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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 9 Jun 2009

Vol. 684 No. 1

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 58, inclusive, postponed until Tuesday, 16 June 2009.

Official Protocol.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

59 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Taoiseach the protocol for flying the Tricolour at Government press conferences and other events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22136/09]

The National and EU flags are displayed at all press conferences and media events held in the Government Press Centre.

Departmental Expenditure.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

60 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Taoiseach the amount his Department and its agencies spent on the use of taxis in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22673/09]

The following table details the expenditure by my Department and the agencies under my Department, on taxis, from 2007 to date (end of May 2009).

Expenditure on Taxis

2007

2008

2009 (Jan-May)

Department

98,768

74,929

23,081

Organisation Review Programme

0

476

368

NESDO

8,689

10,629

1,415

National Forum on Europe

5,824

5,852

959

Ireland Newfoundland Partnership

468

826

225

Taskforce on Active Citizenship

0

17

0

Tribunal of Inquiry (Moriarty)

30

65

0

Commission of Investigation

2,424

0

0

Central Statistics Office

22,497

19,895

7,297

Phil Hogan

Question:

61 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Taoiseach the amount of banking charges paid by his Department over the past three years; the breakdown of these charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22887/09]

The following table details bank charges incurred by my Department from 2006 to date.

Bank Charges

Year

2006

248

2007

1,414

2008

569

2009 (Jan-May)

0

Andrew Doyle

Question:

62 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Taoiseach the amount spent by his Department each year for the past three years on bottled water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22901/09]

The following table outlines the amount spent by my Department each year for the past 3 years (and 2009 to date) on bottled water.

Year

Total Spend on Bottled Water

2009

2,157.52

2008

1,950.15

2007

1,792.34

2006

2,896.60

Redundancy Payments.

Martin Ferris

Question:

63 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will receive their statutory redundancy payment. [22515/09]

Under the Redundancy Payments Scheme, all eligible employees are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment on being made redundant. Payment of statutory redundancy is, in the first instance, a matter for the employer. If, however an employer is unable to pay the statutory redundancy entitlement to the employee, my Department will, upon submission by the employer of satisfactory documentary evidence proving inability to pay, make payment directly to the employee from the Social Insurance Fund. The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department has received an application from the individual concerned but is awaiting the submission from the employer of satisfactory documentation proving inability to pay. Once this is received, and if it is in order, the claim will be processed for payment.

Departmental Agencies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

64 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to restructure the board of FÁS or to replace current FÁS board members; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22076/09]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

65 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if future proposed appointments to the board of FÁS will be asked to appear before the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment to answer questions on their suitability for such an important role; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22077/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 65 together.

My Department intends to have a review of the appropriate appointment and structure of the board of FÁS completed before the end of the term in office of the current board which is the end of 2010.

Export Credit Insurance.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

66 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to introduce a new short-term credit insurance scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22078/09]

Following the recent receipt from Forfas and my officials of their further analysis into the possible provision of a State supported Export Credit Insurance Scheme and discussions with my Government colleagues, I have instructed my Department to initiate an accelerated tendering process for the purposes of carrying out forensic due diligence on the credit insurance market in Ireland. This due diligence will include an in-depth examination of the client databases of the main credit insurance providers operating in Ireland and will assess whether there is market failure. If market failure is confirmed, the level and nature of any such market failure will be quantified. The due diligence will also assess the costs and impacts of possible intervention of the State in this area.

I would like to stress that while this is a significant and necessary step in the process, it is not a guarantee that any such scheme will be introduced. On completion of due diligence, the matter will be considered again by the Government. Issues such as default risk, exchequer exposure to costs, value for money and the impact of any such scheme on business will be part of the exercise in hand, and will inform any future Government decision on whether to introduce a State-backed top-up export credit insurance scheme.

Redundancy Payments.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

67 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the timeframe for processing submissions by employers who apply for rebate on statutory redundancy; if her attention has been drawn to the delays in processing same; her views on permitting same to offset the refund due against tax liability due with immediate effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22088/09]

The economic downturn has seen a huge acceleration in the number of companies forced to take measures to cut staff costs including that of making staff redundant. The unprecedented level of redundancies is placing huge demands on the Redundancy Payments Section of the Department in that, in the first five months of 2009 alone, the claims received represent also 88% of the total amount lodged in 2008 (40,607). This is significant in that 2008 was itself a year that saw a significant increase in claims when compared with previous years (2002-2007) during which the annual intake of claims averaged at 24,590. The number of claims received is now averaging in excess of 1,800 per week as against an average weekly level of less than 500 up to 2007.

While the significantly increased demands now placed on my Department presents huge challenges, I am equally acutely aware of the difficulties which the current temporary inability to process redundancy payments as quickly as we would like is giving rise to for individuals and the business community. A number of steps have already been taken and these are under constant review. Measures taken to date include:

the reassignment of 21 staff additional staff from other areas of the Department to the Redundancy Payments area since early 2009 with ongoing review of trends and demands;

the prioritisation of the Department's overtime budget towards staff in Redundancy Payments Section to tackle the backlog outside normal hours;

the establishment of a special call handling facility to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses who are naturally concerned about their payments, using the facilities and cooperation of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA);

The provision of better quality information relating to current processing times on the Department's website. Currently the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is dealing with rebate claims submitted on-line in December and those submitted manually in November.

This is enabling the staff in the Redundancy Payments area to concentrate on and prioritise the processing of redundancy payment claims.

I have also been very concerned about the issue referred to in the Deputy's question about offsetting redundancy rebates due to employers against outstanding tax liability and I have taken measures to deal it. My Department has engaged with the Revenue Commissioners to facilitate businesses experiencing particular difficulties in meeting tax payment obligations because of a delay in receiving rebate repayments from the Department. Where agreement is forthcoming with the employer and, subject to satisfactory evidence being provided of the repayment due and its quantum, Revenue will be accommodating in deferring for a reasonable period collection or enforcement action that would otherwise ensue in the event of delayed payment of tax.

Grant Payments.

Jack Wall

Question:

68 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when payments will be made to a school group (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22117/09]

The payment of grants to individual skillnets is an operational matter for Skillnets Limited and one in which my Department has no function.

Energy Costs.

Simon Coveney

Question:

69 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, further to Parliamentary Question No. 59 of 19 May 2009, the specific EUROSTAT publication she is referring to when she quoted that small and medium sized enterprises here pay 1% below the EU average for energy; the reference number or name of the EUROSTAT publication; the further breakdown of energy costs available for all businesses classified as small or medium sized; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22211/09]

Eurostat publishes six monthly reports on electricity and gas prices across the EU. The methodology applied to reporting on prices by Member States is set out under the EU Gas and Electricity Price Transparency Directive. Eurostat data for the period January-June 2008 has been published on the Eurostat website. The title and reference number of this Eurostat publication is "Data in focus: Environment in Energy, No. 45/2008". Eurostat's online energy database contains the specific breakdown of business electricity prices by consumption bands.

The reference to the fact that smaller Irish SMEs were paying 1% below the average EU 27 electricity price is highlighted in the Sustainable Energy Ireland publication Understanding Gas and Electricity Prices in Ireland published in May 2009 and reflecting the Eurostat data referred to above. Smaller SMEs are defined as those that use under 20 Megawatt hours of electricity annually. Approximately 60% of the ESB's Small and Medium Enterprise customers fall under this category. Energy costs in Ireland for larger Small and Medium Enterprises, constituting a minority of Irish SMEs, are between 18% and 52% higher than the EU average.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Richard Bruton

Question:

70 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made in ensuring apprentices at a company (details supplied) can finish their apprenticeships; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22220/09]

A total of 60 apprentices have been made redundant by the company in question. This breaks down as follows:

28 Phase 3 Aircraft Mechanics

26 Phase 4 Aircraft Mechanics

6 Phase 3 Mechanical Automation & Maintenance Fitters.

FÁS met with all the apprentices prior to their redundancy to advise them of the services that they could provide. As a consequence a number of measures to assist these apprentices were put in place:

FÁS, in association with Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and the Higher Education Authority (HEA), have arranged an additional phase 4 off-the-job training programme in DIT. It commenced on the 20th April last for the 28 phase 3 apprentices.

FÁS has made arrangements to schedule the 6 phase 3 Mechanical Automation and Maintenance Fitting Apprentices to an off-the-job phase 4 training placement in September 2009 and January 2010.

In addition, FÁS requested each apprentice to complete a current curriculum vitae and these have been circulated to aircraft maintenance companies requesting these apprentices to be considered for any vacancies that may arise. In addition, my Department is currently in discussions with FÁS representatives to see if anything can be arranged in sourcing on-the-job training options for the 26 phase 5 redundant apprentices that were made redundant by SR Technics.

Job Creation.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

71 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of new jobs created in the Information Age Park, Ennis, County Clare in 2007 and 2008 and for the first quarter of 2009; the number of people and companies working in the IAPE at the end of 2008 and end of March 2009; the money spent by Shannon Development on the park to date; the amount of money Shannon Development has received in revenues from the park through land sales and leasing arrangements since its inception; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22236/09]

The Information Age Park Ennis is a strategic investment by Shannon Development in enterprise support infrastructure that will position Ennis and Clare generally to win new technology and knowledge economy investment projects. Statistics in response to the question are in the following tables.

Shannon Development acts in a landlord capacity in the Information Age Park, Ennis (IAPE) with a view to facilitating the development of both foreign direct investment and indigenous industry. Most of the tenants in the IAPE are small firms who would not have otherwise engaged with the national industrial development agencies such as the IDA and Enterprise Ireland. The management of the individual elements of the Shannon Development property programme is a day-to-day operational matter for the agency and not one in which I have a function. While I may give general policy directives to IDA and Enterprise Ireland, I am precluded from giving directives regarding individual undertakings or from giving preference to one location over others.

Shannon Development have spent the following amounts on the Information Age Park to date:

Land

3,259,242

Infrastructure

2,257,674

Buildings

9,208,906

Total

14,725,822

Shannon Development has received the following revenues from the Information Age Park through land sales and leasing arrangements since its inception:

Land Sales

2,387,169

Leases (Rental/Service Charges):

1,705,504

Total

4,092,673

The following table shows the number of people and companies working in the Information Age Park in Ennis at the end of 2008 and the end of March 2009.

Client

Total Jobs — 2008

Total Jobs — March 09

Coastline Imaging Systems Ltd

1

1

Informedia Systems Ltd

1

1

Medical Recruitment Specialists

1

1

Obego Ltd

1

David Butt & Associates

2

2

Q Surveyors

2

Casseo Ltd

2

2

Arise Virtual Solutions Int’l Ltd

3

4 (2 temporary & 2 fulltime)

Kajo/Tara Technologies

2

2

Gentian Services Ltd

1

2

Acton BV

6

7

CADPO Solutions

10

10

Design Shannon

3

3

Work Area Recovery Solutions Ltd

2

2

Attachmate

16

15

De Barra Publishing

5

5 (1 temporary & 4 fulltime)

Async Technologies Ltd

5

5

Total

61

64

EU Funding.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

72 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has submitted an application for funding under the EU Globalisation Fund in relation to workers at a company (details supplied) in County Limerick; if not, when she will submit the application; the level of funding she will be seeking from the fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22263/09]

I refer to the answer to Questions Nos. 148 and 149 of 6 May 2009. The application under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in preparation in relation to the redundancies at the Dell plant in Raheen, Co. Limerick and related enterprises is close to finalization. Officials from the European Commission will visit Dublin later this week to discuss technical issues with officials from my Department. It is my intention to submit the application to the European Commission next week.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Phil Hogan

Question:

73 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will intervene with FÁS with a view to providing funding in respect of an architect/technician course in order to assist people for qualification under the building energy rating programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22299/09]

FÁS Training Services has a Building Energy Rating (BER) programme which leads to a FETAC certificate and which can be run for suitable unemployed people. The course can be run from any of FÁS' Training Centres through either Night Training or through Contracted Training, subject to demand. If the Deputy has a particular group in mind, FÁS can engage with them to discuss their training needs and I will be pleased to facilitate that interaction.

Redundancy Payments.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

74 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16 will receive their statutory redundancy payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22452/09]

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is in receipt of an application for statutory redundancy payment from the individual concerned. The claim in question is currently being processed and, subject to meeting the required criteria, payment of the claim is expected to issue shortly.

Jack Wall

Question:

75 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has not received their entitlements under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 to 2007 or if there is an aspect of their application that needs to be addressed to ensure that the payments can be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22557/09]

My Department has no record of an application for statutory redundancy in respect of the individual in question. Under the Redundancy Payments Scheme, all eligible employees are entitled to a statutory redundancy lump sum payment on being made redundant. Payment of statutory redundancy is, in the first instance, a matter for the employer. In general, a redundancy situation exists where an employee's job no longer exists. It is up to the employer concerned to determine whether or not there is in fact a redundancy situation. Disputes in this regard can be referred to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) for adjudication. It should be noted that an employee must make application for a redundancy payment or seek a determination from the EAT within twelve months of ceasing of employment.

Departmental Expenditure.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

76 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount her Department and its agencies spent on the use of taxis in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22666/09]

My Department operates a taxi account with National Radio Cabs for the transport of officials of the Department/Offices of the Department on official business. The amounts spent by the Department and the Offices of the Department in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 are as follows: 2007 — €45,318; 2008 — €56,238; 2009 (to date) — €9,082. The figures do not include expenditure on taxis by officials of the Department/Offices of the Department while abroad on official business; it would be impossible to supply this information in the time available.

The use of taxis by officials of my Department/Offices of my Department is constantly kept under review by the Department and in light of the current economic situation officials of the Department/Offices of the Department have been urged to curtail where possible their use of taxis for official purposes and to use public transport facilities whenever possible. I am not in a position to provide the information sought by the Deputy in relation to the State Agencies under the control of my Department as such information falls within the day-to-day administration of the State Agencies concerned.

Redundancy Payments.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

77 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a substantive response will issue in relation to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22707/09]

IDA Ireland has been in contact with the company which advises that for the past month, it has held an internal ‘Career Planning Fair', where all of its businesses presented career opportunities in each business unit, to all employees who might be interested in a career move. Global Services was one of those recruiting and some employees have chosen to move. Some of those moving were from HP's Inkjet Manufacturing operation, where, due to the transformation and up-skilling of its business, it requires different skills. The company has confirmed that it will now be backfilling those positions with up to 100 new hires.

More generally, statutory redundancy is an employment right and is paid to workers whose employment has been terminated because the job they were employed to do no longer exists. The current rate for statutory redundancy stands at two weeks pay per year of service plus a bonus week subject to a ceiling of €600 per week. Payment of statutory redundancy is, in the first instance, the responsibility of the employer. Disputes between employers/ employees in relation to redundancy or payment of statutory redundancy entitlements may be referred to the Employment Appeals Tribunal for adjudication and determination. Payment of amounts other than statutory amounts is a matter between the employer and employees and the making of or entitlement to ex gratia payments is not within the remit of my Department.

Proposed Legislation.

Denis Naughten

Question:

78 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will introduce legislation to regulate franchises; if she is satisfied with the legal provisions to regulate this sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22730/09]

Franchise agreements are one type of distribution agreement and competition law applies to them as it does to all such distribution agreements. Such franchise arrangements are not considered to offend against competition law, provided that restrictive provisions in the franchise agreement are necessary to provide the franchisee with confidential know-how and/or to protect the identity and reputation of the franchised network.

In addition, under a franchise distribution arrangement, the franchisor (or supplier) provides a marketing system to the franchisee (or distributor). This introduces intellectual property issues into the arrangement, with the franchisor licensing the use of a common retail brand and marketing that brand. I have no plans to introduce legislation to regulate franchises.

Work Permits.

Michael Ring

Question:

79 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be refunded the money from their work permit application. [22749/09]

The Employment Permits Section informs me that a payable order issued to the above named on the 21st May 2009.

Departmental Expenditure.

Phil Hogan

Question:

80 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount of banking charges paid by her Department over the past three years; the breakdown of these charges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22881/09]

My Department pays banking charges on transactions made through Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) and on foreign payment transactions. Banking fees are also paid for the maintenance of bank accounts held by my Department for the purposes of making EFT payments. A breakdown of the amounts paid by my Department in banking charges and fees from 2006 to date is provided on the table.

Nature of charge/fee

2006

2007

2008

2009 (year to date)

Bank charges on EFT transactions

602.65

628.72

627.30

287.58

Transaction charges on foreign payment

703.50

720.98

800.01

228.00

Account maintenance fees

88.15

225.54

164.78

39.66

Total of charges and fees

1,394.30

1,575.24

1,592.09

555.24

Andrew Doyle

Question:

81 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount spent by her Department each year for the past three years on bottled water; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22895/09]

The costs incurred by my Department for the provision of bottled water for 2006, 2007 and 2008 are as follows, this includes the cost of water provided by means of water coolers: 2006 — €13,147.39; 2007 — €39,818.06; 2008 — €29,757.59.

Work Permits.

Dan Neville

Question:

82 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will report on the application for a work permit for a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [22928/09]

A renewal Work Permit is being issued in this case in the next three days.

Grant Payments.

Michael Creed

Question:

83 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the companies recently grant aided by her Department in the meat processing sector; the number of work permits for non-EU nationals that each of these companies holds; the number of work permits issued to each of these companies for non-EU workers for each year since 2000 to date in 2009; the criteria which these companies will have to meet to draw down their grant aid as they relate to numbers of people employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22954/09]

Payments of grant aid are not made by my Department. Payments are made by the Industrial Development agencies under the aegis of my Department and are a day to day operational matter for the agencies. I do not have any role in the day to day operational matters of these agencies.

Redundancy Payments.

Sean Fleming

Question:

84 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a redundancy payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Laois. [22962/09]

My Department has no record of an application for statutory redundancy in respect of the individual in question. Under the Redundancy Payments Scheme all eligible employees are entitled to a statutory redundancy lump sum payment on being made redundant. A redundancy situation arises in general where an employee's job no longer exists and he/she is not replaced. It is up to the employer concerned to determine whether or not there is in fact a redundancy situation. Disputes in this regard can be referred to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) for adjudication.

In the event of a positive finding by the Tribunal in favour of an individual, application for a redundancy payment should be made by the individual on form RP 50 which is available from the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department. This form should be completed and returned with the decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal which will allow the application to be processed. It should be noted that an employee must make application for a redundancy payment or seek a determination from the EAT within twelve months of ceasing of employment.

Industrial Development.

Jack Wall

Question:

85 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the mechanism available to a person to seek assistance in relation to a new initiative (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22979/09]

Depending on the nature of the initiative in question, the Deputy should advise the individual to contact the Galway County Enterprise Board (091-565269/www.galwayenterprise.ie) or the Galway office of Enterprise Ireland (091-735900/www.enterprise-ireland.com). The County Enterprise Boards provide financial and non-financial supports to individuals and small businesses with 10 or fewer employees while Enterprise Ireland provides funding and expertise to companies with more than 10 employees.

Work Permits.

Michael McGrath

Question:

86 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on an appeal lodged in relation to an employment permit application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [23132/09]

An application in respect of the above named was received in the Employment Permits Section on the 11/02/2009. This application was refused and the applicant was notified of this decision in writing by letter dated 28/04/2009 and of their right to appeal within 21 days. An appeal was lodged on the 21/5/2009 but as this was received outside the 21-day timeframe it could not be heard. In these circumstances, therefore, this application cannot be re-visited. However, should the prospective employer or employee wish to make a new application for a Work Permit, it will be considered on its merits.

Grant Payments.

