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 153, inclusive, resubmitted.

National Statistics.

John Deasy

Question:

154 Deputy John Deasy asked the Taoiseach the number of full-time farmers in County Waterford in each of the years from 1998 to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30099/09]

The exact information requested by the Deputy is not available. The Farm Structure Survey provides regional estimates and the following table shows the latest figures for the South-East region in June 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2007 (the latest year currently available).

Number of Farms in the South-East Region — June 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Year

Farmwork is sole occupation of farm owner

Farmwork is not sole occupation of farm owner

Total

1997

13,400

5,200

18,600

2000*

10,500

6,400

16,900

2003

10,200

6,100

16,300

2005

9,600

6,300

16,000

2007

8,800

6,300

15,100

*June 2000 Census of Agriculture figure.

The South-East region comprises counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. Figures at county level are only available from the 2000 Census of Agriculture. There were 2,800 farms in County Waterford on 1 June 2000; on 1,700 of these, farmwork was the owner's sole occupation. The next Census of Agriculture is planned to take place in June 2010.

Departmental Bodies.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

155 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach the membership, the work plan, the number of meetings held and the recommendations made by the high-level group on the labour market in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30524/09]

The High Level Group on Labour Market Issues was established earlier this year and has had one meeting to date. The Group is chaired by my Department and its membership is comprised of officials from the Departments of Enterprise, Trade & Employment; Social & Family Affairs; Education & Science; and Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs; and two nominees each from the Employer, Union, Community & Voluntary and Farming Pillars of Social Partnership. Currently, work in this area is being progressed by a cross-departmental Senior Officials Group under the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal. Further meetings of the High Level Group will be convened as necessary.

National Minimum Wage.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

156 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach the number of employees on the minimum wage; the number of employees on the minimum wage who are male and female; the number of employees on the minimum wage who are under 25 and over 25 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30526/09]

The information sought by the Deputy is contained in the National Employment Survey (NES), an annual workplace survey published by the Central Statistics Office. The most recent NES was published in July 2009 and uses data collected for October 2007 as its reference point.

The National Minimum Wage rate in operation in October 2007 was €8.65 per hour. An estimated 83,800 employees were paid that amount or less, equivalent to 4.9% of all employees. There were an estimated 33,800 males and 50,000 females paid the National Minimum Wage rate or less. Of the 83,800 estimated employees paid the National Minimum Wage rate or less, 46,300 were under 25 years of age while 37,500 employees were 25 years or older.

More recent information on employees and the National Minimum Wage is available from the quarterly Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey (EHECS) but only for the Industrial and Financial Intermediation sectors. The data for Q1 2009 shows that there were approximately 2,800 employees in the industrial sector (or 1.3% of all employees in Industry) who were in receipt of €8.65 or less, while there were estimated to be less than 50 employees in the financial sector (or 0.1% of all employees in the sector).

Departmental Agencies.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

157 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Taoiseach the budget of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31410/09]

The budget for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for each year 2005 to 2009 is as follows:

Year

Budget ’000

2005

33,656

2006

33,635

2007

35,795

2008

44,522

2009

41,101

Consultancy Contracts.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

158 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Taoiseach the companies which have been successful in tendering for contracts for his Department in the past 20 years; the other companies which tendered for the same contracts; the tender prices for these contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30170/09]

Since 2002 my Department has maintained a database which records details of all contracts awarded after a tendering process, including year, name of successful tenderer, and contract value. The following schedule details all companies which have been successful in tendering for contracts for my Department and the contract value since 2002 to date. It is not practicable to provide all of the details sought, however I would be happy to provide details in relation to any specific queries the Deputy may have.

Year

Successful Tenderer

Contract Value (inc VAT)

2009

Ipsos MORI

34,626.49

Qualcom

27,240.00

2008

Ashville Media Group

235,744.02

Club Travel Ltd

*

Goodbody Economic Consultants

33,880.00

Hudson Talent Management

45,552.34

Ipsos MORI

69,817.00

MJ Flood Technology

3,932.50

National Council of the Blind

1,022.00

Raymond Burke Consulting

3,375.90

Sogeti Ltd

2,268.75

The Design Station

1,294.70

The Design Station

5,140.00

The Design Station

15,982.21

The Design Station

6,383.61

The Economist Intelligence Unit

408,375.00

2007

Arnotts Ltd.

10,219.32

Bluewave Technology

*

Europus

*

EW Technologies

2,614.00

Indecon Int. Economic Consultants/Life Strategies Ltd.

133,100.00

Initial Washroom Solutions

2,359.36

Ipsos Mori

19,904.50

Isolde Goggin and Gillian Lauder

108,900.00

Lenovo Ireland

943.80

Neopost

9,374.40

NextiraOne

53,775.61

PA Consulting Services Limited

70,733.35

Pitney Bowes

12,463.00

Prontoprint

3,134.61

Prontoprint

3,329.50

RA Consulting

18,101.00

The Design Station

10,914.20

The Design Station

24,955.52

2006

Applied Signs & Display Ltd

2,099.35

Boyd Freeman

94,000.00

Caroline Erskine, Media Consultant

24,805.00

Code Ltd

8,730.00

Dell

*

Economic and Social Research Institute

103,429.00

Fitzpatrick Associates Economic Consultants

40,656.00

Goodbody Economic Consultants

29,040.00

Lenovo Ireland

3,811.50

Mary Higgins, Management and Social Policy Consultant

44,388.00

MORI Ireland Ltd.

17,847.50

Olivia McEvoy

3,542.00

QTS Ltd

2,541.00

Sureskills

*

The Design Station

10,710.00

2005

Boyd Freeman Design

324,500.00

BT (Formerly Cara)

74,768.00

Colour Books

24,992.00

Dell

49,052.19

Dell

23,930.50

Dell

78,861.75

Ergo

7,786.35

Fitzpatrick Associates

37,207.50

Good Practice Ltd

33,350.30

IQ Content Ltd

38,478.00

IT Force

36,414.00

MORI Ireland

32,972.50

OKI Systems Ireland Limited

82,320.34

Slick Fish Design

21,155.64

Sureskills

156,071.85

System Dynamics

21,900.84

Watson Wyatt

25,925.00

2004

Dell

8,167.50

Dell Computer Corporation Ltd

16,335.00

EuroKom

9,256.50

Goodbody Economic Consultants

29,766.00

HCM Consultants and Actuaries Limited

33,524.56

IT Force

61,407.00

Langley Freeman Design Group Ltd.

140,000.00

McCann FitzGerald Solicitors,

76,894.34

Pan Research Ltd

6,313.81

System Dynamics

*

System Dynamics

18,854.83

Zerflow

5,929.00

2003

Accenture

152,913.75

Alpha CC

6,171.00

Alpha CC

4,065.34

BIC Systems

78,892.00

Cara

78,892.00

Carr Communications

68,100.00

Celare Ltd

18,851.50

Celare Ltd

2,074.55

Ciara Browne Consultant

3,993.00

Club Travel Limited

*

Dell Computer Corporation, Ireland

1,034.55

Dell Computer Corporation, Ireland

4,433.44

Design ID Ltd

50,712.00

Dublin City University

1,331.00

Entrophy Ltd

54,753.99

E.S.R.I

7,260.00

Flesihman-Hillard Saunders

33,383.00

Fujitsu Consulting

15,125.00

Fujitsu Services

21,575.89

Fujitsu Services Ltd

15,730.00

Fujitsu Services Ltd

39,863.45

Fujitsu Services Ltd

16,656.46

Lan Communications

19,651.61

Langley Freeman Design Group Ltd.

35,884.00

Methodica Ltd

11,852.00

NextiraOne

90,669.13

Sonas Innovation

49,610.00

Watson Wyatt

25,410.00

Watson Wyatt

14,520.00

2002

Acrobat Design

*

Decision Support Systems (DSS Ltd)

112,144.00

Decision Support Systems (DSS Ltd)

102,485.79

Dell

32,275.54

FTS Computer Services Ltd

13,697.20

IT Force

55,055.00

KPMG Consulting (Bearing Point)

87,732.56

Lansdowne Market Research Ltd.

42,894.50

Models Research

36,336.00

OKI Systems (Ireland) Ltd

21,193.15

Sord Data Systems Ltd

28,767.75

*These contracts were dependent on the level of usage.

National Partnership Agreement.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

159 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach if he will include representatives of Opposition parties in the social partnership talks on a national recovery plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30172/09]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

162 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach his views on expanding social partnership to establish a new pillar for the Opposition parties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30175/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 and 162 together.

Social partnership is a structured approach to engagement between the Government and the Social Partners, organised in the following five pillars: Employer/Business, Trade Union, Farming, Community and Voluntary and Environmental. This engagement leads to periodic agreements based on a shared analysis of the needs of the economy and society, and a set of shared objectives, such as those contained in Towards 2016.

The engagement between the Government and the Opposition Parties takes place in the context of the framework of democratic accountability, under which the Government is accountable to the Oireachtas. In this context, the Government is accountable for its management of, and interaction with, the Social Partnership process. Implementation of commitments included in Social Partnership agreements which involve legislative or Exchequer commitments are subject to the same democratic process through the Oireachtas as all other Government proposals, while debate on relevant issues takes place regularly in both Houses and in Oireachtas Committees. The Opposition's engagement with Social Partnership can be developed through these established mechanisms. There is no proposal, therefore, to establish a pillar of Social Partnership to represent the Opposition Parties.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

160 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach the number of staff in his Department, including all authorities, agencies or other institutions under the aegis of his Department, who have applied for the incentivised early retirement scheme and the incentivised career break scheme; the number who have been made redundant in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30173/09]

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of the Incentivised Career Break Scheme and the Incentivised Early Retirement Scheme is set out in the following tables.

Department of the Taoiseach

Title of Scheme

Number who applied under the Scheme

Incentivised Career Break Scheme

5

Incentivised Early Retirement Scheme

3

None of my Department's staff have been made redundant in the past 12 months.

Central Statistics Office (CSO)

Title of Scheme

Number who applied under the Scheme

Incentivised Career Break Scheme

25

Incentivised Early Retirement Scheme

9

No Central Statistics Office staff have been made redundant in the past 12 months.

National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO)

Title of Scheme

Number who applied under the Scheme

Incentivised Career Break Scheme

Nil

Incentivised Early Retirement Scheme

Nil

In accordance with the terms of the Implementation of Savings Measures on Public Service Numbers, NESDO did not renew the contract of one member of staff whose three year contract expired on 20th June 2009. No other staff contracts come up for renewal before the end of 2010.

Departmental Expenditure.

Richard Bruton

Question:

161 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach if he made submissions to the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes on potential savings in his Department; the contents of the submissions made; if the McCarthy group has made proposals to him; the contents of these proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30174/09]

Planned expenditure levels for my Department will be considered as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2010. This will include consideration of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, and the decisions on all of the issues arising will be a matter for the Government. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage pending the outcome of these deliberative processes.

Question No. 162 answered with Question No. 159.

Departmental Staff.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

163 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Taoiseach the number of staff employed by his Department in County Louth by location; if such staff are permanent, temporary, part-time or on fixed contracts and so on; the accommodation used by such staff; if same is owned, leased or otherwise rented by his Department; the cost of same per annum; if leased, when such lease expires; his proposals to close, amalgamate or expand his Department’s presence in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30176/09]

My Department is based in Government Buildings, Dublin 2. It does not have a physical presence in County Louth, and accordingly, the question of staff on permanent or temporary contract, cost of accommodation, expired leases etc does not apply.

Northern Ireland Issues.

Joe McHugh

Question:

164 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Taoiseach the work carried out by him to progress Strand II of the British-Irish Agreement since he took office as An Taoiseach; his plans to progress Strand II of the British-Irish Agreement in the coming 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30177/09]

Strand II of the Good Friday Agreement sets out arrangements for the establishment of the North South Ministerial Council to bring together those with executive responsibilities North and South to develop consultation, cooperation and action within the island of Ireland. The Council meets in different formats, in plenary format twice yearly, in sectoral format on a regular and frequent basis and in institutional format to consider institutional or cross sectoral matters.

There are six implementation bodies:Waterways Ireland, Food Safety Promotion Board, Trade and Business Development Body (InterTradeIreland), The Language Body/An Foras Teanga/North-South Body (consisting of two agencies i.e. Foras na Gaeilge and Tha Boord o Ulster-Scotch) Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission (consisting of two Agencies i.e. The Loughs Agency and Lights Agency). Each of the Bodies operates on an all-island basis. While having a clear operational remit, all operate under the overall policy direction of the North South Ministerial Council, with clear accountability lines back to the Council and to the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly. There are six areas of cooperation dealing with aspects of Agriculture, Education, Environment, Health, Tourism, including Tourism Ireland and Transport. In each case, common policies and approaches are agreed in the North South Ministerial Council but implemented separately in each jurisdiction.

The St Andrews Agreement provided for a Review of the North South Implementation Bodies and Areas for Co-operation. The Review is examining the efficiency and value for money of existing Implementation Bodies, the case for additional bodies and areas of co-operation within the NSMC where mutual benefit would be derived, and providing input into the work on the identification of a suitable substitute for the proposed Lights Agency of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission. Progress under Strand II of the Good Friday Agreement is considered on a regular basis at Plenary meetings of the North South Ministerial Council. I have answered questions in this House on the outcome of the meetings in Derry on 23 January last and the most recent meeting on 6 July in Farmleigh House in Dublin.

At recent Plenary meetings we have had very useful discussions on the economic challenges facing all parts of this island and we have considered progress on North/South Co-operation in areas such as health, education, transport and tourism. In July we noted the following items:

our re-affirmed commitment to the A5 and A8 road projects in the North and agreement to make a contribution of €9m to these before the end of the year.

close co-operation on the Influenza A/H1N1 outbreak;

agreement on a framework for the removal of waste illegally dumped in Northern Ireland;

progress on introducing the mutual recognition of driving disqualifications;

intensified co-operation on Child Protection;

progress on suicide prevention;

continued co-operation in education on the approaches to the integration of newcomer children in schools;

the further development of the www.borderpeople.info website.

The Council also noted that the St Andrew's Review Group is continuing its consideration of the report of the experts/advisers on efficiency and value for money of the existing Implementation Bodies and Tourism Ireland Limited. It confirmed its intention to conclude the St Andrews Review process before the end of 2009 and it instructed the Review Group to accelerate its work on all the elements of the Review and to provide a final report to the next meeting of the Plenary.

The Council also noted the Executive's ongoing review of the Civic Forum. Following the conclusion of the Government's consultations with social partners and other groups from civic society in 2008, the Government forwarded proposals for the establishment of the Forum to the Northern Executive. At the NSMC meeting, it was noted that the Government intends to hold a conference in Autumn 2009 involving social partners and other groups in civil society who have an interest in North/South co-operation. The Conference will take place on 15 October next.

The establishment of a North South Parliamentary Forum is, of course, a matter for the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly. At the NSMC plenary meeting we welcomed the establishment of two working groups, by the Oireachtas and the Northern Assembly respectively, to progress discussions on the establishment of a North South Parliamentary Forum. Progress will be reviewed at the next NSMC Plenary. In addition to the Plenary meetings there have been 26 sectoral meetings under the NSMC since May 2008 and one meeting in Institutional format which took place last April. The next NSMC plenary meeting will take place before the end of the year and I look forward to making further progress on the North/South agenda.

Departmental Staff.

Niall Collins

Question:

165 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach if civil servants from his Department who are members of boards of agencies, including commercial and non-commercial State bodies, or who hold other positions with these agencies under the aegis of his Department, receive a fee, salary or remuneration and expenses for holding such a position or positions; if this is surrendered to his Department as their direct employer; his policy in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31234/09]

There are currently no civil servants from this Department in receipt of a fee, salary or remuneration and expenses for holding a position as a member of a board or agencies including commercial and non-commercial state body.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Question:

166 Deputy Damien English asked the Taoiseach the amount of money spent on advertising and promotions in his Department and each agency under his aegis for each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and to date in 2009 in tabular readable form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31583/09]

The amounts spent by my Department on advertising and promotions from 2004 to date are set out in the following table.

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

31,071

12,988

377,045

277,365

65,525

10,329

Expenditure was incurred for a variety of purposes including advertisements in the national media in relation to:

commemorative events such as the National Day of Commemoration and the Annual 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration;

the OECD review of the Irish Public Service;

public consultation associated with the Statute Law Revision Programme;

preparation of my Department's new scheme in accordance with Section 15 of the Official Languages Act, 2003;

public consultation process in relation to the Taskforce on Active Citizenship.

Expenditure was also incurred by my Department for Official notifications which were placed in Iris Oifigiúil to publicise the making of Government appointments, Government Orders and related matters. The expenditure incurred on advertising by the agencies under the aegis of my Department from 2004 to date is set out as follows

National Economic and Social Development Office

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

6,033

13,315

33,647

10,819

10,832

nil

National Economic and Social Council

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

nil

492

1,119

1,040

563

nil

National Economic and Social Forum

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

26,127

nil

12,571

678

23,303

8,297

National Centre for Partnership and Performance

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

1,537

nil

nil

1,087,843

434,831

nil

I would point out that the National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP) undertook a major Public Awareness Campaign during 2007 and 2008 to promote the Government's National Workplace Strategy. The funding was provided under the Workplace Innovation Fund and was spent in accordance with domestic and EU public procurement procedures.

Central Statistics Office (CSO)

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

86,634

125,756

1,566,475

72,164

42,944

nil

Apart from 2006, when CSO's advertising expenditure included significant Census of Population related advertising (radio/television/national & local press), CSO's expenditure on advertising and publicity comprised:

recruitment campaigns for CSO specific grades (Statistician/field force personnel).

awareness campaigns relating to specific surveys or modules of surveys, for example the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) and the Household Budget Survey (HBS).

Since the Government decision in mid-2008 to cut advertising expenditure, CSO has not undertaken any advertising. The recently completed pilot Census test was not advertised and the recent recruitment campaign for HBS field work positions was undertaken through FÁS.

Departmental Programmes.

David Stanton

Question:

167 Deputy David Stanton asked the Taoiseach the cost in administering the cycle-to-work scheme in his Department in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31717/09]

There is no discernible cost to my Department's vote in administering the cycle to work scheme. The bicycles and equipment are paid for by way of salary sacrifice by those acquiring the bicycles. There are minor costs in processing forms and in carrying the up- front costs until such time as those are offset by the gradual deductions from salary. Neither of these is quantifiable. The only material cost of the scheme to the State is the tax relief inherent in the scheme. The total amount sanctioned to date by way of cycle purchases for staff of my Department is €1,039.47.

Ministerial Expenses.

George Lee

Question:

168 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the amount that has been claimed in expenses by each Minister and Minister of State in his Department from 1997 to 2008; the reasons these expenses were claimed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31951/09]

The amount claimed in expenses by each of the Taoisigh and the Ministers of State in my Department from 1997 to 2008, is detailed in the following tables:

Taoiseach John Bruton (January 1997 to June 1997)

Expenses claimed

1997

€1,697.03

Minister of State Donal Carey (January 1997 to June 1997)

Expenses claimed

1997

€15,542.29

Minister of State Avril Doyle (January 1997 to June 1997)

Expenses claimed

1997

€1,736.90

Minister of State Jim Higgins (January 1997 to June 1997)

Expenses claimed

1997

€109.17

Minister of State Gay Mitchell (January 1997 to June 1997)

Expenses claimed

1997

€13,698.10

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

Expenses claimed

June 1997

322.55

1998

3,466.31

1999

4,508.60

2000

8,723.57

2001

5,012.24

2002

2,155.62

2003

3,747.60

2004

5,587.20

2005

3,597.82

2006

2,843.14

2007

2,258.77

May 2008

1,883.46

Minister of State Seamus Brennan

Expenses claimed

June 1997

1,334.04

1998

680.33

1999

772.79

2000

2372.86

2001

2164.95

2002

0.00

Minister of State Mary Hanafin

Expenses claimed

2002

304.76

2003

8,936.67

2004

3,529.56

Minister of State Dick Roche

Expenses claimed

2002

14,203.61

2003

20,620.42

2004

15,080.31

2007

484.67

2008

0.00

Minister of State Tom Kitt

Expenses claimed

2005

1,304.85

2006

1,272.44

2007

951.47

2008

694.47

Minister of State Noel Treacy

Expenses claimed

2005

650.02

2006

206.47

Taoiseach Brian Cowen

Expenses claimed

2008

€1,609.44

Minister of State Pat Carey

Expenses claimed

2008

€0.00

Departmental Agencies.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

169 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason the five-year practice requirement for appointment of lawyers to the Employment Appeals Tribunal has not commenced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30123/09]

Section 9 of the Redundancy Payments Act 2003 amended section 39(2)(b) of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 by providing that Vice-Chairmen of the Employment Appeals Tribunal should, before their appointment, each have had not less than 5 years experience as a practising barrister or practising solicitor. That was meant to be an underpinning, in legislation, of the fact that Vice Chairmen have a legal background. Section 9 has not been commenced because of ongoing consideration of the optimum structure and organisational arrangements for Employment Rights Bodies.

Departmental Programmes.

Richard Bruton

Question:

170 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will provide details of the €250 million job protection programme; when she expects this scheme to commence; the financial mechanisms being used to fund this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30171/09]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

191 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she has taken to implement the employment subsidy scheme for exporting companies that she recently announced; the take-up of this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30582/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 170 and 191 together.

The Government introduced an Employment Subsidy Scheme (Temporary) in the context of rising unemployment to help employees retain their jobs while at the same time assisting employers in retaining their productive capacity. The purpose of the scheme is to support the maintenance of vulnerable jobs and thereby:

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

Help employees retain their jobs, and

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

The total potential cost of the Scheme is €250 million of which up to €60 million may be released in 2009. The Scheme provides a subsidy of €9,100 per employee over a 15-month period. The Scheme aims to support up to 27,400 jobs. The scheme applies to vulnerable but viable companies in the manufacturing or internationally traded service sectors. It involves the payment of a subsidy to firms on condition that they retain an agreed number of jobs. The scheme is managed by Enterprise Ireland and the closing date for applications wasthe 4th September 2009. These applications are currently being considered by Enterprise Ireland.

Business Regulation.

George Lee

Question:

171 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the duration it takes to register a new business name with the Companies Registration Office; her plans to reduce this waiting period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30859/09]

Currently, the average time it takes to process new applications for business names is eight weeks. I can assure the Deputy that every effort is being made within the current resource constraints to reduce the current processing time and to ensure that customers of the Companies Registration Office receive the best possible service.

Departmental Programmes.

Seán Ardagh

Question:

172 Deputy Seán Ardagh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will reconsider the withdrawal of the funding of the return to education scheme in the disadvantaged areas of Fatima, Rialto and Bluebell in County Dublin (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30092/09]

I am advised by FÁS that there has been no withdrawal of funding for the Return to Education Programme and contracts are currently being prepared and issued for the next term.

Industrial Development.

John Deasy

Question:

173 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to bring new industry to Waterford city and Dungarvan, County Waterford, in view of recent announcements of substantial job losses in the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30102/09]

The Industrial Development agencies under the aegis of my Department, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, together with the Waterford City and County Enterprise Boards, are responsible for enterprise development in County Waterford. In line with the National Spatial Strategy, IDA Ireland is concentrating its efforts in the County on the Gateway City of Waterford and the town of Dungarvan. The County has a long and strong track record as a centre of manufacturing expertise. It has a key strength in engineering both in indigenous and overseas industry. In more recent years however, the focus has been on attracting newer and more advanced manufacturing, particularly in the Life Sciences Sector and in the area of International & Financial Services activities.

At present there are thirty one IDA Ireland supported companies in Waterford City and County employing approximately 5,960 people. In addition to marketing the County for new inward investment, the agency is also actively engaged with its existing clients to encourage their transition to higher value activities and to promote further investment in Ireland. In the area of providing tailored property solutions to meet the needs of existing and prospective clients, the agency has developed the Waterford Business & Technology Park and the Dungarvan Business Park. In addition, it has developed a large scale Greenfield site in Belview, specifically targeted to larger scale utility intensive overseas investments. A further site on the Kilmeaden Road in Waterford City is also available for Greenfield investment.

In parallel with developments on the property side, IDA Ireland continues to work closely with Third Level Educational Institutions in the South East Region so that the skill sets necessary to attract high value added employment to the County are being developed. The agency also works with the Training and Employment agency FÁS to ensure that the requirements of industry, particularly in the area of training and up-skilling, are being met.

Enterprise Ireland provides a rapid incubation programme designed to provide hands-on support and management development for entrepreneurs who wish to start their own business. As part of Enterprise Ireland's South East Regional Strategy, the South-East Enterprise Platform Programme is underway at the Waterford Institute of Technology with sixteen participants to date in the current Programme. As part of the ongoing drive to promote entrepreneurship in the region, Enterprise Ireland has also run a series of Enterprise START workshops to encourage potential entrepreneurs to explore their business ideas. A total of forty nine participants from Waterford have taken part in the workshops held in 2009.

The development of Community Enterprise Centres is a crucial part of EI's drive to create new regional enterprise. The agency approved funding in 2008 of €450,000 towards a new Centre in the Ballybeg area and the Cappoquin Enterprise Centre was approved a grant of €50,000 for a Manager. The annual South East Enterprise Week, which showcases successful entrepreneurs and encourages and assists current and potential entrepreneurs, will take place from 12 to 17 October this year. Throughout the South East, events will take place to promote and encourage entrepreneurship. Local Enterprise Ireland staff are closely involved in the initiative through the Spirit of Enterprise Regional Forum.

Waterford City Enterprise Board held a number of information days for the staff of Waterford Crystal, offering potential entrepreneurs the opportunity to engage and discuss the different facilities available from the CEB. The CEB has since assisted a number of employees to set up their own businesses through the provision of financial assistance and the appointment of a Mentor to assist with the development of those business plans.

The Board has refocused its training programmes to assist businesses to maintain growth and employment through the present economic crisis. Topics covered include Sales Training, Getting Paid / Controlling your Cash Flow and Overhead Cost Savings. A "Fresh Start 2009" Seminar was held on 11 September to showcase what supports are available from local agencies and organizations when exploring the idea of setting up a business. Following on from this seminar, the CEB hopes to provide a Business Idea Generation Programme for those wishing to pursue a career in entrepreneurship but may not have a clear business objective.

The Board also intends to hold a series of Business Information Clinics as well as a number of lunch-time seminars covering such topics as Marketing on a Shoe-string, Basic Book Keeping, Managing your Business Costs and Open Source Software. The Board has joined with the Business Department of Waterford Institute of Technology to hold a number of seminars on looking at self-employment as an option for future graduates. Waterford County Enterprise Board is currently working on a marketing programme with the tourism sector to increase visitor numbers and cultivate the industry in Co. Waterford. The Board is also working with Waterford IT in an attempt to revitalise the glass industry in the Region.

I am satisfied that the policies and initiatives being pursued by the Industrial Development agencies and the CEBs will continue to bring about industrial development and employment opportunities for Waterford City and Dungarvan.

John Deasy

Question:

174 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of factories in Waterford city and county, on which the Industrial Development Authority has long-term lease agreements, which are empty; the cost to the State of long-term lease agreements for such premises; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30103/09]

Under the Industrial Development Acts, the management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio is a day to day operational matter for the Agency and not one in which I have a function. I am informed by the IDA that there are 6 units in Waterford City and County on which the agency has long term lease agreements, and which are currently available for use. The amount due on the balance of the leases of these 6 properties is €1,545,096. However, it is anticipated that a number of these properties will be occupied or redeveloped during that period, which has the potential to reduce this liability. It is a critical part of IDA Ireland's strategy that a portfolio of buildings be continuously available for its clients and those of Enterprise Ireland.

Redundancy Payments.

