) in County Louth. [18032/09]

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

Question No. 271 answered with Question No. 193.

Hospital Services.

Bernard Allen

Question:

272 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate a situation whereby children attending Cork University Hospital are to be left without a paediatric dietician due to the fact that the current dietician will be going on maternity leave shortly and no provision has been made to replace them, which will cause risk to children who are dependant on this service. [18043/09]

In order to implement savings measures on public service numbers, the Government has decided that, with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010, no post in the public sector, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, or the payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade. The decision also applies to temporary appointments on a fixed-term basis and to the renewal of such contracts.

Arrangements have been put in place for the health sector that aim to ensure that key services are maintained as far as possible and there will be flexibility in relation to the filling of key front-line posts for the following grades; Hospital Consultants, Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Clinical Psychologist, Behavioural Therapist, Counsellor, Social workers and Emergency Medical Technicians to allow for the continued development of integrated health care, particularly primary and community care, care of the elderly and people with disabilities.

The way in which the Government decision will be applied is a matter for the Health Service Executive. In the particular case raised by the Deputy, I understand that arrangements are being made in Cork University Hospital to draw on the other dietetics resources available in order to continue to provide the necessary services to paediatric diabetes patients.

Michael McGrath

Question:

273 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that a person (details supplied) in County Cork is provided with hospital services for an appropriate period following a forthcoming operation. [18045/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to the operation of the National Treatment Purchase Fund, my Department has asked the Chief Executive of the Fund to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to the information requested.

Michael Creed

Question:

274 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be called for an orthopaedic surgery appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18053/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

275 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be given an appointment with a consultant at Tullamore Hospital, County Offaly; and if this will be expedited. [18058/09]

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

Health Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

276 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of funding provided in 2008 and allocated for 2009 to every service provider in the country involved in providing intervention and therapy services; and the amount in each case of the funding that is spent on administrative expenses and on the direct provision of services. [18065/09]

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.

Michael McGrath

Question:

277 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to review the provision of intervention services to special needs children by service providers throughout the country. [18066/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Sean Fleming

Question:

278 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of nursing support provided by the Health Service Executive to a centre (details supplied) in County Laois for 2009; if this is agreed with the board of the centre as being adequate for its purposes; the cost to the HSE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18077/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

279 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to the early childhood care and education scheme (details supplied). [18080/09]

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. Services participating in the scheme will be required to provide the pre-school year without charge. Parents who avail of the free pre-school year in a full or part-time service (i.e. 2 hours 15 minutes per day) will generally avail of additional hours in the service for which they will be charged. Parents who avail of the free pre-school year in a playschool sessional service (i.e. 3 hours per day) may be offered an additional 30 minutes per day for which they can be charged. Up to 2 hours per day can be provided as an optional extra where a playschool service complies with part-time service requirements. All charges made for additional service provision, including additional activities or services provided on an optional basis, must be agreed to by parents and appropriate programme-based activities must be provided to children not participating in any such additional activity.

Almost 5,000 pre-school services operate at present, including full- and part-time daycare services as well as sessional playschool services. The overheads or operational costs of these services vary and there is also a diverse range of fees charged. Almost 1,000 of the pre-school services are not-for-profit voluntary services participating in the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS), with an average fee charged for sessional playschool of €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 2 hours 15 minutes per day, 5 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.

The scheme will normally be required to provide services on a five day per week basis. However, during the initial period of January to August 2010, services which are already accommodating children on a pro rata basis may continue to do so and the capitation grant will be set by reference to the number of children attending per day rather than the total number of children per week. This is a transitional arrangement to allow services to adjust to the requirements of the new scheme.

Question No. 280 answered with Question No. 193.

Hospital Charges.

Joe Costello

Question:

281 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 has been asked to pay the €100 hospital charge by two hospitals; if this is the normal procedure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18088/09]

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

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

282 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will receive an appointment. [18092/09]

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

Parliamentary Questions.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

283 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive to Parliamentary Question No. 211 of 31 March 2009. [18093/09]

The HSE has advised that a reply has been issued to Parliamentary Question No. 211 of 31 March 2009.

Patient Transport.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

284 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position with regard to the taxi service for Mater Hospital, Dublin, outpatient appointments; the reason this service has been scaled back; and the alternative measures put in place to assist patients who are unable to access transport, for various reasons, for regular out-patient appointments. [18095/09]

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

Question No. 285 answered with Question No. 216.

Hospital Accommodation.

Tom Hayes

Question:

286 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children when the tender documents for St. Vincent’s cystic fibrosis unit, Dublin, will be published; when she expects the work to start and be completed; if she will confirm that the new unit will have 34 inpatient en-suite bedrooms as well as the separate day care centre with ten en-suite cystic fibrosis rooms; and if feedback has been received from construction companies in relation to the feasibility of payment on completion of this project. [18137/09]

The next stage in the development of St. Vincent's Hospital will involve the building of a new ward block to replace existing accommodation. The new facility will include appropriate isolation facilities and accommodation for cystic fibrosis patients as required. Clinical and infrastructural needs at St. Vincent's will determine the configuration of beds across various specialties. There has been no upper limit placed by the hospital or the HSE on the allocation of beds to a particular specialty. My Department has asked the HSE to reply to the Deputy in relation to the specific service issues raised.

Health Services.

Noel Ahern

Question:

287 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the services and facilities currently available for people with severe eating disorders; if she will provide funding for persons (details supplied) in Dublin 11 for intensive therapy in a private facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18146/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Willie Penrose

Question:

288 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm having received correspondence from an organisation (details supplied); her views on whether the inclusion of community facilities is very important in the overall regeneration and integral to the project both in terms of sustainability and design; if she will reconsider the decision to abolish capital grants for the provision of child care facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18279/09]

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 grant application for the group referred to by the Deputy at this time. A letter has issued to the group advising them of this outcome.

Taxi Regulation.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

289 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the income of the Taxi Regulator; if she has informed him of her intentions regarding this money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17422/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

290 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport the number of taxi licences issued for each of the past ten years; the income generated from these licences; the person who received it; and the use to which it was put. [17423/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 289 and 290 together.

I am aware of the income of the Commission for Taxi Regulation and the use to which it is put. As required under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003, the Commission for Taxi Regulation presents me with audited accounts relating to the discharge of its functions in the previous year, including an annual report in relation to the performance of its functions and its proposed work programme for the following year. The Commission is using its fee income to ensure that all of its objectives under its current strategy statement are met. I am also informed by the Commissioner that the projected diminution of licensing fee income over the coming years will result in the dissipation of the current surplus.

The number of licences in use between 1999 and 2005 is indicated in the table below. However, as the fees associated with the issue and renewal of such licences were collected by local authorities, such information is not available to my Department.

Year

Number of Active Licences

Change from previous year

1999

13,076

1,827

2000

13,637

561

2001

16,547

2,910

2002

18,252

1,705

2003

19,856

1,604

2004

20,744

888

2005

21,888

1,144

The Commission has provided my Department with the following breakdown of the number of licences in use each year since it commenced issuing licences in 2006. The data for income from licensing is taken from the published accounts of the Commission. The accounts for 2008 are not published as yet.

Year

Number of Active Licences

Change from previous year

Income from Licences

2006

22,580

692

€10.1 million

2007

25,695

3,115

€21.7 million

2008

27,429

1,734

n/a

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

291 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport the action he has taken in relation to the recommendations contained in the recent Taxi Regulator’s report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17424/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Commission for Taxi Regulation has undertaken a major public consultation exercise on the recent Economic Review of the small public service vehicle sector. The Commission will now prepare a response to the submissions received and will be submitting its conclusions and proposals to the Advisory Council. I will consider the outcome of this process and the views of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, the official representatives of the taxi industry and consumers and consumer interest groups insofar as they relate to my statutory responsibilities.

Michael McGrath

Question:

292 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport if grants are available for taxi drivers who wish to adapt a vehicle to make it suitable for wheelchair users, as in the case of a person (details supplied). [17463/09]

There are no grants available to taxi drivers who wish to adapt a vehicle to meet the requirements for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. However, the current fee for obtaining a wheelchair-accessible taxi licence is €125 compared to a normal fee of €6,300.

Public Transport.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

293 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport if he has developed initiatives to improve accessibility for older people in rural and urban areas to public transport; the details of these initiatives and their location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17569/09]

My Department's Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act 2005, titled Transport Access for All, contains time-bound targets for the progressive realisation of accessible transport in Ireland. It sets out a series of policy objectives and targets for accessible public transport across all modes — actions to make trains, buses, taxi and hackney services, as well as air and marine transport, accessible to people with mobility, sensory and cognitive impairments and older people. The Plan is based on the principle that through accessibility improvements to the public transport system for people with disabilities, access for all people will be improved. In general, the time scales for the various elements of the Plan provide for completion by 2015.