David Stanton

Question:

87 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the grant aid made available or committed to meat processing companies in the past 12 months; the amount and companies involved; the conditions attached; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23137/09]

Matters relating to payment of grant aid or commitments to pay grant aid are day to day operational matters for the Industrial Development agencies. I do not have any role in the day to day operational matters of these agencies.

Decentralisation Programme.

Michael Ring

Question:

88 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if, with regard to the site identified as a suitable location for decentralisation in Charlestown, County Mayo, his Department has begun legal proceedings with regard to the acquisition of the site; if an agreement has been signed or funds transferred in relation to the site; the transactions undertaken to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22407/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

89 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance when he will make a final decision on the acquisition of a site for the decentralisation of his office to County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22410/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

122 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works has purchased a site (details supplied) in County Mayo. [22748/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88, 89 and 122 together.

The position in relation to the site in Charlestown is that terms were agreed last year but the contract for sale has yet to be finalised. Accordingly, there is no contractual commitment on the OPW to purchase the site. Given the elapse of time, and bearing in mind the change in market conditions over the last 12 months, the question of whether the terms agreed still represent value for money will have to be reviewed. In the meantime, the Department of Finance has recently been approached by a community group in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo, which has already completed a building in the town. This building is currently being assessed by the Office of Public Works. No decision has been taken at this stage on either option.

Insurance Industry.

Sean Fleming

Question:

90 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a company (details supplied) that was taken in charge by the State a number of years ago notwithstanding that the title of the company has been sold on but the business of the company had been transferred to an alternative company at that stage; and if the administrator has completed their dealings with the original organisation. [22963/09]

The Financial Regulator has informed me that following its failure in 1983, PMPA was renamed Primor plc. The principal activity of Primor plc (Under Administration) is the settlement of outstanding claims liabilities of the company. The company ceased its principal business of insurance underwriting in July 1989. I have been informed that the firm is at an advanced stage of run-off.

Tax Collection.

Richard Bruton

Question:

91 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will make exceptions to the four year maximum rule for tax refund claims when the Eastern Regional Health Authority incorrectly deducted tax from the maternity leave of a person (details supplied) in County Meath in 2003 which was only highlighted to the person in 2008. [22062/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in general a tax refund claim, which is outside the four year limit provided for under Section 865 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 cannot be allowed. However, in the case referred to there is a possibility that a claim was made to the Commissioners within the statutory time limit. Unfortunately an examination of the relevant data from the Eastern Regional Health Authority cannot be completed in the time available for a reply. In these circumstances the Commissioners will respond directly to the Deputy as quickly as possible.

Garda Stations.

Denis Naughten

Question:

92 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 174 of 2 December 2008, the progress to date on this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22064/09]

Sketch Scheme drawings for the new Station at this location have recently been submitted to An Garda Síochána for approval. The Office of Public Works is currently awaiting approval from the Garda Housing Office before proceeding with the project. Documentation for a planning submission is being progressed and will be lodged with the appropriate Local Authority in due course. It is envisaged that works will commence on site in the second half of 2009.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

93 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the guidance he gave on applying the higher income levies to income earned over a period, when part of that period was before 1 May 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22069/09]

The composite annual rates of income levy for the year 2009 ensure that all income earned in the year is, and all taxpayers (both PAYE taxpayers and the self employed) are, treated in the same way. These annual composite rates are complemented by two sets of payroll deduction rates requiring employers to deduct levy from payroll payments at the rates of 1%, 2% and 3% up to end April 2009 and at the rates of 2%, 4% and 6% from payments made after that date.

If a person has only PAYE income, which is paid with regularity over the course of the year, then the payroll deduction system should deduct the right amount of levy for the year without the need for any end of year review. The Revenue Commissioners have published comprehensive guidance on the operation of the income levy on their website in easy-to-understand question and answer format. This includes guidance on how to deal with any end-of-year adjustments.

Pension Levy.

Pat Breen

Question:

94 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance his plans to review the implementation of the pension levy with regard to a group of workers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22073/09]

I undertook during the Dáil debate on the pension-related deduction to have the situation of this group of workers examined to see if there are exceptional circumstances in their case. That examination is in progress. In the recent Supplementary Budget, I announced a change to the structure of the deduction which will exempt the first 15,000 euro of earnings. This should benefit the group of public servants in question considerably, especially those with no other public service employment.

Departmental Expenditure.

Phil Hogan

Question:

95 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of banking charges paid by all the Government Departments over the past three years; the breakdown of these charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22080/09]

My Department paid bank charges of €5,195 in the period 1st May 2006 to 30th April 2009 in respect of public bank accounts which are maintained to facilitate the making of electronic payments. This figure is broken down as follows — bank service charges of €2,870 and bank transaction charges of €2,325. The bank account used at present is interest bearing and interest of €7,147 was earned during the last 12 months.

Flood Relief.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

96 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if the Office for Public Works will give due consideration to the funding and rebuilding of a boundary wall (details supplied) in Dublin 11 destroyed during torrential flooding in August 2008. [22108/09]

The Office of Public Works has responsibility for river flooding and coastal erosion. The storm water flooding that caused the demolition of the boundary wall in the area mentioned during the floods in August 2008 does not fall under that Office of Public Works remit, as it was neither fluvial nor coastal flooding. Therefore, the issue of funding for any works in this instance is not a matter for the Office of Public Works.

State Banking Sector.

Joan Burton

Question:

97 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on recent media reports that he, as sole shareholder, and his Department had agreed at the recent annual general meeting of Anglo Irish Bank to change the institution’s articles of association; if he will confirm the veracity of the report; if the directors of Anglo Irish Bank have been indemnified as reported; if he will provide a rationale for the changes; if he will set out the potential impact on the taxpayer that these changes could have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22168/09]

The indemnity now granted to Directors under Anglo's revised Articles of Association is standard, and similar provisions are used in the articles of association of many companies. Also, while certain limitations on indemnification are imposed by Section 200(1) of the Companies Acts, which was disapplied by the Anglo Irish Bank Act 2009, Anglo's revised Articles of Association provide that I, as Minister, retain discretion on any decision to indemnify Anglo Directors beyond the limits laid down under the Companies Acts. I have not given consent for any such extension of indemnity.

Anglo's revised Articles of Association were adopted by resolution at the bank's annual general meeting on 30 April last, as provided for under Section 17 of the Anglo Irish Bank Act 2009. There is no impact on the taxpayer resulting from the changes to Anglo's Articles of Association, save that in the absence of standard provisions the State as shareholder might find it more difficult to fill board positions, to the overall detriment of the taxpayer.

Joan Burton

Question:

98 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline with reference to his statement to press reporters on 25 May 2009 that he is providing working capital to Anglo Irish Bank, what he means by reference to working capital; the nature and extent of the provision provided under that heading; the difference between Anglo Irish Bank’s current need for working capital and any possible future need for an increase in capital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22171/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, it was announced on 29 May that the Government had decided, subject to EU approval, to provide up to €4bn in capital to Anglo Irish Bank. This decision was taken in a context of disappointing six-month financial results for Anglo, reflecting a marked deterioration in asset quality at the bank. The injection of up to €4bn is necessary to ensure Anglo can meet its total capital requirements in the light of the results. The Government's overriding concern in taking this decision has been to protect the economy from the wider losses that would occur in the event of the failure of the bank; to protect the €64bn of deposits in the bank; and, to prevent the bank becoming a systemic threat to the financial system.

This capital injection will represent the first time that money has been put into Anglo, although the Government had signalled its readiness to do so last December before the bank was nationalised. The Board of Anglo is currently finalising its Business Plan, which will provide a detailed framework within which the bank, with Government support, will work though its current problems.

Tax Collection.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

99 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when a tax refund will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22179/09]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that while returns of income for 2006 and 2007 have been submitted by the person concerned the documentation submitted is not sufficient to support the refund claims. Additional information was requested on 11 May 2009 and has not been received to date. A reminder issued on 28 May 2009.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

100 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a report from the Financial Regulator following the investigation requested by him into the cost to mortgage holders of breaking fixed rate mortgages and into the cost to the financial institutions of breaking their own funding arrangements; if he has not received such a report, when it is anticipated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22184/09]

The Financial Regulator has confirmed to my Department, that all mortgage lenders have provided it with the formula used by that lender when calculating the early redemption fee applying to fixed rate mortgages. The Financial Regulator has also sought independent verification by an actuary that the fee charged by a number of lenders recouped only the loss in funding costs incurred by the lenders due to the early redemption of a fixed rate mortgage. The Financial Regulator has received the majority of the actuarial independent verifications from lenders and is currently reviewing the information received.

The verifications received to date indicate that the formulae applied by lenders seek to recoup the loss to the lender arising from the early redemption of the fixed rate mortgage and do not apply a penalty charge on the borrower. The Financial Regulator is also examining whether any additional costs are being charged. The Financial Regulator has advised that further analysis may be necessary once all of the information is received and reviewed. Should the remaining analysis by the Financial Regulator indicate that further consideration of this issue is required, it will be carried out.

Tax Code.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

101 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance his views on reviewing the rate of VAT on bands here in the current economic climate as gigs become harder to secure for persons whose only source of income is derived from gigs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22198/09]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

102 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if he will introduce a reduced VAT rate on band equipment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22199/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 102 together.

With regard to the VAT on band equipment, the VAT rate applicable to the supply of band equipment is the standard rate of 21.5%. In matters relating to the VAT rating of goods and services I am constrained by the requirements of EU law with which Irish law must comply. As band equipment is not listed in Annex III of the EU VAT Directive the reduced VAT rate cannot be applied to those goods. With regard to the VAT on bands, performances in the state by a band established in the state are a taxable activity for VAT purposes and VAT is charged at the standard rate. The band must register and account for VAT if the turnover from its activities exceeds an annual threshold of €37,500. In the case of performances outside the State, there is no Irish VAT chargeable, but the band may be liable to register and account for VAT on performances in other Member States.

There are no plans to review the rate of VAT applying to the performance of a band, especially given that admission to such performances are for the most part exempt from VAT, which is not the case in many other EU Member States. A VAT registered band can claim VAT input credit in respect of allowable goods and services used by it in connection with supplies it makes both within and outside the state.

Where a band not established in the state supplies performance services to a person acting in a private capacity in the State, then the band must register and account for VAT at 21.5% on all supplies of such services it makes in the State. No registration threshold applies in such cases. Where a band not established in the State supplies performance services to a person acting in a business capacity in the State, including an agent or promoter, then that person, agent or promoter will be deemed to be the person supplying the services and must register and account for any VAT due on such services. Again no registration threshold applies in such cases.

Flood Relief.

John McGuinness

Question:

103 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if he is in receipt of the report on recent flooding in County Kilkenny compiled by Kilkenny County Council; the action the Office of Public Works will take relative to the report and its recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22230/09]

I am advised by my officials in the Office of Public Works (OPW) that the said flooding report, in draft format, has been received from the Consultant. The draft report was discussed at a meeting between Kilkenny County Council (KCC) and OPW officials at a meeting held on 4 June 2009 when further details and clarifications were sought prior to a final report being accepted. It is expected that the final report will be available from the Consultant in early July 2009. A further meeting between KCC and OPW officials will be arranged shortly thereafter to discuss the final report and its recommendations, with a view to determining what solutions are viable, and deciding on the development and prioritisation of flood alleviation measures.

State Banking Sector.

Joan Burton

Question:

104 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if persons (details supplied) have in the past received special or preferential loans from Anglo Irish Bank; if any family members of other directors of Anglo Irish Bank have in the past received preferential loans from Anglo Irish Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22231/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, certain matters relating to corporate governance at Anglo Irish Bank before it was taken into public ownership, are the subject of ongoing investigations, including by the Financial Regulator and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on or prejudge the outcome of these investigations. As I have stated previously, any breach of regulatory or legal requirements in relation to directors' loans identified on foot of these investigations will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Tax Collection.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

105 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the circumstances in the matter of the dispute between the Revenue Commissioners and a person (details supplied) culminating in the seizure of product and subsequent losses to the person’s firm; the full extent of grievance to the offended party outstanding; the extent of compensation paid or outstanding; if it is intended to address the recovery issues; the action which will be taken to resolve such issues; the reason there was a delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22307/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the matter referred to by the Deputy is in dispute between the person in question and the Commissioners. The dispute is ongoing and there is potential for litigation. The matter has also been examined by the Ombudsman's Office. In these circumstances, the Commissioners advise me that they feel themselves constrained in replying in detail to the Deputy.

By way of general remarks, the Revenue Commissioners have advised me that:

Full and comprehensive material addressing the matters raised in the Deputy's questions has already been supplied to the person in question and a reply to his further correspondence will issue shortly.

The rationale and analysis underpinning Revenue's position has also been supplied to him, including a report from an external expert.

The Commissioners approached this case in good faith, with a view to achieving a negotiated settlement, but fundamental differences between the parties remain.

Given the complexities of the case, and its responsibilities for public funds, Revenue does not consider that there was unreasonable delay in its dealings with the person in question.

Departmental Expenditure.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

106 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance the amount spent by his Department each year for the past three years on bottled water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22326/09]

The amount spent on bottled water by my Department for each of the past three years is outlined in the table below. Expenditure relates to containers of water which are supplied for general consumption through water dispensers. The majority of water dispensers are mains fed but this is not feasible in all cases.

Year

2006

4,379.00

2007

4,000.00

2008

3,612.00

Tax Code.

Brian Hayes

Question:

107 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if a pensioner who derives income from a deposit account and has put the account into joint names with their daughter, who derives no benefit, for the purposes of easy access for expenses relating to the account holder’s funeral, can claim a DIRT refund; and the financial institutions to which such a refund applies. [22370/09]

An individual can claim a refund of DIRT if: he/she (or his/her spouse) is aged 65 or over during the year and ·his/her gross income from all sources (i.e., old age pension, deposit interest, etc.) is less than €20,000 (or €40,000 in the case of a married couple).

In general, joint accounts where one of the account holders is aged 65 or over will only qualify for the refund of DIRT where the other account holder is that person's spouse. However if another person, such as a daughter or son, has authority to operate an individual's bank account on his or her behalf, and is named as an account holder for this purpose only, the individual will continue to qualify for the refund provided that his or her beneficial ownership of the account is not affected. In the circumstances set out in the question the pensioner should, when making the DIRT refund claim to Revenue, include a declaration that he/she is beneficially entitled to all of the interest paid in respect of the deposit. Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) is deducted at source from interest paid on deposits held by banks, building societies, credit unions and the Post Office Savings Bank.

Financial Services Regulation.

Brian Hayes

Question:

108 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if he plans to index section 35 of the Credit Union Act 1997 in view of the current climate when longer repayment schedules may be needed by borrowers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22371/09]

A core objective of the legislative and regulatory framework for Credit Unions in Ireland is to ensure the safety and soundness of credit unions. This requires prudent lending and investment decisions by Boards of credit unions to safeguard members' savings. The restrictions contained in Section 35 of the Credit Union Act 1997, as amended, are an important asset and liability tool for credit unions as the funding of credit unions is predominantly provided on a short term basis in the form of on-demand savings and consequently the limits on longer term-term lending are necessary.

I am aware that credit unions are seeking to facilitate revised repayment instalments for credit union members currently experiencing difficulty in meeting loan repayments due to unfavourable changes in their financial circumstances but that these endeavours, in certain circumstances, run up against the current Section 35 limits on longer-term lending. Subject to the over-arching considerations that the financial position of a credit union, the security of members' savings and accurate reporting of the financial status of a credit union is maintained, it should be possible to explore all reasonable steps to allow a member, in carefully monitored and controlled circumstances, to re-schedule their repayments to a level which is affordable to them. Of course, each credit union must fully and properly recognise arrears situations where they exist, and where members are in difficulty the process of facilitating them must be transparent to board members and regulators so that a credit union is never in doubt as to its own position.

I have asked my Department to reconvene the Group, representative of stakeholders, the Regulatory Authority and my Department, which successfully reviewed the Section 35 lending limits in 2006. The mandate for this Group will be to find a solution to this complex issue.

Decentralisation Programme.

Michael Ring

Question:

109 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if funding for the purchase of decentralisation properties identified as having been approved by Government to proceed in budget 2009 has been or will be committed in the context of the current economic climate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22411/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

110 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if he has informed individual Departments that funding previously anticipated as available for decentralisation projects will no longer be made available by his Department; if he will provide details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22412/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 109 and 110 together.

The 2009 Revised Estimates for the Public Service provide sufficient funding this year in respect of those projects identified as priority projects in Budget 2009 that are ready to commence during the current year. My Department has also taken account of the full multi-annual costs of the priority projects in preparing its projections for 2010 and 2011. As you will be aware from my Statement to the Dáil in respect of the Supplementary Budget, the Government has set new strict expenditure ceilings for both capital and current expenditure for 2010 and 2011. Within these tighter expenditure limits, priorities will have to be determined over that period having regard to other demands on the OPW's capital budget. The timing of the commencement of individual projects, and consequently the expenditure incurred in respect thereof, will be determined having regard to such other emerging priorities.

Procurement Policy.

Denis Naughten

Question:

111 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if he will review the turnover threshold conditions being placed on tenders in view of the financial pressure facing many small businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22422/09]

The Department of Finance does not specify turnover thresholds for businesses applying for public contracts. While public authorities must be satisfied as to the technical and financial capacity of those to whom they award public contracts, the general guidance is that pre-qualification criteria must be proportionate and relevant to the needs of the contract. It is a matter for each authority to specify the criteria having regard to what is necessary and appropriate in each case. It would be contrary to public procurement rules to set requirements that are disproportionate or are otherwise over-restrictive.

Pension Provisions.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

112 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance his plans to reform the rules whereby holders of approved retirement funds are compelled to take 3% per annum of their accumulated fund and pay tax on it at the highest marginal rate, in view of the deterioration in value of pension funds in the past 18 months and the desire of ARF holders to defer drawing down funds until such time as the value of their investment improves; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22441/09]

An ARF (Approved Retirement Fund) is an investment vehicle into which certain individuals can invest the proceeds of their pension plans. An ARF offers such individuals considerable flexibility and freedom as regards when they draw income in retirement and acts, in that regard, as an alternative to a retirement annuity which provides a regular income stream for life. In common with annuity income, draw-downs from ARFs are subject to taxation at the ARF owner's marginal rate of income tax. This was always the intention.

The 2006 Budget and Finance Act introduced an imputed or notional distribution of 3% of the value of the assets in an ARF on 31 December each year, with the notional amount taxed at the ARF owner's marginal income tax rate. The level of imputed distribution at 3% is not considered excessive, given that ARFs are intended to provide an income stream in retirement for their owners and generous tax relief is provided on the contributions to, and growth of, pension funds the proceeds of which are invested in ARFs.

The notional distribution was introduced following an internal review of tax relief for pensions provision undertaken by my Department and the Revenue Commissioners in 2005 (published in 2006) which found that the ARF option was largely not being used as intended, to fund an income stream in retirement, but instead was being used to build up funds in a tax-free environment over the long-term. The imputed distribution measure is designed to encourage the use of ARFs as planned. It is not unreasonable that there should be an expectation that the benefits from these funds will be subject to tax at some point. Funds actually drawn down by ARF owners are credited against the imputed distribution in a year to arrive at a net imputed amount, if any, for that year, although there is no compulsion to draw funds from the ARF so long as the tax due on the notional distribution is paid.

The 3% rate was phased in over a transitional period commencing in 2007, with 1% applying in 2007, 2% in 2008 and the full 3% in 2009 and each subsequent year. The new regime applies to ARFs created on or after 6 April 2000 where the ARF holder is 60 years of age or over for the whole of a tax year. This provision does not impact on Approved Minimum Retirement Funds (AMRFs). Given the rationale for the introduction of the measure, I have no plans at this time to make changes to the imputed distribution arrangements for ARFs.

