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 12, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 13 to 43, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 44 to 53, inclusive, answered orally.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements.

Frank Feighan

Question:

54 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the recommendation of his Department’s report on pre-nuptial agreements published in 2007 which recommended that such agreements be given legal recognition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21586/09]

The Study Group on Pre-Nuptial Agreements examined the operation of the law since the introduction of divorce in 1996 with respect to pre-nuptial agreements, having regard to the provisions in the Constitution on the protection of marriage and the requirement that proper provision be made for each party in divorce proceedings.

The Report of the Study Group recommended that provision be made in both the Family Law Act 1995 and Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 to provide that the courts be required to have regard to existing pre-nuptial agreements when making ancillary relief orders in judicial separation and divorce proceedings. The report made recommendations on the formalities necessary for the proper making of pre-nuptial agreements so that parties making such agreements would be both fully informed and protected. The report also recommended the introduction of a statutory basis upon which a court may make financial provision for a surviving spouse who may be unfairly affected by the provisions of a pre-nuptial agreement on the death of the other spouse through changes in circumstances since the agreement was concluded, e.g. as a result of the passage of time or other intervening events.

These recommendations are being considered for inclusion in the Family Law Bill referred to in the Government Legislation Programme announced on 22 April 2009.

Drug Offenders Register.

Bernard Allen

Question:

55 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the delays in setting up the Drug Offenders Register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21636/09]

Part 9 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 provides, in effect, for a Drug Offenders Register.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, since the provisions of the Act have come into force, a national Register has been maintained by the Garda National Drugs Unit at Dublin Castle.

In relation to the various detailed provisions which Part 9 contains, I am advised that the Garda authorities have been liaising with other State agencies addressing the technical and legal aspects which arise in the implementation of those provisions.

Following this, the Garda Commissioner expects in the coming weeks to be in a position to issue a comprehensive circular to the Force which will contain detailed operational arrangements in relation to all of those provisions. This, in turn, will underpin the maintenance of the Register at the National Drugs Unit.

Prison Inspections.

Seán Barrett

Question:

56 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of times he meets with the Inspector of Prisons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21549/09]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Office of the Inspector is a statutorily independent body provided for in legislation by Part 5 of the Prison Act, 2007. The Inspector's function is to carry out regular inspections of prisons and in exercise of his functions he may at any time enter any prison or place of detention. The current Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, took up his appointment in January 2008. In his Interim Report, following his appointment, the Inspector stated that his tenure would be characterised by independence and fairness. In keeping with the independence of the Office as and when the Inspector considers it necessary to meet with me I am happy, where practicable, to facilitate such meetings. I can also confirm that my Department has a policy of meeting informally with the Inspector at regular intervals throughout the year to appraise him of key developments in penal policy and to ensure that we are kept abreast of any issues or concerns he may have about the effective operation of the prison system.

Garda Equipment.

Tom Hayes

Question:

57 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí who have access to digital radio; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21594/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are a total of 939 digital radio units deployed in three Divisions in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR). These are in use in the North Central, Regional Traffic and Eastern Division mobile units and have been in use since 2002.

The selected service provider for the new National Digital Radio Service, TETRA Ireland Ltd., is currently putting in place the requisite infrastructure for the service to be available to the Garda Síochána and other emergency services. The infrastructure is being put in place on a regional basis over a two year period in accordance with agreed plans.

The Garda authorities advise that they are working with the service provider so that rollout of the service to members of the Force will closely follow the provision of this infrastructure. Accordingly, the rollout is planned to commence in the Dublin Metropolitan Region next month and will be extended to other regions on a phased basis over the next two years in line with the agreed infrastructure plans. A total number of 4,487 Garda personnel have been trained in its use up to 21st May 2009. Training will continue in line with the rollout schedule.

Gangland Crime.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

58 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of convictions that have been secured arising from gangland gun murders in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21573/09]

Information concerning the number of cases of murders recorded in which firearms were used, detected and proceedings relating to those cases in each year from 2005 to 2008 and in 2009 up to 21 May is set out in the table below. Figures provided are provisional, operational and liable to change. The Deputy will appreciate that the stage would not have been reached in proceedings where convictions could be expected to have been secured for cases arising in the last two to three years.

I am deeply concerned by the number of firearms related murders and I am continuing to work on strong legislative responses. I recently published the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Bill, which will facilitate the use as evidence in trials of material gained by secret surveillance, while at the same time ensuring that the encroachment on certain rights relating to personal privacy and privacy of property which this entails is both limited and proportionate.

The Government has approved my proposals for measures, along the lines of those in place to deal with paramilitary groups, to tackle organised crime gangs, in particular their attempts to undermine the criminal justice system through extreme acts of violence and intimidation. The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill will be given priority in drafting.

I have published the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009 which will further tighten the legislative provisions relating to guns and knives and similar weapons and which is currently before the House. A de facto handgun ban is already in force.

A further important development is the publication of the Criminal Procedure Bill 2009 which gives effect to the measures contained in the Justice for Victims Initiative. The Bill provides for reform of the law on victim impact statements and proposes to end the ban on retrying people who have been acquitted in specified circumstances.

Work is also ongoing in relation to the creation of a DNA database.

Number of murders recorded in which a firearm was used, detected and proceedings commenced in which a firearm was used and convictions

Year

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings Commenced

Convictions*

2009

11

3

2

0

2008

21

8

7

0

2007

18

7

2

0

2006

26

8

6

2

2005

22

7

3

2

Figures provided are valid up to and including 21 May, 2009 and are operational and liable to change.

*It will be appreciated that inevitably there is a time lapse between proceedings being commenced and convictions secured.

Domestic Violence.

Dan Neville

Question:

59 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has proposals to introduce legislation in the area of domestic violence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21614/09]

Comprehensive protection is already afforded to victims of domestic violence in our civil and criminal law statutes. The operation of the law on the protection of persons in relationships, whether through the operation of the Domestic Violence Acts 1996 and 2002 or otherwise, continues to be kept under review in my Department.

The protection provisions in the Domestic Violence Acts are substantial. The Acts make provision for the protection of a spouse and any children or other dependent persons, and of persons in other domestic relationships, whose safety or welfare requires it because of the conduct of another person in the domestic relationship concerned. A victim of such abuse may obtain a safety order under the Acts, requiring an abuser to desist from certain activity, a barring order excluding the abuser from the home in which the victim lives, or a protection order or interim barring order pending the determination by the courts of an application for a safety order or a barring order. Contravention of an order under the Acts is an offence and is subject to sanctions under the criminal law.

The Acts include substantial provision for victims of domestic violence who are not married to their abuser. A person may apply for a safety order if he or she has been living with a person as husband and wife for six months in aggregate of the previous twelve, and may apply for a barring order if he or she has been living with a person for six months in aggregate of the previous nine.

Amendments to the Domestic Violence Acts are proposed in the General Scheme of the Civil Partnership Bill which I published on 24 June 2008. These proposals extend to same-sex couples who register as civil partners the protections of the Domestic Violence Acts available to spouses. In relation to cohabitants, the Scheme provides for amendment of the Acts by removing the requirement of a minimum duration of cohabitation in order to obtain a safety order or a barring order, and ensuring that the law applies equally to same-sex cohabitants as it does to opposite-sex cohabitants.

Electronic Tagging.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

60 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on electronic tagging for those granted bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21558/09]

As the Deputy is aware, in January of this year I announced the establishment of a Project Board, led by the Probation Service, to examine the implementation of electronic monitoring in this jurisdiction including electronic monitoring as a condition of bail provided for in the Criminal Justice Act, 2007. The Project Board has commenced its examination which includes the cost and viability of introducing a pilot phase and I expect to receive their recommendations later this year.

Garda Reserve.

Willie Penrose

Question:

61 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of members of the Garda Reserve recruited to date; the stations to which they have been allocated; the number of applicants from the Reserve currently in training; if he is satisfied with the rate of recruitment; when he expects that the full complement of 1,500 will be in place; if restrictions have been placed on recruitment to the Reserve arising from the budgetary restrictions; his views on the suggestion made by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors that the Reserve should be scrapped. [21488/09]

At 30 April 2009, there were 322 attested Reserve Gardaí and 198 Reserve trainees. Details of the stations to which the Reserve members were assigned are set out in the table below.

The Agreed Programme for Government has set a target strength for the Reserve at 10% of the full-time strength of the force. As the Garda Reserve depends on volunteers who undertake their training and other duties during their free time, it is difficult to predict how many people will commence training in any particular period. However, I can assure the Deputy that the Garda Commissioner is continuing to make every effort to reach the recruitment target. In that context, I would point out that the moratorium on recruitment and appointments in the public service does not apply to the Garda Reserve, as members are volunteers and do not draw a salary.

Recruitment is ongoing and the Public Appointments Service has received over 1,400 expressions of interest to join the Reserve in 2009. The PAS hold interviews on a rolling basis at a range of locations around the country. The ongoing public information campaign to recruit members to the Garda Reserve includes indoor and outdoor awareness raising campaigns and radio and TV promotional interviews nationally and locally.

The Government is strongly committed to the development of the Reserve. I am fully satisfied that the Reserve provides a valuable contribution to the Garda Síochána and to the many communities where it is operating. In particular, I would like to express my appreciation to the members of the Reserve who serve on a voluntary basis and give of their time very generously.

Reserve Garda 31/04/09

Station

Total

D.M.R.S.C.

Kevin Street

6

Kilmainham

3

Pearse St

17

Harcourt Tce

0

Donnybrook

4

Irishtown

0

Total

30

DMR NC

Store Street

6

Bridewell

5

Fitzgibbon Street

5

Mountjoy

0

Total

16

DMR NORTH

Santry

4

D/Airport

0

Whitehall

2

Ballymun

6

Raheny

3

Clontarf

4

Howth

3

Coolock

6

Swords

4

Malahide

1

Balbriggan

3

Skerries

0

Lusk

0

Rush

0

Garristown

0

Total

36

DMR EAST

Dun Laoghaire

4

Dalkey

0

Cabinteely

0

Kill-O-Grange

0

Shankill

0

Blackrock

5

Dundrum

0

Stepaside

0

Total

9

DMR SOUTH

Crumlin

3

Sundrive Road

1

Tallaght

3

Rathfarnham

2

Rathmines

1

Terenure

4

Total

14

DMR WEST

Cabra

0

Finglas

4

Blanchardstown

9

Lucan

7

Ronanstown

1

Ballyfermot

3

Clondalkin

3

Rathcoole

0

Total

27

Waterford/Kilkenny

Waterford

9

Kilkenny

6

Tramore

2

Dungarvan

0

Thomastown

0

Total

17

Wexford

Gorey

1

Enniscorthy

2

New Ross

1

Wexford

1

Total

5

Tipperary

Nenagh

1

Thurles

1

Carrick-On Suir

1

Clonmel

2

Cahir

1

Tipperary

1

Roscrea

1

Total

8

Cork City

Anglesea Street

10

Mayfield

3

Watercourse Road

3

Togher

4

Gurranbraher

6

Total

26

Cork North

Cobh

0

Fermoy

2

Midleton

3

Total

5

Cork West

Bandon

1

Clonakilty

2

Macroom

1

Total

4

Kerry

Tralee

2

Killarney

0

Total

2

Limerick

Henry Street

10

Total

10

Donegal

Letterkenny

5

Ballybofey

0

Total

5

Cavan/Monaghan

Cavan

3

Monaghan

4

Total

7

Sligo/Leitrim

Sligo

6

Carrick-On-Shannon

1

Total

7

Louth

Drogheda

7

Dundalk

5

Ardee

0

Total

12

Clare

Ennis

8

Killaloe

0

Total

8

Mayo

Castlebar

8

Ballina

3

Swinford

0

Claremorris

1

Westport

3

Total

15

Galway

Galway

18

Tuam

2

Salthill

0

Total

20

Roscommon/Longford

Roscommon

3

Boyle

0

Longford

1

Total

4

Westmeath

Athlone

1

Mullingar

6

Total

7

Meath

Navan

2

Ashbourne

1

Trim

1

Kells

1

Total

5

Carlow/Kildare

Naas

2

Celbridge

1

Newbridge

2

Carlow

5

Kildare

3

Total

13

Laois/Offaly

Tullamore

4

Birr

0

Portlaoise

1

Total

5

Wicklow

Bray

3

Wicklow

0

Arklow

1

Baltinglass

1

Total

5

Total

322

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 53.

Proceeds of Crime.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

63 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the value of assets seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21577/09]

The information requested by the Deputy concerning the value of assets seized in the Criminal Assets Bureau from 2005 to 2007 is set out in the table below.

Figures for 2008 and 2009 are not yet available. The figures for 2008 are in the process of being finalised and will be published soon as part of the 2008 Annual Report. In terms of the value of assets such as cars, property etc. currently being held by the Bureau, I am advised that it would require the expenditure of an inordinate amount of time and resources to put a value on these assets due to the fact that their values continually change.

The Criminal Assets Bureau has been highly successful over the years in tackling criminals in a very effective, visible and tangible way. The work of the Bureau allows the public to see the law enforcement agencies of the State having a real effect on criminal activities. The co-ordinated multi-agency approach used at the Bureau in dealing with the proceeds of crime is one of the most effective tools that we have in tackling organised crime gangs.

Bureau officers come from a range of state organisations, including the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners, retaining their powers as officers of their parent organisations. The result is a very effective organisation which can draw on a wide range of powers in a coordinated manner. The Bureau represents a new form of policing designed to disrupt and disable the capacity of targeted individuals from participating in further criminal activity. The criminal investigation can continue while a financial investigation, a tax examination and a social welfare examination proceeds.

Since 2007, the Bureau has started targeting the assets of more middle and lower ranking criminals. These investigations will not be as lucrative for the State in terms of monies seized. These Houses did not set up the Bureau to be a profit-making venture. It was set up to deprive individuals from benefiting from the proceeds of crime. These more middle ranking criminals are a constant source of anger and irritation for parents and community workers as they flaunt their new found wealth in local towns or villages.

An important function of the Bureau is to implement taxation laws. The Bureau has found that the Disclosure of Information for Taxation and Other Purposes Act 1996 to be particularly useful and I understand that the provisions were used extensively in recent years to allow for a transfer of information between the Revenue Commissioners and the Bureau. To many, social welfare would seem like a smaller element of the CAB process but it is another important piece in the jigsaw that helps the Bureau to form a clearer picture of who it is dealing with.

Since the beginning of 2008, ten additional staff have been recruited. This is made up of five Gardaí, two Financial Analysts, one IT analyst, one Tax Official and one additional administrative assistant. This has allowed the Bureau to establish an additional team. I am informed by the Chief Bureau Officer that all of his teams are now targeting both the high level and the middle ranking criminals so the depth of experience at the Bureau is increasing all the time.

Another important development has been the rapid expansion in the number of trained asset profilers who now work in each Garda Division all over the country. At the end of 2007, there were 28 fully trained assets profilers in An Garda Síochána but this figure has more than trebled to 102 today. A further 13 Asset Profilers have been trained by the Bureau and are working with the Revenue Commissioners. This should alleviate any concerns that the Bureau is only focused on criminals in the main urban centres. The profilers have now become an invaluable resource for the Bureau in doing the early groundwork on possible targets and in keeping the Bureau informed of developments at local level.

I welcome the continued development of the Bureau and I look forward to receiving the 2008 Annual Report in the coming weeks.

Monies Secured by CAB from 2005 to 2007

Section 2 Interim Orders

Section 3 Interlocutory Orders

Section 4 and 4A

Section 16(B) POC Act as amended

2005

€5,860,335.00

€1,200,525.57

€2,002,738.41

US$314,619.54

Stg£26,760

US$130,000

2006

€2,836,479.97

€726,350.94

€2,459,864.79

€53,000,000

Stg£294, 289.39

2007

€9,804,193.14

€9,848,432.84

€1,435,340.59

Stg30,690.00

TOTALS 1996-2007

€18,501,008.11

€11,775,309.35

€5,897,943.79

€53,000,000

Stg£324,979.39

Stg£26,760

US$314,691.54

US$130,000

Revenue Actions

Year Ending

Taxes Assessed

Taxes and Interest Demanded

Taxes Collected

2005

14,078,812

4,888,818

16,376,599

2006

13,720,477

16,473,750

19,192,907

2007

18,370,867

19,130,179

10,009,459

Total

46,170,156

40,492,747

45,578,965

Social Welfare Actions

Year

Overpayments Assessed

Savings

2005

338,296

216,054

2006

439,704

297,744

2007

531,957

550,976

Total

1,309,957

1,064,774

It should be noted that these figures are available in the CAB Annual Reports

Gangland Crime.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

64 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he has taken or proposes to take to confront the ever increasing challenge of organised criminal gangs; his views on the threat presented to society by such organisations; if he will ensure that murder, extortion, money laundering, racketeering, witness and jury intimidation is stamped out; if he will ensure that bail is not available in the future to members of such gangs when there is evidence to suggest that they have been involved in serious crime and that they are remanded in custody pending clearance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21541/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

84 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects that the legislation promised in the crime package announced on 13 May 2009 will be published and enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21497/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

159 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will take particular or specific action to put organised criminal gangs off the street; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21804/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 64, 84 and 159 together.

I want to assure the House that the Government places the highest priority on tackling organised crime and the gangs involved. The Garda Síochána commit significant resources to combating these criminal gangs and we must acknowledge their considerable success. Intelligence-led operations such as Operation Anvil continue to provide significant seizures of firearms and other crime related property and have given rise to a number of prosecutions.