Dan Neville

Question:

175 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if statutory redundancy payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30307/09]

Dan Neville

Question:

176 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if statutory redundancy payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30308/09]

Dan Neville

Question:

177 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if statutory redundancy payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30309/09]

Dan Neville

Question:

178 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if statutory redundancy payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30311/09]

Dan Neville

Question:

179 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if statutory redundancy payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30312/09]

Dan Neville

Question:

180 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if statutory redundancy payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30313/09]

Dan Neville

Question:

181 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if statutory redundancy payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30314/09]

Dan Neville

Question:

202 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will ensure that statutory redundancy is awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [31034/09]

I propose to takes Questions Nos. 175 to 181, inclusive, and 202 together.

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department has received a number of statutory Lump Sum applications from the relevant individuals in respect of their former employment with Irish Dresden (In Liquidation). My understanding is that the lump sum applications for the former employees of Irish Dresden are currently being processed, and payment is expected within the next two weeks.

Employment Support Services.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

182 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will work with the various State agencies to tackle the unemployment situation in Tallaght; her views on the fact that Tallaght is the third largest population centre here with a very young population; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30342/09]

The number of persons signing on to the live register in the Tallaght region as at end August 2009, stands at 10,121, an increase of 87% over the last twelve months, the number of people under 25 years of age signing on in Tallaght was 2,563 in August 2009 an 85% increase from August 2008. This reflects the national trend over that period as the economic crisis has taken hold. (Live Register up nationally by 192,672 or 77.9% in the last 12 months).

In response to the increase in unemployment my Department through FÁS, the National Training and Employment Authority, is prioritising on a national basis, the need to assist and up-skill those who have become unemployed. 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. My Department remains strongly focussed on supporting and promoting enterprise development to create new jobs. In this regard the Enterprise Development Agencies of my Department, including IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, are working to ensure that we continue to grow the economy and jobs even in the current more challenging climate.

FÁS Employment Services in Tallaght has recently undertaken one of the biggest direct marketing operations in the history of Tallaght, in conjunction with the Local Employment Service and the FÁS Training Centre. This operation directly targeted people signing on in the Local Department of Social & Family Affairs office in Tallaght by giving them information and an invitation to come into the Training Centre for a briefing on all the available courses. The first of these briefings was completed on 9th September 2009, and will continue each Wednesday in September 2009.

FÁS Employment Services also hosted the first pilot programme in the country to support the many Managers and Executives in Tallaght who have been made redundant. This Executive Networking and Support Programme was very successful with a 45% placement rate. FÁS Employment Services is also promoting the new Work Placement Programme in the area, with many employers beginning to avail of this programme. FÁS Employment Services is also working in collaboration with colleagues in Northern Ireland in placing many of the local youth from Tallaght in the Wider Horizons/ Springboard programme. There are approx 70 participants in these projects from Tallaght annually. The programme covers Media, Child Care, Leisure Industry, Performing Arts, Options etc. As part of the programme, participants gain training and work experience placement abroad in London, South Africa, Montreal and Canada.

FÁS is also enlisting the support of the local people in Tallaght to ascertain why only 60% of Tallaght people turn up for the courses offered to them. This is a major issue with the amount of time and finances wasted by this large attrition rate. By year end, FÁS Employment Services will have placed approximately 5000 clients in Tallaght on training courses despite the large attrition rate. Over the past 5 years, IDA Ireland has promoted Tallaght and South County Dublin as being well equipped to compete with other areas for potential foreign direct investment, with superb infrastructural facilities at Citywest and Grange Castle, and a third level Institute of Technology at Tallaght.

In Grange Castle, planning permission has been approved for an Advance Integrated Circuit Manufacturing and Research facility. In November 2008, Microsoft Corporation announced, that it had selected Grange Castle as the location for its new European data centre. Microsoft plans to invest $500m in the construction of the data centre and will employ up to 75 people. In addition, in July of this year Takeda had the official opening of its pharmaceutical plant in Grange Castle. This facility already employs 40 of the 60 people planned for recruitment. This facility will manufacture Takeda's blockbuster type II diabetes drug Actos. The development and manufacture of Takeda's future pipeline products for clinical trials will also take place at Grange Castle. These developments will be an invaluable tool for the future marketing of Grange Castle as a potential source of high quality and large-scale employment for the population of the environs, including Tallaght.

Enterprise Ireland's activity in Tallaght is focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs in manufacturing and internationally traded services companies and by supporting entrepreneurs to set up High Potential Start-Up Companies. Enterprise Ireland works closely with the Tallaght Institute of Technology in encouraging the commercialisation of research and has approved financial support of over €2.6m to the Institute for the development and management of a Campus based Incubation Centre. This centre provides entrepreneurs with affordable space in an environment which provides support to them to research their new ideas and to afford them the opportunity to bring about new indigenous businesses. The agency has also approved support of €1.225m for a Centre of Excellence at the Institute of Technology Tallaght, the focus of which is Microsensors for Clinical Analysis.

Employment Rights.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

183 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position in regard to a company (details supplied); the agents or agencies investigating this matter; the timetable for these investigations; the date on which her attention was drawn to this case; the agent or agency that brought it to her attention; if legislation, either primary or secondary, is being drafted to prevent this practice from being used by other companies or if such legislation exist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30365/09]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to a matter which has been referred to the Labour Court. The Labour Court is an independent statutory body which acts independently in the carrying out of its functions. The Deputy's question would relate to a matter concerning the day-to-day operation of the Court, and is one in which I have no function.

Redundancy Payments.

Dan Neville

Question:

184 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will ensure that payment will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied). [30377/09]

An employer who pays redundancy to a qualified employee is entitled to seek a rebate from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in the order of 60% of the statutory amount. The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department has received statutory redundancy rebate applications from the employer concerned in respect of three of his former employees.

In the case of one of the applications the rebate payment has recently issued to the employer. Two outstanding applications received in March and April of this year await processing. Due to the unprecedented increase in the volume of claims on hand, claims received in January are currently receiving priority attention. Claims completed manually, submitted by post and received in January and claims submitted online (to www.entemp.ie) received in February are currently being processed. Claims submitted online because of their nature tend to have a faster processing time. All claims are processed strictly in order of date of receipt in fairness to all claimants.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

185 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of the redundancy payment application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24. [30448/09]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department has completed the processing of the redundancy application for the individual concerned and that a statutory redundancy lump sum payment was authorised on the 28th of August 2009. Payment of the amount involved will follow shortly thereafter.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

186 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of outstanding redundancy payment claims from January 2009 to date in 2009. [30449/09]

There are 41, 854 claims currently on hand as of 4th September 2009. This figure includes claims at various stages of processing, including those which were incomplete and/or which require further information to allow processing to be completed.

Unemployment Levels.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

187 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the large increase in youth unemployment and the fact Ireland has the second highest levels of youth unemployment among young men at 26.5% in western Europe; the measures she has initiated and plans to introduce to assist young people back into the labour market; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30525/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

190 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will convene a special meeting of social partners, including youth organisations, to discuss measures to address youth unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30529/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 187 and 190 together.

At the end of quarter 1, the Quarterly National Household Survey youth unemployment rate stood at 19.3%; the Central Statistics Office will release quarter 2 figures at the end of September. The Government is aware of the difficulty of providing suitable opportunities for young people in the current downturn. A number of measures have been developed to tackle the problem of the rise in youth unemployment. These include the following:

FÁS has more than doubled the number of training and work experience activation courses from 66,000 in 2008 to over 130,000.

Through the National Employment Action Plan preventive strategy, just over 5,600 clients, who crossed the three-month unemployment thresholds and who were aged 18 to 24 years, were interviewed by FÁS between January and June 2009. Either half left the Live Register or were referred to a FÁS programme.

In circumstances where there is not an immediate job available, the client will be referred to the ‘Youth into Workforce' programme.

Through the Local Training OptionsinFÁS almost 1,000 Early School Leavers have started FÁS Training and Employment Programmes in the year to June 2009.

FÁS is developing a Youth Framework outlining the services FÁS can offer to early school-leavers.

To support apprentices to complete their apprenticeship, the Government has introducedThe Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme which provides for the on-the-job training for redundant apprentices with employers who have released their own employed apprentices for off-the-job training.

ESB has agreed to recruit 400 redundant electrical apprentices to allow them to complete their on-the-job training and assessments.

Institutes of Technology are providing 700 places per annum on an 11-week certified training programme for apprentices.

More generally, a number of new training programmes for those who have lost their jobs in the construction sector have been introduced by FÁS.

The Government introduced aWork Placement Programme in June of this year for 2,000 unemployed, with half of the scheme earmarked for graduates who have been unemployed for six months or more, while 25% of the remaining places are earmarked for persons under the age of 25.

As part of its ongoing review of labour market policy, it is intended that officials will engage in a consultation process with key stakeholders on the priorities for unemployment policy in the near future.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

188 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the breakdown of the progress in filling the 16,525 training places being provided by her, announced in the supplementary budget of 7 April 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30527/09]

The total number of training and work experience activation places funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment through FÁS in 2009 stands at over 130,000. This compares to the 66,000 equivalent places that were delivered in 2008. The breakdown of the 16,525 training and work experience activation places announced in the April 2009 Budget includes the following:

An additional 13,848 training places which have been incorporated into the overall total of 92,000 FÁS training places available for 2009. Currently, FÁS is on target to meet this overall total, including the additional training places.

Three hundred and twelve (312) of the 400 additional places, allocated to Community Employment have been filled to date, with the remaining 88 places being filled in the coming weeks. This will bring the number of places overall on Community Employment to 22,780 when the extra 400 places have been filled.

2,000 places have been created on the new Work Placement Programme, which is providing six-month places to individuals who are unemployed including graduates.

Under the Short-Time Workers Training Programme277 workers who are on a 3-day week and receiving social welfare payments for the 2 days they are not working will receive training for these days.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

189 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of young people aged 18 to 24 years who are in receipt of jobseeker’s benefit and assistance who have been interviewed and directly assessed by FÁS and local employment service personnel with a view to progression to education, training or employment; the breakdown of the assessment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30528/09]

Under the National Employment Action Plan Preventive Strategy, persons on the Live Register who reach certain unemployment duration thresholds and who are in receipt of the Jobseeker's Allowance/Benefit are systematically referred by the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA) to FÁS and Local Employment Service personnel for assistance. As part of this process, just over 8,100 clients, who crossed the three month unemployment thresholds and who were aged 18 to 24 years, were referred to FÁS between January and June 2009.

Out of this total, by the end of July 2009:

2,300 had not attended for interview

Over 5,600 had attended for interview by FÁS.

2,366 were placed/signed off the Live Register, of whom:

685 secured employment

614 were placed on a FÁS programme

57 returned to education

46 were in receipt of other DSFA benefits

64 had gone abroad

Just over 934 had signed off for other/unknown reasons.

3,179 were still on the Live Register, of whom:

Approximately 1,100 were still engaged, with support from FÁS, in identifying appropriate training/employment options for employment

Over 700 had been referred to a training programme

85 had been referred to an education option

134 had dropped out of the process

Over 60 were not yet ready to progress onto the labour market

Approximately 1,100 were considered to be job-ready without further intervention, and were continuing to seek employment.

FÁS Employment Services provides a fully integrated nationwide range of services and supports to assist all Jobseekers and Job Changers, who can register at one of the 71 local FÁS offices nationwide, for on-site career guidance and job placement services. In addition, FÁS Employment Services is the "Gateway" to all FÁS training and employment programmes for Jobseekers and Job Changers.

Question No. 190 answered with Question No. 187.
Question No. 191 answered with Question No. 170.

Departmental Agencies.

Pat Breen

Question:

192 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if increased funding will be made available to a centre (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30666/09]

The allocation of funding and places for the FÁS Mid West Region is fully committed for 2009 and, unfortunately, it is not possible to facilitate the organisation with additional participants. Funding for the FÁS Mid West Region in 2010 will only become clear when the 2010 Estimates process has been completed.

Redundancy Payments.

Dan Neville

Question:

193 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a company (details supplied) will receive a refund for the payment of statutory redundancy. [30755/09]

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department has received a number of applications from the employer in question in relation to the individuals concerned. One of these claims has already been paid. The two remaining applications, which were received during March await processing. Fairness to all claimants claims are processed in order of date received. The Department is currently processing claims received in January 2009 which were completed manually and submitted by post and online claims received during February. Claims submitted online (to www.entemp.ie) because of their nature tend to have a faster processing time.

John Perry

Question:

194 Deputy John Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will ensure that a person (details supplied) in County Sligo who is awaiting a State redundancy payment is awarded payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30796/09]

Payment of statutory redundancy is, in the first instance, a matter for the employer. Currently the statutory entitlement for eligible employees amounts to two weeks pay per year of service plus a bonus week subject to a ceiling of €600 per week. The primary function my Department has in this area, is to ensure that all eligible employees receive their statutory entitlements either from the employer where solvent or directly in cases of insolvency.

The information available to my Department indicates that a redundancy rebate application was made by the former employer on 26 June of this year. This application was based on the submission of signed documentation from the employer which indicates that payment of statutory redundancy was made to the employee in question by the former employer on 25 June 2009. It is, therefore, unclear as to what further payment is sought in this case. Payment of the rebate to the former employer is being assessed at present.

Departmental Reports.

Joe Carey

Question:

195 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the additional resources she has committed to the mid-west region in response to the publication of the mid-west task force interim report of July 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30833/09]

Joe Carey

Question:

196 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will implement in full the key recommendations of the mid-west task force report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30834/09]

Joe Carey

Question:

197 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the mid-west task force interim report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30835/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

198 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, further to Parliamentary Question No. 41 of 2 July 2009, the progress on finalising the mid-west jobs task force; when the final report of the mid-west jobs task force will be completed and published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30880/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

222 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the timescale for the implementation of the report of the mid-west task force, which she established following the closure of a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31785/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 to 198, inclusive, and 222 together.

In February, 2009, I established the Mid-West Task Force, chaired by Mr Denis Brosnan. I received the Task Force's interim Report in July, which contained a wide range of recommendations. As many of these come within the remit of fellow Government colleagues, I am currently in the process of seeking their views on the recommendations. In the meantime, of course, the Government has been responding to the economic downturn generally and has taken numerous initiatives, for example in relation to competitiveness, employment activation measures and the EU globalization fund in relation to individual companies, all of which have particularly benefited regions affected by job losses, including the Mid West region. As regards the final report of the Task Force, Mr. Brosnan indicated previously that this would take some 18 months from February, 2009.

Since the job losses announcement by Dell last January, all of the State development agencies, under the auspices of my Department, have come together and intensified their efforts and activities to support Dell and other workers being made redundant in the region. In the case of IDA, its strategy is to re-position the Mid-West as a centre for knowledge based industry, while focusing on marketing the Limerick/Shannon Gateway as a key location for investment, by building on the strengths already evident in the region. IDA also cooperates with the existing base of employers to encourage additional investment, particularly in activities such as R&D, customer support and back office functions. For example, 8 projects with a job potential of 1,073 were announced by multinational companies in the Mid West in 2008 and the beginning of 2009.

Shannon Development has intensified its engagement with its Shannon Free Zone clients and, along with the other State development agencies, is actively promoting a range of support measures announced by Government to assist companies who are experiencing trading difficulties at this time.

EI is working collaboratively with other state agencies in providing information and support to those facing redundancy. Túsnua was set up in late 2008 to alleviate the pending impact of lay-offs announced by a number of major employers in the Shannon region, which would take effect in early 2009. Túsnua has hosted a number of information events in the region with over 1,500 attendees to date. EI and the Limerick County Enterprise Board have run a series of workshops in house in Dell and are in constant contact with the company, so as to respond quickly to requests for programmes/meetings etc., with anyone wishing to start a business.

As at the end of August 2009, FÁS Employment Services has engaged on a one-to-one basis with a total of 900 staff that have exited the Dell facility through redundancy since May 2009. FÁS has provided intensive on site guidance and information service to the affected workers, with the primary aim of securing other employment, training or further education. In order to meet the substantial additional costs of the measures described above and other costs, my Department has submitted an application to the European Commission, under the EU Globalisation Fund, for support in the provision of labour market services to redundant workers from Dell and downstream companies.

Employment Action Plan.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

199 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the proposed new action plan for the national supported employment programme with particular reference to the requirements that participants be work ready; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30917/09]

Discussions with relevant stakeholders are currently taking place between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and FÁS with a view to reaching agreement on the FÁS action plan. The action plan has been developed by FÁS for implementing recommendations contained in a recent review of the Supported Employment Programme. Overarching stakeholder consultations are being managed under the Department's Consultative Forum on an employment strategy for people with disabilities. It is hoped that agreement of the various stakeholders can be achieved as soon as possible on a number of issues relating to the action plan, including a definition relating to all eligibility criteria for entry to the service, with a view to undertaking a national launch as soon as possible of a re-branded and more efficient supported employment service for people with disabilities.

Employment Rights.

Noel Ahern

Question:

200 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made in the sector since completion of the examination of the brick/block laying sector of the construction industry report in October or November 2006; the recommendations of same; and the progress made on each since. [31023/09]

In late 2003 the National Implementation Body (NIB), which comprises representatives from the Department of the Taoiseach, IBEC/CIF and ICTU, commissioned Mr. Phil Flynn and Mr. Tom Mallon to examine the reasons for the pattern of industrial relations difficulties in the bricklaying sector of the construction industry. The Report was delivered to the NIB in October 2006 and made available to the parties directly involved. The Report contained recommendations that the authors considered, if implemented, to be likely to result in a restoration of ‘normality' to industrial relations in the sector. The authors noted moreover that there seemed to have been a decrease in the frequency of disputes since the Report had been commissioned.

The recommendations in the Report were largely addressed to the parties concerned and were regarded as a package, to be accepted in full by the employers' and workers' representatives. I understand that while the Construction Industry Federation accepted the Report, the Building and Allied Trades' Union could not accept it in full.

Many of the issues identified in the Report were, in parallel, pursued by Government with the social partners as part of a range of employment rights measures that were subsequently agreed within the framework of the Towards 2016 and subsequent Review and Transitional Agreements. These have been reflected in the establishment of the National Employment Rights Authority, and in enhanced liaison between NERA's operations and the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The maintenance of employment standards in the construction sector has also been advanced through the revised contractual conditions that apply under the new Forms of Construction Contracts for Public Works. The Towards 2016 Transitional Agreement also provided for a number of legislative commitments in this area to which the Government has responded in particular through the introduction of the Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008 and the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2009, which are aimed at strengthening protections for employment standards.

Community Employment Schemes.

Noel Ahern

Question:

201 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the regulations on eligibility for community employment schemes and, in particular, the reason persons who take up a week’s work during a period of unemployment should be adversely affected; if she will examine such rules; if the negative message that such rules send is appropriate in today’s different circumstances; and if the matter can be examined with a view to changing rules and making them fairer. [31029/09]

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons (including those with a disability) with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a fixed term basis. CE helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and to assist them to enhance/develop both their technical and personal skills. To facilitate some short-term employment opportunities, breaks off the live register up to 30 days in total are permissible within the 12-month eligibility period, while still maintaining eligibility for CE.

The reason for the 30-day live register break rule is to ensure that the programme responds to its primary target group of long term unemployed clients. Many unemployed people engage in work of a temporary nature. If the programme were open to these individuals, there is a danger that people would leave their employment, albeit of a temporary nature, in order to participate in Community Employment. This would be contrary to the objective of the programme and result in a Labour Market Intervention competing with the open labour market. In circumstances where breaks off the live register exceed 30 days, other interventions may be more appropriate than CE in these instances.

CE still remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment. The programme is managed within this context, with consideration to the availability of resources and the needs of participants and the community. This Government will continue to support the positive role of CE in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. I am keeping the operation of the Scheme under constant review in the context of the current difficult unemployment situation.

Question No. 202 answered with Question No. 175.
Questions Nos. 203 to 205, inclusive, lapsed.

Departmental Staff.

Niall Collins

Question:

206 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if civil servants from her Department who are members of boards of agencies, including commercial and non-commercial State bodies, or who hold other positions with these agencies under the aegis of her Department, receive a fee, salary or remuneration and expenses for holding such a position or positions; if this is surrendered to her Department as their direct employer; her policy in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31227/09]

Civil Servants from my Department who are members of boards of agencies, including commercial and non — commercial State bodies are not in receipt of any fee, salary or remuneration for holding such a position. Travelling and subsistence allowances, at the rate and subject to the regulations appropriate to Civil Servants, are payable in respect of necessary travel undertaken in connection with the board members duties.

The Chief Executive of IAASA, who is a seconded civil servant, is, in accordance with the terms of Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act, 2003, a member of the Board of directors. The Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies provides that, where a State Body's Chief Executive is also a Board member, the post holder may be paid an annual director's fee at the rate approved by the Minister from time to time. Ministerial approval has been granted in this respect. The current rate payable is €8,100 per annum.

Redundancy Payments.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

207 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive their statutory redundancy payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31259/09]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation.

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department received a statutory lump sum application from the individual concerned on 11 May 2009. When an employer claims inability to pay, the onus is on the employer to provide sufficient proof to substantiate the claim. In this case further information had to be requested from the employer to allow a decision to be reached. This has caused a further delay in paying the applicant, in addition to the delays being experienced arising from the unprecedented high volume of claims on hand. However, the required information has been received and the claim is now being processed, and payment should be made within two weeks.

Employment Support Services.

John Cregan

Question:

208 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the supports that are available from her Department for a person who was made redundant and wishes to start up their own business. [31330/09]

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

Anyone who wishes to start their own business should in the first instance contact their local County Enterprise Board (details of all Boards are available on www.enterpriseboards.ie) to seek appropriate advice.

Job Initiative.

Pat Breen

Question:

209 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans for the jobs initiative scheme; if funding will continue to be provided for this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31421/09]

The Job Initiative Programme (JI) which was launched in July 1996 continues to provide full time employment for people who are 35 years of age or over, unemployed for five 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 allowing them the option to continue until they are 65 years of age. The 2009 budget for the Job Initiative is €39 million and there are currently 1,444 participants with this number decreasing annually due to retirement and other reasons.

Job Creation.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

210 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of site visits made by the Industrial Development Authority to Fermoy, County Cork; the initiatives that are being taken to attract new enterprises to Fermoy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31555/09]

The marketing of individual areas for new or expansion foreign direct investment (FDI) and jobs is a day-to-day operational matter for IDA Ireland as part of the statutory responsibilities assigned to it by the Oireachtas and not one in which I have a function. The situation is set out in my reply today to a separate question from Deputy Sherlock.

In line with the National Spatial Strategy, IDA is actively marketing Fermoy as part of the broader North Cork region, which includes the towns of Mallow, Mitchelstown, Fermoy, Kanturk, Charleville, Newmarket and Millstreet. IDA strives to attract companies from across the full range of IDA targeted sectors, such as Pharmaceuticals, Medical Technologies, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Internationally Traded Services via its network of overseas offices and project divisions. In addition the Agency continues to work closely with its existing clients in the area to encourage the expansion of their operations.

However, in the final analysis it is the investor who decides where to visit and where to locate.

Industrial Development.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

211 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will agree to a meeting with Fermoy Town Council, County Cork, with regard to the Industrial Development Authority site in the town; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31556/09]

The management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio, including the creation and marketing of business parks, are day-to-day operational matters for the agency as part of the statutory responsibility assigned to it by the Oireachtas and not matters in which I have a function.

I understand from IDA Ireland that it has approximately six hectares available on the Fermoy Business and Technology Park. To date the Agency has undertaken a number of initiatives to develop and market the lands. IDA Ireland has carried out master planning of the park, landscaped the entrance area and submitted and received planning permission for an advanced technology unit. This pre-planning work could potentially encourage a prospective investor to the park. IDA also provides property solutions to Enterprise Ireland Clients, and in this connection the Agency has completed a land sale to an indigenous company. I understand, however, that the company in question has not yet proceeded with their plans to build on the park. IDA continues to promote the park via its overseas offices and in response to queries from prospective investors. I understand that at present IDA is engaged with a prospective investor who has visited the park and has expressed interest in acquiring a site on the park. I hope that this and other proposals can lead to employment gains in Fermoy. A meeting can be arranged at the appropriate time. To date there has been no request from the Council.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Question:

212 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount of money spent on advertising and promotions in her Department and each agency under her aegis for each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and to date in 2009 in tabular readable form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31576/09]

The amount spent by my Department and the Offices of my Department on advertising and promotions in years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and to the end of August 2009 is outlined in the following table.

Year

Amount spent on advertising and promotions in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and its Offices

2004

1,012,238

2005

1,482,489

2006

1,146,229

2007

3,260,194

2009

191,571

The increase in expenditure in 2007 over 2006 can be attributed to a campaign for the promotion of Employment Rights compliance. In respect of the State Agencies under the aegis of my Department, I have asked the State Agencies concerned to respond directly to the Deputy with the information requested.

Foreign Conflicts.

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

213 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures she takes to ensure that imported goods purporting to be from Israel are not from illegal Israeli settlements and thus do not benefit from the preferential trade agreement the EU has with Israel; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31603/09]

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

214 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the value of the goods originating in illegal Israeli settlements imported into Ireland in 2008. [31604/09]

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

215 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to an article from an Israeli business magazine (details supplied) which refers to methods that businesses based in illegal settlements use to circumvent paying the correct import taxes for goods they export to EU countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31605/09]

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

216 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount of money brought into the Exchequer by charging the higher import tax on goods from illegal Israeli settlements. [31606/09]

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

218 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the names of the companies and the products originating in illegal Israeli settlements imported into Ireland in 2008; and the breakdown of the value of imports from each company. [31608/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 to 216, inclusive, and 218 together.

I am not familiar with the article mentioned by the Deputy but I would like to assure him that Ireland, along with EU partners, regards all Israeli settlements in either the West Bank or East Jerusalem as illegal under international law and accordingly any goods produced in those settlements clearly should not benefit from any preferential trade arrangements between the EU and Israel.

Trade relations between the EU and Israel are currently governed by the EU-Israel Association Agreement. This provides preferential customs status for certain goods traded between the EU and Israel. Consequently, some companies operating in Israel may benefit from exemptions from, or reductions of, import tax or duties when exporting to the EU. Goods exported to the EU from illegal Israeli settlements cannot benefit from these preferential arrangements. In order to ensure that products from these settlements do not benefit from preferential treatment and exemptions, exports to the EU from Israel are subject to proof of origin requirements. This requirement enables customs authorities in each EU member state to identify goods from Israeli settlements and to apply the relevant import duties.

As the competent Irish authority, the Revenue Commissioners Customs Service implement rules of origin controls on imports of goods into Ireland from Israel and Israeli settlements and apply the appropriate tariff duties. The official import data that is collated by the Central Statistics Office, lists the value of imports by reference to the country of origin and also the main categories of commodities involved for each country as a whole. Breakdowns by individual exporting companies or by areas/towns within the relevant country, are not compiled. Accordingly it is not possible to provide the detailed information sought by the Deputy in this case.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners however, that, in the limited time available and based on an initial examination of their records, they have identified total imports from Israel to the value of €71,658,555 in the period from 1 October 2008 to date but it has not been possible to arrive at a definitive statement of the total duty collected in these cases. Within the aforementioned amount, entitlement to preferential duty was claimed in respect of goods to the value of €31,400,605. It is not possible to state with any certainty the reasons why the remaining goods would not have qualified for preference.

Food Labelling.

