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 13, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 14 to 104, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 105 to 113, inclusive, answered orally.

Contaminated Sites.

John Perry

Question:

114 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made in the remediation of the Haulbowline site in County Cork; the cost to date for remediation works; when he expects the site to be fully safe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35982/09]

Significant progress has been made since the State, acting through my Department in a co-ordinating role, took over custody of the Irish Ispat site from the liquidator in June 2003, as mandated by Government. The mandate required my Department to co-ordinate all legal actions in relation to the site and to cover issues such as ongoing site security, maintenance and other such issues arising once the site was vacated by the liquidator. This has necessarily included elements of site clearance to avoid negative environmental impact and for reasons of health and safety. It has also involved an extensive site investigation to determine the extent of environmental damage and to guide further consideration of the future development/use of the site.

To date the State has expended c.€50 million on investigations, site works, disposal of waste material, testing and sampling, analysis, topographical and foreshore ecological surveys, project management, professional fees and security. In relation to safety concerns at Haulbowline the comprehensive site investigations which were conducted in 2005 and 2008 by Consultants, White Young Green, concluded that while there is significant contamination of the site it posed no immediate threat to human health or the environment in the area.

The Government recently considered the position in relation to the site at Haulbowline and decided that the Office of Public Works will chair a Working Group to develop a structured and coherent approach to the further management and development of the site. The establishment of this Group is a matter for the OPW, and I understand that the necessary arrangements are underway.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Joe Costello

Question:

115 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he expects to achieve his stated ambition of a minimum of 2,000 additional homes in 2009 under the leasing initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35817/09]

To date, my Department has issued full funding approval in respect of some 842 properties under the Social Housing Leasing Initiative. In addition to this, a further 367 units have been issued with provisional approval. This gives a total of 1,209 properties approved to date, covering 17 different housing authority areas. Furthermore, there are a number of leasing proposals currently being assessed by my Department, which together with other proposals expected to be brought forward in the weeks ahead, should result in the achievement of our ambitious 2,000 unit target by year end.

I also recently announced the extension of the leasing arrangements to the voluntary and co-operative sector, so that in addition to local authorities being able to provide leased accommodation, the voluntary sector will now also be able to provide such accommodation. This will, I believe, contribute greatly to the provision of many more homes under the leasing programme. Delivering on the target of providing 2,000 units under the Social Housing Leasing Initiative in 2009 will continue to be one of my Department's key priorities for the remainder of the year, with a view to making a significant contribution to meeting housing needs and, at the same time enabling the State successfully to avail of the cost effective opportunities in the market.

National Spatial Strategy.

Seán Barrett

Question:

116 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the national spatial strategy is relevant in view of recent population trends; if he will place the strategy or a revised strategy before the Houses of the Oireachtas for approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35916/09]

The 2002 National Spatial Strategy (NSS) sets out a 20-year Strategy aimed at achieving a better balance of social, economic and physical development across Ireland, supported by more effective planning. Regional Planning Guidelines made in mid-2004 as a key implementation mechanism for the NSS are now under review with the intention of adopting new Regional Planning Guidelines by the middle of next year. Since the current Regional Planning Guidelines were published, 2006 census and other data have become available providing a more updated analysis of recent population trends. In January 2009, my Department set out population targets for 2016 and 2022 for each of the eight regional authority areas having regard to the most recent data available; the population targets must be incorporated into the updated Regional Planning Guidelines.

The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 contains key provisions linking development at local level with population targets contained in the Regional Planning Guidelines and with regional development objectives set out in both the Guidelines and the NSS; the passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas provides an opportunity to debate this issue. My Department is currently finalising an NSS Review and Outlook Report which will take stock of NSS achievements to date and outline remaining challenges and actions to enable the NSS to contribute to national economic renewal and enhanced competitiveness, through for example better alignment and prioritisation of sectoral infrastructure investment, especially in the Gateway cities which act as economic drivers for their wider regions.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

117 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if under the leasing initiative a lease or rent review is part of each agreement; if a review can be down as well as up; if houses acquired under the leasing initiative are required to meet a particular building energy rating standard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35819/09]

The achievement of value for money is the primary focus of authorities when negotiating leasing costs and other associated terms and conditions provided for in lease agreements under the Social Housing Leasing Initiative. In normal circumstances, each lease agreement entered into will be the subject of a rent review. However, there will be some exceptions to this, including situations where, based on the discount on the current market rent obtained, an agreement is made to fix the rent for the full term of the lease. Generally, however, it is expected that each lease agreement will have a rent review in place and my Department has advised authorities that where provided for, rent reviews should follow market conditions, so that rent can be adjusted upwards or downwards.

While the new leasing initiative does not specifically require that properties achieve a minimum BER rating, it does require that all dwellings must be compliant with planning and building regulations and with the new standards regulations for rented accommodation, and a BER certificate is required to be provided for each unit of accommodation leased. In recent years, significant efforts have been made to ensure that all new dwellings are designed and built to high energy efficiency and sustainable development standards. To that end, while the leasing initiative has no specific minimum requirements on energy ratings, the initiative is designed in part to leverage the current value in the housing market due to large numbers of unsoldnew properties. Under the recent building regulations, it is expected that the majority of these dwellings would therefore achieve ratings of at least C3.

Overall, I am satisfied that the new Social Housing Leasing Initiative will provide quality housing to those who need it, further support the Government's objective of delivering more energy efficient social housing and deliver value for money for the State.

Departmental Properties.

Noel Coonan

Question:

118 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which his Department, its agencies or local authorities will calculate long-term market value of property portfolios to be included in their annual accounts; whether this methodology is the same as that proposed for NAMA; and if he will make a statement on the matter [35931/09]

This Question anticipates legislation that is currently before the House and as such it is premature to arrive at firm conclusions regarding its impact on my Department, agencies under the aegis of my Department, or local authorities.

My Department has no land or other assets which are subject to borrowings. The valuation of assets in the accounts of agencies is a matter for the board of the agency concerned; the accounts are prepared in compliance with relevant accounting standards and are audited. As I indicated in reply to Question No. 105 on today's order paper, my Department and the Department of Finance met with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority in July. It was agreed that the Authority would await the publication of the National Asset Management Agency Bill 2009 and also have regard to the guidance for the treatment of impaired assets, prepared by the European Commission and the European Central Bank, in valuing its property assets.

Local authorities possess a number of assets, including land, which have been acquired or developed on foot of authorised borrowings. These assets are utilised and developed by local authorities, as appropriate, or remain available to the local authority for future development. Their accounting requirements are set out in a Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in Ireland issued under the Local Government Act 2001.

Homelessness Strategy.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

119 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the implementation of The Way Home homeless strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35683/09]

The National Implementation Plan for the Government's Homeless Strategy, The Way Home, was launched on 21 April 2009 and is available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie. It provides a robust framework to guide the action required at national level to promote and support effective implementation locally. The Plan sets out a sequence of strategic aims, key approaches, priority actions and constituent/supporting measures, along with relevant timelines, necessary to pursue the objectives of the Strategy.

Implementation of the Strategy involves action by a number of statutory and non-statutory agencies and achievement of its objectives depends particularly on the effectiveness of action by such agencies at local level. My Department works to promote and co-ordinate the role of these agencies through the Cross-Department Team on Homelessness, the National Homelessness Consultative Committee and direct engagement with local authorities and other relevant organisations.

A number of key actions under the Strategy more directly involving my Department are being progressed. New legislative provisions relating to homelessness were enacted in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 under which statutory structures and action plans to address homelessness will come into being at local level. Major reconfiguration of homeless services in Dublin is in progress in accordance with a model developed pursuant to a comprehensive evaluation of services. Approval has been given to the development of a new homeless services shared client database. A new scheme of mainstream housing and supports to help people in homeless facilities to progress to independent living has been launched, and the procurement process for support services in Dublin will be completed shortly.

Implementation of the Homeless Strategy is a high priority for my Department as evidenced by the level of funding available in 2009 for homeless accommodation and related services, which increased by 5% in monetary terms, and significantly more in real terms relative to trends in prices, over 2008. Implementation of the Homeless Strategy is, therefore, well underpinned by funding, structural arrangements and legislative provisions. Achievement of its objectives, which is being driven by my Department, will ultimately be determined by the performance of all of the statutory and non-statutory agencies involved.