Recently, additional steps have been taken which will strengthen our ability to tackle these criminal organisations. The Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Bill, 2009, is currently before the Houses. This Bill provides for a system of regulation governing the carrying out of surveillance by the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and the Revenue Commissioners in operations targeting serious crime.

The Bill introduces a regulatory framework which will allow evidence gained through surveillance to be admissible in criminal proceedings.

On 13th May, the Government approved additional measures to crack down on criminal gangs sending out a clear message to those involved in criminal gangs that the Government will tackle them head on.

Among the key provisions which will be included in the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009 is that all organised crime offences will be scheduled offences for the purpose of trial in the Special Criminal Court unless the Director of Public Prosecutions directs otherwise. This is being done to prevent intimidation of juries in those cases where such measures are necessary. There will also be a new offence of directing or controlling a criminal organisation, which will carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The offence of participation or involvement in organised crime will carry a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment. The penalty for intimidation of a witness or juror will be increased from 10 years to 15 years imprisonment. The Government is committed to ensuring that the criminal law is effectively implemented and that the administration of justice is not interfered with through the intimidation of juries and witnesses. This new legislation will provide the State with the measures to put these criminals in prison for long periods and help rid law abiding communities of the scourge of organised crime gangs.

Procedures relating to the extension of time for questioning are to be simplified to reduce the amount of Garda resources diverted away from investigations and to ensure that the hearings cannot be used by detainees to obtain information that might prejudice the Garda investigation.

The new Bill will be given priority in drafting with a view to publishing the Bill this Dáil session. There are, however, a number of complex legal and drafting issues to be addressed.

In relation to bail, organised crime offences will be scheduled as "serious offences" within the meaning of the Bail Act 1997, thereby providing for circumstances where bail may be refused by the courts. Moreover, as of 1 May 2009, the Director of Public Prosecutions can appeal to the High Court against a decision of the District Court to grant bail. An appeal can also be taken against conditions attached by the District Court to bail. This is intended to ensure tighter conditions where bail is granted.

Together the existing and proposed measures will greatly assist in the detection, investigation and prosecution of organised crime. They are a reflection of the emphasis which I and the Government place on fighting organised crime and every effort will be made to tackle those involved.

Prison Inspection Reports.

Pat Breen

Question:

65 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the mechanisms in place to respond to the reports of the Inspector of Prisons; the specific changes that have been made arising from the reports of the current Inspector of Prisons since their appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21551/09]

Reports of the Inspector of Prisons are submitted to me as Minister. They are then laid before each House of the Oireachtas and published. They provide an independent report on the operation of our prison system and are of great value to me in drawing attention to progress being made and to any particular difficulties arising.

As a matter of course all such reports are referred by my Department to the Director General of the Irish Prison Service for consideration by him and his Senior Management Team with a view to examining the feasibility of implementing the recommendations contained therein. While in general recommendations pertaining to maintenance and general housekeeping issues can be implemented immediately, others pertaining, for example, to personnel recruitment and accommodation may have to be addressed over a longer period of time.

I have received two reports to date from the current Inspector pertaining to the operation of individual prisons or places of detention. His report on Loughan House Place of Detention has already been published and is available for inspection on my Department's website, www.justice.ie. In the case of the other report, on Castlerea prison, I am currently arranging for its translation and publication. I am informed by the Irish Prison Service that the majority of the recommendations made in the two reports have now been addressed.

Sexual Offences.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

66 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he proposes to take arising from the increase in rape and sexual offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21619/09]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

74 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the findings of the recent study carried out under the auspices of the EU Daphne II project which found that only 8% of the reported rapes here resulted in convictions; his further views on the low level of prosecutions and convictions; the steps he will take to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21493/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 74 together.

An Garda Síochána and a number of other agencies have participated in a detailed research project funded by the EU Daphne II programme, relating to the attrition rate in rape cases in eleven EU countries. While there is as yet no published report from the main research project, data in respect of Ireland was recently published. I look forward to receiving the final report and will consider carefully its findings and recommendations.

The Government places a high priority on putting in place measures aimed at tackling crimes of rape, sexual assault and other crimes of a sexual nature. The statistics on recorded crime for the first quarter of 2009, published by the Central Statistics Office, show a reduction of 28.9% in sexual offences in the quarter.

All sexual offence cases are the subject of rigorous investigation by the Gardaí. All available resources are employed in respect of all sex offence cases to bring these investigations to a successful conclusion. Investigation files are forwarded to the Law Officers for a decision as to what charges are to be preferred. An Garda Síochána actively encourages people who are the victims of sexual crimes to report the offence to the Gardaí. A number of established initiatives underpin this policy.

The Government's commitment to tackling domestic and sexual violence is reflected in the establishment in June, 2007 of Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence. Cosc's key responsibility is to ensure the delivery of a well coordinated whole of Government response to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. Cosc's major priority is to produce a National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence which has the support of State and non-government organisations in the sector. This Strategy will set out the policy on addressing domestic and sexual violence, and the preventative and responsive actions to be taken by the broad range of organisations to ensure a well coordinated system. The preparation of the Strategy is being carried out in partnership with the relevant State and non-governmental organisations.

Appointments to State Boards.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

67 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the appointment of a new chief executive for the Equality Authority; when he expects an appointment to be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21478/09]

Following a competition organised by the Public Appointments Service, the Equality Authority, on the 19 May 2009, approved the appointment of Renee Dempsey as Chief Executive Officer. It is expected that Ms Dempsey will take up her position shortly.

Ms. Dempsey is an experienced senior civil servant who has worked with a number of Government Departments and is currently a member of the board of the Disability Authority.

Garda Stations.

Enda Kenny

Question:

68 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda stations here; the number of Garda stations that have email access; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21600/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are a total of 703 Garda Stations. Email facilities are available at 347 networked locations within An Garda Síochána and internal email facilities are provided to all ranks of An Garda Síochána via the PULSE environment. External email facilities are also provided to all Gardaí from Inspector rank upwards and are made available to members of other ranks based on operational needs.

I am also informed by the Garda authorities that, under a pilot scheme currently underway, members of the public can email all District and Divisional offices within the Dublin Metropolitan Region. When the pilot is complete, the roll out of this facility across the organisation will be planned.

Garda Training.

Tom Hayes

Question:

69 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of firing ranges available to gardaí for target practice; the number of times on average armed gardaí engage in target practice each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21593/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a considerable investment in training facilities has been made over the past two years including the provision of two Modular Firearms ranges at the Garda College and in the Dublin Metropolitan region. These modular ranges are newly designed products that facilitate live fire shooting for up to four persons in a carefully managed environment which adheres to all range safety requirements.

Gardaí who are authorised to carry firearms are required to undergo a minimum of two live fire refresher training courses and one Firearms Automated Training System training course per annum. The Firearms Automated Training System is an automated judgmental training system, using firearms fitted with a laser and does not involve the discharge of ammunition.

In addition to the two Modular Firearms ranges and the Firearms Automated Training System there are eight Army Ranges currently available for use by Garda.

Prisoner Literacy Levels.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

70 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his Department has commissioned studies on literacy rates among prisoners; the results of such reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21610/09]

The findings of the most recent survey commissioned by my Department were published in 2003 in the Irish Prison Service publication entitled "The Prison Adult Literacy Survey — Results and Implications". The survey found that a significant number of prisoners have virtually no literacy skills, with 52% of them at Level 1 or Pre-Level 1 literacy levels. Level 1 is defined as knowing the alphabet but having difficulties with reading. Pre-Level 1 is defined as being unable to read simple words but with the ability to write their names or know the alphabet. More than twice as many prisoners are at the lowest level compared with the population generally. Given this deficit, literacy work is a priority element in prison education and every effort is made to publicise literacy classes and encourage as many prisoners as possible to participate.

Prisoners coming into the Education Centre of each prison have an individual interview to assess their educational needs and interests. Those with literacy difficulties are prioritised for support. Many prisoners have had poor experiences of school and see themselves as failures. They are encouraged to participate in non-academic pursuits to enhance their perception of school and education, and to stimulate a general interest in learning. Once their confidence begins to grow, they can participate in classes where written work is required.

Following on the recommendations of the 2003 survey a number of significant initiatives commenced or were strengthened in the prisons. These initiatives parallel efforts to address adult literacy in the community. Among these are the fuller use of negotiated learning plans for all literacy students, introducing and supporting the FETAC level 1 and level 2 courses, the introduction of the National Adult Literacy Agency's assessment framework "Mapping the Learning Journey", devising and delivering the national 30-hour Initial Tutor Training course for new teachers and drawing up and rolling out a national Literacy Plan for Prison Education.

Programmes for Government.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

71 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date with regard to implementation of those sections of the Programme for Government under the headings community payback, parental responsibility and anti-social behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21470/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No.109 of 22 April, 2009. The information requested by the Deputy is published on the website of the Department of the Taoiseach. It can be accessed at www.taoiseach.gov.ie under Publications (archive 2008). The information will be updated later this year.

EU Directives.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

72 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of EU directives for which his Department has responsibility remaining to be implemented; the directives which are overdue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21483/09]

My Department has responsibility for seven EU directives which have to be implemented. There are four directives which are currently overdue as follows: Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status. Irish law and practice in this area is already substantially in compliance with the terms of this directive. The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008 contains provisions to restate the law on refugee and other protection procedures with some amendments. These restatements are in compliance with Ireland's obligations under the directive. The Bill is currently being considered by the Oireachtas.

Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC. Part of the directive is covered by Part 7 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005. The remainder is to be transposed by means of primary legislation. The necessary legislation is being prepared as a matter of urgency and I expect to be in a position to publish the legislation in the near future.

Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing; and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC of 1 August 2006 laying down implementing measures for Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the definition of politically exposed person and the technical criteria for simplified customer due diligence procedures and for exemption on grounds of a financial activity conducted on an occasional or very limited basis. The necessary legislation to implement these two Directives is currently being drafted and is being given the highest priority. I expect to be in a position to publish the legislation in June.

There are three Directives which remain to be implemented. They are not overdue. They are: Directive 2008/51/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons; Directive 2007/23/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 May 2007 on the placing on the market of pyrotechnic articles; Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters.

Prison Building Programme.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

73 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount paid to date on purchasing professional fees, site preparation, landscaping and security in relation to the Thornton Hall development; if he has obtained an up to date valuation of the property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21284/09]

The cost of the acquisition of the site for the prison development at Thornton was €29.9 million. The cost of the site was completely offset by the sale of the prison lands at Shanganagh, County Dublin. An additional 8.7 acres has also been acquired to provide a dedicated access road to the main prison site at a cost of €1.3 million. This was done following representations from the local community which reflected concern in relation to the effect of increased traffic generated by the prison development.

A total of €10.4 million has been expended to 21 May 2009 on professional fees (€6.8 million), site preparation and surveys (€2.7m), landscaping (€0.4 million) and security (€0.5 million). As is the case in all major infrastructural projects, comprehensive geological, engineering and archaeological surveys were conducted at the site.

Valuation of prison lands are undertaken from time to time. However, an up to date valuation of the site has not been sought nor is it required at present as the Government is committed to building a new prison complex on the Thornton site. I intend to bring new proposals to the Government in a matter of weeks on how we can proceed with building a new, regime orientated and cost effective prison complex at Thornton.

Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 66.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

75 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his intentions to tackle the growing threat of gun crime with particular reference to the sourcing, distribution and control of the illegal firearms network; if he will introduce mandatory sentencing for those found carrying such weapons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21542/09]

One of the priorities I have set for An Garda Síochána in 2009 is the targeting of serious crime, in particular organised, gun and drug related crime. The Garda Policing Plan for 2009 contains a series of measures aimed at reducing the impact of crime and criminal behaviour. These goals are backed up by strategic actions which include a commitment to continue and intensify intelligence-led operations against groups and individuals engaged in criminality.

Operations against organised criminal gangs operating in this jurisdiction are undertaken on an ongoing basis. The members of such gangs and their operating methods, criminal interests and financial assets are the subject of such operations, which are primarily undertaken by specialist units of An Garda Síochána, including the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda National Drugs Unit, the Organised Crime Unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau.

In particular, Operation Anvil commenced in the Dublin Metropolitan Region in 2005 to deal with serious crime, including murder and other violent crime, and was extended nationwide in 2006. The primary focus of the operation is the targeting of active criminals and their associates involved in serious crime by preventing and disrupting their criminal activity through extensive additional overt patrolling and static checkpoints by uniform, mobile and foot patrols, supported by armed plain clothes patrols.

Under Operation Anvil, up to 10 May, 2009, over 2,500 firearms have been recovered. There have also been almost 7,800 arrests for serious crimes such as murder, serious assault, robbery and burglary and over 74,500 searches for weapons, drugs and stolen goods. An Garda Síochána will continue to address the issue of illegal guns relentlessly through Operation Anvil.

I am determined that the highest priority will continue to be given to frontline policing. Funding for Operation Anvil will increase in 2009 to €21 million from €20 million in 2008. Other key operations will be maintained through 2009, and I am determined that any savings that have to be made will not be allowed to diminish frontline policing.

An Garda Síochána also maintains close liaison with other law enforcement agencies throughout Europe and elsewhere, exchanging information and intelligence, which has led to a number of successful joint operations. An Garda Síochána currently has a number of liaison officers on secondment to other jurisdictions and to other international bodies such as Interpol and Europol. Through these officers information is passed between law enforcement agencies to ensure that national borders are not, and cannot, be used by criminals as a means of frustrating law enforcement agencies.

The Criminal Justice Act 2006 introduced a wide range of provisions to combat gun crime. The Act introduced mandatory minimum sentences of five or ten years for certain firearms offences, including possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances, possession of a firearm with criminal intent, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of a firearm while hijacking a vehicle, use of a firearm to resist arrest and a new offence of altering a firearm.

Gangland Crime.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

76 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gun murders to have taken place since the beginning of 2009; his views on the spate of such gun murders in the Dublin area and the extent to which this reflects the continued operation of criminal gangs; the steps being taken to deal with such murders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21469/09]

Liz McManus

Question:

96 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of cases of murder in which firearms were used in respect of each year from 1998 to date in 2009; the number of such cases in which prosecutions for murder were initiated; the number of such cases in which convictions were secured; if he is satisfied with the level of detection and conviction in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21482/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 96 together.

The following table contains the number of cases of murder recorded and detected in which firearms were used, the number of prosecutions initiated and the number of convictions secured in each year from 1998 to 2008 and in 2009 up to 21 May. Figures provided are provisional, operational and liable to change.

The detection rate for murders by its nature increases over time as Garda investigations progress. It is expected that in respect of each year the number of convictions obtained will increase as Garda investigations are concluded and the number of proceedings commenced are finalised by the courts, as there are inevitably time lapses between the commencement of a criminal investigation, proceedings being commenced and convictions secured. This applies particularly to murders committed in the most recent years. In addition, directions may be received from the Law Officers to charge persons arrested in connection with such incidents with offences other than murder. Furthermore such persons charged and brought before the courts may be convicted of offences other than murder.

While An Garda Síochána have made significant progress in the investigation of a number of killings, there can be considerable difficulties for them in obtaining evidence in shootings which are the result of gangland activities. It has to be accepted that the reality is that associates of a victim of a gangland killing who would have information of value to An Garda Síochána often do not co-operate with Garda investigations. Indeed, they frequently fail to co-operate even when they themselves are the victims of violence. A number of changes to the law on evidence have been made to address this. It has also to be accepted that there is often no connection or personal association between the victim and the perpetrator, which makes it very difficult for An Garda Síochána in their investigation of such a murder. Witnesses may also be subject to high levels of intimidation not to come forward, and it is to assist such witnesses that the Witness Protection Programme is in place.

Our criminal law has been significantly strengthened in recent years. Many of these changes are targeted at fighting gangland crime. The Criminal Justice Acts of 2006 and 2007, in particular, introduced wide ranging reforms to strengthen the capacity of An Garda Síochána to tackle serious crime. One of the most far reaching has been the introduction of seven day detention for offences connected with organised crime such as murder or kidnapping involving the use of a firearm. The bail laws have been strengthened to allow the prosecution mount a more effective challenge to bail applications. For example, applicants for bail can be required to provide a statement of their means so that the prosecution can highlight any divergence between their lifestyles and their stated means as evidence of their involvement in gangland activity. The circumstances in which inferences may be drawn at trial from a suspect's silence in response to Garda questioning have also been expanded.

I recently published the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Bill, which will facilitate the use as evidence in trials of material gained by secret surveillance, while at the same time ensuring that the encroachment on certain rights relating to personal privacy and privacy of property which this entails is both limited and proportionate.

The Government has approved my proposals for measures, along the lines of those in place to deal with paramilitary groups, to tackle organised crime gangs, in particular their attempts to undermine the criminal justice system through extreme acts of violence and intimidation. The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill will be given priority in drafting. I have published the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009 which will further tighten the legislative provisions relating to guns and knives and similar weapons and which is currently before the House. A de facto handgun ban is already in force.

A further important development is the publication of the Criminal Procedure Bill 2009 which gives effect to the measures contained in the Justice for Victims Initiative. The Bill provides for reform of the law on victim impact statements and proposes to end the ban on retrying people who have been acquitted in specified circumstances. Work is also ongoing in relation to the creation of a DNA database.

One of the priorities I have set for An Garda Síochána in 2009 is the targeting of serious crime, in particular organised, gun and drug related crime. The Garda Policing Plan for 2009 contains a series of measures aimed at reducing the impact of crime and criminal behaviour. These goals are backed up by strategic actions which include a commitment to continue and intensify intelligence-led operations against groups and individuals engaged in criminality.