Tax Collection.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

113 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance when payment of tax refund will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [22456/09]

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a cheque in respect of tax refund due, issued to the individual in question on 1st May last. If the individual has any further queries, regarding his tax affairs, he may contact the office of the Revenue Commissioners at 1890 22 24 25.

Tax Code.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

114 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance if the VAT rebate for tour operators will be reinstated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22476/09]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the VAT Margin Scheme which is being introduced in respect of the services of tour operators from 1 January 2010. To date, the services provided by tour operators have been exempt from VAT in Ireland. Under the Margin Scheme, tour operators will account for VAT on the profit realised on the supply of a travel package and will be entitled to deduct/recover VAT incurred on the overheads associated with delivering their services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

115 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to the tax of €10 on every person leaving Ireland; if it will include a group (details supplied) in County Kildare; if in view of the circumstances they will be exempt from this tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22480/09]

A part of this Government's response to the current unprecedented fiscal challenges, an air travel tax on passengers departing Irish airports was introduced on and from 30 March 2009. A general rate of €10 per passenger applies, with a lower rate of €2 for shorter journeys. The Finance (No. 2) Act 2008 provides for a number of exemptions from the air travel tax including that a disabled person and a person accompanying the disabled person for the purpose of providing care and assistance are exempt from the tax. I have no plans to extend the exemptions from the air travel tax.

Jack Wall

Question:

116 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the mechanisms available to a person who has issues or problems surrounding the information on their P45 regarding the date of commencement of employment and the date of leaving; the way a person can seek to readdress such an issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22497/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a correctly completed form P45 is required, under PAYE regulations, to be given by an employer to an employee on cessation of employment. The form P45 is a notification to Revenue that an employee has ceased employment with that employer. The form also contains details of the employee's pay, tax and PRSI contributions from the start of the year to the date of cessation of employment. The P45 will show the date of commencement of that employment if the period of employment commenced since 1st January in the current tax year.

If an employee does not get a form P45 when leaving, or the form is incorrectly completed, he or she should ask the employer for a correct P45 and repeat the request if necessary. If the employer still fails to provide a correct P45, the employee should notify their local Revenue office by telephone, email or in writing that they have failed, after several attempts, to get a correct P45 and stating what the problem is. The matter will then be followed up quickly by Revenue with the employer.

Departmental Expenditure.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

117 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance the amount his Department and its agencies spent on the use of taxis in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22668/09]

The amount spent on taxis by my Department in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 is contained in the following table.

Spend by the Department of Finance on taxis for 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009

2007

2008

2009 to Date

€117,350.00

€80,690.00

€16,109.00

I am informed by the various agencies under the remit of my Department that the following amounts were spent on taxis in the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009.

Office

2007

2008

2009 to date

Valuation Office

815

1,103

423

Commission for Public Service Appointments

742

537

46

Public Appointments Service

2,975

2,906

737

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

110,250

80,988

25,189

State Laboratory

2,661

3,721

919

Office of Public Works*

9,105

6,485

1.063

National Treasury Management Agency

32,050

34,138

14,333

Special EU Programmes Body**

£566

£459

£682

*The Office of Public Works have advised that in addition to these payments, taxi fares claimed through the travel system are included in a "Public Transport" category. While the figures include taxi fares it also includes payments such as train and bus fares. Taxi fares are not easily identifiable in isolation.

**These figures are in pound sterling and the amounts do not all relate to funding from the Department of Finance, as costs are either split 50/50 with the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel, or funded by EU Programmes.

The total amounts for public transport are as follows:

Year

Amount

2007

139,532

2008

171,332

2009

29,347

Tax Code.

Joe McHugh

Question:

118 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the process that applies for cars without VRT that are seized by customs; the location at which these vehicles are stored; if they are used while they are in storage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22681/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that vehicles that are seized by Revenue Officers on the grounds of evasion of VRT are dealt with in the following manner.

Where the seized vehicle meets the conditions governing local release that have been set down by the Commissioners, the seizing officer will calculate the VRT and the penalty due and will notify the person concerned accordingly. The vehicle is released once the penalty and the VRT due have been paid. In certain circumstances the owner may be allowed a short period of time to register and pay the VRT due. In other circumstances, the details of the case are reported to the Revenue VRT Prosecution Unit, which considers an appropriate course of action, including whether the vehicle should be retained as a seizure and/or whether proceedings should be instituted.

Where the seized vehicle is likely to be held by Revenue for a short period of time pending its release, it is normally kept in short term official storage facilities that are located in various parts of the country where local enforcement units are based. Most vehicles that are not to be released in the short term, are removed for storage at the State Warehouse in Dublin pending the final outcome of the case. Such vehicles are normally driven from the local station to the State Warehouse and are not used otherwise.

Joe McHugh

Question:

119 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the reason cohabiting couples are not treated as married couples for taxation purposes, but are treated as married couples for social welfare purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22682/09]

Cohabitating couples are expressly recognised for the purpose of social welfare law but are not recognised for the purposes of income tax law. Although this may appear contradictory, the main aim of both the welfare code and the tax code is to uphold the constitutional right of married couples not to be treated less favourably than unmarried couples. The basis for the current tax treatment of married couples derives from the Supreme Court decision in Murphy vs the Attorney General (1980) which held that it was contrary to the Constitution for a married couple to pay more tax than two single people living together and having the same income.

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

Jack Wall

Question:

120 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if there is tax relief available to persons who have children with special needs (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22688/09]

There is no provision in tax law to allow relief for expenses relating specifically to dyslexia treatment or instruction. However, in recent years the Government has increased significantly the supports available through the direct expenditure system for children with disabilities. In 2005, approval was given for the Department of Education and Science to move from individual allocation of resource teaching support for children with special needs, on foot of a psychological assessment, to an approach whereby all mainstream primary schools are allocated resources based on their enrolment without the need for individual psychological assessments for the high incidence categories of need, such as dyslexia and mild general learning disability. In all, it is projected that, of the total budget of the Department of Education and Science of almost €9.5 billion, over €1 billion is allocated across services for special needs.

As with many areas where State support may be required, the question arises as to whether such support may be more effectively provided through the direct expenditure route rather than through the tax system. One advantage of the former mechanism is that the support may be better targeted at those in need, irrespective of family income, whereas support through the tax system can only benefit those whose incomes are high enough to benefit from tax relief.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

121 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance his views on abolishing the 2% betting levy and replacing it with a profit based tax on bookmakers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22738/09]

During the Finance Bill, I indicated that discussions would commence as to how best betting duty might be applied in the future, in the context of the 2010 Budget including looking at the UK's gross profit tax model. A number of different proposals in that regard have been received from various sectors of the industry. I also indicated that it is my intention to widen if possible the tax base on which betting duty would be applied. My officials are continuing to explore all options on an ongoing basis.

Question No. 122 answered with Question No. 88.

Tax Collection.

Michael McGrath

Question:

123 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that a VAT refund is issued to a company (details supplied) in County Cork. [22767/09]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the VAT refund was paid by direct credit to the company's bank account on 26 May 2009.

Jack Wall

Question:

124 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is entitled to a tax refund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22774/09]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that PAYE Balancing Statements P21 for the years 2004 to 2007 inclusive issued to the person concerned in April 2008 and that all refunds due have been made. In relation to the tax year 2008 the person concerned paid no tax.

Pension Provisions.

Richard Bruton

Question:

125 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his views on exempting employer personal retirement savings account contributions from the income levy in view of the fact that he allows an employer to pay money into a pension scheme without the income levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22905/09]

This query is similar to Parliamentary Question No. 125, [21099/09] submitted by the Deputy, to which I replied on 26 May last. The income levy applies to all emoluments of an employment including perquisites and taxable benefits-in kind. The income levy liability is calculated before any relief, allowance or credits which may be due under the income tax code. As previously stated, the income levy treatment follows the income tax treatment in both the cases referred to by the Deputy. That position, as set out in my earlier reply, remains unchanged.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

126 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he sanctioned a post of head of translation unit in the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, recently advertised at a salary of €130,000, when there is an embargo on recruitment and when there is a translation unit, Rannóg an Aistríucháin, which operates under the Houses of the Oireachtas; if so, the reason for same; if he envisages sanctioning further recruitments in this translation unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22919/09]

The Government decision on the moratorium on recruitment is not a complete embargo on the filling of all posts in the Civil Service. It allows me, as Minister for Finance, to sanction the filling of vacancies where the business case for continuity of service so requires. Having considered issues arising in connection with a Supreme Court case concerning the translation of statutory instruments into Irish I decided as an exceptional measure to sanction the filling of a post of head of translation unit and five other translation posts in the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, in accordance with the agreed Government strategy. I have ensured, by means of a staff levy on the main Departments and Offices producing statutory instruments, that there will be no addition to the overall total of Civil Service numbers. There will be a review of the new translation unit at the end of the first nine months of operation and the staff requirement will be addressed at that stage. The translation unit, Rannóg an Aistriúcháin, attached to the Houses of the Oireachtas primarily deals with the quite separate issue of the translation of Acts of the Oireachtas into Irish, but not with the translation of statutory instruments.

Tax Collection.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

127 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons registered with the Revenue Commissioners who have declared their income source as taxi operator, taxi driver or small public service vehicle driver; the number of PAYE workers who have a TC2 designation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22926/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the latest relevant information available to May 2009 indicates that some 30,000 individual income earners have declared income from the operation of taxi-cabs, chauffeur-driven hire cars and analogous activity. Other individuals on tax records may also have income from the same activity but are not so identified in the statistics as the records are kept by reference to the primary source of income only.

The sector identifier used on the tax records is based on the 4 digit "NACE code" which is an internationally recognised economic activity code system. NACE code classifications on tax records are compiled by reference to the primary area of economic activity reported by an individual. While the accuracy of the NACE codes on tax records is sufficient to underpin broad sector-based analyses there will undoubtedly be some inaccuracies at individual level.

It is assumed that the query regarding the number of PAYE workers who have a TC2 designation also refers to those working as taxi drivers. In regard to this query, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are not in a position to provide this information within the timeframe for issue of this reply. Accordingly, they will contact the Deputy directly on this issue at a later date.

Decentralisation Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

128 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 116 of 3 March 2009, the position in relation to the completion of decentralisation to the town in question; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22940/09]

Having received the necessary Department of Finance sanction to place a contract for the construction of new decentralised offices for the Property Registration Authority at Roscommon, the Office of Public Works has informed the preferred tenderer of its intention to place a contract subject to acceptance of a number of conditions. Subject to these conditions being satisfied, it is expected that a contract will be placed shortly and that construction work will be completed by autumn 2010.

Health Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

129 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a psychology service is being withdrawn from a group (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22072/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

130 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children when payment for the free pre-school year will be granted to service providers; in particular, if someone commences their pre-school year in September 2009 and if the funding is introduced in January 2010, will they be able to claim the free pre-school payment for the remainder of the year from January 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22127/09]

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 will commence in January 2010. The scheme will allow children to avail of a free playschool place in their pre-school year, which will be provided for three hours per day, five days per week for 38 weeks. It will also allow children in their pre-school year who are attending a full or part-time day-care service to avail of a free session of two hours and 15 minutes per day, five days per week for 50 weeks. Participating children must, normally be aged between three years three months and four years six months on 1 September of each year.

An annual capitation fee of over €2,400 will be paid to participating services. This equates to €64.50 per week where children attend for 38 weeks, and €48.50 where they attend for 50 weeks of the year. Participating services will receive the capitation payment at the beginning of each term. Participating services will receive the capitation fee for all qualifying children enrolled in the service in January 2010, regardless of whether or not the children were enrolled at an earlier date. As the first full year of the scheme will commence in September 2010, children availing of the scheme in January 2010 will have a reduced period of free pre-school provision.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

James Bannon

Question:

131 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a wheelchair for a child (details supplied), who suffers from cerebral palsy and has grown out of their primary chair and needs a larger one; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22545/09]

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

Children in Care.

Dan Neville

Question:

132 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if an application for the fostering payment will be processed as soon as possible for a person (details supplied). [22618/09]

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

Pension Levy.

Bernard Allen

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork is obliged to pay the pension levy despite the fact that they have a private pension. [22621/09]

All employees, including full time and part time employees on the payroll, who are or are entitled to be members of a public service occupational pension scheme or pension arrangement are subject to the deduction provided for under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. I can confirm that the levy applies to all employees of the Cope Foundation as this employer is deemed to be a public sector employer for the purposes of the legislation (sections 1(i), 2(1)(b)(i) and 2(1)(b)(iii) refer). In this case the employer provides access to and makes a contribution to a private defined benefit pensions scheme; therefore the levy applies.

Departmental Staff.

Tom Hayes

Question:

134 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff allocated to process the back to school clothing and footwear allowance; the number of staff allocated to process this scheme in 2008; the funding spent on that scheme to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22628/09]

In 2009 a total of 200,246 children at a cost of €47.6 million benefited from the BSCFA scheme. No figures are yet available for 2009 as the scheme commenced on 1 June and will run to 30 September 2009. Under the Health Act 2004, 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 the allocation of staff is a service matter, the relevant part of the Deputy's question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Water Quality.

Phil Hogan

Question:

135 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the public concern in relation to fluoride concentration in drinking water; if she is proposing the monitoring of this fluoride concentration; the equipment that is available to carry out automatic on-line monitoring and automatic fail safe shut down systems; her views on whether it is appropriate to introduce that type of equipment in order to allay public concerns in relation to fluoride concentration and to avoid overdosing the product in drinking water supplies to comply with Health and Safety Authority regulations 2007 regarding chemicals application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22641/09]

All fluoridated public water supplies are monitored on a monthly basis by the Environment Health Officers (EHOs) and an analysis of the water samples is undertaken by the Public Analyst laboratories. New supplies are sampled on a fortnightly basis for the first 6 months and monthly thereafter. Any deviations from the relevant standard are notified to the relevant local authority for corrective action.

My Department established the Forum on Fluoridation in 2002. Its main conclusion was that the fluoridation of public piped water supplies should continue as a public health measure. One of the recommendations of the forum was to amend the Fluoridation of Water Supplies Regulations 1965 to redefine the optimal level of fluoride in drinking water from 0.8 to 1.0 parts per million (ppm) to between 0.6 and 0.8ppm. I signed regulations in 2007 to give legal effect to this change.

On foot of a recommendation from the forum, The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health was set up in 2004 to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the forum; to advise the Minister and evaluate ongoing research — including new emerging issues — on all aspects of fluoride and its delivery methods and to report to the Minister on matters of concern. The Expert Body has produced a Code of Practice to ensure efficient and effective implementation of the technical aspects of the fluoridation of drinking water by all personnel involved. This Code of Practice has been sent to all local authorities. Furthermore, the Expert Body has also appointed consulting engineers to undertake a national audit of the water fluoridation process at water treatment plants in Ireland.

My Department does not hold any details in regard to the equipment, either currently in use or that which it is planned to use, in water treatment plants. This is a matter for the relevant local authorities.

Children in Care.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

136 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the Health Service Executive’s child protection services are properly resourced to carry out all their competing functions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22058/09]

Children's services provided by the HSE aim to promote and protect the health and well being of vulnerable children and families. A wide range of services are provided including early years services, family support services, child protection services, alternative care, services for homeless youth, search and reunion (post adoption) services, psychological services, child and adolescent psychiatric services, registration and inspection of children's residential centres in the voluntary sector and monitoring of children's residential centres in the voluntary and statutory sectors.

The HSE service plan for 2009, which was approved by the Minister for Health & Children on 9 December 2008, envisages that Child and Family service provision in 2009 will be in line with that provided in 2008. In her letter of approval, the Minister asked the Board and management of the HSE to pay particular attention in 2009 to the absolute necessity for the HSE to operate within the limits of its Voted allocation in delivering, at minimum, the levels of service specified in the service plan. I will be working with the HSE to try to ensure that provision of these important services to some of the most vulnerable members of our society can be maintained at existing levels notwithstanding the ongoing budgetary adjustments aimed at restoring balance to the public finances. Implementation of the service plan will be monitored formally throughout 2009 by means of regular monitoring reports to the Department of Health and Children.

As regards human resource issues I would point out that social workers are exempted from the Government's moratorium on recruitment. In addition, proposals for an ICT system to support social work services for children has received HSE approval and is with the Department of Finance for review. If approved, the objective is to have this system operating as quickly as possible to enable better exchange of information and improved communication between relevant staff throughout the HSE.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

137 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent of the backlog in post-adoption placement assessment reports from before 2008; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this backlog has caused the Russian Federation to suspend inter-country adoptions with Ireland; if the Health Service Executive has informed her of the way it will direct resources to clear this backlog; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22059/09]

My Office is continuously working to create the appropriate legislative, policy and administrative frameworks that will ensure a well regulated regime of adoption. Our aim is to support and protect the children for whom adoption services are devised and provided and prospective parents. A number of regions of the Health Service Executive were recently listed by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science as having failed to provide them with post-placement reports. As the Deputy is aware, post-placement reports are a requirement of a number of countries that send children to be adopted by Irish applicants.

While the Health Service Executive continues to facilitate the preparation of post-placement reports, it has no statutory function in relation to the provision of same. The key commitment given is the legal affidavit to co-operate with the provision of such reports that is required by the Russian Government from all applicants. Where parents do not co-operate, there is no legal basis to enforce their co-operation with post-adoption reporting in this jurisdiction.

My Office was in touch with the Health Service Executive to clarify the situation in relation to any such list of outstanding reports as soon as this matter was raised. The Executive confirmed that reports continue to be supplied from all regions and that it was following up in respect of reports that may be completed but not yet transmitted. Over 450 such reports were required in respect of 2008, and it is anticipated that around 400 will be required in respect of 2009 (not all due yet). Officials from my Office raised the matter with the Russian Embassy at a recent meeting. The Russian side has provided a list of outstanding post-placement reports. This list, which was collated by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, is currently being validated by the Embassy. In the meantime, I asked the relevant authorities to assist me in pursuing the resolution of this issue as a matter of urgency.

An extensive examination of the list of alleged "missing" post-placement reports has been carried out by the Adoption Board and the Health Service Executive. While I await final numbers, it appears that the list supplied by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science is inaccurate. In short, the majority of the outstanding reports (which are estimated to be around 30) have been completed and are with the adoptive parents for translation, apostilling and notarisation — that is, the Social Workers have already conducted the home visit and the report. In a small number of cases, parents have neglected or have been unwilling or unable to arrange for a home visit with their Social Worker. Further contact has been made again to arrange for all outstanding visits to be undertaken and is being prioritised by the Health Service Executive Adoption Services to ensure that the parents can have the required reports forwarded to the Russian Embassy.

1229 children from the Russian Federation have had their names entered into the Register of Foreign Adoptions in the period 1991 — 2008. This equates to approximately 5,000 post placement reports. Of the total number of reports required, just over one half of one per cent have not been transmitted to the Russian authorities. Despite the current difficulties, I believe these statistics make it clear that the vast majority of parents are complying with the commitment which they gave to co-operate with such reports and are being fully assisted in doing so by the HSE and the Adoption Board.