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

217 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on preparing guidelines for retailers here regarding the way to label illegal settlement produce in order that consumers can differentiate between Palestinian produce and illegal settlement produce. [31607/09]

The Consumer Protection Act 2007 includes specific provisions in relation to the provision of information to consumers in the course of commercial transactions. Specifically the Act provides that the provision of false information in relation to the geographical or commercial origin of a product and where that information would be likely to cause the average consumer to make a transactional decision that the average consumer would not otherwise make, that such a practice is a misleading commercial practice. Traders who engage in misleading commercial practices commit an offence and are liable on conviction on indictment or on summary conviction, as the case may be, to the fines and penalties provided for under the Act. Evidence of traders engaging in misleading commercial practices should be brought to the attention of the National Consumer Agency, which is the body responsible for the enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act 2007.

Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 213.

Company Closures.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

219 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will intervene to save more than 100 jobs at a factory (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31625/09]

I am acutely aware of the consequences of the proposal for closure of the IFF facility in Drogheda, County Louth. IDA has had interaction with the company's headquarters in the United States in recent times. Notwithstanding this, IFF is considering the closure of the operation. I have asked IDA to bring local concerns to the attention of IFF Corporate and to use its best endeavours to minimise the impact of the decision.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

220 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will request FÁS to extend the local training initiative to include the construction of community facilities, including sports halls and community centres, to enable apprentices to complete their apprenticeships and to provide employment opportunities for other unemployed people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31690/09]

The FÁS Local Training Initiative (LTI) programme is a project-based training and work experience programme carried out in local communities and run by local community groups. The LTI provides alternative early training interventions for socially excluded clients and is designed to reach out to niche marginalised groups and provide individually based training tailored to meet locally identified needs.

There is a wide range of activation measures both aimed specifically at redundant apprentices such as the Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme and the provision of 700 places annually at Institutes of Technology for redundant apprentices, and more generally at the unemployed which the Government has implemented or deepened since the April budget.

Activation measures aimed at assisting the unemployed back to work or to retaining vulnerable jobs include over 130,000 training and work experience places funded by my Department through FÁS including 22,700 Community Employment places, a Work Placement programme, a Short-Time Workers training programme and an Employment Subsidy Scheme (Temporary). Moreover, additional activation oriented measures are being funded by the Department of Education and Science to provide significant numbers of part-time third level courses for the unemployed or those on short time working. Full details of all relevant measures have been given to the House previously.

Departmental Programmes.

David Stanton

Question:

221 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cost of administering the cycle-to-work scheme in her Department in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31710/09]

There is no discernible cost to this Department's vote in administering the cycle to work scheme. The bicycles and equipment are paid for by way of salary sacrifice by those acquiring the bicycles. There would be minor costs in processing forms and in carrying the up-front costs until such time as those are offset by the gradual deductions from salary. Neither of these is quantifiable. The only material cost of the scheme to the State is the exemption from income tax, PRSI or levies on that part of an employee's salary foregone in the purchasing of a bicycle and bicycle safety equipment under the scheme.

Question No. 222 answered with Question No. 195.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Willie Penrose

Question:

223 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason, in the current economic circumstances, FÁS charges €120 per course in respect of on-line training courses, which would be available to self-employed people who have lost their jobs, and are looking at retraining as an option, and where in the circumstances a series of such courses in the software area might be necessitated, but because self-employed people are not registered as unemployed, or in receipt of jobseeker’s assistance, they are compelled to pay for same; her views on whether such on-line training would be a cost effective way of offering assistance to people who were self-employed and whose employment is gone; and if she will request that FÁS reconsider same in this context and in view of the economic climate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31792/09]

On-line training courses are available free of charge to all persons who are in receipt of unemployment benefit. FÁS may also allow free access to those persons who have evidence that they are unemployed but who are not in receipt of unemployment benefit. Such cases are decided on an individual case-by-case basis.

Ministerial Expenses.

George Lee

Question:

224 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount that has been claimed in expenses by each Minister and Minister of State in her Department from 1997 to 2008; the reasons these expenses were claimed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31945/09]

It has not been possible, in the time available, for my officials to collate the information sought by the Deputy. My Department has changed its financial management systems over the period since 1997 and therefore it is not feasible to provide the information requested by the Deputy for the years prior to 2002. However, I will write to the Deputy shortly with the information he has requested for the period 2002 to 2008 inclusive.

Communications Masts.

Mattie McGrath

Question:

225 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason behind the new antenna structure located at Cahir Garda station, County Tipperary; the number of antennae on this structure and their purpose; the further reason there was no planning permission advertised for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30140/09]

The telecommunications mast at Cahir Garda Station was recently replaced by a structurally stronger tower to facilitate the roll out of the NDRS (National Digital Radio Service) to provide an improved telecommunications system for An Garda Síochána. There are nine antennae located on the new mast, five of which are Garda Síochána antennae, as on the original mast. Four additional antennae have been installed to facilitate the NDRS. The development was carried out in accordance with the exempt development provisions of the Planning and Development Regulations, 2001.

Public Service Contracts.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

226 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Finance if he contracted a company (details supplied) to build facilities on behalf of the State; if he is satisfied that sub-contractors were paid for works carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30168/09]

OPW has had a contractual relationship with the company referred to by the Deputy on a number of occasions in the past. The Commissioners of Public Works have no formal knowledge of contractual arrangements , which may exist between a Main Contractor of a project and its sub-contractors. Payment to sub-contractors is the responsibility of a Main Contractor.

Energy Conservation.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

227 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the number and percentage of light bulbs in his Department which are energy saving light bulbs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30169/09]

It has been the practice for many years in the public sector to utilise energy saving lighting. It is not possible to give a precise number or percentage of energy saving light fittings for any particular Department. Fluorescent lighting is used for internal lighting in all Government Department buildings, except in the most unusual circumstances. Such circumstances are due to technical or aesthetic reasons where there is no low energy lighting appropriate to the application. Practically all external lighting is low energy.

Insurance Industry.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

228 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance the actions he proposes to deal with the huge rise in insurance premia seen here in 2009; the impact this has on our national competitiveness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30331/09]

I am aware that there has been an increase in insurance premiums this year. This increase however has to be considered against a backdrop of the continuing stress in the financial markets and the recessionary pressures in the economy which is affecting all financial service providers including the insurance industry. My Department has been advised by the Financial Regulator that while the non-life insurance market performed well up to the end of 2006, market sources indicate that much non-life business was written at a loss in 2007. This trend continued in 2008, but the companies were still willing to write business at a loss in order to maintain their market share. They were able to do this as a result of the reserves they had built up during profitable years. However, the situation could not go on indefinitely and indications are that firms are now taking action on pricing to underpin their financial positions.

This position is supported by a report published earlier this year by Standard & Poor's titled ‘A Testing 2009 for the Irish Non-Life Insurance Market, Despite Fundamental Strengths’. It provides an insight into the problems facing the industry at the moment. The report envisages a difficult year for the non-life industry as a result of rising claims and continuing intense competition which they say is limiting price increases. They add that this combined with anticipated lower investment returns is expected to hinder profitability.

In the current difficult trading climate, there is a delicate balance to be struck between ensuring the long-term sustainability of the insurance industry and at the same time making sure that the consumer obtains good value for money. I am particularly conscious of the impact of a significant increase in premiums for both the consumer and business and it must be a priority for insurance companies to ensure that insurance cover is provided as competitively as possible consistent with long term commercial sustainability and viability.

In conclusion, the recent upward trend in insurance prices reflects a range of factors outside the control of the industry. It would not, therefore, be appropriate from a policy perspective to seek to intervene in the commercial conduct or decision making of insurance firms in the absence of clear evidence of market failure in respect of which there is scope to address from a national perspective.

Departmental Expenditure.

Pat Breen

Question:

229 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance the cost of rental for the agricultural office in Limerick for the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30493/09]

The rent paid to date in respect of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food office at Raheen Business Park, Limerick since the commencement of the lease on 1 May 2005 is €1,556,703.67. Service charges in the amount of €147,319.24 have also been paid in respect of these premises.

Tax Collection.

Pat Breen

Question:

230 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance his plans to combat the sale of illicit cigarettes here; his further plans to tackle same on an EU wide basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30564/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

231 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance the number of seizures of illegal cigarettes here for the past three years; the value of those seizures; the point of entry where the seizures were made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30565/09]

Seán Barrett

Question:

240 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the steps he will take to address the illegal market in tobacco products that is costing the State €387 million per annum in lost revenue, and retailers €496 million in lost sales turnover, while undermining the efforts of small retail businesses to provide employment and retail services to local communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30160/09]

Thomas Byrne

Question:

243 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to a problem regarding the importation of cigarettes; his views on whether this is a significant drain on revenue here; the action he will take in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30319/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 230, 231, 240 and 243 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of tobacco products tax and tackling the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products, that the information requested by the Deputies is as follows. Revenue's current strategy for tackling this illicit trade is focussed both on intercepting and seizing illicit consignments at the point of importation and also on carrying out checks at retail outlets, markets and commercial premises etc.

Interception at the point of importation is achieved through a combination of freight intelligence, risk profiling and scanning in the case of smuggling in maritime freight. In the case of passengers arriving by air from high risk source countries where cheap cigarettes are available, targeting smugglers is carried out on the basis of risk profiling by Revenue Officers based at all the main airports. Where feasible, large consignments are placed under surveillance and allowed to proceed to their destination under a controlled delivery with a view to identifying those responsible for the importation. These controlled delivery operations are normally carried out on a multi-agency basis with the assistance of the Garda.

Illicit cigarettes that escape detection at the point of importation are also seized inland in the course of intelligence-based and random checks carried out at retail outlets, markets, commercial premises etc. Follow-up investigations are also conducted with a view to identifying those responsible and instituting criminal proceedings where the necessary evidence has been obtained.

Revenue's strategies in relation to detection of tobacco offences are under continuous review. This includes the adequacy of existing staffing resources and equipment. In this regard, taking cognisance of the interception and seizure of a number of consignments of counterfeit cigarettes bearing counterfeit Irish tax stamps concealed in maritime freight imported from China, it is planned to introduce a new tobacco tax stamp with added security features shortly. In addition, the purchase of a second mobile container scanner has been approved, and this, when deployed, will increase Revenue's detection capability at ports.

The tackling of cigarette smuggling on an EU wide basis is co-ordinated by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) which has established a special task force (entitled OLAF Task Group Cigarettes) for this purpose. Revenue actively co-operates and shares information with this group and also with Customs Administrations in other Member States. In addition, Ireland, along with the other Member States, has ratified two international agreements concluded by OLAF with global cigarette manufacturers Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International, with a view to tackling the illicit trade in counterfeit and contraband cigarettes.

As regards the smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes from the Far East, the extent of the problem is evident from the fact that out of 90m cigarettes seized in maritime freight in 2008, 57m were counterfeit, while over 23m counterfeit cigarettes have been seized to date in 2009 out of a total of 30m detected in maritime freight. China is currently the primary source of counterfeit cigarettes and Revenue has sought the assistance of OLAF's Liaison Officer based in Beijing with a view to tackling this problem at source by requesting the assistance of the Chinese Authorities.

Revenue also works closely with the individual tobacco manufacturers and the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee (ITMAC) with a view to identifying illicit cigarettes on sale in the State as well as current trends and trading patterns. There is close co-operation and sharing of information between Revenue and the Office of Tobacco Control (OTC). It is not possible to accurately determine the potential tax loss as a result of the illicit tobacco trade. The figure of €387m quoted is equivalent to approximately 20% of the market and Revenue would tentatively accept this is an estimate of the amount of untaxed cigarettes consumed in Ireland. However, it is important to note that such estimate includes legal cross-border shopping purchases for personal consumption and not only smuggled counterfeit and contraband cigarettes.

Statistics in relation to seizures since 2006 are set out in the following table. The majority of maritime seizures are made at Dublin Port while most seizures from passengers arriving by air are made at Dublin Airport. Cigarettes have also been seized at the ports of Rosslare, Waterford and Cork and at Cork, Shannon and Regional Airports. Most postal seizures are made at Portlaoise Mail Depot.

Year

Number of Seizures

Number of Cigarettes

Estimated Retail Value

Revenue at Risk

Break-down of the quantity seized by means of importation

Maritime Freight

Pax by air

Post

(Million)

(€ Million)

(€ Million)

%

%

%

2006

17,276

52.38

17.99

14.40

50.6

37.4

12.0

2007

15,481

74.52

25.60

20.49

39.8

54.0

6.2

2008

10,191

135.24

49.23

39.49

67.6

30.0

2.4

2009 (August)

7,158

60.69

25.56

20.34

58.4

37.0

4.6

Electronic Mail.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

232 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance in respect of section 31(a) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1947, if he will clarify the inclusion of transmission by electronic mail as being in compliance with the legislation; and if consideration will be given towards using electronic mail transmission rather than ordinary prepaid postage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30819/09]

Section 3(1)(a) of the Statutory Instruments Act,1947, as amended by section 1 of the Statutory Instruments (Amendment) Act 1955, provides that a copy of every Statutory Instrument is sent to named bodies listed in the Act, including the National Library of Ireland, the Law Library, Four Courts, etc. I have sought the advice of the Attorney General as to whether electronic mail would satisfy the requirement of the Act or whether further amending legislation would be required. However, I consider that the measure proposed by the Deputy is a sensible one and I intend to ensure that it is examined thoroughly and expeditiously.

Betting Offices.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

233 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance the regulations which apply to bookmakers in respect of opening hours; his plans to review these regulations with a view to extending the permissible opening hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30862/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

234 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance if he has examined either the impact on employment or the impact on taxation revenue due to the Exchequer arising from the regulatory approach to bookmakers opening hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30863/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 233 and 234 together.

The permitted opening times of registered betting premises were originally provided for in the Betting Act, 1931. The Act has been amended in particular by the Finance Act 1998 and the Finance Act 2007. The 1998 changes extended the opening hours of betting shops to cater for the growing trend towards evening race meetings and Sunday racing. The 2007 changes extended the opening times of betting shops up to 10.00 p.m. during the ‘winter period' on evenings when a race-meeting is scheduled at an authorised racecourse.

The current legislation covering opening hours of betting shops in summary sets out that:

registered premises cannot be open for business on Christmas Day, Good Friday or Easter Sunday,

from 1 April to 31 August in any year, registered premises cannot open before 7.00 a.m. or after 10.00 p.m., and

from 1 September to 31 March in any year, registered premises cannot open before 7.00 a.m. or after 6.30 p.m., unless a race-meeting at an authorised racecourse is taking place on or after 6.30 p.m. On days on which such a race-meeting is taking place, registered premises can remain open for business until 10.00 p.m.

While a range of issues including revenue yield, employment and social concerns, would be taken into account in considering any changes to the opening hours for betting shops, I have no plans at present to change the current permissible opening hours.

Flood Relief.

Mattie McGrath

Question:

235 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason two drainage schemes (details supplied) in County Tipperary were discontinued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30895/09]

Maintenance of the drainage schemes referred to by the Deputy is the responsibility of the relevant Local Authorities. Laois, Kilkenny and Tipperary County Councils share responsibility for the Goul Scheme, while Kilkenny and Tipperary County Councils are responsible for the Kilbride drainage scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

236 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide funding to flood affected areas (details supplied) in County Mayo; if he will visit the areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30959/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

276 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if he will ascertain from the Office of Public Works if it will provide funding to flood affected areas (details supplied) in County Mayo; if he will visit the areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30958/09]

I propose to takes Questions Nos. 236 and 276 together.

The damage caused in the areas referred to mainly affected public roads. The provision of funding in relation to remedial works for such infrastructure would be a matter for the Department of Transport. The role of the OPW is to work with Mayo County Council to reduce the risk of further flooding. In this regard, the OPW recently wrote to local authorities setting out criteria that the OPW will use to judge the merits of requests for funding for small scale flood alleviation works and studies, to be undertaken by local authorities to address localised flood problems, particularly where a mix of homes, businesses and infrastructure is involved.

The local authorities were requested by the OPW to identify and prioritise such works in their administrative areas. It would be open to Mayo County Council to consider submitting an application in respect of the particular areas referred to by the Deputy in his Parliamentary Question, provided the works proposed by the Council meet the specified criteria, and provided the Council is satisfied that they also are of sufficient priority to warrant consideration for funding. Any request received by the OPW from the Local Authorities will be given full consideration, having regard to overall resources availability.

Departmental Correspondence.

James Bannon

Question:

237 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance the reason that a reply to representations on behalf of persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath took three months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30136/09]

The Office of Public Works endeavours to deal with all correspondence as quickly as possible, while ensuring that the matters raised are fully addressed in the response. Due to the pressure of work on the staff involved, it was not possible, in this particular case, to respond to the representations made within the normal target period.

Tax Code.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

238 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the implications for lump sums in regard to the levy he introduced in the supplementary budget on 7 April 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30151/09]

The position is that income levy is charged on an individual's aggregate income for a tax year. Aggregate income includes lump sums, both bonus payments and retirement lump sums. In the case of retirement lump sums only that part of the lump sum which is liable to income tax is subject to the income levy.

The supplementary budget increased the rates of income levy. These increased rates apply to a person's aggregate income for the year 2009 as a whole. However, in recognition of the fact that persons who were in receipt of termination lump sum payments in the period 1 January 2009 to 30 April 2009 had already paid income levy at the rates originally announced in the budget on 14 October 2008, the supplementary budget and subsequent Finance Act 2009 provided that the levy payable on such lump sums would remain unchanged. If, however, the annualised increased rates of income levy give a more favourable result those affected may elect for the annualised rates to apply. This treatment does not apply to bonus payments, or retirement lump sums paid on or after 1 May 2009.

Flood Relief.

Finian McGrath

Question:

239 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [30156/09]

My Officials in the Office of Public Works (OPW) met with their counterparts from Dublin City Council (DCC) on 29 July in relation to the flooding issue in the general Donnycarney areas caused by the extreme rainfall on 2 July. At the meeting, the City Council tabled an Interim Report on the issue, carried out by the council's consultants. The report found that the previously preferred local flood alleviation option, namely the construction of a duplicate Wad culvert , was not a viable option, as it would in fact increase the risk of flooding downstream in a built up area, closer to the Clontarf seafront. The report concluded that a full study of the River Wad Catchment was required to establish the most appropriate measures to alleviate the flooding problem.

I am advised that the City Council has commenced a procurement process to select a consultant to carry out the study. The Consultant is expected to be appointed in the fourth quarter of 2009, with the Study expected to be completed within a further six months. OPW will continue to work with the City Council on this matter and, in conjunction with the Council, will consider how best to implement any recommendations contained in the Study, when completed.

Question No. 240 answered with Question No. 230.

Tax Collection.

Finian McGrath

Question:

241 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [30190/09]

Finian McGrath

Question:

242 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to a query (details supplied). [30204/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 241 and 242 together.

Tax collection issues in any individual case are matters for the Revenue Commissioners who, for reasons of taxpayer confidentiality, cannot comment on individual cases. As a result, the Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for the Commissioners to comment on the tax affairs of any taxpayer at the request of another taxpayer, which appears to be the import of these questions. By way of general remarks, the Revenue Commissioners have advised me that they are fully familiar with the facts surrounding the transactions in question.

Question No. 243 answered with Question No. 231.

Flood Relief.

Tom Hayes

Question:

244 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide clarification on a number of points concerning the flood works that are in detailed design stage for Clonmel (details supplied), County Tipperary which is due to go to tender. [30334/09]

I am advised by my officials in the Office of Public Works (OPW) that the design of the flood protection scheme around Suir Island does not make provision for penstocks/sluice gates at the entrances and exits of the mill races. Following a detailed investigation by engineering staff it was found that there was no financial or engineering benefit to the flood protection scheme in return for constructing these works. It is considered that the construction of these penstocks/sluice gates would lead to a residual weakness in the flood protection scheme that would require additional maintenance and management on an ongoing basis in order to manage the risk of failure of these elements. OPW engineering staff have reviewed the harbour and channel on the south of the island in order to mitigate the risk of damage to the features in question.

Tax Code.

George Lee

Question:

245 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance his plans to allow pensioners to become eligible for the rent a room relief scheme who are renting a room in their house to their children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30352/09]

The rent-a-room scheme was introduced in Finance Act 2001. The scheme allows an exemption from income tax on rent received where a person rents out a room or rooms in his or her principal private residence, and the rent received does not exceed €10,000 per year (€7,620 up to and including the 2007 tax year). In order to qualify for the exemption, it is necessary for the residential premises to be situated in the State and occupied by the individual as his or her sole or main residence during the tax year.

In 2007, the rent-a-room scheme was amended so that the exemption would not be available to parents who rent a room or rooms to one or more of their children. In such cases, the parents will have to declare their rental income on their annual tax return, net of allowable expenses, and pay any income tax arising. The rent-a-room scheme was introduced as an incentive to encourage individuals to let rooms in their principal private residence. It was never envisaged that the scheme would cover the situation of children living with their parents in the family home. The purpose of the 2007 amendment was to ensure that the exemption is only granted for the purpose for which it was originally intended.

Government Bonds.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

246 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the value of Government bonds issued from August 2008 to August 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30354/09]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

248 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the value of Irish Government bonds issued between August 2008 and August 2009 which were purchased by Irish banks covered by the Government deposit guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30356/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 246 and 248 together.

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) advise that the total amount of Government bonds issued in the period 1 August 2008 to 31 August 2009 was €27 billion. In relation to the geographic distribution of investors, the NTMA advise that such information is only available in relation to bonds sold through syndicated issues. Of the €27 billion raised, some €20 billion was raised through bond syndications. The NTMA advise that syndications since August 2008 have seen approximately 30% distributed to banks covered by the bank guarantee scheme.

As regards bonds sold through auctions, the remaining €7 billion was raised through bond auctions over the relevant period and the only information available relates to the level of participation in the auction by the NTMA's eleven primary dealers, ten of which are international banks. I understand from the NTMA that the level of participation by each Primary Dealer is highly sensitive commercial information and is not disclosed. The NTMA also advise that international investors hold 82% of all outstanding Irish Government bonds. This is a high level by international standards and compares with 22% before the introduction of the euro.

National Asset Management Agency.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

247 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if, in addition to property developer loans, the National Asset Management Agency will purchase any other distressed assets which might be regarded as European Central Bank eligible assets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30355/09]

It is my intention to designate only land and development loans and associated loans as assets eligible for transfer to NAMA. Associated loans will be those loans which are not in the land and development category but which are held by individuals/companies that also have land and development exposures. Associated loans will take account of cross collateralisation and other associated loan exposures of borrowers.

Question No. 248 answered with Question No. 246.

Company Closures.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

249 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the situation in regard to a company (details supplied) where allegations of phoenix syndrome have been made and employees made redundant without redundancy payments being made; if this company has contracts with the Office of Public Works or other State agencies; if a company which goes into liquidation and fails to comply with employment law can subsequently resume State contracts under a new corporate identity and if this has occurred with this company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30364/09]

Policy issues relating to redundancy, company law and employment law are a matter for my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Mary Coughlan in the first instance. I can confirm that this company does not have any contracts with my Department. The position in respect of other Departments or Government agencies is a matter for the relevant Ministers. The company referred to by the Deputy has been utilised by the Office of Public Works on a number of occasions in the past. However, the Commissioners of Public Works have had no contracts with this company in the recent past, and have no knowledge of any contracts that currently exist between this company and the Office of Public Works or other Government Agencies.

Under public procurement regulations contracting authorities are required to ensure that tenderers take account of the obligations relating to employment protection and working conditions that are in force and to disregard any tenderer that fails to comply with this requirement. Standard contract conditions for public sector construction projects empower authorities to monitor compliance by contractors with laws relating to pay and working conditions. In addition, contractors may be excluded from a public tendering process if they have been guilty of professional misconduct or have failed to make tax and social security payments required by law.

Tax Yield.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

250 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the revenue earned from the departure tax in each month since its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30452/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the air travel tax arising from travel undertaken in any month is payable by the 23rd of the following month. The yields from the air travel tax received in the period from May to August 2009, in respect of travel undertaken during the months April to July 2009 are as follows:

Month

€m

May

9.6

June

11.5

July

11.9

August

12.5

Tax Code.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

251 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the administrative problems and problems for individual taxpayers resulting from the introduction of the income levy, whereby in many cases persons only discover their income levy obligation at the end of the financial year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30453/09]

The position is that the income levy is an annual charge. This means that the levy is applied to an individual's aggregate income from all sources in a year, that is, employment, self-employment, rental, investment and dividends. For those with employment only income, which is paid regularity over the course of the year, the payroll deduction system should ensure that the right amount of levy for the year is deducted and paid over to the Revenue Commissioners without the need for any end of year review or claim by the taxpayer.

To the extent that a person may have variations in the level or regularity of their employment income, or where a person has income from other sources in addition to wages and salaries, it will be necessary for that person to apply to the Revenue Commissioners for an end of year review, unless the person is subject to the self-assessment system in which case they will be required to pay Preliminary Tax by 31 October 2009 and submit a self-assessed tax return for 2009 by 31 October 2010.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

252 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if it was envisaged that the income levy would apply to all income once the taxpayer reached the qualifying threshold income; his views on whether this could be unfair to persons earning slightly in excess of the threshold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30454/09]

The income levy structure provides an exemption threshold of €15,028 below which the income levy is not applied. The income levy is applied at a rate of 2% on all income up to €75,036, at 4% on income above this amount up to €174,980 and at 6% on income above €174,980. While it is acknowledged that the threshold at €15,028 leads to a "step" in the income levy, the overall structure is fair and progressive.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

253 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that the Revenue Commissioners liaise with the Department of Social and Family Affairs to ensure that artists availing of the artists’ exemption scheme are not presented with a large backlog of unpaid PRSI payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30455/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that artists who qualify for exemption from income tax under the provisions of section 195 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 are obliged to pay any PRSI due on such income directly to the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Arrangements are already in place whereby the Revenue Commissioners notify the Department of Social and Family Affairs, on request, of the names, PPS Numbers and income details of those tax-exempt artists who have submitted a return of income to the Revenue Commissioners, so as to facilitate the determination and payment of the PRSI liability of each such person. Artists are obliged under the provisions of section 195(11) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 to make an annual return of income. I am also informed by the Revenue Commissioners that arrangements are currently being put in place to facilitate the payment of PRSI by tax-exempt artists directly through the self-assessment Pay and File tax system for 2009 and following years.

Public Appointments Service.

Finian McGrath

Question:

254 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will advise on a matter (details supplied). [30488/09]

Vacancies for Temporary Clerical Officers arise in various Government Departments and Offices from time to time throughout the country. Such vacancies are filled by way of recruitment campaigns undertaken by the Public Appointments Service (PAS). I can confirm to the Deputy that the closing date for receipt by the Public Appointments Service of applications for the 2009/10 Temporary Clerical Officer competition was 25 March 2009. Temporary vacancies notified to PAS will continue to be filled from this campaign until a further recruitment campaign is announced. Mr McNamara should be advised to register with www.publicjobs.ie which will notify him of future opportunities.

Oireachtas Expense Allowances.

George Lee

Question:

255 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance his plans to reform the system of payment of expenses to Deputies to prevent abuse of the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30489/09]

It should be recognised that TDs incur legitimate expenses as part of their parliamentary duties both in attending Leinster House and as part of their constituency duties. I have already taken steps in relation to the revision of expenses. I have generally reduced the Oireachtas expense allowances by 10% and by 25% in the case of mileage. The Oireachtas Commission made proposals to me about the system of expense allowances payable to members of the Oireachtas. The proposals were an attempt to provide a more streamlined expenses system involving a single composite allowance in place of the existing separate allowances.

I have introduced enabling legislation which would allow the proposals of the Commission to be implemented. The Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) and Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Act 2009 provides for the introduction of a single composite allowance for Deputies and Senators to be known as the Parliamentary Standard Allowance. However, I am of the view that there is a need for further consideration and discussion of the proposed composite allowance before it is introduced in any regulations.