Operations against organised criminal gangs operating in this jurisdiction are undertaken on an ongoing basis. The members of such gangs and their operating methods, criminal interests and financial assets are the subject of such operations, which are primarily undertaken by specialist units of An Garda Síochána, including the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda National Drugs Unit, the Organised Crime Unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau.

In particular, Operation Anvil commenced in the Dublin Metropolitan Region in 2005 to deal with serious crime, including murder and other violent crime, and was extended nationwide in 2006. The primary focus of the Operation is the targeting of active criminals and their associates involved in serious crime by preventing and disrupting their criminal activity through extensive additional overt patrolling and static checkpoints by uniform, mobile and foot patrols, supported by armed plain clothes patrols.

Under Operation Anvil, up to 10 May, 2009, over 2,500 firearms have been recovered. There have also been almost 7,800 arrests for serious crimes such as murder, serious assault, robbery and burglary and over 74,500 searches for weapons, drugs and stolen goods. An Garda Síochána will continue to address the issue of illegal guns relentlessly through Operation Anvil. I am determined that the highest priority will continue to be given to frontline policing. Funding for Operation Anvil will increase in 2009 to €21 million from €20 million in 2008. Other key operations will be maintained through 2009, and I am determined that any savings that have to be made will not be allowed to diminish frontline policing.

The number of murders recorded in which a firearm was used, detected, proceedings commenced and convictions

Year

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings Commenced

Convictions

2009

11

3

2

0

2008

21

8

7

0

2007

18

7

2

0

2006

26

8

6

2

2005

22

7

3

2

2004

8

7

4

3

2003

19

10

3

1

2002

10

5

4

3

2001

9

5

2

1

2000

12

7

4

1

1999

12

7

7

5

1998

4

3

2

1

Figures provided are valid up to and including 21 May, 2009 and are operational and liable to change.

Gaming Regulations.

Mary Upton

Question:

77 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a firm (details supplied) has introduced fixed odds bingo terminals into certain of its betting shops; if, in view of the fact that these terminals are illegal he will ensure that the law will be applied; if he plans that these terminals should be legalised in preparation for the legalising of fixed odds betting terminals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21505/09]

The position as regards Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in betting offices was outlined by a former Minister for Justice. Equality and Law Reform. On 14 December 2006 the then Tánaiste and Minister for Justice. Equality and Law Reform stated on the Order of Business that the placement of these machines in betting offices would not be lawful under current legislation, and that if placed in a betting office they would be liable to seizure. The law has not changed in the interim.

I have, therefore, passed on the details supplied by the Deputy to the Garda Commissioner and I have asked him to establish if there have been any breaches of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 as amended, or indeed of the Betting Act 1931 which comes under the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Finance.

I have made clear to this House my antipathy to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals on a number of occasions and I can assure the Deputy that I have no plans to change the law in this area as it currently stands. I have, however, initiated a wide-ranging review of gambling from within my own Department. The objective of the review is to provide Government with options for a new and comprehensive legal and organisational framework governing the gambling architecture in the State. The Casino Gaming Control Section of my Department will be responsible for bringing forward proposals, including a draft Bill, for a revised gambling code. The section is consulting widely before bringing forward any proposals and welcomes contributions on this important matter of public policy from all stakeholders — statutory, NGO and the private sector — and with the community at large. I envisage that the review will take approximately two years to complete.

Road Safety.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

78 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the national speed camera programme; the difficulties that have arisen between his Department and the Departments of Transport and Finance on the allocation of funding for this road safety programme; the Department which is funding the national speed camera rollout; the estimated start date for the national rollout and target completion date for a fully operational national programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21252/09]

The emphasis of Garda speed enforcement is on the use of mobile speed cameras, and 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 An Garda Síochána to address the problem of speeding on our roads, particularly in collision prone zones. An Garda Síochána also has over 400 hand held speed detection devices.

The Garda authorities support the action in the Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012 to implement a safety camera network. Consequently, An Garda Síochána is engaging in a procurement process, in accordance with EU Directives, national public procurement procedures and relevant legislation, 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 An 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 a specific timescale for the project.

Departmental Bodies.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

79 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether he gave proper consideration to the implications of his funding cuts to the independence and effectiveness of the Equality Authority and the Human Rights Commission under European standards and directives when he chose to make them. [21504/09]

The context in which financial provisions have been made by the Government for the Equality Authority and the Human Rights Commission is with regard to the current exceptional circumstances in relation to public expenditure and the need for substantial savings. The EU has no competence in relation to national budgetary decisions. The Council of Ministers explicitly recognised that the provision of necessary financial and human resources to specialised equality bodies has to have regard to national budgetary constraints.

Departmental Staff.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

80 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to claims made at the recent Garda Representative Association conference that interpreters recruited by the gardaí have not had their criminal records or basic accreditation checked; if he will confirm that this is the position; the steps he is taking to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21494/09]

A tender competition is currently being held to provide for interpretation services within An Garda Síochána. The completion of a declaration of bona fides, which identifies any criminal history relating to directors and partners of each company, was a mandatory requirement of the tendering process. Furthermore all companies were required to agree that the interpreters calling to An Garda Síochána sites will carry and display company identification cards containing a photograph and will be subject to security clearance.

Community Policing.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

81 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received from the Garda Commissioner the report of the working group developing proposals for a comprehensive model of rural and urban community policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21489/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 98 which was answered on 22 April 2009.

Garda Investigations.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

82 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received the report from the Garda Commissioner on inquiries being carried out by an assistant commissioner into serious matters regarding a person (details supplied). [21475/09]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the inquiries into this matter being carried out by an Assistant Commissioner are ongoing. I await a report from the Garda Commissioner once those inquiries have been completed.

National Drugs Strategy.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

83 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason he has demonstrated a reluctance to take responsibility for tackling drug related intimidation in the context of the National Drugs Strategy; and if he will make a statement detailing the relevant steps and initiatives he will undertake including the way these will be developed and undertaken in partnership with the community and voluntary sector, local and regional drugs task forces and so on. [21502/09]

I understand that the steering committee appointed by the then Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Deputy Pat Carey, to develop proposals and make recommendations for a new National Drugs Strategy covering the period 2009-2016, has yet to report to the current Minister of State with this portfolio, Deputy John Curran.

My Department is playing a full role in relation to the work of the steering committee. It is expected that the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will bring forward the new strategy to Cabinet for a Government decision over the summer months. I would like to assure the Deputy that both my Department and An Garda Síochána view all forms of intimidation as extremely serious crimes. We are fully aware of public concerns in relation to this issue and all of the drug-related aspects of crime. An Garda Síochána continues to prioritise the tackling of serious organised crime in all its facets in its Annual Policing Plans supported by the provision of extensive resources, both financial and legislative.

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 64.

Crime Levels.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

85 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the Central Statistics Office crime figures for the first quarter of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21491/09]

I welcome many of the positive trends revealed by the statistics on recorded crime for the first quarter. Of the 14 crime groups for which statistics are given, ten show reductions. They are evidence of the focused deployment by the Garda Commissioner of the resources available to him. As well as ensuring that the level of frontline resources remains high, I am determined to continue with our programme of comprehensive criminal law reform. The challenges in crime prevention and detection are evolving continually and our response must recognise these challenges and respond accordingly.

I welcome, in particular, the continuing decrease in homicide offences, which dropped by 30.4%, compared to the same quarter last year. There were no cases of manslaughter, and there was a decrease of 77.8% in cases of dangerous driving leading to death. The number of murders increased by one, from 13 to 14.

While there was a minimal increase in the number of murders in the quarter, I am aware that the majority of these were carried out with firearms, which is a characteristic of gang-related murders. I am concerned at the level of serious crime for which organised crime is responsible, and I am continuing to work on strong legislative responses. I recently published the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Bill, which is currently going through the House. It will make a significant contribution to fighting gangland crime, by facilitating the use as evidence in trials of material gained by secret surveillance, while at the same time ensuring that the encroachment on certain rights relating to personal privacy and privacy of property which this entails is both limited and proportionate. It will apply, not only to the Garda Síochána, but also to the Defence Forces and the Revenue Commissioners.

Furthermore, the Government has approved my proposals for further measures, along the lines of those in place to deal with paramilitary groups, to tackle organised crime gangs, in particular their attempts to undermine the criminal justice system through extreme acts of violence and intimidation. The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill will be given priority in drafting. While I would like to see the Bill published this Dáil session, I acknowledge that there are complex legal and drafting issues to be addressed. I have published the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009 which will tighten the legislative provisions relating to guns and knives and similar weapons and which is currently before the House. A de facto handgun ban is already in force.

A further important development is the publication of the Criminal Procedure Bill 2009 which gives effect to the measures contained in the Justice for Victims Initiative. The Bill provides for reform of the law on victim impact statements and proposes to end, in specified circumstances, the ban on retrying people who have been acquitted. This will address situations where new evidence emerges about a person's involvement in an offence, or where the original trial was tainted by perjury or intimidation, or where the trial judge gave a mistaken ruling on a point of law which led to an acquittal. Work is also ongoing in relation to the creation of a DNA database. I also welcome the reduction of 28.9% in sexual offences in the first quarter. I also note the appearance of human trafficking offences in the statistics, following the enactment of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act last year.

There were small increases in the numbers of cases of discharging a firearm and possession of a firearm in the quarter, of 4.3% and 4.2% respectively. Detections of possession are predominantly the result of Garda enforcement, and the increase in the number of cases of discharging reflects the activities of criminal gangs which I am taking steps to combat. There was an increase of 33.3% in the number of fireworks offences, which follows modernisation of the law in this area and increased Garda enforcement, including during the new year period.

While there was a decrease of 15.2% in the number of cases of possession of drugs for sale or supply, the increases in the numbers of cases of possession for personal use (10.1%) and of cultivation or manufacture of drugs (79.3%) are related to increased enforcement activity. There was an increase of 26.2% in the number of cases of driving, or being in charge of, a vehicle while under the influence of drugs. This results from increasing Garda attention to this type of behaviour which is not only illegal but extremely dangerous to road users.

Monageer Inquiry Report.

Joe Costello

Question:

86 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the new instructions which have been issued to members of the Garda arising from the recommendations of the Monageer Inquiry relating to the Garda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21474/09]

I would like to express my sympathy to the O'Brien and Dunne families on their loss in such tragic circumstances. I can inform the Deputy that the Garda Commissioner has received the Monageer Inquiry Report and has considered its findings. He has accepted the report's findings and is committed to ensuring that the safety and protection of children remain a key priority for An Garda Síochána.

The findings of the report will be utilised to refine the practices and procedures of An Garda Síochána to complement the Children First guidelines, which provide the essential framework for the work of An Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive in dealing with the sensitive area of child safety.

Data Protection.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

87 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the new procedures planned by the Garda to ensure that officers do not access people’s criminal records for anything other than investigative purposes, particularly in view of the concerns expressed by the Garda Ombudsman Commission in relation to the release of inaccurate information regarding a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21495/09]

I refer the Deputy to my comprehensive answer to Parliamentary Question No. 100 on 22 April 2009 which dealt with this topic.

I understand from the Garda Authorities that the audit system is to be expanded to cover an additional 11 PULSE inquiry categories as part of a new system release in June and that they continually examine system auditing to ensure that it meets all data protection requirements.

Garda Investigations.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

88 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the stage of the Garda investigation into the attempted armed robbery of a security van in Foxborough, Lucan, County Dublin on 15 May 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21480/09]

The incident to which the Deputy refers is the subject of an ongoing and active investigation by An Garda Síochána. There is also, as required by law in such circumstances, an investigation under way by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. As these investigations are ongoing at present it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the details at this stage.

What I will say is that, while the loss of any life is of course a matter of regret, I have no doubt that An Garda Síochána have the full support of the community and of this House in taking whatever action was necessary when confronted by an armed gang. This incident provides a further reminder of the dangers faced by members of An Garda Síochána in carrying out their duties and their courage in confronting those dangers.

Crime Prevention.

David Stanton

Question:

89 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 410 of 22 April 2009, when he expects Cosc to complete the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence; the State and non-governmental organisation partners who are assisting in the development of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21644/09]

Work on the preparation of the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence is well advanced and is expected to be completed as planned by the end of this year.

A wide range of State and non-governmental organisations dealing with domestic and sexual violence are assisting with the drafting of the strategy. They responded to the call for submissions on the strategy and participated in subsequent regional consultations. A further round of consultations with such organisations will begin as planned in the coming weeks. The organisations which responded to the call for submissions are listed in the appendix to the report on the Summary of Submissions to Cosc, a link to which is in the National Strategy section of Cosc's website (www.cosc.ie). Progress on the preparation of the Strategy is also outlined on the website.

Public Private Partnerships.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

90 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will reject the use of public private partnerships for the delivery of justice projects in view of the growing body of evidence of their unsuitability as a mechanism for the delivery of social infrastructure. [21499/09]

I do not accept the Deputy's contention about the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mechanism as a means of delivering infrastructure. He may not be aware for example that the greatest investment in courts buildings and services since the construction of the Four Courts over 300 years ago is due to be completed in the next six months. I am referring of course to the new Criminal Courts Complex in Dublin which is a PPP project and which is a landmark piece of national infrastructure constructed for use by the State and its citizens for many generations to come.

Prison Building Programme.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

91 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a commitment that there will be no further delay in delivering the upgrade that is needed in relation to the inhumane and overcrowded aspects of the existing prison stock here in view of the collapse of his plans for a super-prison at Thornton Hall; and the legislative and policy steps he will take to remove non-violent offenders from the prison system in a more cost-effective effort to address over crowding. [21500/09]

As I set out already to this House it is my intention to bring comprehensive new proposals for a prison development at Thornton Hall in North County Dublin to the Government in a matter of weeks setting out how we can proceed with building a new prison on the site in a cost effective manner. There are a number of procedural steps set out in the Department of Finance guidelines for procuring capital projects as well EU Directives relating to public tender competitions which must be followed. However, I can say that everything possible is being done to expedite matters so that the much needed prison accommodation will be provided at the earliest possible opportunity.

This Government has a real and substantial record on investment in prison accommodation. The Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure. This has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. Since 1997 in excess of 1,300 prison spaces have come on stream in the prison system. These include the new prisons in Castlerea, the Midlands, Cloverhill, the Dóchas Centre and new accommodation in Limerick Prison.

Notwithstanding this significant investment, I do accept that, in some of our prisons, we are operating in excess of our bed capacity at this time. That is why in the short to medium term we are seeking to address the problem by the provision of 400 prison spaces by means of:

a new remand block in Castlerea Prison which will accommodate approximately 100 prisoners due to open in the coming weeks;

a new block in Portlaoise Prison which will accommodate approximately 150 prisoners also due to open in the coming weeks;

a new block in Wheatfield Prison which will accommodate 150 prisoners due to be completed in the Summer of 2009.

Most recently over 30 extra spaces have been made available at the open centre at Shelton Abbey and a further 40 spaces have been made available at the open centre at Loughan House.

In addition, the prison service is currently developing proposals aimed at eliminating and replacing the remaining outdated prison facilities at Portlaoise, Limerick and Cork Prisons with modern fully equipped accommodation. Insofar as Mountjoy Prison is concerned, it is intended as already stated, to proceed with a prison development at Thornton Hall which will replace the Victorian conditions which currently exist in the Mountjoy complex.

In relation to alternatives to imprisonment the Fines Bill 2009 provides that where a fine is imposed on a person, that person may apply to the court to pay the fine by instalments. If the court is satisfied that to pay in full by the due date would result in undue financial hardship for the person who was fined, or to his or her dependants, the court can direct that the fine be paid by instalments over a period of one year or two years where the court so directs. The number of persons imprisoned for non-payment of fines and civil debts constitute an extremely small part of the prisoner population and on average amount to less than 1% in each category of the prisoner population.

The Criminal Justice (Community Service) Act 1983, provides that a court may make a community service order as an alternative to a sentence of imprisonment or detention in respect of any individual over the age of 16 years who has been convicted of a criminal offence and who consents to the order being made. The community service order requires an offender to perform unpaid work for between 40 and 240 hours, usually to be completed within 12 months. The aim of a community service order is to rehabilitate the offender and make meaningful reparation to the community for his or her crime. The Probation Service of my Department has responsibility for the supervision and management of community service orders.

The Programme for Government provides for a Community Pay Back Scheme which will build on the community service scheme, currently the subject of a Value for Money and Policy Review by an independent evaluator. The review which is nearing completion, will influence how best to progress this aspect of the Programme for Government currently under examination by my Department.

As the Deputy will be aware the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 Act allows the court to suspend any portion of a sentence or the full sentence, on condition that the offender complies with Probation supervision and any other specific conditions which are intended to reduce the likelihood of re-offending. The courts frequently seek pre-sentence assessment reports from the Probation Service to inform them on the appropriateness of such supervision orders and the conditions that might most usefully be attached to supervision.

The National Commission on Restorative Justice chaired by Judge Mary Martin is finalising its report to me on RJ. I will give careful consideration to its conclusions and recommendations. Already my Department through the Probation Service provides funding to two RJ Pilot Projects in Tallaght and Nenagh.

I should also add that a project board has been set up to look at the feasibility of introducing Electronic Monitoring (EM) in this jurisdiction. I expect to have their proposal in the latter half of the year. Overall I am satisfied that this range of initiatives and plans will assist in the twin aim of managing the offender population and dealing with public safety concerns.

Garda Operations.

Joe Costello

Question:

92 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when arrangements will be made to instruct members of An Garda Síochána that it is not necessary to take a longhand note of interviews with persons in custody when such interviews are being electronically recorded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21473/09]

My Department and the Garda Síochána, in consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of the Attorney General, are developing proposals for a new system which would allow for the taking of contemporaneous written notes to cease where interviews are electronically recorded. There is a complex range of training, technological, financial and legal issues to be addressed before the changeover to a new system can take place.