Water Pollution.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

120 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he will take in the context of the heavily polluted groundwater resources here to address the problem of inadequate leaking septic tanks in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35962/09]

Primary responsibility for the prevention of pollution from septic tanks and other on-site waste water treatment systems rests with owners or occupiers of premises served by such systems. In its Water Quality 2004-2006 Report published in 2008, the EPA noted,inter alia, that greater attention needed to be given to groundwater protection, and in particular to prevention of pollution at source including from septic tanks. A number of measures have been taken or are underway in this area. These include:

strengthened legal provisions under the Water Services Act 2007 requiring the occupier or owner of a premises to ensure that waste water from the premises does not cause nuisance or risk to human health or the environment;

an updated code of practice for waste water treatment systems for single houses developed by the EPA which will be published shortly. My Department will then amend Technical Guidance Document H of the Building Regulations, which deals with Drainage and Waste Water Disposal, to incorporate updated and additional guidance based on the EPA's new Code.

The renewed Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce a scheme for the licensing and inspection of septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems. A Task Force under the Chairmanship of my Department has already been constituted to give consideration to the septic tank issue and I am asking the Task Force to prepare concrete proposals to give effect to the Programme for Government commitment.

Waste Management.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

121 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of local authorities or local authority areas with a brown bin collection service in 2007, 2008 and 2009; the steps being taken to ensure more local authorities introduce such a service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35809/09]

The information sought in respect of 2008 and 2009 is not available in my Department. The National Waste Report 2007, published by the EPA in January 2009, reported that brown bin collections were provided to households in thirteen local authority areas in 2007 through both public and private sector service provision. A total of 18,705 tonnes of food and garden waste was collected from householders representing an increase of almost 20% on that collected in 2006. A further 19,611 tonnes of such waste was collected at local authority civic amenity sites in 2007.

Improving our recovery rates for organic waste represents a considerable challenge and one that must be addressed as a matter of urgency if Ireland is to achieve its prescribed diversion targets under the EU Landfill Directive. Meeting these targets will entail doubling the existing levels of diversion of biodegradable municipal waste, which includes organic waste, from landfill by 2010 with exponential increases in diversion in the subsequent target years of 2013 and 2016 respectively. Against this background, it is my intention to issue a further circular to all local authorities aimed at accelerating progress in the roll out of brown bins to households and further promoting the benefits of home composting.

In addition, my Department is currently holding a public consultation on draft regulations which will require the source segregation and appropriate treatment of food waste arising from commercial premises. This, I believe, has the potential to divert significant amounts of food waste from landfill towards more sustainable and environmentally beneficial practices.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

122 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of housing units that are currently provided through the rental accommodation scheme; if, in view of the increasing number of unemployed persons, he will review the minimum 18 month qualifying threshold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35812/09]

Following a Government decision in 2004, the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) was established to meet the accommodation needs of rent supplement recipients with a long-term housing need. In the period from the commencement of transfers in September 2005 to the end of August 2009, some 22,412 households have been transferred from rent supplement. Of these, 11,987 were housed directly in RAS accommodation and a further 10,425 were accommodated under other social housing options. In terms of activity this year, some 4,401 households had been transferred from rent supplement by the end of August, equating to 65% of the total annual target of 7,000. I am confident that the transfer rate for the rest of the year will deliver the remaining 35%.

With regard to the specific issue of reviewing the 18 month qualifying criterion, while in general a household must be in receipt of rent supplement for 18 months or more in order to qualify for RAS, housing authorities do, on occasion, accept households on to RAS where they have been less than 18 months on rent supplement. This occurs where there are exceptional circumstances and where a long term housing need can be demonstrated. In addition, while in most housing authority areas there remains a significant cohort of households in receipt of rent supplement for longer than 18 months, there are a small number of authorities who have accommodated most of the 18 month cohort at this stage, and are now in consultation with the local Community Welfare Service to identify other rent supplement households that have a long term housing need and are suitable for transfer to the scheme.

It is considered, particularly in the current economic climate where rising unemployment is resulting in an increase in the numbers on rent supplement, that the 18 month threshold remains an appropriate juncture at which to review a household's ongoing need for housing. As the economy recovers, it is likely that many of these households will return to employment. In that context, the type of support provided through rent supplement i.e. short term income support, is more appropriate to the needs to these households rather then pre-determining that the households have a long term housing need. Should some households find themselves with a long term housing need, they will be provided for under the normal 18 month rule.

Waste Management.

James Reilly

Question:

123 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the incinerator in Poolbeg; if he has received a response to his letter to the Dublin city manager; the action he will take to block the incinerator if he considers it anti-competitive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35984/09]

As previously advised, the proposed facility in question received planning approval from An Bord Pleanála in November 2007 and was granted a waste licence by the Environmental Protection Agency in December 2008. It is the subject of continuing correspondence with the Dublin City Council. In line with national policy the Exchequer does not fund new heavy waste infrastructure, landfills or waste to energy (incineration) plants. These are to be provided as purely private sector commercial initiatives or by way of public private partnerships with local authorities and accordingly the capital costs of this project will not fall to be met by the Exchequer. Enforcement of competition law is in the first instance a matter for the Competition Authority.

The Attorney General sought and received, on my behalf, the contract for the Poolbeg incinerator from Dublin City Council earlier this year. I can confirm that an economist was hired to carry out an analysis of the contract for the purposes of informing pending legal advice by the Attorney General. The Attorney General has recommended that a further analysis be carried out by a financial expert before any definitive advice can be furnished.

Dublin Docklands Development Authority.

Richard Bruton

Question:

124 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he expects to receive the 2008 accounts from the Dublin Docklands Development Authority; his views on the matter if the DDDA had incurred losses and has reached its statutory borrowing limit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35920/09]

I understand that the Annual Accounts of the Authority for 2008 are now finalised within the Authority and will be submitted to me in the coming days, following which I will bring them to the attention of Government and arrange to have them laid before both Houses. In advance of consideration of the Accounts by my Department, I am not in a position to comment in detail on their contents. I understand, however, that they will show an operating deficit for 2008 and that the Authority is taking steps to manage this deficit. Under Section 30 of the Dublin Docklands Development Act 1997, as amended, the Authority can borrow monies, up to a limit of €127m, with my prior consent and with the consent of the Minister for Finance. I am informed by the Authority that the approved borrowing limits are being complied with.

Local Authority Housing.

Joan Burton

Question:

125 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when commencement orders will be made in relation to the sale of local authority apartments following the enactment of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35813/09]

A commencement order will be made shortly under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the first in a series bringing the various provisions of the Act into operation. However, a considerable amount of preparatory work is required before the necessary commencement order can be made for Part 4, relating to tenant purchase of apartments. This work, which is being undertaken by my Department as a priority, includes consultations with housing authorities and drafting the necessary regulations and detailed guidance relating to, among other things, the three complex transfers of property ownership involved and the establishment of management companies.

Tax Code.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

126 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of properties he estimates to be liable to pay the €200 charge under the Local Government Charges Act 2009; the number that have been paid to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35816/09]

The Government has decided to broaden the revenue base of local authorities by introducing this charge on all non-principal private residences, including private rented accommodation, holiday homes and any other residential property that is not the owner's sole or main residence. The charge has been set at €200 per annum. When the Bill was at Second Stage in the Houses, it was indicated that the charge could be expected to raise about €40 million a year, based on collection from approximately 200,000 properties. However, census and other data suggest that there may be 400,000 properties in the State liable for the charge and the annual potential yield could therefore be significantly higher than estimated at present. The amount raised as at 12 October 2009 is just under €25 million, 82% of which has been collected through on-line payments.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Joan Burton

Question:

127 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of social housing applicants currently waiting to have a housing assessment completed; the proportion of those awaiting a determination with regard to rent supplement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35814/09]

My Department does not collect details on the number of social housing applicants waiting for a housing needs assessment to be completed, or the proportion of those who are waiting for a determination on Rent Supplement. It is a matter for each housing authority under the Housing Acts 1966 to 2009 to carry out housing needs assessments and to allocate appropriate resources to undertake this function. However, service indicator information is collected annually by the Local Government Management Services Board, and provides information on the average time taken to inform applicants of decisions regarding their application for local authority housing. The latest published figures relate to 2007 and show an average time of twenty eight days. The 2008 figures are expected to be available shortly.