Among other things, the Plan envisages that by end 2012 all urban bus services will be fully accessible and that by 2015 all vehicles used for stage carriage and rural services will be wheelchair accessible and incorporate facilities to assist older people as well as people with mobility, cognitive and sensory impairments. The 2008 edition of my Department's Sectoral Plan, which is available on the Department's websitewww.transport.ie, outlines the progress which has been made in improving access to public transport for older people and people with disabilities since the first plan was published in 2006

Planning Issues.

Pat Breen

Question:

294 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport if the Irish Aviation Authority document of November 1997 entitled, Policy in Advising on Planning Applications and Appeals, and in particular paragraph 3.6 thereof, labelled, Protected Zones under Runway Approaches, still applies; if so, if such policy is endorsed by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17585/09]

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has statutory responsibility for the safety of air navigation under the 1993 Irish Aviation Authority Act. The IAA has informed me that the IAA document of 1997 has been superseded by an IAA Aeronautical Notice (T.02 of 2/9/2004) which places the responsibility for the monitoring of Planning Applications in the vicinity of an airport on the Airport Operator. Paragraph 3.6 of the 1997 document no longer applies. Furthermore, the IAA has advised me that it will object to proposed developments anywhere in the State which may affect the safe navigation of aircraft. Planning issues associated with land use are a matter for the Local Authorities and An Bord Pleanála.

Departmental Expenditure.

Brian Hayes

Question:

295 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Transport the steps that have been taken to reprioritise capital investment programmes towards more labour-intensive projects, and to provide examples of projects which have been prioritised since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009-2014. [17592/09]

In light of the adjusted capital allocation provided to my Department in the April Supplementary Budget, a review of project and programme priorities has been carried out. Among the matters considered as part of the review was the labour intensity of the projects contained in the Department's capital programme. As a result, my Department's priorities for the coming years include:

completion of the major inter-urban roads programme,

completion of the M50 upgrade project,

progress on the Atlantic Road Corridor,

provision of additional capacity on the public transport network through the delivery of key projects such as Metro North and the DART underground programme.

In addition, substantial funding will continue to be provided for the regional and local roads programme.

State Airports.

Brian Hayes

Question:

296 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Transport the proposed funding plans for Dublin Airport between now and the expiry of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009-2014. [17621/09]

The Framework concerned envisaged investment of some €2 billion over the coming years in Dublin Airport by the Dublin Airport Authority. No Exchequer funding is involved. I understand from the Dublin Airport Authority that the current €1.2 billion capital programme, Transforming Dublin Airport, will be completed before the end of 2010. This work includes the construction of a second Terminal, T2, which will be completed and operational in 2010, Pier D, which opened in October 2007, Area 14, major upgrades to the airfield facilities and utilities and an extension to Terminal 1 which opened in April 2009.

The DAA has decided to reduce its investment plans at Dublin Airport for the 2010-2014 period by about 50% to less than €400 million to take account of the current economic downturn. A number of major projects, including the planned new second runway and additional aircraft parking areas, will be deferred. These projects will be reactivated when appropriate circumstances dictate.

Port Development.

Brian Hayes

Question:

297 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the allocation of the €300 million to €600 million to commercial sea ports here since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009-2014; and the specific projects undertaken. [17622/09]

The expenditure referred to in Building Ireland's Smart Economy relates to the port sub-programme of the NDP 2007 to 2013. This sub-programme estimates that between €300 and €600 million of non-Exchequer expenditure will be invested in commercial seaport infrastructure in the State over the period of the NDP. The vast majority of this expenditure will be incurred by the State-owned commercial port companies from their own resources. There is no Exchequer funding of commercial port infrastructure provided for.

To date capital investment under the sub-programme is broadly in line with projections. The Department's monitoring of the sub-programme shows that some €120 million has been invested to date, with a further €75 million budgeted for 2009. This expenditure relates to numerous relatively small port infrastructure projects around the country. A number of major port infrastructure projects are at various stages of the planning process at present, but none of these have commenced construction as yet.

Road Network.

Brian Hayes

Question:

298 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Transport the progress that has been reached on the north-west gateway initiative, as set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009-2014, and if it is within the agreed budget. [17630/09]

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 including the roads element of the North West Gateway Initiative, is a matter for the National Roads Authority under the Roads Act 1993 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. My colleague, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, has overall responsibility for the North West Gateway Initiative.

Harbours and Piers.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

299 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport his views on the Association of County and City Councils’ representations in relation to the Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17762/09]

I have replied to the representations from the Association of County & City Councils regarding the Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2008, in particular the provisions in the Bill with regard to local authority directors. The Bill recently completed all stages in the Seanad and will shortly commence its passage through the Dáil. The primary purpose of the Bill is to give effect to certain aspects of the Ports Policy Statement. One of its key recommendations was the need to enhance port company performance through reform of the board structure. These recommendations are the basis for the provisions on board structure in the Bill. There will be ample opportunity to debate these proposals and other related matters during the passage of the Bill through the House.

Road Signage.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

300 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Transport if he will outline, in tabular form, the budget for regional road signage in each local authority area for the years 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17825/09]

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. Details of the 2008 and 2009 grant allocations to each county council under the Regional Roads Signposting Programme are set out in the following table.

County Council

2008 Allocations

2009 Allocations

Carlow

250,000

46,500

Cavan

300,000

155,000

Clare

300,000

186,000

Cork

950,000

629,300

Donegal

500,000

217,000

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

150,000

155,000

Fingal

450,000

434,000

Galway

400,000

124,000

Kerry

0

0

Kildare

300,000

217,000

Kilkenny

200,000

217,000

Laois

250,000

186,000

Leitrim

200,000

155,000

Limerick

250,000

173,600

Longford

250,000

31,000

Louth

150,000

186,000

Mayo

250,000

124,000

Meath

200,000

186,000

Monaghan

200,000

62,000

North Tipperary

250,000

186,000

Offaly

150,000

93,000

Roscommon

250,000

186,000

Sligo

0

6,200

South Dublin

100,000

124,000

South Tipperary

200,000

124,000

Waterford

400,000

217,000

Westmeath

250,000

155,000

Wexford

200,000

186,000

Wicklow

200,000

124,000

Departmental Expenditure.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

301 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the annual expenditure on external legal costs by his Department in each of the past five years; the annual expenditure on external legal costs by each of the agencies under his aegis in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17847/09]

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

Shipping Industry.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

302 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport the action being taken to co-ordinate action with other Departments on the development of Irish shipping in view of the new EU ruling on the lower tax rate for Irish shipping. [17854/09]

My Department is currently considering the recent EU Commission decision on the amendment to the Maritime Tonnage Tax system that Ireland is planning to implement. As the decision made by the Commission varies from what was sought under the initial Irish application, further dialogue and consultation is required with the various stakeholders to ascertain their views with regard to the practical application of the proposed revision. I expect this consultation process to be completed in the near future.

EU Regulations.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

303 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport when the EC regulation 1371/2007 on rail passenger rights which has to be transposed by the end of 2009 will be transposed into Irish law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17967/09]

Regulation 1371/2007 comes into force on 3 December 2009 and will be binding from that date. The body to be appointed under Article 30 of Regulation 1371/2007, which will be responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of the Regulation, is under consideration. A statutory instrument may be required to give effect to this designation.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

304 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if he has decided which authority will be responsible for enforcement of EC regulation 1371/2007 when it is transposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17968/09]

Regulation 1371/2007 provides for increased rights for rail passengers. This regulation will come into force on 3 December 2009. The body to be appointed under Article 30 of Regulation 1371/2007, which will be responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of the Regulation, is under consideration.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

305 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport his position in relation to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17969/09]

The European Commission has produced a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport. The proposal covers the liability of bus and/or coach undertakings, rules on non-discrimination and mandatory assistance for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility. The proposal also sets out obligations of bus and/or coach undertakings in the event of interrupted travel, as well as appropriate rules governing complaint handling and enforcement.

The first discussions on this proposal commenced in April 2009 at the EU Council Transport Working Group and there will be further discussions over the coming months. In meantime the text of the proposal has been sent to stakeholders for consultation and I am currently awaiting their responses, which will inform our position in relation to the negotiation of this draft Regulation.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

306 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the reason he has not designated an enforcement authority for the new EC regulation on price transparency in air travel, which came into force on 1 November 2008; if he will commit to designating an enforcement authority in the coming months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17970/09]

Regulation (EC) No. 1008/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community came into force on the 1st November 2008. This Regulation is directly applicable in all Member States. On 31 October 2008, I made Statutory Instrument No. 426 of 2008, to give effect to Regulation (EC) No. 1008/2008 and to lay down offences and penalties for non-compliance with Article 23 of the Regulation, relating to pricing transparency.

As I have indicated in response to previous question on this matter, I have agreed with my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment that in principle the enforcement of such provisions is more appropriate to the National Consumer Agency (NCA) given its broader remit in the area of consumer protection. Discussions between both Departments and the NCA are underway to progress this.