The Garda Síochána are at an advanced stage in developing proposals for the operational aspects of a new system. Because of the complexities involved, it is likely that any new system will initially be introduced on a pilot basis to allow for all the operational and legal aspects to be fully tested and evaluated.

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders.

Joe Carey

Question:

93 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review legislation with regard to the operation of anti-social behaviour orders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21516/09]

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.

Garda Investigations.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

94 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the stage of the Garda investigation into the robbery of €7.6 million from a bank (details supplied) in a so-called tiger robbery; the amount of the money recovered to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21479/09]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

103 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the discussions he has had with the financial institutions to prevent so-called tiger robberies; if new security measures have been agreed to ensure the safety of staff and the security of money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21481/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 and 103 together.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that two persons have been charged in connection with the incident to which the Deputy refers and that a file has been submitted to the Law Officers in relation to these persons. A sum of money relating to these charges was also recovered. In the circumstances it would not be appropriate for me to go into any further details about the matter at this stage.

As I stated in the immediate aftermath of this robbery, I spoke to the Chief Executive of the institution in question and expressed my concern that such a large sum of money could be removed from the bank in this manner. Ongoing meetings have taken place between An Garda Síochána and representatives from the financial institutions to discuss issues relating to their security arrangements, including the issue of so-called ‘tiger' kidnappings. The Garda and the financial institutions have put in place agreed response procedures which are detailed and all-encompassing. These deal with situations where members of staff or their families are taken hostage in order to facilitate robberies of such institutions. It would not be appropriate, for obvious security reasons, to disclose information relating to such procedures.

I know that the members of this House will agree with me that it is vitally important that financial institutions follow the robust procedures and protocols that are in place to prevent robberies. These are there, first and foremost, to protect employees. It is important to recognise that it is only by rendering so-called ‘tiger' kidnapping attempts unsuccessful that we will stop them happening, and thereby protect innocent employees from being caught up in them in the future.

National Women’s Strategy.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

95 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason he is axing the principal planks of the National Women’s Strategy just two years into its life. [21501/09]

Considerable progress has already been made in implementing the ten year National Women's Strategy which was launched in 2007.

The National Women's Strategy is a comprehensive, ten year, "all of Government" strategy which aims to equalise socio-economic opportunity for women, to ensure the wellbeing of women and to engage women as equal and active citizens. It contains 20 objectives and over 200 actions.

I chair the Strategy's Monitoring Committee bringing together representatives of Government Departments and agencies, and the Social Partners including the National Women's Council of Ireland to discuss its implementation. At its May 2009 meeting, the committee discussed a draft report on progress in 2007 and 2008. Once the report is finalised, it is expected that it will be made available to Deputies in the Dáil Library.

Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 76.

Citizenship Applications.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

97 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason he issued an instruction of 1 July 2008 not to issue approval letters for citizenship applications pending the introduction later that month of increased fees; if he will confirm that this led to a significant drop in the number of applications processed that month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21492/09]

Certificates of naturalisation are issued on payment of the prescribed fee at the time of certification as set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. Certification fees for Citizenship were last changed in 1993. The regulations that came into force on 1st August 2008 were the result of a review of citizenship fees that began some time prior to that date and merely bring the amounts in line with inflation for the period 1993-2008. While the fees are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing the different categories of applicant, the current certification fees do not recoup the full cost of processing in any category.

As this is a certification fee, it is the date of issue of the certificate rather than the date of application that must be taken into account. Certificates of naturalisation can only be issued on payment of the prescribed fee at the time of certification. In practice, a necessary period of time elapses between when an applicant is informed of my decision and when the certificate is issued, because the applicant must make their declaration of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State in open court and also submit any supporting documentation. This period can range from a minimum of a couple of weeks to many months.

In the knowledge that almost 100% of applicants issued with letters of approval in July 2008 would not be issued certificates until after 1 August, 2008, it was decided not to issue any letters of approval for the weeks leading up to 1 August. This did not result in processing delays as resources were fully utilised on related work.

In order to prevent a scenario where we would require the applicants to submit the difference between the old fee quoted on their letter and the new fee due for all certificates issued after 1 August, 2008, it was decided that any applicant who was issued their letter of approval before that date yet were liable to the new fees, would nonetheless be charged the old fee.

I am happy that this was the efficient and appropriate action to take. No applications were unfairly delayed and application processing and submissions preparation continued as normal during this period. In fact many people who received their letters in August and September 2008 did so many months earlier than they could have expected as August 2008 saw the first files processed by the expanded decentralised resources in Tipperary reaching decision stage.

The Deputy will be aware that the increased resources that I have allocated to this area have resulted in a considerable improvement in processing times over the past year even though the number of applications for a certificate of naturalisation has continued to see significant growth. However, 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.

Gangland Crime.

Willie Penrose

Question:

98 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of occasions in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 in which grenades, bombs or improvised explosive devices have been used; the number of occasions in each year when the gardaí called on the assistance of the Army Ordnance Unit to deal with such devices; the number of prosecutions initiated as a result of the discovery of such devices; his views on the increased use of such devices by criminal elements; the steps being taken to curb the use of such devices, particularly having regard to the danger they pose the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21487/09]

I have requested the statistical information which the Deputy has sought from the Garda authorities who are currently compiling the data. I will communicate it to the Deputy when it is to hand.

Juvenile Offenders.

David Stanton

Question:

99 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 139 of 22 April 2009, if his officials have completed the examination of the report on the analysis of garda youth diversion projects; when he will publish same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21643/09]

The report on the Report on the Baseline Analysis of the Garda Youth Diversion Projects, which was undertaken by the Irish Youth Justice Service, was forwarded to me for my consideration. Having had an opportunity to assess the report and its findings, I have now given the go-ahead for its publication, which will now take place shortly.

Garda Strength.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

100 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the strength of An Garda Síochána at the latest date for which figures are available broken down by full members, those who have attested but not concluded their training and those in training; the expected number that will be recruited during 2009, the anticipated numbers at each above category at the end of 2009, the number of members of the force who are expected to retire during and the number who will be recruited in the first half of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21486/09]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of attested members of An Garda Síochána, as at the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 14,478. The number of recruits in training at Phases 1 to 3 at that date was 774. The number of probationer Gardaí who have been attested but have not yet graduated (i.e. not yet completed Phases 4 and 5) at that date was 831 and it is anticipated the majority of these probationers will complete their training in 2009. The Deputy should be aware that this figure of 831 is also included in the overall strength of the Force.

It is expected that of the 774 trainee Gardaí approximately 275 Gardai will become attested in June with the remainder (500) due to be attested over the next 12 months.

I am further informed by the Garda Commissioner that 178 members of the Garda Síochána have voluntarily retired in the first four months of this year. Clearly the rate of early retirements is increasing compared to previous years, but equally it is not possible to predict with certainty the number of retirements for the full year.

A total of 200 students were inducted into the Garda College in 2009, 100 in February and 100 in May, after which the moratorium on Public Service recruitment applies.

Gangland Crime.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

101 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the claims made at the recent conference of an association (details supplied) that gangland criminals are continuing to deal drugs from their cells via mobile phones; if he will confirm that same is occurring; the steps being taken to stamp it out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21471/09]

There are a number of major criminals who will attempt to use whatever means possible to continue criminal activity while in prison custody.

This Government took a decision in 2007 to approve the significant resources necessary to introduce a wide ranging package of security measures which target the routes whereby contraband such as drugs, weapons and mobile phones are trafficked into our prisons. As a result, a number of new security initiatives have been introduced in all closed prisons including:

The introduction of enhanced security screening for all persons (visitors and staff) entering our prisons.

The establishment of a drug detection dog service within the Irish Prison Service involving approximately 31 handling teams.

The establishment of Operational Support Units dedicated to, and developing expertise in, searching and gathering intelligence in our prisons.

In addition, a high security unit was opened in Cloverhill Prison in May 2007 which enables the segregation of serious drug and criminal gang members from other prisoners, thus preventing them from conducting their business while in custody and exerting inappropriate influence over other persons.

There has also been an intensification of efforts to eliminate the availability of contraband within prisons including:

Tighter control and monitoring of prisoner visits in all closed prisons.

New visiting arrangements in most closed prisons, with visitors required to book visits in advance, be pre-approved by the Governor and provide identification on each visit.

Greater use of screened visits.

Greater vigilance in examining mail by prison censors and searching of other items entering the prison.

Increased random searching of cells and their occupants.

Stricter searching of all persons committed to custody and prisoners returning from court, temporary release, after visits or on receipt of intelligence.

Use of modern cameras and probe systems which assist in searching previously difficult areas such as hollow chair or bed legs, under floor boards and other cavities.

The use of a number of Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS) chairs.

Installation of nets over exercise yards to prevent access to contraband items, including mobile phones and drugs.

Use of phone detectors and phased installation of mobile phone inhibition technology.

Section 36 of the Prisons Act 2007, which was brought into operation on 1 May, 2007, makes it an offence for prisoners to have unauthorised possession of or use of mobile telecommunication devices. Under the Act it is also an offence to supply such a device to a prisoner. The penalties for such an offence, on summary conviction, include a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, and on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both. It is Irish Prison Service policy to report seizures of mobile phones to the Gardaí.

The new security screening at prison entrances and the measures introduced have had considerable success in preventing the flow of and assisting in the capture of contraband such as mobile phones. The Irish Prison Service, with my full support, are determined to take all practical measures possible to thwart criminals engaged in illegal activity. To that end the current stringent security measures will continue to operate within our prisons and as and where deemed necessary enhancements and improvements will continue to take place in the future.

Garda Stations.

Mary Upton

Question:

102 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans for the provision of adequate garda accommodation at Tallaght, Dublin 24; if the provision of the a new garda divisional headquarters has been postponed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21476/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 131 of Wednesday 22 April, 2009 which outlines both the immediate and longer term plans for the station. The position remains unchanged.

Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 94.

EU Directives.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

104 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the failure to implement the 2005 EU directive on money laundering by the deadline of December 2007; when the required legislation will be published; if he will confirm that there are enforcement proceedings imminent against Ireland for its failure to implement the directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21484/09]

Legislation to give effect to the 3rd EU Money Laundering Directive and the related Implementing Directive is at an advanced stage of drafting. The legislation will also have regard to relevant recommendations arising from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) third mutual evaluation report (2006) on Ireland's measures to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. I am also taking the opportunity via this legislation to repeal and consolidate existing anti-money laundering provisions, which will be of benefit to all sectors and groups involved in the implementation and application of these measures.

As the Deputy is aware the transposition date for both Directives was December, 2007 and proceedings were subsequently brought against Ireland in relation to the transposition of these instruments. On 19 May 2009 the European Court of Justice delivered its judgment in relation to the 3rd EU Money Laundering Directive to the effect that Ireland has failed to fulfil its obligations under that directive. Proceedings in relation to the associated Implementing Directive are also in progress. I can assure the Deputy that the Government is treating this situation as a matter of considerable importance and urgency. Finalising the anti-money laundering legislation is receiving the highest priority. As I have previously stated, it is my intention is to publish the legislation during the current term with a view to its consideration by the Oireachtas as soon as possible after that.

Garda Stations.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

105 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he or the gardaí are considering the closure of garda stations; if his attention has been drawn to the concerns expressed by an organisation (details supplied) of the consequences for crime in rural areas of the closure of smaller rural stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21496/09]

As stated previously, I am unaware of any proposal to shut rural Garda stations. I am aware of the issue raised by the organisation referred to by the Deputy and I have recently written to them in relation to the matter. I have set out the position in relation to rural Garda stations in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 262 of the 23rd of April 2009.

Drugs Seizures.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

106 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the quantity and values of seizures of heroin, cocaine, cannabis, and other drugs here during 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the proportion of the overall flow of drugs into Ireland which is believed to be represented by these seizures; the new initiatives he is planning to control the flow of illegal drugs into Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21477/09]

I set out below a tabular statement giving the latest available information in relation to drug seizures for 2007, 2008 and this year to date.

This statement shows seizures of a total value of over €168m being made in 2007 and just under €200m in 2008. Because of the covert nature of the activity, it is simply not possible to give a reliable estimate of the proportion of drugs coming into the country that these figures represent.

While it is true that some international studies attempt to estimate the proportion of overall drugs seized to production, this is not a reliable guide to the situation in any particular country. In particular, such figures cannot reflect increased enforcement levels in a country.

Through ongoing specific initiatives and intelligence-led operations, An Garda Síochána continues to seize substantial quantities of illegal drugs and identify those involved in the importation, distribution, sale and supply of illegal drugs.

In addition to the officers of the Force specifically assigned to the drugs issue who are attached to the Garda National Drugs Unit and the Divisional Drug Units, officers from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Organised Crime Unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau all assist in our overall law enforcement response to drug trafficking and drug dealing.

In addition, the Gardaí work closely with Customs and the Naval Service under the umbrella of the Joint Task Force on Drugs as well as with their international colleagues in tackling the problem.

Among recent and ongoing initiatives are the establishment of the Organised Crime Unit on a permanent footing, Irish involvement in the establishment and operation of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre in Lisbon, strengthened provisions in the Criminal Justice Acts 2006 and 2007 and the ringfencing of €21million this year for Operation Anvil.

I am confident that the legislation that I introduced dealing with surveillance and the further measures being put in place to tackle organised crime through the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill will be of particular value in tackling drugs gangs.

I am sure all members of the House will accept fully that we cannot tackle the problem of drug misuse through law enforcement measures alone. We need to tackle the demand for drugs and, in this context, I can assure the House that my Department, and all the agencies under its aegis, are cooperating fully in the development of the new National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009 to 2016 which is being finalised under the aegis of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Appendix I

Drug seizure data

The following table provides details of the quantities and estimated street value of the most significant drugs analysed by the Forensic Science Laboratory for 2007, 2008 and the provisional figures for 2009 (up to 1st April 2009)

2009*

Drug Type

Quantity

Estimated Street Value

Cannabis**

85,348.593 grams

1,024,183

Cannabis Resin

339,745.786 grams

2,378,221

Heroin

27,708.85 grams

5,541,770

Cocaine

12.322 kgs

862,540

Ecstasy

12,118 tablets & 139.762 grams

128,168

Amphetamine

10,210.565 grams

153,158

Total Value

10,088,040

**Cannabis now valued at €12 per gram.

2008*

Drug Type

Quantity

Estimated Street Value

Cannabis

947,849.73 grams

1,895,699

Cannabis Resin

5,276,728.611 grams

36,937,100

Heroin

209,605.430 grams

41,921,086

Cocaine

1,681.693 kgs

117,718,510

Ecstasy

100,635 tablets & 1.144 kgs

1,063,550

Amphetamine

8,217.052 grams & 946 tablets

137,446

Total Value

199,673,391

2007*

Drug Type

Quantity

Estimated Street Value

Cannabis

774.029 kgs

1,548,058

Cannabis Resin

1,279.149 kgs

8,954,043

Heroin

148.369 kgs

29,673,800

Cocaine

1,763.725 kgs

123,460,750

Ecstasy

279,017 tablets, 13.381 kgs

3,459,220

Amphetamine

58.223 kgs, 10,471 tablets

1,030,410

Total Value

168,126,281

*statistics provided are operational, provisional and may change.

Ministerial Staff.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

107 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the need for the deployment of the maximum possible number of trained gardaí in the battle against criminal gangs, he will undertake a review of the use of trained detectives as drivers for Ministers and other designated persons, and the possible filling of at least some of these posts by civilian drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21490/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question 15587/09 which he put down for answer on 22 April 2009.

Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 53.

Juvenile Offenders.

Joe Carey

Question:

109 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the development of the new national child detention facility planned for Lusk, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21515/09]

In March 2008, the Government approved the development of new national children detention facilities on the Oberstown campus near Lusk, Co. Dublin.

The project is currently at the design stage and it is expected that the tendering process for construction should take place in 2010. Construction is expected to be undertaken in phases with the first phase scheduled to be completed by 2012.

The Deputy will be aware, however, that tendering for the construction of the new facilities will be subject to Government approval and to the necessary funding being made available.

Work Permits.

Dan Neville

Question:

110 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will grant an application for an employment permit on behalf of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [21699/09]

The Employment Permits Section informs me that a new Green Card Permit has now been approved in this case.

Community Employment Schemes.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

111 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason the spousal swap arrangement for community employment is not permitted in the circumstances when the spouse of an unemployed person has been a qualified adult on their spouse’s social welfare payment and is not in receipt of a payment in their own right; the rationale for requiring a qualified adult who wants to take up a community employment scheme to wait for a further year on a payment in their own right before allowing them qualify for such a scheme; if she is satisfied that the eligibility rules are consistent with the promotion of working opportunities for those who want them and that the eligibility rules are adequately integrated with social welfare rules; and her plans to introduce new rules to the scheme in order that people are facilitated to move from welfare to work. [21738/09]

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

The current eligibility criteria set by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for entry onto the Community Employment programme allows for the combination of periods on different social welfare payments provided they add up to at least 12 consecutive months and the person is currently in receipt of the payment at the time of application. In April 2000 the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment introduced capped limits on the amount of time that a person could participate on CE (3 years total time on CE from 3rd April, 2000 — participation on CE before this date is disregarded). CE capping was introduced to facilitate the movement of participants through the programme, allowing new participants who may not otherwise have such an opportunity, avail of the programme.

To cater for older workers in particular, in November 2004 the standard 3 year CE cap was revised to allow those of 55 years of age and over to avail of a 6-year period on CE (based on participation since 3rd April 2000). Subsequently, the participation limit for persons eligible for CE based on a Social Welfare disability linked payment (including those under 55) was increased by 1 year. These measures were introduced in recognition of the fact that older participants and participants with a disability may find it more difficult to progress into the open labour market.