Officials have indicated to the Russian side the importance that we are attaching to resolving the matter. Once finalised, the Adoption Board has advised that it will contact the Russian authorities with the validated list. The Health Service Executive and the Adoption Board have already contacted any families where reports are outstanding.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

138 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the lapse of the inter-country adoption agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the suspension of inter-country adoptions from the Russian Federation are no fault of prospective adoptive parents; if she will urge the Adoption Board to grant extensions including second extensions to the declaration of eligibility and suitability of prospective parents where the board has discretion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22060/09]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

180 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in dealing with the problems that have arisen with regard to inter-country adoptions between Ireland and Vietnam and Ireland and Russia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22262/09]

I propose to takes Questions Nos. 138 and 180 together.

My Office is continuously working to create the appropriate legislative, policy and administrative frameworks that will ensure a well regulated regime of adoption. Our aim is to support and protect the children for whom adoption services are devised and provided and prospective parents. A number of regions of the Health Service Executive were recently listed by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science as having failed to provide them with post-placement reports. As the Deputies are aware, post-placement reports are a requirement of a number of countries that send children to be adopted by Irish applicants.

While the Health Service Executive continues to facilitate the preparation of post-placement reports, it has no statutory function in relation to the provision of same. The key commitment given is the legal affidavit to co-operate with the provision of such reports that is required by the Russian Government from all applicants. Where parents do not co-operate, there is no legal basis to enforce their co-operation with post-adoption reporting in this jurisdiction.

My Office has been in touch with the Health Service Executive to clarify the situation in relation to any such list of outstanding reports. The Executive has confirmed that reports continue to be supplied from all regions and that it is following up in respect of reports that may be completed but not yet transmitted. Over 450 such reports were required in respect of 2008, and it is anticipated that around 400 will be required in respect of 2009 (not all due yet). The Health Service Executive in all ten areas listed by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science has conducted an extensive search for these alleged "missing" post-placement reports. The majority of the outstanding reports have been completed and are with the adoptive parents for translation, apostilling and notarisation — that is, the Social Workers have already conducted the home visit and the report.

I have dealt with this matter in some detail in the House. I must emphasise that there is no evidence that there is a backlog on post-placement reports in respect of the Russian Federation and that the numbers of alleged "missing" reports is not substantiated by the investigation under way. I believe that in the vast majority of cases parents are complying with the commitment which they gave to co-operate with such reports and are being fully assisted in doing so by the HSE and the Adoption Board. I must also acknowledge that, in a small number of cases, parents have neglected or have been unwilling or unable to arrange for a home visit with their Social Worker. Further contact has been made again to arrange for all outstanding visits to be undertaken and is being prioritised by the Health Service Executive Adoption Services to ensure that the parents can have the required reports forwarded to the Russian Embassy.

With regard to the issue of inter-country adoptions between Ireland and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, as the Deputy is aware, the Government is presently working towards securing a strengthened intercountry adoption agreement with the Vietnamese authorities. There has been on-going dialogue with the Vietnamese authorities — with the focus on achieving the requisite strengthening of procedures for the protection of children. All options, including an interim agreement, are actively being pursued to allow for the conclusion of discussions on a strengthened bilateral agreement and to facilitate continuity of the strong and positive relationship between both jurisdictions.

I am anxious to conclude discussions on the text of the inter-country adoption agreement already under consideration. However, that is not to say that any guarantee can be provided in relation to the outcome of that process. In addition, it must be pointed out that the wider policy agenda priority is the enactment of the Adoption Bill and the subsequent ratification of the Hague Convention. The agreement must have regard to these forthcoming changes in our national adoption legislation.

Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability are governed by the Adoption Act, 1991. Under its provisions, a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability is only valid for 12 months. However, the Adoption Board may grant an extension for a further period if it is satisfied that it is reasonable and proper to do so having regard to any material changes to the living circumstances of the applicants. This procedure applies to all countries equally. The provisions contained in the Adoption Bill, 2009, allow for a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to be valid for 24 months, with the possibility of a further 12-month extension — subject to the discretion of the Adoption Board.

Ambulance Service.

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

139 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ascertain from the Health Service Executive the reason the private ambulance service-level agreement has been extended from December 2009 to December 2010 without allowing new providers the opportunity to offer their services after the original termination date of December 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22061/09]

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

251 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ascertain from the Health Service Executive the reason the national ambulance service is not supporting the allocation to specific private ambulance services citing that they are un-inspected while at the same time refusing to provide an inspection service which can assess capacity to meet demand. [22692/09]

I propose to takes Questions Nos. 139 and 251 together.

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

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

140 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of hours of home help provided in County Donegal for the month of April 2009; and the projected figure for May and June 2009. [22063/09]

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

Pat Breen

Question:

141 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the position with regard to a clinic (details supplied) at Merlin Park Hospital, Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22074/09]

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

Accident and Emergency Services.

Phil Hogan

Question:

142 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money owed to the various accident and emergency departments here by persons who have used same in the past two years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22079/09]

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

Health Services.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

143 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the facilities available for a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22093/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

144 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to address the unresolved issue of a €9.9 million deficit in the 2007 budget for Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, which was promised to the hospital but never materialised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22094/09]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

145 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to retaining vital services at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin; if she will stop further ward closures; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22095/09]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

179 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will engage with the management of Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Dublin and the Health Service Executive in order to identify funding that will enable the hospital to keep wards and theatres operating at normal capacity in order to treat ill children as speedily as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22261/09]

Denis Naughten

Question:

276 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will call on the Health Service Executive to meet the board of management of Crumlin children’s hospital with a view to securing savings without affecting front-line services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22939/09]

I propose to takes Questions Nos. 144, 145, 179 and 276 together.

In common with all hospitals, Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin is addressing the challenge of delivering a high quality service to its patients, while remaining within budget. The Hospital is committed to providing the full level of services that it promised in its service plan for 2009. The top priority will be to protect patient care.

So far this year, Crumlin Hospital has delivered more treatments to patients than for the same period last year. In the first four months of 2009 there were 3,704 treatments for children as in-patients and 5,095 as day cases– up by 234 over 2008. Crumlin also had 28,040 attendances at the out-patient department for the first four months. The allocation to Crumlin for 2009 is €139.6m, an increase of some 39% over the last five years. This includes a reduction of 3% this year over 2008, in line with the budgetary contraints facing the entire public sector and the wider economy. A particular challenge for the Hospital is that it is currently operating at some 91 posts above its employment ceiling — it employed 1,641 people (wholetime equivalents) at the end of April compared with its ceiling of 1,550. This is contributing to its current financial difficulties.

The HSE is working closely with Crumlin Hospital to achieve an agreed programme of savings, totalling €6.5m this year. The focus of these savings will be on non-pay areas of expenditure and on protecting front-line services. On this basis, the HSE believes that the Hospital will achieve a break-even position this year.

I believe that we need to look more strategically at the way in which we provide paediatric services in Dublin. In 2009 the Government will provide over €250m for the running of three paediatric hospitals in Dublin — Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght. We can achieve significant cost savings if services and practices are more closely integrated across the three hospital sites, even before the new National Paediatric Hospital has been completed. With this in mind, the HSE is pursuing ways in which services across the three hospitals can best be co-ordinated, to avoid unnecessary duplication and to achieve savings that can be put back into patient care. The HSE has been asked to respond directly to the Deputy on the service issues raised.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

146 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure the retention of scoliosis treatment and surgery in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22096/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

147 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will award a doctor-only medical card to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12. [22097/09]

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

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

148 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare was seen as an emergency case in a dental clinic in Athy and advised that they required treatment; the reason their treatment was not provided at this dental clinic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22098/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

149 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if an application for a medical card by persons (details supplied) in County Cork is being expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22104/09]

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

Sean Sherlock

Question:

150 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite a decision on an application for a medical card by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22105/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Joe Carey

Question:

151 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the discharge policy and procedures and its implementation for geriatric patients from Mid-West Regional Hospital Limerick subsequent and previous to the adopting of the Teamwork reconfiguration of accident and emergency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22113/09]

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

Joe Carey

Question:

152 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the timeframe for implementation of outstanding elements in relation to medical services as outlined in the Teamwork report on the reconfiguration of acute services in the mid-west; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22114/09]

Noel Coonan

Question:

201 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children when all beds, paramedics, emergency department consultants and ambulances promised for a hospital (details supplied) in County Limerick in the Teamwork report commissioned by the Health Service Executive will be delivered; the timeframe for same; the number that have already been put in place since services have been transferred to this hospital from Nenagh General Hospital as recommended in the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22418/09]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

205 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in advance of an estimated extra 3000 surgical cases being transferred from Nenagh, Ennis and St. John’s to the Mid-West Regional Hospital, Limerick in July 2009, she will ensure that recommendation 13.3 of the Health Information and Quality Authority report on Ennis Hospital is implemented; if she will also ensure that the MWRH, Limerick has adequate capacity and staff to cope with the increased case load; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22436/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 152, 201 and 205 together.

The fundamental objective of Government health policy is to achieve the best possible health status for the population. The Government is committed to ensuring quality health services are delivered efficiently and effectively. Ensuring patient safety is paramount, so that people can have confidence in the services and that the best possible patient outcomes are achieved. The HSE has commissioned a number of reviews in relation to how acute hospital services should be organised in particular regions. These reviews have highlighted the need for changes to be made in the provision and organisation of acute hospital services in the regions concerned, particularly in relation to accident and emergency services, critical care, and surgical services.

The first phase of the reconfiguration of acute hospital services in the HSE Mid West involves the reorganisation of the arrangements in Ennis and Nenagh so that these hospitals provide an urgent care/minor injuries service for 12 hours a day as part of a regional Accident and Emergency structure. This took effect on the night of 6/7 April. In the context of the re-configuration process, the level of staffing of the ambulance services in Clare and North Tipperary has been enhanced and an advanced 24-hour paramedic service is also now in operation. Advanced paramedics are trained to a standard which equips them to provide more complex pre-hospital care than other personnel. This includes the administration of a wider range of drugs and the urgent assessment and treatment of patients with life threatening conditions. Protocols are in place to ensure that all trauma, paediatric and obstetric emergency cases brought directly to the major tertiary centre at Limerick Regional Hospital rather than to Ennis or Nenagh.

The Government is committed to a process of change which is incremental and which involves appropriate consultation and discussion with those affected. The HSE is proceeding on this basis. I am satisfied that the measures being taken by the HSE are necessary and appropriate in order to ensure the provision of safe and effective health services to the people of the Mid West region. My Department has asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputies in relation to the matters that they have raised.

Health Services.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

153 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in County Dublin will obtain a psychological assessment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22126/09]

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

Medical Cards.

John McGuinness

Question:

154 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a medical card was refused in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if the application will be reviewed; and if a full medical card will be issued for them. [22135/09]

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

Health Services.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

155 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children awaiting hearing tests in the Health Service Executive south and the average waiting period for these tests; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22146/09]

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

Hospital Staff.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

156 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status regarding the appointment of a paediatric orthopaedic consultant to Cork University Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22147/09]

I understand that, following interviews held last December for posts of permanent Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, two applicants were offered posts; one appointee took up duty last month. The HSE placed a further advertisement for permanent posts and hopes to be in a position to fill a minimum of two further posts in Cork University Hospital from this process. The HSE is seeking to ensure that one of the appointments made will have a special interest in paediatric orthopaedic surgery. In the interim, the current service at St. Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital which is provided by visiting Paediatric Consultant Surgeons from Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin will continue.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

157 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people on the hip replacement waiting list in the Health Service Executive south; and the average waiting period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22148/09]

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

Bobby Aylward

Question:

158 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will arrange for the admission of a child (details supplied) in County Laois to Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin; if they will be considered under the National Treatment Purchase Fund scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22159/09]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

Dan Neville

Question:

159 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide assistance to blind people here by insisting that braille is put on food products and on medicines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22160/09]

European medicines legislation was changed in October 2005 to introduce explicit requirements for Braille to appear on the packaging of medicines. This legislation also requires pharmaceutical companies to ensure that the patient information leaflets for their medicines are made available, on request from patients' organisations, in formats appropriate for the blind and partially sighted. This legislation requires that the name (and in some cases the strength and the pharmaceutical form) of the medicine is expressed in Braille on the product packaging, allowing for the improved differentiation of medicines by blind and partially sighted people.

These new Braille provisions became effective across the EU in October 2005 and are being phased in over a five year period. This means that, by October 2010, all packs of medicines on the market in Ireland that may be given to patients will carry Braille on their packaging, and all pharmaceutical companies that market authorised medicines in Ireland must ensure that the patient information leaflets for their medicines are available, on request, in formats that are suitable for the blind and partially sighted.

At present EU food labelling legislation is harmonised by Council Directive 2000/13/EC, transposed in 2002, with several amendments since. In January 2008, the European Commission proposed a new regulation to update and harmonise this legislation. While it is not proposed to include braille on food labels, there is broad support, at working group level, for improvements to the presentation of information on food labels, including the introduction of a minimum 1.2mm text size and ensuring a significant contrast between the printed text and the background of the label. These improvements will be of benefit to the partially-sighted.

Health Services.

Joan Burton

Question:

160 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the practice of general practitioners charging patients supplementary fees for blood tests, or other treatments or services, to make up for the reduction in the amounts being reimbursed by the Health Service Executive; if she will take steps to eradicate this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22169/09]

Under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, either capitation or fee-per-item, the general practitioner (GP) undertakes to provide all proper and necessary treatment of a kind generally undertaken by a GP to these patients. Accordingly, under these contracts a GP should not demand or accept any payment or consideration for services provided by him/her, including blood tests, where they are indicated as part of a recognised treatment of an ongoing medical condition of a patient.

I am aware that some GPs charge for the transport of patients' blood samples to the hospital as this is not covered under the GMS Scheme. However the option of attending the public hospital directly for phlebotomy services is always available to GMS clients. If the HSE is made aware of specific instances where GMS patients are being inappropriately charged by GP contractors, it will arrange to have them investigated as appropriate.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

161 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22180/09]

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

Health Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

162 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in orthodontic treatment for a child (details supplied) in Dublin 9 who was previously assessed by an orthodontist and placed on the category V listing; and in view of their age and development, if she will arrange for them to receive treatment. [22182/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

163 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kerry was refused mobility allowance and their diabetic and rent allowances were taken from them. [22186/09]

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

Health Services.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

164 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a date for a speech therapy and psychological assessment in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22194/09]

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

Brian Hayes

Question:

165 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a centre (details supplied) has been closed for the week commencing 24 May 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22195/09]

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Michael McGrath

Question:

166 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive their appointment for a hip operation under the National Treatment Purchase Fund. [22203/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22208/09]

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

Health Services.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

168 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if a property (details supplied) in Dublin 8 is owned and operated by the Health Service Executive; if there is a manager or supervisor on site; the number of people who avail of this facility on a daily basis; if there is a charge for accommodation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22209/09]

I understand that this facility is owned by Dublin City Council and that services at the facility are jointly funded by Dublin City Council and the HSE. I have asked the HSE to reply directly to you in relation to the services which it funds at the facility.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Billy Timmins

Question:

169 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. [22210/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Joan Burton

Question:

170 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical card applications received in relation to people over 70 years; the number granted; the number refused; the number of discretionary cards granted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22214/09]

Details of the number of medical card holders are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The figures are provided on a net basis, showing the balance after new cards have been issued and other cards, as appropriate, have been deleted from the Executive's database, e.g. following a review of a person's circumstances. The most recent figures provided to my Department by the HSE reflect the position on 30th April 2009. The total number of medical card holders aged 70 years and over on that date was 334,652.

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

Joan Burton

Question:

171 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff who have been allocated to the over 70 years medical card service in the primary care reimbursement service; the number of these who are permanent Health Service Executive staff; the number who are not HSE staff; the person who is their employer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22215/09]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

172 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite a decision on an application for a new wheelchair in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22223/09]

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

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

173 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for a situation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22227/09]

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

Departmental Reports.

Denis Naughten

Question:

174 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received a copy of the final report of the Health Service Executive-funded adult day services review; if she will publish the report; if she will outline the recommendations in this report and the steps that are to be taken to implement these recommendations as they apply to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22240/09]

I have not received the final copy of the National Review of HSE Funded Adult Day Services. I understand that the National Working Group adopted a final draft report on the 7th May 2009 and that the completed report will be provided to the HSE National Disability Steering Group for their consideration. As I have not received a copy of the final report, it is not possible for me to comment, at this time, on the recommendations or their implementation.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

175 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the occupational therapy available through the Health Service Executive to a child with dyspraxia in Dublin 17. [22242/09]

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

Long-Term Illness Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

176 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No: 212 of 26 May 2009, if she will include haemochromatosis under the long-term illness scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22256/09]

Under the 1970 Health Act, the Health Service Executive may arrange for the supply, without charge, of medicines and medical and surgical appliances to people with specified conditions, for the treatment of that condition, through the Long Term Illness Scheme (LTI). The LTI does not cover GP fees or hospital co-payments. The conditions 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. There are currently no plans to extend the list of eligible conditions.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Mary Upton

Question:

177 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 will have their application for the health repayment scheme addressed and responded to promptly and in detail; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22258/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Mary Upton

Question:

178 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she will take in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16; if she will expedite their request; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22259/09]

Mary Upton

Question:

182 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16 will be issued with a medical card as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22288/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 182 together.

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

Question No. 179 answered with Question No. 144.
Question No. 180 answered with Question No. 138.

Hospital Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

181 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for an appointment at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, sooner than has been arranged in view of the worry and distress which is being caused. [22280/09]

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

Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 178.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

183 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22309/09]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Jack Wall

Question:

184 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare qualifies for a digital hearing aid; the cost involved to the individual; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22322/09]

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

Health Research Funding.

Denis Naughten

Question:

185 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding provided for research into Friedreich’s ataxia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22325/09]

The Health Research Board (HRB) is the statutory agency with responsibility for funding health research in Ireland with a view to improving health and health outcomes. In line with best practice, all HRB funding is awarded based on the principles of open competition and international peer review and assessed against specific explicit criteria. The HRB has worked closely with the Medical Research Charities Group to (a) increase the amount of funding available to support research projects relevant to charities and specifically for rare diseases and (b) develop a research management capacity among research charities. To date, very few grant applications dealing exclusively with Friedrich's Ataxia have been received by the HRB, and none has been successful.

Health Services.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

186 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a home care package has been withdrawn from a person (details supplied) in County Galway; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this person was making good progress with the help that was given to them but they will now be under pressure to leave their home should a satisfactory level of home care not be made available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22332/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Billy Timmins

Question:

187 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position with respect to the medical card application for a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22339/09]

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

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

188 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive an MRI scan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22346/09]

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

Catherine Byrne

Question:

189 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if scoliosis screening was carried out in a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12 in the academic year 2004/2005; if not, the reason for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22353/09]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

190 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the position of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 on the waiting list for spine corrective surgery; if she will provide a date for this operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22354/09]

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

Joe Costello

Question:

191 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will have their operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22362/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Brian Hayes

Question:

192 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if the breast cancer services in Tallaght, Dublin, are to be moved; if the alternative locations have the capacity to deal properly with the waiting lists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22372/09]

Under the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), there are four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres. These centres were designated by the HSE following a recommendation from the Advisory Group set up under the NCCP. The designation of cancer centres aims to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while at the same time allowing local access to services, where appropriate.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has designated St. James's Hospital and St. Vincent's University Hospital as the two cancer centres in the Managed Cancer Control Network for the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster region. The general catchment area for Tallaght Hospital incorporates both St Vincent's University Hospital and St James's Hospital, and the transfer of services from Tallaght will take place in a coordinated way to these two designated centres.