The operation of Rent Supplement is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. However, given the necessary close relationship between this support and the delivery of social housing, my Department liaises closely with that Department on any changes in the scheme's operation. In the context of the recent introduction of a new approach to the assessment of housing need for rent supplement purposes, both Departments have undertaken to establish new systems at both national and regional level to monitor and review the new working arrangements. These systems are currently being put in place, and in the interim my Department is using the existing Rental Accommodation Scheme Steering Group, on which the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Community Welfare Service are represented, as a forum for ongoing monitoring of the operation of the new arrangements and to address any issues arising.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Enda Kenny

Question:

128 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the files which have been requested from his Department by the Mahon tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30628/09]

The Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments is empowered by relevant resolutions of the Houses of the Oireachtas to carry out such preliminary investigations in private, as it thinks fit. My Department has cooperated with all requests by the Tribunal to make files available. However, it would not be appropriate to disclose details of material provided in this way to the Tribunal, on a strictly private and confidential basis, in the course of its investigations.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

129 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of Part V properties currently under construction; the number of completed Part V developments which remain unsold; the period of time for which there have been no active inquiries regarding the purchase of these properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35798/09]

Information on housing activity, including Part V social and affordable housing, in each local authority area up to the end of March 2009, is available on my Department's website (www.environ.ie). Information is also published in my Department's Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library. Data for the second quarter of 2009 will be published shortly. Estimates obtained from local authorities and the Affordable Homes Partnership during the first quarter of 2009 indicated that the number of affordable units on hands nationally was in the region of 3,700, the majority of which would have been acquired as a result of Part V agreements with developers. At that time, many of these units were already in process of sale or have since been sold.

Local authority Housing Action Plans, which ensure a more holistic and integrated approach to social and affordable housing provision, are reviewed in conjunction with my Department on a regular basis. The Autumn round of review meetings is currently taking place. The data being supplied by local authorities at those meetings will provide an up to date position regarding affordable units on hands. My Department does not hold data in relation to enquiries regarding the purchase of specific properties. I understand, however, that local authorities, in line with my Department's guidance, are continuing active sales campaigns in many areas and that significant numbers of sales are proceeding where homes are priced appropriately for the current market.

Brian Hayes

Question:

130 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will request local authorities to revalue their stock of affordable housing to reflect current market conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35955/09]

The provision of affordable housing, including setting of the sale price, is primarily a matter for individual housing authorities. The sale price of an affordable home is determined largely by its cost. Where authorities consider it appropriate, in the context of reduced open market prices and the continuing need to ensure value for money outcomes, they have the option to further reduce the sale price of any affordable house by further subsidisation utilising Part V monies, clawback or other internal capital receipts on hands. Local authorities are best positioned to make judgments in this regard, based on local circumstances.

Building Regulations.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

131 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the difficulties faced by building energy rating contractors who have invested significant amounts in training, insurance and registration and who are faced with low take-up of building energy rating certificates; the number of BER contractors; the amount of BER certificate applications since the beginning of the scheme; the steps he will take to ensure further take-up of this scheme; if he will introduce a waiver in relation to registration in respect of persons who are unemployed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35521/09]

There are currently almost 2,900 persons registered with Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) as Building Energy Rating (BER) assessors for dwellings, with 270 registered as BER assessors for buildings other than dwellings. At present there are some 74,000 Building Energy Rating (BER) certificates in place in respect of dwellings and over 2,000 BER certificates in place for buildings other than dwellings. While a significant level of BER activity is taking place, it is clear that the number of registered assessors for dwellings is far higher than is required to meet current and anticipated demand for BER certificates in the market place.

There are no proposals under consideration by my Department at present in relation to the waiver of registration fees in respect of unemployed persons who are interested in becoming BER assessors. I understand that SEI strongly advises applicants for registration to review the number of BER assessors who are already servicing their intended target area in order to ensure that they are satisfied with the potential business opportunity before investing money in registering with SEI. A database of all registered BER assessors, searchable by county, is included on SEI's website (www.sei.ie).

With regard to continuing to improve compliance with and awareness of the BER system, my Department will continue to work closely with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, SEI and the 37 local Building Control Authorities to promote awareness of the obligations which arise under the Regulations. SEI has already conducted a wide range of information and awareness campaigns and, later this Autumn, will engage in a further comprehensive advertising campaign to remind buyers of their rights and vendors of their obligations under the Regulations.

EU Directives.

Mary Upton

Question:

132 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the fact that Ireland has undertaken to implement the European public participation directive and his stated commitment to ratify the Aarhus Convention, he will take steps such as the abolition of fees charged to members of the public to make submissions in relation to planning applications in order to ensure more public participation in decisions regarding planning in their area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35802/09]

The fee for making submissions or observations to a planning authority in respect of a planning application is €20. It was introduced in the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. There are no proposals for its abolition.

Local Authority Housing.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

133 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the market value of a house acquired under the leasing initiative increases substantially in value over the course of the lease period benefit will accrue to the local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35821/09]

It will be a matter for each authority to negotiate the terms of the lease arrangements they enter into, subject to my Department's approval under a broad range of sustainable communities and other criteria. The lease arrangements, once entered into, will apply for the full term of the lease regardless of whether or not property prices rise or fall, unless a break clause, purchase option or other provision is specifically included in the arrangements. The primary focus in negotiating leasing costs will be the delivery of value for money and I would expect that authorities would be able to secure leasing costs of at least 20% below market rental value. This reflects the element of risk, such as the vacancies and management and maintenance responsibilities, being transferred to the housing authority.

Planning Issues.

Dan Neville

Question:

134 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the consultation he had with councillors, elected by local communities, before drafting and publishing the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35972/09]

One of the key aims of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 is to secure a more coherent approach to the zoning of land and a better alignment between national, regional and local planning policies and objectives. As a statutory consultee on draft development plans and local area plans, my Department regularly provides specific comments on zonings and other planning policies to councillors, with more than 300 comments submitted to planning authorities on over 80 draft development plans in the last 5 years at the plan-making or variation stages. In addition, I have issued Ministerial Directions under section 31 of the Planning Act in respect of a number of development plans where there was excessive levels of zoning and where members failed to take due account of my statutory comments and concerns. My views and the views of my Department on zoning issues have, therefore, been well articulated in recent years.

Following publication of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 in June, I received a detailed submission from the County and City Managers Association setting out the views of local authorities in relation to the published Bill. These views have been carefully considered by my Department and a number of changes will be brought forward at Committee Stage of the Bill. Second stage of the Bill has commenced in Seanad Éireann and will continue in the coming weeks.

I have maintained ongoing contact with the elected members' representative associations since I took office on a broad range of issues relevant to the local government sector. Detailed consultation has also taken place before and after the publication last year of the Green Paper on Local Government, which examined a broad range of issues in relation to local government. I expect that the White Paper will be published later this year.

Homelessness Strategy.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

135 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of people currently recorded by his Department as being homeless; the breakdown of those numbers on a monthly basis since the beginning of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35815/09]

By its nature homelessness is difficult to quantify definitively. The Counted In survey, which is a special purpose count of people using homeless services carried out in Dublin every three years since 1999 through the Homeless Agency, supported by my Department, is generally considered to provide the most robust indicator.

The results of the most recent survey in March 2008 reported a total of 1,436 homeless households in Dublin, compared with 1,361 in 2005. While this was a numerical increase of around 5%, the position relative to overall population was unchanged. A further 708 households were recorded as residing in long — term or transitional accommodation; however, it would not be correct to regard all of these as homeless, particularly where, for example, households were resident in suitable accommodation that would be likely to provide their most appropriate home in the long-term, or where they had begun to make a transition out of homelessness. Additional summary counts will be carried out in Dublin in 2009 and 2010.

The Counted In survey method was also used for the first time in Cork, Galway and Limerick in 2008. The results indicated a total of 767 households homeless in these centres. However, that figure includes households in long term and transitional accommodation some of whom, as indicated above in relation to Dublin, should not properly be regarded as homeless. Data for the total number of homeless persons are not available on a monthly basis.

Proposed Legislation.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

136 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding proposals to introduce new noise pollution regulations, that will provide for noise from alarms, on-the-spot fines for noise pollution and arbitration procedures for neighbours in dispute on noise issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35810/09]

There is a commitment to introduce comprehensive legislation on noise pollution within the lifetime of this Government. Earlier this year, following an extensive consultation process, the General Scheme of a Noise Nuisance Bill was prepared in my Department and approved by the Government. The Noise Nuisance Bill is included in Section A of the Government Legislation Programme published on 16 September 2009. The Bill will include provision for the introduction of secondary legislation for purposes of the prevention, management, limitation, reduction or abatement of any noise which is likely to give rise to a nuisance or disamenity, constitute a danger to health, or damage to property.

I intend that the new legislation will provide local authorities with stronger enforcement powers to deal with nuisances from particular noise sources, such as continuously sounding alarms, through a system of fixed payment notices in relation to noise nuisance offences. In addition, the General Scheme of the Bill includes provision for a potential role for mediation services to assist in the prevention, limitation or abatement of noise in certain circumstances.