Public Transport.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

307 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the process and analysis by which the price increases of 10% in bus, rail and Luas prices from 1 January 2009 were arrived at; his views on moving towards setting prices in line with the consumer price index; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17971/09]

My objective in relation to fares charged by CIE is to secure a good balance between anticipated revenues, the cost environment — cost efficiencies and necessary cost increases — and compensation for loss-making services by way of Exchequer subvention to CIÉ, thereby ensuring the ongoing financial viability of the group. In respect of the 2009 fare increases, the CIÉ group was projecting operating losses of €120 million for 2009 before the fares increase and the achievement of increased efficiencies within the group. These losses are due to declining passenger numbers and projected operating costs increases of approximately 10%. I approved an average 6% increase in Luas fares to reflect rising costs, anticipated revenues, as well as current and future maintenance costs. The setting of fares for public transport needs to take account of factors other than changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Road Network.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

308 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the State investment, capital and current, in the road infrastructure in 2007 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17972/09]

State investment in the road infrastructure in 2007 and 2008 is set out in the following tables:

Regional and Local Road Grant Payments 2007 & 2008

Capital

Current

Total

2007

478,606,096

128,918,904

607,525,000

2008

469,822,992

134,391,008

604,214,000

National Roads Investment 2007 & 2008

Capital

Current

Total

2007

1,712,706,000*

55,097,000

1,767,803,000

2008

1,599,577,000

58,210,000

1,657,787,000

*Includes carryover of 24.1 million.

Rail Network.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

309 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the State investment, capital and current, in the rail infrastructure in 2007 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17973/09]

The allocations to the Railway Procurement Agency for investment in Luas and Metro projects in 2007 and 2008 were €121.6 million and €212 million respectively. In the case of Iarnród Éireann, the corresponding allocations were €400.6 million and €532.6 million. Some €10.2 million was allocated to the RPA in 2007 for current expenditure and €10.598 million in 2008. Some €189.9 million was allocated to Iarnród Éireann in 2007 for current expenditure while an allocation of €191.2 million was made in 2008. In addition, amounts of €1.5 million and €4.8 million respectively were spent on the Integrated Ticketing Project in 2007 and 2008. This project will be rolled out across all modes of public transport.

Public Transport.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

310 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the State investment, capital and current, in public bus and coach transport in 2007 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17974/09]

Some €105.9 million and €128.3 million in Exchequer capital funding was allocated for investment in public bus and coach transport, including bus priority measures, in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Some €117.8 million and €118.5 million in Exchequer current funding was allocated for public bus and coach transport in 2007 and 2008 respectively. In addition, amounts of €1.5 million and €4.8 million respectively were spent on the Integrated Ticketing Project in 2007 and 2008. This project will be rolled out across all modes of public transport.

State Airports.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

311 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the number of air passenger journeys through Irish airports in 2007 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17975/09]

The information requested by the Deputy, as provided by the airports, is set out in the following tables.

State Airports

Airport

2008

2007

€ million

€ million

Dublin

23.5

23.3

Shannon

3.1

3.6

Cork

3.3

3.2

Total

29.9

30.1

Regional Airports

Airport

2008

2007

Donegal

64,532

60,388

Galway

266,897

309,302

Kerry

423,291

389,434

Knock

629,000

556,357

Sligo

42,493

44,533

Waterford

120,116

118,771

Travel Trade.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

312 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the review of the Travel Trade Act being carried out by his Department; the next steps in the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17977/09]

Statutory responsibility for regulation of the travel trade lies with the Commission for Aviation Regulation. As the existing legislative framework for the regulation of the travel trade has been in existence since 1982, I asked the commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the travel trade legislation. The purpose of the review was to assess the operation of the current regulatory arrangements and to recommend reforms that may be warranted. Following an extensive consultation process, the commission submitted its report to me on 30 December 2008. I have published it on my Department's website,www.transport.ie. I am examining the commission’s findings and recommendations. I have consulted my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, on the report’s findings in the context of consumer protection policy generally. Consultations are ongoing with a view to identifying ways of reducing the regulatory burden on the travel trade while maintaining appropriate consumer protection.

Public Transport.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

313 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport his views on the establishment of consumer representative panels for Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17978/09]

It is important that public transport providers consult regularly with their customers, whether through customer panels or otherwise, on their service needs. Iarnród Éireann has informed me that regular meetings are held with a number of consumer representative panels that are in place to represent the interests of rail passengers on their key commuter routes. Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann have informed me that as part of their customer charters, a comprehensive customer feedback process exists. Market research is carried out by both companies. In addition, both companies have specific accessibility consumer panels. Dublin Bus is also setting up a customer consultation process in the coming months as part of the implementation of the recent Deloitte recommendations.

Road Safety.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

314 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide a detailed response to a previous parliamentary question. [18048/09]

As indicated in the previous reply, the introduction of additional penalty points will take place on a phased basis, as has been the practice up to now. No specific timetable was set for penalty points when provided for in the Road Traffic Acts.

Noel Ahern

Question:

315 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Transport his views on the practice of newspaper sellers selling newspapers to motorists as they walk up and down at main junctions; if same is illegal; if the main newspaper groups have been requested not to facilitate this practice; his plans to prevent this practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18148/09]

The promotion of public awareness of road safety is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. The enforcement of the Road Traffic Acts or the Roads Act is a matter for the Garda Síochána. Safety in the context of a workplace or work environment comes under the remit of the Health and Safety Authority. I have no role in this regard.

Asylum Support Services.

Niall Collins

Question:

316 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the State’s use of Mount Trenchard in Foynes; if it will continue in its existing use; the future plans and the length of time it will be used; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17543/09]

The Reception and Integration Agency of my Department, which has responsibility for housing asylum seekers while their claims for asylum status are assessed, is contracted to use Mount Trenchard near Foynes, formerly a boarding school, as a centre for housing asylum seekers. The contract extends to late next year. It is difficult to predict whether the premises concerned will continue to be required by the agency when the current contract expires, as this will depend on the demand for asylum seeker accommodation and the availability of alternative housing facilities at that time.

Discrimination in the Workplace.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

317 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the initiatives he has put in place to guard against age-related discrimination in the workplace; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17566/09]

Under Irish law, discrimination is prohibited on nine grounds, including that of age, in the field of employment by the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2008 and in the access to and supply of goods and services by the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008. In our programme for Government, we have committed to guard against age-related discrimination in the workplace. A number of initiatives are addressing these issues under the general direction of the Working Group on Equality Proofing. An equality proofing template has been developed by the Equality Authority and is subject to ongoing review and refinement.

An equality mainstreaming unit has been established in the Equality Authority. It is co-funded under the European Social Fund Human Capital Investment Operational Programme 2007-11. The unit aims to support enterprises and labour market programme providers, such as FÁS and the IVEA, to improve labour market access and participation for people experiencing inequality across the nine grounds covered by the equality legislation, including that of age. In addition, sectoral projects to address age discrimination in the hospitality sector, in employment and in service provision were conducted under the "Say No to Ageism" public awareness campaign in 2008, organised by the Equality Authority in partnership with the HSE and the National Council on Ageing and Older People.

Joint Policing Committees.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

318 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on amending the legislation governing joint policing committees to allow representatives from the Health Service Executive to become members of the JPCs. [17390/09]

Joint Policing Committees are provided for in the Garda Síochána Act 2005. Their purpose is to provide a forum where the Garda Síochána and the local authority — the two organisations which make the most significant contribution to preventing and tackling crime in a specific area — can come together, with the participation of members of the Oireachtas and community and voluntary interests, on matters affecting the area. On 24 September last I launched, with my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the roll-out of the committees from the initial pilot phase in 29 local authority areas to all 114 local authority areas. The guidelines I issued last September, following consultation with my colleagues, the Ministers for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, set out,inter alia, the provisions for the membership of the committees. It is not considered necessary to provide for representatives of the Health Service Executive to be members of the committees.

Legal Aid Service.

James Bannon

Question:

319 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a person (details supplied) in County Longford will be provided with free legal aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17392/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that in respect of queries concerning the provision of legal services to any person, the solicitor/client relationship is protected by privilege in accordance with the terms of section 32 of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995. The Legal Aid Board cannot provide information to third parties about a person who may or may not be a client of the board. All applicants or clients can of course obtain information regarding their own applications or cases from the Legal Aid Board any time they wish to do so.

Community Policing.

Finian McGrath

Question:

320 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [17411/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the location referred to is in the Coolock Garda District. Local Garda management is aware of difficulties being experienced by residents in the area as a result of anti-social behaviour. Two members of the local community policing unit are allocated to the area. The members of the unit regularly meet local residents. The area is subject, under the direction of local Garda management, to regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the community policing and Garda mountain bike units, supplemented as required by the district detective and drugs units, the divisional crime task force and traffic corps personnel. Current policing policy in the area is predicated on the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence against people and property, the prevention of public order offences and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life of the residents. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of the policing service in this area.

