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 6, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 7 to 30, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 31 to 39, inclusive, answered orally.

Companies Registration Office.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

40 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she is satisfied with the processing times achieved by the Companies Registration Office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27546/09]

I am satisfied that the majority of submissions received by the Companies Registration Office are being recorded, scanned and made available for public inspection within the published target times. Checking and registration times are also generally on target.

However, I am aware of delays in the registration of Business Names and Notifications of Changes of Director/Secretary. The Office is increasing the automation of the registration of those documents which should help to ameliorate these delays. I can assure the Deputy that every effort is being made to reduce these delays and to ensure that customers of the Companies Registration Office receive the best possible service.

Banking Sector.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

41 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the continuing difficulties being faced by small and medium sized companies which are being refused credit by banks; if she has had discussions with the banks on this issue, particularly in view of the importance of maintaining employment in this sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27432/09]

A properly functioning banking sector is an essential element for the maintenance and development of enterprises, especially SMEs.

Government focus has been on creating a fit for purpose banking system as is evidenced by the bank guarantee scheme, the recapitalisation scheme, the nationalisation of Anglo Irish and the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency. Substantial guarantees and funding have been committed to the banking sector in order to keep the banks functioning to support the broader economy.

A key principle of all these actions is the recognition of the importance of business lending particularly in relation to SMEs. SMEs are central to our economy and the provision of bank credit to the sector is a primary target of all these initiatives. The Banks' Recapitalisation Package contains a range of initiatives to directly assist our enterprise sector, including the following:

The recapitalised banks have committed to increasing their lending capacity to SMEs by 10% over 2008. This should ensure that sound businesses will receive support from their banks.

A €100m environmental and clean energy innovation fund is also being established by each bank as well as a further €15m each to new or existing seed capital funds. Much of this funding will flow to small and medium enterprises.

SMEs are also covered by the Code of Conduct on Business Lending to SMEs. This Code which was published by the Financial Regulator came into effect from 13 March 2009. The application of the Code will promote fairness and transparency in the treatment of SMEs by the banks and should facilitate access to credit for sustainable and productive business propositions.

Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank will also provide funding for SMEs on foot of €300m facilities provided by the European Investment Bank to assist developing SMEs.

My colleague the Minister for Finance has responsibility for the banking system and the Tánaiste and I are in regular contact with him on the matter as are officials of both our Departments. In addition the Tánaiste and I have met with the business representative bodies, the banks and the enterprise support agencies to ensure that all sides have a common understanding of the issues and a common commitment to support viable businesses. We will continue with these contacts.

The recapitalised banks agreed to pay for and co-operate with the carrying out of an Independent Review of Bank Lending to SMEs. Additional banks have now participated in this Review with the result that the 5 major lending banks are now included. The purpose of the review is to ascertain the position on credit availability to SMEs here and to recommend appropriate action to improve credit availability. The Independent Review has now been submitted to my colleague, the Minister for Finance, and will be published immediately. I welcome the completion of this Review as it should allow all stakeholders have an objective view of the state of lending from the banks to SMEs.

Arising from the Recapitalisation Package, the Tánaiste, along with my colleague, the Minister for Finance, also established a Credit Supply Clearing Group with bank, business (including ISME and SFA) and State representation. This Group is responsible for identifying patterns of events where the flow of credit to viable businesses appears to be blocked and for seeking to identify credit supply solutions relating to these patterns. The Group is however, not an appeals mechanism for cases where credit has been refused by the banks. Individual business decisions remain the responsibility of the banks. The Credit Supply Clearing Group is being chaired by my Department and will work to provide a clear picture of any emerging lending patterns while facilitating direct discussion by all the relevant interests in addressing problems.

The Group met for the first time on 28 May 2009 and will meet again shortly following the publication of the Independent Review of Bank Credit.

To assist and complement the work of the Credit Supply Clearing Group, I personally have held seven regional meetings beginning in Cork on Monday 29 June to discuss with representatives of business, banks and the state sector, their experience of gaining access to bank credit at local and regional level. I have to date, held meetings in Cork, Waterford, Dublin, Bundoran, Shannon, Galway and Athlone. The last meeting will be held in Dundalk on Monday next 13 July. In the course of these meetings, I met with local representatives of the major banks, business representatives from local Chambers of Commerce, ISME, SFA, IFA and the Irish Hotels Federation. Local representatives from the various State Agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, City and County Enterprise Boards and Fáilte Ireland, also attended. The outcome of theses meetings should facilitate a greater understanding of the issue at both regional and national levels.

Outside of the banking sphere, my Department's continuous support for enterprises arises through maintaining a positive business environment and through particular interventions from the State development agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, FÁS and the County and City Enterprise Boards. The significant allocations in my Department's Estimates for 2009 for the development agencies ensures that we can continue to build on this strategy for the future.

Government has also introduced formal arrangements to reduce the payment period by central Government Departments to their business suppliers from 30 to 15 calendar days. This commitment has effect on all valid invoices received on and from 15 June 2009 and should help ease cash flow difficulties for SMEs.

Comptroller and Auditor General Report.

John Deasy

Question:

42 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when she will publish the Comptroller and Auditor General report on misappropriation and misuse of public money by FÁS; the action she will take on its findings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27544/09]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

65 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when she expects to receive the report commissioned from the Comptroller and Auditor General into the effectiveness of FÁS’s financial management and control systems; if pending the receipt of the report, she will take action arising from allegations of financial irregularities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27445/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 65 together.

When issues of concern relating to expenditure in FÁS were brought to my attention following my appointment as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment last year, I acted quickly to seek assurances from FÁS that the issues highlighted by the Comptroller and Auditor General's value for money report had been addressed. I then proceeded to request the Comptroller and Auditor General to carry out an examination of the activities of FÁS Corporate Affairs since 2000 and to report on the effectiveness of management and control systems across the FÁS organisation. I have recently received a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General that deals with the examination of advertising and promotion in FÁS, which forms part of this investigation. This report will be laid before the House in due course.

The report is being examined by officials in my Department and will be laid before the House, as required under Section 11 of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993, in due course.

I understand from the Comptroller and Auditor General that a further report will be issued in the coming months, which will examine the arrangements for internal control and governance that pertained in FÁS.

In the meantime, a number of measures have been taken by FÁS in order to improve financial control and governance across the organisation. These include the following:

The Corporate Affairs function, which is at the centre of the C&AG's investigation, has been restructured and controls in this area have been tightened.

The Board of FÁS has approved a revised structure for its Internal Audit including resources for additional staff and external co-sourced audits. An external quality review of its Internal Audit has also been completed and a number of recommendations have been made that identify how the function can develop in line with best practice.

A full audit of all procurement locations has been scheduled by FÁS Internal Audit for completion by the end of the year.

All executive credit cards have been cancelled. The one credit card retained by FÁS has a maximum credit limit of €7,000 and is used primarily to purchase research material, textbooks, and other support material to assist the work of the organisation.

All foreign travel requests by staff are now subject to the approval of the Director General of FÁS.

The FÁS advertising budget has been reduced to a minimum and a new communications strategy will be developed to ensure efficient customer communications.

Job Losses.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

43 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has caused an estimate to be made of loss of jobs and damage to the economy arising from the activities of a major supermarket chain (details supplied) and in particular in relation to its new purchasing and display policy which discriminates against Irish produced goods; and the action she proposes to take in this regard. [27460/09]

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

Undoubtedly, the significant downturn in retail sales, as recorded in the Central Statistics Office's most recent bulletin, is putting pressure on all those involved in the retail sector, including retailers themselves and those who supply them, not least in the grocery goods sector. Whilst the reality is that most sectors of the economy are suffering as a result of the current downturn, its effects are more acute in sectors such as construction, the motor trade and the retail sector. Indeed the Quarterly National Household Survey published last month by the Central Statistics Office shows that the wholesale and retail trade as a whole suffered the second largest annual decrease in employment after the construction sector. Given these circumstances it is most important that the primary focus of all elements of the retail chain must be to secure existing jobs to ensure that Ireland continues to have a vibrant retail sector.

In this regard, the Government fully appreciates the importance of successful food and retail sectors to the national economy. The Government acknowledges the need to ensure that there is a balance in the relationship between the various players in the grocery goods sector, which takes account of the interests of all the various parties, including the interests of consumers. My Department is currently working on the details of a Code of Practice in this area which will have as its key objective the need to achieve a balance in the relationships between grocery goods undertakings, taking into account the need to enhance consumer welfare and the need to ensure that there is no impediment to the passing-on of lower prices to consumers.

It is my intention to seek the views of all stakeholders in relation to the details of the provisions of the Code, which I hope to publish for public consultation in the coming weeks. The Code in setting out the framework in which the different elements of the retail chain can enter into negotiations and agree contractual arrangements between themselves will help to ensure that those arrangements are balanced and fair and ultimately ensure that interests of all parties, including consumers, are respected.

EU Directives.

Liz McManus

Question:

44 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the report of the sales law review group on the proposed consumer rights directive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27435/09]

I established the Sales Law Review Group in November 2008 to report on several issues relating to consumer and commercial law, including the proposal for a Directive on Consumer Rights published in October 2008.

The Review Group's report is a thorough, expert analysis of the provisions of the proposed Directive. The proposed Directive will have a major influence on the future of Irish consumer law and it is important that we are in a position fully to understand its provisions and their implications while discussions on the proposal are still at a relatively early stage. The report identifies a number of areas where the proposed Directive might adversely affect Irish consumer rights and suggests ways in which these potential adverse effects can be ameliorated. The Review Group's report is a substantial input into the Irish response to the proposed Directive and its contents have already been of significant benefit to the officials of my Department involved in discussions on the proposal.

Job Losses.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

45 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made to date by the mid west task force established following the announcement of major job losses at a company (details supplied) in County Limerick; if she has received the promised interim report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27436/09]

The Mid-West Task Force, which I established under the Chairmanship of Mr Denis Brosnan, has now completed an interim Report. I am most grateful to Mr Brosnan and the other members of the Task Force for their commitment and work completed.

The report was presented to me by Mr Brosnan on the 2nd of July and is currently being considered by Government.

At the time Dell announced on eighth January last its intention to reduce its workforce by 1,900 at its plant in Limerick, I also established a group of the relevant State Agencies to prepare for a major job loss situation. Since then, FÁS has had in place a Mid West team to specifically deal with the needs of workers made redundant in Dell and other companies in the Region.

At the same time, IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development have been working diligently to secure new investments for the region. Over the last year companies like Vistakon, Zimmer, Intel, Cook, DTS and Microsemi have had announcements in the Mid West. Further agency-supported investments are currently under consideration and the agencies will continue to do everything possible to speed up such development in the region.

Proposed Legislation.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

46 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made with regard to preparation of the promised legislation to ban cross directorships and to prevent chief executives from becoming chairman of their companies; when she expects that the legislation will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27431/09]

These matters are being considered by me in the context of company law and by the Minister for Finance as part of his reform of the banking sector.

The Company Law Consolidation and Reform Bill is currently being drafted by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. It sets out the corporate duties of directors, company secretaries and auditors on a general basis across all sectors. The Bill will implement the recommendations of the Company Law Review Group in that the fiduciary duties owed by directors to the company will be stated in the new companies code.

At present company law does not prohibit cross directorships, whereby a person is a director of more than one company at the same time. The general position is that a person may not be a director of more than 25 companies subject to certain specific exceptions. Directorships of public limited companies (plcs) are not included in the limit of 25. Any consideration of a change in this position for the general cohort of companies operating in Ireland would need to take account of the contribution that non-executive directors make by imparting their mix of expertise and the cross fertilisation of ideas from other areas of the business community.

In relation to the issue of a chief executive becoming a chairman of the company, at present there is no prohibition in the Companies Acts that would prevent this taking place in the case of companies generally. However, this issue is dealt with on a "comply or explain" basis in the Combined Code of Corporate Governance that applies to companies whose securities are listed and traded on the Irish Stock Exchange. The "comply or explain " guideline requires companies to meet the best practice guidelines or explain publicly why not.

The Government and I are committed to ensuring that our corporate governance regime for the corporate sector generally accords with best international practice. We will take account of the lessons which emerge from current enquiries and reviews arising from recent developments and we will address, as appropriate, any concerns in this area including by way of legislation if necessary.

Codes of Conduct.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

47 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on proposals for a statutory imposed code of conduct governing the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20180/09]

I am aware of the suggestions made in a number of quarters that a Code of Practice be introduced to regulate the relationships between the various elements in the retail chain.

These suggestions have arisen in the context of the wider debate in relation to prices and in particular the differential in prices between this jurisdiction and Northern Ireland and the UK.

Since the publication of the Forfás report on the Cost of Running Retail Operations in Ireland in December 2008, the focus of the debate in relation to grocery prices and the differential in prices between here and Northern Ireland and the UK has shifted to issues in relation to the cost of sourcing products and distribution/supply arrangements attaching to the supply of products.

Retailers have strongly contended that the cost of sourcing grocery goods products is much dearer in Ireland than the cost of sourcing such products in the UK and elsewhere.

On the other hand suppliers and distributors have contended that there is a significant imbalance in the relationship between retailers and suppliers, which is giving rise to suppliers being squeezed by the increasingly difficult demands being made by retailers.

It is disappointing that there should be such significant differences between the various elements within the retail chain as to the reasons for the current north south price differentials.

The Government, for its part, is concerned to ensure that we continue to have vibrant and successful food and retail sectors, given the important role these sectors play in the national economy. In this regard, the Government accepts the importance of ensuring that there is a balance in the relationship between the various players in the grocery goods sector, which takes account of the interests of all the various parties, including the interests of consumers. My Department, in cooperation with Minister Brendan Smith and Minister Trevor Sargent, is currently working on the details of a Code of Practice in this area which will have as its key objective the need to achieve a balance in the relationships between grocery goods undertakings, taking into account the need to enhance consumer welfare and the need to ensure that there is no impediment to the passing-on of lower prices to consumers.

It is my intention to seek the views of all stakeholders in relation to the details of the provisions of the Code, which I hope to publish for public consultation in the coming weeks. The Code in setting out the framework in which the different elements of the retail chain can enter into negotiations and agree contractual arrangements between themselves will help to ensure that those arrangements are balanced and fair and ultimately ensure that interests of all parties, including consumers, are respected.

Bilateral Agreements.

Joe Carey

Question:

48 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will reconcile references in the 2006 bilateral agreement on an all-island economy (details supplied) with the differences between packages offered to investors by Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI; if she will address same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27530/09]

The 2006 Comprehensive Study on the All-Island Economy sets out the economic rationale for North/South collaboration as well as making concrete proposals for economic initiatives. The case for an all island approach is made where market failure arises from the existence of the border or where public goods and services could be more efficiently produced on a co-ordinated basis.

In the matter of enterprise, the Study identified a number of areas where co-ordinated policy intervention could prove beneficial including co-operation on trade and investment promotion, enhanced co-operation in support of enterprise and business development and improved regulatory environment.

The clients of Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland are faced with similar challenges wherever their location on the island and, in many instances, both agencies offer largely parallel solutions to their clients where such an approach is appropriate. The Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are working together to ensure that the potential for development is exploited and that the challenges are met. In keeping with this goal, Enterprise Ireland's approach is to work in partnership with Invest NI and InterTradeIreland in an effort to maximise the benefits to all their clients.

In so far as Enterprise Ireland is concerned, financial support is tailored to the requirements of individual companies (i.e. the business plan) on the basis of clearly demonstrated need and value for money. The funding EI provides is in the form of both direct grants to companies, and equity provision, typically depending on the stage of company development (i.e. early stage start-ups or established companies) in line with the risk profiles and development objectives involved. EI offers grant aid through two major funds, namely the Growth and R&D Funds, along with a wide range of smaller grants available for exploring new opportunities. These supports target company development in areas such as management development and leadership, capital acquisition, research and development, market support, innovation and production capability.

Furthermore, the State, through Enterprise Ireland has invested significant resources in developing the Seed and Venture Capital market in Ireland as a valuable source of capital for early and expansion stage companies, while also promoting other avenues of finance such as the Business Angel networks in conjunction with InterTradeIreland, and certifying client companies for Business Expansion Scheme investments.

Enterprise Ireland's grant aid offer must comply with the stipulations of the European Commission with regard to State Aid. Grants for industry are one instrument which can be used in order to develop enterprise and Enterprise Ireland's broad view is that the differential aid rates allowed in the BMW Region have been of benefit not solely with regard to the rate of start-ups but in terms of the development of existing companies.

Non-financial supports are available for all EI supported projects. These include access to the Enterprise Ireland overseas office network for marketing/market research, technical/technology and training advice, knowledge events and seminars.

Economic Competitiveness.

Liz McManus

Question:

49 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the mid year statement from the National Competitiveness Council; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27434/09]

I welcome the recent publication of the National Competitiveness Council's mid-year Statement Getting Fit Again: the Short Term Priorities for Restoring Ireland’s Competitiveness’.

The NCC Statement reiterates that the Government is taking the necessary steps to restore fiscal stability and ensure we maintain a vibrant enterprise sector capable of sustainable export-led growth. Restoring Ireland's competitiveness and, in particular, cost competitiveness is a key priority for this Government and essential for sustaining and creating employment. There are a wide range of competitive strengths which we retain, including a young and comparatively well educated work force, growing levels of research and development activity, a modern internationally-traded enterprise base as well as a long track record as an attractive location for overseas investment.

The NCC statement is a balanced and realistic assessment of the current economic challenges that face us. The statement broadly endorses the actions that this Government is taking in line with our medium term strategy for sustainable growth set out in the Framework for Economic Renewal.

Proposed Legislation.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

50 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when it is intended to publish anti-victimisation legislation, designed to protect those workers who choose to join a trade union and which was promised by March 2009 under the review of Towards 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27442/09]

The Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009 provides that the Government will bring forward legislative proposals to prohibit victimisation, including dismissal, and incentivisation, and to provide effective protection and means of redress to employees when engaged in the proper and legitimate exercise of their rights to trade union membership or activity on behalf of a trade union or non-membership of a manager discharging his or her managerial functions.

The issue will be developed in parallel with the review process, also provided for under the Transitional Agreement, which will consider the legal and other steps which are required to enable the mechanisms regarding employee representation which were established under previous Agreements to operate as they had been intended. This review will be carried out under the auspices of the Department of the Taoiseach. In this context, I understand that, notwithstanding the priority which is being accorded to the ongoing discussions with the Social Partners aimed at agreeing an integrated response to the current fiscal and economic difficulties, it is intended to get the process underway at the earliest possible date.

Export Credit Insurance.

Michael Creed

Question:

51 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has discussions with officials from other Departments with regard to introducing export credit insurance measures to assist the agri-food sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20291/09]

Officials from this Department have engaged with their counterparts in other relevant Departments, particularly the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of Finance and the Department of the Taoiseach, on the issue of Export Credit Insurance. In addition, the Tánaiste has discussed this matter with the Taoiseach and with her cabinet colleagues.

The position on the possible introduction of a Scheme of State-backed Export Credit Insurance is that following analysis undertaken by Forfás at the Tánaiste's request and, following discussions with her Government colleagues, an accelerated tendering process has been initiated for the purposes of carrying out forensic due diligence on the credit insurance market in Ireland. The due diligence will include an in-depth examination of the client databases of the main credit insurance providers operating in Ireland and will assess the extent of market failure. 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 by the State in this area.

The initial phase of the accelerated tendering process, whereby expressions of interest were invited, has been finalised and completed tenders from the short- listed candidates, for the provision of the forensic examination of the Credit Insurance market have just been received. These tenders are being evaluated today and it is hoped to award a contract shortly. It is intended that the analysis should be completed by early September next.

At that stage, informed by this study, the Government will consider all the issues involved before making a decision on whether or not to progress the possible introduction of a State-backed top-up export credit insurance scheme. Any such decision will need to consider issues such as default risk, exchequer exposure to costs, value for money, the impact of any such scheme on business and exports. These factors will inform any future Government decision on whether to introduce a State-backed top-up export credit insurance scheme.

Export Credit Insurance is just one of a range of measures that companies use as part of their financial model. The Government has taken several initiatives to assist companies faced with credit difficulties. As part of the banks' recapitalisation package, the Government decided to have an independent review of bank lending carried out in order to have an objective assessment of the current lending situation. This process has just been completed and the results of this review will be available very shortly. In addition, the Government has established a Credit Supply Clearing Group with bank, business and State representation. This Group, chaired by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, is responsible for identifying patterns of events where the flow of credit to viable businesses appears to be blocked and for identifying possible credit supply solutions. In a further recent initiative, the Government has now introduced formal arrangements to reduce the payment period by central Government Departments to their business suppliers, from 30 to 15 calendar days.

Job Losses.

Martin Ferris

Question:

52 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent of job losses over the past six months; the number of replacement jobs created in the same period; the action taken by her to stem the loss of jobs within this time period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27103/09]

The total number of people on the Live Register for June 2009 was 418,600, an increase of over 90,700 since January of this year. The most recent seasonally adjusted Live Register Standardised Unemployment Rate for June stands at 11.9%. However, I would also point out that in the twelve-month period to the end of May 2009, 144,000 people left the Live Register as they had secured employment. This is important as it shows that jobs are still being created.

My Department records the number of redundancies notified to them on a monthly basis. From January to June 2009 the number of actual redundancies received under the Redundancy Scheme stands at 42,724. Of these 29,385 were male and 13,339 were female. Unemployment is measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey which is published by the Central Statistics Office. In the first quarter of 2009, the most recent quarter for which data is available, there were 222,800 persons unemployed.

Employment data in respect of companies supported by the Enterprise Agencies (Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Shannon Development and the County and City Enterprise Boards) is collated on an annual basis only, and accordingly monthly figures cannot be supplied. The number of full-time jobs created in firms assisted by these Agencies in 2008 was about 21,500.

The Enterprise Development agencies under the aegis of my Department are working closely in order to maintain an integrated approach to investment and enterprise development. The strategies and policies being pursued by the State Development agencies will continue to support enterprise development and bring about job creation throughout the country.

Smart Economy.

Bernard Allen

Question:

53 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to appoint an advisory council of business leaders as outlined in the Government’s smart economy document; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27516/09]

I receive ongoing advice from my Department and the heads of the enterprise development agencies that report to my Department, as well as from business leaders and representative groups around the country. This has assisted in framing the Government's response to the current economic situation. I should also acknowledge the public spirited response from many individuals and groups who have written to me and other members of Government with their ideas and proposals.

The business sector is regularly invited to feed expert knowledge into the policymaking system and to join with Departments and Government in evaluating and implementing enterprise policies. I have received Reports from the Services Strategy Group and the High Level Group on Manufacturing, both chaired by business leaders and recommendations contained in these Reports are being advanced within the Framework for Economic Renewal. Furthermore, the R&D Enterprise Feedback Group and the High Level Group on Business Regulation bring forward proposals and identify specific measures to support the enterprise sector and improve the regulatory environment on a regular basis.

Most recently we have announced the establishment of the High Level Group on Green Enterprise and also the Innovation Task Force to support the development of the Smart Economy. The considerable knowledge and expertise of the various members of these Groups will contribute substantially to future enterprise policy.

In light of the range of advice available to me and the work of these Groups, I have no proposals at this point to establish a Business Advisory Council as outlined in the Smart Economy document.

Departmental Schemes.

Phil Hogan

Question:

54 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of people currently participating on the graduate placement and short term work schemes which were announced in the supplementary budget of 7 April 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27566/09]

The Work Placement Programme is being created in order to provide 2,000 six-month work experience places for graduates and other individuals. The aim of this scheme is to provide invaluable work experience to individuals who are unemployed, who have recently graduated from college or have very limited experience of the workplace.

To date the number of individuals who have expressed an interest with FÁS in the Programme and who meet the eligible criteria stands at 192. In terms of places, FÁS have received 180 enquiries to date from potential providers, which has resulted in 155 actual places being offered by providers. Considering that FÁS are in the process of finalising their targeted publicity campaign of the Programme, it is encouraging that they are experiencing a considerable level of interest from individuals and providers in the Programme.

The Short Time Training Programme will provide training and income support to 277 workers currently on systematic short time working. Under this Programme workers who are on a three-day week and receiving social welfare payments for the days they are not working will receive 2 days training a week for a period of 52 weeks.

FÁS are in the process of allocating the places on this Programme across a number of Regions using either their Local Employment Services office or their Local Services to Business Unit. To date approximately 120 places have been allocated across two FÁS Regions. FÁS are continuing to explore a number of other possible enquiries from other FÁS Regions in relation to the allocation of the remaining places. It is intended that these places will be allocated in the coming weeks.

Labour Inspectorate.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

55 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of labour inspectors currently employed by the National Employment Rights Authority; the number of labour inspectors currently available for assignment on normal duties; the number of labour inspectors currently in training following recruitment; the status of the recruitment campaign to increase the labour inspectorate to 90 inspectors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27448/09]

The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) currently has in place a team of 77 Inspectors. Recruitment competitions were held to bring the number of Inspectors from the original level of 31 Inspectors up to the level of 90 committed to under Towards 2016. 60 inspectors were assigned to NERA from these competitions. All NERA inspectors were recruited by way of competitive procedures, including internal competition within the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, competition among staff of other Government Departments and a selection process undertaken by the Public Appointments Service to recruit ten inspectors with language skills.

14 Inspectors have left NERA over the past year as a result of promotion or internal and external Departmental transfers and re-assignments. As a result, the total number of NERA Inspectors currently stands at 77. Of the 77 inspectors, 1 is currently on maternity leave and is not, therefore, available for inspections and associated duties.

All new Inspectors are required to complete the NERA Inspection Services Introductory Training Programme and to undertake further training, including on-the-job training with experienced inspectors. This involves working with experienced Inspectors in carrying out inspections and other associated enquiries at places of work with a view to determining compliance with certain employment rights legislation. All Inspectors have completed the Introductory Training Programme and are fully operational.

The Minister for Finance recently introduced a moratorium on the filling of vacancies in the Public Service until the end of 2010, which will impact on NERA in common with all other public bodies.

Export Credit Insurance.

David Stanton

Question:

56 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the other options, in addition to a State supported credit insurance scheme, she is considering to support Irish exporters who are finding it difficult to acquire credit insurance for their products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27511/09]

My Department's continuous support for enterprises arises through maintaining a positive business environment and through particular interventions from the State development agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, FÁS and the County and City Enterprise Boards. The significant allocations in my Department's Estimates for 2009 for the development agencies ensures that we can continue to build on this strategy for the future. Irish exporters can avail of the support of these agencies.

In addition, the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund was established by Government to support viable but vulnerable exporting companies who are experiencing difficulties because of the current economic climate. €100m has been allocated to the fund to the end of 2010. Client companies of Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Údarás na Gaeltachta and Shannon Development across all sectors within manufacturing and internationally traded services are eligible to apply. The fund is administered by Enterprise Ireland. To date, approximately €26m of the 2009 allocation of €50m has been approved or is being processed. 16 projects have been approved support of approximately €6m and a further 30 projects are being processed. In addition there are over 100 further enquiries that are live.

A properly functioning banking sector is an essential element for the maintenance and development of enterprises, especially exporting enterprises.

Government focus has been on creating a fit for purpose banking system as is evidenced by the bank guarantee scheme, the recapitalisation scheme, the nationalisation of Anglo Irish and the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency. Substantial guarantees and funding have been committed to the banking sector in order to keep the banks functioning to support the broader economy.

A key principle of all these actions is the recognition of the importance of business lending. The Banks' Recapitalisation Package contains a range of initiatives to directly assist our enterprise sector, including the following:

The recapitalised banks have committed to increasing their lending capacity to SMEs by 10% over 2008. This should ensure that sound businesses will receive support from their banks.

A €100m environmental and clean energy innovation fund is also being established by each bank as well as a further €15m each to new or existing seed capital funds. Much of this funding will flow to small and medium enterprises.

SMEs are also covered by the Code of Conduct on Business Lending to SMEs. This Code which was published by the Financial Regulator came into effect from 13 March 2009. The application of the Code will promote fairness and transparency in the treatment of SMEs by the banks and should facilitate access to credit for sustainable and productive business propositions.

The recapitalised banks agreed to pay for and co-operate with the carrying out of an Independent Review of Bank Lending to SMEs. Additional banks have now participated in this Review with the result that the 5 major lending banks are now included. The purpose of the review is to ascertain the position on credit availability to SMEs here and to recommend appropriate action to improve credit availability. The Independent Review has now been submitted to my colleague, the Minister for Finance, and will be published immediately. This Review should allow all stakeholders have an objective view of the state of lending from the banks.

Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank will also provide funding for SMEs on foot of €300m facilities provided by the European Investment Bank to assist developing SMEs.

Arising from the Recapitalisation Package, the Tánaiste has, along with the Minister for Finance, also established a Credit Supply Clearing Group with bank, business (including ISME and SFA) and State representation. This Group is responsible for identifying patterns of events where the flow of credit to viable businesses appears to be blocked and for seeking to identify credit supply solutions relating to these patterns. The Group is however, not an appeals mechanism for cases where credit has been refused by the banks. Individual business decisions remain the responsibility of the banks. The Credit Supply Clearing Group is being chaired by my Department and will work to provide a clear picture of any emerging lending patterns while facilitating direct discussion by all the relevant interests in addressing problems.

To assist and complement the work of the Credit Supply Clearing Group, I personally have held seven regional meetings beginning in Cork on Monday 29 June to discuss with representatives of business, banks and the state sector, their experience of gaining access to bank credit at local and regional level. Meetings to date were held in Cork, Waterford, Dublin, Bundoran, Shannon, Galway and Athlone. The last meeting will be held in Dundalk on Monday next 13 July. The outcome of theses meetings should facilitate a greater understanding of the issue at both regional and national levels.