Water Services.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

137 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the policy suggestion of merging all water authorities into one single water utility State company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35941/09]

The establishment of a single national authority for the delivery of water services was one of the policy options identified in the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes in the context of its consideration of my Department's water and natural heritage programme. The Government will be giving due consideration to the range of options contained in this report.

Local Authority Rates.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

138 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures that he will take to alleviate the burden of local authority rates on small and medium-sized businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27470/09]

Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has no direct function or involvement in this matter.

Rates income is an important contribution to the cost of services provided by local authorities, such as roads, public lighting, development control, parks and open spaces. All rates collected within a local authority are spent exclusively in providing services in that area. These services are of considerable benefit to all and any diminution of rates income would directly affect the provision of such services.

I am nevertheless acutely aware of the pressures on small and medium-sized businesses at the present time and I specifically requested that local authorities exercise restraint in setting commercial rates in their 2009 budgets in order to support competitiveness in the economy and to protect the interests of communities. As we move into 2010 I will continue to keep the approach to rates by local authorities under regular review.

Water Charges.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

139 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the opt out from domestic water charges by Ireland in relation to the European Union legislation on water charging; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35806/09]

The Government's Water Pricing Policy, adopted in 1998, requires local authorities to recover the cost of providing water services from the users of these services, with the exception of households using the services for domestic purposes. Accordingly, when the Water Framework Directive was adopted in 2000, the established practice in Ireland was to exclude domestic users from water charges. The renewed Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce charging for treated water use on a basis that is fair, significantly reduces waste and is easily applied. The system will be designed to allocate a free basic allowance to households, with charging only for water use in excess of the allowance.

Water Quality.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

140 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans for improvement and upgrading in terms of quality, quantity and storage capacity in respect of the domestic drinking water supply throughout the country; the anticipated capital expenditure in this regard over the next five years; the locations for such expenditure; if it is intended to plan fully for future requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36003/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

280 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to improve the domestic water supply having particular regard to present and future requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36327/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

286 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will introduce water conservation measures in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36333/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 140, 280 and 286 together.

Details of all major water schemes included for funding by my Department, together with water conservation allocations, are set out in the Water Services Investment Programme 2007 – 2009 which is available in the Oireachtas Library. Additional information in relation to progress on individual contracts or water conservation works under this Programme, or in relation to activity generally under the small public schemes measure of the devolved Rural Water Programme, may be obtained from the relevant local authority.

As additional water supply capacity through leakage control is a viable alternative to capital infrastructure provision, the Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009 includes a National Water Conservation Sub-Programme. This sub-programme has been in progress for a number of years and has led to reductions in Unaccounted for Water, improved knowledge of the condition of water distribution networks and consumption patterns and an improvement in the level and quality of supply to consumers.

Local authorities were asked in July to submit an assessment of needs for both water and sewerage services to my Department by 23 October 2009. These assessments will form a key input to the development of the 2010 to 2012 Water Services Investment Programme, which it is anticipated will be published in early 2010. In conducting their assessments, local authorities have been asked to prioritise schemes and contracts, including water conservation projects, for progression over the coming years based on key environmental and economic criteria. A provision of €500 million is available for investment in water services infrastructure in 2009. Future investment in the sector will be determined by Government in the normal course as part of the Estimates process.

Private Rented Accommodation.

Liz McManus

Question:

141 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the average number of cases dealt with per day by adjudicators and mediators on behalf of the Private Residential Tenancies Board; if the 8% reduction in professional fees has reduced the cost of this service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35826/09]

My Department has no function in the operational matters of the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), which is an independent statutory body established under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. The PRTB may be contacted at their offices at O'Connell Bridge House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2 or by telephone or email. Contact details are available on the Board's website at www.prtb.ie. The PRTB, in common with all agencies under the aegis of the Department, has been advised of the requirement to seek 8% reduction in professional fees.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Jack Wall

Question:

142 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the carbon emissions for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35801/09]

The EPA is responsible for compiling the national inventories of greenhouse gas emissions for Ireland and for reporting these to the European Union and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These inventories are compiled on an annual basis using the good practice guidelines established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The results become available in preliminary form about 11 months after the end of a calendar year, and they are then finalised and submitted as required to the EU and UNFCCC over the following 5 months. The National Inventory Report 2009, which reports on actual emissions in 2007 and previous years, is available on the Agency's website (www.epa.ie). Preliminary greenhouse gas emissions data for 2008 are expected to become available from the Agency towards the end of 2009. Data for 2009 will not be available until late 2010.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

143 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of people to date who have made a full application under the home choice scheme; the cost to date of administering this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35823/09]

Over 1,400 prospective purchasers have formally registered interest on the dedicated Home Choice loan website and, to date, 38 applications have been made, with 3 approvals in principle issued.

The scheme is operated by four local authorities acting on a regional basis, with administrative support from a Central Processing Unit in the Affordable Homes Partnership. Total costs of some €280,000 have been incurred on establishing the scheme to date and these have been met from within existing resources. The projected costs for the remainder of 2009 and 2010 are €10,000 and €20,000, respectively. However, it should be noted that a significant element of the total cost was incurred in the development of the loan processing model which applies to the Home Choice Loan but which has also now been used in the development of revised systems for processing and credit checking of normal local authority house purchase loan applications under other schemes such as affordable housing and shared ownership. In addition, it is expected that ongoing administrative costs will be met from normal lending margins.

Local Authority Housing.

Liz McManus

Question:

144 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, with reference to Parliamentary Question No. 1053 of 16 September 2009, the legislative error in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, in regard to existing affordable homes purchasers has been corrected; the number of purchasers who have been affected by the error; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35825/09]

I refer to the reply to Question No.1053 of the 16 September 2009. I have requested my Department to arrange to have the relevant provisions included in the first available appropriate legislative vehicle. The position remains unchanged. It is not possible to say how many existing affordable purchasers may have been considering re-mortgaging or switching to another mortgage provider.

Ministerial Travel.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

145 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of money set aside or spent on the purchase of carbon offsets for flights by Ministers or other persons on official business; the amount per flight which is intended to be used to purchase carbon offsets; the persons from whom carbon offsets are to be purchased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35804/09]

In response to the Programme for Government and National Climate Change Strategy commitments, my Department developed the principles of a scheme to offset greenhouse gas emissions from official air travel. The scheme operates on an annual basis and commenced in 2009. It will retrospectively account for all official air travel since the Government came into office in June 2007. All Departments have been notified of the key elements of the scheme and they will be required each year to calculate their carbon dioxide emissions and associated offsetting costs based on total air kilometres travelled.

The scheme applies to all Government Departments and Offices, and covers all flights by Ministers and officials on both commercial airlines and Government passenger aircraft. It also applies to bodies under the aegis of Departments and it is a matter for individual Departments to decide which bodies are to be included. The price of offsetting a tonne of carbon in the period 14 June 2007 to 31 December 2008 has been set at €13. My Department will continue to provide a carbon price each year to reflect the average price in the voluntary offsetting market as the basis for Departments to calculate their offsetting costs. The overall cost of the scheme, estimated at some €420,000 per annum, is modest relative to the benefits likely to accrue.

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) will seek to invest the total offsetting funding in small scale "gold standard" energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Ireland's priority Overseas Development Aid countries in Africa.

Planning Issues.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

146 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding his statement that there is enough land zoned in parts of the country to provide for housing needs up until 2075; if he will take steps to ensure that further land is not rezoned in upcoming development plans for the local authority areas concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35799/09]

The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009, which is currently progressing through second stage in Seanad Éireann, will address land use zoning reform through requiring an evidence-based core strategy in development plans which must provide information on how the plan and the housing strategy are consistent with regional planning guidelines and with the National Spatial Strategy. The core strategy will outline the location, quantum, and phasing of proposed development over the period of the plan as well as details of transport plans and retail development and proposals for development in rural areas where appropriate. This more strategic approach to zoning should facilitate development to take place in a phased and sequential manner and will enable the State to coordinate and deliver the necessary infrastructure and services with much greater certainty and more efficiency.

I am also strengthening the status of Regional Planning Guidelines in the Bill and the role of regional authorities in the preparation or variation of development plans. The ongoing review and update of the Regional Planning Guidelines to be finalised in the middle of next year will be crucial to giving effect to these new legislative provisions.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Joe Costello

Question:

147 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the breakdown by local authority of the number of houses and the number of apartments leased under the leasing initiative; the breakdown by unit size in each category and the duration of the leases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35818/09]

To date my Department has approved over 1,200 units for use under the Social Housing Leasing Initiative. Of these, 842 have been issued with funding approval and a further 367 units have been given provisional approval for leasing. Details of the housing authority areas, where funding approval has been issued, are set out in the table.