If a person qualifies under the criteria but does not wish to take up the option themselves, there are certain conditions under which a spousal swap can take place. Eligibility via the Spousal Swap option allows a CE eligible claimant to transfer his or her CE eligibility with his/her spouse, subject to the same participation limits as detailed above. If the main claimant is aged under 55 years, that person would be eligible to a maximum of three years participation on CE. If, having availed of one or two years on CE the main claimant subsequently decides to do a spousal swap, then the qualified adult can only avail of the remainder of the three years, e.g. if the main claimant has one year on CE and swaps eligibility with their spouse, then the spouse can spend two years maximum time on CE. However, a spousal swap is not available if the main claimant has exhausted three years on CE.

If the spouse wishes to become eligible for CE in his/her own right, then they would have to meet the standard eligibility criteria. The qualifying criteria and rules for participation are intended to facilitate the movement of participants through CE, allowing new participants who may not otherwise have such an opportunity, to avail of the programme. The Department is satisfied that the eligibility rules are consistent with the promotion of working opportunities for those who want them and that the eligibility rules are adequately integrated with social welfare rules.

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

Willie Penrose

Question:

112 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason FÁS has taken steps to reduce the budget allowed for community employment scheme participants to a €200 per person reduction in respect of the training budget and €5 per participant per week in respect of material allowance which will make it difficult for community groups to survive and give meaningful direction in participation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21753/09]

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

In the Supplementary Budget in April I provided an additional 16,525 activation places to be provided by FÁS, including an additional 400 CE places.

As part of making available the funding for the additional activation places FÁS is in the process of adjusting the CE materials and training budgets available for CE projects.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Denis Naughten

Question:

113 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will ensure that Skillnets Limited will issue a letter of confirmation to Skillnets networks on the final drawdown in 2010 to allow them raise bank overdrafts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21795/09]

The matter raised by the Deputy is an organisational one for Skillnets Limited. I have no function in this matter.

Tax Code.

Frank Feighan

Question:

114 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cavan with a qualifying green certificate is being denied stamp duty exemption; if he will investigate and rectify the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21760/09]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the original deed was presented on the 18th April 2008 and the transferee applied for young trained farmer relief. The relief was not granted, as all the transferees in the transaction were not qualified in accordance with the requirements of Sect 81AA Stamp Duty Consolidation Act 1999. The evidence provided by the solicitor did not meet the requirements for relief to be granted under Section 81AA, SDCA, 1999. In a letter dated 12th November 2008 the solicitor accepted that a refund did not apply in this case.

Flood Relief.

Michael Ring

Question:

115 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if funding which was promised by the Office of Public Works to a local authority (details supplied) was allocated to investigate a flooding problem; the outcome of this study; and the works which will be carried out to alleviate this problem. [21656/09]

Mayo County Council was informed in November 2008 that the Office of Public Works would provide them with funding towards the cost of a study to determine the causes of flooding in the area referred to with a view to identifying alleviation measures. The OPW has not been advised by Mayo County Council whether that study has been completed or if they have identified works that will address the flooding problem.

Tax Code.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

116 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer in each of the past five years for which figures are available of the seed capital scheme; and the number of recipients and the amounts provided to the five biggest beneficiaries in each of those years. [21715/09]

For the purposes of this reply it is assumed that "recipients" means the investors availing of the tax relief and that "beneficiaries" means the companies benefiting from the investments. On this basis, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information is contained in the following tables:

Investors availing of Tax Relief

Year

Cost of the Relief

Number of Recipients

€m

2004

2.6

106

2005

1.3

56

2006

1.2

58

2007

2.3

76

2008

1.7

63

Companies benefiting from investment

Year

Total Amount Raised

Number of Beneficiary Companies

Amount invested in the 5 biggest benefiting companies

€m

€m*

2004

7.7

74

1.3

2005

3.4

42

0.9

2006

3.1

42

0.8

2007

6.1

63

0.9

2008

4.5

56

1.3

*Figures given for the "Amount invested in the 5 biggest benefiting companies" understate the total number of companies in each year that benefited by raising investments at or near the maximum level allowable. In 2004, 11 companies benefited by €2.4m; in 2006, 6 companies benefited by €1.0m and in 2007, 9 companies benefited by €1.6m. In years 2005 and 2008, 5 companies benefited in both years, by the amounts indicated in the table.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

117 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer in each of the past five years for which figures are available of the business expansion scheme; and the number of recipients and the amounts provided to the five biggest beneficiaries in each of those years. [21716/09]

For the purposes of this reply it is assumed that "recipients" means the investors availing of the tax relief and that "beneficiaries" means the companies benefiting from the investments.

On this basis I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information is contained in the following tables:

Investors availing of tax relief

Year

Cost of tax relief

Number of recipients

€m

2004

21.1

1,950

2005

16.0

1,407

2006

21.4

1,587

2007

17.5

1,538

2008

55.7

2,462

Companies benefiting from investments

Year

Total amount raised

Number of benefiting companies

Amount invested in the 5 biggest benefiting companies*

€m

€m

2004

50.1

218

5.3**

2005

38.2

185

4.6

2006

50.9

178

5.3

2007

42.0

166

5.3

2008

135.8

290

8.0

*Figures given for the "Amount invested in the 5 biggest benefiting companies" understate the total number of companies in each year that benefited by raising investments at or near the maximum level allowable in each respective year. In 2004, 5 companies benefited by €5.3m; In 2005, 6 companies benefited by €5.3m; In 2006, 7 companies benefited by €7.3m; In 2007, 5 companies benefited by €5.3m and, in 2008, 14 companies benefited by €21.5m.

**A higher company limit applied, until end-2006, in respect of the qualifying trade of the "Construction and Leasing of an Advance Factory Building".

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

118 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that guardian payments made to couples looking after children who are not their own are not liable for tax irrespective of total family income and specifically in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21725/09]

The position is that these payments are not chargeable as income of the guardian who is in receipt of the allowance.

Guardian's Payment (Contributory) and Guardian's Payment (Non-contributory) are regarded as the income of the children. However, if these payments are their sole source of income the children would not have a tax liability.

Procurement Procedures.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

119 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if he will expand on Parliamentary Question No. 155 of 19 May 2009, and provide details on each formal complaint received by the Office of Public Works on tender processes; the date each complaint was first received; the product or service that each complaint referred to; the steps the OPW is taking to resolve each complaint; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21835/09]

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has thousands of contracts throughout the country in any one year. A trawl of OPW offices throughout the country found three formal complaints were received since 2007 on tender processes organised by the OPW.

In February 2009, a complaint was received on a tender for the supply of envelopes to Government Departments and Offices. A challenge was made by a competitor to the award of the contract, and, following investigation, the challenge was upheld and a new tender competition is to be organised. The Office of Public Works took legal advice on the matter from the Chief State Solicitor's Office and Attorney General's Office, informed the complainant of the outcome, and are in negotiations with the complainant to agree a way forward.

Two other complaints were received in 2008. One, received in July 2008, relates to the manner in which a contract was awarded for a security system. The contract that initiated the complaint had been well completed by that time, and there was therefore no redress for the complaint in that particular regard. There were various correspondences on the matter, and there was also a FOI request, which was dealt with under the legislation.

The third complaint was received in November 2008. The subject was a tender for security systems, and, in particular, the period of time allowed for tender. The contract was not placed, due to the cost of the tenders received, and the scheme was revised and re-tendered subsequently.

Tax Code.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

120 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance if a VAT registered company is eligible for a VAT refund on services or goods purchased, which are entirely covered by their insurer, and for which they will be reimbursed; the party which is liable to pay VAT on services provided when the cost incurred by a VAT registered company is covered by their insurer, the VAT registered purchaser of the service, the provider of the service, or the insurer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21845/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that an insurance company normally covers a customer only for the actual loss incurred when damage is caused to the customer's property. Where the insured customer is a VAT-registered business it is usually entitled to an input credit for any value-added tax charged on the repairs to, or the replacement of, an asset used in the business. Therefore, the actual cost of the damage to the business is the net VAT-exclusive amount and this is the amount normally reimbursed by an insurance company.

Where a VAT-registered person is indemnified under a policy of insurance in respect of the cost of the services of a barrister or solicitor, section 5(4B) of the Value-Added Tax Act 1972, as amended, deems the services to be supplied to that person and, accordingly, the person may claim an input credit in respect of the VAT on those costs subject to the usual rules.

Pension Provisions.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

121 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is subject to the pension levy despite the fact that they will derive no benefit from a pension. [21741/09]

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009 provides for a deduction to be made from remuneration of public servants. This employment is in a public sector body and the employee is a public servant for the purposes of the legislation. Where an individual's contract of service is terminated without the employee having two years pensionable service, the deduction will be refunded in the same manner as superannuation contributions where minimum preserved benefits are not accrued — section 6 of the Act refers.

Health Services.

Mary Upton

Question:

122 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the waiting time for speech therapy assessments in respect of children in the Dublin 12 area as in the case of a person (details supplied); the plans proposed to improve this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21965/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

124 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 who has been on the waiting list for speech and language therapy assessment since 7 April 2007 and who at the current pace of the waiting list will not receive the assessment they need until April 2010; and if she will take steps to expedite the delivery of the assessment to this child. [21667/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 124 together.

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

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

123 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that despite the allocation of five sessions from another post in November 2008 and a new therapist commencing duties in February 2009 the waiting times for children in need of speech and language therapy assessment in the Dublin 12 postal area stand in the region of two years; her views on whether these times must be reduced as a matter of urgency; if to this end she will take steps to ensure that the existing full-time vacancy in the speech and language therapy service in Crumlin Health Centre is filled; and if arrangements will be made to allow children on the Dublin 12 list to access services outside of their immediate locality where the waiting times might be shorter. [21666/09]

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

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

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 122.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Billy Timmins

Question:

125 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow who is waiting for a hip replacement; if they will be admitted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21670/09]

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

Preschool Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

126 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the circumstances under which a child who is four days under the qualifying age for the new preschool places can avail of the service; if an appeal mechanism is in place; if so, the details of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21671/09]

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 ECCE is being introduced from January 2010 as a free scheme to benefit children in the key developmental period prior to commencing school. The scheme will allow eligible children to avail of a free pre-school place in the year before the commence school. This will, normally, consist of 3 hours per day, 5 days per week over 38 weeks or 2 hours and 15 minutes per day, 5 days per week over 50 weeks. As the new scheme will be introduced from January next, the first full year will be from September 2010.

Participating children must, normally be aged between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months on 1 September of each year. In January 2010, children will be eligible if they are aged between 3 years 7 months and 4 years 10 months. A child who is aged 3 years 6 months on 1 January, 2010 will not be eligible to participate in the scheme at that point but will be eligible in September 2010. As eligibility is determined by reference to age, there is no appeal mechanism other than in relation to the exceptions I have referred to in the case of the upper age limit.

Denis Naughten

Question:

127 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if a child attends a preschool after 1 January 2010 under the new preschool scheme for less than five days, will they be eligible for a pro rata payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21677/09]

Denis Naughten

Question:

128 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the reasoning behind the introduction of the age cut off of four years and 10 months in relation to the pre-school scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21678/09]

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

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the implementation of the new scheme to provide a free Pre-School year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), which will commence in January 2010.

The Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is being introduced to benefit children in the key developmental period prior to commencing school. The scheme will allow eligible children to avail of a free pre-school place which will, generally, consist of 3 hours per day, 5 days per week over 38 weeks or 2 hours and 15 minutes per day, 5 days per week over 50 weeks. Participating services will receive a capitation payment of €64.50 a week where children attend for 38 weeks, and €48.50 where they attend for 50 weeks of the year. As the new scheme will be introduced from January next, the first full year will be from September 2010.

While parents will be encouraged to avail of the free pre-school year on the basis that their child attends for 5 days a week, transitional arrangements will apply during January to August 2010 to take account of the fact that some pre-school services currently accommodate a greater number of children than they have daily places for. To facilitate these services and the children attending them, they may continue to accommodate children on a pro rata basis during the period January to August 2010 and will receive a capitation grant set by reference to the number of children attending each day rather than the total number of children in a week.

Participating children must normally be aged between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months on 1 September of each year. Exceptions to the upper age limit will be allowed where children have been assessed as having special needs which require them to start primary school at a later date than is normally the case or where this is necessary due to the admissions policy of the child's local primary school. As the scheme is being introduced in January 2010, the upper age limit for eligibility at that date will be 4 years 10 months.

As a pre-school year in early childhood care and education (ECCE), intended to support the developmental needs of children in the year before they commence primary school, it is important that the programme based activities provided to children are suitable for this target age cohort and do not try to accommodate a broader spread of developmental stages. Most children commence school at around 5 years of age. It is considered that the 15 month age range provided for under the scheme, recognises this position while allowing flexibility to parents to assess the best time for their child to commence school.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Michael Ring

Question:

129 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a child (details supplied) in County Mayo is waiting three years to be called for an outpatient appointment. [21685/09]

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

Róisín Shortall

Question:

130 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the delays in accessing appointments for MRI scans in the Mater Hospital; and if, in view of the condition of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11, she will arrange to have this appointment scheduled at the earliest possible date. [21721/09]

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

Joe Costello

Question:

131 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 will have their prostate operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21733/09]

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

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

132 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to persons (details supplied); if there is financial assistance available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21735/09]

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

Question No. 133 withdrawn.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

134 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will receive payment under the health repayment scheme. [21750/09]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Sean Fleming

Question:

135 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Laois will receive a date for an operation in view of the fact the original operation was cancelled and it should be carried out as soon as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21751/09]

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

Primary Care Services.

Willie Penrose

Question:

136 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans being put in place to develop the necessary health infrastructure in Clonbrusk, Athlone, County Westmeath; if she is satisfied that same is adequate for purpose; if the necessary capital funding has been provided in the capital plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21752/09]

The Health Service Executive has progressed its plans for Primary Care facilities in the Longford Westmeath area, including the provision of a Primary Care Network Centre at Clonbrusk. The HSE is currently drawing up its Capital Plan within the revised capital funding envelope available following the Supplementary Budget in April. Details of the individual projects being included in the Capital Plan will be made available when the plan is approved.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

137 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. 333 of 22 April 2009. [21758/09]

The HSE have informed me that the response to Parliamentary Question No. 333 is due to be issued to the Deputy this week.

Health Service Staff.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

138 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. 339 of 22 April 2009. [21759/09]

The previous Parliamentary Question referred to by the Deputy related to the management and delivery of health and personal services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE) under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to reply to the Deputy directly.

In light of the further question raised by the Deputy, my Department has requested the Executive to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible, setting out the present position.

Medical Cards.

Michael Ring

Question:

139 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when the over 70s medical card will be given to persons (details supplied) in County Mayo. [21761/09]

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

Drugs Payment Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

140 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is possible for a cheque which issued to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo a number of years ago, to be re-dated due to circumstances in the family. [21762/09]

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

Long-Term Illness Scheme.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

141 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the criteria required for an illness to be added to the long-term illness scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21768/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

142 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the changes she has made to the long term illness scheme since its introduction; the changes she plans to make to it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21769/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

143 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on adding vasculitis and Wegener’s granulomatosis to the qualifying illnesses under the long term illness scheme; the reason it has not been added; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21770/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

144 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who have been in receipt of a long term illness book for each of the years from 2003 to 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21771/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

145 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has reviewed the long term illness scheme during her time in office; and the result of this review. [21772/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

146 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason rheumatoid arthritis is not a qualifying illness under the long term illness scheme; if she will add it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21773/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

147 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are people suffering from long term illnesses which are not qualifying illnesses under the long term illness scheme and who do not qualify for a medical card or general practitioner visit card; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that some of those people cannot arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves without undue hardship and that the €100 monthly payment under the drugs payment scheme is too much for people suffering financial hardship to pay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21774/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

148 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if members of her Department or the Health Service Executive have met with representatives from the Department of Finance or other relevant Departments to discuss making changes to the long term illness scheme; the result of these discussions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21775/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

149 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason mental illness is a qualifying illness under the long term illness scheme for people under 16 years of age only; her views on extending same to children over 16 and adults over 18 years of age; if she will extend the scheme to all people regardless of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21776/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 to 149, inclusive, together.

The Long Term Illness Scheme (LTI) arose from a non statutory scheme, established in 1967, to supply free of charge certain products to persons for the treatment of diabetes. A statutory scheme was introduced in 1971 under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970. It provides that a health board (now the HSE) may make arrangements for the supply without charge of drugs, medicines or medical and surgical appliances to persons suffering from a prescribed disease or disability of a permanent or long-term nature.

The conditions which have been prescribed are: mental handicap, mental illness (for people under 16 only), phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, haemophilia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophies, parkinsonism, conditions arising from thalidomide and acute leukaemia.

From 1971, a separate scheme was introduced to refund the cost of drugs above a certain threshold for non-medical card holders. This evolved into the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) in 1999. Under this scheme, no individual or family unit pays more than €100 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. When the DPS was introduced, it was decided to continue the LTI for the conditions already covered, but it has not been extended and I have no plans to do so.

Where a person or their dependants have significant ongoing medical expenses the Health Service Executive may grant a medical card on a discretionary basis if it is satisfied that the level of expenditure is unduly burdensome.

The Medical Card (GMS) and Drugs Payment Schemes (DPS) are under ongoing review in the context of the need to obtain best value for money . There have been no specific discussions on the LTI between my Department, the HSE and the Department of Finance.