Government has also introduced formal arrangements to reduce the payment period by central Government Departments to their business suppliers from 30 to 15 calendar days. This commitment has effect on all valid invoices received on and from 15 June 2009 and should help ease cash flow difficulties for enterprises.

Economic Competitiveness.

Pat Breen

Question:

57 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will make a statement on the assertion of the Competition Authority that the problem of the Republic of Ireland’s higher cost base is a much more long-term threat to the competitiveness of retailers, suppliers and all businesses here; the action she is taking to lower the business cost base here; and the action she is taking to tackle energy costs to business; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27523/09]

Michael Noonan

Question:

59 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the International Monetary Fund view that Ireland is the most expensive country in the eurozone for business; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27579/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

91 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which she has identified the manufacturing or service costs currently causing or expected to cause market difficulties for Irish manufacturers or service providers on international markets; the steps she will take to address such issues; if an evaluation has been carried out as to the beneficial impact in the event of bringing such costs into line with those in competing jurisdictions; if she has received submissions from the manufacturing or service sectors in this regard; the action she has taken or proposes to take; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27513/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

129 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action she has taken or proposes to reduce manufacturing costs here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27998/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

135 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has identified the main obstacles to economic growth within this economy with reference to comparison of costs with those in other competing jurisdictions; whether the costs relate to energy, transport or other elements; her plans to address these issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28004/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57, 59, 91, 129 and 135 together.

A number of recent reports have referred to the need to restore competitiveness and in particular cost competitiveness. These include the IMF, OECD, the National Competitiveness Council and the Competition Authority. One of the immediate policy objectives with regard to competitiveness is to restore our cost competitiveness. This is a key action set out in the Framework for Economic Renewal. We are aware that strong domestic demand in recent years led to significant increases in the costs of doing business in Ireland. However, the economy is now undergoing a radical adjustment which can lead to the necessary change required to restore external competitiveness. As part of this process there are a number of factors which can influence our cost base.

Firstly, Irish inflation declined by 4.7 percent in the year to May 2009, the sharpest fall since 1933. Inflation fell significantly across most goods and services groups in 2009. Secondly, the Government have stepped in to exert downward pressure on prices and costs. Although it has been a painful adjustment, the reduction in unit labour costs delivered through public pay reform will strengthen our longer term competitiveness.

For most exporting firms, labour costs account for over half of their input costs. While Irish wage levels are moderate when compared to other high income economies, wage inflation in Ireland has been running at up to 50 percent higher than the eurozone average during the 2005-2008 period. More recently, nominal wage growth has slowed and is likely to fall in 2009. The EU estimates that Irish unit labour costs will fall by 4% this year, compared with a 3% increase in the EU on average, translating into a significant improvement in competitiveness.

Thirdly, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Economic Renewal, we will implement the recommendations of the Competition Authority and tackle excessive costs in the non-traded sectors where they can best contribute to overall competitiveness.

Fourthly, we are working to bring costs in administered sectors of the economy under control such as local authority charges and also easing the administrative burden that regulations can create. Minister Gormley and I have met with the County Managers regarding actions that local authorities can take to ease cost pressures on business and we plan to meet with them again shortly.

Across Government there is a concerted approach to eliminate structural rigidities that have contributed to high costs. The current initiative to legislate against upward only rent reviews is a further example of this cross Government effort.

Finally, with regard to energy costs for businesses, in recent months, the trend of energy prices has been downward with a 10% drop in electricity prices for residents and Small and Medium Enterprises from 1 May, while gas prices have reduced by an average of 12%. These reductions will result in a further easing of cost pressures for businesses. I will continue to work closely with my colleague the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to ensure that we continue to exert downward pressure on energy costs.

Enterprise Stabilisation Fund.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

58 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of companies which have applied for funding from the enterprise stabilisation fund; the number of applications accepted and the number rejected; the amount paid out to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27574/09]

Willie Penrose

Question:

84 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount of money paid out to date under the €100 million enterprise stabilisation fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27423/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 84 together.

The Government approved a total of €100m for the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund to be disbursed over 2009 and 2010. €50m has been included in the estimate of my Department for this purpose in 2009. Under the scheme, Enterprise Ireland can give up to €500,000 to viable companies with robust business models that are facing difficulties as a result of the current economic environment. The fund will supply direct financial support to internationally trading enterprises that are investing in cost reduction or other measures to gain sales in overseas markets. This fund will also be a key factor in sustaining client company employment.

The provision of grant assistance to individual companies is a matter for the development agency or body concerned, and not one in which I have a direct function. However, I have been informed by Enterprise Ireland that to date €6.8 million has been approved for 19 projects, a further €22 million is under active negotiation with 35 companies nationwide and over 100 further enquiries have been received.

Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 57.

Job Initiative.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

60 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the introduction of a social economy or job initiative schemes to help deal with the unemployment situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27437/09]

On 1 January 2006 responsibility for the Social Economy Programme transferred to the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs and it has been re-named as the Community Services Programme. FÁS as an agency of my Department operates Job Initiative (JI).

The Job Initiative Programme (JI) was launched in July 1996 and provides full time employment for people who are 35 years of age or over, unemployed for 5 years or more, and in receipt of Social Welfare payments over that period.

The main purpose of the programme is to assist long-term unemployed people to prepare for work opportunities by providing participants with work experience, training and development opportunities. The programme is sponsored by voluntary organisations and public bodies involved in not-for-profit activities.

Following changes introduced on 10 November 2004 by Minister Micheál Martin no new entrants have been admitted onto the Job Initiative Schemes. However, contracts for existing participants are renewed and CE participants to support the service being provided may replace those who leave voluntarily.

This Government will continue to support the positive role of FÁS Employment Schemes in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. The operation of the Scheme is being kept under constant review in the context of the current difficult unemployment situation.

Job Creation.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

61 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the terms of reference of the high level action group on green enterprise; when she expects to receive this report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27425/09]

Following a commitment in the Government's Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal, Building Ireland's Smart Economy, the High Level Action Group on Green Enterprise was launched in May 2009. The Group is chaired by Mr Joe Harford and comprises representatives of industry as well as senior Government Departments and State Agencies.

In establishing this Group, the Government was cognisant of a Study recently completed by Forfás and InterTradeIreland "Environmental Goods and Services Sector on the Island of Ireland” on enterprise opportunities in the environmental goods and services sector on an all-island basis. The Action Group will build on this report and take into account:

relevant commitments in the Government's Framework for Economic Renewal,

the current configuration of supports for businesses operating in or seeking to develop products or services in the green economy,

knowledge and skills deficits which hinder the growth of employment in the sector. Specifically the Action Group will identify the steps to be taken to:

Develop green enterprise through encouragement of entrepreneurship, supports for indigenous enterprise and inward investment.

Further develop education and training structures and systems, at all levels, to best address knowledge and skills deficits.

Advance the potential for research and development in green technology to enhance Ireland's capacity in this area.

Ensure that indigenous industry can meet the challenges and avail of the opportunities to supply goods and services to meet green public procurement (GPP) needs domestically and throughout the EU.

The full Terms of Reference and Membership of the Group are available on my Department's website, http://www.entemp.ie/trade/environment/greenenterprisedevelopment.htm.

I expect the Group to Report to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal by October 2009.

Departmental Schemes.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

62 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to extend the number of places on the pilot short time working training programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23254/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

113 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the budget in 2009 in respect of the pilot training scheme for workers on short time; the number of people that have applied for this programme; the number that have been accepted onto the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27200/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62 and 113 together.

The Short-Time Training Programme is a joint initiative between my Department and the Department of Social and Family Affairs. This Programme, which will cost €1 million, will provide 277 individuals who are working a 3-day week and are receiving social welfare payments for the other 2 days, with training for these 2 days for a period of 52 weeks. In order to qualify participants must be on systematic short time working.

FÁS are currently in the process if identifying eligible companies and individuals to participate in the Programme. To date FÁS have allocated 120 places across two FÁS Regions and are currently in the process of confirming the participants status with the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

FÁS are continuing to explore other possible options for the allocation of the remaining places in other FÁS Regions. It is intended that these places will be allocated in the coming weeks. I am confident that this will be organized quickly to ensure that the valuable training opportunities, which they offer, can be availed of as soon as possible.

Finally, it is my intention to review the effectiveness of the Programme upon the satisfactory completion of its roll-out. It will be in this context that any potential changes or extension of the programme will be considered.

EU Directives.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

63 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of EU directives for which she has responsibility that remain to be implemented; the directives which are overdue; the number of reasoned opinions received from the EU Commission since 2002 to date in 2009 regarding delays or non-implementation of such directives; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27447/09]

There are currently a total of 10 EU Directives due to be transposed by my Department up to 2012. Two of these Directives are currently overdue, namely Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory audits of annual and consolidated accounts and Directive 2006/46/EC on company reporting. My Department aims to transpose these Directives by 17 July and 31 July 2009 respectively.

Full details on the state of play of all current EU Directives due for transposition are maintained on the Department's website, www.entemp.ie.

My Department has received 26 Reasoned Opinions from the European Commission relating to Directives since 2002. All but two of the outstanding issues have been settled satisfactorily. The remaining issues concern overdue Directive 2006/43/EC, which, as I have already stated, my Department is aiming to transpose by the 17 July 2009 and 2006/46/EC which is targeted for transposition by 31 July 2009.

The transposition of EU Directives is an ongoing priority in my Department and is reported to the Management Board on a regular basis.

Banking Sector.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

64 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures she has put in place to increase the credit available to small and medium-sized enterprises; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27471/09]

A properly functioning banking sector is an essential element for the maintenance and development of enterprises, especially SMEs.

Government focus has been on creating a fit for purpose banking system as is evidenced by the bank guarantee scheme, the recapitalisation scheme, the nationalisation of Anglo Irish and the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency. Substantial guarantees and funding have been committed to the banking sector in order to keep the banks functioning to support the broader economy.

A key principle of all these actions is the recognition of the importance of business lending particularly in relation to SMEs. SMEs are central to our economy and the provision of bank credit to the sector is a primary target of all these initiatives. The Banks' Recapitalisation Package contains a range of initiatives to directly assist our enterprise sector, including the following:

The recapitalised banks have committed to increasing their lending capacity to SMEs by 10% over 2008. This should ensure that sound businesses will receive support from their banks.

A €100m environmental and clean energy innovation fund is also being established by each bank as well as a further €15m each to new or existing seed capital funds. Much of this funding will flow to small and medium enterprises.

SMEs are also covered by the Code of Conduct on Business Lending to SMEs. This Code which was published by the Financial Regulator came into effect from 13 March 2009. The application of the Code will promote fairness and transparency in the treatment of SMEs by the banks and should facilitate access to credit for sustainable and productive business propositions.

The recapitalised banks agreed to pay for and co-operate with the carrying out of an Independent Review of Bank Lending to SMEs. Additional banks have now participated in this Review with the result that the 5 major lending banks are now included. The purpose of the review is to ascertain the position on credit availability to SMEs here and to recommend appropriate action to improve credit availability. The Independent Review has now been submitted to my colleague, the Minister for Finance, and will be published immediately. I welcome the completion of this Review as it should allow all stakeholders have an objective view of the state of lending from the banks to SMEs.

Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank will also provide funding for SMEs on foot of €300m facilities provided by the European Investment Bank to assist developing SMEs.

Arising from the Recapitalisation Package, the Tánaiste has, along with my colleague, the Minister for Finance, also established a Credit Supply Clearing Group with bank, business (including ISME and SFA) and State representation. This Group is responsible for identifying patterns of events where the flow of credit to viable businesses appears to be blocked and for seeking to identify credit supply solutions relating to these patterns. The Group is however, not an appeals mechanism for cases where credit has been refused by the banks. Individual business decisions remain the responsibility of the banks. The Credit Supply Clearing Group is being chaired by my Department and will work to provide a clear picture of any emerging lending patterns while facilitating direct discussion by all the relevant interests in addressing problems.

The Group met for the first time on 28 May 2009 and will meet again shortly following the publication of the Independent Review of Bank Credit.

To assist and complement the work of the Credit Supply Clearing Group, I personally have held seven regional meetings beginning in Cork on Monday 29 June to discuss with representatives of business, banks and the state sector, their experience of gaining access to bank credit at local and regional level. I have to date, held meetings in Cork, Waterford, Dublin, Bundoran, Shannon, Galway and Athlone. The last meeting will be held in Dundalk on Monday next 13 July. In the course of these meetings, I met with local representatives of the major banks, business representatives from local Chambers of Commerce, ISME, SFA, IFA and the Irish Hotels Federation. Local representatives from the various State Agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, City and County Enterprise Boards and Fáilte Ireland, also attended. The outcome of theses meetings should facilitate a greater understanding of the issue at both regional and national levels.

Outside of the banking sphere, my Department's continuous support for enterprises arises through maintaining a positive business environment and through particular interventions from the State development agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, FÁS and the County and City Enterprise Boards. The significant allocations in my Department's Estimates for 2009 for the development agencies ensures that we can continue to build on this strategy for the future.

Government has also introduced formal arrangements to reduce the payment period by central Government Departments to their business suppliers from 30 to 15 calendar days. This commitment has effect on all valid invoices received on and from 15 June 2009 and should help ease cash flow difficulties for SMEs.

Question No. 65 answered with Question No. 42.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

66 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if training courses for unemployed persons are to be concentrated in economic black spots; if these economic black spots of unemployment will be given preferences in the allocation of places; the way the budget for re-training for the unemployed will be allocated nationally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27101/09]

There are 8 FÁS Regions (Dublin; Midlands; Mid-West; North-East; North-West; South-East; South-West; and West) covering the 26-counties, each region in consultation with the relevant regional stakeholders, develop appropriate plans regarding the range, mix and type of training courses appropriate to the needs of that region.

As part of the process each region identifies their training needs based on the regional profiles, which include; responses to the live-register activity of the region, the demand for specific training courses from jobseeker's living in the region, the response to regional redundancy situations, the skills required by local enterprises to sustain businesses and the current or future (short — long term) labour market needs of the region.

The budgets for FÁS training courses are allocated across regions based on the responses to the live-register activity of the region, the demand for specific training courses from jobseeker's living in the region, the response to regional redundancy situations, the skills required by local enterprises to sustain businesses and the current or future (short — long term) labour market needs of the region.

Proposed Legislation.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

67 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will report on moves to facilitate continuing growth and development of the co-operative sector by reviewing co-operative legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20187/09]

The co-operative movement has made a huge contribution to economic and social development in Ireland over many years. We have only to think of agricultural co-ops, credit unions and other sectors such as social housing, group water schemes and community development in which the co-op model has been used with great success. A very good description and analysis of the co-operative sector was provided by the Forfás study "Ireland's Co-operative Sector" commissioned by my Department and which was published in November 2007. (available at www.forfas.ie/media/cooperative_sector_2007.pdf)

Most co-operatives in Ireland, particularly those which undertake economic or business activities, register as "industrial and provident societies" under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, the principal Act being that of 1893. While this legislation has served us well over the years, it is time to carry out a comprehensive and full review of the current arrangements and this is now under way. Credit Unions, since 1997, have their own modern legislation, separate from the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts.

The initial focus of the current review is on identifying any practical difficulties or problems for co-operatives in the existing legislation. To assist in this work, we published in April 2009 a consultation paper on the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1893 — 2005 and invited views and observations from interested members of the public. I am glad to say that we have had a good response to this paper. I would also encourage any interested parties who have not yet submitted views or observations to do so as soon as possible. Copies of the consultation paper are available in the Oireachtas library and also on my Department's website (www.entemp.ie/commerce/cooplaw).

On completion of the consultation process, I intend to bring appropriate policy recommendations to the Government. These will address the question of whether, in the light of the public consultation, there is a need for change in the current legislation and, if so, the general lines such change might take.

I would like to take this opportunity to assure the House that the primary objective of the current review and of any legislative initiatives resulting from it will be to ensure and provide a regulatory environment that is supportive of the co-operative movement and of its capacity to contribute to economic and social well being into the future.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

68 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of workplace accidents and workplace deaths recorded in each year from 2002 to 2008 and to date in 2009; her proposals to ensure a reduction in the number of such accidents and deaths; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27446/09]

The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and associated statutory provisions.

There have been 18 workplace deaths reported to the Authority to date in 2009 (as at 02.07.09). The numbers of workplace deaths reported to the Authority for the years 2002-2008 are as follows: 57 in 2008; 67 in 2007; 51 in 2006; 74 in 2005; 50 in 2004; 68 in 2003 and 61 in 2002.

Non-fatal accidents, resulting in an absence of more than three days from normal work following the accident, are required to be reported to the Authority.

There have been 3,147 non-fatal work related accidents reported to the Authority to date in 2009 (as at 02.07.09). There were 6,998 in 2008, 7,816 in 2007, 7,844 in 2006, 8,104 in 2005, 8,453 in 2004, 6,622 in 2003, and 7,746 in 2002.

While the reduction in workplace fatalities since 2007 is welcome, we still had 57 fatalities and thousands of workplace injuries in 2008, many of them preventable. We cannot afford to relax our vigilance in this area. In these times when we are tempted to look at costs, we have to continually emphasise the message that keeping people safe and healthy at work and saving money are not mutually exclusive concepts.

The Health and Safety Authority's 2009 Programme of Work, which was launched in February last, sets out a comprehensive range of activities to make workplaces safer and it contains a good balance between prevention, advice and enforcement.

This year the Authority is again focusing on the high-risk sectors of agriculture and construction, which have seen the highest proportions of fatalities in the last four years — in 2008, 21 fatalities occurred in Agriculture and 15 in Construction.

Day to day responsibility for workplace safety rests with those in the workplace — employers and employees and safe workplaces can ultimately only be delivered by those who control and work in them.

The Health and Safety Authority publishes guidelines, codes of practice and other advice on safety on a regular basis as well as organising sectoral seminars or conferences to promote the occupational safety and health message, as part of its advocacy role. These activities, together with the information on the Authority's website, are of critical importance to all those in the workplace if Ireland's safety record is to be improved.

Job Losses.

Mary Upton

Question:

69 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the announcement of the loss of 107 jobs at a company (details supplied) in County Dublin; the discussions, she has had with the industrial development agencies with a view to securing replacement jobs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27450/09]

I am aware of the announcement of the job losses. A global review of the organisation in question has been in place since February of this year with a view to reducing costs and numbers employed worldwide.

While the news of the job losses is very disappointing, Enterprise Ireland continues to work extensively with the company in Dublin on the implementation of Research and Development projects which are proceeding as planned. Over the next three years, Diageo will invest €24m in expanding its R&D activity across an extensive range of innovative project areas. This investment will be underpinned by a management development initiative to lead the development of the R&D Centre and drive the delivery of the new projects. These R&D projects are expected to contribute to increasing annual sales by €250m over three years with a significant percentage of this coming from export sales, making a major contribution to growing exports from the Irish economy.

The Enterprise Development agencies adopt a co-ordinated response to deal with such situations. The agencies work together in making employees aware of the supports available to assist in finding new employment or start their own businesses. The agencies will also work to attract new investment and jobs to the area. However, the final decision as to where projects locate rests with the promoters of the particular projects.

Job Creation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

70 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she will take to promote, incentivise or generate job creation and retention with particular reference to the need arising from the current economic situation; the measures she will take to assist small medium enterprises who are prepared to offer employment; if she has carried out an assessment of the best way to improve the employment creating environment with the objective of meeting the needs of employers and potential employees at this time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27514/09]

I am very much aware that the key to creating employment is to provide the necessary support to the enterprise sector. In this regard, the Government made provision in the recent Supplementary Budget for in excess of €500 million for capital investment in enterprise. In doing so, the Government has prioritised investment in the most productive sectors of our economy and is investing in the creation of jobs by cementing the foundations of export led recovery and growth.

The Enterprise Development agencies under the aegis of my Department are working together and with local interests in order to maintain an integrated approach to investment and enterprise development. The strategies and policies being pursued by the Enterprise Development agencies will continue to support enterprise development and bring about job creation and retention throughout the country. I recently announced the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund which will enable internationally trading companies survive the current global downturn by supporting their drive to reduce costs and gain sales in overseas markets. Sustainable economic recovery will be driven by enterprises focused on increasing their exports of innovative products and services in global markets.

Enterprise Ireland, in recognising the significant changes in the current economy both in Ireland and globally, has prepared a new recovery strategy to identify the actions that will be undertaken to help clients in 2009. Enterprise Ireland has refocused its efforts on strengthening and sustaining companies of strategic importance through a range of initiatives focused on the needs of its client base.

The focus of IDA Ireland is on securing inward investment from new and existing clients and on working with its existing client base to further embed their investments in Ireland. It has an active programme of engagement with its clients to target new investment opportunities from them. The agency assists its client companies to move up the value chain in terms of both carrying out higher skilled operations and expanding their presence in Ireland. These activities are aimed at improving the quality of employment opportunities and retaining existing jobs.

The County and City Enterprise Boards were established to develop indigenous potential and stimulate economic activity at a local level, primarily through the provision of financial and technical support for the development of small and micro enterprises. The Boards form a nationwide support network for small business, continue to be actively involved in the area of economic development and continue to ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development regionally and nationally.

A properly functioning banking sector is an essential element for the maintenance and development of enterprises, especially Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Government focus has been on creating a fit for purpose banking system as is evidenced by the bank guarantee scheme, the recapitalisation scheme, the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). Substantial guarantees and funding have been committed to the banking sector in order to keep the banks functioning to support the broader economy. A key principle of all these actions is the recognition of the importance of business lending particularly in relation to SMEs. The SMEs are central to our economy and the provision of bank credit to the sector is a primary target of all these initiatives. The Banks' Recapitalisation Package contains a range of initiatives to directly assist our enterprise sector.

Proposed Legislation.

Jack Wall

Question:

71 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when it is intended to publish legislation to address employee representation at work which was promised by June 2009 under the review of Towards 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27443/09]

The Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009 provides for the establishment of a review process which will consider the legal and other steps which are required to enable the mechanisms addressing the issue of employee representation, which were established under previous agreements, to operate as they had been intended. This review will be carried out under the auspices of the Department of the Taoiseach. In this context, I understand that, notwithstanding the priority which is being accorded to the ongoing discussions with the Social Partners aimed at agreeing an integrated response to the current fiscal and economic difficulties, it is intended to get the process under way at the earliest possible date.

Job Creation.

Martin Ferris

Question:

72 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if employment opportunities will exist after re-training programmes have finished; if these upcoming sectors have developed sufficiently to absorb the new skill intensive workers; if job opportunities are not available after training, when she expects them to become available; the alternatives which will exist for jobseeker’s if they can not be absorbed into the workforce after training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27102/09]

Despite the present unemployment challenge which we are currently facing I would like to point out that in the twelve months to the end of May 144,000 people left the live register as they had secured employment. This means that even in the most difficult period in terms of employment creation, jobs are still being created in our economy.

According to the FÁS paper Job Opportunities in the Downturn, and the more recent National Skills Bulletin by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs a number of areas are currently showing demand for labour, these include:

Repairs and Maintenance;

Green Energy — installation and maintenance;

Healthcare sector;

Financial — Accountants/risk managers and regulatory compliance;

Marketing and Sales;

Engineering — Software, design and process diagnostic engineering;

IT –networking experts, programmers, telecommunications experts.

The activation places that are available in both the education and training sectors are aimed at providing individuals with the skills so they can secure employment in areas that will be in demand. For instance my Department is currently providing through FÁS in excess of 129,000 training places for the unemployed. The majority of this provision, 92,000 are being provided under FÁS Training Initiatives Strategy and are short courses in specific skills training. These courses are designed to develop new skills and competencies for the unemployed to assist them in securing employment in specific sectors, where employment opportunities exist.

Those who are unemployed may also apply to participate in the Work Placement Programme, which provides 2000 unemployed individuals with a six-month work placement, while retaining their social welfare entitlements.

County Enterprise Boards.

Denis Naughten

Question:

73 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she is taking to support the role of county enterprise boards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27138/09]

The County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) are the principal deliverers of State support to the micro-enterprise sector in Ireland. They provide support to businesses with 10 or less employees in the start-up and expansion phases, promote indigenous micro-enterprise potential and stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. As locally based enterprise development agencies the Boards are well positioned to meet the needs of their local economy.

I have secured a Capital Allocation for the CEBs of over €20m for provision of both financial and non-financial supports to the micro-enterprise sector in 2009. This was secured against a background of savings in other areas of Government activity and is an acknowledgement of the importance of the Boards and of the need that exists for their services particularly at this time. Using this funding the Boards will continue to ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development.

Given the challenges which the business sector is currently facing I will, in association with the CEB Central Co-ordination Unit within Enterprise Ireland (CCU), and with the CEB network itself, continue to monitor the level of funding and range of supports offered by the CEBs in order to ensure that the CEBs are able to respond appropriately to these challenges and I will continue to support the CEBs, in the delivery of assistance to the micro-enterprise sector, to the greatest extent possible given the significant pressures on public finances.

Job Creation.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

74 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will make a statement on the proposed job subsidy scheme which is proposed to form part of the national recovery plan; the companies to which it will apply; and the way it will be funded. [27535/09]

The Government is working on the detail of a Temporary Employment Subsidy Scheme. The purpose of this scheme will be to:

Help the economy to retain its productive capacity and help employers to retain the labour, knowledge and skills of the workforce, thereby supporting a faster return to sustainable growth;

Help employees to retain their jobs, and

Ensure that economic and fiscal stability is promoted by avoiding the costs of unemployment including statutory redundancy payments and the longer-term cost of social welfare.

It is proposed that the scheme will involve paying a subsidy to firms to retain a person in employment who may otherwise have been made redundant.

It is proposed that the Temporary Employment Subsidy Scheme will apply to companies in the manufacturing or internationally traded service sectors that are currently engaged in exporting. In addition in order to qualify for support it is intended that a company must not have been in difficulty on 1st July 2008, and a financial assessment must establish that it is now facing such difficulties as a result of the global and financial economic crisis that redundancies are likely to have to be considered within 12 months. It is also intended that a company must also be judged to be viable and capable of growth in the medium term in order to receive support under the scheme.

In the discussions with the Social Partners a figure of €250 million was referred to in relation to this scheme.

The Government will continue these discussions with the Social Partners with a view to implementing the Temporary Employment Subsidy Scheme over the coming period.

Departmental Staff.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

75 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of vacancies expected to arise by end of 2009 which will remain unfilled as a result of the circular issued by the Department of Finance on 27 March 2009 in respect of her Department and each of the State agencies or boards for which she has responsibility. [27430/09]

It is not possible to accurately predict the number of vacancies expected to arise in my Department by the end of 2009, which will remain unfilled as a result of the circular issued by the Department of Finance on 27 March 2009 placing a moratorium on the filling of vacancies in the Public Service.

The only area where predictions can be made relate to those staff who will retire in accordance with the compulsory retirement scheme. Since 27 March 2009 ten staff members have retired from the Department with a further two compulsory retirements to take place before the end of 2009. Consequential vacancies will not be filled. Additional vacancies will be created as a result of the following incentives introduced by the Minister for Finance in recent months:

Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement (Circular 12/09), whereby employees of 50 years of age and over who have already accrued entitlement to preserved superannuation benefits under a public service scheme, and who have not yet reached normal preserved pension age can apply for early retirement. The Scheme is open to applications from 1 May 2009 until 1 September 2009 after which the scheme will be reviewed in the context of Budget 2010. The scheme will result in some staff retirements with consequential vacancies; however at this early stage it is not possible to predict what the take up will be in relation to this scheme.

Special Civil Service Incentive Career Break Scheme 2009 (Circular 13/2009) whereby staff can avail of applying for a three year career break and will be paid an incentive payment of a third of gross basic pay to a maximum of €12,500, per year, payable quarterly in arrears, for each year of the 3 year period of the career break incentive scheme (this figure is based on staff who work full time). My Department has received 32 applications from staff wishing to avail of the scheme.

County Enterprise Boards

Based on information to hand it is expected that there will be at least 6 vacancies across the CEB network by the end of 2009, which will be unfilled. However this does not take account of the take-up on the ISER scheme and the Career Break Scheme as no formal decisions on the expressions of interest received to date have yet been made. It is expected that a clearer picture will emerge in coming weeks.

FÁS

The number of vacancies expected to arise in FÁS by the end of 2009, which will remain unfilled is 105.18 (full-time equivalent posts).

IDA Ireland

IDA Ireland expects that 14 vacancies will arise by the end of 2009, which will remain unfilled.

Additional vacancies will be created as a result of the Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement (Circular 12/09), and the Special Civil Service Incentive Career Break Scheme 2009 (Circular 13/2009). Both schemes will result in some staff retirements and career breaks with consequential vacancies, however at this stage it is not possible to predict what the take up will be in relation to these schemes.

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board expects to have 4 vacancies arising in 2009, which will remain unfilled (1 application for the Incentivised Scheme for Early Retirement, 3 fixed term contracts due to expire).

The Competition Authority

Currently the Competition Authority has 7 vacancies and, at this time, is aware of 1 further vacancy that will arise during 2009. The Competition Authority cannot predict if any other vacancies might arise between now and the end of 2009. Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) IAASA currently has 3 vacancies. It is not aware of further vacancies that will arise in 2009.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland expects that 53 vacancies will arise by the end of 2009.

Forfás

Forfás expects that 17 vacancies will arise by the end of 2009.

InterTradeIreland

InterTradeIreland expects 2 vacancies to arise by the end of 2009.