Housing authority area

No of approved units for leasing

Cork County Council

28

Dublin City Council

365

Fingal County Council

97

Laois County Council

56

Louth County Council

20

Meath County Council

74

Offaly County Council

21

South Dublin County Council

103

Templemore Town Council

20

Wexford County Council

18

Westmeath County Council

40

Total

842

Details in relation to the unit size, type and duration of the lease agreements will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Register of Electors.

David Stanton

Question:

148 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Question No. 403 of 17 February 2009, if he has given any further consideration to allowing people who will be out of the country on polling day to obtain a postal vote to allow them to vote in elections and referenda before they leave if they present verifiable travel plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36002/09]

The reply to Question No. 403 of 17 February 2009 set out the position in relation to postal voting under current electoral law. As I indicated in the reply to that Question, while electoral law is subject to ongoing review, there are no proposals to alter the existing arrangements along the lines referred to in the Question.

Waste Management.

Mary Upton

Question:

149 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he will take to meet Ireland’s need to divert an additional half a million tonnes of biodegradable waste from landfill by 2010 to meet its targets under the European Union landfill directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35803/09]

I am committed to implementing the measures necessary to ensure that Ireland meets the 2010, and subsequent, EU landfill diversion targets. The Government has decided to introduce primary legislation to allow significant increases in the landfill levy. In addition, I have initiated a public consultation on a statutory instrument which will require the source segregation and appropriate treatment of food waste arising from commercial premises. This consultation ends today and I will consider the results of the consultation as a matter of urgency.

Last year, my Department issued a circular to all local authorities to drive forward the roll out of brown bins and promote the use of home composting and the EPA National Waste Report 2007 indicates increased quantities of biodegradable waste are being dealt with by home composting. I am confident that all of the above measures will contribute significantly to the achievement of the targets for the diversion of waste from landfill and a reduction in our overall use of such facilities.

Local Authority Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

150 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of permanent and temporary staff employed by each local authority in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the number of staff cuts in each local authority area since the 2007 general election; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35797/09]

The table lists the number of permanent staff and temporary staff employed in each local authority as returned to my Department for the end of June 2009. The corresponding figures for June 2007 and June 2008 are included for comparative purposes. The table shows the change in staffing levels in each local authority over the period in question.

Total numbers of permanent and temporary staff show reductions between June 2008 and June 2009. Information being supplied in respect of the period to September 2009 is expected to show a further significant reduction in overall numbers.

Local Authority

Permanent End of June 2007

Temporary End of June 2007

Permanent End of June 2008

Temporary End of June 2008

Permanent End of June 2009

Temporary End of June 2009

County

Carlow

312

55

320

66

306

29

Cavan

457

29

452

40

434

16

Clare

810

122

768

141

745

114

Cork

2371

337

2416

548

2360

119

Donegal

974

399

980

364

989

154

Dun Laoghaire

1,232

147

1,198

199

1,139

94

Fingal

1,495

122

1,535

161

1478

51

Galway

881

236

880

291

865

157

Kerry

1,133

292

1,156

267

1,172

123

Kildare

896

264

900

328

920

71

Kilkenny

558

118

560

147

562

45

Laois

364

45

380

61

412

26

Leitrim

299

58

311

55

308

15

Limerick

742

118

760

103

729

33

Longford

333

44

338

54

324

31

Louth

670

142

696

67

695

19

Mayo

1,084

148

1,090

137

1,138

170

Meath

612

222

630

223

645

110

Monaghan

427

44

434

47

432

18

Offaly

436

66

444

95

462

27

Roscommon

534

65

525

58

525

53

Sligo

528

114

526

90

513

47

South Dublin

1,324

137

1,278

203

1,257

181

North Tipperary

451

156

503

155

447

101

South Tipperary

675

43

676

45

673

13

Waterford

525

57

529

77

531

65

Westmeath

477

96

480

119

473

43

Wexford

782

124

787

123

790

56

Wicklow

769

130

762

160

759

117

City

Cork

1,421

159

1,422

108

1,410

54

Dublin

6,462

501

6,577

749

6,573

146

Galway

416

98

428

136

415

78

Limerick

499

73

544

55

483

31

Waterford

381

87

395

96

379

72

Private Rented Accommodation.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

151 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that only 7% of properties registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board were inspected by local authorities in 2008; if he will commit to fully resourcing local authorities in order that they may implement regulations under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009; the mechanisms he will introduce to ensure that local authorities can inspect all relevant properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35684/09]

Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008, made under section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these regulations and responsibility for enforcing the regulations rests with the relevant local authority. Following commencement, shortly, of the relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, a strengthened sanctions regime will be available to local authorities and fines for non-compliance with the Regulations will be significantly increased; the maximum fine will be increased from €3,000 to €5,000 and the fine for each day of a continuing offence will be increased from €250 to €400.

Local authorities are supported in their enforcement activity by a dedicated stream of funding allocated by my Department. This funding increased significantly between 2005 and 2008, rising from €1.5m to €4m per annum. The latter figure is being maintained in 2009, bringing total funding allocations since 2004 to €15m. Details of the amounts paid to each local authority in respect of the years 2004 — 2008 and of the first funding tranche for 2009 are available on my Department's website atwww.environ.ie and in the Oireachtas Library. My Department keeps the level, and the methodology for payment, of this funding under review.

In general, local authorities have significantly expanded their inspection activity in recent years with the number of inspections more than doubling in the period 2005 to 2008, reaching some 17,200 inspections last year. More detailed information on the number of inspections carried out each year up to and including 2008 is included in my Department's Annual Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are also available on my Department's website. The significant increase in inspection activity reflects the positive impact of the overall Action Programme on Standards, including increased funding, introduced on foot of a commitment in the Towards 2016 social partnership agreement, and the ongoing progress with the implementation of the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

In interpreting the data, it is important to note that registrations with the Private Residential Tenancies Board are registrations of tenancies rather than registrations of rental properties. The tenancies registered are of varying duration and a single property may be the subject of a number of registered tenancies. As such, the number of registrations with the Private Residential Tenancies Board does not reflect the number of rental properties in the market at any particular point in time. Accordingly, in considering the level of inspections by local authorities, the total volume of actual inspections is the key measurable indicator.

It is also important to note that, in line with the wider housing market, there can be considerable variation in the type and quality of accommodation provided by the private rented accommodation. As such, in order to best use the available resources, local authorities should focus their inspections on accommodation that is more likely not to be compliant with the regulations. While it is a matter for each individual local authority to decide on the specific details of its inspection arrangements, my Department encourages authorities to have regard to the report Good Practice Guidelines for Local Authorities on Standards in the Private Rented Sector: Strategic Planning, Effective Enforcement, published by the Centre for Housing Research in November 2007, which makes a range of recommendations on matters relevant to inspection procedures, including identifying and targeting inspection requirements.

Local Authority Housing.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

152 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if houses acquired under the leasing initiative will be distributed for social housing en bloc or in dispersed mode; if consideration been given to private purchasers who bought properties on the understanding that they would be living in an estate which would have 20% social housing under the Part V obligation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35820/09]

It is essential that all State investment in housing support, including through leasing arrangements, complies fully with the "sustainable communities" philosophy at the heart of the Government's housing policy, as outlined in Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities. In this context, while my Department has not specified a limit on the number of housing units that can be leased for social housing purposes, a circular and guidance note issued by my Department to housing authorities states that authorities must have regard to the concentration of social housing in a particular development or in the general area where leased properties are proposed. This would include taking account of how much housing has been acquired for social purposes under Part V of the Planning and Development Act.

In seeking approval for proposals, authorities must provide details of the overall development concerned and the breakdown of the types of occupancy i.e. market/private housing, affordable housing and social housing. This is necessary to demonstrate compliance with the mixed income, mixed tenure objectives of the overall "sustainable communities" policy and these details are considered by my Department when assessing proposals. Leased properties, because of their broad geographical distribution will facilitate, rather than impede, the widely endorsed aim of supporting the development of mixed-income and mixed-tenure communities. The unacceptable alternative is a return to previously pursued flawed approaches of developing large mono-tenure estates, with all the attendant issues of social, economic and educational disadvantage.