Job Assist Scheme.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

256 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the number of employers who have availed of the Revenue job assist scheme in the years 2005 to 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30532/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of employers who have availed of the Revenue job assist scheme in the years concerned is as follows:

Year

Number

2005

567

2006

410

2007

286

2008

193

2009 (to 4 September)

133

Financial Regulation.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

257 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance if in view of the €29 million cost to the taxpayer of funding the Financial Regulator in 2009, he will provide a commitment that the full cost of financial regulation is borne by the financial institutions from 2010, which is in line with the practice in most other countries and particularly in view of the spending cutbacks in health, education and social welfare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30533/09]

The Financial Regulator is currently funded by two sources. These are direct levies paid by financial entities that are regulated by the Financial Regulator and a subvention from the Central Bank, which is provided from the Bank's own resources generated from its activities in the financial markets. In 2009, it is estimated that the former funding source will raise approximately €34 million and the latter approximately €29 million for the Regulator.

As the Deputy is aware, most of the functions carried out by the Financial Regulator will be integrated with the Central Bank's functions in the new Central Bank of Ireland Commission. Accordingly, the new integrated organisation will be responsible for both the supervision of individual financial institutions and the stability of the financial system generally. The financing by the industry of the regulatory functions of the new organisation will be considered in the context of the transfer of functions to the new Central Bank of Ireland Commission.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

258 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the reason he has not appointed the remaining members of the Financial Regulator’s consultative consumer panel; when he will do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30534/09]

The Central Bank Act 1942 as amended provides that the Consultative Consumer Panel shall consist of not fewer than five and not more than 20 members. In January, I appointed eleven members to the Consumer Panel. Accordingly, all statutory requirements on the level of membership of the Panel have been fully met. The possibility of making further appointments to the Consumer Panel, subject to appropriate consultation, is kept under consideration.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

259 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the budgets of the Financial Regulator’s consultative consumer panel and consultative industry panel in 2009; the remit and conditions for expenditure of such moneys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30535/09]

I am informed by the Financial Regulator that the annual budgets for the Consultative Panels are agreed between the respective Chairs of the Panels and the Authority. The 2009 budget for the Consumer Panel is €208,000 and the budget for the Industry Panel is €85,000. These budgets cover the costs arising from external research and consultations, the publication of the respective annual reports and travel and subsistence costs paid to Consumer Panel members. Also, a daily attendance allowance is paid to Consumer Panel members when attending on Panel business. No such attendance allowance is paid to members of the Industry Panel. In addition, an employee of the Financial Regulator serves as Secretary to the Consultative Panels.

George Lee

Question:

260 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance the number of moneylender licences currently issued by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority; the way the number of licences issued has changed since the year 2000; the interest charges, including the annual percentage rate allowable under these licences; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some companies in possession of these licences are charging low income earners interest rates as high as 152% for loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30540/09]

Licensed moneylenders are covered by a range of provisions under the Consumer Credit Act, 1995 (as amended) including the licensing process administered by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (Financial Regulator) under which a moneylender's licence is valid for a period of 12 months from the date on the licence.

The number of moneylender licences issued in the year 2009 to date is 51 and the number of licences issued in 2000-2008 is as shown by year in the Table hereunder.

Year

No. of Moneylender Licences

2000

64

2001

60

2002

57

2003

52

2004

52

2005

50

2006

48

2007

51

2008

52

Licence details are maintained by the Financial Regulator (FR) on itsMoneylender Register which may be viewed via the following link:

http://registers.financialregulator.ie/DownloadsPage.aspx.The number of licences in issue at a particular time does not vary significantly because the number of new licences is more or less equivalent to those who have ceased trading. Details of the precise annual percentage rate (APR) permitted to be charged under a particular moneylender licence may be obtained by consulting the Moneylender Register.

Loans offered by moneylenders are a relatively expensive form of credit where the moneylending agreement is usually for a small loan borrowed over a short period. Therefore, APRs charged by licensed moneylenders are, generally, much higher than those charged by lenders such as Banks, Building Societies and Credit Unions, who provide much larger loans for much longer periods. A possible higher risk of default is a further consideration for the moneylender.

Moneylenders are obliged to inform the Financial Regulator of the maximum APR they intend to charge to consumers. It is printed on each moneylender licence and an APR above this may not be charged. Inspections of moneylenders are carried out by the Financial Regulator in which moneylending agreements are examined to determine the APRs actually charged. A licence application can be refused on the grounds that the Financial Regulator is of the opinion that the cost of credit charged is excessive. There is no provision in the Consumer Credit Act with regard to the maximum APR that can be charged by moneylenders.

The Deputy may wish to note that the Financial Regulator, in its March 2007A Report on the Licensed Moneylending Industry in Ireland, concluded that the introduction of an interest rate ceiling for moneylenders may not achieve the objectives of lowering the cost of credit for consumers. From late 2007 to late 2008, the Financial Regulator engaged with interested stakeholders (including Credit Union representatives) with a view to increasing transparency in relation to costs associated with loans from moneylenders. This included its March 2008 Consultation Paper CP33.

Chapter 1 of theConsumer Protection Code for Licensed Moneylenders Code, which came into effect on 1 January 2009, sets out ‘General Principles’ with which a moneylender must comply such as that it must act honestly and professionally, with due skill, care and diligence in the best interests of its consumers.

The Code's remaining provisions, including ‘Common Rules for Moneylenders', are due to come into effect on 30 September 2009. These set out requirements in relation to the provision of information to the consumer, preservation of a consumer's rights, knowing the consumer, suitability, unsolicited contact (cold calling), disclosure, errors, handling complaints, consumer records, unsolicited credit facilities, arrears and guarantees; and debt collection. Among these is the requirement for the moneylender to assist a consumer in understanding the product provided, including the method of repayment, all related interest payments, charges and the cost per €100 borrowed.

Ministerial Expenses.

George Lee

Question:

261 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance the rules and regulations of the expenses regime for Ministers; if restrictions are imposed on ministerial expenses; the amount that has been claimed in expenses by each Minister in his Department from 1997 to 2008; the reasons these expenses were claimed; his plans to introduce new rules or reform the system of payment of expenses to Ministers in order to minimise the risk of abuse of the ministerial expenses system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30545/09]

Ministers may receive allowances to cover the expenses they incur as members of the Oireachtas and as holders of Ministerial Office. The specific allowances payable in respect of Ministerial Office are described below. Ministers are entitled to subsistence payments when they are absent from their headquarters and home on official business. In general, expense allowances have been reduced by 10%. However, mileage rates have been reduced by 25%. Revised guidelines relating to foreign travel were issued by my Department on 1 July 2009.

Subsistence is payable where a Minister is absent from his or her headquarters and home on official business in Ireland and abroad. In Ireland Ministers may claim the vouched cost of a hotel room, including tax and up to 15% for service charges and a subsistence allowance of €72.66 per night. The latter amount reflects a reduction of 25% from 5 March 2009 and is designed to provide for meals and a small amount for incidentals. Where absent abroad on official business, Ministers may also claim the vouched cost of a hotel room including tax and up to 15% for service charges. The subsistence rate payable varies from location to location.

Ministerial Expense Allowances

Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (MEA)

The MEA is payable to Office holders, TDs and Senators. This allowance is designed to reimburse the individual for additional expenses incurred through being a member of the Houses of the Oireachtas which are not already encompassed by other allowances for specific expenses.

Member

Rate

€ pa

Taoiseach

13,000

Minister

12,000

Minister of State

11,000

Other Office holders

8,200

Office Accommodation Allowance

There is a one-off grant towards the cost of setting up a constituency office, the Constituency Office Grant, of €8,000. Thereafter, there is an annual grant of €8,000 towards the running cost of the office.

Special Secretarial Allowance for Ministers

There are two options available to Ministers; either a fully vouched annual amount of up to €41,902 for employing a temporary staff member or for the purchase of secretarial equipment and services; or a vouched annual amount of €11,591 for work or service done or employment of a temporary person, plus an un-vouched annual amount of €8,888.

Details of travel and subsistence payments

The following tables contain details of the subsistence expenses paid to Ministers for Finance for the period 2003-2008. Hotel accommodation charges are generally paid directly to the hotel by, or on behalf, of the Department. The earliest information readily available from the Department's Accounting system is from 2003 when the system was upgraded.

Details of payments by this Department to Ministers of State at the Office of Public Works are also set out below. It has not been possible in the time available to compile all information in relation to expenses claims paid by the Office of Public Works to the Ministers of State. This information will be forwarded directly to the Deputy shortly.

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2003 for Minister McCreevy

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Jan 2003

Brussels

Eurogroup & ECOFIN

193.34

Feb 2003

Florida

Business

302.96

Feb 2003

Brussels

ECOFIN

193.34

Mar 2003

Brussels

Eurogroup & ECOFIN

133.00

Mar 2003

Brussels

Eurogroup & ECOFIN

154.67

Apr 2003

Athens

Informal ECOFIN

158.00

May 2003

Brussels

Eurogroup & ECOFIN

290.03

Jun 2003

Luxembourg

Eurogroup & ECOFIN

229.10

Jun 2003

Berlin

German Finance Minister

254.67

Jul 2003

Bali, Indonesia

ASEM

524.78

Jul 2003

Brussels

Eurogroup & ECOFIN

308.56

Sep 2003

Italy- Stresa

Informal Ecofin

363.25

Sep 2003

UAE Dubai

IMF/World Bank

650.75

Oct 2003

Luxembourg

ECOFIN

222.89

Oct 2003

Brussels

European Council

150.67

Oct 2003

Italy- Venice

W.Duisenberg Event

447.75

Nov 2003

Brussels

ECOFIN

150.29

Nov 2003

Brussels

ECOFIN

187.96

Nov 2003

Brussels

European Council

150.29

Total

5,066.30

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2004 for Minister McCreevy

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Jan 2004

Frankfurt

European Central Bank

114.32

Jan 2004

Brussels

ECOFIN

187.96

Jan 2004

Brussels

EMAC

75.33

Feb 2004

Florida /Brussels

G7 & ECOFIN

565.85

Mar 2004

Brussels

Eurogroup & ECOFIN

187.96

Mar 2004

Brussels

GAERC

37.67

Mar 2004

Brussels

European Council

150.29

Apr 2004

London

ERBD

126.47

Apr 2004

Washington/NY

IMF/World Bank

1,053.20

May 2007

Brussels

ECOFIN

187.96

May 2004

New York

G7

405.28

May 2004

London

British & Irish Ombudsman

156.12

Jun 2004

Luxembourg

ECOFIN

267.55

Jun 2004

Brussels

Conference

37.67

Jul 2004

Brussels

ECOFIN

150.29

Jul 2004

Lisbon

Commission Seminar

82.46

Aug 2004

Brussels

Commission Seminar

75.33

Aug 2004

Brussels

Commission Seminar

150.29

Sep 2004

Brussels

Commission Seminar

225.62

Sep 2004

Scheveningen

Informal ECOFIN

226.10

Sep 2004

Brussels

Commission Seminar

375.91

Sep 2004

Brussels

Commission Seminar

185.62

Total

5,025.25

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2004 for Minister Brian Cowen

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Oct 2004

Luxembourg

ECOFIN

178.22

Nov 2004

Brussels

ECOFIN

150.29

Dec 2004

Brussels

ECOFIN

150.29

Total

478.80

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2005 for Minister Brian Cowen

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Jan 2005

Brussels

ECOFIN

150.29

Feb 2005

Brussels

ECOFIN

187.96

Mar 2005

Brussels

ECOFIN

150.29

Mar 2005

Atlanta/Georgia

US St. Patrick’s Day Programme

1,346.95

Mar 2005

Brussels

European Council

150.29

Apr 2005

Luxembourg

Eurogroup

89.33

May 2005

Brussels

Meeting With EU Agriculture Commissioner

35.17

May 2005

Luxembourg

Informal ECOFIN

190.00

May 2005

Belgium

Inauguration of restoration works at the Irish College Leuven

50.00

Jun 2005

Luxembourg

ECOFIN

190.00

Jun 2005

China — Peking

ASEM Meeting China

552.96

Jul 2005

Brussels

ECOFIN

140.67

Jul 2005

Germany — Berlin

Meeting with German Finance Minister

133.33

Sep 2005

Washington DC

IMF/World Bank

1,501.53

Oct 2005

Luxembourg

Eurogroup

95.00

Nov 2005

Brussels

ECOFIN

175.84

Total

5,139.61

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2006 for Minister Brian Cowen

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Jan 2006

Brussels

ECOFIN

175.84

Feb 2006

Brussels

ECOFIN

140.67

Mar 2006

Brussels

European Council

140.67

Mar 2006

Australia/Sydney Canberra Brisbane

St. Patrick’s Day Programme

1,893.00

Apr 2006

Luxembourg

Informal ECOFIN and ASEM Finance Ministers Meeting

281.67

May 2006

Brussels

ECOFIN

152.67

Jun 2006

Luxembourg

ECOFIN

237.50

Jul 2006

Brussels

ECOFIN

305.34

Sep 2006

Finland Helsinki

Informal ECOFIN

289.94

Sep 2006

Luxembourg

ECOFIN

237.50

Nov 2006

Brussels

ECOFIN

152.67

Nov 2006

Brussels

Eurogroup

38.17

Total

4,045.64

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2007 for Minister Brian Cowen

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Jan 2007

Slovenia

Euro Ceremony

124.26

Jan 2007

Brussels

ECOFIN

190.84

Feb 2007

Brussels

ECOFIN

190.84

Mar 2007

Brussels

Eurogroup

152.67

Mar 2007

Brussels

ECOFIN

190.84

Mar 2007

USA — Chicago

St. Patrick’s Day Programme

1577.99

Apr 2007

Germany — Berlin

Informal ECOFIN

266.66

Jul 2007

Brussels

ECOFIN

194.16

Sep 2007

Portugal-Oporto

Informal ECOFIN

268.00

Oct 2007

Luxembourg

Eurogroup

47.50

Nov 2007

Brussels

Eurogroup

38.83

Total

3,242.59

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2008 for Tánaiste Brian Cowen

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Jan 2008

Malta — Valletta

Adoption of Euro Currency Malta

165.39

Jan 2008

Cyprus — Nicosia

Adoption of Euro Currency Cyprus

284.77

Jan 2008

Brussels

ECOFIN

194.16

Feb 2008

Brussels

ECOFIN

194.16

Mar 2008

Brussels

ECOFIN

155.33

Mar 2008

Malaysia-Vietnam

St. Patrick’s Day Programme

1,108.44

Total

2,102.25

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2008 for Minister Brian Lenihan

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

May 2008

Brussels

ECOFIN

194.16

Jun 2008

Frankfurt — Luxembourg

ECOFIN & European Central Bank Event

336.00

Jul 2008

Brussels

Eurogroup

77.67

Sep 2008

France

Informal ECOFIN

240.00

Oct 2008

Luxembourg

ECOFIN

190.00

Oct 2008

Brussels

European Council

155.33

Nov 2008

Brussels

ECOFIN

155.33

Dec 2008

Brussels

Eurogroup

77.67

Total

1,426.16

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2003 for Minister of State Tom Parlon

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Oct 2003

Italy/Rome

Informal Regional Meeting on Cohesion Policy

223.56

Nov 2003

Brussels

Budget Council

131.45

Total

355.01

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2004 for Minister of State Tom Parlon

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Jan 2004

Brussels

Keynote address at the 2nd Annual European Financial Services Conference

131.45

Apr 2004

Brussels

Bi-lateral meeting re agreement with San Marino On Taxation on Income

37.67

May 2004

Paris-France

OECD meeting

120.34

May 2004

Brussels

Address to Third European Forum

75.33

Jul 2004

Brussels

EU Budget Council

131.45

Jul 2004

Sligo

Showcases in Public Service Excellence

125.99

Nov 2004

Brussels

EU Budget Council

225.24

Nov 2004

The Hague

Ministerial Substantive Troika

52.15

Total

899.62

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2005 for Minister of State Tom Parlon

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Apr 2005

Luxembourg

ECOFIN Meeting

111.21

May 2005

Paris

OECD Ministerial Meeting

97.34

May 2005

Luxembourg

Informal Ministerial Meeting on Regional Policy in Luxembourg

42.15

Jun 2005

Luxembourg

Informal Ministerial Meeting on Public Services

118.75

Oct 2005

Brussels

Ministerial meeting on Structural and Cohesion funds

35.16

Nov 2005

Brussels

EU Budget Council meeting

123.08

Total

527.69

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2006 for Minister of State Tom Parlon

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

May 2006

Paris

OECD meeting

122.09

Nov 2006

Brussels

EU Budget Council

76.33

Dec 2006

Paris

Attend Climate Change conference

97.33

Total

295.75

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2008 for Minister of State Noel Ahern

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Apr 2008

Belfast

Peace 3 Conference Belfast

48.32

Total

48.32

Travel and Subsistence claims for 2008 for Minister of State Dr Martin Mansergh

Month of travel

Destination

Type of Meeting attended

Amount Claimed

Jun 2008

Korea South Jeju Island

Asem Meeting

250.93

Jun 2008

Prague

EURO Conference

177.71

Jun 2008

Paris

OECD Meeting

146.00

Jul 2008

Brussels

Ecofin Meeting

135.91

Oct 2008

Paris

Banking and Fraud Conference in Paris

188.33

Nov 2008

Derry

Bankers Association Dinner in Derry

116.95

Total

1,015.83

Architectural Heritage.

Pat Breen

Question:

262 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 163 of 7 July 2009, if he will arrange to have the Office of Public Works visit and meet with local representatives (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30591/09]

The Office of Public Works is currently making arrangements to visit and meet with local representatives in relation to their concerns about Quin Abbey, Quin, Co. Clare.

Tax Code.

Pat Breen

Question:

263 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 119 of 11 March 2009, if, in view of the recent losses at Aer Lingus, he will review the imposition of the €10 air travel tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30596/09]

As the Deputy is aware, I announced in Budget 2009 that an air travel tax would come into force in respect of passengers departing from Irish airports on and from 30 March 2009. A general rate of €10 per passenger would apply, with a lower rate of €2 for shorter journeys. The Finance (No.2) Act 2008 confirms the introduction of an air travel tax from 30 March 2009. However, I took account of concerns raised by the regional airports particularly those on the western seaboard. The lower rate of €2 will apply to departures fromany Irish airport where the destination is 300kms or less from Dublin airport. This means that all Irish departures to locations such as Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow will be subject to the €2 rate. Ireland is not unique in regard to applying a tax on air travel. Other countries within the EU apply similar taxes such as the UK and France, as do Australia and New Zealand. The proposed rates for the Irish air travel tax are not unreasonable both for shorter and longer journeys, when compared to rates in other countries.

It should be recognised that tourists will only be subject to the tax on their return journey. The additional €10 or €2 in the context of a much larger purchasing decision involving travel, hotel expenditures etc. shouldn't have much of an effect on tourist numbers. I appreciate the airline industry continues to go through a difficult period. However, this difficult trading period arises primarily from weak world economic activity.

It should be noted that at present the decline in air travel is an international phenomenon and as a result aviation services are contracting on a global basis. Indeed the decline in the number of people travelling is also evident in those countries where there is no air travel tax in place. We currently face significant financial challenges and the air travel tax is an important revenue raising measure. I tried to be as fair as possible in looking at areas for additional tax revenues. It is also worth noting that fuel used by commercial airlines is completely exempt from tax, so it's a sector that already has considerable preferential treatment. I have no plans to review the air travel tax.

Brian Hayes

Question:

264 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the decision of bookmakers (details supplied) to announce their intention to relocate their Internet business from the United Kingdom to Gibraltar with a loss to tax revenues and employment within the UK; his plans, in view of the portability of Internet betting operations, to tax Internet betting which could encourage existing Internet bookmakers based here to move their businesses to low tax jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30646/09]

Chris Andrews

Question:

281 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a study into taxing on-line and phone betting; his views on the introduction of a tax for on-line betting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31036/09]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

293 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that all bookmakers’ betting duty payments are up to date in 2009; if not, if the provisions of section 29 (6) of the 2009 Finance Act are being fully enforced; if not, his views that the taxpayer subsidise slow-to-pay bookmakers; if further attention has been drawn to the fact that the Internet operations of two companies (details supplied) in August 2009 relocated offshore to Gibraltar with hundreds of smart economy job losses in the UK as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31509/09]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

294 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that of the ten largest bookmakers marketing here, only two companies employ Internet staff here while the other eight companies are located in low tax regimes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31510/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 264, 281, 293 and 294 together.

I am aware that certain bookmakers are considering relocating their internet businesses from the UK, including to Gibraltar. It is the prerogative of a company to locate its businesses where it sees fit. In that regard, it should be noted that Ireland's tax regime, for example corporation tax, compares favourably to other countries. In addition, Ireland has a highly skilled and flexible workforce.

As I stated during the Finance Bill process, it has been my intention to widen if possible the tax base on which betting duty would be applied. Bets placed either online or over the phone are generally with out-of-State companies so applying betting duty is therefore problematic. My officials, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, are looking at the scope to overcome legal and operational difficulties in this area and will continue to do so, on an ongoing basis.

In addition, my Department is working closely with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform which has initiated a review in order to provide the Government with options for a new and comprehensive legal and organisational framework governing gambling architecture in the State. The review, amongst other things, will consider:

the recommendations contained in the Report Regulating Gaming in Ireland,

the existing law regulating gaming lotteries and other forms of gambling in the jurisdiction,

international developments, in particular the experience of the UK's Gambling Commission,

developments in relation to remote gambling (e.g. via the internet and mobile phones).

As the Deputies may be aware, due to pressure on the betting sector, I decided to defer the introduction of the increase in the betting duty provided for in Finance (No. 2) Act 2008 pending a review. Accordingly, the Finance Act 2009 contains a provision for continuing the existing betting duty rate of 1% unless and until an order is made bringing the 2% rate into effect, or alternative betting taxation arrangements are enacted. This decision is based on the premise that the betting sector will engage in constructive discussions about putting in place a fair and workable tax base for the sector. Such discussions will, inter alia, touch on issues such as online/phone betting, which is largely untaxed, and look at proposals that could potentially bring this area into the tax net, if possible, while also protecting Irish employment in the sector.

In relation to the matter of the late payment of betting duty by bookmakers, betting duty is payable quarterly, by the 15th day of the month following the end of the quarter. If betting duty is not paid when due, interest is payable on the amount outstanding, in accordance with section 74 of the Finance Act 2002 as amended by section 29(6) of the Finance Act 2009. The current rate of interest, effective from 1 July 2009, is 0.0274 per cent per day. It is a key goal of the Revenue Commissioners to ensure that everybody complies with their tax responsibilities, and that any taxes due are paid in a timely way. If a betting duty payment is not received by the due date, Revenue pursues the matter with the bookmaker concerned to ensure that payment is made as soon as possible.

Public Procurement.

Seán Barrett

Question:

265 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Finance his plans to direct public procurement authorities to modify the tendering process in respect of smaller public sector construction contracts under the EU procurement directive level of €5.25 million by short-listing ten randomly selected approved local contractors; if he will apply the open tender procedure in the case of all civil engineering projects with a value of less than €15 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30686/09]

I recognise the importance of public contracts as a source of business for SMEs and I am anxious to promote their participation to the greatest extent possible under EU law. It is inevitable, of course, given present conditions in the construction sector, that there will be greater competition than formerly for places on tender lists and in tender contests. My Department is in discussions with the EU Commission on the question of whether the use of random selection as a means of short listing works contractors would be permissible under EU procurement law.

The open tendering procedure is widely used for civil engineering projects and under EU and national procurement rules, this procedure allows firms meeting the minimum suitability standards to tender for public sector work without any further short listing. However, EU rules stipulate that contracting authorities have the right to use other tendering procedures, such as the restricted procedure, where they deem it appropriate to the circumstances of the particular project.

Financial Services Regulation.

Finian McGrath

Question:

266 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [30713/09]

In the context of successful social partnership, the Government has been and continues to be supportive of all interested parties accepting and implementing Labour Court recommendations. In relation to the recapitalised banks however, these operate at an arms' length basis and as such I do not have a role in the wage negotiating process of the banks. I will be responding to the issues raised in the attached letter directly to the individuals concerned later this week.

National Development Plan.

Finian McGrath

Question:

267 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount that has been invested in the children’s programme under the national development programme in 2009; the targets that have been met with this funding; if the funds ring-fenced for the children’s programme will be left intact in the 2010 budget; the level of funding that will be available for the provision of out-of-school services. [30726/09]

The Annual Report on the National Development Plan for 2007 has been published and sets out comprehensive information on expenditure and outputs under each Programme. The document is available on my Department's website at www.ndp.ie/docs/NDP_Annual_Report_2007/2135.htm. Please see pages 135 to 145 of the Report.

A total of €1.611 billion (€1.5 billion current and €110 million capital) was invested during 2007 under the nine sub-programmes within the Children's Programme and responsibility for these sub-programmes rests with the following Departments: Health and Children, specifically the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Health Service Executive; Education and Science and Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The next progress report on the NDP is due in 2010 and will cover the years 2008 and 2009.

My colleagues, The Ministers for Health, Education and Justice can provide the Deputy with more detailed and up to date information on expenditure and outputs in 2008 and 2009 under the sub-programmes for which they are responsible. All decisions on funding allocations for 2010 will be taken as part of the forthcoming Estimates process.

Departmental Staff.

John O'Mahony

Question:

268 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance if the customs official based at Killybegs in County Donegal has been replaced; if not, when this position will be filled. [30731/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, as part of a review of small offices, Revenue has assessed the need for full-time attendance at Killybegs, taking into account the level of demand for Revenue services at that location and modern service delivery channels. It was found that the level of demand did not warrant full-time attendance. Accordingly, the official who had been based in Killybegs until his recent retirement is not being replaced at that location.

Revenue officials met with Killybegs-based traders to discuss how the work could be re-organised to meet their service requirements. It has been agreed that service will be available to traders from the Revenue office in Donegal Town, which is only 25 kilometres from Killybegs. A much larger pool of staff is available at Donegal Town to ensure continuity and consistency of service and to deliver a broader range of customer services from that location. Full contact details, including contact names, telephone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses, have been given to the traders. Where necessary, an officer from Donegal Town can attend at Killybegs by appointment if physical presence is needed for any particular transaction. The level of service provided, as well as the methods of service delivery, will be kept under review.

The Revenue Anti-Evasion Teams will continue to cover Killybegs Port as part of their ongoing patrols, while the Customs Cutter patrols the coastline. The attendance of these enforcement personnel is selective and targeted and is based on analysis and evaluation of national and international seizure trends, traffic frequency, routes and other risk indicators. Attendance can also be as a result of specific intelligence. Patrols of the ports are kept under constant review to take account of available intelligence and emerging smuggling trends.

Customs Service.

John O'Mahony

Question:

269 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the number of visits by the customs dog unit to each of the regional airports and ports in the west and north-west region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30732/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Revenue has, for a number of years, employed a drug detector dog handler in Sligo who is engaged full time on drugs detection activities, principally at the regional airports and the ports. In line with best practice in Customs administrations worldwide, Customs enforcement activity is selective and targeted and is based on analysis and evaluation of national and international seizure trends, traffic frequency, routes and other risk indicators and can also be as a result of specific intelligence.

It is not the policy of the Revenue Commissioners to publish exact details of enforcement activities as this could prejudice future operations. However, during the period 1st January 2009 to 30th June 2009, over 250 flights into the regional airports in the west and north-west were targeted on a risk analysis basis.