The table below outlines the numbers of persons who were eligible under the LTI in the years 2003 to 2008 and the actual number of persons who availed of the scheme in those years.

Year

No. of people eligible for LTI

No. of LTI claimants

2003

97,184

48,053

2004

93,504

50,526

2005

99,280

53,006

2006

106,307

53,082

2007

112,580

59,040

2008

120,918

66,943

Hospital Services.

James Reilly

Question:

150 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the average cost of running an acute hospital bed per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21859/09]

The National average cost per in-patient bedday for 2007 (the latest full year for which audited data is available) was €844. This average cost is calculated from the diverse range of 37 hospitals who submitted costings to the Casemix/HIPE Unit, Health Service Executive as part of the National Casemix Programme.

Based on an average cost of €844 per bed-day, the average cost of running an acute hospital bed per week is €5,908.

It should be noted that the in-patient cost per bed-day for each hospital will be different depending on the size of the hospital and the complexity of the patients that it treats.

The above costings exclude capital and depreciation costs. It also excludes day cases, outpatients and emergency department costs.

Medical Cards.

James Reilly

Question:

151 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the average cost of a full medical card per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21860/09]

The Health Service Executive's (HSE) 2009 National Service Plan gives the annual average cost of a medical card at approximately €1,650, which equates to €31.62 per week.

Public Private Partnerships.

James Reilly

Question:

152 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a list of health sector public-private partnership projects already under way or in planning stages; the terms of these agreements; the amount of public and private investment involved in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21861/09]

The National Plan for Radiation Oncology (NPRO) is being delivered on an incremental basis and will provide sufficient capacity to fully meet national population cancer incidence requirements. The NPRO, which is being funded through a combination of traditional Exchequer funding and Public Private Partnership investment, will provide facilities in Dublin, Cork and Limerick with satellite facilities in Waterford and Galway. The overall investment for the NPRO is expected to be in excess of €0.5b, the bulk of which will be met through PPP arrangements. Additional capacity, delivered through traditional funding arrangements, began to come on stream in 2008. Planning for delivery of the remaining aspects of the NPRO is ongoing. The precise level of Exchequer funding and PPP investment for the NPRO will become clear when the planning and tendering stages are complete.

There are currently no other health sector PPP projects being advanced.

Rail Network.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

153 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if he will publish the report by a firm (details supplied) into the Shannon Airport rail link; the amount this study has cost; if it was funded by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21653/09]

My Department provided funding of €240,000 to Irish Rail towards carrying out a feasibility study for a Shannon Rail Link. This study was completed in February 2007 and was made widely available through the Steering Group overseeing the study which included representatives of local authorities and local development interests including the Shannon Rail Partnership. My Department will be publishing the report on the Departments T21 website shortly.

Light Rail Project.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

154 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport when the study into a light rail or LUAS system for Galway City will be published; the estimated cost of the proposed system; if bus rapid transit proposals are being examined for Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21654/09]

I understand from Galway City Council that the study into the feasibility of a light rail system in Galway is advanced and conclusions are expected shortly. The precise date of publication of the study is a matter for Galway City Council. I understand that this study also includes consideration of the feasibility of bus rapid transit. The costings of light rail and bus rapid transit schemes are matters to be addressed in the feasibility study.

Garda Recruitment.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

155 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the reduced numbers entering Garda training, he will make a statement on the immediate short-term plans for the Garda Training College at Templemore. [21856/09]

The Garda Training College continues to provide an excellent and essential service to An Garda Síochána and will do so into the future.

There are currently a total of 774 Garda students in training. Approximately 275 of these will become attested in June 2009 with the remainder due to be attested over the next 12 months. The Public Service recruitment moratorium does not apply to the Garda Reserve and recruitment to the Reserve is ongoing. There are currently 198 reserve members at various stages of training and these trainees attend the Garda Training College as part of their training programme.

In the past few years the accelerated recruitment campaign resulted in the capacity of the training college being stretched. In response to on-going training requirements, some in-service Continuous Development Courses for full-time members of the Force were transferred to an outsourced centre at the Abbey Court Hotel, Nenagh in 2005. This allowed the Garda College to concentrate on recruitment training. In recent months the outsourcing has discontinued and this training is now taking place in the Garda College with a consequent reduction in associated training costs.

The situation in relation to recruitment and training will continue to be monitored to ensure that optimum use is made of the resources available at the Garda Training College.

Citizenship Applications.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

156 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the citizenship application for a person (details supplied) is expected to be completed; the stage the process of the application is currently at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21658/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation on behalf of the person in question, who is a minor, was submitted by his mother to the Citizenship Section of my Department on 24 October 2008.

Due to the fact that applications on behalf of minors generally require less processing than standard adult applications, it is usually possible to finalise them more quickly. Based on current processing trends, it is likely that the application on behalf of the person concerned will be finalised towards the end of 2009.

I will advise the Deputy and the applicant when I have reached a decision on the matter.

Prison Accommodation.

Joe Costello

Question:

157 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisoners currently in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin; the number for whom the prison was built; if he will introduce sanitation into the prison in view of the fact that Thornton Hall is on hold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21736/09]

I do not accept the contention that Thornton Hall has been put "on hold". Both the Taoiseach and I have set out in the clearest possible terms the Government's continued commitment to replacing the Mountjoy Prison complex with modern prison accommodation at Thornton. The clear case has been made for this course of action and this Government will deliver on that commitment in a manner that protects the taxpayers' interest. As already indicated to this House it is my intention to bring comprehensive new proposals to the Government in a matter of weeks setting out how we can proceed with building a new, modern, regime orientated and cost effective prison complex at Thornton. Following consideration of these proposals by Government I will make a public announcement in relation to this matter.

I acknowledge that there is a level of overcrowding in the prison system. Close to 1,400 new prison spaces have already been brought into use since 1997 and a further 400 new spaces which are built will shortly come into use. Thornton Hall was always a longer term project and other capital projects have been progressing, for example, the projects that have given us the 400 spaces coming on stream. I wish to inform the Deputy that as of 22 May, 2009 there were 540 permanent beds in Mountjoy male prison. On the same day there were 678 in custody. Overall on that same day there were 949 permanent beds available in the entire Mountjoy Prison Complex with 1,126 prisoners in custody. I give you this figure to illustrate the need to replace Mountjoy with a facility at Thornton that can meet this capacity requirement.

In-cell sanitation is already in place in sections of the "B" Wing and throughout the Health Care Unit of Mountjoy Prison as well as all of St Patrick's Institution and the Female Prison (Dóchas).

The question of a major refurbishment of the complex to include in-cell sanitation in all cells has been examined on a number of occasions but found not to be feasible due to the potential exorbitant costs of such a project involving buildings which are already well over 150 years old. I believe that whilst there will be some delay in our plans we can bring a viable prison development to fruition at Thornton and money spent on achieving that is a better use of resources.

Removal Orders.

Denis Naughten

Question:

158 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedures and protocols in place to allow gardaí or the Courts to refer cases to his Department for consideration of an expulsion under Regulation 20 of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008; the number of such cases referred by gardaí to his Department in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the corresponding figures for the Courts Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21749/09]

The European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 were transposed into Irish Law under S.I. No 656 of 2006 and came into force on 1 January 2007.

Requests for Removal Orders in accordance with Regulation 20 are made to my Department by An Garda Síochána and not directly by the Courts Service.

Each application made to my Department for the issuance of a Removal Order in respect of an EU citizen must be made in writing, setting out the background to the application.

No such applications were made in 2006 as the Regulations did not come into force until 1st January 2007.

In 2007 there were 118 applications, 190 in 2008, and 152 in 2009 (up to 22nd May).

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 64.

Gangland Crime.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

160 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of organised criminal gangs currently operating here; the regions or areas in which they are most dominant; the number of charges, arrests and convictions brought against them in each area in each of the past five years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21805/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

163 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of members of known criminal gangs currently in prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21808/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 and 163 together.

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that currently there are two categories of organised crime groups operating in this jurisdiction. The first category consists of individuals / groups that are well established and tightly structured involved in drug trafficking, armed robbery and firearms offences. The second category involves groups whose activities are characterised by less cohesive group structures and criminal activities which are mainly confined to Ireland.

I am further advised that the membership of organised crime gangs tends to be fluid and the nature of criminal activity is such that offences committed by members of gangs may or may not be connected with the individual's membership of such gangs.

The identification of an offender as a member of a criminal gang is not an essential criterion in the prosecution of offenders. It is therefore not possible to ascertain the precise number of criminals who are also members of criminal gangs operating in this country. Organised crime is being targeted by An Garda Síochána on an ongoing basis using intelligence led operations undertaken by specialist units under the remit of the Assistant Commissioner in charge of National Support Services. These specialist units include, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda National Drugs Unit, the Organised Crime Unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau.

A number of organised crime groups have been targeted using intelligence led operations which has resulted in the seizure of firearms and drugs and has led to a number of people being prosecuted and convicted before the courts.

Other measures put in place to tackle serious crime include Operation Anvil which commended in the Dublin Metropolitan region in May 2005 and extended nationwide in 2006. The primary focus of Operation Anvil is the disruption of serious and organised criminal activity. To date over 2,500 firearms and property to the value of €31.9 million have been recovered under Operation Anvil.

Garda operations and resources are reviewed on an ongoing basis by senior management to ensure their continued effectiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

161 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of robberies of cash or cash in transit in each of the past five years to date; the number in which firearms were used; the number of charges or convictions that arose therefrom; the number in respect of which there have been no charges or convictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21806/09]

According to the Garda authorities the number of robberies of cash or cash in transit recorded in the years 2004 to the present, and the number of detections, are as follows :

Table 1

Year

Recorded

Detected

2009

620

285

2008

1,285

618

2007

1,240

604

2006

1,371

604

2005

1,374

520

2004

1,527

512

Of these, the number of such robberies recorded in which firearms were used, together with the number of cases in which proceedings were commenced and convictions secured, are as follows:

Table 2

Year

Recorded

Proceedings Commenced

Convictions

2009

72

20

0

2008

139

56

7

2007

177

90

41

2006

237

111

75

2005

227

119

84

2004

306

108

86

Inevitably, there is a time lapse between proceedings being commenced and convictions secured.

It will be seen from these figures that there has been a steady decrease in both categories over the period in question. Overall the decrease has been in the order of 16% between 2004 and 2008, while the decrease in firearms related cash robberies over the same period has been around 55%.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

162 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of reported burglaries in respect of which no charges or convictions have taken place in each of the past four years to date, on a Garda divisional basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21807/09]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.

I have requested the CSO to provide the statistics sought by the Deputy directly to him.

Question No. 163 answered with Question No. 160.

Garda Stations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

164 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda stations currently operating on a 24-hour basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21809/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

165 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda stations throughout County Kildare which are currently open and operating on a 24-hour basis; his plans to increase this number with a view to addressing crime and anti-social behaviour issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21810/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 165 together.

The opening hours of all Garda stations throughout the State are provided in the reply to Parliamentary Question 15302/09 which was put down for answer on 22 April 2009 and the position remains unchanged.

The opening hours of non-24 hour stations are dependent on manpower availability. The extension of the current opening hours of these stations would necessitate the employment of Garda personnel on indoor administrative duties. Such personnel can be utilised more effectively in providing a visible Garda presence on outdoor policing duties.

Witness Intimidation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

166 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of incidents in respect of which witness intimidation has been identified in recent years; the action taken or proposed in response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21811/09]

There is a specific statutory offence of intimidation of witnesses or jurors. Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999 makes it an offence to harm or threaten or in any other way intimidate or put in fear another person who is assisting in the investigation by the Garda Síochána of an offence or is a witness or potential witness or a juror or potential juror in proceedings for an offence, or a member of his or her family, with the intention thereby of causing the investigation or the course of justice to be obstructed, perverted or interfered with.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that separate records are not maintained of offences under section 41 directed against witnesses and those directed against jurors.

Therefore, the table hereunder shows the present position with regard to the number of proceedings commenced, persons charged/summonsed and convictions for the offences of harming, threatening to harm, menacing, intimidating and putting in fear another person, who was assisting in the investigation by the Garda Síochána of an offence or is a witness/potential witness or juror/potential juror in proceedings for an offence, with the intention of causing the investigation or the course of justice to be obstructed, perverted or interfered with, for the years 2004 to 20 May 2009.

Year

Proceedings commenced

Persons charged/summonsed

Convictions*

2009

4

4

0

2008

16

16

0

2007

16

16

2

2006

44

30

10

2005

22

16

6

2004

30

22

10

Total

132

104

28

*It will be appreciated that, inevitably, there is a time lapse between proceedings being commenced and a person being convicted.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons apprehended carrying illegal firearms; the number of prosecutions, successful or otherwise, taken arising therefrom; the number in respect of which no prosecutions have taken place or are pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21812/09]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.

I have requested the CSO to provide the statistics sought by the Deputy directly to him.

Prison Security.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which action has been taken to stamp out the running of criminal empires by prisoners serving sentences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21813/09]

This Government took a decision in 2007 to approve the resources necessary to introduce a package of security measures which target the routes whereby contraband such as drugs, weapons and mobile phones are trafficked into our prisons. As a result, a number of new security initiatives have been introduced in all closed prisons including: the introduction of enhanced security screening for all persons (visitors and staff) entering our prisons; the establishment of a drug detection dog service within the Irish Prison Service involving approximately 31 handling teams; the establishment of Operational Support Units dedicated to, and developing expertise in, searching and gathering intelligence in our prisons.

In addition, a high-security unit was opened in Cloverhill Prison in May 2007 which enables the segregation of serious drug and criminal gang members from other prisoners, thus preventing them from conducting their business while in custody and exerting inappropriate influence over other persons.

There has also been an intensification of efforts to eliminate the availability of contraband within prisons including: tighter control and monitoring of prisoner visits in all closed prisons; new visiting arrangements in most closed prisons, with visitors required to book visits in advance, be pre-approved by the Governor and provide identification on each visit; greater use of screened visits; greater vigilance in examining mail by prison censors and searching of other items entering the prison; increased random searching of cells and their occupants; stricter searching of all persons committed to custody and prisoners returning from court, temporary release, after visits or on receipt of intelligence; use of modern cameras and probe systems which assist in searching previously difficult areas such as hollow chair or bed legs, under floor boards and other cavities; the use of a number of Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS) chairs; installation of nets over exercise yards to prevent access to contraband items, including mobile phones and drugs; use of phone detectors and phased installation of mobile phone inhibition technology.

Section 36 of the Prisons Act 2007, which was brought into operation on 1 May, 2007, makes it an offence for prisoners to have unauthorised possession of or use of mobile telecommunication devices. Under the Act it is also an offence to supply such a device to a prisoner. The penalties for such an offence, on summary conviction, include a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, and on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both. It is Irish Prison Service policy to report seizures of mobile phones to the Gardaí.

The new security screening at prison entrances and the measures introduced have had considerable success in preventing the flow of and assisting in the capture of contraband such as mobile phones. The Irish Prison Service, with my full support, are determined to take all practical measures possible to thwart criminals engaged in illegal activity. To that end the current stringent security measures will continue to operate within our prisons and as and where deemed necessary enhancements and improvements will continue to take place in the future.

Prison Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

169 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisons closed and cell spaces lost arising therefrom in each of the past ten years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21814/09]

Since 1997 in excess of 1,300 prison spaces have come on stream in the prison system. These include the new prisons in Castlerea, the Midlands, Cloverhill, the Dóchas Centre and new accommodation in Limerick Prison. A further 400 extra paces are coming on stream this year in Castlerea, Wheatfield and Portlaoise Prisons.

These significant developments increased our overall capacity as well as replacing a significant number of sub standard cells. This was necessary to meet human rights obligations and to respond to the very real criticisms raised by national and international experts in the penal policy field.

It is against this background that Shanganagh Castle Open Centre for juveniles was closed in late 2002 and the Curragh and Fort Mitchel (Spike Island) Prisons closed in early 2004. For example the four person cell accommodation in Fort Mitchel was not deemed suitable in a modern penal system. The total number of prison spaces taken out of the system in the above closures was 256 but this did not result in any net decline in capacity. The closures were more than offset by the bringing into operation of previously unused prison spaces and improvements to the prison estate I have outlined earlier. For example, the opening of a new wing in Limerick Prison fully offset the loss of Fort Mitchell and the loss of capacity in the case of the Curragh Place of Detention was completely offset by the opening of a previously unopened wing in the Midlands Prison.

Shanganagh Castle was sold and the money received covered in full the cost of the site at Thornton Hall. It had become increasingly difficult to identify young male offenders suitable for the type of open prison accommodation provided at Shanganagh and the annual cost of keeping an offender there was significantly higher than the average overall cost per prisoner in other institutions. The Curragh Prison has been returned to the Department of Defence. It was in a very run down condition and the redevelopment of the prison did not make economic or operational sense.

I should also point out that there is no potential to reopen any of these facilities. Small stand-alone prisons accommodating 100 prisoners or less are simply not efficient and in the current fiscal climate do not make economic sense. The policy of the Irish Prison Service is to, where possible, develop campus-style developments which take advantage of economies of scale and operational efficiencies.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action taken to date, or proposed, to stamp out anti-social behaviour throughout County Kildare with particular reference to the need to address the concerns of young and old people who feel intimidated by continuous incidents of anti-social behaviour resulting in some instances of people being forced to relocate; if he will put in place measures to ensure that repeated incidents are followed up by prosecutions; the number of such prosecutions to date in 2009; the number of reported incidents in respect of which no prosecutions took place in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21815/09]

The Garda Policing Plan for 2009, which reflects the priorities set for the Force by me as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, contains a series of measures aimed at reducing the impact of crime and criminal behaviour. One of the strategic goals identified in the Plan is to reduce significantly the incidence of public disorder and anti-social behaviour in communities.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following a successful pilot phase in the Naas and Kildare Garda Districts, a new policing model to combat anti-social behaviour has been adopted throughout County Kildare. Under the model, members of An Garda Síochána meet key stakeholders such as local authority members, councillors and business representatives to discuss public order issues and offer advice.