Shannon Development

Currently, Shannon Development has 2 vacancies for which there can be no external recruitment. The Health and Safety Authority expects 5 vacancies to arise before the end of 2009.

National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI)

The National Standards Authority of Ireland expects 13 vacancies to arise by the end of 2009. It is anticipated that this could rise to at least 25 by year end, through normal retirements and the take up of initiatives announced by the Minister for Finance.

The National Consumer Agency

A staffing complement of 80 was approved for the National Consumer Agency. This complement was never reached. Numbers have declined to the current level of 45. By end 2009 the National Consumer Agency expects to employ 39 whole time equivalents. Discussions are currently taking place with the Department of Finance with a view to returning the Agency, as an interim measure, to its early 2009 staffing level of 51.

Job Losses.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

76 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the announcement of the loss of 200 jobs at plants in Coolock, Dublin and Rathmore, County Kerry; the discussions she has had with the industrial development agencies with a view to securing replacement jobs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27453/09]

I am aware of the job losses at the company in its plants at Coolock and Rathmore. The company is a client of Enterprise Ireland and the agency has been maintaining close contact with the company.

There have been large scale voluntary redundancies at the company in recent years. While significant progress was made over the last two to three years, the Irish operations continue to be under pressure. It was clear that further redundancies were necessary from the company's point of view.

While the news that 170 jobs in Coolock and 30 jobs in Rathmore will be lost is extremely disappointing, I am encouraged by the plans that the company has for a large scale investment in new moulded equipment and technology. The agency has provided significant support to the company's operations in relation to capital, human resource development and research and development over the years.

The Enterprise Development agencies adopt a co-ordinated response to deal with such situations. The agencies work together in making employees aware of the supports available to assist in finding new employment or start their own businesses. The agencies will also work to attract new investment and jobs to the areas. However, the final decision as to where projects locate rests with the promoters of the particular projects.

Labour Inspectorate.

Denis Naughten

Question:

77 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the cross-departmental joint labour investigation teams will be operational; the current number of labour inspectors actively performing inspections; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27139/09]

The joint investigation teams between the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners have been operational since 2007.

The Social Partnership Agreement ‘Towards 2016', provided for greater co-ordination between organisations concerned with employment rights compliance, with a view to realising the considerable potential for synergy that exists in this area. In particular, the Agreement provides that authorised officers of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) will join with officers of the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners to work together in Joint Investigation Units. The role of these Joint Investigation Units, or JIUs, is to address areas where evidence suggests that non-compliance with employment rights legislation exists.

The Social Welfare and Pensions Act, 2007, which came into operation on 30 March 2007, provides for the disclosure of relevant employment data between the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment/NERA. This legislation effectively enables NERA to join with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners to work together in Joint Investigation Units.

Since the enactment of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007, exchange of information activity has taken place between the bodies in a number of specific cases. In addition, JIUs, involving NERA with Revenue and/or Social and Family Affairs have also taken place. In 2007, joint investigation activity, involving NERA for the first time, took place during the Construction Industry Campaign in May-July 2007. In 2008, joint investigation activity has been undertaken in a number of sectors including the catering, the hotel and the haulage sector. In 2009, joint investigation activity has continued both through exchange of information and through joint inspections.

The three bodies are proactively promoting and encouraging joint activity at a central and local level. I understand that a series of regional meetings were held late last year involving the relevant inspectors in those regions. These meetings have ensured that all officers understand their respective roles and potential synergies arising from working together within the parameters set out in the legislation.

I believe that the effective operation of JIUs provides a key opportunity for us to maximise the work of the three inspectorates. This has been proven in the past with JIU operations between Revenue and the Department of Social and Family Affairs. NERA's experience to date of JIU activity, both exchange of information and joint inspections, has been very positive and has added greatly to their ability to provide an effective inspection service.

In relation to the number of inspectors, NERA currently has in place a team of 77 inspectors. Recruitment competitions have been held to bring the number of inspectors from the original level of 31 inspectors up to the level of 90 committed to under Towards 2016. Sixty inspectors were assigned to NERA from these competitions. Fourteen inspectors have left NERA over the past year as a result of promotion or internal and external Departmental transfers and re-assignments. As a result, the total number of NERA inspectors currently stands at seventy seven. One of the seventy seven inspectors is currently not actively performing inspections due to maternity leave.

The Minister for Finance recently introduced a moratorium on the filling of vacancies until the end of 2010, in light of which NERA will not be in a position to fill current and future inspector vacancies during that timeframe.

Community Employment Schemes.

Michael Ring

Question:

78 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if specific drug community employment schemes have been introduced on foot of the report of the working group on drugs rehabilitation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23047/09]

The role of FÁS in relation to the National Drugs Strategy is to facilitate the rehabilitation of stabilised drug users and to prepare them to re-enter the active labour market through focused training which will enable them to re-integrate into working life. This is being achieved through participation in a range of FÁS programmes, including Community Employment (CE), and also integration into mainline training aimed at progression into the active labour market.

FÁS aims to promote labour market re-integration through targeted and mainstream initiatives including guidance and support from the referral point which is the FÁS Employment Services/Local Employment Services and pre-CE initiatives to support stabilisation.

Currently, there are 1,000 ring fenced places for drug users on Community Employment based in approximately 100 rehabilitative schemes. In addition, the Programme for Government contains a commitment to implement the recommendation of the Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation to increase the number of places on specific Drug Rehabilitation Community Employment schemes.

Proposed Legislation.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

79 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when it is intended to publish the legislation to amend the Competition Acts to uphold the rights of certain freelance workers such as actors and musicians to collective bargaining, which was promised as part of the review of Towards 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27444/09]

During the course of Social Partnership talks in 2008, the Government committed itself to introducing legislation amending Section 4 of the Companies Act 2002 to the effect that certain categories of vulnerable workers, formerly or currently covered by collective agreements, when engaging in collective bargaining, would be excluded from the Section 4 prohibition. The commitment will take into account that there would be negligible negative impacts on the economy or on the level of competition and will have regard to the specific attributes and nature of the work involved, subject to consistency with EU competition rules. It is proposed that three specific categories of worker, namely voice-over actors, freelance journalists and session musicians will be covered by the exclusion.

How best to give effect to this commitment, in a manner consistent with EU competition law, is being examined in the context of the ongoing work on the drafting of a new Bill which, inter alia, will include amendments to the Competition Act, 2002 (following a review process in 2008) and the merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency. It is intended to publish this Bill before the end of the year.

Question No. 80 withdrawn.

Competition Authority Report.

Joan Burton

Question:

81 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the publication of the Competition Authority report on the retail related import and distribution sector; the action, she will take arising from the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27424/09]

Rory O'Hanlon

Question:

117 Deputy Rory O’Hanlon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she will take to deal with the issues raised in the report by the Competition Authority into trading in the grocery, clothing and pharmaceutical sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27342/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 81 and 117 together.

The publication last week of the study by the Competition Authority of the retail-related import and distribution sector is part of my own and the Government's ongoing commitment to bring greater transparency to structure and pricing in the retail sector.

I asked the Competition Authority to carry out the study following the findings of a Forfás report, which suggested that the strong Euro, which had failed to translate into lower import costs on goods from the United Kingdom, could be indicative of a lack of competition in the import, distribution and retail sectors. This study will, I believe, greatly assist in informing the wider debate on why Irish consumers have not seen the full benefits of the strengthening Euro against Sterling over the past year in the prices they were paying for certain goods.

Overall, this study confirms that while there are no major systemic problems in the overall retail market, the market dynamics can differ across the various retail sectors with some being more flexible than others.

The study also shows that price adjustment to currency movements varies across sectors while also providing evidence which suggests that the ‘high low' pricing policy that operates in this country, while less transparent than the everyday low prices policy that operates in the UK and Northern Ireland, is in fact a function of what the Irish consumer had grown to know.

However, it is now clear that demand for the ‘high low' policy is changing and that Irish consumers now want everyday lower prices. This is evidenced by the success of new entrants to the market, by consumers travelling to shop in other markets and by more recent changes in certain supply, distribution and pricing structures.

The report also finds that increasingly price-conscious consumers are shopping around for the best prices, which in turn spurs more competition between retailers and their suppliers. This is causing prices to fall. For example, between January and May 2009 grocery prices fell by over 2% with additional grocery price reductions signalled this month.

Reductions in the cost of goods cannot be viewed in isolation however. Continued focus on reducing the cost of doing business in this country is necessary in order to help suppliers increase and maintain their competitiveness. The development of any policy affecting the grocery goods sector must reflect the importance of the indigenous food industry and of the retail sector, both of which must be vibrant and competitive while also best serving the consumer and their welfare.

As regards future steps, I can confirm that work is ongoing in my Department on the drafting of a Code of Practice for the grocery sector that would aim to bring further transparency and ensure a balanced relationship between all elements of that retail chain, including retailers, suppliers, distributors and consumers.

The study has been brought to the attention of the European Commission and also to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment in order to assist with their respective retail sector examinations.

I have also arranged for copies of the report to be distributed to all Deputies in the House.

EU Directives.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

82 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made with regard to the implementation of the temporary agency workers directive, agreed at the Council of Ministers meeting on 23 May 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27439/09]

Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on Temporary Agency Work was adopted, on 19 November 2008. Under the terms of this directive there is a three-year period within which Member States will be required to transpose the Directive into national legislation i.e. by 5 December 2011.

Some months ago, I invited the Social Partners to discussions with my Department, with the aim of agreeing a framework within which agency workers in Ireland would achieve equal treatment within an agreed timeframe having regard also to the need for flexibility in enterprises. The Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009 concluded by the Social Partners and the Government contains a commitment to developing such a framework.

My Department has already facilitated an initial meeting between the Social Partners to help them to develop a national framework within the parameters established in the EU Directive. The successful conclusion of a Framework Agreement will enable the Government to consider transposing the terms of the Directive, including the terms of the Framework Agreement, at a date in advance of the maximum period allowed under the Directive i.e. end 2011.

Job Creation.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

83 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the economic black spots of unemployment here; if she is working in co-operation with regional groups to stimulate employment; if strategic planning has taken part on her behalf to counteract regional disparities in unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27099/09]

The latest Quarterly National Household Survey published on 25 June, 2009, shows that unemployment in the Border, Midlands and Western region was 11.4%. For the Southern and Eastern region the figure was 9.7%. The figure for the country as a whole was 10.2%.

The Enterprise Development agencies under the aegis of my Department are working closely and with local interests in order to maintain an integrated approach to investment and enterprise development. The strategies and policies being pursued by the State Development agencies will continue to support enterprise development and bring about job creation throughout the country. However, the final decision as to where a particular project will locate rests with the promoter of that project.

Enterprise Ireland delivers a wide range of supports to Irish companies, targeted at the specific requirements of clients throughout all regions to ensure that they develop to their full potential in terms of employment, innovation and exports. This in turn, stimulates job creation. The Enterprise Stabilisation Fund will enable internationally trading companies survive the current global downturn by supporting their drive to reduce costs and gain sales in overseas markets. Sustainable economic recovery will be driven by enterprises focused on increasing their exports of innovative products and services in global markets.

The 35 County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) provide support for micro-enterprises in the start-up and expansion phases, promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. The CEBs deliver a series of programmes to underpin this role and they can provide both financial and non-financial assistance to a project promoter. The unemployed can access the services of their local CEB if they are considering setting up their own business.

FÁS is providing in excess of 129,000 training and work experience activation places this year. These places are designed to give the unemployed opportunities to improve their skills levels and increase their employability. Places are allocated throughout the 8 FÁS Regions in consultation with the relevant region. In this process each region will identify its training needs based on regional profiles, which include:

Response to the live-register activity of the region

The demand for specific training courses from jobseeker's living in the region

Response to regional redundancy situations

The skills required by local enterprises to sustain businesses

Current or future (short — longer term) labour market needs of the region

Regional variations in the type and level of training provided to meet the above will exist across regions. Budgets for training courses are allocated across regions based on the above factors.

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 58.

Labour Inspectorate.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

85 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of workplace inspections carried out by the labour inspectorate to date in 2009; the way this compares with the same period in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27449/09]

The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) has carried out a total of 10,445 calls, visits and inspections up to 26 June 2009. This compares with 11,499 for the corresponding period in 2008. The number of actual inspections increased by 94 while the number of calls and interviews decreased by 688 and 460 respectively.

NERA conducted almost twice as many workplace inspections in 2008 when compared with 2007 — almost 28,000 workplace inspections in 2008 as against 14,500 in 2007. This increased level of inspection activity in 2008 and 2009 is reflective of the greater level of inspection resources available to NERA, from the original level of 31 inspectors in 2007 to a current complement of 77 NERA inspectors.

Since it commenced operations on an interim basis in 2007, NERA has had considerable success in raising awareness of employment rights. Early in 2008, NERA undertook a nationwide information and awareness campaign, which has been instrumental in bringing about a much greater level of awareness both by employers and by employees of their respective rights and obligations under employment law. The information role has been enhanced through the inspection process. This information and awareness role continues to play a significant part in NERA's employment rights compliance and information strategy.

Job Losses.

Willie Penrose

Question:

86 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she is taking to stem the number of job losses in view of the further increase in the number of people on the live register published on 1 July 2009; her plans to provide new training opportunities for persons who have lost their jobs and to encourage the creation of new employment opportunities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27422/09]

Despite the recent increase in the live register figures for June I would point out that in the twelve-month period to the end of May 2009, 144,000 people left the live register as they had secured employment. This is important as it shows that jobs are still being created.

In response to the rising numbers of unemployed the Government has already taken a number of actions, including doubling the capacity of the job search supports system provided by FÁS Employment Services and the partnership-based Local Employment Service to 147,000 places per year for referrals under the National Employment Action Plan.

In addition, my Department is now funding approximately 128,000 activation training and work experience places through FÁS. This is a substantial increase on the 66,000 places, which were available at the end of last year. This has been achieved by redeploying significant resources towards activating the unemployed.

Included in these places are specific new measures such as a work placement programme, which is providing 2,000 six-month places to individuals who are unemployed and includes the placement of graduates. A new training programme of 277 places at a cost of €1 million is being introduced. Under this programme 277 workers who are on a three-day week and receiving social welfare payments for the days they are not working will receive 2 days training a week for a period of 52 weeks. Also 2,500 places are being provided for those who are unemployed to participate in part-time third level education.

The Government is also assisting redundant apprentices complete their apprenticeships through a number of special measures which will result in over 3600 redundant apprentices being able to progress their training this year.

The Government recently presented proposals to the Social Partners which focused on measures to prevent job losses including the possible introduction of a temporary employment subsidy scheme which aims to helps employees retain their jobs and employers their skilled workforce in these difficult times.

While activation measures will assist individuals in securing employment and enhancing their skills, the key to addressing our unemployment problem is the creation of more jobs. Enterprise Ireland has refocused its efforts on strengthening and sustaining companies of strategic importance through a range of initiatives focused on the needs of their client base which includes the management of the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund which provides €100 million to assist viable but vulnerable companies overcome the present economic difficulties.

The key to IDA Ireland's strategy is to progress the development of a knowledge based economy so that the county can compete both nationally and internationally for foreign direct investment. IDA has an active programme of engagement with its clients to identify and target new investment opportunities. The aim of this is to retain existing clients, improve the quality of employment opportunities in Ireland and increase the positive economic impact.

Social Inclusion.

David Stanton

Question:

87 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the employment rate of people with disabilities; the progress being made in meeting the goal nine target of the National Action Plan Against Social Inclusion for employment of people with disabilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27512/09]

Based on an analysis of the figures contained in the National Census 2006 carried out by the National Disability Authority, the total number of people with disabilities in the 20 — 64 years age group who were in employment was 72,889, representing an employment rate of 35.1%.

The Government is committed to increasing the overall employment participation of people with disabilities in the open labour market. The immediate objective under the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment's Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act 2005, and the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016, is to have an additional 7,000 people with disabilities who do not have a difficulty in retaining a job in employment by 2010. The longer term target under the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016 is to increase the employment rate of people with disabilities from 37% to 45% by 2016, as measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey.

In the period 2006-2008 a total of 5,210 people with disabilities have been placed in jobs from the various FÁS programmes.

The Sectoral Plan of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment includes as a key commitment the development of a comprehensive employment strategy for people with disabilities. The Department has led on the advancement of such a strategy in discussions with other relevant Government Departments, and with key stakeholder representatives who form the Consultative Forum on an Employment Strategy established under the Department's Sectoral Plan. The aim of this strategy is to address the diversity of circumstances, needs and abilities of people with disabilities, and to work towards achieving the highest possible levels of employment for them.

Discussions on the further development and finalisation of the comprehensive employment strategy are being actively pursued with the Consultative Forum and inter-departmental groups with a view to completing the strategy as soon as possible.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

88 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the training programmes she is introducing to upskill persons left unemployed; the number of places there will be in each programme; the basis on which the allocation of places in these programmes will be made; the body which will be in charge of allocation of these places; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27100/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

114 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the additional courses that have been organised by FÁS in view of the increase in the number of people who are unemployed. [27205/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 114 together.

This year the Government has almost doubled the number of FÁS activation training and work experience places for the unemployed to over 129,000. This is a substantial increase on the 66,000 places, which were available at the end of last year. The majority of these additional places are on short courses and will be delivered through three core-training initiatives, Short Courses, Night Courses and Online Courses. These courses are designed to develop new skills and competencies for the unemployed to assist them in securing employment.

Other new programmes which have been rolled out for the unemployed are the Work Placement Programme and the Short time Training Programme. The Work Placement Programme is a six-month work experience programme for 2,000 individuals who are currently unemployed. Under this programme individuals will retain their social welfare entitlements.

The Short Time Working Training Programme will provide two days training a week for 277 workers over a 52-week period who are on systematic short time. Participants on this programme will also continue to receive their existing social welfare entitlements. Information on the range of training programmes offered by FÁS for the unemployed is provided in tabular format.

In terms of the allocation of training places each of the 8 FÁS Regions in consultation with the relevant regional stakeholders — develop appropriate plans regarding the range, mix and type of training courses appropriate to the needs of that region. In this process each region will identify its training needs based on regional profiles, which include:

Response to the live-register activity of the region

The demand for specific training courses from jobseeker's living in the region

Response to regional redundancy situations

The skills required by local enterprises to sustain businesses

Current or future (short — longer term) labour market needs of the region

Regional variations in the type and level of training provided to meet the above will exist across regions. Budgets for training courses are allocated across regions based on the above factors.

FÁS Activation Training for the Unemployed

Programme

Programme Type

Number of Places in a Year

Bridging Foundation Training

Aimed at disadvantaged clients

4,643

Return to Work Programme

Bridging Programme specifically for persons wishing to return to employment

855

Specific Skills Training

Wide range of skills training with an appropriate vocational qualification

10,237

Short Course Programme

Short courses targeted at redundant people

15,710

Evening Courses

Provided for unemployed persons and fee paying employed clients to upskill and obtain accreditation

30,448

On-line learning

Training in a wide range of skills and knowledge for persons with access to PC

6,200

Blended Learning

On-line learning with tutor support and workshops

16,120

Traineeship

Occupational specific and industry endorsed training

4,015

Redundant Apprenticeship Training

Skills and knowledge training and assessment for apprentices

3,600

Community Employment

Employment programme

22,700

Job Initiative (closed to new recruitment November 2004)

Employment programme

1,450

Community Training Centres

Training programme

2,300

Local Training Initiatives

Training programme

2,340

Job Clubs

Training programme

7,840

Work Placement Programme

A work placement programme for the unemployed including graduates. Participants on the scheme will retain their social welfare entitlements.

2,000

Short Time Working Training Programme

Will provide training to people on systematic short-time for the days they are not working

277

Total

130,735

Departmental Payments.

Joe Costello

Question:

89 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps being taken to ensue compliance by Departments with the new arrangements announced on 20 May 2009 to reduce the payment period by Departments to their business suppliers from 30 to 15 days; if there are plans to extend this arrangement to semi-State companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27426/09]

Responsibility for implementing the terms of the Government Decision relating to the payment by Central Departments of business suppliers within 15 days rests with each individual Department. Suppliers experiencing difficulties with payments should contact the relevant Departmental section with which the contract was arranged.

The Secretary General of my Department wrote to all Government Departments on 26 May, asking them to take the necessary steps to implement this commitment and to ensure that Department line staff and Finance Units are made aware of the need to prioritise payments to suppliers to meet the 15 day deadline.

The Government Decision of 19 May included a requirement for Departments to report quarterly to my Department on their performance in meeting these requirements. These reports are to be submitted by the 15th day of the month following the end of the quarter and the first such report will now be due by 15 October 2009. Departments are also required to include information on the implementation of the measures in their subsequent Annual Reports.

In addition to the commitment for Departments, the Government also stated that an assessment would be completed of the impact of extending this requirement to the local authority, health and education sectors. This assessment is currently under way. Specific proposals in relation to these sectors will be developed following the completion of the assessment.

Departmental Schemes.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

90 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on whether the work placement programme and the pilot short time working training programme are adequate in responding to the number of unemployed people seeking work experience and training; her plans to extend eligibility to these schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23443/09]

In response to the rising numbers of unemployed, the Government has formulated and implemented a realistic and practical strategy to prioritise the activation and training of such individuals. My Department, along with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Department of Education and Science, have been working closely together to ensure a significant response to the unemployment situation. The Work Placement Programme and the Short Time Working Training Programme, which were announced in the Supplementary Budget, are but two initiatives that have been created to contribute to the challenge of activating and training the unemployed. It should be noted that these Programmes form only an element of the Government's response to the unemployment challenge, which also includes a substantial increase in job search, training and education supports.

The Work Placement Programme has been created to provide 2,000 six-month work experience places for graduates and other individuals. The aim of this scheme is to provide invaluable work experience to individuals who are unemployed, who have recently graduated from college or have very limited experience of the workplace.

To date the number of individuals who have expressed an interest with FÁS in the Programme and who meet the eligible criteria stands at 192. In terms of places, FÁS has received 180 enquiries to date from potential providers, which has resulted in 155 actual places being offered by providers. Considering that FÁS is in the process of finalising its targeted publicity campaign of the Programme, it is encouraging that it is experiencing a considerable level of interest from individuals and providers in the Programme.

The Short Time Training Programme will provide training and income support to 277 workers currently on systematic short time working. Under this Programme workers who are on a three-day week and receiving social welfare payments for the days they are not working will receive 2 days training a week for a period of 52 weeks.

FÁS is in the process of allocating the places on this Programme across a number of regions using either their Local Employment Services office or their Local Services to Business Unit. To date approximately 120 places have been allocated across two FÁS regions. FÁS is continuing to explore a number of other possible enquiries from other FÁS regions in relation to the allocation of the remaining places. It is intended that these places will be allocated in the coming weeks.

Finally, it is my intention to review the effectiveness and impact of the Programmes upon the satisfactory completion of their roll-out. It will be in this context that any potential changes, such as changes to the eligibility and scale of these Programmes will be considered.

Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 57.

Job Creation.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

92 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures she will introduce to create employment at this time; her plans in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27096/09]

I am very much aware that the key to creating employment is to provide the necessary support to the enterprise sector. In this regard, the Government made provision in the recent Supplementary Budget for in excess of €500 million for capital investment in enterprise. In doing so, the Government has prioritised investment in the most productive sectors of our economy and is investing in the creation of jobs by cementing the foundations of export led recovery and growth.

The main focus of IDA Ireland on securing inward investment is from new and existing clients in the areas of high-end manufacturing, global services, research and development and innovation. The agency is working with its existing client base to further embed their investments in Ireland. It has an active programme of engagement with its clients to identify and target new investment opportunities from them. The agency continues to assist its client companies to move up the value chain in terms of both carrying out higher skilled operations and expanding their presence in Ireland. These activities are aimed at improving the quality of employment opportunities in Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland has prepared a new recovery strategy to identify the actions that will be undertaken to help clients in 2009. The agency has refocused its efforts on strengthening and sustaining companies of strategic importance through a range of initiatives focused on the needs of its client base. In identifying the short term issues, the agency has developed a series of proposals which deal with access to finance, winning new sales, encouraging competitiveness, continuous innovation/research and development and development of entrepreneurship. The medium term focus of the revised strategy is to continue to drive a sound, sustainable, competitive export-oriented indigenous sector. I also recently announced the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund which will enable internationally trading companies survive the current global downturn by supporting their drive to reduce costs and gain sales in overseas markets. Sustainable economic recovery will be driven by enterprises focused on increasing their exports of innovative products and services in global markets.

The County and City Enterprise Boards provide support for small businesses with ten employees or fewer in the start-up and expansion phases. The CEBs promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level, with priority being given to manufacturing and internationally traded services. The boards recognise that business growth and job creation are inherent considerations in their activities. They deliver a series of programmes to underpin this role and can provide both financial and non-financial assistance to a project promoter.

Departmental Schemes.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

93 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of the scheme to retrain workers in certain employment sectors; the person who will administer the fund; the timeframe involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27093/09]

It is crucial that with the increasing numbers of people who are now unemployed that we seek to further enhance the activation and training opportunities to assist these individuals. It is vital that we ensure jobseeker's are supported, and have access to appropriate and relevant guidance, education and training services.

Specifically in relation to responding to the significant numbers of people who have been made redundant from the construction sector, the Government is committed to providing assistance to these workers. We will achieve this through increasing their skills levels and, in some cases, helping them develop new skills sets that will allow them take advantage of opportunities in new emerging growth areas within the construction sector. These include the installation of energy efficient and renewable technologies, together with compliance and energy rating work.

At present FÁS offer courses in Gas Safety and Gas Installation; Sustainable Energy equipment installation; Building Energy Ratings; Smart/Intelligent Buildings design; Insulation Technologies and Techniques, with a total of over 3,000 training places available in these disciplines.

Plans are well advanced for the provision of additional courses that are due to come on stream later this year: Micro-Electricity Generation Wind Turbine and Photovoltaic Courses and Passive House Building.

In addition to these type of courses unemployed individuals from the construction sector can access the other FÁS training courses, in order to develop new skills. Since the end of last year this Government has almost doubled the number of my Department's activation training and work experience places to 129,000 from the 66,000 that were provided last year.

The majority of these additional places, 92,000 are being provided under FÁS Training Initiatives Strategy and are short courses in specific skills training. These courses are designed to develop new skills and competencies for the unemployed to assist them in securing employment. FÁS is providing such courses for a broad range of different sectors including the retail, IT, construction, manufacturing and services sectors.

These training courses represent a substantive commitment on the part of this Government to assist those affected by the current downturn in the construction sector.

Redundancy Payments.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

94 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of redundancies notified to her in respect of each year from 2002 to 2008 and to date in 2009; the number of projected redundancies for 2009; the amount of money paid out in statutory redundancy payment in respect of each year from 2002 to 2008; the projected figure for 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27438/09]

Table 1 sets out the number of statutory redundancies for years 2002 to 2008 and provisional figures for January to June 2009. These figures reflect the number of employees who actually qualified for statutory redundancy lump sum payments. They do not reflect those who lost their jobs with less than two years service in employment. It is not possible to project the number of redundancies which will accrue in 2009 as this will depend on a number of factors, including economic indicators, and the rate of recovery in the economy.

Table 2 sets out the moneys paid out of the Social Insurance Fund in respect of redundancy claims for the years 2002-2008 up to and including the end of June, 2009. It should be noted that the figures provided for 2008 and to date in 2009 are provisional figures. Equally, it is not possible to project the amounts which will be paid out in 2009 given that this will hinge on a number of variables including the number of claims received, the length of service of the claimants etc.

Table 1: Actual Statutory Redundancies for years 2002 to 2008 and to date (end of June 2009)

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009*

24,432

25,769

25,041

23,156

23,684

25,459

40,607

42,724

*Provisional.

Table 2: Expenditure on Statutory Redundancies for years 2002 to 2008 and (provisional figure up to end of June, 2009)

(€000)

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008*

2009*

53.978

88.933

152.162

149.172

166.483

183.328

183.206

126.789

*Provisional.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

95 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons working on temporary contracts, and the number of such contracts that are due to expire by the end of 2009 in respect of her Department and each of the State agencies or boards for which she has responsibility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27429/09]

There is one person working in my Department whose temporary contract will expire before the end of 2009. The expiry date for the contract is 14th August 2009.

Science Foundation Ireland

Science Foundation Ireland has 25 staff on fixed term contracts, none of which is due to expire by the end of 2009.

FÁS

FÁS has 23 persons (21.7 full time equivalent posts) on temporary contracts, 11 of which will expire by end of 2009.

The National Consumer Agency

The NCA has 2 students on a training placement scheme, which will run until the end of September 2009.

County Enterprise Boards

The CEBs currently have 4 posts, which are the subject of temporary contracts, 3 of which are due to expire by the end of 2009.

IDA Ireland

The number of persons working on temporary contracts in IDA Ireland is 29, 5 of which are due to expire by end of 2009.

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board currently has 5 staff employed on Fixed Term Contracts (including the CEO). 3 of which are due to expire during 2009.

National Employment Rights Authority (NERA)

Currently NERA has 3 posts that are held on the basis of 5- year appointments, which commenced in 2007.

Health and Safety Authority

The Health and Safety Authority has one staff member employed on a fixed term contract.

Enterprise Ireland

The number of persons working on temporary contracts in Enterprise Ireland is 31 and they will all expire by end 2009.

Forfás

The number of persons working on temporary contracts in Forfás is 14, 6 of which are due to expire by end 2009.