Equality Authority.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

321 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received the Deloitte and Touche report on the Equality Authority; when the report reached him; when he will make the report available to Oireachtas Members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17443/09]

The position remains as indicated in my replies to Question No. 118 of 22 April 2009 and Question No. 131 of 25 March 2009. The value for money review of the Equality Authority has not yet concluded. It is expected to be finalised in the near future and a decision on publication of the report will be taken in due course.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Joan Burton

Question:

322 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the allocation of enhanced disability services funding; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some organisations have applied for EDS funding through Pobal as early as August 2008 and have not been notified as to the status of their funding application; if he will allocate EDS funding as soon as possible and communicate to the relevant applicants whether they have been successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17462/09]

In the light of the ongoing economic difficulties, I will keep the position of Round 3 of the Enhancing Disability Services programme under review as the year progresses.

Road Safety.

John O'Mahony

Question:

323 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of speed cameras on national primary, national secondary, regional and country roads; the number of cameras which are operational; if the promised contract for additional speed cameras has been put in place with a private company or companies; and the number of additional speed cameras involved. [17466/09]

The emphasis of Garda Síochána speed enforcement is on the use of mobile speed cameras. Their capacity in this area has been substantially enhanced recently. In September 2008, the Garda Commissioner and I launched eight new Garda mobile speed detection vehicles. These state-of-the-art vehicles represent a substantial upgrading of the resources available to the Garda to address the problem of speeding on our roads, particularly in collision prone zones. The Garda also has over 400 hand held speed detection devices.

In accordance with EU directives, national public procurement procedures and relevant legislation, the force is engaging in a procurement process for the provision and operation of safety cameras. As a result, a preferred supplier has been selected. Discussions are taking place between my Department, the Departments of Transport and Finance and the Garda Síochána with a view to making every effort to proceed with this project as speedily as possible. Until contract discussions are concluded, it is not possible to indicate the number of cameras that will be in operation as a result of the project. I am also informed that there are a number of fixed camera installation posts at various locations in the Dublin area and the Louth and Meath divisions. Three cameras are rotated between these posts.

Proposed Legislation.

Denis Naughten

Question:

324 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 631 of 27 January 2009, the progress made on the drafting of the Legal Costs Bill and the Family Law Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17473/09]

Work on the general schemes of a Legal Costs Bill and a Family Law Bill is ongoing in my Department.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

325 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17490/09]

The people concerned, a husband, wife and two children, arrived in the State on 20 January 2005. The husband and wife made separate applications for asylum on 24 January 2005 while the two children were included in their mother's asylum application. The asylum applications were refused following the separate consideration of their cases by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The wife of the person concerned initiated Judicial Review Proceedings in the High Court, on behalf of her two children, challenging the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in her case. The High Court refused the Judicial Review Leave Application with the consequence that the earlier decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal stood.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the persons concerned were informed, by separate letters dated 30 March 2009, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of them and their two children. They were each given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of Deportation Orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons they and their two children should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, they were notified of their 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 people concerned have submitted applications for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and these applications are under consideration at present. When the consideration of these applications has been completed, the people concerned will be notified in writing of the outcomes. In the event that the applications for Subsidiary Protection are refused, the case files of the persons concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When these latter considerations have been completed, the case files of the persons concerned are passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

326 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17491/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 20 May 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 24 April 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons 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 this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered, under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

327 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17492/09]

I refer the Deputy to the reply given to his Question No. 89 of Thursday, 9 April 2009. The status of the person concerned is as set out in that reply.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

328 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to an application for residency and family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17493/09]

The person in question has been advised in writing by my Department to submit visa applications on behalf of their children for consideration to the appropriate Irish Embassy or Consulate. As the Irish Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa processes visa applications for the Democratic Republic of Congo, the visa applications must be made on-line and the relevant documentation submitted there. The postal address for the Irish Embassy in South Africa is: First Floor, Southern Life Plaza, 1059 Schoeman Street (Corner Festival Street), Arcadia 0083, Pretoria. Further contact details for the Irish Embassy in Pretoria may be found atwww.embassyireland.org.za. Comprehensive information on making a visa application is available on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website, www.inis.gov.ie. An application for residency in the State should be made on behalf of the children concerned when they have arrived in the State.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

329 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to an application for residency and family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17494/09]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person in question was granted refugee status and made a family reunification application in respect of his wife in September 2008. This application was forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. This investigation is completed and the commissioner has forwarded a report to my Department. This application will be considered by my Department and a decision will issue in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

330 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to an application for residency in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17495/09]

The person concerned has been granted leave to remain in the State for a three-year period to 17 September 2010. This decision was conveyed to the person concerned by letter dated 17 September 2007. The Deputy's question refers to two separate asylum application reference numbers. The Deputy should note that only the second reference number mentioned refers to the person concerned. My Department has no record of the first reference number mentioned in the Deputy's question.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

331 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17496/09]

There is no application pending in my Department for residency in the case of the people whose details were supplied. If an application for asylum has been made by any of the people concerned, the Deputy will be aware that it is not the practice to comment on asylum applications that are pending.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

332 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17497/09]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that no application for residence has been received to date from the person referred to by the Deputy. However, the person's legal representative indicated in correspondence that his client intended to apply for residence in the State on the basis of his marriage to a French national. A form EU1 was issued to the person in question's legal representative on 3 March 2009.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

333 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17498/09]

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 July 2006. Officials in that section inform me that the application is at an advanced stage of processing and that the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course. The average processing time from application to decision is now 23 months. More complicated cases can take longer than the current average, while some straightforward cases are being dealt with in less than that amount of time. 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 people who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

334 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency and family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17499/09]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that it has been in touch with the person concerned and that a decision has been made in this case.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

335 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17500/09]

These applicants applied for asylum in October and December 2006, respectively. Their applications were refused and deportation orders were made on 12 February 2009 and on 19 February 2009 in respect of them. The applicants instituted Judicial Review proceedings on 28 April 2009 and accordingly, as the matter issub judice, I do not propose to comment further.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

336 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency and citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17501/09]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 22 January 2003 and applied for asylum. 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 9 December 2004, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned. They 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. The Deputy should note that as the person concerned has not established a right of legal residency in the State, the issue of an application for citizenship does not arise.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

337 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency and citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17502/09]

I refer the Deputy to the reply given to Question No. 331 on Tuesday, 25 November 2008. The status of the person concerned is as set out in that reply.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

338 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17503/09]

There is no application pending in my Department for residency in the case of the person whose details were supplied. If an application for asylum has been made by the person concerned, the Deputy will be aware that it is not the practice to comment on asylum applications that are pending.

Asylum Support Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

339 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will approve an application for a temporary travel document in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17504/09]

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service informs me that the person in question was refused refugee status following appeal in June 2004 and is therefore not entitled to be issued with an Irish travel document. The person was granted temporary permission to remain in the State on 23 July 2008 for three years until 24 July 2011. The person sought an Irish temporary travel document in December 2008. They were advised by the Travel Document Unit in writing on 30 December 2008 to seek assistance from their relevant embassy which is the appropriate course of action in such circumstances. As the person in question is an Angolan national, it is advised that they should seek consular assistance from their own national authorities and contact the Embassy of Angola, 22 Dorset Street, London W1U 6QY, England with a view to obtaining their national passport or travel document.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

340 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17505/09]

I refer the Deputy to the written reply to Question No. 191 of Thursday, 25 September 2008. The person concerned applied for asylum on 6 June 2006. 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 was informed, by letter dated 28 December 2007, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The person submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these regulations. This application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person will be notified in writing of the outcome. If the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

341 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17506/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

342 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17507/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

368 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17813/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 341, 342 and 368 together.

The person concerned applied for asylum on 24 October 2006. 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 was informed, by letter dated 10 July 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The person submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person will be notified in writing of the outcome. If the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person, including all representations submitted, will be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

343 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17508/09]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that the person concerned was approved for Family Reunification following an application made by his father in December 1997. This person has an up-to-date immigration permission that is due for renewal next July.

Garda Investigations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

344 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received a report in relation to ongoing matters between the gardaí and a person (details supplied) in County Kildare with particular reference to hearings in the District, Circuit and the High Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17509/09]

I have been informed by the Garda Síochána that a superintendent has been appointed to inquire into the issues raised by the person concerned. However, it is understood that the person has indicated that he does not wish to meet the superintendent at this time. Civil proceedings are also before the courts. In the circumstances, I am unable to comment further.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

345 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in the matter of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17510/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 3 July 2008. 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 16 April 2009, 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).

To date, no response has been received in my Department to this letter. The 15 working day period referred to in my Department's letter of 16 April 2009 expires on 11 May 2009. It is open to the person to make representations and/or apply for Subsidiary Protection within that period. In any event, the Deputy may be assured that a final decision on this case will not be made prior to the expiry of the 15 working day period referred to above.