The model is then devolved to a local level, whereby members of An Garda Síochána visit individual publicans, managers of fast food outlets and taxi drivers and offer appropriate advice, with the aim of preventing incidents of public disorder and anti-social behaviour taking place. In addition, where large groups of people gather, particularly at weekends, temporary taxi-ranks are set up to divert people away from potential flashpoints.

All members of An Garda Síochána on patrol including mobile, foot, mountain bike and Traffic Corps personnel are aware of identified public disorder hotspots, and particular attention is paid at times when there is potential for public disorder and anti-social behaviour.

To facilitate this community policing-public disorder policing model, additional personnel has been allocated to all Districts within the Kildare Garda Division. Local Garda management intend to increase the number of personnel allocated to Community Policing Units within the Division. The issue of Garda resources is kept under constant review, and when additional personnel next become available the needs of County Kildare will be fully considered by the Commissioner within the overall context of the needs of Garda stations throughout the country.

Joint Policing Committees provide a forum where An 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. A Committee has a range of functions and monitor two broad areas. The first is the levels and patterns of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in its area, including patterns and levels of misuse of alcohol and drugs. The second is the broader issue of the factors underlying and contributing to crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. Following on from this the Committee advises the local authority and An Garda Síochána on how they might best perform their functions, having regard to the need to do everything feasible to improve the safety and quality of life and to prevent crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour within the area.

I am of the view that the Committees have enormous potential for tackling the problems of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour.

Following a pilot phase in 29 local authority areas, including Athy, the Committees are currently being rolled out to all other local authority areas in the country.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.

I have requested the CSO to provide the statistics sought by the Deputy directly to him.

Lisbon Treaty Referendum.

Joe Costello

Question:

171 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his proposals for ratifying the Lisbon Treaty; the schedule and timescale of events leading up to the referendum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21737/09]

The December European Council agreed to a package of measures to respond to the Irish people's concerns as outlined by the Taoiseach. Specifically, the European Council agreed that, provided the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force, each Member State will continue to have the right to nominate a Commissioner. It also agreed that legal guarantees will be given to Ireland in the areas of taxation, defence and the provisions of the Constitution on the right to life, education and family. It further agreed that the high importance the EU attaches to social issues, including workers' rights, will be confirmed.

Detailed work is now underway to give effect to these commitments. In accordance with the December European Council's Conclusions, this work should be finalised at the June European Council. If the Government is fully satisfied with the outcome of this work, we are committed to seeking ratification of the Treaty by the end of the term of the current Commission, which is expected to leave office at the end of October. Our work is being taken forward at a number of different levels with our EU partners and with the EU institutions. Throughout, we are stressing the need for legally robust guarantees. As recent events have underscored, the European Union remains key to the promotion and protection of Ireland's national interest. The Government attaches the utmost priority to ensuring that Ireland remains at the heart of the Union.

Arts Funding.

Finian McGrath

Question:

172 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will support a group (details supplied). [21703/09]

My Department does not provide grants to specific performing art practitioners as described by the Deputy. Funding decisions including bursaries are a matter for the Arts Council.

Departmental Bodies.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

173 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals to meet the concerns of a person (details supplied) in County Cork in regard to the proposed takeover of Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta by Údarás na Gaeltachta; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21655/09]

In view of the current economic downturn, my Department is examining ways of using the resources available to it, both financial and human, in the most efficient manner possible in order to minimise disruption to the front-line services it provides. In this context, I have asked my officials to review, in conjunction with both Údarás na Gaeltachta and MFG Teo, the operations of the two organisations with a view to delivering their services in the most cost effective and efficient manner possible. This review is currently ongoing.

Notwithstanding the above, I should point out in relation to the Rural Social Scheme that the principles and practices relating to the implementation of this scheme are the same regardless of the implementing body and would continue thus, irrespective of any transfer of responsibility for Gaeltacht schemes from MFG Teo to Údarás na Gaeltachta. I would also point out that Údarás na Gaeltachta are already the implementing body for this scheme in parts of the Gaeltacht.

Íocaíochtaí Deantas.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

174 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil iarratas ar dheontas litríochta faighte ó dhaoine (sonraí tugtha); an bhfuil deontas molta agus ceadaithe; agus cathain a íocfar é. [21713/09]

Tá deontas €3,280 faoi Achtanna na dTithe (Gaeltacht) ceadaithe sa chás seo le déanaí. Íocfar an deontas ach an obair a bheith críochnaithe chun sástacht mo Roinne.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Michael Ring

Question:

175 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a claim for disability allowance for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has been reviewed following the submission of further medical evidence to her Department. [21668/09]

The claim for disability allowance, by the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer of the Department on 23 April 2009 following an examination by a Medical Assessor who expressed the opinion that he was not medically suitable for the allowance.

An appeal was opened on 19 May 2009 and I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The person concerned will be advised when the arrangements have been completed.

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

Social Welfare Benefits.

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

176 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if there has been any change in the carer’s allowance on foot of the supplementary Budget of 7 April 2009 which might effect the status or levels of payment to a family where two children are being cared for and the mother is in receipt of carer’s allowance in respect of their care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21714/09]

No changes were made to carer's allowance in the supplementary budget of 7 April 2009. In Budget 2009, I increased the rate of carer's allowance for those aged 66 or over by €7 to €239 per week and for those aged under 66 by €6.50 to €220.50 per week. These increases took effect from January 2009. Recipients of carer's allowance are also eligible for household benefits and free travel and the respite care grant. It is estimated that the combined expenditure on carer's allowance, carer's benefit, the respite care grant and half-rate carer's allowance will be €650 million in 2009.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

177 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will be made on the application by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry for jobseeker’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21719/09]

The person concerned applied for jobseeker's allowance on 11 May 2009. His claim is currently with a Social Welfare Inspector for investigation of his circumstances. On receipt of the Inspector's report a decision will be given, and he will be notified of the outcome.

Local Authority Staff.

Brian Hayes

Question:

178 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if an exemption will be made in the public service recruitment moratorium in relation to the recruitment of trained school crossing guards to the reserve panel in view of the fact that they incur no extra cost to the taxpayer due to their not being paid when not on duty. [21683/09]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

179 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he will make a decision in regard to the sanctioning of positions (details supplied) by Waterford County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21844/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 179 together.

Under the terms of the Government's decision on implementation of savings in public service numbers no public service post, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade. This decision is effective from 31 March 2009 and stands until the end of 2010. My Department has, accordingly, written to all local authorities requesting their compliance. However, in recognition of the priority attaching to the maintenance of key front line services, my Department is consulting with the Department of Finance in regard to the management of relevant staffing needs.

Election Management System.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

180 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the criteria which apply to the appointment of polling officers and clerks and presiding officers; if these positions are publicly advertised; if an effort is made to ensure that the jobs are given to persons who are not employed at the time of the appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21977/09]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

186 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the process by which polling officers, polling clerks and presiding officers have been selected for the upcoming local and European elections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21728/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

187 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason that, at a time of increasing levels of unemployment, polling clerk positions are being given to people in full-time employment; the steps he has taken, to encourage access for people currently on the live unemployment register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21729/09]

I propose to take Question Nos. 180, 186 and 187 together.

The primary role of my Department in electoral matters is to provide an appropriate policy and legislative framework for a modern and efficient electoral system. Within this framework, Returning Officers are responsible for all matters in connection with the conduct of elections and referenda, including the selection, appointment and training of polling station staff to take the poll on polling day in accordance with the relevant provisions of electoral law.

Urban Renewal Schemes.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

181 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the breakdown of the final output figures for regeneration projects per local authority for 2008; and if he will provide details of the 2009 allocation per local authority for such projects. [21664/09]

For the past number of years, my Department has supported an ambitious policy of regeneration that includes a broad range of projects from large, area-based regenerations like Ballymun, to individual inner city flat complexes and specific estates in towns and cities across the country. Overall, there are 13 projects at various stages of development, from masterplanning to construction phase, that receive funding under this programme.

The process of regeneration is very broad and involves not just the enhancement of the housing stock, but also delivers an improved physical, social and economic environment for those households living in the area. Under each regeneration project funding is provided for social inclusion, community safety, and other "soft" interventions, as well as providing an improved physical infrastructure.

Exchequer funding has been made available in both 2008 and 2009 to ensure the continuation of progress in the delivery of regeneration projects at Ballymun, as well as in Cork, Dublin, Limerick, and Waterford cities. While 2008 saw the substantial completion of the regeneration at Laurel Avenue in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, 2009 will see the commencement of the works at Mitchel's Crescent in Tralee, following the approval of the regeneration masterplan in late 2008. Support is also being provided to support the masterplanning process at Cranmore in Sligo and Cox's Demesne in Dundalk and as well as for a number of social inclusion and "quick win" initiatives to build and maintain community involvement in those estates.

The following table sets out in more detail the Exchequer funding provided in 2008, as well as the 2009 allocations, in respect of the projects concerned. For the first time this year a separate allocation has been provided to facilitate the process of relocating households from the regeneration areas both to facilitate site clearance and, on occasion, to address particular needs of households. No specific allocation has been provided for regeneration projects in Dublin City Council that were to have been progressed by way of Public Private Partnership arrangements, pending receipt and approval of new proposals for the complexes concerned. I understand that a portion of Dublin City Council's regeneration relocation allocation is, however, to be used to relocate households in need from these areas.

Regeneration Project

2008 Funding Output

2009 Regeneration Programme Allocation

2009 Regeneration Relocation Allocation

2009 Total Allocation

The Glen & Knocknaheeny, Cork City Council

13,750,000

15,000,000

1,000,000

16,000,000

Dublin City Council

80,750,000

51,000,000

20,000,000

71,000,000

Ballymun

75,000,000*

45,000,000

45,000,000

Dublin City: Inner City Flats

5,750,000

6,000,000

6,000,000

Laurel Avenue, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

2,500,000

500,000

500,000

Mitchel’s Crescent, Tralee Town Council

1,000,000

5,500,000

5,500,000

Limerick Regeneration Programme

13,500,000

12,650,000

12,000,000

24,650,000

Cox’s Demesne, Dundalk Town Council

650,000

1,000,000

500,000

1,500,000

Cranmore Estate, Sligo Borough Council

5,150,000

4,000,000

500,000

4,500,000

Waterford Regeneration Programme, Waterford City Council

11,750,000

9,000,000

3,250,000

12,250,000

Total

129,000,000

98,650,000

37,250,000

135,900,000

*This figure of €75 million includes an additional payment of €10 million made at the end of 2008, over and above the original allocation of €65 million for the year.

Local Authority Funding.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

182 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the conservation grant scheme programme is operational; when the allocations will be announced in order that planned works of conservation can be proceeded with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21672/09]

Denis Naughten

Question:

184 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 587 of 22 April 2009, the position regarding the allocation to Roscommon County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21702/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 184 together.

Allocations for the various programmes and schemes under the 2009 built heritage capital programme have now been finalised. Successful applicants and relevant organisations, including the local authorities, are being notified of their allocations. Details on the various allocations are set out below.

Built Heritage Capital Programme

2009 Allocation

€m

Local Authority Conservation Grants Scheme

4.000

Civic Structures

1.750

Civic Structures Conservation Grant Scheme

1.300

Significant Places of Public Worship Grants Scheme

0.450

Built Heritage Capital Provision

6.300

Heritage Properties in State Care (OPW)

5.300

Heritage Properties not in State Care — primarily administered by the Heritage Council

1.000

Archaeological

0.450

Total

12.500

Local Authority Conservation Grants Scheme 2009

Local Authority

Amount

Dublin City

642,000

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

186,500

Fingal

119,000

South Dublin

101,000

Cork City

111,000

Galway City

138,000

Limerick City

37,000

Waterford City

87,000

Carlow County

50,000

Cavan County

42,500

Clare County

98,500

Cork County

306,000

Donegal County

97,000

Galway County

136,000

Kerry County

88,000

Kildare County

173,000

Kilkenny County

124,000

Laois County

73,000

Leitrim County

26,500

Limerick County

190,500

Longford County

40,500

Louth County

95,500

Mayo County

51,000

Meath County

153,000

Monaghan County

66,000

Offaly County

102,500

Roscommon County

83,000

Sligo County

62,000

Tipperary North

55,000

Tipperary South

69,000

Waterford County

121,000

Westmeath County

88,500

Wexford County

111,500

Wicklow County

75,000

Total

€4.00 million

Civic Structures Conservation Grant Scheme 2009: Total €1,300,000

Ref. No.

Project Name

Grant Allocated

CS 15/09

Sandford Church, Sandford Road, Dublin 6

22,500

CS 21/09

Goggin Cottage, Coolbeg, Co. Limerick

27,590

CS 23/09

Chapel of Ease of St. Columba, Craigadooish, Co. Donegal

5,000

CS 25/09

The Roman Arch, Dodder Rd Lwr, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin

37,500

CS 29/09

Christchurch, Rushbrooke, Cobh, Co.Cork

34,000

CS 31/09

Gillooly Hall, Adelaide Street, Sligo

34,000

CS 33/09

St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, Somerville, Kentstown, Co. Meath

7,000

CS 43/09

Rutland Fountain, Merrion Square West, Dublin 2

34,000

CS 44/09

Former County Gaol, O’Rahilly Street, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary

34,000

CS 62/09

St. John the Baptist Church, Crooke, Passage East, Co. Waterford

28,300

CS 95/09

Shackleton’s Mill, Strawberry Beds Road, Lucan, Co. Dublin

37,500

CS 100/09

Mount Talbot Church, Mount Talbot, Co. Roscommon

16,400

CS 106/09

Turner Vinery Restoration, Southill House, Roxboro Road, Limerick

34,000

CS 108/09

Abbey Presbyterian Church, Parnell Square, Dublin 2

37,500

CS 111/09

Dunfillan Glasshouse, Lucena Clinic, Rathgar, Dublin 6

34,000

CS 132/09

St. Finbarres Cathedral, Bishop Street, Cork

34,000

CS 134/09

Carrickmacross Poor Law Union Workhouse, Co. Monaghan

34,000

CS 140/09

Goldenbridge Cemetery, St. Vincent Street West, Dublin 8

34,000

CS 142/09

Rathmines Public Library, 157 Lwr Rathmines Rd, Dublin 6

34,000

CS 144/09

Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, Parnell Square, Dublin 1

34,000

CS 145/09

The Red Stables, St. Anne’s Park, Raheny, Dublin 5

34,000

CS 147/09

Ballymahon Court House, Main St, Ballymahon, Co. Longford

34,000

CS 150/09

Johnstown Castle, Murrintown, Co. Wexford

37,500

CS 157/09

Tailor’s Hall, Back Lane, Dublin 8

30,000

CS 162/09

Church of St. Michan’s, Halston Street, Dublin 7

34,000

CS 163/09

Edenderry Quaker Meeting House, Edenderry, Co. Offaly

34,000

CS 164/09

The Cumberland Column, Emmet Square, Birr, Co. Offaly

34,000

CS 168/09

Ffrench Mausoleum, Monivea, Athenry, Co. Galway

1,310

CS 169/09

Drumkeeran Church of Ireland, Drumkeeran, Co. Leitrim

20,000

CS 175/09

Headfort House, Kells, Co. Meath

34,000

CS 182/09

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Roden Place, Dundalk, Co. Louth

20,000

CS 188/09

Abington Church of Ireland, Murroe, Co. Limerick

34,000

CS 194/09

St. John’s Church of Ireland, Ballinalee, Co. Longford

13,000

CS 196/09

Shannon Fortification at Shannonbridge, Co. Roscommon

37,500

CS 214/09

Church of the Assumption Callan, Co. Kilkenny

34,000

CS 215/09

No. 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin 1

37,500

CS 233/09

Dunlavin Library, Main Street, Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow

37,500

CS 241/09

Black’s House (Edenville), Roscommon, Co. Roscommon

34,000

CS 255/09

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh, Co. Cork

40,000

CS 256/09

Princes Street Unitarian Church, Cork

34,000

CS 257/09

The Jetty at Davitt Quay, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

26,100

CS 258/09

St. Anne’s Church, Shandon, Cork

32,300

CS 265/09

Ballinasloe Bridge West, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

34,000

Heritage Properties in State care (Office of Public Works)

Historic Properties (managed by OPW)

National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Great Blasket Island, Co. Kerry

Doneraile Court, Co. Cork

Altamont House, Co. Carlow

Heywood Gardens, Co. Laois

Battle of Boyne Site, Co. Meath

National Monuments (managed by OPW)

Apprenticeship Programme

Nenagh Castle

Rock of Cashel

Boyle Abbey, Co. Roscommon

Heritage Properties not in State care

Project

2009 Allocation

€m

Walled Towns

0.850

Temple House

0.050

Woodlawn House

0.050

Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills

0.050

Total

1.000

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

183 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the rationale underpinning cuts to the library services; the consequences of these actions; and if he will seek to ensure that these cuts are reversed as well as to ensure that local authorities will be asked to ring-fence these necessary library services. [21698/09]

My Department provides funding towards the capital costs of approved new libraries and the refurbishment of existing libraries along with funding for mobile libraries and delivery vans, and recently launched the 2009-2010 Capital Programme amounting to €8.5 million in 2009. I will also be providing some €1.6m this year towards current expenditure relating to the public library service.