Symptomatic breast disease services are the first to be transferred. The NCCP has overseen a detailed planning process with Tallaght Hospital, St. Vincent's Hospital and St. James's Hospital. The resources that will be transferred have been identified and the designated centres have completed a capacity equipping plan that ensures they are able to receive additional referrals from GPs in the Tallaght catchment area. It is expected that the transfer will take place within the next couple of months. Only initial diagnosis and surgery are transferring from Tallaght. Medical oncology services will continue to be provided at Tallaght as part of a regional network of medical oncology for the Dublin-Mid Leinster area. The oncology day ward opened by me in June 2006 will continue to operate.

Departmental Reports.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

193 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will publish the report of the cardiovascular health policy group which she established in September 2007 to draw up a new policy framework for all aspects of cardiovascular health, including stroke; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22381/09]

The Cardiovascular Health Policy Group will complete its work in October 2009. The strategy will be accompanied by an implementation plan. Both reports will be brought to Government thereafter with a view to publication.

Departmental Agencies.

Billy Timmins

Question:

194 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the percentage of the Health Service Executive budget spent on wages and administration when it commenced its operation; and the percentage spent on wages and administration as of 1 May 2009. [22385/09]

The HSE Annual Financial Statements indicate that the HSE spent €4.546b on pay and administration in 2005. This pay figure relates to all staff including front line personnel. This represents 41% of total gross expenditure (€11.000b) in 2005. The 2008 Annual Financial Statements which contain the latest audited accounts indicate that the HSE spent €5.636b on pay and administration. This represents 38% of total gross expenditure (€14.683b) in 2008. The figures above outline the level of expenditure on pay and administration in respect of the HSE only. They do not include pay and administration costs for bodies directly funded by the HSE under Sections 38 and 39 of the Health Act, 2004.

Health Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

195 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in County Cork will receive orthodontic treatment. [22388/09]

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

Departmental Reports.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

196 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department has received a report, leaked this week in the national media, on the reconfiguration of hospital services in the south east; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the reported content of this report has caused dismay and anger in County Wexford; if she has had direct input into this report; her views on its contents; and if she will cause a full copy of the report to be laid before Dáil Éireann to allow a full democratic debate on its contents. [22398/09]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the Teamwork Review of Acute Hospital Services in the HSE South. The Teamwork Review was concerned primarily with acute hospital services in Cork and Kerry and did not make detailed recommendations in relation to services in the South East. The HSE has not made any determination in relation to the future configuration of acute hospital services in the South East.

The Executive established a Steering Group in April, 2009 to review the current service configuration and to prepare proposals for the future organisation of acute hospital services in the South East. The Steering Group, which includes the Clinical Directors of the four acute hospitals concerned, will work with a number of specialty advisory groups to assist in evidence-based decision making. It is anticipated that the Group will bring forward proposals in late 2009.

The fundamental objective of Government health policy is to maximise the health status of the population. The Government is committed to ensuring quality health services, delivered efficiently and effectively. Ensuring patient safety is paramount, so that people can have confidence in the services and that the best possible patient outcomes are achieved. I believe that the approach being taken by the HSE in relation to the configuration of acute hospital services is the best way forward.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

197 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if complaints have been received by the Health Service Executive from former employees regarding the treatment of residents of a nursing home (details supplied) in County Offaly; the action that has been taken by the HSE as a result of inspections of this facility; if the HSE is represented in current legal proceedings in relation to this nursing home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22399/09]

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

Michael McGrath

Question:

198 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will intervene in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork and ensure that an adult day care place is provided by an appropriate service provider for the person. [22400/09]

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

Care of the Elderly.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

199 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has finalised details of the public consultation process on the national positive aging strategy; if so, if she will outline the process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22404/09]

I am finalising plans for the public consultation phase of the National Positive Ageing Strategy at the moment, and I will make an announcement about these shortly.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

200 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason it takes up to five years in some parts of the country to assess couples for adoption from overseas; if she expects that this timeframe will be shortened when the Adoption Bill 2009 is implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22405/09]

Requests for assessment for inter-country adoption are continuously increasing. The ‘Study on Inter-country Adoption Outcomes in Ireland', undertaken by the Children's Research Centre, Trinity College, between December, 2004, and April, 2007, revealed that Ireland has one of the highest rates for inter-country adoption in Europe. It is against this background that the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is continuing to work to create the appropriate legislative, policy and administrative frameworks that will ensure a well regulated regime of adoption. Its aim is to support the children for whom adoption services are devised and provided and to protect prospective parents.

A family that wishes to adopt should be recognised beforehand as being able to promote, safeguard and support the development and well-being of a child in need of adoption in a lasting manner. However, it is acknowledged that persons applying for inter-country adoption are experiencing delays as regards waiting times for assessment, and that there are also concerns regarding the standardisation of the service across the country.

It should be noted that the increasing numbers of children adopted from abroad create additional pressures on inter-country adoption teams within the Health Service Executive. This is because these same teams provide post-adoption reports to the sending countries, at the request of those countries, and with the agreement of the adoptive parents. This is an important component in the willingness of countries to consider Irish applicants for adoption. It must also be acknowledged that the Health Service Executive's Child Welfare and Protection Services must continue to be the priority in managing the overall resources available to the Executive in respect of all of these services.

It is also important to note that, following the assessment process, if successful, applicants must then wait before receiving a referral for a child from the sending country. The waiting times for referral are outside the jurisdiction of both the Health Service Executive and the Adoption Board and are dependant on the regulations that each individual country has with regard to inter-country adoption.

At a practical level, the development of standards for the assessment of applicants for inter-country adoption has been advanced through the conjoint working of the Adoption Board, the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Health Service Executive. This work was based on a report commissioned by the Department of Health and Children and submitted to Government in June, 1999, entitled "Towards a Standardised Framework for Inter-country Adoption Assessment Procedures". The standardised framework which emerged from that process in 2000 was founded on evidence-based practice and developed with the assistance of international agencies in the field. The implementation of this framework is continually under review by all parties as inter-country adoption practice and experience continues to evolve and with particular regard to the new statutory framework likely to emerge from the recently published Adoption Bill, 2009.

The Bill, which has now passed all stages in the Seanad, provides for a new regime for the accreditation of a range of agencies providing adoption services. This modernised regime more fully recognises the phenomenon of inter-country adoption and makes provision for the accreditation of agencies to provide both assessment services or mediation services. The Bill also proposes changes to the regulation of the activities, management and financial arrangements of such agencies. If enacted, there will be opportunity for the development of new agencies to assist in the reduction of waiting times in those areas where the waiting times are longest.

Question No. 201 answered with Question No. 152.

Mental Health Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

202 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of plans for the development of the mental health day hospital in Roscommon town; the capital allocation for 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22424/09]

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

Health Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

203 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that the maximum possible home help support is provided to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [22431/09]

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

Michael McGrath

Question:

204 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to an application for respite on behalf of a child (details supplied) in County Cork. [22435/09]

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

Question No. 205 answered with Question No. 152.

Hospital Staff.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

206 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of permanent nursing posts and temporary posts in each of the Health Service Executive acute public hospitals; if she will ensure that the restrictions on renewing temporary contracts do not adversely impact on hospitals that have a high ratio of temporary nurses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22437/09]

In order to implement savings measures on public service numbers, the Government has decided that, with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010, no post in the public sector, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade. The decision will apply to all grades of permanent and temporary staff, including nursing, notwithstanding a number of specific exemptions, some of which are highlighted below. A HSE circular has issued which gives effect to the Government decision in the public health services and other specific aspects of the employment control framework for the health services.

The Government decision has been modulated to ensure that key services are maintained insofar as possible in the health services, particularly in respect of children at risk, older people and persons with a disability. The HSE will be focussing on the scope that exists within the health services for reorganising and restructuring of work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. The redeployment and reassignment of existing staff will also support the reorientation of care from hospitals to the community and to facilitate the development of integrated care. It is seeking a high level of flexibility from staff and unions to achieve this.

In addition, the employment control framework specifically exempts the following front line grades in the health sector from the moratorium: Medical Consultants, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Clinical Psychologists, Behaviour Therapists, Counsellors, Social Workers, and Emergency Medical Technicians. The framework actually allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800 wtes) for the health sector. The framework also includes provision for the creation of 225 new development posts this year for cancer and disability services.

The focus on these key grades is in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding has already been provided. The overall result will be to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care. The number of permanent nursing posts and temporary posts in each of the Health Service Executive acute public hospitals is a service matter and has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Charges.

Damien English

Question:

207 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the recent 33% increase in car parking charges at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22438/09]

Damien English

Question:

208 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money raised in parking charges at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, County Meath, for each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 in tabular readable form. [22439/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 and 208 together.

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

Child Care Services.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

209 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application for a Montessori school will be finalised and funding advanced to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22453/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006-2010 under which capital grant funding is made available to community and commercial child care providers for the development of child care facilities.

With the economic downturn Government expenditure, particularly in the area of new capital commitments, was reviewed earlier this year. As a result, with the exception of a limited number of projects, it was necessary to inform all NCIP capital grants applicants, including the applicant referred to by the Deputy, that the programme was closed to additional applications. Existing capital commitments will continue to be processed during 2009 and 2010. The City and County Childcare Committees will be advised by my Office if and when additional capital funding becomes available to my Office in 2011 and 2012.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

210 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will qualify for assistance towards a hearing aid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22455/09]

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

Mental Health Services.

Michael Creed

Question:

211 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that a child (details supplied) in County Cork who has recently been diagnosed as autistic will have access to all of the required therapy supports as outlined in the child’s assessment of needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22467/09]

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

EU Directives.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

212 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has requested input from the professionally trained nutritional therapists and dieticians on the implementation of the food supplements directive (2002/46/EC); and if she will make a statement on her policy on the role of food supplements in preventative health care here. [22468/09]

The Food Supplements Directive, 2002/46/EC, has been transposed into Irish law by Statutory Instrument No. 506 of 2007. The principle behind the legislation is to ensure that consumers in Ireland are protected by the harmonised EU rules on the sale of food supplements, in particular the labelling of food supplements and chemical form of vitamins and minerals they contain. The Directive also makes provision for the European Commission to determine maximum and minimum levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements. This matter remains under consideration at European Commission level.

The legislation is implemented by the Health Service Executive, under a Service Contract Agreement with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). I am informed that the Division with responsibility for Food Supplements within the FSAI is staffed with personnel who are qualified dieticians, registered nutritionists and a medical doctor. The FSAI provide any necessary professional nutritional and dietary advice to my Department.

Based on advice and information received from the FSAI, I am fully aware of the preventative health care benefits of food supplements containing vitamins and minerals taken at recommended levels in terms of helping people at risk of dietary inadequacy. However, I am also advised that they should not be used to compensate for a poor diet. My Department is committed to ensuring that all supplements on sale in Ireland are safe in terms of the amount of vitamins and minerals they provide and this informs our approach to ongoing discussions in Europe to agree maximum and minimum levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

213 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children if community welfare officers are compiling data on the numbers of self-employed people applying to community welfare officers for emergency social welfare payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22469/09]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

Willie Penrose

Question:

214 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will take steps to ensure a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath is admitted to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22471/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

215 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive a date for an operation at Portlaoise General Hospital, County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22479/09]

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

Care of the Elderly.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

216 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will grant an increase in the home help service hours for a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22484/09]

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

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

217 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [22485/09]

The Deputy may be aware that the Special Housing Aid Scheme for the Elderly previously operated by the Health Service Executive is no longer operational. The scheme was replaced by the Housing Aid for Older People (HAOP) in August 2008 which is being administered by the local authorities. The HSE no longer takes applications under the old scheme, however, it continues to process outstanding applications received before August 2008. In this regard an allocation of €3.5m was made by my colleague Minister Finneran to the HSE recently to deal with these cases. The Executive has confirmed that it does not have an application from the individual referred to by the Deputy before this cut-off date and therefore I would suggest that he apply directly to his local authority under the new scheme.

Child Care Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

218 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children if the early childhood care and education scheme will, when fully established after August 2010, still allow care services to accommodate children on a pro rata basis and not have their capitation grant unduly affected as a result; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22486/09]

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the implementation of the new scheme to provide a free Pre-School year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), which will commence in January 2010. From September 2010, services participating in the scheme will be required to provide full rather than pro-rata pre school year places. Parents will be encouraged to avail of the free pre-school year on the basis of full attendance and participating services will be required to give priority to parents using the service on this basis.

However 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, transitional arrangements will apply. To facilitate these services and the children attending them, they may continue to accommodate children on a pro-rata basis during this period and services 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.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

219 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. 199 of 28 April 2009. [22488/09]

My Department has been informed by the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Health Service Executive that a reply has issued to the Deputy.

National Drugs Strategy.

Seán Barrett

Question:

220 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she plans to take to deal with the sale of potentially dangerous stimulant substitutes for a drug substance (details supplied) banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1984; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22490/09]

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and regulations made thereunder regulate and control the import, export, production, supply and possession of a range of named narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances listed in the Schedules to the Act. Substances are scheduled under the Act in accordance with Ireland's obligations under international conventions and/or where there is evidence that the substances are causing significant harm to public health in Ireland. Items available for sale in so-called ‘head shops' such as "Spice", "Snow", "Smoke" and "Zo-hai" are currently not scheduled under Misuse of Drugs legislation. The list of scheduled substances is kept under ongoing review. For example, in 2006 psychotropic (‘magic') mushrooms, which were on sale in such outlets, were banned and their possession and sale is now illegal. On 31 March 2009, BZP was similarly subjected to legislative control measures and criminal sanctions.

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

General Medical Services Scheme.

Willie Penrose

Question:

221 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the grounds upon which a general practitioner can exclude patients from their GMS panel; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22505/09]

Under the terms of the General Medical Services (GMS) contract which general practitioners (GPs) hold with the Health Service Executive (HSE), a GP shall ordinarily accept all eligible persons, who so request, onto his / her GMS patient list. The number of persons on a GP's patient panel may not exceed 2,000, save in exceptional circumstances. In some cases, a GP may decide not to accept an eligible person onto their list, the principal reason being where they already have a significant patient panel and coping with any additional workload would cause them difficulty. In a small number of cases, a GP may ask to have a patient who is placing excessive demands on the GP's time, and thus impacting on the GP's ability to provide a service to other patients, removed from his/her panel.

Where a GP requests the HSE to arrange for the removal of a patient from his / her GMS list, he / she must give where requested the reason, in confidence, for such a request to a medical officer acting on behalf of the Executive. The HSE shall thereupon notify the person accordingly and supply them with information to enable them to apply for inclusion on the list of another GMS contracted GP.

The Executive has the power to assign an eligible person to a GP's GMS patient list where the person has been removed from another GP's list or refused entry onto a GP's list and the person has unsuccessfully applied to at least three GPs in the area, who are contracted to provide services under the GMS. If the Deputy is aware of any particular case where a GP is excluding a patient from his / her GMS panel, he may wish to refer the details to the HSE for investigation.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Willie Penrose

Question:

222 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children when three community houses (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be fully staffed, in order to allow them to accommodate persons with intellectual disabilities who wish to move in there; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22510/09]

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

Martin Ferris

Question:

223 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children if funding will be made available to enable a person (details supplied) in County Kerry to continue their education. [22521/09]

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

Hospitals Building Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

224 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the planning status of the proposed co-located hospital on the grounds of Cork University Hospital; when it will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22522/09]

The Board of the HSE has approved preferred bidder status for the development of a co-located project at Cork University Hospital and a Project Agreement has also been signed. Planning permission for this development has been granted by the local authority concerned and appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

Medical Cards.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

225 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application for a medical card by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22523/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

226 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of psychologists working in the public sector for the Dublin north area; if she will increase this number to address the waiting times for children in need of a psychology service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22530/09]

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

Ambulance Service.

James Reilly

Question:

227 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when the advanced paramedic scheme will come into operation in the Dublin area in view of the substantial population in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22531/09]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

Tom Hayes

Question:

228 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding available under the remit of disability services in south Tipperary; the amount that has been planned in respect of south Tipperary for 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22532/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

229 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if pre-school providers will be able to qualify for the new free pre-school education year programme if they open four days a week but are willing to work the 15 hours allocated to pre-school care over four days. [22534/09]

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

A range of options is available to participating pre-school services to provide for the flexible delivery of the new ECCE scheme. A full or part-time day-care service will be required to provide a pre-school service for 2 hours 15 minutes per day, five days a week for 50 weeks (241 days) per year, in return for the capitation fee of €48.50 per week. A playschool sessional service will be required to provide a pre-school service for 3 hours a day, five days a week for 38 weeks (183 days) a year, in return for a capitation fee of €64.50 per week. However, where for good reason a sessional service is unable to operate over 5 days, consideration will be given to allowing it to participate in the scheme on the basis of providing the pre-school year for 3 hours 30 minutes a day for 4 days a week. In such cases, a service will be required to provide the pre-school year over 41 weeks (157 days).

Further flexibility is provided for in that, a full or part-time service may choose to provide a sessional service over 38 weeks of a year (or 2 sessional services each day) while a sessional service may choose to provide 2 hours 15 minutes per day over 50 weeks. Also in cases where children attend a full or part-time day-care service for 3 days a week only, consideration will be given to allowing the service to participate in the scheme on the basis of providing the pre-school year to those children for 3 hours 45 minutes a day for 3 days a week. In such cases, a service will be required to provide the pre-school year over 50 weeks.

Tom Hayes

Question:

230 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if pre-school providers will be allowed to share places between families under the new free pre-school year in view of the fact that, if this is not allowed, and the number of places are full with people taking up the full amount of the pre-school year, some children may have to be turned down as there will be a lack of capacity to take all the new children applying. [22535/09]

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

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, transitional arrangements will apply. These will facilitate these services and the children attending them in that they may continue to accommodate children on a pro-rata basis and 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. However, from September 2010, services participating in the scheme will be required to provide full rather than pro-rata pre school year places. Parents will be encouraged to avail of the free pre-school year on the basis of full attendance and participating services will be required to give priority to parents using the service on this basis.

It is expected that the majority of the almost 5,000 existing private and voluntary pre-school services currently in operation, will participate in the scheme. Many of these will have already received capital grant aid under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (EOCP) and or the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP). More than 65,000 additional childcare places, many of which are playschool sessional places, will have been created by the end of 2010 as a result of this investment.

I am aware from representations received from pre-school services in recent months that many are currently reporting vacancy rates of up to 25% in their facilities and I also understand that a number of people are considering setting up a pre-school service as the new scheme will allow them a degree of certainty which exists in very few areas of economic life today. In addition, many services which up to now have operated in the mornings only, citing lack of demand for an afternoon session, are now considering offering an additional session to meet an increase in local demand. As I said at the time of the announcement, some instances of under-supply may arise in the initial period of implementation of the scheme, however my Office and the city and County Childcare Committees will monitor the situation carefully, to maximise the beneficial impact of the scheme for parents and children.

Health Insurance.

James Reilly

Question:

231 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made to date on the new risk equalisation scheme in view of the fact that it is ten months since the Supreme Court struck down her original scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22542/09]

Since the Supreme Court Decision of July 2008 that found the previous risk equalisation scheme to be ultra vires, my Department, the Health Insurance Authority and other interests in the Irish private health insurance market have met to discuss the creation and development of a replacement scheme to support the principles of community rating and intergenerational solidarity. The Supreme Court did not find against the principle of risk equalisation. Submissions have also been received regarding the development of a new scheme from a number of interested parties. The Health Insurance Authority will begin a consultation process in relation to the new scheme in the coming months.

Following the Supreme Court judgement the Health Insurance Authority noted that there was an urgent need for measures to protect the interests of consumers in a community rated market to address the fact that as persons get older they become more unprofitable for insurers and in the absence of any intervention the overall effect would be that on average older people would pay higher premiums for health insurance.