Shannon Development

The number of persons working on temporary contracts in Shannon Development is 16 with a whole time equivalent job number of 4.5. They will all expire by the end of 2009.

The Labour Court

The Labour Court has 9 members on temporary contracts. 2 of these contracts are due to expire by end of 2009.

The Labour Relations Commission

16 members of the LRC are appointed on temporary contract. 2 of these appointments are due to expire by the end of 2009.

National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI)

The National Standards Authority of Ireland has 10 staff on temporary contract.

InterTradeIreland

There is 1 person working on temporary contract in InterTradeIreland, and this is due to expire by the end of 2009.

Job Losses.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

96 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the announcement of the loss of 177 jobs at a company (details supplied) in County Waterford; the discussions she has had with the industrial development agencies with a view to securing replacement jobs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27452/09]

On 25 June 2009 ABB advised IDA that it has decided to close their electrical transformer manufacturing operation in Waterford with the loss of all 185 jobs. Closure will take place by March 2010. The plant has sufficient contracts in place to ensure that the factory remains open until March 2010. The Waterford operation has been operating at break-even and an expected upturn in business from growth in wind generation has not materialised.

Key to IDA Ireland's Strategy for County Waterford within the South East Region is to progress the development of a knowledge based economy so that the county and particularly the Gateway of Waterford City can compete both nationally and internationally for foreign direct investment. IDA Strategy for County Waterford includes:

The provision of world class property solutions of scale in the Waterford City area and also developing property solutions in the county town of Dungarvan, with appropriate supporting infrastructure in both cases.

Working with local development partner agencies in Waterford City and County to advance critical infrastructure, both hard and soft, which will contribute to a sustainable business environment for the long term.

IDA Ireland is also actively engaged with the existing IDA client base in the City and County to encourage their transition to continually higher value activities and to promote further investment in Ireland.

Waterford has a long and strong track record as a centre of manufacturing expertise. Waterford has a key strength in engineering, in both indigenous and overseas sectors. In more recent years however, these have been giving way to newer, more advanced manufacturing, particularly in the Life Sciences sector and also to International & Financial Services activities. For companies in lower value manufacturing, the business environment has become more challenging in recent years.

Currently there are 31 IDA Ireland supported companies in Waterford City and County employing approximately 5,960 people. Clear evidence of a transition to more knowledge based and higher value activity is seen in the resilience of companies such as Bausch & Lomb, Teva, Honeywell, GlaxoSmithKline, as well as newer additions to the county's portfolio, such as Citi Hedge Fund Services, Genzyme and Sun Life Financial. In marketing Waterford for new foreign direct investment (FDI), IDA Ireland is focused on attracting overseas companies in the services and knowledge-based industries, including advanced manufacturing. Sectors of focus in the medium term are Life Sciences, International and Financial Services and High Technology Engineering.

Key interventions in support of the above efforts in recent years have been the development of the Waterford Business & Technology Park (28 hectares), the Dungarvan Business Park (additional 14 hectares developed) and a large scale 55 hectare Greenfield site in Belview.

IDA Ireland recognises that Waterford City has some way to go before it has developed the critical mass of infrastructure, population and economic development to assert itself as a true regional gateway. Key positive developments that have occurred or are about to take place that will enhance Waterford's attractiveness for FDI and greatly encourage Waterford's economic success and national profile into the future include the following:

The completion of the outer ring road in Waterford City has already eased local traffic congestion and improvements on all radial routes into the City are also progressing well.

Construction of the Waterford City By-pass including a new cable stay bridge is under way and is due for completion in Q4 2009. The N9 upgrade to high specification dual carriageway between Waterford and Dublin has also commenced and is targeted for completion by 2010.

Major commercial/retail developments in Waterford City such as the Railway Square development and the planned development by KRM of a large scale shopping facility, Hotel and Conference Centre, apartments and car-parking on a 5 acre site in the City Centre.

The City Council is investing €20m on the development of a Historic Quarter in the City Centre including the redevelopment of the Theatre Royal.

High profile national and local events such as the Tall Ships Race 2005 and the Spraoi Street Festival. The Tall Ships Race is due to be staged in Waterford for a second time in 2011 and this will bring a lot of additional visitors to Waterford.

Further development of WIT, particularly the development of the new Campus at Carriganore with its flagship project being the Arc Labs facility which houses the Telecoms Software and Systems Group, itself a key magnet of attraction for Waterford.

Recent completion of the Metropolitan Area Networks in Waterford City and Dungarvan.

Developments at Waterford Port — a 190 metre quay extension has been constructed involving investment of €10m by the Port of Waterford.

These and other developments will provide a critical mix that will be a vital stimulus for further investment and economic development in Waterford City and the wider county including Dungarvan.

Proposed Legislation.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

97 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when it is intended to publish the Employment Agency Regulation Bill which was promised under the review of Towards 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27441/09]

I am confident the Employment Agency Regulation Bill can be published shortly as drafting has now been completed.

Retail Sector.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

98 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the evidence of the removal of some Irish products and the downgrading of other Irish products from the shelves of a major supermarket chain (details supplied); and if she has any proposals to deal with the situation. [27459/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which she has identified a trend whereby supermarkets source their products outside the jurisdiction thereby putting Irish jobs at risk; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28003/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98 and 134 together.

Issues in relation to the strategies employed by businesses, including in the area of sourcing supplies, are primarily matters for the businesses themselves. The need to reduce costs and streamline operations at all stages of the supply chain is particularly more pressing in these difficult economic times. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the concerns that have been expressed in relation to the possible implications for employment in Ireland particularly if changes in supply chain arrangements reduce the level of purchases by retailers from Irish producers.

In this regard, the Government is anxious to ensure that we continue to have vibrant and successful food and retail sectors, given the important role these sectors play in the national economy. The Government accepts the importance of ensuring that there is a balance in the relationship between the various players in the grocery goods sector, which takes account of the interests of all the various parties, including the interests of consumers. My Department is currently working on the details of a Code of Practice in this area which will have as its key objective the need to achieve a balance in the relationships between grocery goods undertakings, taking into account the need to enhance consumer welfare and the need to ensure that there is no impediment to the passing-on of lower prices to consumers.

It is my intention to seek the views of all stakeholders in relation to the details of the provisions of the Code, which I hope to publish for public consultation in the coming weeks. The Code in setting out the framework in which the different elements of the retail chain can enter into negotiations and agree contractual arrangements between themselves will help to ensure that those arrangements are balanced and fair and ultimately ensure that interests of all parties, including consumers, are respected.

Unemployment Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

99 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach the number of persons registered as unemployed in County Kildare on a monthly basis in each of the past five years to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27996/09]

The live register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Figures are published for each county and each social welfare office. The most recent information is for June 2009.

The table contains the number of persons signing on in County Kildare on the last Friday in each month from January 2004 to June 2009. The County Kildare social welfare offices are situated in Athy, Maynooth and Newbridge. It should be noted that the areas served by these offices do not correspond to specific geographic boundaries. Therefore, registrants at a given local office do not necessarily come from a particular region or area which can be precisely delineated.

Persons on the Live Register (Number) in County Kildare by month January 2004-June 2009

County Kildare

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

January

4,921

4,430

4,817

5,292

6,606

13,279

February

4,832

4,452

4,903

5,359

7,110

14,428

March

4,745

4,432

4,859

5,375

7,327

15,057

April

4,788

4,365

4,840

5,434

7,330

16,046

May

4,708

4,344

4,772

5,411

7,614

16,553

June

4,912

4,684

5,252

5,827

8,324

17,311

July

5,294

5,002

5,471

6,195

9,096

August

5,212

5,076

5,543

6,187

9,538

September

4,605

4,543

4,987

5,735

9,556

October

4,329

4,440

4,950

5,662

9,851

November

4,216

4,459

5,010

5,731

10,718

December

4,350

4,662

5,187

6,061

11,533

Departmental Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

100 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Taoiseach the amount of mobile telephone bills paid in relation to the departmental mobile telephone assigned to him by his Department in each of the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the percentage or amount of same for each year which applies to data charges; the percentage or amount of same for each year which applies to roaming charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27124/09]

The following table details the cost of my Departmental mobile telephone for the periods May to December 2008 and January to June 2009, it includes the percentage of the cost relating to data and roaming charges:

Period

Cost

Data Charges as % of Total

Roaming as % of Total

%

%

May to December 2008

1,482.80

2.3

40.3

January to June 2009

478.37

2.4

39.3

Enda Kenny

Question:

101 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach the accumulated cost of court cases taken by his Department in the past five years; the cost of each individual case; the nature of each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27185/09]

In 2008 my Department appealed a decision of the Commissioner for Environmental Information that on foot of Directive 2003/4/EC on Public Access to Environmental Information, a document that records discussion at a meeting of the Government should be released notwithstanding the terms of the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No 133 of 2007) which transposed the Directive in Ireland and the terms of Article 28.4.3 of the Constitution concerning the confidentiality of discussions at meetings of the Government.

Leave for Judicial Review and Appeal Motion were granted on 8 December 2008 and the case is scheduled to commence in the High Court on 29 July 2009. The Department has paid no costs to date.

Unemployment Levels.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

102 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Taoiseach the latest social welfare figures in respect of a social welfare office (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27413/09]

The live register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Figures are published for each county and each social welfare office. The most recent information available is for June 2009. The number of persons signing on in the Tallaght social welfare office on the last Friday in June 2009 was 9,555.

Departmental Expenditure.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

103 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Taoiseach the number of properties his Department has paid rent on in the past three years; if the rent on such properties is fixed; if such rents have been reviewed in the past year; if he has tried to negotiate the cost of rent downwards in the past year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27598/09]

My Department has not paid any rent costs in the past three years. The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) has paid an annual rent cost to OPW of €588,295 which has been a fixed amount for the past three years. A rent review took place last year resulting in no change to the current situation.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

104 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach the amount of money spent on paying delegates allowance to officials for each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27745/09]

The amount of money paid in respect of delegates allowance to officials in my Department in accordance with the terms specified by the Department of Finance for each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 to date are detailed as follows:

Year

Amount Paid

2006

20,459.50

2007

15,301.87

2008

10,554.55

2009 (6 Months)

5,824.21

Departmental Contracts.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

105 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Taoiseach the print jobs carried out for his Department and being provided by companies based outside the Republic of Ireland; the dates of the awarding of these contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27843/09]

No printing contracts have been awarded by my Department to companies based outside the State.

In one case, a Dublin-based Irish publishing company, with whom my Department has a three-year contract (since January, 2008) for the production and distribution of a newsletter, has sub-contracted printing work in respect of five recent editions of that newsletter to a firm based in Northern Ireland. A small number of copies of a report published last year (200 out of 5,200) were also printed by the same firm, with the remainder printed by a company within the State.

The publishing company involved have stated that the selection of the printer is based on capacity issues and was conducted through a transparent tendering process open to companies in Ireland (North and South) as well as across Europe, which is in line with tendering procedures.

Departmental Schemes.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

106 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the mechanism which has been put in place to enable graduates who are unemployed to gain professional experience with businesses unable to hire as a result of financial difficulties; the provision which has been made to enable unemployed graduates to progress their professional development in conjunction with professional bodies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27164/09]

In response to the rising numbers of unemployed including graduates, the Government has formulated and implemented a realistic and practical strategy to prioritise the activation and training of such individuals. My Department, along with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Department of Education and Science, have been working closely together to ensure we respond to this unemployment challenge in a significant manner. The Work Placement Programme, which was announced in the Supplementary Budget, is an initiative that has been created to provide valuable professional work experience for unemployed individuals, including graduates.

The Work Placement Programme has being created to provide 2,000 six-month work experience places for graduates and other individuals. The aim of this scheme is to provide invaluable work experience to individuals who are unemployed, who have recently graduated from college or have very limited experience of the workplace.

To date the number of individuals who have expressed an interest with FÁS in the Programme and who meet the eligible criteria stands at 192. In terms of places, FÁS has received 180 inquiries to date from potential providers, which has resulted in 155 actual places being offered by providers. Considering that FÁS is in the process of finalising its targeted publicity campaign of the Programme, it is encouraging that it is experiencing a considerable level of interest from individuals and providers in the Programme.

Finally, it is my intention to review the effectiveness and impact of the Programmes upon the satisfactory completion of their roll-out. It will be in this context that any potential changes, such as changes to the duration of the Programme, an increase in the number of places and the eligibility criteria of this Programme will be considered.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Tom Hayes

Question:

107 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans for apprentices who have been unable to complete their training due to the unavailability of work placements; the way they can continue their apprenticeships; the number of apprentices that have had their apprenticeships on hold in the past 18 months due to this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27203/09]

The number of apprentices notified to FÁS as redundant since 1 January 2008 is 4,933, of these 1,322 have been referred, hence leaving a balance of 3,611.

An apprentice who has been referred has not yet successfully completed all elements of their required assessments and is therefore required to re-sit their outstanding off-the-job modular assessments before they can progress in their apprenticeship.

FÁS has responded to the increase in the level of redundant apprentices, especially in the construction and related sectors, by providing the following supports for redundant apprentices. Over 4,000 places will be provided under the various measures outlined as follows:

The Department of Social and Family Affairs immediately refers redundant apprentices to FÁS for assistance.

Following this immediate referral, the FÁS Employment Services and FÁS Services to Business divisions work in collaboration to provide guidance and support in sourcing a new employer and in considering further options. Referred Apprentices are provided with guidance in relation to preparation for a re-sit of their outstanding off-the-job modular assessments.

FÁS has amended the scheduling rules for off-the-job training to permit redundant apprentices to progress to their next off-the-job training, at phase 2, phase 4 and phase 6, in accordance with the existing scheduling criteria. The number of apprentices who have been scheduled to off-the-job training at phase 2, phase 4 and phase 6 in 2008 was 619. The number of redundant apprentices provided with off-the-job training in the year to the end of June 2009 is 1507, and it is expected that up to a further 900 will be provided with off-the-job training phases before the end-year.

FÁS introduced an Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme to provide support for employers to provide on-the-job training for up to 500 redundant apprentices during 2009. This scheme assists them in taking on redundant apprentices when they have released their own apprentices to a scheduled phase 4 and phase 6 off-the-job training phase in the Institutes of Technology. There are currently 197 apprentices participating on the scheme and 49 apprentices have completed their period of rotation and their performance has been assessed. Employers will be requested during the June and September 2009 rotation periods to provide redundant apprentices with on-the-job training with assessments.

Léargas has provided funding under the EU's Leonardo da Vinci programme to support the placement of 37 redundant apprentices with overseas employers to complete their phase 7 on-the-job training with assessments. Recently 19 redundant apprentices returned from Germany having completed a phase 7 placement with employers, and 12 apprentices are due to travel on 5 August 2009 for a placement in Germany. Leargas have recently provided additional funding to support the placement of an additional 60 apprentices with overseas employers.

ESB Networks have agreed a programme with FÁS to provide on-the-job training to eligible redundant electrical apprentices at phase 5 and phase 7. This programme will provide up to 400 places over a period of eighteen months and will be funded by ESB Networks. There are currently 100 previously redundant electrical apprentices in employment with ESB Networks, 25 redundant electrical apprentices have completed their off-the-job training with assessments and a further 75 redundant electrical apprentices will be provided with an opportunity to complete their on-the-job training before the end of December 2009.

Redundant apprentices may also avail of existing specific skills training courses, which are trade related to enhance their employable skills. Redundant apprentices may also avail of the range of trade related night courses, which are available in FÁS Training Centres.

The Institutes of Technology are providing 700 places per annum on an 11-week certified training programme for those redundant apprentices who have completed their phase 4 training but where an on or off-the-job training opportunity is not currently available for them. The programme is divided into Construction and Engineering streams and provides redundant apprentices with education and training support in a number of relevant trade's areas. The programme is expected to commence in September 2009.

FÁS will be providing redundant apprentices in the autumn with an opportunity to undertake phase 7 assessments where an on-the-job assessment opportunity is not currently available.

FÁS will also be providing in the autumn a facility for redundant apprentices who have reached the minimum qualifying standard in all phases 1-7 inclusive and who have not completed the minimum duration in employment as an apprentice to make an application for consideration under Recognition of Prior Learning for the Award of an Advanced Craft Certificate.

State Agencies.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

108 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there are plans for redundancies at the injuries board; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27728/09]

Consideration of issues of this kind would, in the first instance, be a matter for the Board. However, I have been advised by their Chief Executive, Ms Patricia Byron, that there are currently no plans for redundancies at the Board.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

109 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the training and other programmes available to people who have recently become unemployed. [28146/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

139 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to incentivise a return to the workforce for persons currently on the live register; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28008/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 139 and 109 together.

In terms of unemployment the Government is acutely aware of the negative impacts that unemployment can have on an individual, their family and society as a whole and has invested substantial resources in addressing the unemployment problem.

FÁS employment services together with Local Employment Services have put in place measures designed to increase capacity for the rise in referrals from the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA). Job Search/National Employment Action Plan annual referral capacity has been increased to 147,000 persons in 2009.

The total number of training, activation and work experience places funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment through FÁS in 2009 now stands at over 129,000. This is a substantial increase when compared with those available at the end of last year.

In addressing the current challenges in the labour market the Department, in conjunction with FÁS, have enacted several significant measures to improve existing suite of services available to the unemployed. These measures include:

92,000 training places on short courses are available to the unemployed and people on short-time work and will be delivered through three core-training initiatives, Short Courses, Night Courses and Online Courses.

500 places on the employer based redundant apprentices rotation scheme to assist redundant apprentices progress their apprenticeships this year, which involves a subsidy being paid to employers who provide redundant apprentices with the necessary on-the-job experience.

700 places on the Institutes of Technology training programme for redundant apprentices. Combined with existing initiatives for redundant apprentices this means that approximately 3,600 redundant apprentices will now be able to progress their apprenticeships or receive training.

2000 places on the work placement programme which is providing six-month places to individuals who are unemployed including graduates. Participants on the scheme will retain their social welfare entitlements.

277 places on a short-time training programme which is providing training to people on systematic short-time for the days they are not working

2,500 places for those who are unemployed to participate in part-time third level education of which my Department is funding 1,500.

400 places on Community Employment Schemes, which has increased places to 22,700 this year.

Through these initiatives Government is providing these unemployed individuals with the opportunities to improve their skills and competencies. Furthermore we are not only increasing their employability but we are also improving the skills level of our entire labour force, which will benefit us all in the years ahead

Departmental Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

110 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount of mobile telephone bills paid in relation to the departmental mobile telephone assigned to her by her Department in each of the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the percentage or amount of same for each year which applies to data charges; the percentage or amount of same for each year which applies to roaming charges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27117/09]

The information requested by the Deputy is being collated at present and will be issued to him with a response as soon as the necessary data has been gathered.

Enda Kenny

Question:

111 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the accumulated cost of court cases taken by her Department in the past five years; the cost of each individual case; the nature of each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27178/09]

The information sought by the Deputy in relation to my Department and its Offices is set out in the tables. Employment Rights Prosecutions and Civil Enforcement Cases

NERA, and its predecessor the Employment Rights Compliance Section of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, processes both the enforcement of awards of both the Labour Court and the Employment Appeals Tribunal through the Courts (civil enforcement cases) and prosecution cases on behalf of Inspection Services where employers fail to comply with certain employment rights legislation and in situations where employers in the construction industry fail to comply with Orders of the Labour Court.

Tables 1 and 2 show the number of prosecution and civil enforcement cases referred in the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and to end June, 2009.

The majority of the legal costs relating to these cases was borne by the Chief State Solicitor's Office and is not known to NERA. However, NERA did incur costs in respect of legal searches and the registration of a judgement mortgage carried out in advance of certain civil enforcement cases being referred to the Chief State Solicitor's Office. These costs are shown in Table 2.

The provision of legal services by the Chief State Solicitor's Office in support of NERA's prosecution and civil enforcement activities ceased in October 2008. NERA entered into contracts with legal firms in April 2009 for the provision of legal services to NERA. As none of these cases have yet been concluded, the actual costs in each case cannot be determined at this time. For example, of the 29 prosecution cases referred in 2009 to date, summonses have issued in 15 cases.

Table 1: Employment Rights-Prosecutions Referred 2004-2009

Number of Cases Referred

Date initiated

Case initiated by

Nature of Cases

Costs

29 Cases

2009*

Minister

Breaches of Employment Rights Legislation

Costs (to be borne by NERA) not yet determined

70 Cases

2008

Minister

As above

Costs borne by CSSO

98 Cases

2007

Minister

As above

Costs borne by CSSO

62 Cases

2006

Minister

As above

Costs borne by CSSO

61 Cases

2005

Minister

As above

Costs borne by CSSO

54 Cases

2004

Minister

As above

Costs borne by CSSO

*To end June, 2009.

Table 2: Employment Rights-Civil Enforcement cases Referred 2004-2009

Number of Cases referred

Year initiated

Case initiated by

Nature of Case

Costs

Legal Searches and other Costs

0

2009*

Nil

0

12

2008

Minister

Enforcement of Labour Court or Employment Appeals Tribunal Awards

Costs borne by CSSO

3,135

17

2007

Minister

As above

Costs borne by CSSO

3,232

19

2006

Minister

As above

Costs borne by CSSO

3,283

24

2005

Minister

As above

Costs borne by CSSO

4,195

35

2004

Minister

As above

Costs borne by CSSO

4,097

*To end June, 2009.

Table 3: Freedom of Information cases

Name of Case

Date Initiated

Case Initiated by

Nature of Case

Costs

Any other Information for the Minister (may or may not be used in Final Reply)

Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment v The Information Commissioner Appeal under S42 of the FOI Act as amended.

14 Dec 2004

Minister

Regarding a decision of the Information Commissioner on 18 October 2004 directing the Department to release records relating to Waterford City Enterprise Board under FOI.

CSSO represented the Department.

Judgment was delivered on 25 January 2006 in favour of the Department. On the advice of the CSSO the Department did not seek costs, as this would entail a transfer from one vote to another.

The Department is unable to supply the details for each individual case, as requested by the Deputy, in the time given. An aggregate number of the cases and costs per annum is provided as follows.

Table 4: Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs cases

Year

Aggregate Number of Court Cases*

Nature of Prosecutions

Cost Incurred including VAT

Case Initiated by

2004

8

Retail Price (Beverages in Licensed Premises) Display Order, 1999 and contrary to Section 22 of the Prices Acts 1958 to 1972 as amended by the Restrictive Practices (Amendment) Act 1987

10,666

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs

3

Consumer Information Act, 1978

1

European Communities (Labelling of Footwear) Regulations, 1996 and contrary to Section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972

9

European Communities (Requirements to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations 2002 and contrary to Section 3 of the European Communities Act, 1972

4

Restrictive Practices (Groceries) Order 1987 and contrary to Section 20 of Restrictive Practices Act, 1972 as amended by the Restrictive Practices (Amendment) Act, 1987

3

Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, as amended by Section 4(2) of the Consumer Information Act,1978

1

Consumer Credit Act, 1995: Contrary to Sections 21(1) and 26(1)

2005

8

Retail Price (Beverages in Licensed Premises) Display Order, 1999

**180,334

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs

4

EC (Requirements to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations, 2002

1

Prices Act, 1958 to 1972

4

Restrictive Practices Act 1972, as amended by the Restrictive Practices (Amendment) Act, 1987 and of the Restrictive Practices (Groceries) Order, 1987

1

Consumer Information Act, 1978

Table 4: Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs cases —continued

Year

Aggregate Number of Court Cases*

Nature of Prosecutions

Cost Incurred including VAT

Case Initiated by

2006

14

Retail Price (Beverages in Licensed Premises) Display Order, 1999

20,243

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs

22

EC (Requirements to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations, 2002

5

Consumer Information Act, 1978

1

Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, as amended by Section 4(2) of the Consumer Information Act, 1978

2007

1

Retail Price (Beverages in Licensed Premises) Display Order, 1999

2,148

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs

5

EC (Requirements to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations, 2002

1

Consumer Information Act, 1978

1

Charges (Hairdressing) Display Order, 1976

1

EC (Labelling, Presentation and Advertising of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2002 and 2003

1

Retail Price (Food in Catering Establishments) Order 1984

Totals

99

213,391

*The Aggregate number of cases taken refers to cases taken in the year 01 January-01 December inclusive, with the exception of 2007 in which the ODCA was is in existence for the period 01 January-30 April 2007.

**Costs include legal advice sought for a prosecution & appeal brought under the Restrictive Practices (Groceries) Order, 1987

In the course of discharging its functions, the ODCE are involved in taking numerous court proceedings each year. These include a range of civil actions such as applications for the disqualification of directors and applications for directions to comply with legal requirements and criminal prosecutions for breaches of company law as well as a range of other forms of proceedings. Details of the various legal proceedings involving the Office are outlined in the Office's annual report each year (Appendix 3.2.).

The total legal expenses incurred by the Office for each of the years is as follows:

Table 5: Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement cases

Year

€000s

2004

136

2005

207

2006

452

2007

913

2008

630

2009 (to end-June)

594

In some cases, costs orders in favour of the Office are made. The amount of costs recovered each year is as follows:

Year

€000s

2004

154

2005

109

2006

27

2007

24

2008

139

2009 (to end-June)

1

Company and Director prosecutions were taken by the CRO in respect of the failure by companies to file annual returns as required under section 125 of the Companies Act 1963. These cases were prosecuted by the Chief State Solicitor's Office and the full legal costs relating to these cases are not known to the CRO. The only expenses for the CRO were the cost of swearing the Declaration of Service that has to be sworn for each individual summons before the summonses can be entered in the District Court Office — that is usually 10 euro per Declaration. The expenses incurred for each of the years are as follows:

Table 6: Companies Registration Office cases

Year

2004

250

2005

1,660

2006

1,470

2007

1,030

2008

1,220

2009 (to end-June)

CRO has also initiated several cases under section 371 of the Companies Act 1963 as amended, seeking an order from the High Court directing companies and their directors to file overdue annual returns. Papers are sent to the Chief State Solicitors Office to serve summonses and the only cost that arises for the CRO is the cost of having an affidavit signed and sworn in each case, which amounts to €12 per affidavit plus €2 for each exhibit that accompanies the affidavit.

The costs incurred for each of the years are as follows:

Year

2004

2005

2006

56

2007

2008

280

2009 (to end-June)

294

The following information should be borne in mind in relation to the data being supplied.

(1) The costs above relate to legal bills only and do not include internal Department staff costs.

(2) In addition to the cases listed above, the Multilateral Trade Policy Section of my Department is dealing with a case at the European Court of Justice. In that case, Ireland is intervening in a situation where the European Commission has asked the Court for an Opinion on the operation of the EU's Common Commercial Policy (i.e. the EU trade policy). To date the work in this case, which was initiated on 18 February 2009, has been carried out by the Office of the Attorney General and the Chief State Solicitor's Office and no fee notes for this work have yet been received.

Job Creation.

Finian McGrath

Question:

112 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support investment and jobs on the north side of Dublin, particularly Dublin 3, 5, 9 and 17. [27189/09]

For the purpose of promoting investment and jobs in Dublin, the Enterprise Development agencies do not distinguish between individual postal districts of the city.

As regards foreign direct investment, there are some 450 IDA Ireland supported companies in the city employing over 50,000 people. In the past week IBM Corporation, the largest information technology company in the world, announced its intention to make an investment of over €25 million in an expansion of its Ireland Software Lab. The expansion will see the company create 100 new software engineering positions in its Ireland Software Lab located in Dublin. In addition, Rottapharm, which is located in Mulhuddart, announced a significant expansion of its Irish manufacturing with a €7 million investment and an increase in employment of 35 people in new high level positions, which will bring employment at the site to 150 people.

In relation to indigenous industry, Enterprise Ireland is focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs who are setting up High Potential Start-Up Companies. The agency is also focused on the retention and creation of jobs in existing companies. Since the beginning of 2008, Enterprise Ireland has approved over €47m and made payments of over €30m in support of development projects for indigenous companies in the north Dublin area. These include support for development and expansion of campus company activity to encourage and support the commercialisation of research and development carried out in the third level sector.

The recently established Enterprise Stabilisation Fund will enable internationally trading companies survive the current global downturn by supporting their drive to reduce costs and gain sales in overseas markets. Sustainable economic recovery will be driven by enterprises focused on increasing their exports of innovative products and services in global markets.

Enterprise Ireland has also provided funding for Campus Incubation Centres in Dublin City University, Blanchardstown Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology and in the National College of Ireland located in the International Financial Services Centre. Enterprise Ireland also supports Third Level Colleges to foster links with industry thereby encouraging industry to increase its use of technology. Under the Innovation Partnership and Research Funding Programme, Enterprise Ireland approved over €33m in supports and made payments in excess of €24m since the beginning of 2007 in support of such projects in the north Dublin area.

The agency has made significant investment in Community Enterprise Centres in the North Dublin area to support the establishment and expansion of micro enterprises through local community participation. Under the various Community Enterprise Centre Schemes, Centres were supported in Coolock and Darndale. Those centres are now fully occupied and provide vital accommodation for micro enterprise companies in their formative years. Enterprise Ireland has also funded Community Enterprise Centres in Ballymun, Gloucester Place, North King Street, Oxmantown Lane, the Bolton Trust Centre at East Wall Road and at Mulhuddart and Balbriggan.

Finally, the Dublin City Enterprise Board provides support to micro-enterprises in the start-up and expansion phases in manufacturing, tourism and services. The Board supports individuals, firms and community groups.

Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 62.
Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 88.

Job Initiative.