Funding of most day to day operations in the public library service is a matter for each local authority in its capacity as a library authority. Funding is allocated in accordance with priorities set by the authority as part of the annual budgetary process and the total funding available to it from a range of sources.

I am confident that despite the pressure on public finances generally, library authorities will make every effort to support the public library service given the valuable social, educational and cultural services which they provide to communities at local level.

Question No. 184 answered with Question No. 182.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

185 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position in relation to the Crossboyne sewage scheme, County Mayo, particularly the funding position, progress and future plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21724/09]

I approved funding under the Serviced Land Initiative for an upgrade of the Claremorris Wastewater Treatment Plant and for the provision of a new sewage collection network in Crossboyne Village in 2007.

Last month, my Department, following a review of the Serviced Land Initiative in light of developments in the economy at large, and in the housing market in particular during 2008, and having regard to the oversupply of housing in some areas, informed all local authorities that all existing approvals under the initiative, for which contracts have not been signed or letters of intent have issued, were being withdrawn.

I understand that, in this case, no letter of intent has issued and that a contract has not been signed. However, authorities were also informed that where a water services authority is of the opinion that the continuation of an approved scheme for which contracts have not been signed is necessary for the proper development of the area, it is open to the authority to make a case to my Department, by the 29 May 2009, for the scheme to progress. My Department will consider any case, which Mayo County Council may make in respect of this scheme within the specified time limit, as quickly as possible.

Questions Nos. 186 and 187 answered with Question No. 180.

Local Authority Housing.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

188 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason for the delay in recommencement of the Mullaghmatt remedial works scheme, Monaghan town, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21732/09]

I refer to the reply to Question Number 50 of 8 April 2009.My Department gave approval to Monaghan Town Council to proceed to tender on the next phase of the project in October 2007. A report on the tender process was received by my Department in February 2009, and following consideration of the report, approval for the project to proceed issued on 25 May 2009. Funding of €1.875 million has been set aside in the 2009 housing allocations for the project at Mullaghmatt.

Building Regulations.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

189 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is a 92% non-compliance in relation to the requirement of building energy rating certificates for house sales or lettings; if he has received correspondence in relation to this adherence to the building regulations; and the steps he will take to ensure compliance with building energy rating. [21742/09]

It is unclear what specific correspondence is referred to in the question. I refer to the reply to Question Nos.19 and 22 of 7 May 2009. I now understand from Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) that over 35,700 BER certificates have been issued to date this year in respect of dwellings.

Energy Resources.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

190 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the status of the proposed biomass district heating scheme under the Dundalk 2020 project; when final tender documents will issue to the remaining tendering consortia; when a preferred bidder will be selected; the amount of the concerto funding which has already been spent; and if this money will have to be refunded to the European Commission if the project does not proceed within a realistic timeframe. [21676/09]

The Dundalk 2020 biomass district heating scheme is currently in the closing stages of a competitive tender procurement process. Final tender documents are almost completed. Selection of a preferred bidder will be dependent on contract negotiations. It is anticipated that the tender selection panel will select the preferred bidder within one month of submission of final tenders.

The EU Concerto programme funding is available under Framework 6 Programme rules. The funding only passes to the preferred bidder (Energy Supply Company — ESCo) on agreement between the EU Commission and ESCo. As this part of the programme is still in tender process no funding has been drawn down to date in respect of this project. The Concerto fund is available for this project for 5 years and the project is currently in year 2.

Energy Efficiency.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

191 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of applications for the home energy saving grants in Dublin City and County and nationally to date, including the number of applications that include the specific categories of external cavity fill wall insulation, external wall insulation and internal wall insulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21754/09]

The Home Energy Saving scheme was launched at the end of March 2009 with the aim of upgrading the energy efficiency of 30,000 homes throughout Ireland by grant aiding measures for attics, walls and heating upgrades. The programme has a budget of €49 million for 2009 and is administered by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI).

The scheme has already proved to be very popular with several thousand applications having been received. SEI has put in place an online application system, which enables applicants who meet the qualifying conditions, to get virtually instantaneous approval for their application. Offline or postal applications are also accepted. Grants will be paid to applicants when the works have been verifiably carried out. The following table sets out the number of the applications in Dublin and outside Dublin, further broken down for wall insulation:

Wall Measure

Dublin

Outside Dublin

Total Approved Applications to HES

1,481

8,542

Of which

Total including Wall Insulation

735

6,747

(1) Cavity

169

5,183

(2) Internal

418

1,202

(3) External

148

362

Telecommunications Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

192 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the changes which have taken place to phase two of the MANS in view of the recommendations of the value for money and policy review of the Metropolitan Area Networks carried out for his Department (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21826/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

193 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of towns in MANs phase II which have a population of less than 9,000; the number of these towns which had a formal case by case evaluation for value for money; if they were conducted on the basis of the capital appraisal guidelines from the Department of Finance, and include either a multi criterion analysis or cost benefit analysis; the key performance indicators for future projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21837/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

194 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the value for money audit conducted on MANs I which found that the planning and selection process of towns to be included in MANs was not sufficiently thorough; if the planning and selections process was changed for MANs II; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21838/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

195 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of towns under MANs without a client; the cost of installing infrastructure in these towns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21839/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

196 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on whether all MANs projects are value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21840/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 192 to 196, inclusive, together.

Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) are high-speed, open access, carrier neutral electronic communications networks, which facilitate competition in the electronic communications market in regional towns and cities nationwide. Phase I of this Programme has so far delivered optical fibre based networks to twenty-seven towns and cities throughout the country.

All twenty-seven are operational and open for business and thirty-four service providers are currently offering services on twenty-three of the Phase I MANs. The cost of the Phase I MANs Programme was approximately €85 million. Four Phase I MANs are not currently used by service providers. These are: Carrickmacross, Gaoth Dobhair, Kiltimagh and Kingscourt. The cost of constructing these four networks was approximately €2.8 million. While these networks are not yet being used, the significant increase in the demand for bandwidth is leading to greater demand for fibre based products and services. It is expected that all MANs will be used in the medium to long term.

A further ninety-four towns were identified as locations for MANs under Phase II of the Programme on the basis that there was no DSL broadband available from the incumbent service provider in each of these locations. The Government approved the building of the Phase II MANs in November 2003. Fifty-nine of these MANs covering sixty-five towns have been completed to date. A further MAN is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in early 2010. The cost to date of Phase II of the MANs Programme, is approximately €87 million. Fifty-five of these sixty Phase II MANs are servicing towns with populations of less than 9,000 persons.

A procurement process for the appointment of a Managed Service Entity (MSE II) to manage the Phase II MANs is almost complete. Once appointed, the MSE will offer the Phase II MANs to service providers that can offer their services to end users using the state-of-the-art networks in the regional towns. Until such time as the MSE II is appointed, an interim arrangement has been put in place to allow service providers to use the MANs. Service providers are currently offering services on four Phase II MANs. It is expected that the number of service providers and MANs being used will increase once the MSE II is in place.

A Value for Money and Policy Review (VFM&PR) of Phase I of the MANs Programme was published in June 2008. In December 2007, having considered an early draft of the VFM&PR, I deemed it prudent to suspend the commencement of those Phase II MANs projects for which a contract was not already in place pending the outcome of the Value for Money and Policy Review of Phase I of the MANs Programme and the final policy paper on Next Generation Broadband.

Any future broadband investment decisions, including investment in further phases of the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) Programme, will be guided by: the final policy paper on Next Generation Broadband, which will be published shortly; the Value for Money and Policy Review of Phase I of the MANs Programme, which was published last year; any other analysis as appropriate; and the availability of resources.

Aquaculture Licences.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

197 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to Parliamentary Question No. 235 of 13 May 2009 and the subsequent written letter sent by him in connection with this question, the reason six of the listed companies do not show figures for their annual licence fees; if he will provide the missing figures requested; if he will provide an individual breakdown of arrears for each company listed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21662/09]

I will arrange to have a revised table supplied to the Deputy by way of letter which will explain why figures are not shown in respect of some of the Companies in question. I am also taking legal advice as to whether the arrears due in individual cases should be considered commercially sensitive and will communicate my response in writing to the Deputy.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

198 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be awarded REP scheme four. [21665/09]

Payment issued to the person named on 21 May 2009.

Farm Waste Management.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

199 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the status of the application under the farm waste management scheme for a person (details supplied); when their inspection will be carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21673/09]

The arrangements for payment of grants under the Farm Waste Management Scheme on a phased basis have been confirmed with 40 per cent being paid this year as claims are approved. A further 40 per cent will be paid in early January 2010 and the remaining 20 per cent in January 2011. I have also announced that a special ex-gratia payment not exceeding 3.5 per cent of the value of the deferred amount will be made to farmers whose Farm Waste Management grants have been partially deferred. This payment will be made in January 2011 along with the final instalment.

My Department is currently processing the application concerned and a farm inspection will be arranged as soon as possible.

Grant Payments.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

200 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the status of the application under the farm improvement scheme for a person (details supplied); when their inspection will be carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21674/09]

The person concerned is an applicant for grant-aid under the Farm Improvement Scheme. My Department is currently processing the application concerned and a farm inspection will be arranged as soon as possible.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

201 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment of a farm grant will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [21692/09]

The person concerned is an applicant under the Farm Improvement Scheme. Applications under this Scheme are being processed by my Department up to the level of funding provided for the Scheme in the 2006 Partnership agreement, Towards 2016.

Fisheries Protection.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

202 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he is taking to protect native oysters and other native shellfish from extinction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21730/09]

I understand that the Deputy's question relates to the possible expansion of the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) in areas where native oysters exist.

The Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) is included in Annex IV of Council Regulation (EC) 708/2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture. Article 2(5) of the Regulation specifically exempts those species listed in Annex IV from the provisions of the Regulation, with the exceptions of articles 3 and 4. Article 4 requires Member States to ensure that all appropriate measures are taken to avoid adverse effects to biodiversity, and especially to species, habitats and ecosystem functions which may be expected to arise, inter alia, from the spreading of these species into the wild.

The exemption in the Regulation for the Pacific Oyster is that it has been in production for many years and has been moved from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

To assist in determining the future potential risk of widespread proliferation of the Pacific Oyster in Ireland the Marine Institute is funding a research study to document the level of reproductive effort of oysters grown on the seabed compared with the more traditional culture methods for this species. This study is expected to be completed by September 2010. The results of this study will be used to inform further actions that may be required consistent with the provisions of the Regulation.

Grant Payments.

Pat Breen

Question:

203 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare did not receive full payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21757/09]

Under EU rules all payments in respect of REPS 4 are to be made in two instalments. The first instalment consists of 75% of the total payment due for the year and is paid once all administrative checks on all plans have been completed.

The person named has received the first instalment of his payment and my officials expect to release the remaining 25% shortly.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

204 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if all the information pertaining to a REP scheme four application by a person (details supplied) in County Offaly has been received; when a decision will made on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21857/09]

The application from the person named could not be processed with until all information requested in a letter sent to him on 13 November 2008 was received. My officials received this information on 13 May 2009 and are currently reviewing the file.

Schools Refurbishment.

Phil Hogan

Question:

205 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science when funding will be made available for improvements works to a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21659/09]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension/refurbishment. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 2.1 rating.

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

Phil Hogan

Question:

206 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science when funding will be made available for an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21660/09]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension/refurbishment. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 2.1 rating.

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

Michael Ring

Question:

207 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if funding will be made available for a school (details supplied) in County Mayo under a scheme for summer 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21661/09]

The school to which the Deputy refers made application under the Summer Works Scheme to provide for new footpaths and access ramps. I am pleased to confirm that the school concerned was successful in their application for funding and has been notified accordingly.

Educational Disadvantage.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

208 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if the commitment under DEIS to prioritise literacy and numeracy development at second level will be met; his views on whether the junior certificate school programme demonstration library project is an effective project in addressing the literacy needs of students in schools with the highest concentration of disadvantage; if he will confirm his intention to maintain the staffing level of JCSP librarians in each of the 30 existing libraries; if he will further confirm the commitment under DEIS to expand the JCSP demonstration library project to 50 schools; and the timescale to which he is working. [21663/09]

Under the terms of the DEIS Action Plan, a commitment was made to extend the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP) Demonstration Library Project to the 50 School Support Programme (SSP) schools with the highest concentrations of disadvantage over the five years to 2010, with extension to further SSP schools to be considered subsequently.

To date, the Project has been extended to 20 of the targeted 50 additional SSP schools, bringing the current number of schools with a Demonstration Library to 30.

The project establishes high quality, fully stocked and equipped modern school libraries and provides each with a professional librarian. A number of studies have noted that the project is effective in addressing the literacy needs of students in schools with the highest concentration of disadvantage in particular it has been noted that reading standards, student concentration and behaviour had improved.

Library staff, like other public servants in the Education sector, other than teachers and SNAs, are subject to the public sector moratorium. The timing of any further extension of the Project to new schools will have to be considered in the context of the current public financial and numbers policy environment.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses.

Billy Timmins

Question:

209 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to a college (details supplied) in County Wicklow that has enrolled 943 post leaving certificate students but is currently capped at 830 students; if the cap will be increased for its post leaving certificate college; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21679/09]

From September 2009, an additional 1,500 PLC places will be made available nationwide bringing the total number of PLC places to 31,688. On 22 May, these additional places were allocated to VECs and other providers. County Wicklow VEC, which has responsibility for the college referred to by the Deputy, was allocated an additional 30 PLC places, bringing their total allocation to 980 PLC places. Further distribution of places to individual colleges within VECs is a matter for each VEC.

School Accommodation.

Shane McEntee

Question:

210 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps being taken to address the accommodation crisis at a school (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21681/09]

The project to which the Deputy refers is at an early stage of architectural planning. The school's application for Major Capital Grant Aid has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and has been assigned a Band rating of 2.1. A stage 1-2 submission is currently with my Department for review.

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

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

School Patrons.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

211 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 12 of 14 May 2009, if he has met with the Attorney General regarding this matter; the advice of the Attorney General in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21682/09]

Officials from my Department recently met with the Office of the Attorney General to discuss issues regarding patronage of second level schools. Further advices on these issues are now awaited.

Special Educational Needs.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

212 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the numbers of special needs assistants that are permitted to be employed by schools (details supplied) in County Dublin; if the numbers of special needs assistants for the schools will be maintained for the academic year 2009/2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21717/09]

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

The number of SNAs that may be sanctioned in a school depends on the care needs of pupils attending the schools. Applications for SNAs may be considered by the NCSE where a pupil has a significant medical need for such assistance and where there are identified care needs arising from a diagnosed disability. A pupil's level of care may diminish over time as the child matures. Pupils may move to a different school or on to post-primary school. In such situations, the NCSE will review and adjust the SNA support required in the school. This may mean that some pupils who had previously been supported by a full time SNA may have their needs met through the shared support of an SNA or perhaps they may have no need for SNA support.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Child Abuse.

Mary Upton

Question:

213 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason he withdrew funding for counselling for survivors of abuse in industrial schools (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21720/09]

I am not aware of any withdrawal of funding for counselling services for survivors of institutional abuse. The National Counselling Service (NCS) was established in September 2000 to provide counselling services to those who have been abused in childhood, particularly those abused in institutional care. I understand from the HSE that counselling is provided to clients who have experienced any form of childhood abuse, be it physical, emotional, sexual or neglect. The service is free, accepts referrals directly from clients and offers choice to clients in terms of referral management. Clients are seen at 60 locations around the country. Up to the end of 2008, the National Counselling Service has seen 16,873 clients for counselling. 2596 (15%) of these have a history of institutional abuse.

In addition to the counselling services provided within the country, the HSE External Claims Committee process applications for counselling services not provided directly by the HSE. Through this service, funding has been provided to victims of abuse all over the world to allow them to avail of private psychotherapy and counselling services.

The HSE's National Counselling Service helpline has been expanded in recent times and is being closely monitored in all regions to ensure that services are in place to meet the demand.

In addition to the National Counselling Service, under the terms of the Indemnity Agreement, the religious orders agreed to provide funding for counselling services to victims of abuse to the value of €10 million. My Department has received confirmation that the religious congregations have fulfilled the terms of the Indemnity Agreement in this regard by funding such services through Faoiseamh.

Special Educational Needs.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

214 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the action he proposes to take in regard to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford who will lose their special needs assistant in September 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21723/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers, for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants to schools to support children with special needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Departmental Funding.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

215 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science when a decision will be made as to the future funding arrangements for a centre (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21739/09]

My Department has provided funding since 2000 to the project referred to by the Deputy towards programme costs, under the Fund for the Development of Targeted Educational Responses to Certain Children at Risk. This project has also been supported by my Department through an annual allocation of 968 teaching hours under the Co-Operation with Other Institutions Scheme since 2001.

This project is among a number of projects which are currently being evaluated by the Evaluation, Support and Research Unit in conjunction with the Inspectorate of the Regional Directorate of my Department. Post-evaluation meetings are currently taking place to provide feedback to the projects involved.

Following the outcome of the evaluation, a decision will be made as to the future funding arrangements and mainstreaming of appropriate projects or models of intervention. Projects will be informed shortly in this regard.

Schools Building Projects.

Damien English

Question:

216 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding a building project at a school (details supplied) in County Meath; if a site has been acquired for this school building project; if a date has been set of construction of this project to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21858/09]

The Department is currently in the process of acquiring a new site for the proposed new school building for the school referred to by the Deputy.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from site acquisition and initial design stage through to construction will be considered in the context of the school building and modernisation programme. However, in view of the level of demand on the Department's capital budget currently, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of this project at this time.