Given the importance of protecting the market and supporting the principles of community rating, intergenerational solidarity and recognising the higher costs that arise for older age groups, the Government decided that interim measures, as announced on 19th November need to be put into place in order to support community rating until such time as the new scheme is put in place. It is anticipated that they will remain in place for the next three years. These measures are set out in the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008.

The interim solution consists of two distinct elements: an age-related private health insurance relief provided to individuals who hold private health insurance policies which aims to secure a health policy objective of achieving inter-generational solidarity in terms of assisting individuals to meet their health insurance costs on the basis of age and a levy charged on health insurance companies. This Bill also provides for additional measures that will enhance consumer protection and increase the regulatory powers and functions of the Health Insurance Authority.

Hospital Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

232 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the situation regarding Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin and the National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22550/09]

Services at the National Children's Hospital Tallaght, Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin and Temple Street Children's University Hospital will transfer to the new National Paediatric Hospital. Pending completion of the project, the HSE will continue to finance the provision and development of services at each of the transferring hospitals.

The development of the National Paediatric Hospital is a priority project for the Government. The project is proceeding as planned and is being overseen by the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board which was established in May, 2007. The HSE is working closely with the Board in progressing the project, which is scheduled for completion and commissioning in 2014. The new hospital will be based at the Mater Hospital and will include an associated Ambulatory and Urgent Care Centre at Tallaght which is to open in advance of the new hospital. This Centre will offer a wide range of services including urgent care consultations, outpatient services and day surgery. This will ensure that many children who do not require admission can continue to access care locally.

Health Service Staff.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

233 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of adult psychologists and child psychologists currently employed by the Health Service Executive in Kildare and west Wicklow; the number of positions required to meet existing demands; the number of vacant posts currently left unfilled; and the posts that will be filled. [22586/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

234 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in finalising two medical card application forms which were submitted at end January 2009 in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Cork. [22588/09]

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

Care of the Elderly.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

235 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children her policy for the provision of emergency respite care for persons whose carer and family member has to undergo surgery for cancer, as in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare whose spouse and carer is hospitalised; if it is the case that it is her policy not to make provision by way of respite care in such circumstances; if specific or dedicated beds exist or are expected to be provided in the public sector to cater for such needs in the near future; if provision of such needs have been met in the past two months; if she will initiate policy to meet such contingencies in the near future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22615/09]

It is Government Policy that Community and Home Based Care should be developed to maintain older people in their homes and communities for as long as possible and to support the important role of the family and informal carer. Respite is a resource that provides a temporary break for a family, or an informal carer, and is an important element in the range of community supports available to allow an older person to remain at home.

An additional €7 million was made available to the HSE over 2007-2008 to expand Day Care and Respite services. In addition, significant residential respite care continues to be provided in public community nursing units (including community hospitals/long stay residential units) across the country. There are over 700 such designated respite care beds provided nationally. It is estimated that approximately 19,000 people benefit over the course of a full year — based on an average length of stay of 2 weeks per person.

It is a matter for the HSE to deliver Respite care services, in line with its agreed Vote and Service Plan. This includes addressing the need for emergency respite care in individual cases. Accordingly, the matter has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances.

Bernard Allen

Question:

236 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on the application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork for domiciliary care allowance. [22619/09]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

237 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite a date for an operation at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22630/09]

The management of waiting lists generally is a matter for the HSE and the individual hospitals concerned. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the Executive for direct reply. The National Treatment Purchase Fund arranges treatment for patients who have been on a surgical waiting list for more than three months. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Health Repayment Scheme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

238 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount paid by the Exchequer to a firm of solicitors (details supplied) in Dublin 2 since the health repayment scheme 2006 was enacted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22631/09]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

239 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount paid to the scheme administrator (details supplied) since the enactment of the health repayment scheme 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22632/09]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

240 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount paid out under the health repayment scheme since the enactment of the scheme in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22633/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 238 to 240, inclusive, together.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has responsibility for administering the health repayment scheme in conjunction with the appointed scheme administrator KPMG/McCann Fitzgerald. As per the contract agreement with the Scheme Administrator the HSE make payments to the consortium on foot of invoices received from KPMG Accountants and payments are payable to KPMG accountants on behalf of the consortium. A total of €12.8m has been paid to the Scheme Administrator since the launch of the scheme in August 2006. Since the Health Repayment Scheme was launched in August 2006, in excess of 17,400 payments have been made to claimants under the scheme at a value of €385m.

A total of €406m has been expended to date on the Health Repayment Scheme and a breakdown of the costs is as follows:

€m

Repayments to May 2009

385.0

Overheads

Payments to Scheme Administrator

12.8

Other Overheads

8.2

Total Expenditure

406.0

Overheads include payments to the Scheme Administrator, Advertising, Legal Expenses, H.S.E. Pay Costs, Appeal Function Costs and General Office Expenses.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

241 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of appeals currently being considered with regard to the health repayment scheme 2006; the number of administrators appointed to deal with these appeals; the number of successful appeals since 2006 to date in 2009; the average waiting period for processing of appeal applications and the pay out on appeal since the enactment of the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22634/09]

The Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office is an independent office established to provide an appeals service to those who wish to appeal the decision of the Scheme Administrator under the Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006. Two Appeals Officers have been appointed to consider appeals. Up to 29 May 2009 the Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office had received 5,593 completed appeal forms. Decisions have issued in 3,421 of these cases and 663 of these decisions have disagreed with the decision of the Scheme Administrator. The current average waiting time for an Appeals Officer's decision is 264 calendar days.

Appeals Officer decisions relating to amounts of recoverable health charges due are forwarded to the Scheme Administrator and to the Health Service Executive for implementation. 798 appeals determined by the Appeals Office have been implemented by the Scheme Administrator at a value of approx. €10.5m. These determined appeals are comprised of appeal decisions where the Appeals Officer has disagreed with the amount offered by the Scheme Administrator and also appeal decisions where the Appeals Officer has agreed with the original amount offered by the Scheme Administrator.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

242 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the policy in relation to dealing with representations made by Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas in relation to applicants under the health repayment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22636/09]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has responsibility for administering the Health Repayment Scheme. Accordingly representations made by members of the Houses of the Oireachtas in relation to individual applications under the Health Repayment Scheme are referred to the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive so that the matter may be investigated and a reply issued to the member concerned.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

243 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if Health Service Executive approval will be given for a package of care in respect of a patient (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [22646/09]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

244 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons currently on waiting lists for admission to the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dún Laoghaire; the estimated number or proportion of these in acute hospital beds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22647/09]

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

Health Services.

John O'Mahony

Question:

245 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to open a rheumatology unit in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22650/09]

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

John O'Mahony

Question:

246 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of rheumatology units in the Health Service Executive west area and HSE north-west area; the location of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22651/09]

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

Departmental Expenditure.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

247 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount her Department and its agencies spent on the use of taxis in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22670/09]

The amounts spent by the Department of Health and Children on taxis for the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 are €21,280, €15,238 and €5,425 respectively. The expenditure on taxis by bodies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for the bodies in question and my Department does not routinely compile or hold this information. My Department has asked the Health Service Executive to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy on the spend in the Executive.

Health Services.

Joe McHugh

Question:

248 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children when international standards of Duchenne muscular dystrophy care and research will be introduced here in view of the recent commitments (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22680/09]

I am meeting with Duchenne Ireland in the near future and the issue raised by the Deputy is on the agenda for discussion.

Jack Wall

Question:

249 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the occupational therapists available to children who are dyslexic and attending primary or secondary school in the Kildare-west Wicklow areas of the Health Service Executive; the mechanism available to parents to obtain such services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22687/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

250 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the concerns of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will contact the family to discuss the matter. [22691/09]

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

Question No. 251 answered with Question No. 139.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Jack Wall

Question:

252 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive a date for a hip replacement operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22700/09]

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

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

253 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if the discretionary payment awarded by the appeals officer on 7 May 2009 in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny will be awarded; if she will provide the funding required to cover such awards; her plans to pay these outstanding sums; if she will consider each on a case by case basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22706/09]

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

John O'Mahony

Question:

254 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children when the report of the Health Service Executive working group on arthritis and allied conditions will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22708/09]

The position in relation to this matter remains as indicated in my reply to Questions Nos. 8 and 94 on 21 May 2009.

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

255 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the stroke unit at Sligo General Hospital; the plans for the future development of this unit; the number of patients treated in the unit in the past 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22729/09]

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

Pharmacy Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

256 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when sections of an Act (details supplied) will be brought before Dáil Éireann. [22752/09]

The sections of the Act which the Deputy refers to are included in the third, and final, stage of the implementation process for the Pharmacy Act 2007. This final stage deals with the introduction of provisions under Part 6 of the Act (Complaints, Inquires and Discipline). The commencement process for the Act was planned as being a three stage process in view of the complexity and number of new policies and procedures to be implemented by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) under each stage (especially stages 2 and 3). The first stage of the process involved the establishment of a Council of the new PSI in May 2007 with a lay majority for the first time. The second stage, commenced and put into effect in November 2008, established a new regulatory regime, operated by the PSI, for the registration of pharmacists and retail pharmacy businesses. The third, and final stage of the commencement process will deal with the Complaints, Inquiries and Discipline provisions of the Act.

The PSI is currently in the process of drawing up rules and procedures for the implementation of Part 6 of the Act. Following the receipt, and examination of, these rules and procedures, I will be in a position to commence the final stage of the Pharmacy Act 2007. It is hoped to have this process completed in the autumn.

Health Service Staff.

Michael Ring

Question:

257 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the breakdown on a yearly basis for the past ten years, in tabular form, of the number of the administrative staff at a location (details supplied) in County Mayo. [22753/09]

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

Ambulance Service.

Michael Ring

Question:

258 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the breakdown on a yearly basis for the past ten years, in tabular form, of the number of ambulances and ambulance crew at a location (details supplied) in County Mayo. [22754/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

259 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount in relation to a section (details supplied) in County Mayo; and the cost to put it there and to relocate it. [22755/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

260 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding supplied by the Health Service Executive to a programme (details supplied). [22756/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

261 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding supplied by the Health Service Executive to a programme (details supplied); and the amount of funding provided annually. [22757/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

262 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive is using a service (details supplied); and the areas covered by this service. [22758/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 258 to 262, inclusive, together.

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Michael McGrath

Question:

263 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in County Cork will receive an appointment for assessment at a hospital in Cork city. [22775/09]

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

Departmental Expenditure.

Phil Hogan

Question:

264 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of banking charges paid by her Department over the past three years; the breakdown of these charges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22884/09]

The amount of bank charges paid by my Department for the three years 2006 to 2008 amounted to €3,519. This includes annual fees for credit cards of €730, late payment charges of €216 and foreign currency transaction charges of €2,573.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

265 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount spent by her Department each year for the past three years on bottled water; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22898/09]

The cost of bottled water purchased by my Department each year for the past three years is detailed as follows:

Year

Cost

2006

17,312.00

2007

10,901.00

2008

2,336.00

2009 to date

1,324.00

These figures include the cost of bottled water and the cost of water coolers. During 2007 a mains water filtration system was installed in my Department in Hawkins House. This has greatly reduced the costs of bottled water.

Hospital Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

266 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Dublin is awaiting orthodontic assessment at the Dublin Dental Hospital; if their case will be prioritised due to the long delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22909/09]

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

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

267 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department provides funding through any of the agencies for which it has responsibility for persons who have to travel to have dialysis treatment as in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22911/09]

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

Hospital Services.

James Reilly

Question:

268 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds allocated under the delayed discharge initiative to St. Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown, St. Michael’s Hospital, Dún Laoghaire, and St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, in the period 2006 to 2009; when the next allocation of DDI beds will be made to these hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22916/09]

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

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

269 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of providers of refuge and support services for victims of domestic violence who are given funding by the Health Service Executive; the funding given to each of the providers for each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22921/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

270 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a service (details supplied) in County Meath has provided crisis refuge accommodation to 1,377 women and 2,343 children during the time of its operation; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that the Health Service Executive has cut its budget by €10,000 per month; and the reason for the cutbacks in funding to these services for which there is no other provider in Meath. [22922/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

271 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive have cut funding to a service (details supplied) in County Meath by 30% when the average cut to other similar service providers in the HSE region is between 3% to 5%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22923/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

272 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people over 18 years of age and the number of children under 18 years of age who availed of refuge services and supports in each of the Health Service Executive regions for each of the past five years. [22924/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

273 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has had meetings with representatives from the Department of Finance or other relevant Departments to discuss funding for refuges and other support services during the past year; the outcome of these meetings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22925/09]

My Department deals directly with the Department of Finance in regard to the Vote of the Department of Health and Children, the Vote of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Vote of the Health Service Executive. Funding for refuges is allocated from the Vote of the HSE and, accordingly, no discussions took place between officials of my Department and their counterparts in the Department of Finance in regard to this issue.

James Reilly

Question:

274 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in regard to home support hours for children with special needs in County Kilkenny; if children currently receiving home support hours will continue to receive their agreed hours for this assistance; the position in regard to provision of home support assistance to new applicants to this service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22929/09]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

James Reilly

Question:

275 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22, who is waiting for the past two months for heart surgery in St. James’s Hospital in Dublin can expect to have this surgery take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22937/09]

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

Question No. 276 answered with Question No. 144.

Departmental Reports.

James Reilly

Question:

277 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a definitive date for the release of the report of the vaccine damage steering group; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22946/09]

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

Health Services.

James Reilly

Question:

278 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Meath can expect to receive an appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22949/09]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

279 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork who has been referred to Waterford General Hospital can expect to have the procedure carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22950/09]

The management of waiting lists generally is a matter for the HSE and the individual hospitals concerned. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the Executive for direct reply. The National Treatment Purchase Fund arranges treatment for patients who have been on a surgical waiting list for more than three months. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Health Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

280 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting time for access to a speech and language therapist in County Roscommon; the number of children currently awaiting a service and those that are receiving a service; the steps that are being taken to address this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22971/09]

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

Michael McGrath

Question:

281 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in County Cork will be assessed for Asperger’s syndrome. [22975/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Michael Ring

Question:

282 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when persons (details supplied) in County Mayo can expect a decision in relation to their over 70s medical card application. [22985/09]

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

Hospital Facilities.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

283 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will re-designate a sheltered smoking area in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, as a non-smoking area for patients to use in order that they can receive fresh air to assist in the recovery process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22993/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

284 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in processing the medical card application by a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will ensure that it is processed. [22999/09]

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

Mental Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

285 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be offered urgent psychiatric services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23073/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

286 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 209 of 24 February 2009, if the figures provided include children who went missing from State care; if so, the categories provided which include these children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23078/09]

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

Foster Care.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

287 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if children have been transferred abroad by the Health Service Executive to foster care rather than to a residential care institution; if so, the number of children for each of the past five years whowere transferred abroad for foster care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23079/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

288 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify what will happen to children who are referred to a foster family under the Health Service Executive emergency place of safety service if the intended foster family is at full capacity at the time of referral; if the children in such cases will be compelled to travel to another region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23080/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

289 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason only ten families were selected as part of the emergency place of safety service; the estimated cost of this programme to the Health Service Executive on annual basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23081/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 288 and 289 together.

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

Child Abuse.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

290 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the average length of time between when a child protection report is made to the Health Service Executive and the report is dealt with; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23082/09]

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

Social Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

291 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has begun a process of ensuring that the Health Service Executive allocates social workers to areas in which they are most needed; if so, the details of this process; and when it will be completed. [23083/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

293 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there has been a 10.6% rise in reports to social work departments; the number of full-time and part-time social workers employed by her Department and the Health Service Executive for each of the past ten years; and the number of social workers employed in each HSE and health board jurisdiction for each of the past ten years. [23085/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

294 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to address the fact that there are 900 children here who are in need of a social worker but have not been allocated one; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23086/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 291, 293 and 294 together.

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

Children in Care.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

292 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is a legal definition for a children’s home; the number of children who must be fostered in a home before it is deemed to be a children’s home or residential institution; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23084/09]

Under the Child Care Act 1991, as amended, "children's residential centre" means an institution for the residential care of children in the care of the Health Service Executive or of other children in need of adequate care and protection but does not include:

(a) an institution managed by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government,

(b) an institution in which a majority of the children being maintained are being treated for acute illnesses or are being provided with palliative care,

(c) an institution for the care and maintenance of children with a disability,

(d) an institution approved in accordance with the Mental Health Acts 1945 to 2001,

(e) a children's detention school as defined in section 3 of the Children Act 2001.

Children who are placed in the care of the Health Service Executive can be placed in, inter alia, foster care, relative care or residential care as provided for under Section 36 of the Child Care Act, 1991. The Child Care Regulations 1995 provide the regulatory framework for the placement of children in the different types of care settings.

The Health Service Executive must assess all potential foster/relative carers under the Child Care Regulations, 1995. This assessment includes an assessment of the suitability of those persons and their homes by authorised persons.

Questions Nos. 293 and 294 answered with Question No. 291.

Child Care Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

295 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the children’s services which are outsourced to private companies by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23087/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

296 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the date on which the child service task force will publish its recommendations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23088/09]

I understand that the work of the taskforce has recently been completed and that arrangements are being made for the publication of the resulting report and recommendations.

Child Abuse.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

297 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the definitions of child abuse and child welfare used by social workers within the Health Service Executive; if different HSE branches use differing definitions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23089/09]

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

Social Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

298 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of social workers or other Health Service Executive staff dealing with migrant families who have reported difficulties in managing their workloads as a result of difficulties in accessing interpretation services; and the average amount of time it takes for a social worker or other HSE worker to access interpretation services for each of the HSE regions. [23090/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

299 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive has sought extra resources in order to provide training to staff working with international families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23091/09]

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

Children in Care.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

300 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that one of the predominant reasons children are admitted to care is family difficulties in terms of accessing housing and finance; and if she has approached the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with regard to providing higher levels of social housing to persons on low incomes which would enable children to stay within the family. [23092/09]

My colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, has the lead policy responsibility in relation to social housing. The most recent complete information available to the Health Service Executive indicates that in 2007, 2,991 families were reported to have child welfare concerns. Of these, 193 — or 6% — were deemed to be experiencing difficulty with housing/finance issues. The statistics further state that 1,342 children were placed in care under the broad heading "Parent Unable to Cope/Family Difficulty re: housing/finance". This represents 25% of the total number of children in care (5,307). The Health Service Executive has been asked to forward a copy of these statistics to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for its consideration.

Social Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

301 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the family support services that are not directly provided by the Health Service Executive but are either wholly or partially funded by the HSE. [23093/09]

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

Child Abuse.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

302 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children who were admitted to care for each of the past five years as a result of sexual abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23094/09]

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

Social Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

303 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive has developed a strategy to better co-ordinate the work of the various early intervention teams; the details of this strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23095/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

304 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the date on which the Health Service Executive will publish guidelines for hospitals on recognising gay and lesbian relationships and the partners of patients during their treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23096/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

305 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children admitted specifically to aftercare for each of the past four years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23097/09]

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

Departmental Reports.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

306 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will undertake to complete a new SAVI report in conjunction with the relevant organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23098/09]

The SAVI Report was published by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in 2002, based on research undertaken by the Health Services Research Centre, established by the Department of Psychology of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Funding towards this valuable research project was provided by my Department and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. A follow-up report was published in 2005.

Children in Care.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

307 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will introduce independent inspections for children’s care facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23099/09]

The Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) was set up, on an administrative basis in 1999. The SSI currently inspects Health Service Executive (HSE) run children's residential centres and foster care services provided under the Child Care Act 1991. The SSI has recently inspected the children's detention schools operated under the aegis of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The HSE registers and inspects children's residential services for children operated by private and voluntary service providers under the Child Care Act 1991.