European Arrest Warrant.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

346 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the degree to which his attention has been drawn to the details of the hearing at Liverpool Crown Court in June 1995, wherein five years’ imprisonment was imposed on a person (details supplied); if a procedure is available whereby the courts in this jurisdiction has been made fully aware of the circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17511/09]

Proceedings under the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 in relation to the case raised by the Deputy are currently before the courts. As the Deputy will be aware, subject to the Constitution and the law, the courts are independent in the exercise of their functions. As Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I have no function in relation to the determination of the proceedings.

Public Order Offences.

Finian McGrath

Question:

347 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [17533/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is in the Santry Garda District. Local Garda management is aware of difficulties being experienced by residents in the area as a result of anti-social behaviour and drug related activity. A member of the local Community Policing Unit is allocated to this area, and an active Neighbourhood Watch Scheme is in place.

The area has been designated a public order hot-spot. It is subject, under the direction of local Garda management, to regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit and the Garda Mountain Bike Unit, supplemented as required by the District Detective and Drugs Units, the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel. Additional resources are deployed at weekends. Current policing policy in the area is predicated on the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence against persons and property, the prevention of public order offences and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life of the residents. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of the policing service in this area.

Residency Permits.

Damien English

Question:

348 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application for leave to remain in the State by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6; when a decision will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17545/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the person in question was granted permission to remain in the State, for an initial period of 12 months, in August 2000, under the arrangements then in place for the parents of Irish citizen children. Renewal of such permission to remain is ordinarily granted by the Garda National Immigration Bureau without recourse to my Department. In this regard, I am informed that the person concerned was, in August 2002, granted permission to remain until May 2004.

The person concerned, having left the State on an unspecified date, returned on foot of a visa in May 2007 and was granted permission to remain on that basis for one month. An application for permission to remain on the basis of parentage of an Irish citizen child was received from the person concerned in November 2007. This application was refused because of the length of time that the person and her Irish born child had been absent from the State and the fact that no scheme existed relating to permission to remain in the State on the basis of parentage of an Irish born child at the time of the application. Representations received from the person in question are currently being considered in the context of section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999. The person concerned will be contacted directly and informed of any decisions made regarding her status in the State in due course.

Departmental Agencies.

Liz McManus

Question:

349 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a bonus was paid to management in the Legal Aid Board; the amount of bonus given per manager; the total amount given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17562/09]

I assume that the Deputy's question relates to the high level scheme of performance-related awards for senior civil servants at Assistant Secretary, Deputy Secretary and equivalent grades and Chief Executives of agencies. The only official in the Legal Aid Board to whom this scheme would apply is the Chief Executive Officer. However, no such payment has been made to him in respect of 2008 and, on 5 February last, the Minister for Finance announced that the Government has decided to abolish these performance awards subject to discussions on the implementation of the decision with the relevant staff association.

Liz McManus

Question:

350 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the attendance of the Legal Aid Board at a conference in New Zealand; the person who paid for the various travel expenses for this trip; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17563/09]

I am informed that the conference in question was the biennial conference of the International Legal Aid Group (ILAG) and it was held in New Zealand just last April. The ILAG was originally established in 1992 to provide a forum where national experts involved in the area of legal aid could exchange views and examine common issues and challenges facing legal aid providers in a number of jurisdictions. Since the mid 1990s, the ILAG has hosted biennial conferences to facilitate these discussions. The Legal Aid Board was represented at this year's conference by its Chairperson and its Chief Executive. The travel expenses of the board's representatives were met from its own resources. I am advised that they were fully in line with Civil Service travel and subsistence norms and I am advised that costs were kept to an absolute minimum.

I understand that the Legal Aid Board has participated in these biennial conferences since the late 1990s and, indeed, hosted the 2005 event in Killarney. The board is of the view that, by allowing it to draw on international experience, the conference makes a positive contribution in terms of informing the board's own thinking on a wide range of important operational and strategic issues. This year's conference covered a wide range of topics of relevance to the Irish experience. Both the Chairperson and Chief Executive were very much involved in the conference by way of chairing or facilitating sessions over the three days of the forum as well as presenting the national report on legal aid in Ireland.

Citizenship Applications.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

351 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will expedite the processing of a citizenship application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17564/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in August 2006. Applications for certificates of naturalisation are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. Additional resources were allocated to the Citizenship Division of my Department to enable certain categories of applicant to be dealt with more expeditiously. These include refugees, spouses of Irish citizens and minors.

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 timescale. 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.

Residency Permits.

Michael Creed

Question:

352 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be granted residency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17565/09]

An application for long-term residency by the person referred to by the Deputy was made on 8 May 2008. Officials in the Long-Term Residency Section of my Department have advised me that applications from August 2007 are currently being dealt with. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified.

Citizenship Applications.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

353 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision on an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin will be dealt with by his Department; the reason a previous application was refused; if the waiting time for processing of a subsequent naturalisation application is reduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17575/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was first received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2007. On examination of the application submitted it was determined that the person concerned did not have one year's continuous residency immediately preceding the date of application which is a statutory residency requirement as set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. The person in question was informed of this in a letter issued to him on 1 April, 2008. A new application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person in question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in July 2008.

Applications for certificates of naturalisation are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. 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 straightforward cases are now being dealt with in less than that timescale. 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.

Proposed Legislation.

Brian Hayes

Question:

354 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps that have been taken to reduce costs and delays in the legal system since the publication of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17596/09]

Proposals for a Legal Costs Bill continue to be developed in my Department in line with a commitment in the Government's legislative programme. In addition, the Courts Service, in collaboration with the Court Rules Committees, has implemented a number of initiatives with the goal of reducing the cost of litigation, including rules to facilitate case progression in family proceedings and rules to provide for the holding of conferences of expert witnesses to narrow down the issues between them thus reducing expert witness fees. This is an area I attach great importance to and keep under constant review.

Business Regulation.

Brian Hayes

Question:

355 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps taken to achieve the 25% reduction of administrative burdens placed on business as included in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014 in areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17598/09]

I wish to refer the Deputy to my reply to Question 277 of 16 December 2008. Preliminary work already carried out by officials would suggest that my Department has a minimal impact in respect of administrative burdens placed on business and this is particularly the case in those areas referred to by the Deputy.

Citizenship Applications.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

356 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the case of persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath who seek completion of their naturalisation process. [17642/09]

Applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in August 2007. Officials in that section inform me that both applications are at an advanced stage of processing and the files will be submitted to me for a decision in due course. 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 straightforward cases are now being dealt with in less than that timescale. 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.

Drug Seizures.

Joe Carey

Question:

357 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amounts of the illegal drugs heroin, cocaine and cannabis detected in each Garda division for the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17658/09]

In the time available it has not been possible to compile the detailed statistics requested. I will communicate further with the Deputy when the information sought is to hand.

Public Order Offences.

Joe Carey

Question:

358 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans in place to review anti-social behaviour order legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17666/09]

Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults, was commenced on 1 January 2007. Part 13 of the Act, relating to anti-social behaviour by children, was commenced on 1 March, 2007. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by adults and children. These provisions have now been in operation for two years, and I believe that they have made a significant contribution to addressing anti-social behaviour. Nevertheless, I believe that it is appropriate at this stage to review the operation of the legislation to see whether any improvements can be made, and in this regard my Department is in consultation with the Garda authorities.

Legal Aid Service.

Jack Wall

Question:

359 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive a decision in relation to their legal aid case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17683/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that in respect of queries concerning the provision of legal services to any person, the solicitor/client relationship is protected by privilege in accordance with the terms of section 32 of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995. The Legal Aid Board cannot therefore provide information to third parties regarding a person who may or may not be a client of the board. All applicants or clients can of course obtain information regarding their application or case from the Legal Aid Board any time they wish to do so.

Citizenship Applications.

Phil Hogan

Question:

360 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for naturalisation will be decided for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17687/09]

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 section inform me that processing of the application is at an advanced stage and will be submitted to me for a decision in due course. 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 straightforward cases are now being dealt with in less than that timescale. 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.

I am also informed that the address the Deputy has provided differs from the address that my Department holds on file for the person concerned. It is the responsibility of the applicant to keep my Department informed of any change of address in writing.

Garda Training College.

Michael Lowry

Question:

361 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the person who in Templemore Garda College, County Tipperary, is in command of domestic and catering staff at the Garda College; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17726/09]

Michael Lowry

Question:

362 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the person who ultimately meets the running cost of the restaurant including staffing and food costs for Templemore Garda College, County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17727/09]

Michael Lowry

Question:

363 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the person on his behalf who negotiated the terms of redundancy offered to a number of domestic and restaurant staff in Templemore Garda College, County Tipperary; if, in view of his Department’s involvement, this confirms that these workers are employees of the State, that is, public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17728/09]

Michael Lowry

Question:

364 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his long-term plans for the future of Templemore Garda College, County Tipperary; if the current staffing levels will be maintained in all sections of the college; if he will give an assurance that it will not be downgraded in any manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17729/09]

Michael Lowry

Question:

365 Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the person who in his Department determines the number of staff required in Templemore Garda College, County Tipperary, both in clerical personnel and canteen and restaurant personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17730/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 361 to 365, inclusive, together.