Joan Burton

Question:

115 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties facing professional researchers both in terms of securing permanent employment and choosing a career path; her views on whether meeting these challenges is particularly important in order to enhance Ireland’s position as an attractive research location for Irish and international researchers and that meeting these challenges is an urgent matter in view of the rapid increase in PhD graduates here; the steps she has taken to implement the Forfás report Towards a Framework for Researcher Careers since its publication in October 2008; the number of times the researcher careers working group has met since the publication of the report; the progress it has made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27301/09]

The Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI) 2006-2013 aims to ensure that Ireland, by 2013, will be internationally renowned for the excellence of its research, and will be to the forefront in generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress, within an innovation driven culture. The SSTI recognises the vital contribution that highly educated, professional and effective researchers can make to the development of Ireland's knowledge economy. It acknowledges the importance of putting conditions in place to facilitate our Higher Education Institutions, Public Sector Research Institutes and private enterprise in the recruitment and retention of such researchers. The Strategy highlights the importance of people embarking on 4th level studies having a clear sense of career path options, whether they be in academia, enterprise or administration and calls for the development of a sustainable career path for researchers.

Following publication of the SSTI, the Advisory Science Council (ASC) was requested to consider how the Government could best facilitate the development of researcher careers and to prepare recommendations. The Council's report ‘Towards a Framework for Researcher Careers' was published in October 2008. The report contains a number of key recommendations including:

The establishment of a distinctive and transparent Framework for Developing Professional Careers within the HEIs which would also be recognised and have relevance for the enterprise sector;

That terms and conditions under which researchers are employed should be consistent irrespective of the sources of funding for their positions;

That funding agencies and HEIs should establish a programme to ensure Ireland reaches the EU average of female participation rates among senior academic levels by 2018;

That funding agencies should increase the level of funding available to humanities and social sciences to further support researcher careers in these disciplines;

That the HEIs, public sector research institutes and enterprise need collectively to develop and implement a researcher careers competency framework;

That a national programme should be established providing career information, including information on the personal and professional researcher skills required by each sector — HEIs, the public sector and enterprise,

That, as the first stage of professional career development of researchers, Graduate Schools should be developed to ensure PhD students learn practical business skills such as project management, people and financial management, marketing and skills required for the commercialisation of research;

That funding agencies should facilitate international mobility, both inward and outward, among all researchers by providing continuity of funding to those seeking international experience and those that seek to return to Ireland.

The Higher Education Research Group (HERG), which is chaired by the Department of Education and Science, oversees and has responsibility for the coherent development of policy and funding initiatives arising under the SSTI which pertain to the higher education and research sector. Following publication of the ASC's report, a Researchers Careers Working Group was subsequently established under the aegis of the Higher Education Research Group to focus on the development of a clearly and broadly consistent path for career progression across the higher education sector. The group is chaired by the Department of Education and Science and comprises representatives of employers, funders and promoters of research, the Higher Education Authority and Forfás.

My colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, has informed me that the Researcher Careers Group has met on three occasions to date. In addition DES have engaged in bilateral meetings with a number of key stakeholders. The Group has recently concluded its work and has prepared a report containing proposals to develop a framework for a national researcher careers structure which incorporates clear definitions of title, a performance development and appraisal system, continuing professional skills development and is underpinned by the guiding principle that attainment of titles must be based on a transparent, open and competitive process. An initial briefing on the Researchers Careers Working Group report has been given to the HERG and it is proposed to formally submit the report to the next scheduled meeting of the HERG in September.

Job Creation.

Tom Hayes

Question:

116 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs clubs here; the number of clients they have dealt with individually for each of the past three years; and if she will make a statement on their role in tackling unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27327/09]

FÁS Job Clubs were introduced in 1999 to assist people who were actively seeking employment by providing support for the job search process and an environment in which it could be carried out. Independent Sponsor Groups are contracted by FÁS on a year to year basis to run the programme.

Job Clubs are seen as an important resource and intervention for those who have recently completed training programmes or have recently become unemployed. They provide both a formal and structured input as well as a drop-in resource facility. They also help the individual in overcoming the personal effects of unemployment by providing a mutual support forum from people in a similar situation.

56 Job Clubs nationwide provided formal programmes to the following numbers of clients for the past three years:

2006: 6,417;

2007: 7,100;

2008: 8,814.

I understand that the number of "drop-ins" would be approximately double these figures. During 2009 it is proposed to increase the number of Job Clubs to over 60.

Question No. 117 answered with Question No. 81.

Redundancy Payments.

Damien English

Question:

118 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when applications by persons (details supplied) for redundancy payment will be decided on; the reason for the delay in processing these applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27464/09]

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is currently processing the statutory lump sum payment applications in respect of the individuals in question. The necessary support documentation from the Liquidator was recently submitted for checking and assuming the information supplied is in order, it will be possible to process the applications quickly.

Disability Act.

David Stanton

Question:

119 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the statutory three year review of the Disability Act 2005 sectoral plan pertaining to her Department and required under the Disability Act 2005 will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27506/09]

The Sectoral Plan of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment covers the period 2006-2010 and is currently being reviewed. It is intended that the review will be completed as soon as possible with a view to enabling publication by end October 2009 in line with the statutory timeframe prescribed under the Disability Act, 2005.

Departmental Expenditure.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

120 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of properties her Department has paid rent on in the past three years; if the rent on such properties is fixed; if such rents have been reviewed in the past year; if she has tried to negotiate the cost of rent downwards in the past year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27591/09]

The buildings and premises occupied by my Department and the 8 Offices of my Department are not rented or leased by the Department or its Offices. The information requested by the Deputy is, therefore, not relevant in the case of my Department and its Offices. The Deputy may wish to know that all buildings and premises occupied by my Department and its Offices are provided by the Office of Public Works without any cost to the Department and its Offices.

Community Employment Schemes.

John O'Mahony

Question:

121 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs which have been lost due to the curtailment of the community employment schemes in 2006, 2007 and 2008 for each county in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27660/09]

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

As can be seen from the following table, the numbers on CE have increased from year-end 2006 to year-end 2008.

Year-End Statistics for Community Employment, by County/Location

Location/County

2006

2007

2008

Dublin

5,647

6,105

6,001

Carlow

319

322

325

Cavan

254

223

224

Clare

573

578

573

Cork

2,064

2,088

2,125

Donegal

1,109

1,128

1,145

Galway

1,415

1,421

1,447

Kerry

889

958

973

Kildare

613

624

628

Kilkenny

407

381

401

Laois

318

310

310

Leitrim

154

144

149

Limerick

1,227

1,224

1,221

Longford

305

304

301

Louth

740

777

754

Mayo

749

796

800

Meath

424

425

422

Monaghan

355

385

354

Offaly

398

375

373

Roscommon

284

310

300

Sligo

409

411

415

Tipperary

1,133

1,165

1,130

Waterford

547

581

557

Westmeath

512

492

511

Wexford

775

796

794

Wicklow

661

669

663

Actual TOTAL

22,281

22,992

22,896

Note: The figures include supervisors.

Departmental Schemes.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

122 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to extend the duration of the work placement programme scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23248/09]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

123 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to extend the number of places on the work placement programme scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23243/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 123 together.

The aim of the Work Placement Programme is to put in place a structured mechanism that will provide vital work experience and training opportunities for the broadest number of individuals and also provide invaluable work experience for unemployed persons, including graduates, to improve their skills and to help them into employment as soon as possible.

At this moment in time beyond the 2,000 places currently being offered for 6 months to individuals, I have no immediate plans to extend the number of places or the duration of the Work Placement Programme.

However, during and following completion of the Work Placement Programme it is my intention to review and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the Programme. It will be in this context that I will consider any potential extensions of numbers and duration of the Programme.

Redundancy Payments.

Sean Fleming

Question:

124 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will provide a copy of the original RP50 form signed by a person (details supplied) in County Laois in respect of a claim for redundancy. [27695/09]

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department has received a redundancy lump sum application in the case of the individual concerned.

I understand that the person concerned has been in direct contact with the Redundancy Payments Section recently and a copy of the RP50 form was sent by post to the individual last week.

Community Employment Schemes.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

125 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 124 of 30 June 2009, the Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas who sit on sponsoring committees of community employment projects; the relevant sponsoring committee in each instance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27747/09]

I am advised that FÁS is aware that there are a number of sitting Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas on the Sponsoring Committees of Community Employment (CE) projects. In order to accurately establish and confirm the exact numbers and names, it will be necessary to contact all of the CE Sponsors (over 1,100 Sponsors with at least 7 members on each) through our regional management to ascertain who are currently listed as members of the Sponsoring Committees and whether any of them are Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas. When this information is available I will communicate it directly to the Deputy.

Labour Inspectorate.

John McGuinness

Question:

126 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of inspectors employed by the National Employment Rights Authority; if this number will be increased over the coming months; if all of the inspectors are on contract or employed under the usual terms and conditions of the Civil Service; if the inspectors are entitled to subsistence and other expenses; the overall cost to date of all of those employed in this category; the number of premises visited in each region here; the number of cases prosecuted through the courts; the numbers of prosecutions or cases pending; the type of breaches being discovered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27816/09]

The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) currently has in place a team of 77 inspectors. They are all employed under the standard terms and conditions governing civil servants in general. Inspectors are entitled to receive travel and subsistence in respect of expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their official duties.

There are no proposals at present to increase the number of inspectors. The Minister for Finance has recently introduced a moratorium on the filling of vacancies in the Public Service until the end of 2010, which will impact on NERA in common with all other public bodies.

The total costs, comprising pay and travel and subsistence costs, in relation to activities and operations of NERA's Inspection Services are set out in Table 1. It has not been possible, in the time available, to apportion other non-pay costs between the different services within NERA.

Data in relation to inspection activity is currently maintained on a case basis and information in relation to the number of unique employers visited is not readily available. The data provided in Table 2 below represents an indicative estimate by NERA of the number of employers visited.

The inspection process includes calls, visits and inspections in respect of each case. In 2008 a total of 27,900 were carried out. The figure to date in 2009 is 10,445. NERA inspectors have an enforcement role under aspects of the following legislation:

Industrial Relations Acts 1946-2004 — (1) Employment Regulation Orders (Joint Labour Committee system) and (2) Registered Employment Agreement system,

The National Minimum Wage Act 2000 –

Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 –

Organisation of Working Time Act 1997

Payment of Wages Act 1991- statement of wages aspect only.

Carer's Leave Act 2001

Employment Agency Act 1971

Protection of Employment Act 1977

Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Acts 1984 to 2003

Parental Leave Act 1998 (Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform).

Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006

NERA will shortly be commencing inspections under the Employment Permits Acts 2003 and 2006.

In the course of 2008, prosecution proceedings were initiated by NERA in 70 cases. Proceedings were concluded in 88 cases, which included cases initiated in 2007. Convictions were obtained in 41 cases while in the balance of 47 cases the breaches were rectified before the court hearing or the cases were withdrawn or struck out.

In the course of 2009 to date prosecution proceedings have been initiated by NERA in 29 cases. Proceedings were concluded in 59 cases. Convictions were obtained in 13 cases while in the balance of 46 cases the breaches were rectified before the court hearing or the cases were withdrawn or struck out.

NERA inspections indicate a very broad variance in the level of compliance with employment legislation. The level of compliance ranges from over 90% in Protection of Young Persons and National Minimum Wage to 55% in respect of Organisation of Working Time Act and is as low as 15% in relation to compliance with some Employment Regulation Orders. It would appear the higher the level of awareness the higher the compliance level. This supports the view that most employers want to comply with employment law.

Some of the more serious illegal practices NERA has uncovered include:

Failure to pay the appropriate rate;

Falsifying records including payslips and timesheets;

Paying employees for significantly fewer hours than they actually worked;

Making unlawful deductions from employees wages;

Failure to keep records;

Failing to produce any records for inspection;

Not providing employees with payslips/statement of wages;

Providing documentation that purports to show arrears of wages have been paid to employees when this is not the case;

Inadequate public holiday/annual leave provision.

Table 1: NERA Inspection Services Costs, 2008 and 2009 (to end June)

Category

2008

2009 (to end June)

€000s

€000s

Pay

4,813

2,430

Travel & Subsistence

914

243

Total

5,727

2,673

Table 2: Estimate of Number of Employers visited by NERA in 2008 and 2009 (to end June)

Region

Regional HQ

No. of Employers Visited

2008

2009 (to end June)

South East

Carlow

3,287

1,230

South

Cork

1,339

372

North East

Dublin

3,080

894

West

Shannon

1,318

827

North West

Sligo

1,065

239

Totals

10,089

3,562

Redundancy Payments.

John McGuinness

Question:

127 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her preferential claim against a company (details supplied) under the Redundancy Payments Acts will be struck out; and if she will expedite a response in view of the circumstances of the case. [27817/09]

It is up to the employer in the first instance to pay statutory redundancy entitlement to employees. When an employer does so, he is entitled to claim a rebate of 60% from the Social Insurance Fund. If the employer is unable to pay the statutory amount, then the employee can, ultimately, be paid directly by my Department from the Fund. In such cases, 40% of each statutory redundancy lump sum paid is recoverable from the assets of the employer by the Department for the Fund.

This statutory Redundancy Recoveries function is provided for in Sections 42 and 43 of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1967 (as subsequently amended). Section 42 of the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 — 2007 confers on the Minister, preferential creditor status in a winding-up situation in recovering amounts paid from the Social Insurance Fund. Thus, a redundancy lump sum (or part thereof) is made a priority debt under Section 285 of the Companies Act, 1963, in cases of winding-up, and a priority debt under Section 81 of the Bankruptcy Act, 1988, in cases of a bankrupt or arranging debtor. Section 43 of the 1967 Act also makes general provision whereby all monies due to the Fund (whether in a winding-up situation or not) are debts, which can be recovered in any court of competent jurisdiction.

In the present case, my Department paid a statutory redundancy lump sum in favour of a former employee of the company from the Social Insurance Fund and the Department was involved in written communication with the company at the time. The company was also advised of the fact that given that the payment was made directly from the Social Insurance Fund, the Minister, in line with the provisions of the Redundancy Payments Acts referred to, had preferential creditor status.

The Minister has no discretion with regard to the 40% due to the Social Insurance Fund in terms of any legal powers to divert, from the Social Insurance Fund, monies which may be recovered from the assets of the company at some future point and the Minister is not in a position to strike off the outstanding liability to the Social Insurance Fund.

Job Losses.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

128 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the full extent of job losses and job creation throughout County Kildare in each of the past five years to date in 2009 in the manufacturing service or knowledge based areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27997/09]

Employment data in respect of companies supported by the Enterprise Agencies (Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Shannon Development) is collated by Forfás on an annual basis only, and accordingly data is not available for 2009. The knowledge agenda transcends all sectors of the economy and data is not categorised on this basis. Data on job gains and job losses in Kildare County in Manufacturing and Services for the years 2004-2008 is shown in the table. This table indicates that 1,055 jobs net were lost in the manufacturing sector in the 5 year period, while there was a net increase of 310 in the numbers employed in the Services sector in the same period. At end 2008 the numbers employed in Co. Kildare in enterprise agency assisted firms stood at 14,478.

The enterprise development agencies are committed to promoting Co. Kildare as a location for investment as part of an integrated East Region, with access to a population base of 1.5 million people, as well as supporting and developing businesses already present in the county. The agencies are working closely with educational institutions in the county, and with FÁS in developing the skill sets necessary to attract high value added employment to the county and to provide guidance in developing the skills needed by those already in the workforce, who are interested in upskilling.

At present there are 25 IDA Ireland supported companies in Kildare County employing 9,837 people, and in recent years IDA have succeeded in attracting some world class manufacturing companies such as Intel, Wyeth Medica, Braun Oral B and Hewlett Packard. In the present competitive global markets, it is increasingly difficult to continue to attract such facilities, as manufacturing companies, in particular, are going to low cost destinations. Despite the downturn, Kildare remains very attractive for FDI as evidenced by the recent announcement by Hewlett Packard of the expansion of its Global Service Desk operation at its Liffey Park Technology Campus in Leixlip, which will result in the creation of 500 jobs over the next 12 months in the areas of technical support, R&D and training. A further example of the attractiveness of the county is the recent announcement of the expansion of the Oral B facility creating 100 jobs in Newbridge.

Enterprise Ireland activity is focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs in manufacturing and internationally traded services companies who are setting up new High Potential Start-Up Companies. Since the beginning of 2005, Enterprise Ireland has approved over €15m in support to companies in Kildare to help them grow their sales and exports and improve innovation and new product development in order that they can compete on world markets. The consumer foods sector in particular has shown rapid growth in recent years. The last two years have seen significant investment by Green Isle Foods and Dawn Farm Foods Ltd, both supported by Enterprise Ireland, leading to significant employment increases in both of these facilities.

In 2009, EI's priority is to consolidate the position of existing Irish exporters in key markets (notably UK and US), and to identify and exploit new export opportunities across the Eurozone and in other selected markets. Enterprise Ireland is focusing additional resources on the Eurozone, with the objective of helping Irish companies to win sales in these markets. A number of markets have also been identified that are less affected by the global downturn, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and the Gulf region. Enterprise Ireland Trade Missions, international buyer programmes and client promotional activities at trade fairs, conferences and exhibitions are vital in establishing presences in international markets for goods and services.

During 2008, Enterprise Ireland launched a new Growth Fund, which provides clients with funding of up to €450,000 to help them achieve greater competitiveness by investing in new equipment, implementing new processes, training staff, or hiring key managers or consultants. In 2008, a total €26.23 million was approved under the Growth Fund to support 84 competitiveness improvement projects. This fund will continue to support companies' competitiveness over the next two years.

Enterprise Agency Supported Jobs (Gains/Losses) in Co. Kildare 2004-2008

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Total

Manufacturing

Job Gains

896

797

752

526

238

3,209

Job Losses

-709

-332

-687

-1,216

-1,320

-4,264

International & Financial Services & Other

Job Gains

224

227

165

88

116

820

Job Losses

-100

-115

-32

-108

-155

-510

Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 57.

Economic Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

130 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs in the manufacturing and service areas which have relocated from Ireland to more competitive economies in each of the past ten years to date in 2009; the extent to which she monitors this situation; the action in relation to same; the result of the action; her future proposals in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27999/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

131 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to manufacturing and service job relocation to more competitive economies in the course of the past ten years; the action she has taken to address such issues; the effect of such action; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28000/09]

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

There are many differing and complex factors, apart from costs, that influence a firm's decision to relocate. Therefore, it is not currently possible to say how many jobs have ‘relocated' from Ireland over the past ten years. Job ‘churn' occurs in the internationally trading sector of the economy, in a number of ways and for a variety of reasons. Companies adjust their plant location and utilisation strategies to address matters such as accessing new markets, moving production nearer to customers, meeting firm or market specific customer relationship issues, accessing technology, in addition to business takeovers and consolidations. For much of the last decade this churn has been positive for Ireland, with companies replacing lower value activities with activities of higher value, resulting in better paid, more highly skilled jobs.

The phenomenon of globalisation is changing the way economic production is organised the world over. Lower barriers to trade and improvements in transport technology are increasing the specialisation of production, resulting in global supply chains. Ireland experiences both benefits and costs resulting from globalisation. Inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) illustrates the clearest demonstration of the benefits to Ireland from globalisation. This has been one of the principal causes of the strong economic performance of Ireland over the last two decades. However, as Ireland has gained from the mobility of modern production and supply chain models, competition from other locations for mobile investment has intensified. This shift in the structure of international trade poses challenges to economic policy makers in all countries.

Of course, some churn can be negative, when it results in a net loss of employment. Total job numbers employed in enterprise agency supported companies, (which represents a large portion of employment in the internationally traded sector of the economy), increased by approximately 7.5%, in the 10 years to 2008. The global economic downturn has seen a decline in the number of people employed in the internationally trading element of the economy in 2008/09, but this is a phenomenon being experienced by economies at every stage of development around the globe. The International Labour Organisation forecasts global unemployment to rise considerably, over the immediate term. The decline in the level of employment in Ireland's internationally trading sectors cannot therefore be simply related to job ‘relocation' alone.

Competitiveness can naturally decline in certain areas when an economy becomes more advanced — for example, developed economies cannot compete with developing countries in certain areas of low value, labour intensive production. However, competitiveness is vital to ensure Ireland continues to win investment in the areas of manufacturing and service activity in which it competes with other developed economies, such as high value manufacturing and internationally traded services.

A principal task of government is to ensure that Ireland continues to be an attractive place to do business, and to help foster economic competencies higher up the value chain. This government has made significant attempts to maintain and enhance our framework competitive conditions, and to promote new areas of competitive advantage by developing our R&D base, investing in critical physical and communication infrastructures, and promoting tertiary education and lifelong learning. The Enterprise Strategy Group report outlines the strategy being pursued by Government to move all enterprises in Ireland towards higher value added and knowledge based activities. Subsequent reports and strategies including the "Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation, 2006-2013”, the “National Skills Strategy” and “Building Ireland’s Smart Economy” further develop and build on these objectives.

Competitiveness is a key driver of economic development and my Department closely monitors Ireland's competitiveness for this reason — by a variety of means including the National Competitiveness Council's annual work in the area, which involves benchmarking the country's competitiveness performance against key competitors across more than 140 competitiveness indicators. The results of this analysis highlight areas where action needs to be taken to improve Irish competitiveness for enterprise, and informs the policy measures formulated to support Irish economic development.

The model of manufacturing in developed countries is changing and Irish enterprises are adapting to those changes. The "Report of the High-Level Group on Manufacturing” contains some 26 recommendations directed at key areas of innovation and productivity leading to transformational change, reskilling and management development, which will ensure Irish manufacturers, can continue to compete successfully on international markets and provide high value sustainable employment.

We continue to be one of the world's leading service exporting countries. The report of the Services Strategy Group, "Catching the Wave: A Services Strategy for Ireland”, sets out new policy proposals on how we can ensure the continued development and growth of Ireland’s services sector and outlines how to maximise the future returns to the country from services activities in all enterprises, both current and potential. Implementation of the recommendations – some of which are already being acted on by the Enterprise Agencies — will enable Irish service companies to exploit new and exciting opportunities, such as eLearning, business and financial services, professional and consultancy services and others.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

132 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has examined the trends in imports and exports in each of the past five years to date; if she has identified issues requiring attention; the action she has taken or proposes to take in response; the effect of such corrective action to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28001/09]

In the period 2003-2008, annual growth in total Irish exports has averaged 5.5%. Over the five years in question our services exports have risen steadily from €37.1bn or 31.1% of total exports in 2003 to €69.2bn or 44.5% in 2008.

With regard to total imports, the annual growth rate averaged 6.6%. The growth in Merchandise imports showed an average annual growth rate of 3.9%, while the average annual growth in our Services imports was 9.1%. Between 2003-2008 our Services imports rose from being 50.7% to 56.6% of our total Services imports. Our trade surplus in 2008 was €23.79bn.

These healthy trade levels were achieved despite poor economic growth in many of our trading partners and also against the backdrop of adverse exchange rate trends in our two biggest export markets, the United States and the United Kingdom. Our performance is especially significant when compared to our EU partners. The latest figures released by Eurostat, demonstrate that in several of the major Member States, exports declined by over 20% in the first quarter of this year, whereas Ireland's were virtually unchanged at -0.01%. Over recent years, net exports have made a very significant contribution to GDP growth. In 2008 the contribution of net exports was 2.7% and in the first quarter of 2009 it was 6.09%.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, through Enterprise Ireland, is active both in assisting Irish indigenous companies to find new markets for their products and services and to increase their existing level of market share. Both my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan T.D. and I, have been active in leading trade missions to develop new opportunities for Irish exporters, in association with Enterprise Ireland. We will continue to do so, to both existing long- established markets, to the new EU Member States and also to other emerging high-growth markets, with a view to increasing the share of exports by Irish companies worldwide. To illustrate the success of these efforts, our exports to the eight priority countries identified in our Asia Strategy, have more than doubled in five years to over €11bn.

The importance of our Services trade to the economy is growing. The future performance in services activities will therefore be increasingly important to overall growth in the economy. The Services Strategy Group, which was set up in 2007 by Forfás and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, published its report — "Catching the Wave: A Services Strategy for Ireland”, in September last. The report sets out new policy proposals on how the State can ensure the continued development and growth of Ireland’s services sector. The recommendations in this report will guide the development of our services strategy into the future, to further exploit the opportunities that this sector presents.

The manufacturing sector is in transition but is well positioned to meet future challenges. Ireland's manufacturing future depends on a manufacturing sector that is capital intensive, knowledge intensive and skills intensive, focused on developing innovative products, services and solutions and meeting the needs of markets and customers. The 2007 report of the High Level Group on Manufacturing identifies the focused actions needed by employers, employees and Government to respond to challenges and take advantage of opportunities to further develop the sector in Ireland and these are being pursued through the Government Framework for Economic Renewal.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has identified any issues that are currently deemed to negatively impact on economic growth here; the steps she will take in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28002/09]

There are a number of factors which impact on economic growth. These are level of investment, consumption, government spending and net exports. The impact of the fall in housing and construction volumes is well understood and has had a negative impact on economic growth.

One of the primary areas of focus in my Department is on growing exports. The most recent export figures are encouraging. Year-on-year Irish exports to April rose by 6%. Year-on-year pharmaceutical exports rose by 19%. Our export performance is in turn dependant on our productivity levels and our competitiveness. The Government has taken and will continue to take the necessary steps to improve our competitiveness and productivity in order to return to economic growth at sustainable levels.

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 98.
Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 57.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

136 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to address the concerns of small and medium enterprises with reference to costs, credit and competitiveness; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28005/09]

Under the framework for Economic Renewal we are taking a number of measures across Government to improve our competitiveness. Cost competitiveness is a particular focus of action and we are already seeing results. Firstly, Irish inflation declined by 4.7% in the year to May 2009. We have also seen a decline in unit labour costs which has a direct effect on competitiveness. We will continue to exert further downward pressure on costs including reviewing the recommendations of the Competition Authority which have most effect on competitiveness. We are working to ease costs to enterprise in administered sectors of the economy under state control such as local authority charges. We are also easing the administrative burden that regulations can create.

Energy prices have come down in recent months and I will continue to work closely with my colleague the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to ensure that we continue to exert downward pressure on energy costs. Across Government there is a concerted approach to eliminate structural rigidities that have contributed to high costs. The current initiative to legislate against upward only rent reviews is a further example of this cross Government effort.

With regard to credit, we have taken determined action to address the fundamental issue of access to finance for business, by way of the new code of practice for banks linked to the re-capitalisation scheme. The Minister for Finance and I have, furthermore, recently established the Credit Supply Clearing Group to examine where the flow of credit to viable business appears to be blocked and develop solutions that enable adequate business credit flow.

In addition the Minister for Trade and Commerce, Billy Kelleher TD, is holding a series of regional meetings around the country to assess the factors affecting access to bank credit at local and regional level. These meetings allow the Government to hear at first hand the views and experiences of local business representative groups, local bank representatives and state agencies on access to bank lending. This will complement the work of the Credit Supply Clearing Group and feed into future Government policies on the issue.

To improve the competitive strengths of firms we continue to implement a series of policies to encourage a move to higher productivity levels and the production of higher value added goods and services. Our competitiveness priorities also include a strong focus on skills, education and training.

Furthermore, our long-term commitment to investing in and supporting science will, I am confident, bring an additional dimension to our competitiveness as well as taking us to a new level of innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

137 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to improve the competitiveness of the economy with reference to improving export opportunities on world markets for Irish products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28006/09]

Ultimately it is individual businesses that must take advantage of global markets but it is my responsibility to ensure that no barriers are placed in their way. In this regard, my immediate competitiveness objectives are to ensure that the broad business environment is conducive to improved export opportunities and to facilitate a return to sustainable export growth. We will continue to provide the appropriate supports to the enterprise sector, restore our cost competitiveness and safeguard the significant achievements of recent years.

Our current enterprise policies are focused on driving export growth momentum by supporting companies to pursue aggressive and progressive growth strategies. Our priorities include strengthening and sustaining companies of strategic importance through a series of targeted initiatives provided by the development agencies. A central priority is to ensure that companies with high growth potential and in which the State has already invested are brought through this difficult period. These are companies that will continue to be successful on world markets and will provide essential high-value employment in the future.

Irish exporters have proved themselves well able to compete decisively on world markets. Between 2003 and 2007 our total Irish exports increased by more than 6% per annum year-on-year. Merchandise exports for the first quarter of 2009 were up by 2% and rose further in April, giving us a trade surplus for that month of just over €4bn, the highest monthly surplus in eight years and the second highest on record.

Our performance is especially significant when compared to our EU partners. The latest figures released by Eurostat, demonstrate that in several of the major Member States, exports declined by over 20% in the first quarter of this year.

Over recent years, net exports have made a very significant contribution to GDP growth. In 2008 the contribution of net exports was 2.7% and in the first quarter of 2009 it was 6.09%. In both cases this made a significant contribution to counteracting the other GDP elements that were negative.

Job Creation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

138 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created or lost here on a monthly basis for each of the past 12 months to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28007/09]

Employment and Unemployment is measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey or QNHS and published by the Central Statistics Office. Employment in the last 12 months has decreased by 158,500 while unemployment has increased by 96,100 in the 12 month period (Quarter 2 2008 to Quarter 1 2009).

QNHS Quarter

Unemployment

Change in Quarter Unemployment

Employment

Change in Quarter Employment

Apr-Jun 08

126,700

+17,300

2,112,800

-11,300

Jul-Sep 08

159,400

+32,700

2,107,100

-5,700

Oct-Dec 08

169,700

+10,300

2,054,600

-52,500

Jan-Mar 09

222,800

+53,100

1,965,600

-89,000

Total

+113,400

-158,500

There is no exact measure of the number of jobs lost over the last 12 months. However, my Department records the number of redundancies notified to them on a monthly basis. The following table sets out the number of redundancy notifications received for the last 12 months.