Garda Stations.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

270 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the proposed purchase of a building site from the Health Service Executive, with a view towards constructing a new Garda station at Portlaoise, County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30763/09]

The Commissioners of Public Works are progressing with negotiations to acquire a 2 acre site from the HSE in Portlaoise, for the construction of a new Garda Headquarters on behalf of An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

271 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [30779/09]

On 20 September 2008, I announced that the Government had decided to increase the compensation limit for the Deposit Guarantee Scheme in Ireland from €20,000 to €100,000 per depositor per institution. The cover applies to 100% of each individual's aggregate deposits up to the prescribed limit per financial institution and also applies to deposits held in credit unions. The Financial Services (Deposit Guarantee Scheme) Act 2009 provided a statutory basis for the making of subsequent regulations (European Communities (Deposit Guarantee Scheme) Regulations 2009) in order to give legal effect to this decision on deposit guarantee arrangements. The Deposit Guarantee Scheme applies to all credit institutions authorised in this State.

In addition there is a further guarantee called the Credit Institutions Financial Support Scheme which applies to the seven covered credit institutions (AIB, Anglo Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Irish Life & Permanent, Postbank, Irish Nationwide, and EBS). As you are aware, the Scheme provides a State guarantee for all deposits and certain liabilities of the guaranteed institutions to the extent that these are not covered by existing deposit protection schemes in the State or any other jurisdiction. In short, depositors must first claim from the Deposit Guarantee Scheme and then move on to claim any balance from the Credit Institutions Financial Support Scheme.

The Credit Institutions Financial Support (CIFS) Scheme was put in place for a two year period from 30 September 2008 to 29 September 2010. However, as I announced in my Supplementary Budget Statement on 7 April 2009, it is the Government's intention to put a State guarantee in place for the future issuance of debt securities with a maximum maturity of up to five years. The enactment of the Financial Measures (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act on 26 June 2009 has provided a power to extend the guarantee by order beyond its current expiry date of 29 September 2010. In this regard, work is continuing on the drafting of a Scheme, the introduction of which requires EU State aid and Oireachtas approval. Access to longer-term funding in line with the mainstream approach in the EU is expected to contribute significantly to supporting the funding needs of the banks and to securing their continued stability. The extended scheme must be approved in accordance with EU State aid rules and discussions are continuing in this regard with the European Commission.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

272 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the increase in excise duty for an off-licence which increased by 100% in 2009 makes no distinction between off-licences that have a tiny volume of sales and those that sell bigger quantities; if he will review the licence fee in order that it does not create a burden on outlets that run convenience stores; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30788/09]

Following an increase of €50, from €250 to €300 per licence announced in Budget 2008, the excise duty for an off-licence was further increased to €500 in Budget 2009 in conjunction with an increase in the excise duty for a range of licences to manufacture or sell alcohol products. The excise duty for such licences was increased to €500 as most of them had not been increased for a significant period, many not since 1992. It is the general practice that excise duty on licences to trade are set at one rate and do not differentiate based on the volume or quantity of activity undertaken by the holder of the licence.

National Asset Management Agency.

Finian McGrath

Question:

273 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that the National Asset Management Agency complies with EU state-aid law. [30793/09]

On 25 February 2009, the European Commission provided guidance on the treatment of asset relief measures by Member States. The Commission considers that a common European approach is presently needed to deal with the treatment of impaired assets to ensure banks resume their normal function of lending to the economy. Guidelines were also issued by the European Central Bank on bank asset support measures.

The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) initiative announced on 7 April, the details of which have been published in the National Asset Management Agency Bill 2009 that will be subject to a second stage debate today, has been developed within the common EU framework detailed in the European Commission Guidance and guidelines issued by the European Central Bank. My officials are engaged in ongoing consultations with the European Commission to ensure that the design and the implementation of the NAMA proposal will be consistent with EU State aid requirements.

Customs Service.

John O'Mahony

Question:

274 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance if he will guarantee that the new cutter boat which is about to be brought into service by the Revenue Commissioners will regularly patrol the west coast of Ireland in order to enhance drugs surveillance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30878/09]

The new cutter as with the existing cutter will have a national remit, including the west coast of Ireland. Either or both vessels can and will be deployed to patrol and carry out operations along that coastline as and when required. The practice with the existing cutter is that deployments consist of a mixture of routine patrols and specific risk-driven taskings. This practice will continue, enhanced by the increased capability of the Revenue Commissioners with two cutters.

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that sea trials are due to commence next week at the shipyard in Finland, where the second Revenue Cutter was built. Following those trials and any necessary changes to the vessel, shipyard personnel are due to deliver the cutter to Ireland for handover to Revenue Customs in the last week of September. The actual delivery date is dependent on the duration of the sea trials and weather conditions during the voyage from Finland to Ireland. Allowing for a short period of time for crew familiarisation, it is expected that the cutter will come into full service in the second half of October.

Tax Code.

John Cregan

Question:

275 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Finance his views on a VAT exemption for a voluntary group (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30904/09]

The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. 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. As medical appliances such as the Lokomat machine were not subject to the zero rate on 1 January 1991 it is not possible to apply the zero rate to the supply of such products.

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. Annex III allows the provision of a reduced rate for the supply of medical equipment, aids and other appliances to alleviate or treat disability which is used for the exclusive personal use of a disabled person. However this provision does not extend to the supply of medical equipment for the use of multiple persons, which is the intended use by Cois Ceim Eile of the Lokomat machine. In this case the only rate that can apply to the Lokomat machine is the standard VAT rate of 21.5%. However, there is an option open to Cois Ceim Eile to apply for a VAT Refund for the purchase of the Lokomat machine under the VAT refund scheme for certain donated medical instruments and appliances (SI 58/92).

The main conditions relating to this refund scheme are that:

the appliance or instrument is donated to a hospital;

the appliance costs €25,390 or more in value (exclusive of tax);

the appliance is designed and manufactured for use solely in medical research or in diagnosis, prevention or treatment of illness;

the appliance is purchased through voluntary donations, such that no part of the funds used in the purchase is provided directly or indirectly by the State, a State body or any public or local authority, which includes lottery funding; and,

the appliance is subject to a recommendation by the Minister for Health and Children that, having regard to the requirements of the health services in the State, a refund of tax would be appropriate.

Question No. 276 answered with Question No. 236.

Departmental Reports.

Michael Ring

Question:

277 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance when a report from ecologists (details supplied) will be finalised. [30974/09]

The Office of Public Works expects that the ecologist's report will be completed by the end of September.

Tax Code.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

278 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance the avenues open to a charitable organisation (details supplied) in County Cork with a view to recouping VAT paid at 21% on equipment purchased from charitable funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30999/09]

Charities and non-profit groups engaged in non-commercial activity are exempt from VAT under the EU VAT Directive, with which Irish VAT law must comply. This means they do not charge VAT on the services they provide and cannot recover VAT incurred on goods and services that they purchase. However, there is provision for the refund of VAT incurred on the purchase of a new medical instrument or appliance by a person who donates such equipment to a hospital. The main conditions relating to this refund scheme are that:

the appliance or instrument is new and is donated to a hospital;

the appliance costs €25,390 or more in value (exclusive of VAT);

the appliance is designed and manufactured for use solely in medical research or in diagnosis, prevention or treatment of illness;

the appliance is purchased through voluntary donations, such that no part of the funds used in the purchase is provided directly or indirectly by the State, a State body or any public or local authority, which includes lottery funding; and,

the appliance is subject to a recommendation by the Minister for Health and Children that, having regard to the requirements of the health services in the State, a refund of tax would be appropriate.

Individual medical instruments or appliances costing less than €25,390 (exclusive of VAT) therefore do not qualify for a VAT refund under the scheme. Claims for refund in respect of other donated equipment meeting the above conditions must be made within 4 years, and should be submitted to the Revenue Commissioners VAT on Registered Repayments Section, River House, Charlotte Quay, Limerick.

Public Sector Staff.

Noel Ahern

Question:

279 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the recruitment embargo in the wider public sector; the position regarding persons on panels who were waiting to be called into employment; if all panels will stay in existence and if positions will be offered to those on panels whenever recruitment commences again; the position regarding temporary staff who were recruited in cases pending panels being set up; if these are still in employment; if their contracts are being rolled over; the number of temporary or contract staff that exist; his views on a claim from a person on a panel who cannot now be recruited but who feels discriminated against by a temporary staff member who failed to get a sufficiently high panel place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31027/09]

The recruitment and promotion moratorium announced on Friday 27th March 2009 applies to the civil service, local authorities, non-commercial state bodies, the Garda Síochána and the Permanent Defence Forces. It is not an embargo. An embargo would imply that no filling of vacancies whatsoever could take place. The Minister for Finance has the authority to allow for the filling of some vacancies in very exceptional circumstances. The Government decision also provides that vacancies may be filled by redeployment of staff from other Departments or public bodies with the sanction of the Department of Finance. In addition, arrangements for the health and education sectors have been modulated to ensure that key services are maintained insofar as possible.

The moratorium decision also applies to temporary appointments on a fixed-term basis and to the renewal of such contracts. Any exceptions to this principle,which will arise in very limited circumstances only, require the prior sanction of the Department of Finance. Such sanction would be given only if the Department of Finance was satisfied that the post is essential to the delivery of a public service or performance of an essential function and that every effort has been made to fill the post by redeployment. With regard to persons on panels, the position is that panels from open competitions generally stay in place until the next competition is held. Interdepartmental promotion panels have a definite life span and this is agreed centrally with the relevant Civil Service union. Departmental promotion panels also have a definite life span and this is agreed locally with the relevant Civil Service union.

In the context of the Moratorium, a decision has been taken that interdepartmental promotion panels will be allowed to lapse as the closure date is reached. Decisions in respect of Departmental promotion panels will be taken at Departmental level. Regarding the position of temporary staff, in general, such staff are recruited for specific business needs and they remain in the relevant posts while the business need continues. As the wider public sector includes a very broad range of organisations and bodies, the Deputy will appreciate that my Department does not have detailed information on the number of temporary or contract staff that exist. However, I have asked my Department to contact other Departments and Offices to seek data for bodies under their aegis and my Department will convey the results to the Deputy.

Regarding the question of a person on a panel feeling discriminated against, the Deputy will be appreciate that I do not have details of the instance in question and moreover that I cannot comment on individual cases. I am satisfied, however, that the moratorium is necessary and appropriate in the current economic circumstances. No decision has yet been taken on future recruitment and promotion.

Departmental Agencies.

Noel Ahern

Question:

280 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the various legal panels for solicitors and barristers under the control of his Department or agencies under its remit; the process for getting on the various panels; if done annually or occasionally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31032/09]

There are no legal panels for solicitors and barristers under the control of my Department. The Department has its own in-house legal adviser in certain functional areas, and in certain cases would avail of the services of the Offices of the Chief State Solicitor and the Attorney General. My Department does, from time to time, require specific legal services on certain matters not available elsewhere; in such instances, save in exceptional cases, normal public procurement processes are followed. With regard to agencies under the remit of my Department, the following is the position:

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they have a number of different arrangements for the engagement of solicitors and barristers. They have entered into contracts with six firms of external solicitors to provide legal services associated with debt collection and associated enforcement processes. These firms are engaged following a public procurement process which includes the publication of a request for tender document which invites firms that fulfil certain criteria to submit a tender for the supply of legal and debt collection services. This is followed by an evaluation of the tenders and an invitation to those deemed suitable, to attend for interview. The contract entered into by the successful firms usually extends for a period of six years. Contracts covering the period 1st January 2010 to 31st December 2015 have recently been agreed.

In addition, a number of solicitor firms provide Commissioner for Oaths services to Revenue. Five such firms are engaged at present with contracts valid until 30 June 2012. In this instance, a number of firms were invited to express an interest in providing the service based on the following criteria:

Ability to attend at specified locations at specified times and dates each week.

Ability to comply with urgent requests for attendance outside of the normal days of attendance.

Ability to cover periods of absence of regular Commissioner i.e. holidays, sick leave or other work commitments.

Production of a current tax clearance certificate.

Finally, it is open to practising Barristers to apply at any time for nomination as Counsel by the Revenue Solicitor. A form for this purpose is available on the Revenue website at www.revenue.ie

The Commission for Public Service Appointments

The Commission for Public Service Appointments (CPSA) does not have legal panels for solicitors and barristers. However the CPSA has a contract to provide legal advice on the interpretation of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004, other statutes, statutory instruments, regulations as applying to Public Service under the Commission's remit. The current contract for these legal services is with Matheson, Ormsby, Prentice (MOP). This Office complies with the Procurement Regulations as appropriate.

Office of Public Works

Legal advice required by the Office of Public Works (OPW) is supplied by the Chief State Solicitor's Office (CSSO). A Service Level Agreement (SLA) was entered into between OPW and CSSO in early 2005, as part of which a number of panels of external solicitors were created. Eight areas of specialised legal expertise were identified and a panel of solicitors created for each. The areas were:

Commercial Contracts

Compensation and Drainage Scheme

Construction Contracts

Copyright and Art Management

Employment Law

Health and Safety

National and EU Procurement

Planning and Development.

The process for getting on the panels involved a series of interviews conducted by the Chief State Solicitor's Office. Firms were judged in eight fields of expertise and awarded marks according to their knowledge and experience of the area, commitment to service, backup personnel, continuous professional development, proactive approach to dealing with CSSO and OPW and approach to minimisation of costs. A review of the SLA is planned and, as part of the process, the panels will be reviewed.

The State Laboratory, Valuation Office, and the Public Appointments Service do not have any such panels.

Question No. 281 answered with Question No. 264.

Departmental Staff.

Niall Collins

Question:

282 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if civil servants from his Department who are members of boards of agencies, including commercial and non-commercial State bodies, or who hold other positions with these agencies under the aegis of his Department, receive a fee, salary or remuneration and expenses for holding such a position or positions; if this is surrendered to his Department as their direct employer; his policy in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31229/09]

There are no civil servants from my Department who receive fees, salary or remuneration for membership of Boards of agencies under the aegis of my Department. In some cases, where meetings would be held away from the normal location of such an officer, travel expenses can be paid in accordance with normal civil service rules. In the case of agencies under the aegis of my Department, I have been advised that in relation to the office of the Revenue Commissioners, Office of Public Works, Valuation Office, State Laboratory, Public Appointments Service and the Commission for Public Service Appointments, there are no civil servants who receive fees, salary or remuneration for membership of Boards of agencies under the aegis of my Department.

The general policy is that public servants should not receive additional remuneration for undertaking other duties in the Public Service, such as acting as directors of state-sponsored bodies or serving on commissions or other such bodies. The principle, usually referred to as the "one person one salary" principle, was first enunciated by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector in 1972, and it has been a feature of the Public Service since then. The policy was most recently restated in a letter to the secretaries general of all Government departments in 2006.

The Review Body subsequently recommended that payment of fees could be sanctioned in exceptional circumstances. This policy has been implemented on the basis that each of the following conditions must be met:

(1) that the duties involved are neither a part nor an extension of the officer's normal duties, and

(2) that a rigid insistence on the principle of one person-one salary would deny scarce skills to the State, and

(3) that payment is permitted for one additional appointment only, and

(4) that the approval of the Department of Finance for additional payments is required in each case, and

(5) that in no case should payment exceed the normal fee for the activity concerned, and

(6) that the duration of such payment should be limited to one term or 5 years whichever is greater.

One civil servant of my Department receives the normal board fee as a member of the board of a State agency which is under the aegis of another Department as that appointment meets these conditions.

Tax Code.

Dan Neville

Question:

283 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Finance if he will make a statement on the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [31251/09]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the income levy in his question. I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that persons entitled to hold a full medical card are specifically excluded from the income levy as introduced on 1st May 2009. The individual should supply sufficient evidence to his pension provider that he holds a full medical card. The pension provider will cease deductions of the income levy and can refund immediately any amount of income levy already deducted this year.

It is not necessary for pension providers to wait until the end of year to make any refund due in medical card cases. This matter relates to the case of an individual An Post pensioner and the answer will depend on the specific circumstances involved. The pension related deduction, also known as the pension levy, which was introduced by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, only applies to payments made to a public servant for his/her services as a public servant. This means that it would not generally apply to pension income.

Financial Services Regulation.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

284 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that the banks at present are functioning as they should be; the instructions he issued to the directors that he placed on the boards of the banks (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31294/09]

The banking system is not functioning as it should be and today I am introducing major new legislation to address this issue. To deal with credit specifically, the Deputy will be aware that a core Government objective is to free up lending on a commercial basis into the economy to support economic growth and a number of actions have been taken to achieve this objective. In the context of the bank guarantee scheme and recapitalisation the banks have made important commitments to support business lending.

As part of the recapitalisation package announced on 11 February, Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland reconfirmed their December commitment to increase lending capacity to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by 10% and to provide an additional 30% capacity for lending to first time buyers in 2009. If the mortgage lending is not taken up, then the extra capacity will be available to SMEs. AIB and Bank of Ireland have also committed to public campaigns to actively promote small business lending at competitive rates with increased transparency on the criteria to be met. The Financial Regulator have been monitoring compliance with this commitment and no issues have arisen requiring attention. Officials from my Department are also in regular contact with the banks concerned in relation to their progress on implementing these measures.

The Mazars Review of SME lending showed that demand had fallen sharply, with the value of new applications for credit down by 42%. Stock of credit remained static, indicating that new credits matched repayments. I understand that in a normal year, 15% to 20% of outstanding credit might be repaid, so that significant lending must take place, even to keep the figure constant. There has been much comment on cases of refusal of credit by banks. The Review found that refusal rates vary markedly by sector from 6% to 48% according to the SMEs surveyed. This finding clearly contradicts the allegation of a blanket refusal to lend. Mazars also examined a sample of files where credit was refused and found that, in general, "refusal seemed reasonable in the context of normal commercial and business criteria."

Looking to the future, my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has set up a Clearing Group including representatives from the main banks, business interests and state agencies, which is chaired by her Department. The purpose of the group is to identify specific patterns of events or cases where the flow of credit to viable businesses appears to be blocked and to seek to identify credit supply solutions. As part of the ongoing work of the Clearing Group, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is calling for submissions from viable businesses that have been refused credit by banks. Such businesses, where the flow of credit appears to be blocked, can now send their details to a dedicated e-mail contact point at the Department.

Although the Group cannot act as an appeal mechanism for individual cases of credit refusal, it is charged with seeking to identify credit supply solutions relating to any patterns identified. Information provided by businesses will inform and assist this work. The e-mail contact for submissions to the Credit Supply Clearing Group is creditsupplyclearinggroup@entemp.ie With regard to using my influence through the two public interest directors, the Deputy should be aware that those non-executive Directors appointed in the public interest are treated the same under company law as other directors. Their fiduciary responsibility is to the company and I would stress that these directors do not have a reporting relationship to me or to my Department.

Tax Collection.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

285 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the black economy will thrive in the current recession; the number of inspections on private one-off house building sites carried out to date in 2009 by the Revenue Commissioners here; the number of inspectors involved in calling to building sites in which one-off houses or extensions are being built; if this is correlated to the commencement notice sent in by home owners for these buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31295/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that statistics are not maintained in a manner which can identify Revenue compliance interventions or activities specific to one-off house building sites or extensions. Revenue maintains statistics on its activities in the construction industry as a whole, and has completed 1,794 audits in the industry to end August 2009, recovering €62m in taxes, interest and penalties. In addition, 83 site visits and 12,155 assurance checks yielding a further €10m have been completed up to the same date. The Commissioners have advised me that as part of their compliance programmes at a local level, projects are undertaken from time to time drawing on information about planning permissions for one-off housing.

The Hidden Economy Monitoring Group operates under the chairmanship of the Revenue Commissioners bringing together the Social Partners and the government departments involved in policing the shadow economy. In this regard, the Revenue's Joint Investigation Unit works closely with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) in relation to specific shadow economy risks. The Revenue Commissioners keep their audit and tax compliance programmes under constant review to ensure that they are focussed on the areas of greatest risk, including risks from any upsurge in the shadow economy. In total in 2008, Revenue completed 13,414 audits recovering €569.2m in tax, interest and penalties, and over 347,445 assurance checks which brought in €63 million.

Financial Services Regulation.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

286 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance his views on imposing a ban on all commercial banks getting involved in speculative investment other than deposit accounts (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31296/09]

My role as Minister for Finance with respect to financial regulation is to bring forward legislative proposals to the Oireachtas for the regulation and supervision of the financial services sector. That statutory legislative framework places responsibility for the day-to-day supervision of financial institutions with the Financial Regulator. The Regulator is statutorily independent in the exercise of its supervisory functions.

The Regulator's statutory consumer protection mandate is aimed at helping consumers make informed decisions in a safe and fair marketplace. In this context, the ‘General Principles' of the Regulator's August 2006Consumer Protection Code (Code) stipulates that a regulated entity must ensure that in all its dealings with customers and within the context of its authorisation, it acts honestly, fairly and professionally in the best interests of its customers and the integrity of the market.

In addition, the Code's ‘Common Rules for all Regulated Entities', sets out specific requirements with which a regulated entity must comply in areas such as its terms of business, provision of information to the consumer, preservation of a consumer's rights, knowing the consumer, suitability, unsolicited contact (cold calling), disclosure requirements, handling complaints, conflicts of interest, Chinese walls and compliance with the Code. Chapter 6 of the Code contains specific requirements in relation to investment products including, in relation to tracker bonds, a requirement to warn the customer that the value of an investment may go down as well as up.

Furthermore, the Regulator's July 2006Minimum Competency Requirements set out minimum standards across all financial service providers which are applicable to individuals who, on a professional basis, as, for, or on behalf of, a regulated firm provide advice to consumers on retail financial products, arrange or offer to arrange retail financial products for consumers or undertake certain specified activities. Retail financial products include shares, bonds and other investment instruments and savings, investment and pension products. Regulated entities are required to comply with both the Code and Minimum Competency Requirements as a matter of law and the Regulator will investigate any matter brought to its attention where it appears that these, or any other regulatory requirement, may have been breached by an entity.

Any allegation of mis-selling of financial products is a serious matter and will be treated as such by the relevant authorities and any complaint regarding the conduct of a regulated entity should be brought to the attention of the Regulator for investigation. Where found by the Regulator to have breached its obligations, a regulated entity may be subject to financial or other sanctions, up to and including withdrawal of its authorisation.

The Deputy may wish to note that where a customer has a complaint regarding his / her treatment which has not been resolved through the internal complaints resolution systems of a regulated entity, the customer may also bring the matter to the attention of the Financial Services Ombudsman for investigation. I am satisfied therefore that adequate provisions are in place to regulate the activities to which the Deputy refers. However, if it considered that additional powers are required to address such matters, I am open to considering appropriate suggestions for changes to the statutory framework.

Flood Relief.

Denis Naughten

Question:

287 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to address the summer flooding in the Shannon callows; the action he will take to deal with the hardship experienced by farmers in the callows in 2009 as a result of the loss of all fodder crops in the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31341/09]

As the Deputy is aware, the Office of Public Works (OPW) carried out some clearance of vegetation in the Callows area to mitigate summer flooding, which has been a particular problem recently, given the wetness of the last two summers. The OPW also undertook to investigate the feasibility of carrying out limited silt removal in the "New Cut" area to establish the impact this would have on water levels. Due to the environmental sensitivity of the area, it has not been possible to date to devise a scheme that would be both acceptable to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), and justifiable on cost-benefit grounds.

Arising from recent representations from the IFA, requesting further works to improve channel conveyance capacity, OPW officials met with the NPWS in early September. The OPW is currently seeking to identify works that might be environmentally acceptable, with a view to reverting to the NPWS in the near future. The OPW has also written to Waterways Ireland in relation to the concerns expressed by landowners in the area regarding maintenance of channels and management of water levels. I have personally visited the area on two occasions in the past twelve months in the company of the President of the IFA, Pádraig Walsh, and local residents and farmers, to see the situation for myself and to talk through the issues.

Tax Code.

Denis Naughten

Question:

288 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance his plans to tax child benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31357/09]

The position in relation to Child Benefit is as set out in my Supplementary Budget on 7 April 2009. My Department, together with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners are considering the matter.

Customs Service.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

289 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if a second Revenue cutter will be delivered in September 2009 as planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31394/09]

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that sea trials are due to commence next week at the shipyard in Finland, where the second Revenue Cutter was built. Following those trials and any necessary changes to the vessel, shipyard personnel are due to deliver the cutter to Ireland for handover to Revenue Customs in the last week of September. The actual delivery date is dependent on the duration of the sea trials and weather conditions during the voyage from Finland to Ireland. Allowing for a short period of time for crew familiarisation, it is expected that the cutter will come into full service in the second half of October.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

290 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if a second x-ray container scanner has been delivered to the customs service; if not, the stage the process is at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31395/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the container scanner project remains on target for the new scanner to be deployed by the end of this year. The procurement process is at an advanced stage, Revenue having signed the contract and agreed the manufacturing and factory-acceptance testing schedule with the supplier.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

291 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the number of customs checks which took place at each airport here in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31396/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the table below sets out the number of customs checks at the airports/aerodromes that have flights into and out of the State, on either a scheduled or an on-going basis. The type of customs checks implemented vary significantly, depending on the type and origin of traffic and the level of risk in each case.

Some other aerodromes do have occasional flights into or out of the State, when permission is usually given on a one off basis. These aerodromes, together with all other small aerodromes/airstrips where there is a possibility for flights to arrive from outside the State, are also subject to customs checks, having regard to the level of risk at the aerodrome in question. However, it is not appropriate to publish details of the number of checks in each case, as this could prejudice the control being applied.

2007

2008

2009 (to end August)

Cork

325,500

331,200

207,500

Donegal

44

88

60

Dublin

3,455,831

4,457,208

2,996,864

Galway

176

444

290

Kerry

4,500

4,800

2,500

Knock

606

990

1,275

Shannon

167,182

143,089

67,546

Sligo

72

40

60

Waterford

600

902

165

Weston

18

76

25

Charles Flanagan

Question:

292 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the number of sniffer dogs available to customs officers; the locations covered by these sniffer dogs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31397/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there are currently 12 detector dog teams in Revenue's Customs Service. The teams are deployed in the Revenue Regions as follows:

Dublin Region — 5 detector dog teams;

South West Region — 3 detector dog teams;

East & South East Region — 3 detector dog teams;

Border Midlands West Region — 1 detector dog team.

A further team is in training and is expected to be operational by the end of the month. This team will be deployed in the Dublin Region.

The teams are primarily deployed across their region of assignment, but are also available to work elsewhere as the exigencies of the Service demand. Their main function is the detection of illicit drugs, but there is also one team trained to detect tobacco/cigarettes and one team trained to detect currency. The Deputy will appreciate that illicit cash movements are the lifeblood of organised crime and drug trafficking. The detector dog teams play an important role in delivering on Revenue's commitments to the Supply Reduction Pillar of the Government's National Drugs Strategy; and the recently published strategy document for the period 2009-2016 recognises this.

Questions Nos. 293 and 294 answered with Question No. 264.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

295 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he has appointed an assessor to determine the value of shares in Anglo Irish Bank; if not, when he will do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31559/09]

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. Preparatory work on the process to appoint an Assessor is underway in my Department, with a view to making early progress on the appointment. In considering the optimum approach to filling the position of Assessor, I will have regard to best practice internationally on such matters.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Question:

296 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money spent on advertising and promotions in his Department and each agency under his aegis for each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and to date in 2009 in tabular readable form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31578/09]

The following table sets out the amounts spent by my Department and the offices under its aegis on advertising and promotions for each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009.

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Year to date 2009

Office of the Appeals Commissioner

0

0

0

0

0

0

Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments

29,692

70,436

63,129

45,593

38,404

13,605

Office of the Minister for Finance

309,480

224,637

376,265

312,222

128,062

45,628

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

2,080,000

2,200,000

2,170,000

3,090,000

2,700,000

900,000

Public Appointments Service

1,029,191

1,621,463

1,539,480

1,509,070

1,170,825

108,175

State Laboratory

5,350

0

17,709

5,924

11,032

6,050

Valuation Office

682

8,569

34,973

26,818

26,406

6,691

In the time available for answering the question, the Office of Public Works was unable to compile the information. That Office has advised me that it will forward the information to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Departmental Programmes.