Even prior to the introduction of leasing arrangements, the quantum of social housing in any particular development could be influenced by a number of factors. In addition to units delivered under the Part V mechanism, units could also be acquired by local authorities as part of their normal acquisitions programme, where this was considered appropriate, or could be secured through the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

Carbon Credits.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

153 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of money estimated, allocated, owing or spent, by him, on the purchase of carbon credits in respect of Kyoto Protocol commitments for 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35805/09]

The National Climate Change Strategy signalled the possibility of supplementing greenhouse gas emission reductions with the purchase of up to 3.6 million carbon units on average each year in the five-year Kyoto Protocol commitment period 2008-2012 or 18 million units in total, costing €270m, at a projected unit price of €15. Under the Carbon Fund Act 2007, the National Treasury Management Agency has been designated as purchasing agent for the State. In 2008, the Agency purchased 3.455m certified emission reduction units at a cost of some €53m. In 2009, they have purchased 1.8m units at a cost of some €21.6m. These units were generated under the Clean Development Mechanism provided for in Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol.

The economic downturn has implications for the purchasing programme. The most recent EPA projections suggest that with full implementation of all announced emission reduction measures the purchase requirement for carbon units will now be between 1.3 and 1.8m units per annum over the 2008-2012 period. In the circumstances, the National Treasury Management Agency has been asked to put its purchasing programme on hold for the foreseeable future.

Prior to the designation of the National Treasury Management Agency as purchasing agent, my Department committed €10 million each to the Carbon Fund for Europe and the BioCarbon Fund operated by the World Bank. Management of these investments is a matter for my Department and, since enactment of the 2007 Act, payments are made through the Carbon Fund process as they arise. In 2008, my Department refunded €3.72m to the Carbon Fund in respect of these investments in the World Bank in 2007. To date in 2009 two further payments amounting to €1.9m have been made to the Carbon Fund for Europe.

In December 2006, my Department entered into an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to invest €20 million in the Multilateral Carbon Credit Fund. The investment was made in 2006 on foot of a once-off provision from the Department's vote. Purchasing requirements to ensure Kyoto compliance are being kept under review and will be revised as necessary in the light of future projections.

Local Authority Housing.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

154 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the support to live independently scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35686/09]

The Support to Live Independently Scheme (SLÍ), details of which issued to local authorities in July 2009, forms an important element of action to end long-term homelessness by providing suitable long-term accommodation in mainstream housing with appropriate supports to help people make a successful transition from homelessness to independent living. Responsibility for implementation of the scheme rests with local authorities. The scheme is being implemented initially in the Dublin area and arrangements for the provision of accommodation, assessment of households to be accommodated and procurement of support services, are progressing and tenancies under the scheme are expected to commence shortly.

Dublin City Council and the Homeless Agency have been urged to continue to prioritise this scheme and are very conscious of its importance in helping to achieve the aim of ending long-term homelessness. My Department is engaging with local authorities regarding roll-out of the scheme to other areas.

Local Government Reform.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

155 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made towards bringing forward the White Paper on local government following the publication of the report of the Commission on Taxation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35824/09]

Work on the White Paper on Local Government is well advanced; I expect that the White Paper will be published later this year following, inter alia, consideration of local government financing in light of the Report of the Commission on Taxation and in line with the commitments in the renewed Programme for Government.

Question No. 156 answered with Question No. 113.

Contaminated Sites.

David Stanton

Question:

157 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Question No. 33 of 7 May 2009, the further progress that has been made in relation to the clean up of the former Irish ISPAT site at Haulbowline, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36001/09]

The Government has considered the position in relation to the former Irish Steel/Ispat site at Haulbowline noting the outcome of the site investigations; the requirement for various works and further monitoring recommended by the environmental consultants; and the development issues, particularly technical constraints, site boundary issues, zoning issues and regulatory requirements, meriting early address.

The Government decided that the Office of Public Works would chair a Working Group to develop a structured and coherent approach to the further management and development of the site with Cork County Council continuing to discharge site management responsibilities on an agency basis. It is understood that preparations are underway within the OPW in respect of the establishment of the Group.

EU Directives.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

158 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the date for farmers spreading slurry in Northern Ireland has been extended to December 2009; and if he will also respond to the request of many farmers here for a similar extension. [35765/09]

David Stanton

Question:

265 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will extend the slurry spreading deadline beyond the 15 October 2009, in view of the wet summer experienced in 2009; if not, the reason he will not do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36017/09]

Sean Fleming

Question:

290 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will give an extension from 16 October to end October 2009 to allow farmers spread slurry on their land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36349/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158, 265 and 290 together.

The Nitrates Directive and Ireland's National Nitrates Action Programme are given legal effect by the consolidated European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2009. The objective of the Regulations is to protect ground and surface waters, including drinking water sources, primarily through the management of livestock manures and other fertilisers.

Good agricultural practice involves the land spreading of slurry as early as practicable in the growing season in order to maximise the uptake of nutrients by crops and to minimise pollution risks to water courses and groundwaters. In accordance with the requirements of the Nitrates Directive, the Regulations include provisions regarding periods when the land application of certain types of fertilisers is prohibited. In addition, the Regulations prohibit such application at any time of the year when the ground is frozen, waterlogged or heavy rain is forecast.

In view of the prolonged period of favourable weather that has prevailed since September, the risk to water quality posed by an extension to the period for slurry-spreading and the major investment on the part of the State and farmers in the provision of adequate waste storage facilities in recent years, no extension to the spreading periods for organic fertilisers is proposed.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

159 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to list the cases being taken by the European Union against Ireland in relation to Ireland’s failure to transpose or implement European Union directives in environmental law in tabular form; the stages these cases are at; if fines are pending in relation to judgments against Ireland for breaches of environmental law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35807/09]

In areas for which my Department has responsibility, the European Commission is currently in correspondence in respect of 31 cases relating to transposition and implementation of EU environmental legislation. My Department is working hard to resolve these cases as soon as possible. The Commission has not made an application to the European Court of Justice for an imposition of fines in any of these cases, and fines have never been imposed on Ireland in relation to an environmental infringement.

I have provided a tabular statement listing the directives involved and setting out the various stages of proceedings in respect of these cases.

EU Instrument Number and General Reference

Article 226 Letter of Formal Notice

Article 226 Reasoned Opinion

Being Referred to the European Court of Justice

Before the European Court of Justice for a hearing or awaiting judgement

European Court of Justice Decision to be Implemented

Article 228 Letter of Formal Notice

Article 228 Reasoned Opinion

75/442/EEC the waste directive

2

0

0

1

0

1

0

76/464/EEC on dangerous substances in water

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

79/409/EEC on wild birds

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

79/923/EEC on the quality required of shellfish waters

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

80/68/EEC on groundwater

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

80/778/EEC on the quality of drinking water for human consumption

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment

1

0

0

1

0

2

0

91/271/EEC on urban waste water treatment

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

92/43/EEC on habitats

0

0

1

0

0

1

1

96/61/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

98/81/EC on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

99/31/EC on landfill

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

2000/53/EC on end of life vehicles

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2000/60/EC the water framework directive

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2003/35/EC on public participation in certain plans and programmes relating to the environment

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

2006/21/EC on the management of waste from extractive industries and amending Directive 2004/35/EC

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2006/118/EC on the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2007/2/EC establishing an infrastructure for spatial information in the EU -INSPIRE

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Decision 2005/166/EC & Decision 280/2004/EC: Rules concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community greenhouse gas emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total Number at each Stage

14

1

1

3

2

5

5

Local Authority Staff.

Jack Wall

Question:

160 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount paid in bonuses to county and city managers in the years since the bonus payments were introduced; the criteria for awarding these bonuses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35800/09]

Details of awards made to County and City managers under the Performance Awards Scheme for the Local Government Sector are contained in the annual reports of the Committee for Performance Awards (CPA) which are available in the Oireachtas Library. Awards are defined in terms of their distribution as a percentage of pay, the range of monetary values, and the number of recipients.

The scheme was introduced in 2003, with the pool for performance awards set at 10% of the pay bill for the group concerned and with individual participants eligible to receive payments of up to 20% of pay. Awards were made each year from 2003 to 2007. No performance awards have been made in respect of 2008. The scheme for the Local Government Sector is currently suspended.

Awards of 15% to 20% have only been made in the most exceptional situations where performance has surpassed all reasonable expectations and has resulted in the achievement of a major goal of the local authority. Awards of more than 10% and up to 15% have only been made where performance has substantially exceeded the targets defined. Awards of more than 5% and up to 10% have been made where stretched targets have been fully met or exceeded (but not to a major degree). Awards of 0% to 5% have been made where stretched targets have not been fully met.

Each local authority manager who has participated in the Performance Award Scheme has submitted a statement of objectives to the CPA for approval. Awards have been determined by the CPA, based on achievement in the relevant year for the approved objectives.