Redundancies for last 12 months

Date

Total

Jul-08

3,852

Aug-08

3,147

Sep-08

3,971

Oct-08

4,623

Nov-08

5,361

Dec-08

3,350

Jan-09

6,640

Feb-09

6,279

Mar-09

7,759

Apr-09

7,201

May-09

8,032

Jun-09

6,813

Question No. 139 answered with Question No. 109.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

140 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent of the incentives available to employers who might be in a position to increase their workforce with reference to the need to incentivise job creation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28009/09]

The Enterprise Development agencies under the aegis of my Department, namely IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, together with the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and the Employment Training agency FAS, provide incentives to assist with jobs.

As part of its marketing strategy to attract foreign direct investment into Ireland, IDA Ireland offers a range of assistance to its clients. The four main types of grants available are employment grants, capital grants, research and development grants and training grants. The agency also offers a range of tailored property solutions.

Enterprise Ireland delivers a wide range of supports to Irish companies, targeted at the specific requirements of clients throughout all regions to ensure that they develop to their full potential in terms of employment, innovation and exports, which in turn, stimulates job creation. The agency, in recognising the significant changes in the current economy both in Ireland and globally, has prepared a new recovery strategy to identify the actions that will be undertaken to help clients in 2009. Enterprise Ireland has refocused its efforts on strengthening and sustaining companies of strategic importance through a range of initiatives focused on the needs of its client base. The Enterprise Stabilisation Fund is a new initiative which I announced recently. This Fund, which is being administered by Enterprise Ireland, will help internationally trading companies to survive the current global downturn by supporting their drive to reduce costs and gain sales in overseas markets. Sustainable economic recovery will be driven by enterprises focused on increasing their exports of innovative products and services in global markets.

The types of direct grant-aid available from the CEBs include capital grants, feasibility study grants and employment grants. The 2009 allocation for the CEBs will enable the Boards to continue to be actively involved in the area of economic development and will ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development. This will be done not just by direct grant aid to businesses but also through the provision of a range of other important business supports such as mentoring, business training and business advice, all of which help to stimulate indigenous enterprise creation.

In relation to FÁS, the agency provides a range of incentives that are available for clients and employers. The recently announced Work Placement Programme is designed to offer unemployed people, including unemployed graduates, the opportunity to obtain 6 months quality experience in a work situation. The benefit to providers is that they will, by giving someone the opportunity to gain work experience in their field, ensure the future supply of qualified and experienced people for their business or sector. Additionally, should a position become available within the business, they would have a prospective applicant with relevant work experience. The agency also promotes a range of supports and grants including the Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Supported Employment Programme. The Wage Subsidy Scheme provides financial incentives to employers, outside the public sector, to employ disabled people who work more than twenty hours per week. Subsidies available through this scheme are structured under three separate strands and employers can benefit under one or all, simultaneously. The Supported Employment Programme is an active labour market initiative to assist jobseeker's with a disability to find employment in the open labour market. The programme facilitates the integration of people with disabilities into paid employment in the open labour market and provides support for the jobseeker and employer through a job coach to assist with the integration process.

I am satisfied that the range of actions which I have outlined will continue to address the jobs situation.

Job Losses.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

141 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which she has monitored the number of jobs lost or created on a county or regional basis in each of the past five years to date; the initiatives she has taken to address issues arising therefrom; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28010/09]

The number of people in employment is measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey or QNHS and published by the Central Statistics Office. In the first quarter of 2009, the most recent quarter for which data is available, employment increased by 48,500 in the five-year period, while unemployment increased by 139,100 over the same period.

The most recent data on employment levels in each of the past five years (on a year on year quarterly basis) are set out in the table:

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Employment

1,917,100

2,009,400

2,088,500

2,124,100

1,965,600

Unemployment

83,700

92,900

98,100

109,400

222,800

Source: CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2009 (January-March 2009).

There is no exact measure of the number of jobs lost, however, the Department records the number of redundancies notified to them on a monthly basis. The following table sets out the number of redundancy notifications received on a monthly basis for the years 2004 to 2008.

Actual Redundancies 2004-2009 broken down by month

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

January

2,771

1,653

2,314

2,777

2,764

6,640

February

2,468

1,656

1,970

1,587

2,838

6,279

March

2,035

1,017

1,589

2,214

2,311

7,759

April

2,335

2,567

1,879

2,155

3,114

7,201

May

1,959

2,426

2,173

1,942

2,462

8,032

June

2,153

2,144

1,906

2,046

2,914

6,813

July

2,636

2,225

2,066

2,287

3,852

August

1,656

1,842

1,836

2,319

3,147

September

1,618

1,795

1,591

1,859

3,971

October

1,692

2,089

2,202

2,174

4,623

November

2,397

2,092

2,077

2,380

5,261

December

1,321

1,650

2,081

1,719

3,350

Employment data in respect of companies supported by the Enterprise Agencies (Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Shannon Development) is collated on an annual basis only, and accordingly monthly figures cannot be supplied. The following table sets out the number of full-time jobs created in enterprise agency assisted firms only, for the years 2004 to 2008.

Full-time Job Gains in Enterprise Agency assisted firms

Full-time Job Gains

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Totals 2004 to 2008

Enterprise Ireland

12,564

14,316

15,052

15,776

10,522

68,230

IDA Ireland

10,959

12,041

11,866

9,976

8,837

53,679

Shannon Development

522

437

547

354

576

2,436

CEBs

1341

1938

2045

2266

1500

9090

Totals

25,386

28,732

29,510

28,372

21,435

133,435

The Government remains intent on achieving greater capacity within existing resources to meet the on-going challenges in the labour market. This year the Government have almost doubled the number of FÁS activation training and work experience places for the unemployed to over 129,000. This is a substantial increase on the 66,000 places, which were available at the end of last year. The majority of these additional places are on short courses and will be delivered through three core-training initiatives, Short Courses, Night Courses and Online Courses. These courses are designed to develop new skills and competencies for the unemployed to assist them in securing employment.

Other new programmes which have been rolled out for the unemployed are the Work Placement Programme and the Short time Training Programme. The Work Placement Programme is a six-month work experience programme for 2,000 individuals who are currently unemployed. Under this programme individuals will retain their social welfare entitlements. The Short Time Working Training Programme will provide two days training a week for 277 workers over a 52-week period who are on systematic short time. Participants on this programme will also continue to receive their existing social welfare entitlements.

Recently the Government presented proposals to the Social Partners which focused on measures to prevent job losses including the possible introduction of a temporary employment subsidy scheme which aims to help employees retain their jobs and employers their skilled workforce in these difficult times.

The Government is also committed to pursuing a job creation strategy that focuses on strengthening our competitiveness, driving down the cost of doing business here and ensuring our return to sustainable export-led growth. My Department's enterprise development agencies will continue to play a key role in supporting companies in creating new job opportunities.

Job Creation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

142 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent of her job creation proposals for the future; if emphasis on the knowledge based economy is likely to ignore the need to generate growth in the manufacturing sector; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that other jurisdictions are more competitive in the manufacturing sectors, are more than likely to become more competitive in the knowledge based economic sectors in the future and that action is required to address these issues; the action she has taken in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28011/09]

The development of innovative products and services, underpinned by the effective and imaginative use of technology and new research, will be significant contributors to our economic success and job creation in the coming years. We have indeed been seeking, in our policy development and investment, to grow our innovation capacity to develop a knowledge economy. This will put the benefits and opportunities of science, technology and innovation at the heart of Irish economic and social development and grow our enterprise sector in a sustainable manner, thereby creating jobs and facilitate social advancement.

But this in no way diminishes the importance of manufacturing in our economy. The competitiveness model Ireland has to follow is one where innovation, talent and flexibility are our acknowledged core competencies and this is relevant for all industry sectors, including both our existing manufacturing base and for new investment in manufacturing that we continue to attract.

Under the Framework for Economic Renewal we are taking a number of measures across Government to improve our competitiveness. Cost competitiveness is a particular focus of action and we are already seeing results. Firstly, Irish inflation declined by 4.7% in the year to May 2009. We have also seen a decline in unit labour costs which has a direct effect on competitiveness. Other costs are on the way down also. The cost of energy which is a key cost for the manufacturing sector, has reduced by 10% in electricity prices and 12% in the price of gas. I will continue to work closely with my colleague the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to ensure that we continue to exert downward pressure on energy costs.

Our policy measures for developing the knowledge economy are designed to translate knowledge into jobs and growth. This includes many horizontal policies, such as education and skills development, along with the development of framework conditions to encourage both technological and non-technological innovation. For the manufacturing sector, this encompasses a broad range of areas, whether it is assisting manufacturing companies to realise the full potential of information technology, to adopt new technologies or leading edge processes or supporting R&D in manufacturing operations.

Manufacturing will continue to play a valuable part in future economic success as was clearly demonstrated in the report of the High Level Group on Manufacturing. The recommendations contained in this report are being advanced within the Framework for Economic Renewal to ensure that the manufacturing sector is further developed and well positioned for future growth. I would like to emphasise that, as stated in the report, manufacturing is a key driver of innovation and technological advance.

Sustainable growth must be based on growing Ireland's manufacturing and services export base, and we are firmly focused on providing a competitive environment and maintaining our reputation as a ‘good place to do business'.

State Agencies.

Simon Coveney

Question:

143 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the restructuring which will take place within Enterprise Ireland in 2009 and 2010; and the new initiatives which have been introduced in the past 12 months to protect jobs and create employment in Cork city and county. [28031/09]

Enterprise Ireland (EI) developed a one year plan for 2009 to run in parallel to EI's existing strategy ‘Transforming Irish Industry 2008-2010'.

The priorities of this plan are as follows:

a. Access to Finance

b. Winning New Sales & Sustaining Exports

c. Stimulating Competitiveness

d. Promoting Innovation

e. Supporting Entrepreneurship

The primary focus of export growth remains an organisational priority, which Enterprise Ireland is supporting through the reorientation of resources and the introduction of a number of initiatives in 2009, all of which are open to client companies in the Cork Region.

(A) A major initiative is the recent establishment by the Government of a €100 million Enterprise Stabilisation Fund for 2009-2010 to help internationally trading companies with robust business models that would otherwise struggle to survive the global downturn. EI also continues to work closely with international and domestic venture capitalists, the banks and the European Investment Bank to secure finance for Irish enterprises.

(B) In 2009, the agency's priority is to consolidate the position of existing Irish exporters in key markets (notably UK and US), and to identify and exploit new export opportunities across the Eurozone and in other selected markets. Enterprise Ireland is also working to emphasise the role that public procurement plays in economic recovery and development.

(C) During 2008, Enterprise Ireland launched a new Growth Fund, which provides funding to help clients invest in new equipment, implement new processes, train staff, or hire key personnel. In 2008, a total €26.23 million was approved under the Growth Fund to support 84 competitiveness improvement projects. Two new departments are in the process of being established to help companies drive down costs. The Cost Reduction and Lean Manufacturing units are staffed by personnel who have considerable experience and expertise in manufacturing efficiency.

(D) The agency is continuing to promote the importance of R&D and innovation in companies. In the immediate term, Enterprise Ireland's priority is to help companies to maintain their current R&D levels and encourage them to focus on 6-12 month projects that will yield a short-term positive return, and EI has streamlined its approval and payments procedures to support this.

(E) EI's strategic approach to regional enterprise aims to foster innovation-based start-ups, to proactively develop existing clients in all regions, and to facilitate entrepreneurship and the enterprise environment in local and rural communities. EI supported 71 High Potential Start-Ups in 2008, nine of which were located in Cork City and County, with a strong pipeline in place for 2009.

Other initiatives include tailored Enterprise Start Programmes, aimed at employees of multi-nationals, which are either down-sizing or closing, have proved very successful in Cork. A programme was run in 2007 for Motorola employees, with the second programme being run for Freescale Limited employees in Cork, when Freescale Limited terminated operations in Cork, in 2008. In 2009, another programme was run for employees from Pfizer. Enterprise Ireland continues to work with relevant agencies to assist companies in this area.

Redundancy Payments.

Simon Coveney

Question:

144 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Cork city and county waiting on redundancy payments from her; the length of time they have been waiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28032/09]

The specific information requested by the Deputy is not available to me however, the table outlines the number of redundancies notified to my Department for County Cork for the period 1 January 2009 to 30 June 2009 and may be of interest to the Deputy.

Currently, the average time it takes to process rebate applications from employers filed online is 6 months while claims submitted by post are taking 7 months. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees in instances where the employers are unable to pay the statutory redundancy entitlements, the current processing time, assuming all of the necessary supporting documentation is filed, is between 6 — 8 weeks.

Measures to deal with the huge influx of claims since January 2009 include:

the reassignment of 19.5 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 co-operation of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA);

The provision of better quality information relating to current processing times on the Department's website.

Actual number of statutory redundancies notified for the period 1/1/09 to 30/6/09

County: Cork

Month

Nos.

January

830

February

676

March

965

April

542

May

810

June

1,087

Total

4,910

State Agencies.

Denis Naughten

Question:

145 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 159 of 4 November 2008, the progress to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28061/09]

I understand from Enterprise Ireland that the position in relation to this matter is unchanged since my reply of 4 November 2008 to which the Deputy has referred in his Question.

Motor Industry.

Tom Hayes

Question:

146 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the consideration given to a scrappage scheme for cars older than ten years similar to that introduced in the UK in recent months; if an estimate of the revenue from such a scheme is available; the number of jobs that are at risk in that sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27150/09]

I am aware of the current challenges facing the motor industry, along with most other industries, arising from the impact of weak world economic activity. As the Deputy will be aware the Supplementary Budget announced the introduction of a VAT Margin Scheme for second-hand cars, with effect from 1 July 2009. Under the scheme, dealers would be taxed for VAT purposes on their margin (i.e. the difference between the prices at which the dealer purchased and subsequently resold a vehicle) in regard to second-hand cars they acquired and resold after that date. In conjunction with the introduction of the Margin Scheme, special transitional arrangements were to be put in place regarding second-hand cars in stock on the introduction of the scheme.

The Margin Scheme would have replaced the existing Special Scheme for second-hand cars, under which dealers/garages are entitled to immediate input credit for the residual VAT included in the price of a second-hand car acquired either through purchase or trade-in. Under the Special Scheme, dealers, when they resell the car, are required to repay this VAT input credit or VAT based on the resale price of the car, whichever is the greater.

Further discussions on the matter took place with SIMI and the motor industry decided, on balance, that it would not be in its overall best interest for the Margin Scheme to be introduced at that time. Consequently, the proposed Margin Scheme and transitional arrangements regarding existing stock of second-hand cars was not introduced in the 2009 Finance Act.

There will be ongoing dialogue over the coming months with SIMI as to what measures might be introduced to assist the motor industry, particularly with regard to removing the current stock of second-hand cars held by dealers. I have no plans to introduce a car scrappage scheme at this time.

Tax Code.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

147 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if he will grant an exemption to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [27066/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer has been exempted from making Income Tax Returns since 1999. If there are any further questions on the case contact should be made with Mr Diarmuid O'Connor, Revenue Commissioners, Revenue House, Blackpool, Cork. Telephone No. 021 6027506.

Consumer Debt.

Enda Kenny

Question:

148 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the level of consumer debt here; if he will indicate by sector, the extent of debt of house mortgages, hire-purchase loans, credit cards, and other secured or unsecured loans of a personal nature; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27095/09]

Private sector credit growth and debt levels are, in the first instance, a matter for the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland and details are published by the Bank in their Quarterly Bulletins.

Set out as follows is a breakdown of personal (consumer) debt outstanding at the end of the first quarter of 2009. Information is available for total personal sector lending, house mortgage finance, other housing finance, finance for investment and other personal lending including credit card debt, as compiled by the Central Bank. The Central Bank does not separately identify personal-sector hire purchase loans in the banks' returns.

€ million

Total Stock at end-Q1 2009

Total Personal Sector Lending

171,798

House mortgage finance

148,332

Other housing finance

899

Finance for investment

4,088

Other personal

18,480

of which: credit card debt

2,843

Source: Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland.

Departmental Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

149 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the amount of mobile telephone bills paid in relation to the Departmental mobile telephone assigned to him by his Department in each of the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the percentage or amount of same for each year which applies to data charges; the percentage or amount of same for each year which applies to roaming charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27119/09]

Since my appointment as Minister for Finance in May 2008, my Department has paid a fixed monthly sum which covers voice, data and roaming charges in respect of the mobile phone assigned to me by the Department of Finance.

Tax Code.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

150 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Finance if it is intended to apply Irish income tax as a top-up on salaries and allowances (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27165/09]

The position is that under the provisions of Article 13 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Communities salaries, wages and emoluments paid to designated officials and other servants of the Communities are liable to tax for the benefit of the Communities only and such income paid by the Communities is exempt from national taxes. Accordingly under European Law it is not open to levy additional national taxation on the income of designated officials and other servants of the Communities.

Departmental Expenditure.

Enda Kenny

Question:

151 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the accumulated cost of court cases taken by his Department in the past five years; the cost of each individual case; the nature of each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27180/09]

In general, my department and the offices under its aegis (the Office of Public Works, the Public Appointments Service, the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the State Laboratory and the Office of the Appeals Commissioner) use the services of the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor, for services of this nature. The cost of any cases taken by those offices on behalf of my Department is borne on their respective Votes and is not charged to my department.

The Valuation Office took three cases and the details of these are set out in the table:

Nature of Court Case

Cost of Court Case

Determination of Rateable Occupation

30,272.65

Rateability of Garden Centres/Nurseries

36,965.50

Rateability of Offices

No Costs

I assume that the Deputy does not have in mind the frequent initiation of legal proceedings by the Revenue Commissioners in the course of the exercise of their independent statutory responsibilities.

Property Valuations.

James Reilly

Question:

152 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance if he will postpone an increase in the rateable valuation of commercial properties or postpone the application of the increase in the rateable valuation of commercial properties for 30 months; if he has the authority to postpone such increases; the person who instructed the Rateable Valuations Office to carry out such a review; if he received representations from a council or council officials requesting that such a revaluation be postponed in the current economic recession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27218/09]

The revaluation exercise is governed by the terms of the Valuation Act 2001, which, among other things, provides that the specification of publication dates for valuation lists is a matter for the Commissioner of Valuation, who exercises that function by means of the making of Valuation Orders. In each case, the Valuation Order was made by the Commissioner of Valuation only after formal consultation with both the Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government and the rating authority concerned, as required by the Act. The Act further provides that the Commissioner shall be independent in the performance of his functions.

Tax Code.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

153 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the self employed income tax, and self employed PRSI contributions paid for the years 1992-93 and 1993-94 and previous years in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will request the Revenue Commissioners to make the record available. [27228/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the earliest Income Tax Return held for the taxpayer in question is in respect of the income tax year 6th April 1995 to 5th April 1996. Clarification is required on a number of issues and contact is being made with the taxpayer's agent regarding these matters. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Mr. Gerry Maher, who can be contacted at Revenue House, Blackpool, Cork Tel 021- 6027227, is dealing with the matter.

Finian McGrath

Question:

154 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will explain a matter (details supplied). [27347/09]

The Deputy will appreciate that this is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that for reasons of taxpayer confidentiality, they cannot comment on any tax issues relating to the transaction referred to.

Departmental Contracts.

Richard Bruton

Question:

155 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the value of contracts for printing and stationary issued each year by the centralised procurement facility; the number and value of each individual tender and the frequency with which they are put out for re-tendering and if he is satisfied that the size and duration of tenders, or, where tenders have been lost, to get an opportunity within a reasonable period to try again bearing in mind the considerable efforts to reduce costs which are underway throughout the small business sector; and if he will indicate the proportion of the total value of contracts which is currently delivered by Irish printers. [27373/09]

The Government Supplies Agency (GSA), a Business Unit of the Office of Public Works, provided a centralised procurement service to Government Departments, Offices and Agencies for a range of goods and services including printing and stationery. This service is provided principally by means of drawdown contracts, which set out prices, terms and conditions under which supplies are delivered; the various Departments, Offices and Agencies can purchase as required from the appointed contracts. These contracts are generally of two to three years duration — this has proven to be a reasonable period having regard to factors such as the protracted timescale involved in organising tender competitions, the requirement for a reasonable degree of certainty and stability (including price stability) for customers, the need for contracts to be of sufficient duration for suppliers to achieve an adequate return on investment, and the desire of unsuccessful tenderers to have new opportunities to compete for the business.

The expenditure on GSA contracts for printing & binding services and for stationary and office supplies in each of the past three years is as follows.

2006

2007

2008

Printing and Binding

9,374,092

11,157,120

10,874,780

Stationery and Office

5,206,031

4,916,286

4,998,888

Totals

14,580,123

16,073,406

15,873,668

Of the contracts for printing and binding services, the proportion delivered by Irish printers was 97.9% in 2006, 88.6% in 2007 and 88.1% in 2008.

The functions of the Government Supplies Agency have recently been subsumed by the National Public Procurement Operations Unit (NPPOU). This new Unit will provide procurement services to a much larger range of customers across the entire public sector. Before entering into any new contracts or agreements, the NPPOU will analyse both the supply markets and the level of demand for the various products and services, and will develop appropriate strategies for each individual market. This may entail changes in the nature and duration of the contractual arrangements which currently apply.

Disabled Drivers.

Noel Coonan

Question:

156 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Finance if he will expand the disabled drivers scheme to take account of other forms of disability not eligible under the scheme; the reason for not undertaking such an expansion; the last time a review or expansion of the scheme was carried out since the scheme was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27393/09]

A special Interdepartmental Review Group reviewed the operation of the Disabled Drivers Scheme. It examined the current benefits, the qualifying medical criteria, the Exchequer costs, relationship with other schemes and similar schemes in other countries. The report also made a number of recommendations, both immediate and long-term, referring respectively to the operation of the appeals process and options for the future development of the scheme. The Group's report is published on my Department's website.

Some 13,000 people benefited under the scheme in 2008 at an overall estimated cost of €76 million. Any changes would have to be considered in the context of the annual Budget.

Departmental Expenditure.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

157 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Finance the number of properties his Department has paid rent on in the past three years; if the rent on such properties is fixed; if such rents have been reviewed in the past year; if he has tried to negotiate the cost of rent downwards in the past year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27593/09]

I have been informed by the Office of Public Works that they manage around 500 leases on behalf of various Government Departments. The leases have an annual rental charge of €10,000 and above associated with 400 Properties/Buildings and relate to general office space, Garda Stations, Warehouses, Car parks, etc.

Details in respect of the properties rented on behalf of my Department by the Office of Public Works in the past three years are contained in the following tables.

Buildings No longer Occupied by Department of Finance

Building Name

Address

Location

Hatch Street 13-15

13-15 Hatch Street

Dublin 2

Nassau Building Setanta Centre

Nassau Street

Dublin 2

Buildings Currently Occupied by the Department of Finance

Building Name

Address

Location

Molesworth Building Setanta Centre

Molesworth Street/South Frederick Street

Dublin 2

Merrion Row 2-4

2/4 Merrion Row

Dublin 2

Finglas Finance Storage

Unit 9 Jamestown Business Park

Dublin 11

Le Pole House

Le Pole House

Dublin 8

I have been informed by the Office of Public Works that every lease agreement that they enter into has at the negotiation stages, the potential to have their own terms and conditions in respect of Rent Reviews, Lease Breaks , etc, that are specific to that lease. Generally with long term leases, Rent Reviews and Lease Breaks are on a five-year basis. Where agreement for Rent Reviews and Lease Breaks are included in the terms of a lease, due notice must be given before negotiations will be entered into. The Office of Public Works is not in a position to instigate Rent Reviews at will.

It should be noted that although a ‘Rent Review' date may be specified in terms of a lease, the actual review itself takes time. Negotiations have to take place during which various factors must be taken into account, such as the current market value at any given time, before a new rental figure is agreed. Negotiations can only take where the lease provides for such an event. Where a rent review arises, the Office of Public Works is entering negotiations with a view to effecting a reduction in rent.

Banking Sector.

Richard Bruton

Question:

158 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if an assessor has been appointed in respect of compensation for shareholders in Anglo Irish Bank; the basis on which the selection was made; the terms of reference; and if a date has been set for completion of the work. [27600/09]

Section 22 of the Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Act 2009 provides that I shall appoint an Assessor at an appropriate time having regard to the public interest, to determine the fair and reasonable aggregate value of the transferred shares and extinguished rights and the consequent amount of compensation, if any, that may be payable to persons in respect of Anglo shares transferred and rights extinguished under the Act. The Act provides that the Assessor has significant knowledge or experience of the financial services sector and has no material conflicts of interests with the performance of the Assessor's function.

The Act sets out certain criteria regarding the performance of the Assessor functions such as that he or she is independent, shall act as an expert only, and shall perform the functions of the Assessor as expeditiously as possible consistent with fairness.

It is my intention to advance the process for the appointment of the Assessor and I expect to announce the person to be appointed in due course.

Departmental Property.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

159 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the number of Office of Public Works owned buildings at a complex (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [27646/09]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

160 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance further to a previous parliamentary questions, if he will provide this Deputy with more information as to the amount of rental default in relation to a centre (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27647/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 and 160 together.

There are only two buildings at Northside Civic Centre, the Civic Centre proper and a smaller building which was purposely designed as a crèche. The Civic Centre building is occupied by the following organisations:-

Department of Social and Family Affairs, Health Service Executive, FÁS, The Media Co-op, Citizens Information Centre, Northside Law Centre, MABS, Dublin City Council, Northside Partnership/Local Employment Service and OPW. The areas of the centre described as occupied by OPW comprise the common areas, meeting rooms, centre manager's office etc. In addition, occasional use is made of one room in the centre by the Dublin Rape CrisisCentre.

The Civic Centre building is fully occupied with the exception of a small area — 4.72% of the premises — which was recently vacated by the Probation and Welfare Service. As to the future use of the Complex there are no plans to depart from the current use. With regard to the crèche, arrangements are currently being pursued to bring it into operation.

The legalities involved in the transfer of the site of the Civic Centre from Dublin City Council are ongoing and, as they are yet to be finalised, it is still not possible to formalise tenancy details, including rent. As the Deputy has been previously informed, the occupiers were advised at the outset of indicative rents, and, when the legalities of the transfer from Dublin City Council to OPW are complete and the necessary tenancy details formalised, all outstanding monies will be sought.

Financial Services.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

161 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 187 of 6 May 2009, if the Financial Regulator has advised in relation to the position of persons on fixed rate mortgages who incur financial penalties if they opt to change to variable rate mortgages; the nature of such advice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27709/09]

The Deputy's question refers to the redemption fee applied by mortgage providers in circumstances where a customer seeks to break a fixed rate mortgage. On 26 March 2009 I undertook to contact the Consumer Director of the Financial Regulator about these fees. As a result the Financial Regulator carried out a review, a report of which has been submitted to my Department. The Financial Regulator asked for specific information from the mortgage lenders. This included the submission of independent actuarial reports based on the formulae applied by the different lenders. The FR's review based on the information that it had received concludes that lenders are not applying unjustified penalties intended to dissuade borrowers from early redemption of fixed rate mortgages. The principal findings indicate that the early redemption fee calculation in all cases appears to seek to cover the costs and lenders do not generally apply additional fees in the case of early redemption. However, a number of the reports received highlighted certain issues that will require follow-up. Additional work is being carried out by the Financial Regulator with regard to the information provided by institutions, which will include consideration of the mortgage funding models employed by them.

Departmental Funding.

Michael Ring

Question:

162 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if he will ascertain from the Office of Public Works the funding it will provide for a project (details supplied) in County Mayo. [27717/09]

The Office of Public Works has no responsibility for the maintenance of the River Deal or the access road in the area concerned. However, the Office of Public Works has had various meetings and discussions with Mayo Co. Council and is prepared to make a "once off" financial contribution in this case on hardship grounds due to the age and circumstances of the applicants.

Mayo Co. Council proposes to construct an alternative access road for these clients as part of a Local Improvement Scheme and the Office of Public Works are prepared to make a contribution of 1/3 of the cost of these works up to a limit of €20,000.

Architectural Heritage.

Pat Breen

Question:

163 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 5 of 8 April 2009, if he will report on the progress regarding a site (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27732/09]

The Office of Public Works is addressing the matter of signage advertising the opening times of Quin Abbey. Arrangements are being made to provide access to the car park during opening times of the Abbey.

Departmental Expenditure.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

164 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money spent on paying delegates allowance to officials for each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27740/09]

Civil servants who travel outside Ireland and Britain as members of a delegation representing Ireland at meetings of the EU or other international organisations, or with representatives of another government or governments, qualify for payment of a delegate's allowance. Additional payments are made to those who act as Chairpersons of EU committees or Working Groups during Ireland's tenure of the EU Presidency.

Travel abroad for the purposes of attendance at training courses, fact-finding or familiarisation visits, seminars or meetings held solely to exchange information does not qualify for payment of delegate's allowance.

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

Department/Office

2006

2007

2008

2009 (up to 3 July)

Finance

64,361.58

61,761.71

70,538.36

29,798.98

Revenue Commissioners

66,156.03

73,373.86

96,245.03

42,271.45

Office of Public Works

9,593.74

Nil

589.21

Nil

State Laboratory

9,212.23

6,925.13

9,158.86

6,640.82

Ombudsman

Nil

259.78

Nil

Nil

Valuation Office

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Appeals Commissioners

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Public Appointments Service

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Commission for Public Service Appointments

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Comptroller and Auditor General

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Departmental Contracts.