David Stanton

Question:

297 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance the cost of administering the cycle-to-work scheme in his Department in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31712/09]

There is no discernible cost to this Department's vote in administering the cycle to work scheme. The bicycles and equipment are paid for by way of salary sacrifice by those acquiring the bicycles. There would be minor costs in processing forms and in carrying the up-front costs until such time as those are offset by the gradual deductions from salary. Neither of these is quantifiable. The only material cost of the scheme to the State is the tax relief inherent in the scheme. The total amount sanctioned to date by way of cycle purchases for staff of this Department is €10,357.74.

Hospital Staff.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

298 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has sanctioned employment as nursing staff of persons who have completed their training under the Health Service Executive’s programme introduced in 2002 to allow hospital administration staff and porters train as nurses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30083/09]

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

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

In addition, the employment control framework specifically exempts the following front line grades in the health sector from the moratorium: Medical Consultants, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Clinical Psychologists, Behaviour Therapists, Counsellors, Social Workers, and Emergency Medical Technicians. The framework actually allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800 wtes) for the health sector. The framework also includes provision for the creation of 225 new development posts this year for cancer and disability services. The focus on these key grades is in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding has already been provided. The overall result will be to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care.

The HSE operates a sponsorship scheme for eligible and experienced public service employees who wish to train as nurses/midwives. This scheme was introduced to provide a career development pathway for health care assistants and other support staff who are involved in the delivery of care to patients and clients of the public health service. While these students were undertaking the nursing degree programme they retained their substantive posts and are paid accordingly. There are forty seven students in this cohort who have signed sponsorship contracts which require them to work for their sponsoring employer for a minimum of five years. These student nurses are now due to graduate and register as nurses. The HSE is in discussion with my Department about the implications for this scheme of the moratorium and further information has been sought ahead of making a submission to the Department of Finance on the matter.

Child Care Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

299 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will grant the free year pre-school placement to a child (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30347/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the implementation of the new Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which provides a free Pre-School year to eligible children and which will be introduced in January 2010. Children will qualify for the free pre-school year where they are age between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months in September each year. The application of this age range is being interpreted as generously as possible to include children who are aged more than 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months at 1 September.

This will mean that, in January 2010, children born on or after 2 February 2005 or on or before 30 June 2006 will qualify. In September 2010, children born on or after 2 February 2006 or on or before 30 June 2007 will qualify, and so on in subsequent years. As eligibility is determined by reference to age, the child in question would not be eligible to participate in the scheme in January 2010 being aged 3 years and 1 month old on 1 September 2009, but would be eligible on 1 September 2010 when she will be aged 4 years and 1 month old. 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.

Departmental Properties.

Dan Neville

Question:

300 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount realised from the sale of St. Mary’s psychiatric hospital, Ennis, County Clare; her plans for the expenditure of same; and the position relating to the implementation of such plan. [30353/09]

Property management is a matter for the Health Service Executive. The question has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Homeless Persons.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

301 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding that has been allocated to provide for care running costs of homeless services for each year since 2000; the amount that will be allocated to this for the next 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30382/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

302 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will arrange for the development of guidance on addiction, mental health and other treatment services for people while homeless; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30393/09]

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

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Pat Breen

Question:

303 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 320 of the 23 June 2009, if she will report on the status of agreeing a bilateral agreement between Ireland and Vietnam. [30469/09]

Dan Neville

Question:

304 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding Irish families who want to adopt children from Vietnam. [30650/09]

John Deasy

Question:

308 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of discussions with the government of Vietnam on the renewal of the bilateral adoption agreement; when she expects the agreement to be concluded; when she expects the resumption of adoptions between Ireland and Vietnam; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31242/09]

Michael Creed

Question:

311 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the bilateral adoption agreement with Vietnam; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31830/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

312 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to the bilateral agreement between Ireland and Vietnam; the progress on same in the past three months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31988/09]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

347 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the current situation in respect of Vietnamese adoptions; the likelihood of an imminent bilateral agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30341/09]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

348 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if a date has been set for the meeting here with officials from Vietnam in regard to the resumption of an adoption agreement between the two states; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30348/09]

Finian McGrath

Question:

378 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [30483/09]

Phil Hogan

Question:

398 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding adoption between Ireland and Vietnam; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30555/09]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

405 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the bilateral adoption agreement with Vietnam; when a new agreement will be reached and implemented in order to enable adoptions between Ireland and Vietnam to proceed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30691/09]

Alan Shatter

Question:

412 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the arrangement of a new bilateral adoption agreement with Vietnam; the further steps being taken to progress matters. [30751/09]

Niall Collins

Question:

424 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the Ireland-Vietnam bilateral adoption agreement; when families here can expect that adoptions will recommence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30818/09]

Mary Upton

Question:

439 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects progress to be made in relation to the arrangements for adoption, between Ireland and Vietnam; the reason the bilateral arrangements have been allowed to falter; if her attention has been drawn to the impact the protracted delay and shut-down of adoptions from Vietnam is having on couples here who had expected the process to proceed and roll-over after the five year arrangement had lapsed; the action she will take to reactivate the process and ensure that those prospective adoptive parents can be assisted in moving on the process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30986/09]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

447 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to the renewal of the bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam; if arrangements are in place to resolve this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31062/09]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

449 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children when further face-to-face discussions will take place with Vietnamese officials to finalise a new bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam; and the timeframe for the resolution of all outstanding issues. [31064/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

461 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if a draft agreement with Vietnam has been submitted to the Vietnamese authorities to allow adoptions to recommence with Vietnam. [31255/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

462 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding both the interim agreement with Vietnam and the draft new agreement with Vietnam to allow adoptions to resume with that country; the number of families awaiting adoptions that have been delayed due to the issues with these agreements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31256/09]

Tom Hayes

Question:

463 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the outcome of the Minister of State’s trip to Vietnam to resolve issues arising from the adoption process between both countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31257/09]

Joe Carey

Question:

465 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the efforts of the Minister of State with responsibility for children over summer 2009 in relation to renewing the bilateral agreement with Vietnam; when she expects a conclusion to the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31266/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 303, 304, 308, 311, 312, 347, 348, 378, 398, 405, 412, 424, 439, 447, 449, 461, 462, 463 and 465 together.

The issue of intercountry adoption and, in particular, the negotiation of a new bilateral agreement with Vietnam has been given considerable priority by my officials over the last year. I have advised the House and parent/prospective adoptive parent representative groups on many occasions regarding the developments in relation to those discussions. I must emphasise, yet again, that the Government's objective is to provide a regime in which the child is at the centre of the adoption process, whether it is an intercountry or domestic adoption, and that adoptions are effected in a manner which is safe and secure.

The most important development in achieving that objective is the development of an appropriate legislative regime which recognises the changed and changing global situation regarding adoption over the last 20 years. The Adoption Bill, which includes the regime of the Hague Convention, provides an assurance for individual children, their families, and the State, that appropriate procedures have been followed and that the adoption was affected in the best interests of the child. A core principle of the Adoption Bill and the Hague Convention is that the child's interests must be paramount. The Hague Convention, which is given the force of law in this Bill, effectively puts in place an agreement between states to regulate the standards that will apply in each jurisdiction. It is to safeguard that acceptable standards are being applied in other countries, over which we have no jurisdiction.

Over the last month two significant Reports have been undertaken regarding child welfare, protection and adoption in Vietnam. Firstly, in August 2009 Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs with technical assistance UNICEF in Vietnam published a report entitled "Creating a protective environment for children in Viet Nam :An assessment of child protection laws and policies, especially children in special circumstances in Viet Nam” . Some of the issues raised in this Report had already been under consideration in the context of ongoing deliberations of the drafting of a new bilateral agreement with the Vietnamese. However, this Report has highlighted significant policy and legal implications and warrants further deliberation.

Furthermore, I have received in draft form a report of an examination of intercountry adoption in Vietnam carried out by the International Social Services (ISS). The Report was commissioned by UNICEF in coordination with the Ministry of Justice of Vietnam. It aims, inter alia, to "identify and address problems in both domestic and Intercountry Adoption processes with a view to assisting Vietnam in its preparations to ratify the Hague Convention”. This report is likely to give rise to further issues that will need to be considered.

I must stress that these two reports, both prepared in co-operation with the Vietnamese Government, and UNICEF, go to the heart of the matter in relation to concerns in relation to intercountry adoption in Vietnam. I would be failing in my duty to protect children if I did not acknowledge and consider the content of these reports extremely carefully before deciding on next steps. In saying that, these Reports also serve to highlight the commitment of the Vietnamese Government to ensuring that the adoption process in Vietnam is in line with the best international standards and their willingness to address issues at the core of that commitment. I am currently awaiting finalisation of the ISS Report. While work is continuing on the draft of the Agreement under discussion, I am of the view that the next round of talks at official level in Ireland should await the outcome of our consideration of these two reports.

This is an extremely sensitive matter and I am aware of the likely concerns of the many Irish families that have already adopted children from Vietnam. I have consulted with the Adoption Board and they have advised that all adoptions from Vietnam, which have been registered on the Register of Foreign Adoptions, are safe and secure. I am also acutely conscious of the concerns of prospective adoptive parents. Over the past number of months I have met regularly with both individual prospective adoptive parents and representative groups. I am deeply aware of the angst, frustration and emotion that prospective adoptive parents continue to experience at this time. I have communicated at every opportunity updates on these matters and I have committed to continuing with this process. I can only reiterate that my personal commitment and the Government's commitment is to seeking the necessary assurances to allow us to proceed to conclude an intercountry adoption agreement with Vietnam.

Health Services.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

305 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reverse her decision to cap the hours for a special needs assistant in respect of a child (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30897/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

306 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if a child (details supplied) in Dublin 15 is excluded from the early childhood and education scheme; the reason for same; the options available to the child to ensure that they receive appropriate education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30898/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the implementation of the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which is being introduced in January 2010. Services participating in the scheme in January 2010 will accept enrolments over the coming months. The ECCE scheme is a general one and services participating will be required to make reasonable accommodation for children with special needs in accordance with the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004. However, the scheme takes account of a number of issues to accommodate children with special needs.

While the age range in which children will qualify for the scheme is, generally, between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months on 1 September each year, exceptions are allowed where a child has been assessed by the HSE as having a special need which will delay his or her entry to primary school. In such cases, the pre-school year relevant to such children will be taken as their qualifying year. Additionally, the general requirement that a child would be expected to attend 4 or 5 days each week will not apply to children with special needs where a shorter week would be more appropriate to their needs.

Many specialist pre-school services arrange for children attending their services to also attend a mainstream service for 1, 2, or 3 days a week. In such cases, a single place in a mainstream service may cater for 2 or more children over the course of the week. While pro-rata arrangements will not generally be allowed to continue beyond September 2010, they will be allowed to continue for children with special needs. Where appropriate, children with special needs and attending a pre-school service on a pro-rata basis, may be permitted to avail of a second free pre-school year e.g. attending 2 days per week in the first year and 3 days per week in the second. Should additional flexibility in the arrangements for the scheme be required by specialist pre-school services for children with special needs, these will also be considered.

Health Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

307 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if extra hours will be allocated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30918/09]

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

Question No. 308 answered with Question No. 303.

Health Service Allowances.

James Bannon

Question:

309 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath has lost their domiciliary allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31389/09]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

310 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when mobility allowance will be reinstated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31808/09]

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.

Questions Nos. 311 and 312 answered with Question No. 303.

Health Services.

Frank Feighan

Question:

313 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure increased home help hours are made available to a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim. [30079/09]

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

Hospital Services.

James Reilly

Question:

314 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is adequate cover for emergency operations for persons who have detached retinas and need surgery as soon as possible to restore their sight; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that no hospital here could accommodate a person (details supplied) with the necessary emergency surgery to restore their sight and that this person was told that they would have to have the operation in a private clinic as there was no service available here in a timely manner for this surgery; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30081/09]

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

John Deasy

Question:

315 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of funding that will be allocated to the Health Service Executive south for the development of Waterford Regional Hospital over the next ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30114/09]

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

Medical Cards.

John Deasy

Question:

316 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people in Waterford city and county possessing medical cards in each of the years from 2002 to date in 2009; the breakdown of the number between full medical cards, general practitioner only cards and over 70s cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30115/09]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card and GP visit card benefits. It collates medical card and GP visit card data by county, age and gender. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

John Deasy

Question:

317 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of home help hours allocated in County Waterford for each year since 2004 to date in 2009; the number of persons benefiting in each year; the budget allocated in each year in County Waterford; if the allocation was used in each year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30116/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Seán Barrett

Question:

318 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the matter of the over 70s medical cards was removed from the responsibilities of the Health Service Executive community services and centralised in the HSE primary care reimbursement services in Finglas, Dublin 11; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that over 70s medical card applications have been lost and that delays have ensued as a result; if she will direct the HSE chief executive to restore this service to the local HSE offices where elderly persons have more personal contact and familiarity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30120/09]

Up to the start of this year, medical card and GP visit card applications were processed in the Health Service Executive's (HSE's) 32 local health areas. However, under the HSE's 2009 Service Plan, the processing of all medical card and GP visit card applications will transfer to the Executive's Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) in Dublin. The change is being implemented on a phased basis and has commenced with the PCRS processing all medical card applications for persons aged 70 or over. The phased implementation will allow the situation to be continuously monitored and, if required, modified to address any issues arising. The HSE has also given an assurance that specific queries in relation to any medical card application will be followed through to completion, as quickly as possible.

The HSE has advised my Department that there are no plans to close any of the local health offices and these offices will continue to deal with queries of a general nature about the medical card scheme and will provide any assistance needed with the application process. However, the process will involve a reassignment of existing human resources within the HSE to other critical frontline services and the Executive is working through the formal process with the trade union involved. This flexibility by public service workers is essential in the context of the current economic environment.

Under the new arrangements, the HSE will be aiming for a turnaround time of 15 days or less for all medical card applications. Emergency applications will be dealt with immediately with a card issuing within 24 hours. Applications from people whose income exceeds the income guidelines but have a case to be considered on medical or hardship grounds will also be processed by the PCRS.

I fully support the HSE's decision to centralise the medical card and GP visit card application and review process to one location. The HSE has advised that when fully implemented, this measure will ensure:

Improved turnaround time for the processing of applications;

Equitable application of eligibility across the country;

Consistency of service provision to customers;

Clearer lines of governance and accountability; and

Improved unified data.

The HSE has also indicated that this project, while realising health sector efficiencies and savings, will not have an adverse affect on patient care or the quality of service provided. This project is an example of the type of innovation signalled in the Transforming Public Services Programme announced by the Taoiseach last November. It demonstrates how improved services can be delivered within the more limited resources available in a way which meets the needs of citizens in a modern society.

Teaching Qualifications.

Pat Breen

Question:

319 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 125 of 19 April 2009, if she will clarify a situation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30121/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the implementation of the new Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which provides a free Pre-School year to eligible children and which will be introduced in January 2010. It is a requirement of the ECCE scheme that pre-school leaders in services participating in the scheme hold a qualification in childcare which is equivalent to FETAC Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications of Ireland (NFQ). However, in the first two full years of the scheme, the requirement will be met where a person holds a childcare qualification that includes the four core modules of Early Education, Child Development, Caring for Children and Work Experience and has at least 2 years experience of working in a position of responsibility with children in the 0 -6 age range.

Quite a number of workers in the ECCE sector lack formal qualifications but have many years of experience. The challenge now is to recognise the non-formal learning of workers in this position and to ensure that there are flexible ways for people to obtain qualifications and to build on these qualifications. Ireland has been participating in an OECD study on the recognition of non-formal and informal learning. A national report was drafted in 2006/2007 by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland with the assistance of an Advisory Group and, in particular, with HETAC and FETAC. The aim of the report was to document and review the current situation in Ireland regarding the recognition of prior non-formal and informal learning. The OECD's review team report was published in December 2008 and a national action plan for the Recognition of Prior Learning is now being developed.

Service providers with pre-school year leaders who do not hold the required qualification in all four modules in time to enter the scheme in respect of January/August 2010, will have a further opportunity to enter the scheme in respect of the pre-school year commencing in September 2010.

Proposed Legislation.

Finian McGrath

Question:

320 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [30134/09]

A Road Traffic Bill which, inter alia, provides for a reduction in the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels for drivers, is being prepared by the Minister for Transport. The Bill takes account of the proposed BAC levels made by the Road Safety Authority last year. I am confident that the provisions in the Road Traffic Bill will contribute to significant further improvements in road safety.

Medical Cards.

James Bannon

Question:

321 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford has had his or her medical card withdrawn; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30135/09]

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

Health Services.

James Bannon

Question:

322 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in County Longford will receive orthodontic treatment which was approved in January 2009, with a stated four month call up schedule; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30137/09]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

323 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [30147/09]

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

Jimmy Devins

Question:

324 Deputy Jimmy Devins asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite a surgical procedure for a person (details supplied) in County Sligo. [30167/09]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

325 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford. [30189/09]

The Health Service Executive has recently reached agreement with the three Dublin paediatric and Cappagh hospitals on proposals to specifically address the needs of a number of patients who are awaiting spinal surgery procedures for the treatment of scoliosis between now and year end. Some procedures under this agreement have commenced. My Department has referred this particular case to the Executive for examination and direct reply.

Finian McGrath

Question:

326 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a query from a person (details supplied). [30205/09]

The Health Service Executive has recently reached agreement with the three Dublin paediatric and Cappagh hospitals on proposals to specifically address the needs of a number of patients who are awaiting spinal surgery procedures for the treatment of scoliosis between now and year end. Some procedures under this agreement have commenced. My Department has referred this particular case to the Executive for examination and direct reply.

Parliamentary Questions.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

327 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children when this Deputy will receive a reply from the Health Service Executive to Parliamentary Question No. 212 of 28 April 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30214/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

339 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to Parliamentary Question No. 248 of 30 June 2009. [30300/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 327 and 339 together.

I understand from the Health Service Executive that a reply to the PQs referred to above issued to the Deputy on the 6th of August 2009.

Accident and Emergency Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

328 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children when the new accident and emergency department at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, County Louth will be opened; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30252/09]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

346 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children when the new accident and emergency unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in County Louth will open; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30337/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 328 and 346 together.

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

Child Abuse.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

329 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has seen a copy of correspondence (details supplied); her views on whether this is a flaw in the board’s remit in view of the fact that the Catholic Church, through its role as patron of many schools, acts in loco parentis for many children on a daily basis; her further views on whether the hierarchy of the Catholic Church should be obliged to report all allegations of abuse within Catholic schools to her, the Health Service Executive, the Department of Education and Science and the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church; the measures she will take to rectify the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30263/09]

I have seen a copy of the correspondence to which the Deputy has referred.

Guidance on the reporting to the HSE of an allegation of abuse in a school or elsewhere is set out under theChildren First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. In 2001 and 2004 the Department of Education and Science issued Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures to all primary and post-primary schools, based on Children First. These guidelines outline the reporting procedures to be followed by schools when an allegation of abuse comes to light, including the reporting of same to the HSE and other agencies, such as An Garda Síochána. The guidelines for schools require each Board of Management to designate a senior member of staff as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) for the school. The DLP acts as a liaison person with the health authorities and other agencies on child protection issues and as a resource for any staff member who has concerns in this regard. I have no direct function in relation to the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

330 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [30274/09]

The Deputy will be aware that I arranged for a similar question raised by him on 19 May 2009 to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply. I understand from the Executive that Gheel Autism Services will offer support to the individual concerned. As the Deputy's current question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Long-Term Illness Scheme.

Seán Barrett

Question:

331 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason Crohn’s disease does not qualify under the long-term illness scheme; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that Crohn’s disease requires lengthy follow-up maintenance treatment extending over the patient’s lifetime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30275/09]

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.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

332 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is the case that preconditions for registration previously imposed on individual nursing homes by the Health Service Executive will remain in place until they have been inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30280/09]

Yes, Section 104 of the Health Act, 2007 provides that certificates given under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990 continue to have effect as if given under the Health Act, 2007. The Deputy will be aware that the process of the registration and inspection of nursing homes under the Health Act, 2007 (Registration of Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations commenced on July 1st. A transitional provision in the 2007 Act allows existing designated centres carry on their business for a period not exceeding 3 years, or such shorter period as the Chief Inspector for Social Services may determine.

Child Care Services.

Alan Shatter

Question:

333 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding she proposes to make available to 30 child care services for capital funding from the national child care investment programme; the funding available for such purposes from the NCIP; the origin of the funding, in the context of the county and city child care committees being informed that no further capital allocations would be made under the NCIP; the applications which will be progressed; the basis upon which such funding was decided; and the purpose for which it is to be utilised. [30282/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006-2010 under which capital grant funding is made available to community and commercial childcare providers for the development of childcare facilities. Applications for capital grant funding under the NCIP were processed, in the first instance, by the City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs). To assist them in this process, each CCC was advised of the indicative capital budget against which they should prioritise applications during 2008. The total indicative capital budgets advised to the CCCs for 2008 amounted to €125 million. Having assessed and prioritised capital grant applications against their 2008 indicative capital budgets, the CCCs forwarded the applications received by them to Pobal, who manage the day to day implementation of the NCIP on behalf of my Office, in June 2008.

A further assessment of the applications was carried out by Pobal and resulted in applications with a total value of €85 million being forwarded for consideration and approval by this Office in Autumn 2008, coinciding with the economic downturn and the review of Government expenditure which took place at that time, particularly in relation to the undertaking of additional capital commitments. It was necessary to defer any decision in respect of new capital commitments pending the outcome of the expenditure review. In April 2009, this Office was advised that no further capital commitments could be undertaken at that point and the closure of the NCIP capital programme to new applicants was announced.

In discussions with the Department of Finance, this Office pressed to secure some additional funding to enable projects which were considered to be high priority to proceed. Key criteria in determining priority applications were severe disadvantage and where an existing community service was in danger of closure if necessary repairs required by the HSE Inspectorate could not be carried out. As a result, it was agreed that additional funding amounting to €10.6 million, to assist 29 applicants, would be allocated to the programme in 2010.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

334 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons on the waiting list to see a consultant urologist at Beaumont Hospital; the average waiting time to see a consultant urologist; the steps being taken to reduce waiting times; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30286/09]

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.

Health Services.

James Bannon

Question:

335 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason persons (details supplied) are allegedly barred from a public hospital in Mullingar, County Westmeath; the further reason there are rat traps all over the hospital; the reason a patient has burns on their arm; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30291/09]

While this is a service matter and has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply the Deputy will be aware that from 1 July, 2009 the Health Information and Quality Authority is responsible for the registration and inspection of all residential care services for older people. This means that for the first time, all HSE operated centres and private nursing homes will be subject to independent registration and inspection. This is a significant step forward in the protection of the rights of older people living in residential care settings across the country.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Michael Noonan

Question:

336 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Limerick is not included on the National Treatment Purchase Fund list for surgery; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30293/09]

I understand the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has been in contact with the person in question and that he is due to be referred by the NTPF for an initial consultation at a private hospital in October. It is anticipated that he will be scheduled for surgery within six to eight weeks of this consultation.

Medical Cards.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

337 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical card renewal applications processed by the Health Service Executive in County Meath to date in 2009; the number of these renewal applications which were approved; and the number which were refused. [30294/09]

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

Health Services.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

338 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Information and Quality Authority has carried out an assessment of the efficacy and cost effectiveness of the Buteyko method of treating asthma or will do so; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30297/09]

The Health Information and Quality Authority has not carried out an assessment of the efficacy and cost effectiveness of the Buteyko method of treating asthma and has no immediate plans to do so. The Buteyko method of treating asthma is based on the use of breathing techniques. The use of any treatment modality in any area of medical practice is a matter for individual practitioners based on best practice as reflected in the peer-reviewed research literature, standards and guidance provided by professional bodies and practitioners' own individual experience.

Question No. 339 answered with Question No. 327.

Finian McGrath

Question:

340 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in County Louth. [30304/09]

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.

Tobacco-Related Diseases.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

341 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to a problem regarding the importation of cigarettes; her views on whether such products represent a threat to public health; the action she will take regarding same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30318/09]

I am aware of this issue. As all consumption of tobacco products is harmful to health, it is clear that the smoking of counterfeit cigarettes which look like cigarettes on which Irish taxes have been paid as they incorporate a forged Revenue stamp is also harmful. Responding to this issue is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners and An Garda Síochána.

Child Care Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

342 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 229 of 7 July 2009, if she will make a statement on a matter (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30321/09]

As the Deputy is aware I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006-2010 under which the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) is implemented. I understand that an application for CCSS funding for the service in question has been approved, subject to sufficient funding being available to the Scheme in 2010. A letter issued to the group on the 10th August 2009 advising them of this decision.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

343 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [30328/09]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

344 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [30329/09]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

345 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [30336/09]

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

Question No. 346 answered with Question No. 328.
Questions Nos. 347 and 348 answered with Question No. 303.

Finian McGrath

Question:

349 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17 will be supported. [30374/09]

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

Child Abuse.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

350 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 82 of 25 June 2009, the number of reported cases of child abuse excluding child welfare concerns during each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. [30380/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

351 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff and their location in each local health office area that cater for the specific needs of individuals experiencing severe psychiatric problems that have difficulties living in an independent environment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30386/09]

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

Homeless Persons.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

352 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps that she has taken to ensure that discharge policies for homeless people are adequate and will be implemented effectively in mental health facilities and hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30387/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

353 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of members of child and adolescent mental health teams who have had specific training or the clinical experience necessary to deal with the specific needs of transgender children and young people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30394/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

354 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the gender awareness training that social workers undergo at practitioner level; the person who provides this training; the extent to which is a part of continuing professional development social worker training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30395/09]

My Department has no direct role in the recruitment and employment of health service grades, including social workers, as that function is carried out by the Health Service Executive. I have been informed by the HSE that all new social work appointees are invited to attend the Corporate Induction programme; the module on Equality & Diversity addresses, among other issues, discrimination on gender grounds. As part of their training student social workers cover issues on gender awareness in a module on Discriminatory Practice and this issue is further reinforced during their clinical placements.

The Professional Education Department, HR Directorate of the HSE facilitates the continuing professional development (CPD) of social workers as far as is possible. It is a matter for the individual in consultation with their manager to determine the CPD activity which will enable them to develop professionally and in line with their professional development goals. In 2008 funding was provided to support the development of an electronic CPD recording system for social workers across the Health Services. Personal Development Planning and Team Based Performance Management are just some of the mechanisms which are in place for social workers and all staff to assist them in determining their development needs.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

355 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of funding and the types of support her Department and the Health Service Executive has allocated to an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30396/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

356 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the engagement she has had with transgender people or relevant organisations on developing a treatment path for appropriate transgender health care. [30398/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

404 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who have been referred by social workers or mental health professionals for sexual orientation conversion therapy or reparative therapy in each of the past three years; the agencies that persons have been referred to; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30670/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 355, 356 and 404 together.

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

Departmental Reports.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

357 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the recommendations of the 2004 Equality Authority Access to Health Services for Transsexual People have not yet been implemented; when same will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30399/09]

This report was published prior to the establishment of the Health Service Executive and many of the issues raised in this report are now more appropriate to the HSE. Officials of my Department will be meeting the HSE shortly and this issue will be discussed at that meeting. I will write to the Deputy regarding the outcome of the meeting.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

358 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the recommendations of the National Review of Sexual Assault Treatment Services which have not yet been implemented; the reason these recommendations have not yet been implemented; her plans to implement outstanding recommendations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30400/09]

This Report made a range of recommendations relevant to a wide number of Departments and Agencies including the Garda Síochána and the HSE. A detailed reply to the Deputy's question is being assembled and I will write to him as soon as possible.