Census of Population.

Finian McGrath

Question:

161 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach if there is a timeframe within which the final decision will be made as to the questions (details supplied) that will be included in the 2011 census. [36118/09]

As part of the preparatory work for the 2011 census the CSO conducted a public consultation by inviting members of the public and various interest groups to make submissions on the topics to be covered, and on the outputs to be produced. A notice to this effect was published in the national press in September 2008 seeking submissions, and all government departments were contacted for their input. This phase of the process has now concluded. A Census Advisory Group was set up in Autumn 2008 to consider the submissions received and advise on the questions to be tested in a pilot survey carried out in April 2009. The Census Advisory Group is representative of central and local government, the social partners, universities, research bodies and other users of census data along with the relevant CSO personnel.

Over 90 submissions covering 31 topics were received in total, among them submissions on the subject of disability, and in particular on the subject of autism. A specific sub-group was convened to consider the disability questions on the census form. This sub-group was composed of representatives from the National Disability Authority, the Equality Authority, the Disability Federation of Ireland and the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies. The proposal to list specific disabilities within the disability question, namely to make specific reference to autistic spectrum disorder, or downs syndrome, in the category ‘A learning or intellectual disability' was considered at the second meeting of the group.

The group concluded that it would not be appropriate, nor would there be enough room on the census form, to list all individual disabilities. However, in order to go some way towards accommodating this request, the existing (2006) category ‘A learning or intellectual disability’ was split into two categories ‘An intellectual disability’ and separately ‘A difficulty with learning, remembering or concentrating’ for testing in the pilot survey. The group felt that this approach narrowed the categories and thus helped address the issue of autism, while allowing the question to remain as inclusive as possible.

The new wording of the disability questions which were tested in the Census Pilot Survey in April 2009 were as follows:

14 Do you have any of the following longlasting conditions or difficulties?

1 2

a) blindness or a serious vision impairment

yes no

b) deafness or a serious hearing impairment

yes no

c) A difficulty with basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying

yes no

d) An intellectual disability

yes no

e) A difficulty with learning remembering or concentrating

yes no

f) A psychological or emotional condition

yes no

g) A difficulty with pain, breathing, or any other chronic illness or condition

yes no

15 If ‘Yes' to any of the categories specified in Question 14, Do you have any difficulty indoing any of the following

1 2

a) Dressing, bathing or getting around inside the home

yes no

b) Going outside the home alone to shop or visit a doctors surgery

yes no

c) Working at a job or business, or attending school or college

yes no

d) Participating in other Activities, for example leisure or using transport

yes no

The CSO, in consultation with the Census Advisory Group, is currently finalising its analysis of the results of the census pilot, including the revised questions on disability. It is important to bear in mind that only questions that have been tested and have been proven to have worked will be considered for inclusion in the 2011 census. It is envisaged that the Census Advisory Group will have concluded its deliberations before the end of October and that a proposal in relation to the content of the 2011 census questionnaire will be brought to Government before the end of 2009.

Industrial Development.

Ulick Burke

Question:

162 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress she and the Industrial Development Authority have made in developing the site acquired for industrial development on college lands at Athenry, County Galway; the amount paid for these lands; the expenditure to date on its development; if there has been an interest in potential industrial investment at this site; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36177/09]

The management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio is a day-to-day operational matter for the Agency, as part of the statutory responsibility assigned to it by the Oireachtas, and not one in which I have a function. In order to cater for the specialised high utility intensive needs of the Biotechnology and ICT sectors, IDA Ireland is in the process of developing a number of largescale, fully-serviced industrial sites throughout the country. In this connection and as part of IDA's plans to enable the West of Ireland to compete for global investment, IDA purchased a site of 97ha (240 acres), located approximately 1km to the south west of Athenry, which was previously owned by Teagasc. The purchase was completed in December 2007, but for reasons of commercial sensitivity the purchase price of this land is not disclosed.

IDA is currently progressing with the delivery of infrastructure and services to the site. I am informed by the Agency that Phase I of these works commenced in September 2009, and is scheduled for completion in the Spring of 2010. Phase 2 is currently at design stage and will be put out to tender in 2010. IDA is also working with Galway County and City Councils regarding water and waste water capacity. The remaining infrastructural services are scheduled for completion over the next three to four years. It is not possible to outline at this stage details of costs for completed and projected works. However, I can assure the Deputy that my Department is informed regularly, in line with normal reporting procedures, of expenditure by IDA on property related activities.

I am informed by the Agency that this site will be marketed for new Research Development & Innovation investments in the Bio-Pharma and related industry sectors. Expenditure by IDA on its property function is largely self-financing. The Agency's costs in acquiring and developing sites are met through the sale of existing properties or recovered when the developed site is sold on to an individual project promoter. Indeed in 2008 and 2009, IDA received slightly in excess of €3m. per year of exchequer funding towards its industrial property function.

Company Closures.

Ulick Burke

Question:

163 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made by the task force established following the closure of a company (details supplied) in County Galway; the number of times it has met; the results of its efforts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36178/09]

On 5 January, 2009, CIGNA announced that it would reduce its global workforce of 28,000 by four percent, including all 180 positions in Loughrea on a phased basis from March, 2009. The closing of the Loughrea operation arose mainly due to developments in the US market, as the Irish company supported U.S. based customers. IDA is continuing in contact with CIGNA to discuss alternative future activities for Ireland. The company has worked closely with IDA in the marketing and promotion of the building at Loughrea as a location for other IDA target companies.

Last May, I visited Loughrea and met with local CIGNA management and assured them of the full support and assistance of the State development agencies as regards any future proposals that they might have. Senior Management from Enterprise Ireland, along, with IDA, FÁS, City & County Enterprise Board, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Local Authority have met on three occasions under the chairmanship of the County Manager to ensure that an integrated and strategic response was put in place to address the loss of 180 jobs in Loughrea. The 4th Meeting is planned for the 20th October, 2009.

On the 24th February Enterprise Ireland and the City and County Enterprise Board visited Cigna for a workshop on Start Your Own Business. Arising from this, there were ongoing discussions in response to various staff queries. FÁS and the Department of Social Welfare were also actively involved with the staff on an ongoing basis.

Another initiative from the response group involved the County Manager inviting representatives from three groupings in Loughrea who had demonstrated a wish to be involved in the process to meet with all of the Agencies. This meeting was held on the 12th March in the County Buildings Loughrea and the three groups involved included Loughrea Chamber, Enterprise Development Committee and the Town Commissioners. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the appropriate strategy to foster Enterprise Development in Loughrea.

Outside of the above meetings, Enterprise Ireland has met with the Loughrea Enterprise Group on four occasions and it has ongoing regular discussions with its Chairman. In this difficult economic environment, Enterprise Ireland is in very early discussions with two entrepreneurs regarding developing their business plans. Discussions have also been held regarding a Community Enterprise Centre for the town.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

164 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will respond to a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36356/09]

I can confirm that my Department received applications in June under the Insolvency Payments Scheme from the administrator of this company for minimum notice and holiday pay on behalf of Mr. Duffy. These claims are currently being processed. I understand that it is hoped to complete processing of the claims for Mr. Duffy, along with those of other former employees of the company, and make payments within the next week.

I should point out that the impact on business of the severe economic circumstances currently pertaining has resulted in a significant rise in the level of company receiverships and insolvencies. Consequently, an increasing number of claims are being submitted to the Insolvency Payments Section, with 17,933 new claims recorded from January 1 to September 30 — an increase of over 144% against the corresponding figure for this period in 2008. My officials endeavour to process all claims as quickly as possible and claims are dealt with in order of date of receipt.

Social Insurance.

Michael Ring

Question:

165 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if the surplus in the social insurance fund has been invested over the past ten years; the returns from these investments in tabular format; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36149/09]

An annual surplus on the Social Insurance Fund first arose in 1997 and this has been invested, subject to ministerial guidelines, since then. In 2001, the Minister for Finance delegated his investment authority to the NTMA. As a result of increases in social welfare expenditure it is now expected that the surplus will disappear during 2010. Full information on the position of the surplus and interest on its investment in 2009 is not available yet. Annual accrual figures (in euros) from the investment of the accumulated surplus of the Social Insurance Fund are as follows:

Interest received to date

€m

31 December 2008

160.2

31 December 2007

112.0

31 December 2006

53.1

31 December 2005

49.0

31 December 2004

34.6

31 December 2003

40.7

31 December 2002

51.0

31 December 2001

45.8

31 December 2000

26.6

31 December 1999

3.5

31 December 1998

1.7

31 December 1997

.3

Tax Code.