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and I will write to the Deputy directly when this information is to hand.

Residency Permits.

Willie Penrose

Question:

366 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will take steps to expedite an application for long-term residency by a person (details supplied) in view of the fact that same was submitted some time ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17731/09]

Officials in the Long-Term Residency Section of my Department inform me that an application for long-term residency was received from the person referred to by the Deputy on 29 May 2007. Processing of this application was completed in March 2009, and a letter advising him of the outcome issued on 19 March 2009.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard Allen

Question:

367 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on the application submitted in 2005 by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [17795/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 15 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 21 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 did not submit an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations nor has he, to date, submitted written representations as to why he should be permitted to remain temporarily in the State. The person concerned initiated Judicial Review 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 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 file is passed to me for decision. The Deputy should note that the case of the person concerned could not be further processed while the Judicial Review Proceedings referred to were ongoing. Given that the High Court Judgment was delivered on 18 December 2008, it is not true to say that the residency application of the person concerned has been outstanding since 2005.

Question No. 368 answered with Question No. 341.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

369 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the application for leave to remain in the State on humanitarian grounds or residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17814/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 3 April 2006. Her asylum application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. The person concerned was advised of her entitlement to appeal this determination to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal but she 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 16 August 2007, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). Representations were submitted on behalf of the person concerned at that time. No application for Subsidiary Protection has been submitted on behalf of the person concerned.

The case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, now falls to 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.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

370 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for residency of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17815/09]

An application for Long-Term Residency from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in my Department on 16 May 2008. Officials in the section inform me that processing of this application is ongoing and a decision will issue in the coming months.

Departmental Expenditure.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

371 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the annual expenditure on external legal costs by his Department in each of the past five years; the annual expenditure on external legal costs by each of the agencies under his aegis in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17844/09]

I can inform the Deputy that, for the most part, the legal services sought by my Department and its associated bodies are co-ordinated and paid for by the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. These services are typically sought in the context of the preparation of legislation, legal advice in respect of policy issues and in the management of litigation including judicial reviews.

In a number of instances, my Department and its associated bodies, in accordance with normal procurement procedures, have sought and paid for legal advice and services additional to those provided for centrally by the Attorney General and the Chief State Solicitor. However, in the time available to reply to this Question, it has not been possible to gather and compile the information sought by the Deputy in respect of these costs.

Prisoner Releases.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

372 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a person (details supplied) who was repatriated from a prison in England and is serving the remainder of their sentence in the Midlands Prison, Portlaoise has been refused compassionate leave or temporary release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17949/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

373 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the release date for a person (details supplied) who was repatriated from a prison in England and is serving the remainder of their sentence in the Midlands Prison, Portlaoise. [17950/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 372 and 373 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the person in question is serving an indeterminate life sentence for murder having been repatriated from the United Kingdom in January,2007. All prisoners who are serving life sentences are eligible to have their cases reviewed by the Parole Board when they have served seven years in custody. The board, which was set up in 2001, makes recommendations to me as Minister in relation to the management of offenders serving long sentences. Generally speaking life sentenced prisoners are reviewed on a number of occasions over a number of years before any substantial recommendations are made that might result in the prisoner being released into the community to continue to serve their sentences, subject to strict conditions. In relation to the person the subject of this Parliamentary Question I can advise that the case was reviewed by the Parole Board in 2007. I understand that the case is due to be reviewed again by the board in 2010.

More generally, requests for compassionate leave and/or temporary release are submitted through the Governor of the prison and forwarded to my Department for consideration. Each case is considered on its individual merits and it would not be appropriate to comment on the circumstances surrounding any particular application.

Garda Deployment.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

374 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí serving in specialist units such as immigration, detective branch, public service vehicle and crime scene; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17989/09]

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and I will write to the Deputy directly when this information is to hand.

Public Order Offences.

Finian McGrath

Question:

375 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [17991/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the location referred to is in the Clontarf Garda Sub-District. Local Garda management is aware of difficulties being experienced by residents in the area as a result of anti-social behaviour and several persons have been arrested as a result of such behaviour.

A member of the local Community Policing Unit is allocated to the area and regularly meets local residents. The area is subject, under the direction of local Garda management, to regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit and the Garda Mountain Bike Unit, supplemented as required by the District Detective and Drugs Units, the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel. Current policing policy in the area is predicated on the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence against persons and property, the prevention of public order offences and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life of the residents. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of the policing service in this area.

Citizenship Applications.

Jack Wall

Question:

376 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position of an application by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare for citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17993/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in August 2006. Officials in that section inform me that documentation was requested from the person concerned on 7 November, 2008. To date, no reply has been received. Further processing of the application will commence once the requested documentation is received. I am also informed that the address the Deputy has provided differs from the address that my Department holds on file for the person concerned. It is the responsibility of the applicant to keep my Department informed of any change of address in writing.

Residency Permits.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

377 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath who has on other occasions availed of temporary travel documents but has now been turned down for such documents even though they are legally here. [18039/09]

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) informs me that the person in question was refused refugee status following appeal and notified of this decision in early 2006. This person therefore is not entitled to be issued with an Irish travel document. The person concerned was granted temporary permission to remain in the State on 02/09/2008 for 3 years until 02/09/2011.

The person in question sought an Irish temporary travel document in October 2008 and again in April 2009. On both occasions the person in question was advised in writing by the Travel Document Unit to seek assistance from their relevant embassy which is the appropriate course of action in such circumstances. As the person in question is a Kenyan national it is advised that they should seek consular assistance from their own national authorities and contact the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya, 11 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 with a view to obtaining their national passport or travel document.

Departmental Agencies.

Denis Naughten

Question:

378 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he is taking to protect documents in the care of the Registry of Deeds in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18083/09]

I am informed that Registry of Deeds documents have been preserved intact since 1707 in a building shared with the Honourable Society of the Kings Inns. A significant investment was made in upgrading this accommodation during the mid 1990's. A major part of this project involved a review of both the storage facilities for the records retained by the Registry and the level of access to those records by the public. The remedial work undertaken introduced a new system of secure and accessible shelving that was complementary to the building together with the installation of specialised temperature and humidity controls. A further preservation project to provide an additional safeguard to the documents began in 2007 and was completed in 2008. This involved filing the documents in secure archival boxes designed and manufactured to National Archives specifications.

In the case of Original Memorials, which are summaries of original deeds that are permanently retained in the Registry of Deeds, the Deputy might wish to note that these are not made available for public inspection. All Memorials from 1930 to date are available on microfilm and this record is normally used for providing copies. While in rare cases, the original Memorial is made available on request, the inspection is carried out under supervised conditions with a member of Registry of Deeds staff in attendance.

Public access to other records such as the Names Index, Lands Index and Transcript Books, is only available to customers in controlled conditions. Any person wishing to inspect these records must sign in at the reception area and sign out again when they leave the building. Access to the area where these books are stored is controlled by way of swipe cards which must be returned before the customer leaves the building.

I understand that, notwithstanding the improvements to the storage and access to the documents, there is excessive wear and tear on some of the documents in the Registry, especially the large index books. Much of this damage can be attributed to over-use of the documents by genealogical researchers who are among those that have been pressing for measures to preserve these documents. A possible solution to this problem is to make them available electronically and a firm of independent consultants has already carried out work on the development of such a project.

Their report in 2003 was basically a review of the Registry of Deeds service delivery, encompassing the preservation of its records and access for genealogical research. The consultants developed an e-Service Delivery Strategy which was intended to address day-to-day registration services but also to deal with the preservation of the historical records and to make them available on-line for genealogical searching. In 2006, a further independent evaluation on access to Registry of Deeds documentation and the future use of the Registry of Deeds building was carried out. The report recommended the scanning and indexing of the documents and records and, when this had been completed, to re-locate the documents to a more appropriate location.

The Deputy will appreciate that the implementation of either strategy dealing with the historical records is dependent on funding being made available. An associated issue relates to contingency and business continuity planning, in the event of a loss of the records. All of the current records going back to the 1930's are microfilmed. However, there are no copies of the earlier records which as stated above date from 1707.

Finally, a strategic objective of the Property Registration Authority is to advance the completion of the Land Register by extending Compulsory First Registration, while arresting the growth of unregistered titles. While this is a multi-year objective, its achievement will see the eventual phasing out of the Registry of Deeds from the conveyancing process and would enable the transfer of the documents to the National Archives Office.

Immigration Procedures.