The Office of the Chief Inspector of Social Services was established by the Health Act 2007, as part of the Health Information and Quality Authority. Staff from the SSI transferred to HIQA in 2007. The Health Act 2007 is being commenced on a phased basis and will give responsibility for the registration and inspection of designated centres to the Chief Inspector including residential centres for children with a disability. The designated centres include all HSE, voluntary and privately run children's residential centres.

Mental Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

308 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to facilitate children suffering from mental illness within the health system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23100/09]

At present there are 55 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams in place throughout the country. The HSE has prioritised the development of child and adolescent mental health services in 2009. An additional 8 consultant led child psychiatry teams to further support the provision of child and adolescent psychiatric services will be developed. In addition, funding was provided in Budget 2009 for the provision of 35 additional therapy posts for the child and adolescent mental health service. This will enable the HSE to increase the number of Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams to 69 by the end of 2009.

With regard to in-patient capacity in the child and adolescent mental health service, there are currently 22 child and adolescent beds in the country, 10 in Galway and 12 in Dublin (6 in St. Vincent's Fairview, 6 in Warrenstown). An additional 8 interim beds in St. Stephen's Hospital, Cork have recently been completed and it is anticipated that these beds will be commissioned shortly. Construction has commenced on two 20 bed units in Bessboro, Cork and Merlin Park, Galway. Construction is scheduled to be completed on both of these developments in late 2009 and the beds commissioned in 2010.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

309 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that, in the aftermath of the publication of the Ryan report, there has been an increase in the number people contacting advocacy groups for abuse survivors; if she will increase funding for those groups; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23101/09]

The Government has accepted all of the recommendations of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and is committed to their full implementation. Included in the recommendations is the need for continued provision of counselling, educational and family tracing services. As Minister of State with responsibility for Children and Youth Affairs, I have been tasked with developing a plan for the implementation of the recommendations. In developing this plan I will consider the various issues which need to be addressed and what actions are necessary, feasible and effective. This implementation plan will be brought to Government for its approval by the end of July.

Departmental Agencies.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

310 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding allocated to the standards advisory group under the Health Information and Quality Authority; if any of this funding has been cut; the level of funding that would be required to move to full statutory implementation of the recommended standards; the manner in which progressive implementation of the standards will take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23102/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

311 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when further discussions will take place with the Health Information and Quality Authority standards advisory group regarding external validation of the relevant settings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23103/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 310 and 311 together.

A Standards Advisory Group was established by HIQA to develop National Quality Standards on Residential Services for People with Disabilities. The Group comprised officials of HIQA, my Department, the HSE, service providers, organisations representing people with disabilities and service users, and met on a number of occasions during 2008. Following a public consultation process initiated by HIQA, the proposed standards were formulated and have now been published. These standards will provide a national framework for quality, safe services for people with disabilities in a residential setting and relate only to adult services at present. The Standards Advisory Group has completed its work. No funding was allocated by my Department to the Standards Advisory Group so the issue of cuts in funding does not arise.

My Department is currently working with the HSE and HIQA to quantify the level of funding that would be required to move to full statutory implementation of the Standards. However, given the current economic situation, a move to full statutory implementation of the standards, including regulation and inspection, would present significant challenges at this time. Notwithstanding the difficulties of immediate statutory implementation, my Department, the HSE and HIQA have agreed that progressive implementation of the Standards will now commence, and that they will become the benchmark against which the HSE assesses both its own directly operated facilities and other facilities that the HSE funds. Discussions are also taking place regarding the introduction of an appropriate level of external validation for relevant settings.

Child Abuse.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

312 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to provide survivors of abuse with well resourced counselling, support and advocacy services as a right. [23105/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. The need for additional supports is also being considered in the context of the implementation of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and I will be bringing proposals to Government in July in this regard.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

313 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will introduce legislation to put the guidelines on child protection on a statutory footing and to establish an implementation body to provide for the outworking of the guidelines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23106/09]

In July of last year I launched the National Review of Compliance with Children First. The key finding of that review conducted by my Office, is that the Guidelines themselves are fundamentally sound and that a renewed focus on implementation is required. The consistent application of the Children First Guidelines is being addressed by the HSE through the standardisation of Child Welfare and Protection business processes and the refocusing of social work services through the ongoing Social Work Reform programme. I am currently considering a number of legal issues in the context of ensuring the most effective implementation of the Children First Guidelines.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

314 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will establish a national therapy and assessment service for children who are currently suffering abuse, and national treatment facilities for children, teenagers and adults who have exhibited harmful sexual behaviour; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23107/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

315 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on a submission by a school (details supplied) in County Cork in relation to the operation of the new free pre-school year in early childhood care and education. [23130/09]

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the implementation of the new scheme to provide a free Pre-School year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), which will commence in January 2010. The ECCE is being introduced to benefit children in the key developmental period prior to commencing school. Services can participate in the scheme on the basis of a number of options. A full or part-time day-care service will be required to provide a pre-school service for 2 hours 15 minutes per day, five days a week for 50 weeks (241 days) per year, in return for the capitation fee of €48.50 per week.

A playschool sessional service, such as a Montessori, will be required to provide a pre-school service for 3 hours a day, five days a week for 38 weeks (183 days) a year, in return for a capitation fee of €64.50 per week. However, where for good reason a sessional service is unable to operate over 5 days, consideration will be given to allowing it to participate in the scheme on the basis of providing the pre-school year for 3 hours 30 minutes a day for 4 days a week. In such cases, a service will be required to provide the pre-school year over 41 weeks (157 days).

Further flexibility is provided for in that, a full or part-time service may choose to provide a sessional service over 38 weeks of a year (or 2 sessional services each day) while a sessional service may choose to provide 2 hours 15 minutes per day over 50 weeks. Also in cases where children attend a full or part-time day-care service for 3 days a week only, consideration will be given to allowing it to participate in the scheme on the basis of providing the pre-school year to those children for 3 hours 45 minutes a day for 3 days a week. In such cases, a service will be required to provide the pre-school year over 50 weeks.

As a free pre-school year, participating services must agree to provide the service in return for the capitation grant. This does not preclude a service from charging for additional services provided these are clearly optional to parents. Optional services can include additional hours, over and above the free pre-school year requirement, and additional services in the form of various one-off, or on-going, activities or services such as outings, birthday parties, specific teaching resources such as dance or music or food. By their nature, full or part-time services will offer additional hours to the pre-school provision and sessional playschools can offer an additional 30 minutes per day. However, services must ensure that all such additional services are offered and charged for on an optional basis and are not compulsory. A parent's agreement cannot be a condition of initial or continued enrolment. It is also essential that appropriate programme based activities must be provided to children not participating in an optional activity where this takes place during the required period of pre-school provision.

It is accepted that not all pre-school services will wish to participate in the ECCE, in the same way that some primary schools continue to be fee-paying rather than join the national school system. However, the Government is committed to introducing the pre-school year as a free and universal scheme. I understand that the United Kingdom provision in relation to pre-school, is based on an entitlement to a free pre-school educational place which must be provided without any additional fees or charges, other than minor amounts for snacks and trips, with providers being paid directly by the local authorities to in return for provision of the free pre-school place.

Road Network.

Pat Breen

Question:

316 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the status of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22103/09]

The provision of regional and local roads, including bridges, in its area is a function of the relevant road authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants provided by my Department. Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary County Councils have undertaken the development of a proposal for a new Shannon Crossing.

From 2004 to the end of 2008, State road grants totalling €819,318 have been provided to develop proposals for the proposed new bridge. In February 2008, Clare County Council, in association with North Tipperary County Council, appointed consultants to carry out a constraints study, route selection and preliminary design for the scheme. A further grant of €600,000 was allocated in 2009 to Clare County Council, which is now the lead authority for the project, to finance continuation of that work. Further progression of the project is a matter for Clare County Council.

Road Traffic Offences.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

317 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport the person who has the authority to clamp a vehicle; if there are regulations in regard to the charges they can impose; the legislation by which the matter is covered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22282/09]

An authorised person under Section 101b of the Road Traffic Act 1961, as amended, can fix an immobilisation device (clamp) to a vehicle parked in contravention of any prohibition or restriction imposed under Sections 35, 36 and 36A of the Road Traffic Act 1994. The employment of private companies as authorised persons to carry out statutory functions is a matter for each local authority. The Road Traffic (Immobilisation of Vehicles) Regulations, 1998 (SI No. 247 of 1998) prescribes, inter alia, the amount that can be charged for the removal of an immobilisation device.

The Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations, 1997 to 2006 sets out parking controls for the purposes of section 35. Parking controls for the purposes of sections 36 and 36A are set out in any bye-laws made by a local authority under those provisions. These regulations and bye-laws only have application in respect of vehicles illegally parked on public roads or in local authority car parks. Powers to clamp vehicles are also available to the Gardaí and local authorities under Section 97 of the Road Traffic Act 1961. The practice of clamping or the removal of vehicles on private property does not come within the scope of Road Traffic legislation.

Michael McGrath

Question:

318 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport the legislative position in relation to the regulation of noise emanating from modified car exhausts. [22768/09]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (SI No. 477 of 2006) the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has responsibility for matters relating to vehicle standards. It is a requirement for the registration and entry into service of new motor vehicles in the European Union that they have type-approval in accordance with Directive 70/157/EEC, as amended, which sets down the permissible sound levels and exhaust systems for motor vehicles. Vehicles in-service standards are specified in the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 which require vehicles to be fitted with a silencer or other device to reduce to a reasonable level the noise caused by the escape of exhaust gases from the engine. Article 85 of these regulations prohibits the use in a public place of a vehicle which causes excessive noise.

Light Rail Project.

Joan Burton

Question:

319 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport the progress of the metro north project including the expected start date; the time line for completion of the project; the funding allocation to the project for both 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22044/09]

Joan Burton

Question:

320 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport the progress of the metro west project; the expected start date; the time line for completion of the project; the funding allocation to the project for both 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22045/09]

Joan Burton

Question:

321 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport the progress of the DART underground project; the expected start date; the time line for completion of the project; the funding allocation to the project for both 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22046/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 319 to 321, inclusive, together.

I gave an update on the Metro North project in reply to Question Nos. 53, 87 and 94 on 26 May last and that remains the position. The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) is continuing with the planning and design work to facilitate the preparation of an application for a railway order to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) for the Metro West project and the Agency is aiming to submit that application early next year. In relation to the DART Underground project, CIE anticipates that it will lodge an application for a railway order with ABP towards the end of this year.

The provision of increased capacity is a key consideration in determining public transport investment priorities in the period ahead. In that context, the DART Underground and Metro North are particularly important rail investments as they form a core part of the planned integrated public transport network for the Greater Dublin Area envisaged by Transport 21.

The start and completion dates for projects which are yet to commence construction, including Metro North, Metro West and the DART Underground will be determined as appropriate by the outcome of public consultation, the statutory planning approval process, the public procurement process and the funding available during the current difficult economic climate. The Exchequer capital amounts currently allocated from my Department's Estimate for 2009 in respect of Metro North, Metro West and the DART Underground are €35 million, €10 million and €15 million respectively. The allocation for these projects next year will be decided in the context of the Estimates for 2010.

Rail Network.

Joan Burton

Question:

322 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport the progress of the rail spur project from the Maynooth line to Dunboyne; the expected start date; the time line for completion of the project; the funding allocation to the project for both 2009 and 2010; when the Hansfield station is due to open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22047/09]

Transport 21 provides for the development of the Navan Rail Link on a phased basis in the period to 2015. Work commenced on the Clonsilla — Dunboyne section (Phase 1) in late 2008 and is due for completion in September 2010. My Department has allocated grants totalling €43.6 million to Iarnród Éireann towards the cost of the project this year and the allocation for next year will be decided in the context of the Estimates for 2010. Hansfield station will open at the same time as the line is opened in September 2010.

State Airports.

Pat Breen

Question:

323 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport if, further to the completion of the ERM report on public safety zones at the State airports, he will provide a complete list of all documents, meetings, maps, submissions and so on pertaining to the said process since its inception; the location at which such documents are available for inspection by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22050/09]

Most of the information sought by the Deputy is contained in the ERM Report on Public Safety Zones at the State Airports. The Report is on my Department's website, and includes detailed maps. In addition ERM engaged in a public consultation process including open days. Full details of these public consultations, including submissions and comments received, and responses to the submissions, are set out in an Annex to the Report. As part of the normal policy making process my Department has additional material on file related to this issue. However the deliberative process on this issue is not yet completed. Accordingly it would not be appropriate nor would it be normal practice to make all documents associated with this process available to the public at this stage.

Public Transport.

Seán Barrett

Question:

324 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Transport the position in relation to the application by a group (details supplied) for a licence to operate bus passenger services between Dalkey and Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22081/09]

As I advised the Deputy in my previous reply of 24th February 2009, the company to which the Deputy refers was advised on 16th January of the terms on which a licence could be granted in respect of the operation of the services in question. The Company appealed that decision and in that context submitted proposals for significant changes to their proposed service. That submission has been considered by my Department and new terms on which a licence could be granted were presented to the company on 26th May 2009. A response is now awaited. In the event that the offer is not accepted, an application from another operator to operate a similar service on the route will then be considered

State Airports.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

325 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide a breakdown of the pre-tax profits or losses made by Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports in 2007 and 2008. [22237/09]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

326 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Transport the revenues generated by the Dublin Airport Authority through the use of Shannon Airport in each of the years 2003 to 2008. [22238/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 325 and 326 together.

The published annual reports and accounts of Aer Rianta/Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) for the years 2003 to 2008 are available in the Oireachtas library. DAA is a single legal entity and the results of the three airports are reported in aggregate as part of its company financial statements. There is no requirement to publish separate financial statements for each airport. I am therefore not in a position to give the detailed breakdown requested by the Deputy.

Transport Regulations.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

327 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the concerns expressed by Irish tour operators that the introduction of the 12 day driver working rule specifically disadvantages seven day Irish cross-Border international coach tours; and if he will take the matter up at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers. [22241/09]

I have received representations from Irish tourism interests regarding the proposed re-introduction of the "12 day rule" i.e. the derogation which allowed postponement of a weekly rest period to allow drivers of international occasional passenger services to drive for 12 consecutive days which was removed in 2006, and have noted their concerns. I understand that any re-introduction of the "12 day rule" for drivers of international occasional passenger services, would apply to qualifying Irish cross-border services of seven days duration, i.e. where the service lasts at least 24 consecutive hours in a Member State other than the one in which the service started. There are no discussions proposed on the Land Transport Package in general or the "12 day rule" in particular proposed at this week's Transport Council.

Taxi Regulations.

Joe Costello

Question:

328 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Transport the reason people who have had a public service vehicle licence for many years should now have to sit a new driving test and pay a fee of €250 for the licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22375/09]

The regulation of the taxi industry, including the setting of small public service vehicle driver licence fees, is a matter for the Commission for Taxi Regulation under the Taxi Regulation Act, 2003. Among the improvements to the quality of service provision being implemented by the Commission is the new skills development programme for new drivers from this year and for existing drivers from 2012.

The recent representation made by the Taxi Union Representative Bodies to my Department has outlined concerns within the industry regarding this provision as it applies to existing drivers. These representative Bodies will, I understand, be pursuing these concerns within the consultative and advisory framework provided for under the Taxi Regulation Act, 2003.

Driving Tests.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

329 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the recent granting of a second extension of the exemption for driving instructors who are not fully qualified as approved driving instructors; the reason the two exemptions were granted; when it will end; the number of driving instructors operating who are fully qualified ADI instructors, have been granted an exemption and are operating illegally as driving instructors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22393/09]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006) this is a matter for the Road Safety Authority (RSA). An exemption for all unapproved driving instructors was granted at the end of December 2008 up to 30 April 2009. At that time there were just over 500 driving instructors through all three Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) stages, the RSA considered this was an insufficient number of qualified driving instructors to cater for the demand from learner drivers. The RSA state the reason for the granting the second exemption, from 30th April 2009, was to allow those driving instructors who had passed Stage 1 (The Theory Test) continue to operate as a driving instructor for a period up to 31 July 2009.

The RSA inform me that at present there are 1292 approved ADIs, 848 were granted an exemption up to 31 July 2009. Neither my Department nor the RSA have figures in relation to driving instructors who are operating illegally.

National Car Test.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

330 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport the minimum time allowed between notification of the national car test and the date set to take the test; the appeals process in place if a driver receives a penalty points fine due to an out-of-date NCT certificate being shown as a result of the driver receiving notification of the due date of the NCT too late to get an appointment for an NCT before the certificate expired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22470/09]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006) this is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. A driver can only receive penalty points, following a court conviction, for using a vehicle in a public place without a test certificate. Any such court conviction is open to appeal to a higher court.

State Airports.

Pat Breen

Question:

331 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport, further to Parliamentary Question No. 330 of 22 April 2009, the situation regarding the provision of full US pre-clearance facilities at Shannon Airport; if the facility will be operational on 1 July 2009; if the legislation has been finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22477/09]

I am informed by the Shannon Airport Authority that the construction of the pre-clearance facility at the airport is due to be completed shortly and that they hope to have the facility operational by end-July. The Deputy will be aware that I published the Aviation (Preclearance) Bill 2009 last week. The second stage of the Bill is included in the schedule for Seanad Éireann later today and if passed in the Seanad, I hope to introduce it in Dáil Éireann as soon as possible thereafter to enable it to be enacted before the Summer recess.

My officials are working closely with the US authorities on the final aspects of the operating procedures between the two administrations to ensure that pre-clearance will work to the benefit of both countries. I am confident that these talks can be finalised to allow pre-clearance to be inaugurated in Shannon before the end of July.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Damien English

Question:

332 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport the number of buses and the number of wheelchair accessible buses that are in service on the Dublin to Athboy, Dublin to Navan, Dublin to Trim and Navan to Dundalk Bus Éireann routes; if he will provide the information in tabular readable form; the plans he has to increase the availability of wheelchair accessible buses on these routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22483/09]

The deployment of buses on particular routes is an operational matter for Bus Éireann.

Driving Tests.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

333 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport if assistance will be offered to a person with a provisional licence who wishes to obtain a full licence but understands that there is a computer test to be completed for same; if there is a way that the test can be completed without the computer element; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22642/09]

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

Ministerial Orders.

Pat Breen

Question:

334 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport, further to Parliamentary Question No. 557 of 18 October 2005, if he will make available a copy of the Air Navigation and Transport (Compulsory Acquisition of Land) Order 1974 with all associated maps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22644/09]

I have arranged for a copy of this document to be forwarded to the Deputy.

Planning Issues.

Pat Breen

Question:

335 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide a list of all the planning applications to which his Department objected or appealed against within the red zones at the State airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22645/09]

Red zones were established over 40 years ago. Some of the relevant functions have since been passed to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) or the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), formerly Aer Rianta. Accordingly, the scope of the Deputy's request is too wide to enable me to give a definitive response as some of the necessary records are no longer in the custody of this Department. Given the wide scope of the request, I am not in a position to definitively state how many planning applications within the red zones were objected to or appealed against by my Department.

Departmental Expenditure.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

336 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the amount his Department and its agencies spent on the use of taxis in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22674/09]

The amount spent by my Department on the use of taxis was €41,331.18 in 2007, €23,736.96. in 2008 and €6,486.81 to date in 2009. The amount spent on the use of taxis by each individual agency is a matter for the agencies themselves.

Parking Regulations.