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

165 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Finance the steps being taken to allow companies tender for Government business, taking into account the fact that the €3,000,000 turnover requirement is precluding many Irish companies from tendering for public contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27761/09]

There is no €3,000,000 turnover requirement for companies to tender for public contracts. A general requirement of this kind would be inappropriate.

However, it is essential that contractors performing any public contract be of sufficiently sound economic and financial standing. The general position is that criteria used to determine the appropriate level of financial capacity must be proportionate and relevant to the needs of the particular contract. Company turnover can be one measure of financial capacity but contracting authorities have other means of obtaining the necessary evidence to satisfy themselves in this regard, such as extracts from balance sheets, banker's letters and proof of access to professional indemnity, public liability and employer liability insurance and performance bonds.

Tax Code.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

166 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the status of a review of tax paid on maternity benefit for a person (details supplied); when the person can expect to received a reply from the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27784/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a claim for tax relief on the Maternity Benefit from the person in question was received on 29th June 2007. The claim was processed and a repayment cheque for €1,168.76 issued to the taxpayer on the 12th July 2007. This cheque was cashed on the 16th July 2007.

The recent claim submitted by the taxpayer is a duplicate of the earlier claim therefore no further repayment is due.

Tax Collection.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

167 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the status of a refund of emergency tax in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27785/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a Form P45 for the tax year 2007 was received from the taxpayer's former employer on 2 July 2009. Based on this submission, a tax review initiated on that date resulted in an overpayment of emergency tax in the amount of €1,046.58. Repayment cheque will issue within five days.

National Monuments.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 31 of 2 December 1987 and 106 of 27 January 1988, the full extent of national monuments, listed sites, buildings or historic ruins in County Kildare which are in the guardianship of the Office of Public Works or otherwise protected by State, to which the public has access under various statutes including the National Monuments Amendment Act 1994; the degree to which the State carries out protective or improvement works in such cases; if the public right of way or right of access to such sites is preserved and protected; the extent to which such rights, if not already established, will be acquired voluntarily or compulsorily; the extent to which Rathcoffey Castle, County Kildare falls within the remit of the Commissioners of Public Works; the extent to which the structure, access thereto and right of way is preserved and protected or will be preserved and protected by the OPW for the purpose of the heritage preservation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28012/09]

The Office of Public Works is responsible for the day to day operational management of some 750 National Monuments in the ownership or guardianship of the State. The following lists these National Monuments in County Kildare.

Monument

Townland

Status

Access Status

Round Tower

Taghadoe

Ownership

Total access

High Crosses, Round Tower

Old Kilcullen

Ownership

Total access

Round Tower, Church

Oughterard

Ownership

Total access

Castledermot Abbey (Fran)

Abbeyland

Ownership

Total access

Castle, Church, Cross

Kilteel Upper

Ownership

Limited access through local keyholder

Standing Stone

Punchestown Great

Ownership

No access

Furness Church

Forenaghts Great

Guardianship

No access

Castle

Rathcoffey Demesne

Guardianship

No access

Round Tower, Crosses

Castledermot

Guardianship

Total access

Castle

Maynooth

Ownership

Access during tourist season

St. John’s Tower

Skenagun

Guardianship

Access with permission of owner

Manorial House

Jigginstown

Ownership

Total access (following the completion of conservation works)

Church & Graveyard (Monastic site)

Taghadoe

Ownership

Total access

Ringfort

Mullaghreelan (Athy Forest)

Ownership

Total access

Grange Castle

Grange West

Ownership

Restricted access

Conolly’s Folly

Barrogstown West

Ownership

Total access (following the completion of conservation works)

An annual programme of works is carried out to effect the required maintenance, repairs and conservation measures identified under a systematic inspection programme of Monuments.

The prime function of the State under the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004, is the protection and preservation of National Monuments Where a monument in State care is situated on private lands, the Office of Public Works, in conjunction with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government take into account factors, such as safety, impact on adjoining properties, security of the site, etc., when considering trying to obtain access to such monuments.

The gatehouse at Rathcoffey Castle was placed in the guardianship of the State in 1941. The guardianship deed, that conferred on the Commissioners of Public Works the responsibility for the maintenance of the gatehouse structure only, did not include a provision for a public right of way.

Public Service Contracts.

Sean Fleming

Question:

169 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the value of an individual public contract that must go to tender under EU procurement rules; if pre-selection criteria are relevant in all such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28017/09]

The current thresholds above which public contracts must be awarded in accordance with EU public procurement directives are for works contracts €5,150,000; for supplies and services contracts of Government Departments — €133,000; for supplies and services contracts of other public bodies — €206,000; for supplies and services contracts of entities in the utilities sector — €412,000.

The directives provide for the pre-selection of tenderers to participate in a tendering process. The purpose is to ensure that only tenderers who have the necessary technical expertise and capacity to perform the contract are awarded public contracts. The level of expertise and capacity for pre-selection must be proportionate and relevant to the needs of the contract.

Contracting authorities have the choice of pre-qualifying tenderers in a one stage or two stage tendering procedure. In a one stage open procedure, candidates are given all the tender documentation, including the necessary minimum capacity requirements, and invited to submit tenders. Procurement guidelines require that minimum conditions are made clear to avoid unqualified bidders incurring the expense of preparing and submitting tenders. Alternatively, contracting authorities may choose a two stage process whereby, as a first step, interested parties are asked to provide details of their capacity and expertise after which only those who meet the necessary standard are invited to submit tenders.

While the public procurement directives set out the relevant criteria and procedures for pre-qualification of tenderers for contracts covered by the directives, the principles of pre-qualifying suitable tenderers apply for all public contracts.

House Repossessions.

Simon Coveney

Question:

170 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance the number of homes which have been repossessed during the past 12 months in Cork City and County in tabular form. [28026/09]

Figures supplied by Cork Circuit Court to the Courts Service show 25 orders granted for possession of residential premises in the 12 months to end June 2009. 18 were for the county and seven for the city. The Deputy may wish to note that orders for possession do not necessarily equate with actual repossessions. It is up to the person or company who obtained the order for possession to pursue its execution.

In addition possession orders may also have been granted by the High Court for residential premises in Cork City and County. However the High Court is unable to supply such statistics to the Courts Service.

Banking Sector.

Simon Coveney

Question:

171 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance the value of the deposit base in Anglo Irish Bank at present compared to pre-nationalisation. [28027/09]

According to Anglo Irish Bank's last published accounts in advance of nationalisation, as at 31 September 2008, the deposit base of the bank — made up of retail deposits, non-retail deposits, and deposits from banks — was €71.9 billion.

According to Anglo's latest published accounts, as at 31 March 2009, the bank's deposit base was €64.6 billion, again made up of retail deposits, non-retail deposits and deposits from banks. Deposits from banks includes funding from Central Bank sources.

The Deputy will appreciate that, as with any financial institution, information on Anglo's financial position, other than that in the bank's published accounts, is market sensitive.

Departmental Staff.

Simon Coveney

Question:

172 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance the number of people who have availed of the early retirement scheme as announced by him in budget 2009 in tabular form; the sections of the public service they are from; and the level of position they held. [28028/09]

Officials from my Department are currently engaged in a process of collecting the necessary information that is required to provide a fuller answer to this Parliamentary Question from the line Departments. It is anticipated that this information will be available shortly and I will be writing to Deputy Coveney in the near future.

The information to hand indicates that, by the end of June, some 400 civil servants had applied to the Incentivised Scheme for Early Retirement and that sanction had been conveyed in some 213 cases. Furthermore, there had been some 17 applications from public servants. Departments are reporting a high level of queries about the scheme. It is anticipated therefore, at this stage, that significantly higher numbers of applications will be received by the time of the closing date on 1 September next, although, at this stage, it is not possible to quantify the likely number of applicants.

Simon Coveney

Question:

173 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance the number of people who have availed of the career break scheme as announced by him in budget 2009 in tabular form; the sections of the public service they are from; and the level of position they held. [28029/09]

Officials from my Department are currently engaged in a process of collecting the necessary information that is required to provide a fuller answer to this Parliamentary Question from the line Departments. It is anticipated that this information will be available shortly and I will be writing to Deputy Coveney in the near future.

The information to hand indicates that, by the end of June, nearly 300 civil servants had applied to the Special Incentive Career Break Scheme. The closing date of the scheme for civil servants was 1 July 2009. Other areas of the public service have set later dates for applications so that the overall impact of the scheme cannot be assessed until later this year. The HSE has suspended the scheme because several Trades Union have instructed their members not to co-operate with redeployments arising from the operation of the schemes outlined in the supplementary budget.

Civil Service Confined Competitions.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

174 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to the panel created as a result of a Public Service Commission confined executive officer competition 2006 which expired on 30 June 2009; the number of persons who remained on that panel; his views on sanctioning further promotions from this panel at this stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28034/09]

The Department of Finance Circular 26/2006 sets out details of a confined competition for promotion to Executive Officer in the Civil Service. In accordance with normal procedure in respect of promotion to this grade, the circular was agreed with the Civil and Public Services Union.

The terms of the circular did not envisage appointments being made from the competition after 30 June 2008. For operational reasons, my Department agreed with the CPSU to the extension of the panel until 30 June 2009.

In the context of the implementation of savings measures on public service numbers, in March 2009 the Government announced a moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public service. Having regard to the moratorium, my Department decided that it would not be appropriate to seek any further extension to the panel set up under Circular 26/2006 and the panel closed on 30 June 2009. This is in line with the policy applying to promotion panels for other Civil Service grades where panels for promotion to the grades of higher executive officer, assistant principal officer and principal officer have also closed in recent months.

The Public Appointments Service informs me that in order to be placed on the panel candidates must be successful at all stages of the selection process. In the competition in question, 110 candidates were appointed from the panel and 50 remained unassigned on the closure date of the panel. It is not possible to make an appointment from a panel that has expired.

Departmental Staff.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

175 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Finance the vacancies which have been filled and promotions sanctioned at all grades in all Government Departments and offices by him since the announcement of the moratorium on recruitment and promotions in the Public Service in March 2009; the basis on which these vacancies and promotions were sanctioned; if he will provide a list of these sanctioned vacancies and promotions showing the relevant Department or office, the grades involved and the dates the vacancies were filled and promotions made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28035/09]

The information to hand indicates that, by the end of June, the Department of Finance had received approximately 620 applications for the filling of specific posts comprehended by the moratorium, of which, the filling of 191 have been sanctioned. Of these Civil Service full-time posts accounted for 103 applications of which sanctions was conveyed in 69 cases. The filling of Public Service posts accounts for some 517 posts and sanction has been conveyed in 122 cases.

Tax Code.

Denis Naughten

Question:

176 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance his plans to tax child benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28053/09]

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

Tax Collection.

Denis Naughten

Question:

177 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if he will review the VAT rate on defibrillators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27638/09]

The Deputy will be aware that in matters relating to the VAT rating of goods and services, I am constrained by the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply.

In relation to the VAT rate that applies to defibrillators, the position is that under the VAT directive, member states may retain the zero rates on goods and services which were in place on 1 January 1991, but cannot extend the zero rate to new goods and services. The zero VAT rate cannot therefore be applied to defibrillators which are subject to the standard rate.

In addition, member states may only apply the reduced VAT rate to those goods and services which are listed under Annex III of the VAT directive. While Annex III does include the supply of medical equipment for the exclusive personal use of a disabled person, it does not include defibrillators for general use. The reduced rate cannot be applied to the supply of defibrillators.

Therefore the only rate of VAT that can apply to the supply of defibrillators is the standard VAT rate.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

178 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the number of private hospitals which have been constructed and which are under construction with the assistance of tax incentives since such incentives were introduced; the number of beds thus provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26312/09]

The scheme of capital allowances for the construction or refurbishment of buildings used as private hospitals was introduced in the Finance Act 2001 and came into effect in May 2002. Under the legislation governing that scheme hospitals are required to be certified by the HSE as satisfying the qualifying conditions of the scheme. My Department's records show that five hospitals have been certified since the introduction of the scheme. These hospitals have indicated a capacity to provide in excess of 500 beds, including day care beds.

As regards hospitals which are under construction, capital allowances can be claimed for qualifying expenditure on the construction or refurbishment of buildings used as private hospitals only when the relevant facilities have been completed and become operational. Provided hospitals, either planned or under construction, are certified in due course, as private hospitals meeting the necessary qualifying conditions and also satisfy the criteria under the transitional arrangements for the termination of the scheme detailed below, qualifying expenditure can be written off against an investor's tax liability at the rate of 15% per annum for the first six years with the remaining 10% in year seven. It is not possible to say at this point, however, how many hospital projects in the pipeline will qualify under the scheme.

As announced in the budget on 7 April last and as reflected in section 8 of the Finance Act 2009, this scheme is to terminate on 31 December 2009 along with certain other health-related capital allowances schemes, subject to transitional arrangements for pipeline projects. Under the transitional arrangements, if certain qualifying criteria are met, the termination date for qualifying expenditure is extended.

The qualifying conditions depend on the type of work to be carried out and whether or not the work requires planning permission. Where the work to be carried out does not require planning permission, the termination date is 30 June 2010 so long as at least 30% of the construction or refurbishment costs have been incurred on or before 31 December 2009.

Where planning permission is required in respect of the work to be carried out, the qualifying condition for a termination date beyond 31 December 2009 is that a valid application for full planning permission be submitted on or before that date and be acknowledged by the relevant planning authority. In such cases, the termination date for qualifying expenditure in the case of qualifying hospitals is 31 December 2013. Thus, where planning permission for a private hospital has already been obtained, Finance Act 2009 provides for qualifying expenditure to be incurred up to 31 December 2013.

Tax Code.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

179 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the status of the parking space at work levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25069/09]

Consultations between my Department and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with regard to the implementation of the levy are well advanced and details of its introduction will be announced shortly.

As previously indicated, the levy will apply in the five urban areas of Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Within these urban areas, regard will be had to factors such as, the availability of public transport, the level of congestion in the relevant parts of those cities, and the relative value of the car parking spaces.

Each employee who has an entitlement to use a parking space provided directly or indirectly by his or her employer is liable to pay the levy, there is no distinction in this regard between private sector and public sector employees. Certain official cars owned or provided by the State, the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and certain other services such as the fire and ambulance service and the Customs service are excluded.

Departmental Reports.

Willie Penrose

Question:

180 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the terms of reference of the credit supply steering group; when it is expected that the steering group will report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27433/09]

In the context of the recapitalisation of AIB and Bank of Ireland, the recapitalised banks agreed to fund and co-operate with an independent review of credit availability to be managed jointly by the banks, Government and business representatives. The intention behind the review was to obtain a clear picture regarding the flow of credit in the Irish economy which will inform future policy. The steering group for the review consisted of representatives of the Departments of Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Forfás, Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Banking Federation and the six main banks involved in lending to SMEs, business representatives from ISME, Chambers Ireland and Small Firms Association. It was this steering group who were initially tasked with setting the terms of reference for the independent review of bank lending. The final report of the Review of Lending to SMEs has now been received and shortly will be published. The complete terms of reference are included in the report, which will be made available on my Department's website once published.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Tom Hayes

Question:

181 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of negotiations with Vietnam in relation to the interim agreement on inter-country adoption and the new bi-lateral agreement on inter-country adoption; the length of time before she has finished negotiating on both; and if she will make a statement on the delays experienced by families to date. [27166/09]

Alan Shatter

Question:

189 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the outcome of the visit of her Minister of State for Children to Vietnam to put in place a new agreement with regard to inter-country adoption; the arrangements agreed; when the licence of an agency (details supplied) will be renewed by the Vietnamese authorities; when new arrangements will come into operation; if she will clarify any remaining issues that require to be resolved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28590/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

190 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in the case of inter-country adoption between Ireland and Vietnam, has either country cancelled the agreement in writing; if so, when; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27067/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

205 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children when the new bilateral agreement with Vietnam will be signed; if an interim agreement is being worked on; the progress on both the bilateral agreement and the interim agreement; the number of staff that are allocated to resolving this issue; the number of families that are waiting for these agreements in order that their adoptions can be completed; and the length of time she expects that the parents here and children in orphanages will have to wait. [27152/09]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

234 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the delays in relation to the signing of a new interim agreement for adoption with Vietnam; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27335/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 181, 189, 190, 205 and 234 together.

I have, in recent weeks, reported in detail to both Houses on the situation regarding the negotiation of a new bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This process has been on-going since the start of 2008 and the dialogue with the Vietnamese authorities is continuing.

In light of concerns raised by other countries during 2008, the Government decided that it was necessary to seek a strengthening of the bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. With the publication of the Adoption Bill, 2009, on 23 January last, it was also considered necessary to ensure that both the content of any such agreement and its implementation would meet the minimum standards set out in that Bill and under the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption.

Article 25 of the former agreement between Ireland and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam stipulated that the agreement would be automatically extended for a further five-year term unless one state notified the other state to the contrary six months before the expiry of the agreement on 1 May, 2009. The Government decided that, given the changes to Irish adoption legislation being introduced by the Adoption Bill, the agreement could not be allowed to ‘roll over' in its present form for another five years. As a result, the Government was obliged to formally notify the Vietnamese authorities of the fact that there could be no automatic renewal of the agreement when its five-year term came to a close. This formal notification, made via Third Party Note (TPN) No. 185, was conveyed through diplomatic channels to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 30 October 2008, on foot of the Government Decision of 29 October, 2008.

As the Deputies are undoubtedly aware, I have just returned from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, where I met with the Vietnamese Minister for Justice on 30 June last to discuss international adoption issues. There were follow-up discussions on these issues with the Standing Vice-Minister at the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice and with the newly appointed Director of the Vietnamese Department of Adoptions and his deputy, as well as a number of informal meetings.

During the discussions, careful consideration was given to possible interim arrangements for inter-country adoptions between both jurisdictions. The Vietnamese side clarified that their legal requirements were such that this was not considered to be an appropriate option. Therefore, it was proposed to continue the focus on a new bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement.

I would like to again reiterate the point that both countries remain firmly committed to concluding a new bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement. Work on the draft text of a new agreement, which was previously circulated in March of this year and discussed the following month, is continuing. Good progress has been made in the past week and, during the course of the talks in Hanoi, it was agreed that further face-to-face discussions to resolve outstanding issues should take place in August.

However, it is still not possible for me to either give a precise timetable to the House or anticipate when the discussions with the Vietnamese Government on a new bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement and associated matters will be concluded. The negotiations remain live and officials from my Office, from the Office of the Attorney General, from the Department of Foreign Affairs and from the Adoption Board are working on all outstanding issues with a view to preparing a final text for a new agreement as a matter of urgency.

I am acutely aware of the stress and anxiety that this process has caused to many prospective adoptive parents. I am given to understand that, at present, approximately 360 couples have registered with the Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency and are hoping to adopt from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

I can assure the Deputies that work regarding a new bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam continues to be given the very highest priority by my Office.

Tom Hayes

Question:

182 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of negotiations with Russia in relation to the interim agreement on inter-country adoption and the new bi-lateral agreement on inter-country adoption; the length of time before she has finished negotiating on both; and if she will make a statement on the delays experienced by families to date. [27167/09]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

188 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the adoption agreement with Russia; the number of post-placement reports which are outstanding in each of the Health Service Executive regions; her plans to resolve this matter and ensure that prospective parents who have received letters of commitment will be able to proceed with the adoption of a child from Russia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28375/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

191 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of post placement records which are outstanding in the case of inter-country adoption with Russia; when they will be completed; when adoption with Russia will resume; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27068/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 182, 188 and 191 together.

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

Under the proposed new legislative regime, prospective adoptive parents will be able to adopt from countries that have ratified the Hague Convention as well as from those countries with which Ireland has a bi-lateral agreement based on Hague standards. As part of the preparations for the likely passage and entry into force of these new legislative arrangements, my Office has been liaising with the Department of Foreign Affairs to identify and negotiate with countries who continue to seek homes abroad for children in need of alternative care that cannot be provided domestically. We are working actively to assess the possibilities of entering into bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreements with a small number of countries, including with the Russian Federation.

Ireland has no official bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement in place with the Russian Federation. However, preparatory work to consider the contents of a draft agreement with the Russian authorities is currently being undertaken. Officials in both my Office and the Department of Foreign Affairs have been taking soundings in relation to inter-country adoption in the Russian Federation since April 2008. This has included contacts with the Irish Embassy in Moscow and legal and other preparatory work on the possibility of a draft bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement between the two countries. A first formal meeting, arranged with the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs, was held on 7 May, 2009, between officials from my Office and from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ireland. I will continue to advance this matter with the assistance of my colleague Minister Martin and of his officials in both Dublin and Moscow.

While every effort will be made to conclude a bi-lateral inter-country Adoption Agreement with the Russian Federation, it must be acknowledged that this matter will be determined to a considerable degree by the Government of the Russian Federation.

With regard to the issue of post-placement reports, an extensive examination of the list of alleged "missing" post-placement reports has been carried out by the Health Service Executive and the Adoption Board. While I await the final numbers, which are expected shortly, 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.

1,229 children from the Russian Federation have had their names entered into the Register of Foreign Adoptions in the period between 1991 and 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 that these statistics make it clear that the vast majority of parents are complying with the commitment that they gave to co-operate with such reports and, also, that they are being fully assisted in doing so by the Health Service Executive 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.

I acknowledge that persons applying for inter-country adoption are experiencing delays with regard to waiting times for assessment and am also acutely aware of the stress and anxiety that this process has caused to many prospective adoptive parents. The Adoption Bill, which has now passed all stages in the Seanad, provides for an updated and more standardised regime of assessment and mediation services across the country that will assist in the reduction of waiting times in areas where these are longest.

Tom Hayes

Question:

183 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of negotiations with China in regard to inter-country adoption; and if she will make a statement on the delays experienced by families to date. [27168/09]

As the Deputy is aware, the Adoption Bill 2009, which will give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption, was published on 23 January 2009. Under the proposed new legislative regime, prospective adoptive parents will be able to adopt from countries that have ratified the Hague Convention as well as from those countries with which Ireland has a bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement based on Hague standards.

Ireland has no official bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement in place with the People's Republic of China.

Currently, an administrative arrangement operates between Ireland and the Chinese Government with regard to adoption. The People's Republic of China is a contracting State under the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Inter-country Adoption and, as such, a bi-lateral inter-country adoption agreement is not, and will not, be required between both jurisdictions.

I acknowledge that persons applying for inter-country adoption are experiencing delays with regard to waiting times for assessment and am also acutely aware of the stress and anxiety that this process has caused to many prospective adoptive parents. The Adoption Bill, which has now passed all stages in the Seanad, provides for an updated and more standardised regime of assessment and mediation services across the country that will assist in the reduction of waiting times in areas where these are longest.

Departmental Schemes.

Michael Noonan

Question:

184 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the arrangements being put in pace to enable families who wish to apply for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance in 2009; when details of the scheme will be advertised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27625/09]

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

Youth Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

185 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if consideration will be given to an application for funding by an organisation (details supplied) for the appointment of a youth officer in 2009. [27678/09]

An application on behalf of the Fethard Area Youth Project was received in 2008 to be considered for funding under the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, which then operated under the Department of Education and Science, but due to the large number of applications received and the limited funding available it was not possible to provide the funding requested.

The 2009 budget allocation for youth work services is over €48 million, a decrease of some 8% on the 2008 figure. In light of budgetary constraints it is intended that the 2009 Youth Affairs budget will continue to focus on supporting existing programmes and services for young people including those with fewer opportunities. In that context, the Youth Affairs Unit of my Department is not in a position to consider any new applications for admission to this scheme in the current year.

Health Services.

Willie Penrose

Question:

186 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children when the appeal against a decision to disallow domiciliary care allowance for a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be heard and determined; if steps will be taken to pay a pro rata share of the said respite care grant to this person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27765/09]

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.

Pre-School Services.

Simon Coveney

Question:

187 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of pre-school places she expects to provide by December 2009. [28030/09]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

283 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of places available for pre-school provision based on the number of play-schools which have to date opted to join the new State play-school free scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27846/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 187 and 283 together.

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

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

The age at which children commence primary school varies depending on a number of factors and, for this reason, the scheme provides for a 15 month age range for eligibility. The number of children who avail of the scheme in January 2010 could, therefore, exceed the number of children who would be expected to commence primary school in September 2010. However, this is not expected to be the case and it is estimated that the maximum number of children who will avail of the scheme in January 2010 will be 65,000. This figure takes account of data sources including the live births register, the 2006 census of population and the number of enrolments in junior infant classes in recent years. For a number of reasons, in particular those outlined below, it is anticipated that the actual take-up of places under the scheme in January 2010, will not amount to the full cohort of 65,000 and will be closer to 60,000.

Up to 3,000 children are expected to continue to avail of pre-school provision within full and part-time pre-school services supported under the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS). The CCSS provides significant support funding for disadvantaged parents using community childcare services.

International experience suggests that, it can take some time to achieve a full participation rate when schemes of this type are introduced. Assuming a high participation rate of 95% in the first year, rather than a 100% participation rate, would further reduce the anticipated demand for places in January 2010 by some 3,000.

As is the case with fee-paying primary schools a minority of parents may choose to send their children to pre-school services which opt to remain outside the ECCE scheme. Assuming the number of children attending such pre-schools will mirror the number at children entering private primary schools, the demand for places will be reduced by a further 1,000 places.

Given the rise in the birth rate between 2005 and 2008, the number of places required under the scheme is expected to increase in September 2010 and during 2011-2012.

Applications to the scheme are made, in the first instance, to the 33 City-County Childcare Committees (CCCs). Over the course of the last three weeks, the CCCs have provided weekly returns to my Office of the numbers of applications received. These show the following:

19 June: 4,517 places;

26 June: 19,253 places;

3 July: 1,033 places.

Past experience suggests that many applications are made in the week prior to the closing date for acceptance. While the closing date for applications is 10 July, late applications will be considered where good cause for the late application is demonstrated. However, as some counties already show a supply of places which exceeds the expected demand, in these counties late applications will be accepted on an exceptional basis only. Based on the rate of applications to date, I am confident that the total number of places available in pre-schools applying to enter the scheme will more than meet the number of places required.

From the time of the budget announcement, I have stated clearly that there may be a small number of areas where the demand for places will exceed the supply. My Office and the CCCs will continue to monitor the situation between now and September 2010 when the first full year of the scheme will take effect and I am confident that the scheme will encourage new pre-school services in areas where a need for additional places is demonstrated.

Question No. 188 answered with Question No. 182.
Question Nos. 189 and 190 answered with Question No. 181.
Question No. 191 answered with Question No. 182.

Medical Cards.

Jack Wall

Question:

192 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27084/09]

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

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

193 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will intervene in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan. [27090/09]

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

Tom Hayes

Question:

194 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the facilities available for drug and alcohol addition treatment for minors here; the number of places available annually for children in that situation; the average length of time for persons on the waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27109/09]

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

Departmental Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

195 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of mobile telephone bills paid in respect of the departmental mobile telephone assigned to her by her Department in each of the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the percentage or amount of same for each year which applies to data charges; the percentage or amount of same for each year which applies to roaming charges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27121/09]

The costs of roaming charges and data charges paid in relation to the departmental mobile telephone assigned to me in 2007, 2008 and 2009 are detailed in the table:

Year

Roaming charges

Data Charges

Total Charges

2007

1,193.00

1,198.24

5,409.73

2008

2,247.95

1,631.05

6,288.30

2009 to date

374.16

603.36

2,214.00

Child Care Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

196 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of funding being provided to a company (details supplied) to operate the Emergency Place of Safety Service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27126/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

197 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regrading the Health Service Executive process of linking all existing emergency care services with the Emergency Place of Safety Service through the central telephone number of a company (details supplied); the cost of operating this central telephone number; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27127/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

198 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children each carer family, contracted by a company (details supplied) for the Emergency Place of Safety Service will be allowed to care for at any given time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27128/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

199 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of times the Garda Síochána has requested a placement for a child under the Emergency Place of Safety Service since its inception; and the number of children who have been given a placement under the EPSS since its inception. [27129/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 to 199, inclusive, together.

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

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

200 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the aspects of the Health Service Executive national inter-cultural health strategy which have not been implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27130/09]

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

Children in Care.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

201 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has consulted with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on developing an appropriate inspection scheme for the under 18 age group in St. Patrick’s Institution; the details of these discussions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27132/09]

As indicated to the Deputy in my response dated 25 June 2009, it is my intention to consult with my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in relation to this matter.

Health Service Executive Reports.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

202 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of reports which have been conducted by either the Health Service Executive or former health boards during the past 20 years which have not been published or have only been published in redacted form; the subjects of these reports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27133/09]

As the Deputy's question refers to information held by the Health Service Executive and the former health boards, it has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Departmental Investigations.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

203 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will instruct the Health Service Executive to publish the recommendations of the reports into the deaths of persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27134/09]

I advised the Deputy in my reply to a Parliamentary Question of 25 June on this matter that I had asked the HSE to advise me on the potential for publication by the HSE of the key findings of the reports where they relate to service provision generally and with a view to informing the development of child welfare and protection policy and services. The HSE believes it is feasible to publish the findings and recommendations in so far as they relate to service development/improvement while at the same time maintaining the right to privacy of children and families. The HSE is developing a framework that will take into account the requirements of publishing the final review reports, implementing the recommendations and applying the learning. This work will be completed shortly and will inform the publication of any review report involving a child including those referenced by the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

John McGuinness

Question:

204 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an early date for an operation at Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Dublin, will be arranged in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27145/09]

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

Question No. 205 answered with Question No. 181.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Tom Hayes

Question:

206 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason that an agency (details supplied) has had its licence revoked; if this is a permanent measure; the actions that are being taken to help parents and children associated with this agency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27156/09]

As the Deputy is aware, I was informed by the Department of Foreign Affairs on 12 June last that the Vietnamese licence held by the Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency had been revoked by the Vietnamese authorities. The Government had previously requested that this licence be suspended rather than revoked in light of the on-going discussions with Vietnamese officials on a strengthened bilateral inter-country adoption agreement. Unfortunately, in the absence of a full agreement between Ireland and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Vietnamese Government was not in a position to make any exception to the granting of a licence to Helping Hands.