Denis Naughten

Question:

379 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the ports, airports, border crossings which are approved points of entry to the State; the same which have a 24 hour Garda presence; the same which have a 24 hour immigration officer presence; the steps which are being taken to improve technology and screening at each point of entry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18091/09]

The airports listed below have been prescribed by Ministerial order (SI 57 of 2004 Immigration Act 2004 (Approved Ports) Regulations) as approved ports for non-nationals (other than seamen) arriving by sea or air from outside the State pursuant to Section 6(2) and 20 of the Immigration Act 2004: Carrickfinn Airport; Cobh; Connaught Airport; Cork; Cork Airport; Dublin; Dublin Airport; Dun Laoghaire; Farranfore Airport; Galway; Galway Airport; Greencastle; Moville; Rosslare Harbour; Shannon Airport; Sligo Airport; Waterford; Waterford Regional Airport.

The arrival of persons across the border with Northern Ireland is provided for by Section 4(5) of the Immigration Act 2004. No particular crossing point is approved, rather persons who are not visa required or visa required nationals in possession of a valid Irish visa may cross at any place they wish, but must subsequently seek permission to be in the State under section 4(1) of the Immigration Act 2004.

There is a 24-hour presence of Garda Immigration Officers at Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports; all other ports are resourced so that an Immigration Officer is available for all arrivals from outside the State. Section 4(2) if the Immigration Act 2004 places an obligation on all non nationals arriving in the state by air or sea from outside of the State to present himself or herself to an immigration officer and apply for a permission to enter the State.

The GNIB, in consultation with my Department, have planned, tested, and rolled out a state of the art computerised registration system (GNIB-IS). The main capabilities and functions of the GNIB-IS are: the registration in the State of all non-EEA nationals who are then issued with a system-generated Registration Smart Card; administering the collection of fees for Immigration Registration Certificates; the administration of the Carriers' Liability system in the State; facilitating the exchange of Immigration data sets between GNIB and the UK thus enabling the identification of Immigration offenders from one jurisdiction attempting to enter the other jurisdiction; provision of a platform to enhance the Intelligence capacity of GNIB; tracking the details of non-nationals who are granted leave to land or conditioned on entry to the country, those persons refused leave to land, as well as details of all deportation orders that have been issued by the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform; and provision of functionality to inquire on external information sources such as Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, the Dept. of Foreign Affairs, the Dept. of Enterprise, Trade & Employment and the Dept. of Social & Family Affairs.

The system is accessible at over 100 locations nationwide, including all Immigration Registration offices and all the major ports and airports of entry to the State. The development and deployment of a new integrated electronic fingerprint system, which will be linked into the GNIB-IS, is nearing completion. Deployment continues at Garda stations nationwide and an element of this deployment will include the installation of fingerprint equipment at ports of entry across the State. This equipment will be used to assist immigration officers at Ports in the processing of persons who seek to enter the country, who are refused leave to land or who claim asylum.

Officials in my Department are also in the process of developing an Irish Border Information System. This system will operate by processing passenger data supplied by carriers and matching it against watchlists to detect persons of interest entering or leaving the State. This system will be a significant tool for the Garda Siochana, and indeed the other State agencies involved, in meeting their respective law enforcement mandates.

Drug Seizures.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

380 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of times a year confiscated caches of illegal drugs seized by the gardaí are destroyed; the location where the destruction of such material takes place; the public auditor who attends such events; the way the amounts of material so destroyed are recorded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18136/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that all drugs classified as controlled in the Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977 / 1984 which are seized by members of An Garda Síochána and other law enforcement authorities in the course of investigations, are destroyed upon the determination of court proceedings. Each operation is documented and all associated records are maintained by the Garda Technical Bureau.

The drugs are destroyed under the supervision of a Detective Inspector from the Garda Technical Bureau following analysis and evidential requirements, and with the written authorisation of a member of An Garda Síochána not below the rank of Inspector from the Garda District where the drugs originated. The Garda Technical Bureau also facilitates the destruction of drug seizures that the Bureau receives from the Customs service. The number of occasions on which drugs are destroyed varies from year to year, as it is dependent on the frequency and quantities of drugs seized and the numbers of such cases disposed of by the Courts. It would not be appropriate to disclose any further information about the destruction of drugs for security reasons.

Residency Permits.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

381 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 who has been able to avail of temporary travel documents on several previous occasions but has now been refused this facility. [18139/09]

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) informs me that the person in question arrived in the State on 2 October, 1998 and applied for asylum. The person was refused a declaration as a refugee and is not entitled to be issued with an Irish travel document. The person was granted humanitarian leave to remain in the State on 20 July, 2001 until 25 July, 2002. His leave to remain was renewed on 19 August, 2003 until 18 August, 2004 and renewed again on 26 July, 2004 until 25 July, 2007. His last renewal was from October 2007 until 30 September 2010.

The person in question sought an Irish temporary travel document in April 2009. They were advised by the Travel Document Unit in writing on 24th April 2009 to seek assistance from their relevant embassy which is the appropriate course of action in such circumstances. In all cases, INIS must be satisfied that there is no alternative open to an Irish temporary travel document applicant preventing them from procuring their own national passport or travel document before an Irish temporary travel document will issue.

As the person in question is an Albanian national it is advised that they should seek consular assistance from their own national authorities and contact the Embassy of the Republic of Albania, 2nd Floor, 24 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB, England. with a view to obtaining their national passport or travel document.

Road Safety.

Noel Ahern

Question:

382 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the practice of newspaper sellers selling newspapers to motorists as they walk up and down at main junctions; if same is illegal; if the main newspaper groups have been requested not to facilitate this practice; his plans to prevent this practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18147/09]

The Casual Trading Act 1995 makes provision for casual trading, which it defines as including the selling of goods at a place (including a public road) to which the public have access as a right. The legislation is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Other legislation relevant to the selling of newspapers at junctions includes the Road Traffic Acts and Regulations made under them. This legislation is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Transport.

Citizenship Applications.

Noel Ahern

Question:

383 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will clarify the position in relation to an application for citizenship from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11; if a previous application will be re-activated and processed; the length of time this should take to finalisation; the status with regard to their permission to remain in the State, with annual renewal in 2007 and 2008; and if their case will be finalised and approved. [18150/09]

Officials in the Citizenship Division of my Department inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question. It is open to the person concerned to lodge an application for a Certificate of Naturalisation with the Citizenship Section of my Department at any time.

The person referred to by the Deputy last had permission to remain in the State until the 6th March 2009 on Stamp 4 conditions (Married to an Irish National). An application was received by the General Immigration section from the person referred to by the Deputy on 14th February 2009. Further documentation was requested to process this application, to date this documentation has not been received by the General Immigration Division. Upon receipt of these documents the application will be processed to the next stage.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

384 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected position in relation to the application for leave to remain or stamp four in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18169/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 4 March 2005. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 16 January 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The 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. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Infectious Diseases.

John Perry

Question:

385 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will support the immediate granting by the World Health Assembly of observer status to Taiwan in view of the outbreak of a new multi-strain swine flu in Mexico and the US and as part of the world wide mobilisation of resources to fight the threatened epidemic, (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17700/09]

John Perry

Question:

387 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the fact that the World Health Organisation has said the outbreak of a new multi-strain swine flu in Mexico and the US is a public health emergency of international concern and as part of the world wide mobilisation of resources to fight the threatened epidemic, he will support the immediate granting by the World Health Assembly of observer status to Taiwan. [17699/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 385 and 387 together.

In common with most Member States of the UN, and all EU partners, Ireland adheres to a one-China policy, recognising the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China. We therefore do not support Taiwanese membership of organisations where statehood is a prerequisite for membership, and take the view that any status granted to Taiwan by the WHO must be compatible with the one-China policy.

However, against the above background, and with our EU partners, Ireland continues to be active in seeking to ensure Taiwan's meaningful participation in the activities of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the fullest extent possible, so as to ensure that there is no geographical gap in the important work of that organisation. In this context, Ireland supports the Taiwanese application for observer status at the meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) on 18-27 May. I understand that the Government of China also accepts Taiwan's participation as an observer. As such, I would not anticipate that there will be any obstacle to the WHA granting observer status to Taiwan on this occasion.

Departmental Committees.

Brian Hayes

Question:

386 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the consultative mechanism on the economic work of embassies has formed; and the steps it has taken to carry out its mandate. [17616/09]

Among the Action Points included in the Government's Framework for Economic Renewal, launched by the Taoiseach in December, is the establishment of a consultative mechanism with public and private sector representatives to advise on issues related to the economic work of Embassies. The first consultative meeting, which I chaired, took place on Wednesday 29 April in Iveagh House. I intend to hold a number of similar meetings throughout the year with a varied geographical and thematic focus. The meetings will be informal in nature and will include representatives of the public and private sectors, reflecting the particular topic under discussion and specific interests and expertise.

Work is ongoing in my Department, within the Promoting Ireland Abroad Division (PIAD), to set up and prepare for future meetings. Dates are currently being explored with relevant representatives from the public and private sectors for the next meeting to take place in July. I envisage holding a further number of meetings before the end of the year. The aim of the meetings will be to give me an overview of the State's economic interests in specific markets and a sense of how Embassies can provide optimal support to advance those interests.