David Stanton

Question:

337 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Transport, further to Parliamentary Question No. 120 of 27 February 2008, if he has plans to increase fines or other enforcement measures for people who park illegally in places designated for disabled drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22701/09]

As I indicated in my reply to Question 120 of 27 February 2008 measures have been put in place through amendments made to the Road Traffic Acts from 2004 to 2007 to strengthen enforcement against illegal use of disabled persons parking permits. It is an offence to submit a false declaration in the application for a permit and in relation to forgery, alteration or other illegal use or lending of a permit. On-street enforcement against illegal use of permits has been strengthened in that Gardaí and local authority traffic wardens have been given power to inspect permits and to detain any permit that is invalid or is being used in an illegal manner.

Under the fixed charge system that was introduced in April 2006 the fixed charge of €80 (increasing to €120 after 28 days) that applies to illegal parking in a designated disabled persons parking bay is double the amount of fixed charge that applies to any other illegal parking offence. I am satisfied with the level of fixed charge that applies to parking in a designated disabled persons parking bay and I have no plans to alter them.

The focus of the elements of the review of the disabled persons' parking scheme ongoing in my Department completed to date has been on enforcement to safeguard against illegal use of permits. The issue of eligibility is the next element to be addressed this year.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

338 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Transport his plans to increase the penalties for parking in designated disabled parking bays by non-permit holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22726/09]

Under the fixed charge system that was introduced in April 2006 the fixed charge of €80 (increasing to €120 after 28 days) that applies to illegal parking in a designated disabled persons parking bay is double the amount of fixed charge that applies to any other illegal parking offence. I am satisfied with the level of fixed charge that applies to parking in a designated disabled persons parking bay and I have no plans to alter them.

Departmental Expenditure.

Phil Hogan

Question:

339 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Transport the amount of banking charges paid by his Department over the past three years; the breakdown of these charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22888/09]

The amount of banking charges paid by my Department over the past three years was €1,201.08 in 2006, €1,192.85 in 2007 and €1,291.85 in 2008. Charges paid in each year were for annual fees and government stamp duty on credit cards, fees for Departmental bank accounts and currency conversion charges.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

340 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport the amount spent by his Department each year for the past three years on bottled water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22902/09]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the amount spent by my Department on bottled water (including refills for bottle water dispensers) for each of the past three years is: 2006 — €4,073.65; 2007 — €5,849.16; 2008 — €6,330.54. Filtered mains water is predominantly used in my Department and it is the intention to replace most of the bottle water dispensers with filtered mains water units. This will be done on a phased basis on the grounds of cost and environmental efficiencies.

Parking Regulations.

Denis Naughten

Question:

341 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport if he will review the legislation and penalties for persons who use parking spaces designated for disabled drivers without the appropriate sticker; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22938/09]

Measures have been put in place through amendments made to the Road Traffic Acts from 2004 to 2007 to strengthen enforcement against illegal use of disabled persons parking permits. It is an offence to submit a false declaration in the application for a permit and in relation to forgery, alteration or other illegal use or lending of a permit. On-street enforcement against illegal use of permits has been strengthened in that Gardaí and local authority traffic wardens have been given power to inspect permits and to detain any permit that is invalid or is being used in an illegal manner.

Under the fixed charge system that was introduced in April 2006 the fixed charge of €80 (increasing to €120 after 28 days) that applies to illegal parking in a designated disabled persons parking bay is double the amount of fixed charge that applies to any other illegal parking offence. I am satisfied with the level of fixed charge that applies to parking in a designated disabled persons parking bay and I have no plans to alter them.

A review of the disabled persons' parking scheme is ongoing in my Department with a view to ensuring that the designated parking bays are reserved for use by persons for whom those bays are a necessity.

Regional Road Network.

Denis Naughten

Question:

342 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport the reason there is no multi-annual funding for EU co-financed regional road programmes; if he will review this situation in the interest of value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22941/09]

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads, in its area, is a statutory function of each individual local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants paid by my Department. Prior to 2007, grants were provided to local authorities under the then EU co- financed Specific Improvement grants scheme. EU aid is no longer available for improvement works on regional and local roads. However, projects previously funded under the former EU co-financed scheme are now eligible for grant aid under a new Specific Improvement grants scheme introduced in 2007.

Light Rail Project.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

343 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Transport if he will confirm that all ramps and dished footpaths constructed by the Railway Procurement Agency along both Luas lines have been constructed following best practice guidelines; if these ramps and dishings conform to guidelines published by the Dublin Transportation Office, the National Disability Authority and the United Nations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22989/09]

The issue raised by the Deputy is a technical matter for the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) and I have no function in the matter.

Taxi Regulations.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

344 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Transport the action he proposes to deal with the concerns of taxi drivers throughout the Dublin region; if his attention has been drawn to the frustrations being expressed in respect of the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22996/09]

Representatives from the Joint Taxi Council, submitted to me last week their evaluation of the Economic Review into the Small Public Service vehicle industry undertaken on behalf of the Commission for Taxi Regulation which I am now considering. Separately, the Commission for Taxi Regulation has completed a major public consultation on the economic review and are now preparing a response to all the ideas suggested and will be submitting its proposals to the Advisory Council. In that context you will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to pre-empt the consultations and considerations of the Commission for Taxi Regulation. I have however, forwarded a copy of the evaluation to the Commission.

The representatives of the Joint Taxi Council met with officials from my Department last week to discuss the key issues of concern to their members. As a part of this dialogue, I intend to meet with the representatives of these bodies in the coming weeks.

Legal Costs.

Denis Naughten

Question:

345 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost to date incurred by the Chief State Solicitor in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22066/09]

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

EU Funding.

Denis Naughten

Question:

346 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the moneys unallocated and the corresponding figure for funds not drawn down under the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals for 2007-2008; when such funds will be reallocated and distributed; if he plans to review the conditions for matched funding and additionally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22116/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

348 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount of money which remains unallocated by Pobal from its 2007-2008 round of the EU Fund for Integration of Third Country Nationals; if these funds will be re-released; and if so, if the conditions for matching funding and additionality will be relaxed in any way. [22518/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 346 and 348 together.

Following a call for proposals by Pobal on behalf of my Office for the years 2007 and 2008, projects entailing expenditure of €542,220 from the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals are being implemented. This is less than the amounts Ireland was entitled to receive which were, for 2007, €748,000 and, for 2008, €758,000. I am considering seeking further proposals in respect of the amounts unallocated for 2008. Because of concerns on the part of many Member States about their capacity to effectively exhaust the funds allocated to them, the European Commission proposes to extend the eligibility period for actions under the 2008 Programme from the end of this year to 30 June 2010.

I wish to ensure that Ireland's allocations are availed of as far as possible. I am aware that the availability of matching funding is an issue in this regard and I am considering if this might be addressed. One change I propose to make is that future calls for proposals will be directed at local authorities, other public bodies, NGOs and any other organisations that have the capacity to carry out the actions in question and not just at NGOs and partnership companies as was the case with the previous call for proposals. However, the rules applicable to the Fund as set out in the Council Decision establishing it and in subsequent Decisions of the European Commission must be observed.

Official Languages.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

347 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if sign language is treated as an official language by the State; if not, the reason sign language is not an official language; if he will address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22516/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 257 of 28 April 2009. I have nothing further to add to the details of that reply.

Question No. 348 answered with Question No. 346.

Employment Rights.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

349 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the date the working group to review the provision of maternity leave and paternity leave was set up; if the working group has completed its work; the conclusions the working group has come to; if he will introduce paid paternity leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22932/09]

The Interdepartmental Working Group, established in early 2008 to review maternity, parental and paternity leave under a commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government and the Social Partnership Agreement "Towards 2016", is expected to report in the near future. I look forward to receiving the report and to formulating proposals, as may be appropriate, on the basis of the recommendations contained in it.

Prison Inspections.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

350 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of inspections which have occurred in St. Patrick’s Institution over the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23104/09]

I take the Deputy's query to refer to inspections of St. Patrick's Institution by bodies other than the Irish Prison Service. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) visited St. Patrick's Institution in October 2006. The facility has been visited twice by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, since his appointment in January 2008 and was the subject of two reports by his predecessor, Mr Justice Dermot Kinlen. St. Patrick's Institution has also been visited in recent years by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Mr Thomas Hammarberg, and was visited in an informal capacity by the Ombudsman for Children, Ms Emily Logan. The Institution is subject to monthly visits by members of the St Patrick's Institution Visiting Committee.

Residency Permits.

Joe Costello

Question:

351 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application for subsidiary protection by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22102/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 22 March 2004. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The person concerned initiated Judicial Review Proceedings in the High Court, challenging the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in his case. In May 2008 the High Court refused the Judicial Review Leave Application with the consequence that the earlier decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal stood.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 26 May 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

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

Citizenship Applications.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

352 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon who seeks naturalisation. [22154/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2007. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 23 months. The Citizenship Division is currently commencing further processing of applications received in late 2007. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average while an element of straight forward cases are now being dealt with in less than that time scale.

Officials inform me that the application is at an advanced stage of processing and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course. 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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Dan Neville

Question:

353 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will ensure that there is equality for people with a disability by providing assistance to blind people here by ensuring that braille is put on medicines, cleaning products and food items; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22161/09]

I refer the Deputy to the details of the reply to his Question No. 130 of 20 May 2009 on the packaging and labelling of products. The law in this area is primarily one of consumer information and protection based on international standards and specifications. Equality laws have no application.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

354 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22175/09]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his recent Parliamentary Question, No. 134 of Thursday, 26 March, 2009, in this matter. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

355 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in respect of the application for citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22176/09]

Officials in the Citizenship Division of my Department inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

356 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will revisit the refusal of a naturalisation application in the case of a person (details supplied); his views on whether it is fair to deny naturalisation due to circumstances outside the person’s control when the applicant has fulfilled all the necessary criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22192/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in May 2007 and I decided in my absolute discretion not to grant a certificate of naturalisation. The reasons for refusal were disclosed to the person concerned in a letter issued to her on 6 May, 2009. It is open to the person in question to lodge a new application with the Citizenship Division of this Department at any time.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

357 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22202/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in June 2008. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 23 months. The Citizenship Division is currently commencing further processing of applications received in late 2007. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average while an element of straight forward cases are now being dealt with in less than that time scale. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that the status of citizenship is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

358 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the timescale as of 1 May 2009 for a decision to be taken on an application for naturalisation for what might be considered a straightforward case; when the process of scrutiny will begin on an application submitted in August 2006; the average timescale from the date the process of dealing with a straightforward application starts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22233/09]

In the absence of details relating to a specific case, the Deputy will appreciate that I am unable to provide a definitive response. However, I can advise of the position generally. Applications for certificates of naturalisation are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. Each application is processed on its own merits. Less complicated cases would be expected to have a processing timescale around or below the current average processing time of 23 months. The Citizenship Division is currently commencing further processing of applications received in late 2007.

All applications received in August 2006 are being further processed or have been finalised. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average while an element of straight forward cases are now being dealt with in less than that time scale. Statistics are not broken down between straightforward and more complicated cases as these are not discrete categories. 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.

Departmental Expenditure.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

359 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the security costs to his Department incurred in the prevention of incursions by anti-war activists at Shannon Airport in the years 2006, 2007 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22234/09]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the cost of policing arrangements at Shannon Airport in 2006, 2007 and 2008 is as follows:

Shannon Operation

2006

2007

2008

Total

Subhead Description

Salaries & Allowances (Incl Em. PRSI)

2,142,553

1,385,742

1,284,205

4,812,500

Overtime

1,334,002

813,377

618,272

2,765,651

Travel and SubsistenceExpenses

596,313

352,061

138,961

1,087,335

Other Non-Pay Expenditure

7,869

7,135

5,520

20,524

Total

4,080,737

2,558,315

2,046,958

8,686,010

The Deputy will appreciate that operational decisions are a matter for the Garda Commissioner. The deployment of Garda resources is based on an assessment by the Garda Authorities of the measures necessary to ensure the safety and security of personnel, staff, passengers and property at Shannon Airport.

Citizenship Applications.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

360 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the time taken by his Department to process applications for naturalisation, it is equitable that persons who applied when the fee was €650 are required to pay the increased fee of €950; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22301/09]

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 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.

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.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

361 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the application for residency or subsidiary protection in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22310/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 15 February, 2005. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 21 November, 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The person concerned initiated Judicial Review Proceedings in the High Court, challenging the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in his case. The High Court refused the Judicial Review Leave Application with the consequence that the earlier decisions of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the Minister stood. The person concerned has not submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State. Neither has he, to date, submitted written representations as to why he should be permitted to remain temporarily in the State. The case file of the person concerned now falls to be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this overall consideration has been completed, the file is passed to me for decision.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

362 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 389 of 22 April 2009, if a further copy of the information sought by the Irish naturalisation and immigration service will be forwarded to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22311/09]

I am currently unable to answer the Deputy's Question due to the lack of information provided by the Deputy. I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that further information was sought regarding details of the person referred to by the Deputy from the Deputy's office in April 2009. This information has not yet been received by my officials.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

363 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for citizenship will be processed in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22312/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in July 2008. Applications for certificates of naturalisation are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 23 months. The Citizenship Division is currently commencing further processing of applications received in late 2007. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average while an element of straight forward cases are now being dealt with in less than that time scale. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that the status of citizenship is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

364 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review on humanitarian grounds the deportation order in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22313/09]

I would refer the Deputy to the Reply I gave to his Dáil Question No. 225 of Thursday 18 December 2008. The first person concerned is the subject of a deportation order following a comprehensive examination of her asylum claim and of her application to remain temporarily in the State. As a matter of policy, I do not intend to reward persons who have failed a very fair and comprehensive asylum process by granting such persons residency in the State. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if there has been a change in the circumstances of the first person concerned, or if new information has come to light which has a direct bearing on her case, there remains the option of applying to me for revocation of her Deportation Order pursuant to the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended. However I wish to make clear that such an application would require substantial grounds to be successful.

As previously advised in my Reply to his Dáil Question No. 318 of Tuesday 31 March 2009, the second person concerned was born in the State in late 2005 and an application for asylum was made on his behalf to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner on 15 December 2008. Said application is still under consideration.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

365 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22314/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 347 of Tuesday, 18 November, 2008 and the written Reply to that Question. The person concerned arrived in the State on 7 March, 2003 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

The person concerned was informed, by letter dated 22 September, 2004, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him and afforded him three options in accordance with Section 3(3)(b)(ii) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) namely to leave the State voluntarily, to consent to the making of a Deportation Order or to submit, within 15 working days, written representations setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. His case was examined under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement.

Consideration was given to representations received on his behalf from his legal representatives for temporary leave to remain in the State. On 10 December, 2004, the then Minister refused temporary leave to remain in the State and signed a Deportation Order in respect of the person concerned. Notice of this Order was served by registered post requiring him to ‘present' to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, on 20 January, 2005, in order to make travel arrangements for his deportation from the State. The person concerned failed to ‘present' as requested and was classified as evading his deportation.

Refugee Status.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

366 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22315/09]

The person concerned holds refugee status in the State.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

367 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position with regard to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22316/09]

The person concerned claimed asylum in the State on 1/11/2006 and had her claim examined by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, following which it was recommended that she should be recognised as a refugee. Based on this recommendation, the person concerned was issued with a formal declaration of refugee status by letter dated 24/07/2008. This communication also advised the person concerned of the rights and entitlements accompanying refugee status in the State. The person concerned continues to hold the status of refugee in the State.

Asylum Applications.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

368 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received an application on behalf of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath for subsidiary protection here in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006. [22334/09]

The person concerned has submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006) and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file is passed to me for decision.

Human Trafficking.

Denis Naughten

Question:

369 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the funding available to the gardaí to deal with the issue of trafficking of humans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22343/09]

Denis Naughten

Question:

370 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the funding available to his Department to deal with the issue of trafficking of humans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22344/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 369 and 370 together.

Further to Parliamentary Questions No. 202 of 3 July 2008 and 285 of 9 December 2008 I can confirm funding for human trafficking activities are paid for as part of the general expenditure from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Garda Votes. Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform expenditure: In addition to the resources deployed in my Department's Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, staff in the Crime, Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, the Reception and Integration Agency, the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner are also involved in anti-human trafficking related measures. Garda Síochána expenditure: There are currently over 275 personnel (Garda and civilian) attached to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). The Gardaí are dedicated to dealing with immigration law and the law on trafficking of persons. Within the GNIB there is a Human Trafficking Investigation and Coordination Unit which provides assistance and investigative expertise in the investigation of these crimes. The work undertaken by the Garda Síochána in relation to human trafficking is assisted by a network of members of the Garda Síochána who are employed as liaison officers in major cities in a number of EU Member States and in international organisations such as Europol and Interpol.

In addition there are dedicated Immigration Officers attached to each Garda District throughout the State who also deal with trafficking in human beings issues. The GNIB, in conjunction with the Garda College, has trained over 500 Gardaí in the identification of victims of trafficking in persons and the investigation of crimes of human trafficking. These trained Gardaí are strategically placed in Districts throughout the State. Since 2008 all student Gardaí are receiving training in human trafficking with over 700 having received such training to date.

Garda Equipment.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

371 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the continuing delay in the roll-out of secure digital radio for the Garda Síochána. [22367/09]

The roll out of the National Digital Radio Service for the Garda Síochána is dependent, among other factors, on the availability of the network infrastructure which is being put in place by the service provider, Tetra Ireland. I am advised by the Garda authorities that roll out of the radio service in the Dublin Metropolitan Region is planned to commence from the middle of this month and be completed by the end of August. Other Garda Regions will follow in line with the provision of the network infrastructure. Although there has been a short delay in commencing the DMR Region, I am advised that it will be completed on schedule.

Garda Deployment.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

372 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 130 of 30 April 2009, which detailed the factors and model used to determine the allocation of gardaí and in view of the Garda Representative Association conference motion which called for his Department to publish the minimum number of front-line operational gardaí deemed necessary to police each district, if he will provide a table listing the actual minimum number of gardaí required as derived from the Garda establishment redistribution model for each Garda division and district. [22379/09]

The allocation of Garda personnel is determined by Garda Management taking a number of factors into account including population, crime trends and as the policing needs of each individual Division dictates. The GERM model referred to by the Deputy, assists Garda Management in this task and provides guidance on how the level of resources available to the Commissioner, should best be allocated throughout the country.

The following are the most readily available figures of the policing strengths of each District and Division in the country, as determined by the Commissioner:-

Division

District

Total

D.M.R. East

Blackrock

199

D.M.R. East

Dun Laoghaire

275

D.M.R. East

Total

474

D.M.R. North

Balbriggan

87

D.M.R. North

Coolock

247

D.M.R. North

Raheny

194

D.M.R. North

Santry

281

D.M.R. North

Total

809

D.M.R. North Central

Bridewell

176

D.M.R. North Central

Fitzgibbon Street

224

D.M.R. North Central

Store Street

306

D.M.R. North Central

Total

706

D.M.R. South

Crumlin

187

D.M.R. South

Rathmines

173

D.M.R. South

Tallaght

275

D.M.R. South

Total

635

D.M.R. South Central

Donnybrook

187

D.M.R. South Central

Kevin Street

230

D.M.R. South Central

Pearse Street

348

D.M.R. South Central

Total

765

D.M.R. West

Blanchardstown

376

D.M.R. West

Clondalkin

213

D.M.R. West

Lucan

177

D.M.R. West

Total

766

Carlow / Kildare

Carlow

127

Carlow / Kildare

Kildare

86

Carlow / Kildare

Leixlip

79

Carlow / Kildare

Naas