Sexual Offences.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

359 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the examination that her Department has undertaken of the documentation on the Management of Sex Offenders published by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; her plans to implement policy relating to this document; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30401/09]

This issue has been brought to the attention of the Health Service Executive by my Department. Implementation of policy relevant to the health service on foot of this report falls to the HSE and the HSE has been asked to reply directly to the Deputy in regard to its remit.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

360 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of forensic medical examiners employed in hospitals here who work with victims of sexual assaults; the hospitals where same are employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30415/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

361 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the average length of time it takes for a victim of sexual assault to get to a sexual assault treatment unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30416/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

362 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the rate of cases of sexual assault treated in sexual assault treatment units per 100,000 in each Health Service Executive area; the national average of sexual assaults per 100,000 of the population; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30417/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

363 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding increasing the standardisation of existing services for sexual assault treatments in management procedures, personnel issues, support workers, scope of services offered, monitoring guidelines, national guidelines, inter-referral pathways; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30418/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

365 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if medico-legal reports in sexual assault treatment units are automatically taped following forensic medical examination; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30421/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

366 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if progress has been made in the collation, analysis, and publication of annual statistics on sexual assaults; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30422/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

369 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if professional accredited training programmes for doctors on the treatment of victims of rape or sexual assault, medico-legal documentation, court-room appearance, and psychological consequences of rape or sexual assault have been established; the level of uptake on these programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30425/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 360 to 363, inclusive, 365, 366 and 369 together.

As the Deputy's questions relate to a service matter they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Staff.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

364 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who have qualified as clinical nurse specialists in forensic nursing in the pilot programme since its inception; the number of qualified clinical nurse specialists in forensic nursing that are employed in public hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30419/09]

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

Questions Nos. 365 and 366 answered with Question No. 360.

Sexual Offences.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

367 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the areas of research needs that have been identified by the national steering committee on violence against women in the area of rape or sexual assault; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30423/09]

The National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women operates under the aegis of Cosc — The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence. The Deputy's query has been referred to Cosc for attention and direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

368 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has examined the provision of services to children who are victims of sexual assault; the services available to them here; the services which are availed of abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30424/09]

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

Question No. 369 answered with Question No. 360.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

370 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of training that is available for sexual assault treatment unit nurse managers to facilitate sexually transmitted infections follow-up on site; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30426/09]

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

Departmental Reports.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

371 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will publish the Hynes report; the reason same has been delayed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30428/09]

The John Hynes Review of the Circumstances Surrounding the Elapse of Time in Bringing to Completion the Western Health Board Inquiry into Allegations of Abuse in the Brothers of Charity Services, Co. Galway was published on the Department's website on 9th of April 2009. A copy of the report is available on the Department's website at:

http://www.dohc.ie/publications/hynes_review.html.

Health Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

372 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the request from a support group (details supplied) for an inquiry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30435/09]

James Reilly

Question:

433 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a request by an organisation (details supplied) for an inquiry into the alleged activities of a doctor; if she will respond to the request; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30921/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 372 and 433 together.

I met with the support group referred to by the Deputy at the end of June last and undertook to consider their submission which included a request for an independent inquiry. I have arranged to discuss the issues involved this week with my colleague the Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform and the Attorney General before consulting with the Cabinet about any actions that could reasonably be taken in this regard.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

373 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children when the fair deal nursing home support scheme will open for application; when it will begin to operate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30436/09]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

374 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the fair deal nursing home scheme will operate when introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30437/09]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

376 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will introduce the fair deal scheme for nursing homes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30459/09]

Michael McGrath

Question:

429 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when the new nursing home support scheme, A Fair Deal, will be implemented. [30872/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 373, 374, 376 and 429 together.

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 was signed into law by the President on the 1st July. Certain sections of the Act were commenced on the 3rd July to enable the National Treatment Purchase Fund to immediately begin price negotiations with private nursing homes. The Minister intends to implement the scheme once these negotiations are concluded and no later than the final quarter of this year. Applicants to the scheme must undergo a care needs assessment to determine whether they need nursing home care and a financial assessment to determine their ability to contribute towards their own care. Based on the outcome of both these assessments, the HSE will decide on the payment of financial support.

Under the new scheme, individuals will contribute 80% of their assessable income and 5% of the value of any assets in excess of the asset disregard per annum. The asset disregard is the amount of a person's assets that is totally excluded from the financial assessment. The asset disregard is €36,000 for an individual or €72,000 for a couple. Where a person's assets include land and property, the 5% contribution based on such assets may be deferred and can be collected from their estate. This is an optional element of the scheme called "Ancillary State support".

A person's principal residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the first 3 years of their time in care. This is known as the 15% or ‘three year' cap. It means that individuals will pay a 5% contribution based on their principal residence for a maximum of three years regardless of the time they spend in nursing home care. After 3 years, even if they are still getting long-term nursing home care, they will not pay any further contribution based on the principal residence. This ‘three year' cap applies regardless of whether individuals choose to opt for Ancillary State support or not. In the case of a couple, the contribution based on the principal residence will be capped at 7.5% where one partner remains in the home while the other enters long-term residential care.

The ‘three year' cap will also extend to farms and business in certain circumstances. If there is a partner or certain dependants living in the principal residence, the repayment of contributions may be further deferred for their lifetime. Finally, there are important safeguards built in to the Financial Assessment which are worth noting: nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care; individuals will keep a personal allowance of 20% of their income or 20% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (non-Contributory), whichever is the greater; if there is a spouse/partner remaining at home, he/she will be left with 50% of the couple's income or the maximum rate of the State Pension (non-Contributory), whichever is the greater.

When the Care Needs and Financial Assessments have been completed, the HSE will provide a list of nursing homes to choose from. The list will include public, voluntary and approved private nursing homes. Approved private nursing homes are homes which have agreed the price charged for care with the National Treatment Purchase Fund and are approved for the purposes of the scheme. Individuals can choose care in any nursing home on the list, subject to the following conditions: the facility must be able to cater for their particular needs; and the facility must have a place for them. A person's choice of facility is not connected in any way to the level of their contribution to care.

If a public or voluntary nursing home is selected, the person will pay their contribution to the HSE or voluntary nursing home, as appropriate, each week and the State will pay the balance. If an approved private nursing home is selected, the person will pay their contribution to the nursing home provider each week and the State will pay the balance.

Child Care.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

375 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to ensure standards within the new pre-school scheme and the service provided is an appropriate educational one and not merely child minding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30456/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the implementation of the new Early Childhood Care and Education scheme (ECCE) which provides a free Pre-School year to eligible children and which will be introduced in January 2010. It is also a condition of the pre-school year that services who wish to participate will be required to provide an appropriate educational programme for children which adheres to the principles of Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education. Síolta is a quality assurance process which addresses all aspects of practice in early childhood care and education services. It is designed to support practitioners to develop high quality services for children aged birth to six years. Services participating in the scheme will be supported by a national team of Siolta Co-Ordinators and the City and County Childcare Committees.

In addition, the Curricular Framework for Early Learning Aistear, has been developed in consultation with the sector by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). Aistear will support practitioners in planning for and providing enriching, challenging and enjoyable learning opportunities for children from birth to six years. The NCCA will be developing exemplars for use by services which will be available on-line.

It is a requirement of the ECCE scheme that pre-school leaders in services participating in the scheme hold a qualification in childcare which is equivalent to FETAC Level 5. However, in the first two full years of the scheme, the requirement will be met where a person holds a childcare qualification that includes the four core modules of Early Education, Child Development, Caring for Children and Work Experience and has at least 2 years experience of working in a position of responsibility with children in the 0-6 age range.

National and international research has established that there is a close relationship between the capacity and qualifications of the workforce in early childhood care and education settings and the quality of young children's early experiences. There is a commitment to the upskilling of the workforce in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) sector and a Workforce Development Plan for the sector will be published in 2010. A consultative process is currently underway and will conclude at the end of this month. As part of the development of the Workforce Development Plan for the ECCE sector, an analysis of the educational attainment of people employed in childcare sector was carried out. This analysis draws on data from the National Skills database and shows a major shift towards higher qualification levels since 1999. The condition that services participating in the ECCE must have appropriately qualified staff to deliver the pre-school year, is expected to support this upward trend.

Question No. 376 answered with Question No. 373.

Hospital Services.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

377 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children when funding will be available in order for the renal service at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore, County Offaly to be fully commissioned and staffed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30466/09]

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

Question No. 378 answered with Question No. 303.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

379 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the cancellation of an MRI scan for a child (details supplied) in County Kilkenny to May 2010; and if she will arrange to have this procedure carried out on the original date offered of 19 October 2009. [30485/09]

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

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

380 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in arranging an assessment by an occupational therapist in the case of a person in County Kilkenny; and if she will have the matter expedited. [30501/09]

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

Vaccination Programme.

Pat Breen

Question:

381 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when the swine flu vaccine will be rolled out; the plan for the roll out; the category or groups to which priority will be given; if the vaccine will be rolled out to the entire population including persons over 65 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30503/09]

Ireland has, through putting in place advance purchase agreements with two vaccine manufacturers prior to the declaration of the pandemic, secured a total of 7.7m doses of pandemic vaccine. This quantity of vaccine is sufficient to allow the pandemic vaccine to be offered to the whole population and the agreements have ensured that we will get priority delivery of the vaccine as it becomes available. The first doses of the vaccine have arrived in Ireland.

The Health Service Executive is finalising the details of the Pandemic Vaccination Programme. This is an enormous and logistically complex undertaking. The launch of the programme will depend on when the vaccines will be licensed and the availability of sufficient stock of the vaccine. The vaccine will not be administered pre-licence. It will take up to 12 months for all of the vaccine to be delivered and any delays in delivery schedules will affect the vaccination programme. It is hoped that we will be able to commence vaccination in mid October. The launch of the plan needs to be carefully managed in order to gain maximum publicity in the interest of attaining a high level of uptake. Health care workers will be vaccinated in hospitals and other healthcare facilities while the rest of the population will be vaccinated primarily in specially established mass vaccination centres. Each individual will, on the basis of current WHO guidelines, receive two doses of vaccine. The licence will specify the timing of the second dose but it is anticipated that it will be given three weeks after the first.

Initially this vaccine will be offered to Health Care Workers and after that to those people with increased medical risk. The rest of the population will then be offered the vaccine on a staged basis.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

382 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can expect to be called for a hip replacement operation in Tallaght Hospital. [30504/09]

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

Hospital Staff.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

383 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of temporary or locum consultants employed here for whom the Health Service Executive has not received references; the number who have not received Garda clearance; the specialties they are working in; the hospitals they are working in; if an agency was used in the recruitment process; and, if so, the details of the agency. [30506/09]

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

Hospital Accommodation.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

384 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the occupancy rates of designated beds by patients with private medical insurance in each of the co-location hospitals since 2006 and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30507/09]

The Deputy's question, which concerns the occupancy rates of designated private beds by private patients in public hospitals at each of the co-location sites, is a service matter and has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Proposed Legislation.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

385 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the findings of the 2008 report of the alcohol marketing communications monitoring body which indicates that the number of breaches of the alcohol marketing, communications and sponsorship code have trebled since 2007; her further views on whether this indicates that the voluntary code has failed; if she will introduce legislation to protect children and young people from aggressive and pervasive advertising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30508/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

386 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if the review of the operation of and adherence to the alcohol marketing, communications and sponsorship code had been completed by the end of June 2009 as per the commitment in the revised codes in 2008; if she will provide a copy of the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30509/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

388 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received the report of the National Youth Council of Ireland, Get Em Young, mapping young people’s exposure to alcohol marketing here; her views on the findings of the report which indicate that the drinks industry is utilising 16 different channels to market and advertise to young people under 18 years of age; her further views on whether this indicates that the voluntary code has failed; if she will introduce legislation to protect children and young people from this marketing and advertising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30511/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

389 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of outdoor media locations where alcohol advertising cannot be placed because they are within 100 metres of the entrance of a primary or secondary school, designated youth clubs, scouting and girl guide premises; the locations which have been so designated which she was required to draw up as part of the revised alcohol marketing, communications and sponsorship code; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30512/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 385, 386, 388 and 389 together.

The overall conclusion reached by the Alcohol Marketing Communications Monitoring Body (AMCMB) in their annual reports for 2007 and 2008 was that there continues to be overall compliance with the Codes to limit the exposure of young people to alcohol advertising. The AMCMB is satisfied that the media partners and the Irish alcohol industry are committed to ensuring that the Codes are adhered to by the organisations they represent.

The partners to the Codes have not completed a formal review of the operation of the Codes since the publication of the AMCMB 2008 Report on 10th July 2009. However, the code partners are committed to such a review taking place as soon as practicable. The locations where restrictions currently apply to the display of outdoor alcohol advertising are identified by the Outdoor Media companies who own the display areas in question. The Department does not have the number or the location of the places where restrictions apply. However, these companies have undertaken to adhere to the Code on alcohol advertising and take the necessary steps to replace alcohol advertising displays where new locations are identified or brought to their attention.

I am aware of the concerns expressed in the findings of the National Youth Council of Ireland's Report entitled "Get Em Young". The Codes on alcohol advertising and sponsorship seek to reduce exposure of young people to alcohol advertising but there are huge challenges being posed by the range of multimedia formats, both national and international, which are accessible to young people.

Departmental Reports.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

387 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the work and progress of the working group on sports sponsorship by the alcohol industry; when she expects to receive a report and recommendations from the group on the phasing out of alcohol sponsorship of sporting events; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30510/09]

Denis Naughten

Question:

485 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to receive the report of the working group on sport sponsorship by the alcohol industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31378/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 387 and 485 together.

A Working Group on Sport Sponsorship by the Alcohol Industry has been established and is broadly representative of the organisations relevant to the issues being discussed. The Working Group met in May and in July and each of the representative organisations has made a written submission to the Group. The deadline set for the completion of the Group's Report is the end of September and the Group is working towards that deadline.

Questions Nos. 388 and 389 answered with Question No. 385.

Suicide Incidence.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

390 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the report of the National Suicide Research Foundation which indicated increased levels of deliberate self harm here between 2007 and 2008; her views on the large increases in deliberate self harm among young boys and girls aged ten to 14 years of 35% and among young men aged 15 to 19 years of 18%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30513/09]

The number of deliberate self-harm presentations reported in 2008 was 11,700 which represented a 6% increase on 2007 figures. There was a significant increase in deliberate self-harm rates in the age groups 10-14 and 15-19. In the age category 10-14 there were a total of 260 deliberate self-harm presentations of which 63 were boys and 197 were girls. This figure represents an overall increase of 39% on 2007 figures. In the age category 15-19 there were a total of 1,704 presentations of which 648 were boys and 1,056 were girls. This figure represents an overall increase of 9% on 2007 figures — 16.3% among boys and 5% among girls.

The increase in the number and rate of deliberate self-harm presentations is a concern. However, a number of initiatives have been developed by the HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention to address the issue, including the development of an awareness campaign aimed at young people. Consultations with young people were arranged under the auspices of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to inform the campaign and a report on the outcomes of this process —‘Teenage Mental Health: What helps? and What hurts? was launched on 15th June 2009. The campaign, which will take account of the high rate of deliberate self-harm among young people, is expected to be launched on 12th October 2009.

There is progression in the availability of deliberate self-harm services through Hospital Emergency departments and development of a standardised approach to deliberate self harm presentations at Hospital Emergency departments. In this regard, the National Office and the National Suicide Research Foundation will jointly host a meeting in October aimed at standardising the approach to deliberate self-harm presentations. There is development of technology-based initiatives such as a Samaritans texting service, an on-line counselling directory website and on-line treatments for depression.

Mental Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

391 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide funding in 2010 for the continuation of the Your Mental Health campaign; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30514/09]

The continuation of the ‘Your Mental Health’ campaign in 2010 is a matter for the HSE. The question of providing any additional funding will be considered as part of the Estimates process in the context of competing priorities.

Rights of the Child.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

392 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the proposal of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes to merge the office of the Ombudsman for Children with the office of the Ombudsman; her further views on whether this proposal would diminish the rights of children and would send out the wrong signals in view of the Ryan report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30515/09]

Alan Shatter

Question:

413 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the decisions made by her regarding the recommendation contained in special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes concerning the Office of the Ombudsman for Children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30754/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 392 and 413 together.

Planned expenditure levels for my Department will be considered as part of the Estimates and Budgetary process for 2010. This will include consideration of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, and the decisions on all of the issues arising will be a matter for the Government. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage pending the outcome of these deliberative processes.

Hospital Services.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

393 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of operations cancelled or postponed in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, since the temporary closure of an operating theatre in May 2009; and when the theatre will reopen. [30536/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

394 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of outpatient appointments which were rescheduled due to the closure of the main outpatients department in Our Lady Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, in Dublin on 25 and 26 August 2009; and the closure of its medical tower outpatients department for the week commencing 24 August 2009. [30537/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 393 and 394 together.

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

395 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of paediatric operations carried out during the months of May to August 2009 in private medical facilities under the National Treatment Purchase Fund. [30538/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

George Lee

Question:

396 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children the average salary for all public sector workers, hospital consultants, management grades and junior doctors paid for by her Department and management grades paid for by the Health Service Executive for each year from 1997 to 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30539/09]

There are approximately 550 grades in the public health service and they cover a wide variety of roles and functions. For example, these grades include drivers, nurses, consultants, CEO, health care assistants, management grades, and porters. Therefore, an average salary would not take into account the varying roles and salary levels for each grade. However, the Exchequer Pay and Pensions Bill for health for 1997 to 2007 is outlined below.

Exchequer Pay & Pensions Bill for Health 1997 to 2007

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

2,216

2,462

2,834

3,265

4,025

4,643

5,217

5,603

6,249

6,746

7,226

Excludes the Department of Health & Children.

I wish to advise that a list of all the grades in the public health service with the numbers employed in each (for the years 1997 to 2008) will be forwarded to the Deputy, along with a copy of the salary scales for each of the aforementioned years.

Mental Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

397 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will transfer the 308 people with intellectual disabilities in psychiatric hospitals to specialised residential centres and community group home places as a matter of priority. [30549/09]

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

Question No. 398 answered with Question No. 303.

Health Services.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

399 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork in order that they are called for treatment. [30562/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

400 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card by a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [30586/09]

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

Bobby Aylward

Question:

401 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card by a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [30588/09]

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

Hospital Accommodation.

Damien English

Question:

402 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons residing in the Health Service Executive sponsored temporary bed and breakfast accommodation through social services; and the breakdown by gender, age and on a local health office basis in tabular form. [30651/09]

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

Health Services.

George Lee

Question:

403 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reconsider her decision to withdraw funding for certain fertility drugs after three cycles of treatment for IVF patients, in view of the fact that the cost of this treatment is approximately €6,000 and the withdrawing of this funding will mean a further €4,000 to the cost for the couples; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that couples were already struggling financially with the costs involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30665/09]

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

Question No. 404 answered with Question No. 355.
Question No. 405 answered with Question No. 303.

Ambulance Service.

Pat Breen

Question:

406 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 133 of 7 April 2009, the number of additional staff that have been made available to the ambulance service in the mid-west region; the position regarding the recruitment of two consultants in emergency medicine; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30694/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Pat Breen

Question:

407 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of cards issued to a group (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30695/09]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card benefit. It collates medical card data by county, age and gender. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

408 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [30711/09]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act, 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to have the matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Drugs Payment Scheme.

John O'Mahony

Question:

409 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the rules and guidelines of the drugs payment scheme in view of a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30734/09]

The position in relation to the Drug Payment Scheme (DPS) is that no more than 12 payments should be made by a family or individual in a full year on medication for use in any calendar month. The Health Service Executive Primary Care Reimbursement Service, formerly the GMS (Payments) Board, which is responsible for reimbursing community pharmacists under the DPS, advised all community pharmacists in 1999 on the establishment of the DPS that no more than 12 payments should be made in a year. However, once in a 12 month period or periodically, more than a 28 day supply may be provided, depending on the drugs and medicines, to ensure that no more than 12 payments are made in a year by an individual or a family.

Health Service Staff.

John O'Mahony

Question:

410 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost for agency nursing staff for 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30742/09]

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

John O'Mahony

Question:

411 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children when the embargo will be lifted for the recruitment of nursing personnel; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30743/09]

In order to implement savings measures on public service numbers, the Government introduced a moratorium on recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010. A HSE circular has issued which gives effect to the Government decision in the public health services and other specific aspects of the employment control framework for the health services.

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

In addition, the employment control framework specifically exempts the following front line grades in the health sector from the moratorium: Medical Consultants, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Clinical Psychologists, Behaviour Therapists, Counsellors, Social Workers, and Emergency Medical Technicians. The framework actually allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800 wtes) for the health sector. The framework also includes provision for the creation of 225 new development posts this year for cancer and disability services. In addition, special provisions apply in relation to Clinical Engineering Technicians, Dosimetrists, Physicists, and Radiation Therapists, which are specialist grades under the National Cancer Control Programme.

The focus on these key grades is in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding has already been provided. The overall result will be to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care.

I wish to advise that as part of the Employment Control Framework for the health sector, the Joint Employment Control Monitoring Committee, comprising officials from my Department, the Department of Finance and the HSE, meets regularly to monitor health employment levels and to review the implementation of the moratorium and any issues arising.

Question No. 412 answered with Question No. 303.
Question No. 413 answered with Question No. 392.

Dan Neville

Question:

414 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will appoint two trainees to the orthodontic department in County Limerick to replace a specialist orthodontist. [30756/09]

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

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

415 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [30777/09]

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

Hospitals Building Programme.

Dan Neville

Question:

416 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if the high observation area of 5B Mid-Western Regional Hospital has been constructed. [30780/09]

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

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

John Deasy

Question:

417 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason, in view of the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 106 of 18 June 2009 stating that the outstanding 1,000 claims under the national repayments scheme would be processed within a few weeks, that no offer has been made in respect of a claim for a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; the further reason for the delay; when an offer will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30782/09]

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

James Bannon

Question:

418 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford, who has been waiting since 2007 for a knee replacement, has not been prioritised under the National Treatment Purchase Fund, despite qualifying in relation to the six months cut off point; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30790/09]

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.

Hospital Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

419 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding allocated to Mallow General Hospital in County Cork in 2009; the budgetary allocation in respect of 2010; if she will confirm that no downgrading of this hospital will take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30791/09]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

440 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the reconfiguration of hospitals in the Health Service Executive south region, particularly with regard to Mallow General Hospital, County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30988/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 419 and 440 together.

The Government is committed to ensuring the delivery of the best quality health services possible, in an effective and efficient way. Ensuring patient safety is of paramount importance, so that people can have confidence in the services and that the best possible patient outcomes can be achieved. The HSE commissioned Horwath Consulting Ireland, in association with Teamwork Management Services to carry out a review of acute hospital services in the HSE South, based on the principle of securing clinically safe and sustainable acute hospital services. The report was launched publicly on the 9 June 2009. Professor John Higgins has been appointed as Director of Reconfiguration of Acute Services, Cork & Kerry Region.

The Teamwork report proposes a single health care system for Cork and Kerry with the development of a new governance structure for the hospitals and community to encompass the relationship between the health care system and the third level educational sector (UCC, CIT, ITT). The principles that apply are that complex clinical care should be concentrated on the Cork University Hospital campus and that the other hospitals should where possible provide an expanded range of day surgery, diagnostic and out patient services. The reconfiguration process involves both enhancing primary care services and moving hospital services as close as practicable to people's homes.

It is clear that in this context hospitals will have to change significantly the type of services they provide and the way these are delivered. Reorganisation of services must of course occur in consultation with the key stakeholders and on an incremental basis. I believe that it is important to work with health professionals and other interested parties to secure an increasing set of improvements over time. As the detailed questions raised are service matters, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Allowances.

Michael Creed

Question:

420 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in processing an application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork in respect of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme; when payment will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30804/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Michael Creed

Question:

421 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Cork in respect of their application for a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30806/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

Michael Creed

Question:

422 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in processing an application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork in respect of their application for back to school clothing and footwear allowance; when payment will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30807/09]

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

Michael Creed

Question:

423 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in processing an application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork in respect of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance; when payment will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30808/09]

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

Question No. 424 answered with Question No. 303.

Medical Cards.

Dan Neville

Question:

425 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application for an over 70 years medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick will be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30820/09]

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

Pat Breen

Question:

426 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 178 of 24 February 2009, the position regarding the plans of the Health Service Executive to centralise the medical card section from Ennis, County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30861/09]

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

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

427 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the appropriate level of care and support is not being provided by the Health Service Executive in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will expedite a full investigation of this case. [30864/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

John Cregan

Question:

428 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the domiciliary care allowance has been withdrawn from a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30868/09]

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

Question No. 429 answered with Question No. 373.

Medical Cards.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

430 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if assistance will be granted in the purchase of an item for a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30876/09]

A medical card as issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE), confirms that the holder is entitled, free of charge, to a range of health services, which includes:

General medical and surgical services including all in-patient services and outpatient services in a public ward in a public hospital (including consultant services)

Medical and midwifery care for mothers and infants

A choice of general medical practitioner from those doctors who have a contract with the HSE

Supply of prescribed approved medicines and appliances

Dental, Ophthalmic and Aural services

A maternity cash grant for each child born.

The HSE has informed my Department that it is not in a position to provide funding for Identification Bracelets and that such products can be acquired in most high street pharmacies for prices as low as €11.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

431 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [30890/09]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 was signed into law by the President on the 1st July. Certain sections of the Act were commenced on the 3rd July to enable the National Treatment Purchase Fund to immediately begin price negotiations with private nursing homes. The Minister intends to implement the scheme once these negotiations are concluded and no later than the final quarter of this year. Once the scheme is operational, individuals may apply through their local Nursing Home Support Office. The person referred to by the Deputy will not have to undergo a Care Needs Assessment as they are already in a nursing home. Instead they can proceed directly to the Financial Assessment.

The HSE will undertake the financial assessment in order to work out each person's contribution to care based on their ability to pay. Under the new scheme, individuals will contribute 80% of their assessable income and 5% of the value of any assets in excess of the asset disregard per annum. The asset disregard is the amount of a person's assets that is totally excluded from the financial assessment. The asset disregard is €36,000 for an individual or €72,000 for a couple. Where a person's assets include land and property, the 5% contribution based on such assets may be deferred and can be collected from their estate. This is an optional element of the scheme called "Ancillary State support".

A person's principal residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the first 3 years of their time in care. This is known as the 15% or ‘three year' cap. It means that individuals will pay a 5% contribution based on their principal residence for a maximum of three years regardless of the time they spend in nursing home care. After 3 years, even if they are still getting long-term nursing home care, they will not pay any further contribution based on the principal residence. This ‘three year' cap applies regardless of whether individuals choose to opt for Ancillary State support or not. In the case of a couple, the contribution based on the principal residence will be capped at 7.5% where one partner remains in the home while the other enters long-term residential care.

The ‘three year' cap will also extend to farms and business in certain circumstances. If there is a partner or certain dependants living in the principal residence, the repayment of contributions may be further deferred for their lifetime.

Finally, there are important safeguards built in to the Financial Assessment which are worth noting.

Nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care.

Individuals will keep a personal allowance of 20% of their income or 20% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (non-Contributory), whichever is the greater.

If there is a spouse/partner remaining at home, he/she will be left with 50% of the couple's income or the maximum rate of the State Pension (non-Contributory), whichever is the greater.

When the Care Needs and Financial Assessments have been completed, the HSE will provide a list of nursing homes to choose from. The list will include public, voluntary and approved private nursing homes. Approved private nursing homes are homes which have agreed the price charged for care with the National Treatment Purchase Fund and are approved for the purposes of the scheme.

Individuals can choose care in any nursing home on the list, subject to the following conditions:

The facility must be able to cater for their particular needs, and

The facility must have a place for them.