Question No. 387 answered with Question No. 385.

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

388 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of personnel working in his Department; the number of ambassadors; the average length of time they have spent in his Department prior to being appointed to the post of ambassador; if any of the current ambassadors have been seconded from other Departments or the private sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17718/09]

The current authorised number of staff in the Department of Foreign Affairs is 1578. Irish Embassies, Consulates General, and Permanent Representations abroad are headed by members of staff of my Department. At present, there are 73 staff serving as Heads of Mission abroad. These staff are generally officers from the Deputy Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Counsellor and First Secretary grades. It is not possible, in the time available, to provide detailed information on the length of service of each of those officers prior to their first appointment as Head of Mission. However, I can advise the Deputy that in respect of those officers nominated by the Government to serve as Ambassadors for the first time in 2008 and 2009, the average length of service in my Department was 25 years.

Irish diplomats, including Heads of Mission, are career civil servants employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs. One Head of Mission is currently on secondment from another Government Department. In addition, a number of Heads of Mission have served in other Government Departments prior to transferring to my Department. The practice of successive Governments has been to nominate Ambassadors who are established civil servants in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Accordingly, no Heads of Mission have been seconded from the private sector.

Departmental Expenditure.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

389 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the annual expenditure on external legal costs by his Department in each of the past five years; the annual expenditure on external legal costs by each of the agencies under his aegis in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17842/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, Government Departments do not pay for the legal services provided by the Office of the Attorney General and the Chief State Solicitor's Office or for advice from Counsel briefed by them. My Department has a Legal Division, staffed by qualified legal professionals who provide legal advice on a wide range of international legal issues. Having such ‘in-house' legal experts reduces the costs which would be incurred if the Department was to engage externally for similar services.

Nevertheless, there are from time to time occasions where a need to engage external legal services arises, where the necessary expertise is not available within my Department, for example in regard to particular procurement matters or advice relating to the lease or purchase of Embassy properties abroad.

I have provided detail below, in tabular form, on the costs for external legal services.

Year

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009 (to date)

Cost of External Legal services in Ireland

141,442

163,615

141,835

48,483

34

Cost of External Legal services Overseas

109,951

155,495

157,994

168,959

55,525

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

390 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18041/09]

The Department of Foreign Affairs is committed to the provision of a quality customer service. All staff are made aware at induction and other training sessions of the need to maintain a high standard in dealing with customers, both at Headquarters and in our Embassies and Consulates abroad.

From the general public's perspective, the most familiar aspect of the Department's work is performed by the Passport and Consular Division. All frontline staff are provided with customer care training. Specific training is given to Passport Office staff who operate the telephone information service. In addition, the Office has a dedicated customer care team to deal with information requests, complaints or other difficulties that members of the public might have with their passport applications.

Although the Department is committed to providing a high quality customer service, there will be occasions when customers feel dissatisfied with the service they receive. A complaint handling procedure for use by our customers is outlined in our customer charter. Customers who are not satisfied with the outcome of the Department's complaints and appeal procedure have the option of referring the matter to the Ombudsman.

Citizenship Applications.

Billy Timmins

Question:

391 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will confirm a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18042/09]

The processing of applications for citizenship through Foreign Births Registration is an important function of Irish Missions abroad. The majority of applications tend to be lodged with Missions in countries which in the past received large numbers of Irish emigrants. While the vast bulk of applications are lodged in our Missions in the United States, Great Britain and Australia, our Embassy Pretoria also receives significant numbers of applications. In the past, many of these Missions experienced backlogs in the processing of applications of this nature, which in most cases have now been cleared.

Irish citizenship, which confers considerable rights, both in this country and throughout the EU, is highly prized and hence there is a strong obligation on the State to ensure the integrity of the process. Many applications require additional work such as checking the authenticity of certificates and further contact with the applicants to seek additional documentation. Like all our Missions abroad, the Embassy in Pretoria is obliged to work within certain resource constraints. Last year, there was a backlog of seven hundred applications for Foreign Births Registration in the Embassy, Pretoria comprised of applications from residents of South Africa and some from Zimbabwe. By temporarily redeploying resources in the Passport Office in Balbriggan, the backlog in Pretoria has now been reduced to approximately two hundred and fifty outstanding applications for Foreign Births Registration.

As a result, the Embassy is normally in a position to advise customers that the normal processing time for Foreign Births Registration applications is six months. This processing time is expected to be reduced in the coming months. The processing period for replacement Foreign Births Registration Certificates, issued by the Embassy Pretoria is approximately one month. If the Certificate was issued by another Embassy or by Consular section in Dublin, the process of issuing a replacement Certificate in Pretoria can take up to three months. Passport applications are processed by the Embassy in four to six weeks from the time of receiving a completed application. I regret that it has not been possible to deal with the case cited by the Deputy within the turn around target. I have asked the Embassy to ensure that this matter is processed as a matter of urgency.

Departmental Expenditure.

Brian Hayes

Question:

392 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the amount of the €148 million capital allocation for 2009, intended to develop sporting and cultural infrastructure and enhance the infrastructure aimed at tourists and foreign visitors as set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal 2009 to 2014, that has been spent; and the infrastructure it has been spent on. [17624/09]

As part of a commitment to investing in critical infrastructure in Building Ireland's Smart Economy, the Arts, Sports and Tourism capital allocation in 2009 will be used to develop sporting and cultural infrastructure and to enhance infrastructure aimed at tourists. This capital allocation refers to that of the Ministerial Vote Group, which comprises the Votes of both the Department and the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI).

The €135 million capital allocation for 2009 for this Ministerial Vote Group, as set out in the Revised Estimates 2009, is being used to continue the capital funding schemes and programmes operated by the Department and the NGI. This investment includes the provision of €56 million for the Sports Capital Programme to ensure existing commitments will be met and that a range of modern, well-equipped and well-managed sports facilities will be brought into use. Work is also ongoing with the relevant local authorities to develop the remaining 14 swimming pools promised as part of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme, which has already delivered the completion of 43 pool projects.

Some €19 million has been allocated to further develop cultural infrastructure, primarily through cultural projects at the local level, in addition to capital funding support for the national and other cultural institutions. Furthermore, over €7 million has been allocated to tourism product development in order to enhance visitor attractions throughout the country. Of the €135 million capital allocation in 2009, approximately €41 million was spent as at the end of April.

Sports Capital Programme.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

393 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the locations at which, following the reduction of 4% in the budget for grants for sporting bodies and the provision of sports and recreational facilities part funded from the national lottery, the €56 million will be spent; the projects and the way each of the successful projects are adjudicated upon; the qualifying criteria for these projects; the person who decides which projects are successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17659/09]

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. This enables money to be paid out to grantees that have been allocated funding under previous rounds of the Programme.

After provisional allocations are announced, grantees must fulfil certain terms and conditions before the payments can be made by my Department. These include standard conditions which are available on the Department's website. As soon as these terms and conditions have been complied with the Department makes payments to the grantees. No decision has been taken on the timing of the next round of the Programme.

London Olympics.

Joe Carey

Question:

394 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if discussions have taken place with the British authorities with regard to the London Olympics 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17675/09]

In November 2008 I met with Lord Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee to discuss the opportunities for Ireland in the sports, tourism and cultural areas arising from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. There are a number of opportunities which can be pursued and my Department is engaging with the relevant sporting, tourism and cultural agencies (including the Irish Sports Council, Olympic Council of Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Arts Council, Culture Ireland) on how best to proceed with these, taking account of the current economic conditions.

Departmental Expenditure.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

395 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the annual expenditure on external legal costs by his Department in each of the past five years; the annual expenditure on external legal costs by each of the agencies under his aegis in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17834/09]

In general, whenever the Department requires legal services, it obtains these from the Office of the Attorney General and/or the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. The associated costs are borne directly by those two Offices. However, on occasion and in exceptional circumstances, the Department, including the National Archives, may obtain legal services from other sources. In each of the past five calendar years, the costs associated with such other legal services are as set out in tabular form below.

Year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Costs

Nil

Nil

€3,031

Nil

€250,802

The expenditure in 2008 relates to legal costs associated with the specialist separate Public Private Partnerships processes on the redevelopment of the National Concert Hall and the new Abbey Theatre. The PPP process on the NCH is very advanced and should conclude inside 12 months. The PPP process for the Abbey, entailing a discrete International Design Competition, is also advancing. Contracts for legal advice in these cases are fixed fee contracts and were procured competitively. In the case of the agencies under the aegis of the Department, the securing of external legal services and the associated costs are a matter for the agencies themselves.

Security of the Elderly.

Seán Barrett

Question:

396 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, in view of the vulnerability of older persons and the importance of providing security services to isolated older persons, and the modest funding involved, he will restore the funding for the scheme of community support for older people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17405/09]

Michael Creed