I subsequently advised the representative groups on these developments, and the applicants involved were also contacted by Helping Hands. Despite these events, I must emphasise that all of the applicants who have already received a referral in respect of a child from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will have their applications processed to conclusion, and applicants will be supported by Helping Hands in that process, by agreement with the Vietnamese authorities.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a sovereign state and the decisions that it makes regarding the internal regulation and management of its adoption services must be treated sensitively as appropriate to a sovereign state.

The reinstatement of the Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency's licence would be a necessary part of any new bilateral inter-country adoption agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. I can assure the Deputy that the work to prepare for and advise the Government on a strengthened bilateral inter-country adoption agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has been given, and continues to be given, the very highest priority by my Office.

Pre-School Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

207 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 127 and 128 of 27 May 2009, if in view of the fact that most children commence school at around five years of age, the reason the cut off age for this scheme is not five years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27170/09]

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 be implemented in January 2010.

Children will be eligible to avail of the scheme if they are aged between three years three months and four years six months on 1 September each year. Those entering the scheme in January 2010 will be eligible if they are aged between three years seven months and four years ten months at that time. Exceptions to the upper age limit will be allowed where children are assessed by the HSE to have special needs or it is necessary to accept children at an older age due to the enrolment policy of the local primary school.

As the Deputy notes, most but not all children commence primary school at around five years of age. The provision of a 15 month age range for eligibility is designed to give flexibility to parents to access the scheme at the most appropriate time for their children prior to commencing school and the majority of children who participate in the scheme would be expected to commence primary school between the age of four years three months and five years six months.

Departmental Expenditure.

Enda Kenny

Question:

208 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the accumulated cost of court cases taken by her Department in the past five years; the cost of each individual case; the nature of each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27182/09]

The information requested by the Deputy is being collated within my Department and will be forwarded as soon as it is available.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

209 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [27193/09]

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

Care of the Elderly.

Jack Wall

Question:

210 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a proposed closure or reduction in bed capacity at a nursing home (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27198/09]

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

Cystic Fibrosis Screening Programme.

Tom Hayes

Question:

211 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children when the national screening programme for cystic fibrosis in new-born infants will be implemented; the money that has been allocated to this screening scheme for 2009; the location at which the funding for this programme was used in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27204/09]

I am informed by the HSE that its Expert Advisory Group on Children and Families has produced a draft policy document on the introduction of a cystic fibrosis screening programme for newborns. A Steering Group has been established under the Chairmanship of Professor Gerry Loftus, Dean, Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway The Steering Group will oversee the development of the plan for implementation with a view to ensuring that the programme is appropriately introduced at the earliest possible juncture.

The operational issues raised by the Deputy have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Training Programmes.

James Reilly

Question:

212 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is a scheme in place which provides for Health Service Executive staff to train or retrain as nurses while in receipt of salary support; if so, the number of people who have availed of the scheme; the budget for same; the amount expended on it in the past five years; her views on whether the scheme should continue in view of the fact that nurse graduates are being trained who when qualified have no job opportunities and have to emigrate to source job opportunities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27221/09]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the sponsorship scheme which provides for public health service employees to train as nurses. This scheme was introduced in 2002 on commencement of the undergraduate nursing degree programme.

On the introduction of this degree programme, an interdepartmental steering committee saw considerable merit in introducing a sponsorship scheme specifically for suitable employees of the health service (such as health care assistants and other non-nursing grades) who wished to train as nurses. Under the scheme employees who successfully apply for sponsorship are allowed to retain their existing salaries throughout the four years of the degree programme in return for a commitment to work as nurses for their employer for a period of five years following registration.

The following is the information requested by the Deputy in respect of the past five years:

Year

Number of people availing of the Sponsorship scheme

Budget provided for salaries under this Scheme

€m

2004/05

98

2.0

2005/06

147

3.4

2006/07

165

4.6

2007/08

197

5.6

2008/09

212

6.5

It should be noted that a quota of places on the undergraduate nursing degree programme is allocated to mature code applicants and the sponsored students are selected from this group. I support this sponsorship scheme which provides a new career development path for health service employees, many of whom are already involved in the delivery of care under the supervision of nurses.

My Department, in co-operation with the Health Service Executive is initiating a strategic review of the undergraduate nursing degree programme. This study will review the arrangements currently in place for the General, Psychiatric and Intellectual Disability undergraduate nursing degree programmes and will have particular regard to the appropriateness of the existing number of allocated student places within the context of national and local employment trends having regard to workforce planning needs to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of nurse graduates for new patterns of service delivery. The findings of the review will provide a basis to inform decision makers on the future direction of undergraduate nursing education in Ireland.

Departmental Schemes.

David Stanton

Question:

213 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children if personnel employed by the Health Service Executive are eligible to participate in the recently announced cycle to work scheme; if so, the procedures involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27226/09]

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

Care of the Elderly.

James Reilly

Question:

214 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review and reverse the planned closure of a six bed acute psychiatric unit for older people in Offaly-Laois; the provisions being put in place to care for elderly patients with acute psychiatric problems who benefit from care from a specialised psychiatric team who deal with elderly needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27230/09]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Joe Costello

Question:

215 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7 has not been provided with an electric wheelchair as promised by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27233/09]

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

Hospital Staff.

Joe Costello

Question:

216 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds in the Mater Hospital, Dublin, which are occupied by people whose treatment is completed for each day throughout the months of May and June 2009; the measures she proposes to resolve the crisis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27234/09]

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

Health Service Executive Investigations.

Joe Costello

Question:

217 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a person (details supplied) has been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27235/09]

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

James Reilly

Question:

218 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if external legal advice or representation was sought by the Health Service Executive on an incident (details supplied) before the matter was settled as a private matter; if so, the costs incurred by the HSE for this legal advice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27237/09]

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

Pharmacy Regulations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

219 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [27243/09]

Finian McGrath

Question:

238 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [27346/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

249 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to ensure the supply of medicines to the people of County Clare affected by the ongoing dispute between pharmacists and the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27482/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 219, 238 and 249.

I am aware that a number of community pharmacists have indicated that they may withdraw from participation in the GMS and community drugs schemes in the light of my decision to reduce certain payments under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has written to all 1,600 community pharmacy contractors to clarify whether they intend to continue the provision of services under the GMS and community drugs schemes.

A contingency plan is being put in place by the HSE, and will be implemented if required, to ensure that supplies of medicines to patients under the GMS and community drugs schemes will continue in the event of discontinuation of services by community pharmacists. I believe that threats of withdrawal from the community pharmacy contract are unjustified and not in patients' interests. There can be no grounds for causing upset or anxiety about the supply of prescriptions to patients. In order to ensure patients are not inconvenienced in any way, I would urge community pharmacists to fulfil their professional obligations under the terms of their contracts.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

220 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Dublin will be supported. [27244/09]

James Reilly

Question:

228 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27309/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 228 together.

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputies.

Pharmacy Regulations.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

221 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children how her recent decision to decrease by an average of 34% the payments pharmacists receive from the Health Service Executive was arrived at; her views on the alternatives put forward by a union (details supplied) the which would save a similar amount of money; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27247/09]

The decisions I have made on the reduction in payments to community pharmacists under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 will reduce their income from the Health Service Executive (HSE) by €133m in a full year, from a total of approximately €550m. This is a reduction of 24% and not 34% as representatives of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) have claimed. My decisions followed a public consultation process conducted under that Act. All interested stakeholders were invited to make submissions on the matter. The IPU made both a written and an oral submission to my Department. In addition, 104 other written submissions were received largely from community pharmacists. These submissions were analysed and considered before I made my decision to reduce payments.

Reductions are absolutely necessary for two reasons. Firstly, the cost of the community drugs schemes has doubled since 2002 to over €1.6 billion in 2008: and fees and other income earned by pharmacists have doubled accordingly. Secondly, it cost an exorbitant €640 million to get €1 billion of drugs from the factory gate to the patient in the community in 2008. This level of expenditure on delivery and dispensing is no longer sustainable, given the current financial circumstances of the country and the other priorities for spending in the health sector.

Savings from the measures have been estimated at €55 million for the remainder of this year and €133 million on a full year basis. This is almost exactly what would have been saved if I had imposed an across the board 8% reduction in fees and retail mark-ups and re-imposed the reduction in wholesale mark-up to 8%, as attempted by the HSE last year. However, I have decided to achieve broadly the same level of reduction through a revised common fee structure for dispensing, a reduced retail mark-up, removal of the special payment for over-70s dispensing and reduction in the wholesale mark-up to 10%.

In its submissions, the IPU indicated that it was prepared to consider yielding savings in an amount equivalent to 8% of dispensing fees only, which it calculated would save €21m in a full year. This would imply that their earnings from the HSE were just €260m in 2008. However, this is far from the case. In addition to dispensing fees, pharmacists also received a retail mark-up of 50% on items dispensed under the Drug Payments and Long Term Illness Schemes and special payments in respect of dispensing to persons aged 70 years and over. These payments brought their income from the HSE in 2008 to €440m. In addition pharmacists have benefitted from approximately half the €200m value of the wholesale margin. For the reasons outlined earlier, savings of €21m as proposed by the IPU would not have been an adequate response to the financial problems that we face in the pharmacy sector.

The IPU also suggested that savings of €30m could be obtained through generic substitution and €33.7m through a combination of changes in the High Tech Scheme, implementation of the Barry Report and the IPHA agreement. These are matters that are being pursued by my Department and the HSE. Any savings that arise under these headings will be additional to, and not a substitution for, the reductions in payments to pharmacists that I have announced.

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

222 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of proposals within the Health Service Executive relative to new procurement processes; and if agreement has been reached to modernise the system of procurement in order to effect savings. [27256/09]

This is a matter appropriate to the Health Service Executive and has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Tobacco Regulation.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

223 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the protocols and checklists devised by the Health Service Executive, the Office of Tobacco Control and her Department providing a series of directions and advice to environmental health officers to police and monitor the retail sector after the commencement of outstanding sections of the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 and the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment Act) 2004; if she will provide a simple checklist to retailers of obligations to ensure compliance with the 1 July 2009 changes in display and advertising of tobacco products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27261/09]

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

224 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether retailers that do not sell tobacco products to persons under the age of 18 years of age should be commended in writing by environmental health officers subsequent to test purchase visits, and that such commendation would act as a positive spur to employees and management to continue in their vigilance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27262/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 and 224 together.

The Deputies questions relate to the duties of the Environmental Health Officers of the Health Service Executive. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputies.

Ambulance Services.

James Reilly

Question:

225 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the efficiency of operating two ambulance services in Dublin City; if both services have integrated communications; if there is a central tracking system in order that a central controller would know the location of each ambulance in the event of an emergency and to maximise the use of the ambulances available; the adequacy of the ambulance fleet for the capital city of Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27284/09]

The HSE and Dublin City Council are in discussion regarding a number of practical issues, including the nature and terms on which Dublin Fire Brigade provides emergency ambulance services in Dublin. It is important to ensure that all of our pre-hospital emergency services, including the service provided by the Dublin Fire Brigade, function as a high quality, integrated health service. The advice of the Health Information and Quality Authority on pre-hospital care issues will be a significant factor in determining how services should be organised so that they operate efficiently and that clinical governance, patient safety and quality standards are met. I have requested the HSE respond directly to the Deputy regarding the detailed service matters raised.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

226 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if funding will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [27295/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

Billy Timmins

Question:

227 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the home improvement scheme for the elderly which was administered by the Health Service Executive but was then to be administered by the county council; her plans to ensure that the necessary improvement works for the elderly are carried out; the reason the HSE are not dealing with these applications in view of the fact that the county councils have no funding for the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27302/09]

The Deputy may be aware that the Special Housing Aid for the Elderly Scheme 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. An allocation of €3.5m was made by my colleague Minister Finneran to the HSE recently to deal with these cases. The funding was allocated as follows:

Dublin/North East: €700,000;

Dublin/Mid Leinster: €500,000;

Western: €1,800,000;

Southern: €500,000.

Question No. 228 answered with Question No. 220.

Child Care Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

229 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will make a statement on the case of a school (details supplied) in County Limerick. [27311/09]

As the Deputy is aware I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP) under which the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) which is implemented. I understand that the service applied to and was approved by my Office for capital grant funding under the NCIP and that a further application, to receive support funding under the CCSS is currently under consideration. A decision in regard to the service's application for funding under the CCSS is expected to be made shortly following which the applicant will be advised of the position.

Departmental Expenditure.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

230 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the print jobs carried out for her Department and being provided by companies based outside the Republic of Ireland; the dates of the awarding of these contracts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27315/09]

My Department has reviewed all printing commissioned in the last three years in the context of this Question, and I can confirm that no printing company outside the State was engaged in that period.

Health Services.

Mary Upton

Question:

231 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review the decision to close respite wards at Cherry Orchard Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27323/09]

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

Long-term Illness Scheme.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

232 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason auto-immune Crohn’s disease is not on the long term illness list of the Health Act 1970 particularly in view of the increase in incidence in younger people; the review procedure for inclusion or exclusion of illnesses on the list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27324/09]

There are currently no plans to extend the list of eligible conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme, which was introduced on a statutory basis in 1971. Under the Drugs Payment Scheme, which was introduced in 1999, no individual or family unit pays more than €100 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme is easy to use and significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.

In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultations.

Health Services.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

233 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27328/09]

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

Question No. 234 answered with Question No. 181.

Hospital Accommodation.

Joe Costello

Question:

235 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who are occupying beds for over 100 days in the Mater Hospital, Dublin, whose treatment has been completed; the reason these persons have not returned to their homes or community care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27337/09]

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

Health Services.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

236 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children who have been assessed and have received orthodontic treatment in the Health Service Executive south area from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008 and from 1 January 2009 to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27338/09]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

237 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children who are awaiting orthodontic treatment and assessment in each of the Health Service Executive areas; the waiting time for assessment and treatment in respect of each HSE area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27339/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 and 327 together.

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

Question No. 238 answered with Question No. 219.

Sean Fleming

Question:

239 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children if a personal assistant will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Laois. [27348/09]

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 Aids and Appliances.

Sean Fleming

Question:

240 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of all medical appliances and equipment that are being rented or leased by the Health Service Executive; the actual cost to purchase the items that are currently being rented or leased; the period for which these various appliances and equipment are being rented; if the HSE has carried out a cost benefit analysis of purchasing certain appliances and equipment as opposed to renting and leasing; if this policy is being implemented; the financial report on the outcome of this policy which must lead to savings when the cost of renting or leasing appliances and equipment over a period of time can be greater than the purchase cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27349/09]

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

Hospital Services.

James Bannon

Question:

241 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford has to travel to St. Vincent’s Hospital, County Dublin by ambulance, when they could avail of the same service at Cavan General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27359/09]

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

Hospitals Building Programme.

Joe Costello

Question:

242 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will submit a planning application for the national paediatric hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27364/09]

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 in 2014. The planning application in respect of this development will be submitted by the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board. The operational issue raised by the Deputy has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Staff.

David Stanton

Question:

243 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of radiation therapists employed directly by the Health Service Executive in the respective HSE regions; the amount spent on securing the services of radiation therapists on an agency basis in 2008 and to date in 2009 in each of these regions respectively; if these radiation therapists have to travel here from abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27368/09]

The number of radiation therapists employed directly by the Health Service Executive in the respective HSE regions is set out in the following table.

Radiation Therapy Grades at 31st May 2009

Dublin/Mid-Leinster

Dublin/North-East

South

West

Total

Radiation Therapist

58.2

0

22.6

15.52

96.32

Radiation Therapist, Clinical Specialist

17.4

0

8.25

0

25.65

Radiation Therapy Service Manager II

1

0

0

0

1

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

Hospital Accommodation.

Noel Coonan

Question:

244 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a facility (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if she will indicate when this project will be advanced to the next stage; if she will outline the reason for the delay in progressing this project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27398/09]

The Health Service Executive is currently reviewing its capital programme proposals to take account of the capital allocation available to it following the supplementary budget. Information on the extent and timing of commitments already entered into is being updated as part of this review process. It is clear at this stage that expenditure in 2009 will need to be managed carefully within the available limits and that further commitments will require prioritisation within the expected funding envelope for future years. When the review is completed, the Executive is required to submit its proposed capital investment programme for my approval with the agreement of the Minister for Finance. Details of the individual projects being included in the capital plan will be made available when the plan is approved.

Sheltered Housing.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

245 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children how the budgetary allocation for sheltered housing was allocated in 2008 and 2009 by organisation, location and amount; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27405/09]

Funding for sheltered housing is a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. In the 2008 Budget the Health Services Executive (HSE) received an allocation of €1.1 million to fund a best practice initiative to support sheltered housing. No additional funding was allocated in 2009. As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Suicide Incidence.

Dan Neville

Question:

246 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who died by suicide by gender and county in 2008. [27454/09]

Data on mortality is compiled by the Central Statistics Office and published in the Annual and Quarterly Reports on Vital Statistics. Full year figures for 2008 are not yet available. Data for 2007 is available in the following table. However, figures are based on year of registration and are therefore subject to future revision.

Death by suicide by province, county and sex: 2007

Province

County

Male

Female

Total

Leinster

Carlow

7

0

7

Dublin

78

23

101

Kildare

20

3

23

Kilkenny

9

1

10

Laois

7

3

10

Longford

4

0

4

Louth

12

1

13

Meath

9

2

11

Offaly

9

1

10

Westmeath

7

3

10

Wexford

16

3

19

Wicklow

16

2

18

Munster

Clare

15

1

16

Cork

58

9

67

Kerry

9

0

9

Limerick

16

7

23

Tipperary

16

6

22

Waterford

6

2

8

Connacht

Galway

16

4

20

Leitrim

1

1

2

Mayo

10

3

13

Roscommon

8

2

10

Sligo

3

0

3

Ulster (part of)

Cavan

10

2

12

Donegal

14

3

17

Monaghan

2

0

2

Total

378

82

460

Pharmacy Regulations.

James Reilly

Question:

247 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of pharmacists who have issued notices of resignation from the general medical scheme and drugs payment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27469/09]

It is not possible to provide the definitive information requested by the Deputy at this point. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has written to the country's community pharmacy contractors to clarify whether they intend to continue the provision of services under the GMS and community drugs schemes. The HSE have requested that community pharmacy contractors reply by Tuesday 7 July 2009.

Health Insurance.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

248 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children when extra relief for older subscribers to the VHI will be implemented consequent on the Supreme Court ruling on risk equalisation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27477/09]

The legislation providing for the new age-related tax credit for older persons with private health insurance was passed by the Dail last Wednesday (01 July) and is currently before the Seanad. It is the intention of the Government that this legislation will be enacted in the current session.

Question No. 249 answered with Question No. 219.

Disability Act.

David Stanton

Question:

250 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children when the statutory three year review of the Disability Act 2005 sectoral plan pertaining to her Department and required under the Disability Act 2005 will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27508/09]

I will publish a review of the sectoral plan of my Department later this year.

Departmental Expenditure.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

251 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of properties her Department has paid rent on in the past three years; if the rent on such properties is fixed; if such rents have been reviewed in the past year; if she has tried to negotiate the cost of rent downwards in the past year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27595/09]

The sourcing of property on behalf of Government Departments is a matter for the Office of Public Works.I have asked the OPW to furnish this information directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Health Services.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

252 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Health and Children when orthodontic treatment will be resumed for a person. [27622/09]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

253 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if extra home help hours will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27631/09]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

254 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when early intervention services will be made available to a child (details supplied) in County Dublin; when an assessment under the Disability Act 2005 will be carried out in their case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27632/09]

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.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

John O'Mahony

Question:

255 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 102 of 24 June 2009, when will a reply be issued; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27658/09]

As previously stated the Dormant Accounts Fund for projects in the health sector is administered on a joint basis by POBAIL and the Health Service Executive. In the circumstances, the matter has again been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

James Bannon

Question:

256 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Longford will get an operation at Tullamore orthopaedic hospital, County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27667/09]

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

James Bannon

Question:

257 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will take the necessary steps to address the long waiting times and lists for people in County Longford accessing hip replacement operations at Tullamore orthopaedic hospital, County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27668/09]

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

Medical Cards.

James Bannon

Question:

258 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of full medical cards which have been removed from persons over 70 years of age in the past six months up to 1 July 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27669/09]

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

As at 1 May 2009, 19,954 medical cards for persons aged 70 and over have been returned or removed from the medical card register. 10,690 of these cards were returned to the HSE by persons aged 70 or over whose weekly income was in excess of the specified thresholds and a further 9,264 medical cards were removed from the medical card register as part of a data quality exercise, where for example, the HSE had been advised that the card holder is deceased or the card holder was not known at the address.

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

259 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is not entitled to chiropody treatment in view of their health circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27677/09]

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

Ambulance Service.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

260 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason funding for an advanced paramedic programme for three members of the Kildare ambulance service has not been used for the purpose for which the funding was allocated. [27681/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

261 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason two new cars for the national advanced paramedic programme for the Kildare ambulance service are only in use Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. when they should be available 24 hours seven days a week to the Kildare paramedic team. [27682/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

262 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has satisfied herself that ambulance personnel in Naas, Maynooth, Athy and Baltinglass ambulance stations have adequate access to essential materials to carry out their work in an efficient manner such as disinfectants to clean the ambulances after use, oxygen masks, adequate defibrillation pads and blood pressure cuffs. [27683/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

263 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that emergency drugs carried on ambulances in the Kildare service are regularly out of date and cannot be administered to patients; and if she will investigate this matter. [27684/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

264 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the regularity with which the ambulance fleet in County Kildare must receive routine maintenance; and if she has satisfied herself that the fleet is properly maintained to required standards. [27685/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

265 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason on call coverage was removed from the Kildare ambulance service a number of years ago; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that only four ambulances cover the County Kildare area at night, down from six a number of years ago; and if she has satisfied herself at this level of service in view of the increase in the population of the county. [27686/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

266 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason it took six weeks for a directive to issue to Kildare ambulance service staff regarding the swine flu crisis in view of the fact that they are front line staff. [27687/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

267 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will direct the Health Service Executive to negotiate with the existing staff in the Naas ambulance control room in relation to their concerns at the relocation of ambulance control to Dublin. [27688/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 260 to 266, inclusive, together.

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

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

268 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite a decision on an application for hearing aids by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27727/09]

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

Health Services.

James Reilly

Question:

269 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review and reconsider the purported closure of Cherry Orchard respite centre, Dublin, whether it is a temporary closure or otherwise; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27731/09]

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

Departmental Expenditure.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

270 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money spent on paying delegates’ allowance to officials for each of the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27742/09]

Allowances are payable to persons who represent Ireland at meetings of international organisations abroad under certain conditions, as laid down in Department of Finance circulars. The amounts paid to officials at my Department in respect of these allowances in the three years 2006, 2007 and 2008 were €41,319, €49,694 and €31,427 respectively.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

271 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [27755/09]

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

Long-Term Illness Scheme.

John Browne

Question:

272 Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to include a long-term illness (details supplied) for either medical card or drugs card entitlement. [27762/09]

There are currently no plans to extend the list of eligible conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme, which was introduced on a statutory basis in 1971.

Under the Drugs Payment Scheme, which was introduced in 1999, no individual or family unit pays more than €100 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme is easy to use and significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.

In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultations.

Drugs Payment Scheme.

James Reilly

Question:

273 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Financial Emergency Measures Services in the Public Interest Act 2009 will be used to set the price of goods supplied by pharmacy retailers as distinct from setting the price of services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27776/09]

Under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, the wholesale mark-up paid to pharmacists is being reduced from 17.66% to 10%. This will have the effect of reducing the cost of drugs dispensed under the GMS and community drugs schemes. The following example illustrates the change. When the wholesale mark-up was 17.66% a pharmacist would have received €100 for a drug with an ex-factory price of €85. With a 10% wholesale mark-up, the pharmacist will receive €93.50 for the same drug at the same ex-factory price, yielding a saving to the State of €6.50. The total expected full year savings from this measure are €77 million.

I might also mention that my Department and the HSE concluded agreements with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) and the Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of Ireland (APMI), representing the proprietary and generic manufacturers respectively, in mid-2006. As a result of these agreements there have been reductions, totalling 35%, in the price of a range of off-patent drugs and medicines.

A report published by the National Centre for Pharmaco-economics in May 2009 has estimated that a total of €248.5 million will be saved due to off-patent price cuts, up to August 2010, when the agreements come up for renewal.

My Department and the HSE are continuing to examine all aspects of pharmaceutical expenditure with a view to containing costs. Among the matters which continue to be kept under review are the price of drugs (including generic and off-patent drugs), the volume of drugs prescribed, more cost effective prescribing by GPs and the greater use of generic medicines.

Under the measures mentioned above, the State is setting a price at which it pays for drugs, ingredient and distribution costs. It is not setting the price which any party in the supply chain — manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacists, may charge for drugs sold which are not reimbursed by the State.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

274 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for a specified test. [27778/09]

The issue raised by the Deputy is an operational one and accordingly, I have requested the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on the matter.

Mary Upton

Question:

275 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding an organisation (details supplied) has received in each of the past four years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27796/09]

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

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

276 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if the contract for the construction and fit-out of the new units at a hospital (details supplied) in County Dublin for people with intellectual disabilities has been completed; if not, the reasons for the delay; if she will confirm a projected opening date for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27797/09]

Progress on the completion of the construction and the fit-out of health facilities is a matter for the Health Service Executive. The matter has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Staff.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

277 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if all surgical non-consultant hospital doctors working in the mid-west network of acute hospitals are registered with the Medical Council; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27803/09]

Under the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 it is an offence for an unregistered medical practitioner to practise medicine.

As the question refers to non-consultant hospital doctors working in the Health Service Executive I have asked the Executive to investigate the matter and reply to the Deputy directly.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

278 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will receive an appointment; and if same will be expedited. [27804/09]

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.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

279 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 158 of 28 April 2009 and 167 of 30 June 2009, the number of applications received by Pobal for funding under the suicide prevention measure; the groups who applied for same; the amount sought by each group; the amount sought in total by these groups; the average sought by each of these groups; the date by which these applications had to be submitted to Pobal; the date that Pobal had completed their assessments of these applications; the date she received these assessments from Pobal; the dates of each meeting that the economic and social disadvantage interdepartmental committee has met since August 2008; the dates of each meeting of the economic and social disadvantage interdepartmental committee at which the funding under the suicide prevention measure was an item on the agenda for that meeting; the date of the next meeting of the economic and social disadvantage interdepartmental committee; the dates of meetings arranged for the remainder of 2009 of the economic and social disadvantage interdepartmental committee the date she expects to have completed the assessments made by Pobal of the applications received regarding suicide prevention; the date she expects to present the completed assessment to the economic and social disadvantage interdepartmental committee; if she will confirm that €1 million is available and will be given to these groups for funding to these applicants; when she expects to issue this funding; the activity that took place on assessing these applications between 28 April 2009 and 30 June 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27805/09]

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, through POBAL, invited applications for funding under the suicide prevention measure on 4th July 2008 with the closing date for applications cited as 26th September 2008. €1m was identified to fund the measure. I understand that a total of 111 applications were received totalling €7.7m.

Funding decisions are made by Government on the basis of recommendations made by the Economic and Social Disadvantage Interdepartmental Committee, which is chaired by my colleague, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, and his Department will address the information sought in respect of the work of the Committee.

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

280 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 202 of 23 June 2009, if the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be considered to be exceptional, having regard to their medical condition, and the length of time that they have awaited treatment; if they will be dealt with via the National Treatment Purchase Fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27815/09]

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.

Medical Cards.

John McGuinness

Question:

281 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be approved for persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if she will expedite the matter. [27820/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

282 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting time for an appointment in each speciality in each acute hospital; the corresponding figure for outpatient appointments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27845/09]

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.

Question No. 283. answered with Question No. 187.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

284 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the promised facility for cystic fibrosis sufferers at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin; if building has commenced; the expected completion date; the estimated opening time; the number of rooms provided for isolation purposes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27847/09]

The next stage in the development of St. Vincent's Hospital will involve the building of a new ward block to replace existing accommodation. The new facility will include accommodation for cystic fibrosis patients with appropriate isolation facilities for the treatment of their condition. All of the rooms will be single, en-suite, significantly enhancing the hospital's capacity to provide appropriate isolation facilities for patients.

Clinical and infrastructural needs at St. Vincent's will determine the configuration of beds across various specialties. There has been no upper limit placed by the hospital or the HSE on the allocation of beds to a particular specialty.

I am anxious to ensure that the project is delivered without delay. The HSE, in partnership with St. Vincent's Hospital, have structured the tender for this development in such a way that payments for the works can be deferred towards the end of the construction period. Tenders for this development will be issued shortly, which should result in the signing of a contract before the end of the year. It is intended that the construction, equipping and commissioning of this block will be completed as early as possible in 2011.

Health Services.