A person's choice of facility is not connected in any way to the level of their contribution to care. If a public or voluntary nursing home is selected, the person will pay their contribution to the HSE or voluntary nursing home, as appropriate, each week and the State will pay the balance. If an approved private nursing home is selected, the person will pay their contribution to the nursing home provider each week and the State will pay the balance. Finally, I have arranged for an Information Leaflet, FAQ's and Examples of Co-payment under the scheme to be posted to the Deputy for the benefit of the individuals referred to in the question.

Pension Provisions.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

432 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if doctors employed in public hospitals (details supplied) on temporary contracts in the 1970s and 1980s are entitled to a public service pension; the procedures involved to the public to ascertain such information; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30910/09]

Before 1st October, 1979 junior hospital doctors, being temporary post holders, did not have access to employee superannuation schemes in the public health sector. On 1st August, 1979 the Department of the Environment issued Circular Letter S. 6/79 which provided access to superannuation schemes for junior hospital doctors. I am arranging for a copy of the relevant circular to be forwarded to you directly. It also sets out the procedure for reckoning service by junior hospital doctors in voluntary hospitals from 1969, when the relevant scheme was introduced, and also for reckoning pre-scheme service.

Junior hospital doctors employed in a public hospital from 1st October, 1979 had their names entered in the register of pensionable officers and they paid employee pension contributions to the relevant superannuation scheme. Where such employees preserved benefits (this was mandatory once 5 years service was accumulated), a preserved pension benefit accrued. Where the employee took up future public sector pensionable employment, the junior hospital doctor service transferred on a knock-for-knock basis between public schemes. If the employee left the public service without preserving benefits, s/he would be entitled to re-instate such service at a future date if s/he re-entered public sector employment.

Question No. 433 answered with Question No. 372.

Health Services.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

434 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the options available to a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30926/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

435 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a medical card has been denied to a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30928/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

436 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30938/09]

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

Health Services.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

437 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate an application in respect of a person (details supplied). [30941/09]

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

Michael Ring

Question:

438 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be given an appointment. [30973/09]

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

Question No. 439 answered with Question No. 303.
Question No. 440 answered with Question No. 419.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

441 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a claim under the health repayment scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [30996/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Alan Shatter

Question:

442 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the proposal of the Health Service Executive to centralise the processing of all applications for medical cards; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is a concern that such centralisation depersonalises the process and removes flexibility and safeguards and the benefit from local knowledge and assistance provided by health staff and others; her further views on whether such centralisation will unnecessarily prolong determination of applications for medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31004/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

501 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her role in the decision to centralise the processing of applications for medical cards; the discussions with the Health Service Executive she has had on this matter; if she will reverse this decision in view of the disruptive consequences of such centralisation for medical card applicants and HSE staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31600/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 442 and 501 together.

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

The HSE has advised my Department that there are no plans to close any of the local health offices and these offices will continue to deal with queries of a general nature about the medical card scheme and will provide any assistance needed with the application process. However, the process will involve a reassignment of existing human resources within the HSE to other critical frontline services and the Executive is working through the formal process with the trade union involved. This flexibility by public service workers is essential in the context of the current economic environment.

Under the new arrangements, the HSE will be aiming for a turnaround time of 15 days or less for all medical card applications. Emergency applications will be dealt with immediately with a card issuing within 24 hours. Applications from people whose income exceeds the income guidelines but have a case to be considered on medical or hardship grounds will also be processed by the PCRS.

I fully support the HSE's decision to centralise the medical card and GP visit card application and review process to one location. The HSE has advised that when fully implemented, this measure will ensure:

Improved turnaround time for the processing of applications;

Equitable application of eligibility across the country;

Consistency of service provision to customers;

Clearer lines of governance and accountability; and

Improved unified data.

The HSE has also indicated that this project, while realising health sector efficiencies and savings, will not have an adverse affect on patient care or the quality of service provided. This project is an example of the type of innovation signalled in the Transforming Public Services Programme announced by the Taoiseach last November. It demonstrates how improved services can be delivered within the more limited resources available in a way which meets the needs of citizens in a modern society.

Hospital Procedures.

Alan Shatter

Question:

443 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the arrangements made to ensure that children whose urgent spinal surgery has been delayed at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, undergo essential spinal surgery without unnecessary delay; the number of children whose surgery will take place before the 31 December 2009; the number awaiting such surgery; and the position regarding the 25 bed ward and theatre in Crumlin closed as a consequence of a funding shortfall. [31011/09]

The Health Service Executive has recently reached agreement with the three Dublin paediatric and Cappagh hospitals on proposals to specifically address the needs of a number of patients who are awaiting spinal surgery procedures for the treatment of scoliosis between now and year end. Some procedures under this agreement have commenced. The Deputy's question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply in relation to the other issues raised.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

444 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the breakdown of funding received by WestDoc, in tabular form, from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008. [31046/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

445 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff employed by WestDoc and their sections in tabular form. [31047/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

446 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of vehicles which have been bought by WestDoc from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008. [31048/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 444 to 446, inclusive, together.

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 447 answered with Question No. 303.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

448 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who received formal declarations of eligibility to adopt from the Adoption Board but are unable to adopt a child due to the indefinite postponement of adoptions from Vietnam. [31063/09]

Declarations of eligibility and suitability are issued on an ongoing basis by the Adoption Board. Such declarations are not country specific although applicants will have indicated which country they intend adopting from as part of the assessment process. My understanding, at this stage is that over 350 applicants who have received declarations have indicated a preference for adopting from Vietnam.

Question No. 449 answered with Question No. 303.

Health Service Allowances.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

450 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a review will be undertaken regarding a mobility allowance application in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31133/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

451 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position of a diabetic high risk clinic in a hospital (details supplied); whether same is due for closure; the reason for same; if she will put in place the necessary funding to enable this clinic to continue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31134/09]

As these are service issues they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

452 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when paediatric and occupational therapist assessment can be undertaken at Tallaght Hospital in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31135/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

453 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31136/09]

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

454 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the fair deal scheme will be introduced as planned in autumn 2009; the date when it will be introduced; if the funding provided for the scheme is secure for 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31192/09]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 was signed into law by the President on the 1st July. Certain sections of the Act were commenced on the 3rd July to enable the National Treatment Purchase Fund to immediately begin price negotiations with private nursing homes. The Minister intends to implement the scheme once these negotiations are concluded and no later than the final quarter of this year. Funding of €55 million has been allocated specifically for the introduction of the scheme this year.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

455 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when the Health Service Executive north east taxi contract was last put to tender; the details of the arrangements currently in place; when it will be put to tender again; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31199/09]

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

Sean Sherlock

Question:

456 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who availed of optical benefit schemes between 2007 and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31203/09]

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

Sean Sherlock

Question:

457 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who availed of dental benefit schemes between 2007 and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31204/09]

The Health Service Executive provides a scheme of dental services for adult medical card holders under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS). As the DTSS is the responsibility of the Executive, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs provides a scheme of dental services under the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme (DTBS). I am advised that the Department of Social and Family Affairs does not record the number of individuals who avail of its scheme. However, the numbers of claims paid for the periods in question are as follows:

Year

Number

2007

634,077

2008

675,578

2009 (incl Sept.)

539,791

Preschool Services.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

458 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on changes to the scheme to provide a free preschool year of early childhood care and education in order to allow for situations in rural areas where parents are not available to participate in the scheme five days a week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31208/09]

As the Deputy will be aware I have responsibility for the implementation of the new scheme to provide a free Preschool year of Early Care and Education (ECCE) to eligible children and which will be introduced in January 2010. Services can choose to deliver the preschool year from a range of options. A full or part-time day-care service will normally provide the place for 2 hours 15 minutes a day, five days a week over 50 weeks, in return for a weekly capitation fee of €48.50. A playschool sessional service will normally be required to provide a pre-school service for 3 hours a day, five days a week over 38 weeks, in return for a weekly capitation fee of €64.50. However, where for good reason a sessional service is unable to operate over 5 days, it may participate in the scheme by providing a place for 3 hours 30 minutes, 4 days a week over 41 weeks (157 days).

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

Hospital Services.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

459 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children when the proposed closure of Heatherside Hospital, County Cork, is due to take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31213/09]

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

Departmental Staff.

Niall Collins

Question:

460 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if civil servants from her Department who are members of boards of agencies, including commercial and non-commercial State bodies, or who hold other positions with these agencies under the aegis of her Department, receive a fee, salary or remuneration and expenses for holding such a position or positions; if this is surrendered to her Department as their direct employer; her policy in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31231/09]

A number of civil servants of my Department sit on the Boards of some of the Non-Commercial State Sponsored Bodies established under the aegis of my Department. No fee, salary or remuneration is payable in respect of their Board membership. If travel and subsistence expenses are incurred by a civil servant in undertaking Board duties, these expenses are normally payable by the Board in question.

Question Nos. 461 to 463, inclusive, answered with Question No. 303.

Hospital Services.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

464 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an appointment for a procedure in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31260/09]

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.

Question No. 465 answered with Question No. 303.

Health Service Allowances.

Dan Neville

Question:

466 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that an allowance will continue to be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [31267/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

467 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount paid to the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork in respect of each patient transferred and transported from Mallow General Hospital as an inpatient for a CT scan for the years 2007 to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31276/09]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

468 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if there are plans to employ a full-time radiologist to cover CT and general duties at Mallow General Hospital; if so, when this appointment will take place; if an appointment has taken place, the terms of the contract with regard to hours and specific duties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31277/09]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

469 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status with regard to the operation of the CT scanner at Mallow General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31278/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 467 to 469, inclusive, together.

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

Health Service Allowances.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

470 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application under the back-to-school clothing scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31279/09]

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

Sean Sherlock

Question:

471 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application under the back-to-school clothing scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31283/09]

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

Sean Sherlock

Question:

472 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application for the back-to-school clothing scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31284/09]

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

Sean Sherlock

Question:

473 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application under the back-to-school clothing scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31285/09]

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

Sean Sherlock

Question:

474 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application under the back-to-school clothing scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31286/09]

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

Sean Sherlock

Question:

475 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork under the back-to-school clothing scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31287/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

476 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) is eligible to be considered for the incentivised scheme for early retirement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31289/09]

Members of all eligible grades in the health sector who meet the criteria set down in my Department's Circular 8/2009 have access to the ISER provided the grades/staff groups concerned cooperate with the requirements in relation to redeployment, mobility, skill mix and flexibility which are outlined in the employment control framework: this is designed to allow individuals to avail of the ISER while still protecting services. Because staff who retire under the scheme will not be replaced (save in very exceptional cases), employers must pay particular attention, when considering applications, to the scope that exists within the organisation for reorganising and restructuring work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. Staff cooperation and flexibility in that regard is essential.

My Department understands that the directive issued by the majority of health service trade unions instructing their members not to cooperate with redeployment and reassignment requests from management is still in place. This instruction severely restricts the ability of management to organise/restructure work practice and contravenes the qualification criteria for the scheme. However, applications can still be made to the relevant employer in anticipation of a resolution of the industrial relations issues and a further Circular (17/2009) has issued extending the closing date of the incentivised scheme for early retirement to 16 October, 2009. Talks will continue on the issue and it is hoped that a satisfactory resolution will be found.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

477 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the problems being experienced by the Health Service Executive and the unions with regards to the introduction of the incentivised scheme for early retirement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31290/09]

The problems being experienced by the Health Service Executive and the unions with the regard to the introduction of the incentivised scheme for early retirement have not yet been resolved.

As the Deputy may be aware, members of all eligible grades who meet the criteria set down in Circular 8/2009 have access to the ISER provided the grades/staff groups concerned cooperate with the requirements in relation to redeployment, mobility, skill mix and flexibility which are outlined in the employment control framework: this is designed to allow individuals to avail of the ISER while still protecting services. Because staff who retire under the scheme will not be replaced (save in very exceptional cases), employers must pay particular attention, when considering applications, to the scope that exists within the organisation for reorganising and restructuring work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. Staff cooperation and flexibility in that regard is essential.

My Department understands that the directive issued by the majority of health service trade unions instructing their members not to cooperate with redeployment and reassignment requests from management is still in place. This instruction severely restricts the ability of management to organise/restructure work practice and contravenes the qualification criteria for the scheme. However, applications can still be made to the relevant employer in anticipation of a resolution of the industrial relations issues and a further Circular (17/2009) has issued extending the closing date of the incentivised scheme for early retirement to 16 October, 2009. Talks will continue on the issue and it is hoped that a satisfactory resolution will be found.

Hospital Accommodation.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

478 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the proposals in place in respect of an old hospital (details supplied) when the new hospital is opened; if she will provide an undertaking that the hospital will not be allowed go into disrepair, similar to another old hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31292/09]

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

Legal Fees.

John O'Mahony

Question:

479 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of legal fees for the Health Service Executive west in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as a result of legal cases taken against it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31305/09]

John O'Mahony

Question:

480 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of compensation paid out by the Health Service Executive west in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as a result of legal cases taken against it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31306/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 479 and 480 together.

As the Deputy's questions concern matters pertaining to the Health Service Executive, I have forwarded them to the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

481 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the action being taken by Waterford Regional Hospital to resolve the care required by a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31337/09]

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

Hospitals Building Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

482 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 63 of 2 July 2009, the position regarding the construction of this project. [31356/09]

The next phase 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 provide accommodation for cystic fibrosis patients with appropriate isolation facilities for the treatment of their condition. It will also include a dedicated day unit for people with cystic fibrosis. The HSE will shortly be awarding a contract to begin the site preparation works. In the interim tender documents are being completed for the development of the ward block in order to ensure earliest possible commencement of construction in 2010. It is intended that the development will become operational as early as possible in 2011.

Vaccination Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

483 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will publish the report of the vaccine damage steering group; the reason for the delay in its publication; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31375/09]

Damien English

Question:

492 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects that a person (details supplied) in County Meath will be responded to by the vaccine damage steering group with the view to closure on the issue. [31541/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 483 and 492 together.

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

Departmental Reports.

Denis Naughten

Question:

484 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 142 of 16 June 2009, if the report has been finalised; if a decision has been made on the publication date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31376/09]

The Review in question was commissioned by the Health Service Executive in order to inform plans for the organisation and delivery of adult critical care services within the acute hospital system. I understand that the report is being finalised at present. A decision on publication will be made when the report is completed.

Question No. 485 answered with Question No. 387.

Data Protection.

Denis Naughten

Question:

486 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a full report on the content of the action taken to date, on the theft of laptops from the Health Service Executive offices in Roscommon town; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31381/09]

The question has been referred for direct reply to the Health Service Executive which has responsibility for the formulation and implementation of measures relating to ICT security and the necessary follow up on events such as the theft of laptops that occurred last June in Roscommon.

Patient Private Property Fund.

Denis Naughten

Question:

487 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 85 of 18 June 2009, the position regarding the issues raised; the value of payments made to date; the number of clients or their representatives who have received payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31383/09]

The first payments of interest previously retained on invested PPP funds by the HSE have now been made to clients in the South East area in respect of funds invested during 2005. To date interest of €60,900 in total was distributed to 1,120 clients.

Clients who have received payments directly to their PPP accounts to date have been provided with individual statements outlining the amount of interest received. The HSE is now seeking to identify the rightful recipients of the remainder of these funds. In many cases clients are either discharged or are deceased. There is a significant administrative task in establishing the present whereabouts of the persons entitled to receive this payment.

The HSE has also commenced a project to facilitate the electronic receipt of Department of Social and Family Affairs allowances on behalf of HSE clients. Such payments will commence later this month. This project is drawing on the same staff resources as those involved in the processing of retained interest payments and was not anticipated earlier in the year. The calculation and processing of returned interest payments will re-commence once the project is complete.

Health Centres.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

488 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received documentation appertaining to extension, improvement, refurbishment works at Johnstownbridge health centre in County Kildare; the full extent of the works required; when her attention was drawn to this requirement; when it is expected to respond positively to such requests in view of the situation prevailing at present; if she will enter into dialogue with local general practitioner and health centre staff with a view to expediting the process having particular regard to the population increase in the area and that the current facilities were provided to meet the existing population demands 40 years ago; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31428/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

489 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and location of health centres in County Kildare currently deemed to be in need of upgrading, extension, renovation, or replacement in accordance with population or other requirements; the extent to which documentation has been submitted to her in respect of such proposals; the degree to which it is intended to respond to those longest on such waiting lists; the estimated cost of the required improvements; the time scale within which provision is expected to materialise; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31429/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 488 and 489 together.

As the Deputy's questions refer to service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Jack Wall

Question:

490 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare, who was employed by the Health Service Executive, will receive their P45; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31511/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

Dan Neville

Question:

491 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if the back-to-school allowance will be processed without further delay in respect of persons (details supplied). [31533/09]

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

Question No. 492 answered with Question No. 483.

Pre-school Services.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

493 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she will take to deal with a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31545/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the implementation of the new Early Childhood Care and Education scheme which provides a free Pre-School year to eligible children and which will be introduced in January 2010.

As part of the preparations for introducing the new scheme, the Childcare Directorate of my Office wrote to almost 5,000 private and voluntary pre-school service providers in the State, inviting them to participate and outlining the requirements governing the scheme. The application process is expected to be completed next month following which a list of local services contracted to participate in the scheme, will be available to parents from each City and County Childcare Committee. In practice, many parents will already have children attending pre-school services which have applied to participate in the scheme and expect to do so, from January 2010. As indicated above, applicants were made aware of the requirements governing the scheme in June of this year.

A key requirement of the scheme is that pre-school leaders must hold a certification for a major award in childcare/early education at a minimum of Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications of Ireland (NFQ) or an equivalent recognised qualification in the childcare/early education field. In the first two full years of the scheme, the qualification requirement will be met where a person holds an award in ECCE that includes the four core modules of Early Education, Child Development, Caring for Children and Work Experience and has at least 2 years experience of working in a position of responsibility with children in the 0-6 range.

As a scheme to provide appropriate programme based educational activities for children in their pre-school year, qualifications in other fields, such as Business Studies, cannot be taken into account. Services which are unable to demonstrate that they have pre-school year leaders who hold the minimum required level of qualification will not be able to participate in the scheme. Services can re-apply for entry to the scheme in September 2010.

The annual capitation fee of over €2,400 amounts, in the case of a sessional playschool, to €64.50 pew week over 38 weeks. For full- and part-time services providing a pre-school year of 2 hours 15 minutes per day, 5 days a week for 50 weeks, the annual capitation fee amounts to €48.50 per week. The capitation fee and its application on a weekly basis are considered reasonable.

Health Services.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

494 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist in having an application for home help in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork reconsidered. [31569/09]

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

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Question:

495 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money spent on advertising and promotions in her Department and each agency under her aegis for each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and to date in 2009 in tabular readable form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31580/09]

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to my Department is set out in the following table.

Advertising by the Department from 2004 to 2009

Year

2004

6,103,000

2005

5,389,000

2006

1,375,000

2007

48,400

2008

62,315

2009

115,003

Responsibility for advertising and promotional campaigns transferred to the Health Service Executive in early 2006. This includes media campaigns in relation to alcohol, smoking, illegal drugs, obesity etc. Resulting from this transfer of responsibility, the Department's costs for advertising etc. reduced substantially in 2006. The expenditure in 2007 relates exclusively to a public information campaign on the Nursing Homes Support Scheme — "A Fair Deal". Expenditure in 2008 and 2009 relates to a number of public consultation and information campaigns.

With regard to agencies under the aegis of my Department, information is only available in respect of the period from January 2009 to date. Information prior to this date is not routinely collected by my Department.

Advertising by agencies under the aegis of the Department — 2009

An Bord Altranais

56,898

Crisis Pregnancy Agency

742,807

Health Insurance Authority

11,674

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

428,292

Medical Council

27,449

Mental Health Commission

4,435

National Cancer Screening Service

616,965

Office of Tobacco Control

35,654

Office of the Disability Appeals Officer

412

Safefood

203,848

With regard to the Health Service Executive, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to reply directly to the Deputy in respect of related expenditure by the Executive.

Hospital Services.

Seán Power

Question:

496 Deputy Seán Power asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there are bed closures in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Athy, County Kildare; the action she will take to ensure that the beds are reopened as soon as is possible in view of the hardship and difficulties being experienced by staff, patients and their families. [31586/09]

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

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

John Browne

Question:

497 Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in awarding funding, due under the health repayment scheme, to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford. [31588/09]

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

Departmental Correspondence.

Brian Hayes

Question:

498 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason this Deputy has yet to receive a substantial reply to correspondence sent to her on 31 July 2009 concerning an issue (details supplied) which is yet to be clarified; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31595/09]

A substantial reply to the correspondence sent by the Deputy (details supplied) on 31 July, 2009 has not issued because there is no record of the letter having been received by the Department on or after this date. This information has been communicated to the Deputy and arrangements are being made to have the letter resent and the query answered.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

499 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if eight home support hours weekly will be restored by the Health Service Executive to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [31597/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

500 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of public hospital beds closed since 1 July 2009 and their locations; the number of wards so closed and their locations; the number of each which have been reopened since 1 September and their locations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31599/09]

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

Question No. 501 answered with Question No. 442.

Pharmacy Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

502 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and location of special pharmacies put in place by the Health Service Executive as part of its contingency plan during the recent pharmacy dispute; the reason the HSE entered into contracts for such pharmacies in such a way that they remained in place after the dispute was over; the cost of these contracts, including the cost of security; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31601/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

507 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the costs to the Health Service Executive and her Department of putting in place the community pharmacy centres during the pharmacy dispute; the number of staff deployed or employed for the running of these centres; the amount they were paid; the total costs involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31617/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 502 and 507 together.

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

Departmental Expenditure.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

503 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the discussions she has had with the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes; the basis on which she called upon the Health Service Executive to identify some €800 million in cuts; the reply received by her from the HSE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31602/09]

Planned expenditure levels for my Department will be considered as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2010. This will include consideration of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, and the decisions on all of the issues arising will be a matter for the Government. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage pending the outcome of these deliberative processes.

Health Services.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

504 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application to the Health Service Executive south by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [31612/09]

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

Nursing Homes Regulation.

Tom Hayes

Question:

505 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if a nursing home resident is liable for the Health Information and Quality Authority licensing fee of €190 per designated place; if a person on nursing home subvention or discretionary payment from the Health Service Executive is liable for the fee; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31613/09]

Under the Health Act, 2007, statutory responsibility is given to the Chief Inspector of Social Services, part of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) for inspecting and registering categories of centres, including nursing homes. HIQA commenced the new system of registration and inspection on July 1st, 2009. This has for the first time, introduced an independent system of inspection of both public and private nursing homes. It is important that this new inspection regime is effective, robust, independent and properly resourced. In this regard the 2007 Act provides for the following fees:

Applications for registration or renewal of registration under Section 48. This section states that the applicant shall include with the application the prescribed application fee.

An annual fee payable by the registered provider under Section 99

A fee for variation or removal of any conditions of the registration under Section 52. A registered provider making an application under this section must include the fee with their application.

Following analysis of the types of centres, numbers of places, etc. it was decided to set a registration fee of €500, payable every 3 years by each nursing home together with an annual fee of €190 per place in each registered centre. It is estimated that the fee will represent an average weekly cost of€3.73 per registered place. The fees are payable by the registered provider (or in the case of applications for registration by the applicant, who for existing designated centres would normally be the registered provider). These fees are not due or payable by the resident or their family.

Article 8 of the Health Act 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations 2009 states that:

"(1) The registered provider shall agree a contract with the resident within one month of the admission of that resident to the designated centre.

(2) Such contract shall deal with the care and welfare of the resident in the designated centre and shall include details of the services to be provided for that resident and the fees to be charged."

Therefore, only those fees, including any agreed increases, set out in the contract should be charged by the registered provider to the resident.

Pharmacy Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

506 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the pharmacy dispute in August 2009, she had meetings with the pharmacy group since this dispute; if so, the number of meetings which have been held; if not, when she will have a meeting with it to discuss the ongoing issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31616/09]

The Irish Pharmacy Union wrote to me on 12 August 2009 seeking engagement on a range of issues. I intend to arrange such a meeting shortly.

Question No. 507 answered with Question No. 502.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

508 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 211 of 30 June 2009, the reason a response has not issued from the Health Service Executive. [31620/09]

I have referred the matter to the HSE for direct reply.

Michael Ring

Question:

509 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the care which has been proposed and provided for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [31621/09]

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.

Finian McGrath

Question:

510 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 will be supported. [31633/09]

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.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

511 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry for the treatment abroad scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31635/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Frank Feighan

Question:

512 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application for a general medical service card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [31666/09]

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

Paul Connaughton

Question:

513 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an over 70s medical card review in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31672/09]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

David Stanton

Question:

514 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 313 and 314 of 31 January 2006, the number of court actions regarding the provision of resources, such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and psychological services relating to primary and post-primary school students with special needs, in which her Department has been involved each year from 2006 to date in 2009; the number of same which progressed to hearing stage; the number of cases that resulted in the provision by her of the resources sought by the plaintiffs; the costs which were incurred by her in responding to these courts actions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31697/09]

Details relating to 142 special education needs cases involving my Department from 2000 to the end of 2005 were included in response to Parliamentary Question Nos. 313 and 314 of 31 January 2006. Since 2006, 14 further cases (11 Judicial Review cases and 3 Plenary cases) relating to special education needs were commenced against the Minister for Health and Children. These cases are broken down as follows:

2006: 9 cases (8 Judicial Review, 1 Plenary)

2007: 4 cases (3 Judicial Review, 1 Plenary)

2008: 1 case (Plenary)

2009: 0.

In the period from 2006 to date, one special education needs case, which commenced in 2004, was the subject of a High Court adjudication (in 2007). In that case, the claims against my Department and the Department of Education and Science were dismissed.

Such cases are, in the main, taken against the Department of Education and Science and allege a failure on behalf of the State to provide for an appropriate education as provided for in the Constitution. Education and health-related educational supports are provided by the education sector and by the Health Service Executive, respectively. My Department is involved due to its role in the formulation and development of policy in respect of the provision of healthcare and support services.

Since 2006, my Department has also contributed towards the settlement of a total of 41 special education needs cases (22 Judicial Review, 19 Plenary) which were initiated prior to 2006. The cost to my Department, excluding the costs of the State defence which is borne by the Office of the Chief State Solicitor, in each of the years since 2006 was as follows:

2006

2007

2008

2009 (to date)

JR Settlements

228,518.75

195,002.74

171,621.74

26,736.74

JR Legal Costs

81,157.77

27,198.26

231,802.33

45,318.10

Plenary Settlements

47,219.99

32,187.50

16,013.03

1,203.09

Plenary Costs

351,815.75

335,662.27

422,700.70

68,787.10

Total

708,712.26

590,050.77

842,137.80

142,045.03

In addition, a reimbursement of €597,461.36 was paid in 2006 to the Department of Education and Science in respect of special education needs cases in which they had (prior to 2006) paid the full costs on behalf of the State. It should be noted that these figures do not include the costs of staff involved in responding to these cases.

Departmental Programmes.

David Stanton

Question:

515 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost in administering the cycle-to-work scheme in her Department in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31714/09]

There is no discernible cost to this Department's vote in administering the cycle to work scheme. The bicycles and equipment are paid for by way of salary sacrifice by those acquiring the bicycles. There would be minor costs in processing forms and in carrying the up-front costs until such time as those are offset by the gradual deductions from salary. Neither of these is quantifiable. The only material cost of the scheme to the State is the tax relief inherent in the scheme The total amount sanctioned to date by way of cycle purchases for staff of this Department is €10,603.21.

Mental Health Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

516 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 209 of 28 April 2009, the number of such facilities inspected to date; the number to be inspected in the remaining part of 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31794/09]