Tom Hayes

Question:

166 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if he will waive the VAT for specialised items of medical equipment when the fund-raising is done through voluntary means; and if he will consider waiving the VAT on a Lokomat purchased by an organisation (details supplied). [36089/09]

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.

National Asset Management Agency.

Tom Hayes

Question:

167 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the number of Irish valuers who have been retained to date in 2009 by the National Asset Management Agency; the number of non-Irish valuers retained; the company names of both Irish and non-Irish valuers retained; if they belong to a professional body; the criteria set down by NAMA for assessing the suitability of valuers; the person by whom the assessment was made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36140/09]

No valuer firms have been appointed by NAMA to date. The appointment of valuation firms covering Ireland and foreign jurisdictions is subject to an EU public procurement process which is still underway with a closing date of 23rd October 2009. The Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) issued as part of this process is available on the www.etenders.gov.ie website. This PQQ sets out all the criteria in relation to qualifications and the scoring scheme to be applied. The assessment of valuation tenders will be overseen by the NTMA with Mr. Maurice O'Connell (ex Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland) acting as Process Auditor.

Tax Collection.

Michael Ring

Question:

168 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance the number of PAYE workers who made donations to prescribed charities, schools, sports clubs and church groups for each of the past five years, thereby qualifying for a tax refund to those groups; the amount repaid by the Revenue Commissioners in this way; the average payment by each subscriber in tabular format; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36150/09]

Section 848A of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997 provides for tax relief on donations to eligible charities and other approved bodies. All primary and post primary schools providing education based on a programme prescribed or approved by the Minister for Education and Science automatically qualify as approved bodies for the purposes of the donations scheme. There is no separate tax exemption for church groups but most churches qualify for relief on donations on the basis that they are eligible charities for the purposes of the scheme. A separate tax relief is available for donations to Sports Bodies under Section 847A TCA 1997. The administration of these schemes is the responsibility of the Revenue Commissioners.

The following table sets out details of the refunds of tax made in respect of qualifying donations made by individual PAYE donors to eligible charities and approved bodies under section 848A of the TCA 1997 for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008. Comparable figures are not available for earlier years.

Year

Amount donated

Amount refunded

Number of refunds made

Number of donors

Average Donation

€m

€m

2006

58.4

28.5

1,641

84,373

692

2007

46.8

25.3

1,646

80,974

578

2008

57.0

29.5

2,171

96,366

591

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that figures in relation to donations by PAYE taxpayers to Sports Bodies are not available. Administration of that scheme is localised in the various Tax Districts and details are not maintained in a manner that would provide a ready basis for compiling the detailed information sought by the Deputy without a very protracted examination of the records.

Michael Ring

Question:

169 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if there is a restriction on PAYE workers, for example, if they have additional non-PAYE income, thereby preventing the revenue refund to the charity or qualifying group concerned; the details of these restrictions; when they were introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36165/09]

Section 848A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for tax relief on donations to eligible charities and other approved bodies. The provisions of the Donations Scheme were introduced by Section 45 of the Finance Act 2001 and became effective from 6th April 2001. The administration of this scheme is the responsibility of the Revenue Commissioners.

The precise arrangements for allowing tax relief on donations varies depending on whether the donor is a PAYE taxpayer only, is a chargeable person subject to self-assessment or a company. For a PAYE donor, the relief is given on a "grossed up" basis to the eligible charity or approved body, as the case may be, rather than by way of a separate claim to tax relief by the donor. The claim for refund is made by the eligible charity or approved body. In the case of a donation by a chargeable person subject to self-assessment, that individual claims the relief and there is no grossing up arrangement.

PAYE taxpayers with additional non-PAYE income can be deemed to be chargeable persons depending on the source and gross amount of their additional non-PAYE income. Such PAYE taxpayers who are deemed chargeable persons for self-assessment claim all the relief on charitable donations made by them in their Income Tax return. In such circumstances, a refund to the charity or approved body does not arise.

Tax Yield.

Michael Ring

Question:

170 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance the VAT returns to date for 2009; the way these compare to the receipts for the corresponding period in 2007 and in 2008; if he will provide the information in tabular format; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36166/09]

The Supplementary Budget forecast VAT receipts of €11.4 billion in 2009, representing a decline of 15% on 2008. At end-September, €8.7 billion had been collected which is €653 million below target. The end-September 2009 position is down 21% on the same period of 2008.

End-Sept 2009

End-Sept 2008

End-Sept 2007

€ millions

8,657

10,998

11,770

The performance of VAT receipts in the first nine months of the year has been disappointing and reflects the weakness evident in the wider economy.

Health Service Allowances.

Jack Wall

Question:

171 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will have an entitlement to diabetic allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36091/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Damien English

Question:

172 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received applications from the Health Service Executive to approve the filling of dental surgeon vacancies in County Meath; when she will make a decision on this matter; if she will approve the posts to be filled in order that the residents of County Meath will have a fully resourced front-line dental service, that the dental clinics in Enfield and Trim will be reopened and the school dental screening programme will be reinstated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36181/09]

I wish to advise that my Department has not received an application from the HSE for an exception to the moratorium for the filling of the posts cited in the question.

Medical Cards.

John McGuinness

Question:

173 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application for a medical card in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if their appeal will be expedited; and if a full medical card will be issued. [36024/09]

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

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

174 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children with type one diabetes in the south-east region; the location where these are being cared for; the plans for their future care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36025/09]

John McGuinness

Question:

175 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if the local diabetes service development group for County Kilkenny has met; if so, the number of times and when; if the gap analysis in the context of this service has been presented to the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36026/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 174 and 175 together.

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

Hospital Supplies.

John McGuinness

Question:

176 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the date of the last occasion when a tender was sought for the supply of agricultural and dairy produce to hospitals in the south east; if preference is given to Irish dairy products; if the current supplier is Irish; if the products are Irish or sourced locally; the date for a new tender; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36027/09]

The information requested is being provided by the Health Service Executive and will be forwarded to the Deputy directly.

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

177 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if the records requested by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be provided to them in order toprocess a social and family affairs claim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36041/09]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

178 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the services available to young people using out of hours hostel accommodation during the day and the locations of each service; the times that they are required to leave their accommodation and permitted to return; the number of young people using these services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36047/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Noel Coonan

Question:

179 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to reinstate a community welfare officer to Borrisoleigh, County Tipperary who currently operates in Templemore, County Tipperary; the timeframe for the move; the reason same has not happened; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36049/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Noel Coonan

Question:

180 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the CT scanner in a hospital (details supplied) in County Tipperary became operational; if the extra staff needed to operate the scanner have been found from within the hospital; the sections the staff came from; the post which was suppressed to facilitate the clinical specialist radiographer; if the Health Service Executive will guarantee that this facility will not cease in the future; the number of patients which have availed of the scanner since its operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36050/09]

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

Ambulance Services.

Noel Coonan

Question:

181 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the proposed new ambulance base in a town (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason for the delay in progressing the project; the timeframe for the completion of the new facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36051/09]

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

Health Services.

Noel Coonan

Question:

182 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a community nursing unit and elderly day care centre in a town (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the delay in progressing both projects; the timeframe for completion of both facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36052/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Noel Coonan

Question:

183 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the medical card section will be centralised from a town (details supplied) in County Tipperary to Dublin; the number of persons who work in the medical card section in this town; the locations they will be transferred to; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36053/09]

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

Health Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

184 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the actions she will take to ensure that in advance of budget 2010 discussions the home care scheme is enhanced in order to ensure that there is minimal delay in elderly patients being discharged from acute hospital beds and that they be allowed to continue to live in the comfort of their own homes through the increased provision of home care facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36101/09]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) at present provide a range of home care supports to older people, including Home Care Packages, Home Help, Meals on Wheels and Day/Respite Care.

The development of community based services remains a priority for the Government. During 2009, the HSE expects to provide:

Home Care Packages benefiting around 8,700 people at any one time or over 11, 000 in the course of the year.

almost 12 million Home Help hours benefiting over 54,000 clients

some 21,500 Day Care Places benefiting an estimated 80,000-100,000 people.

over 700 designated Respite Care Beds benefiting around 19,000 people.

The objectives of the home care services provided by the HSE are to keep older people living at home and in their own communities; and to reduce pressures on the acute hospitals and long term residential systems through preventing inappropriate admissions or facilitating delayed discharges.

Despite the current economic difficulties of recent times, our aim has been to protect the overall funding for front-line community services for older people. This objective will be pursued, as far as possible, in the context of the on-going Estimates process and framing Budget 2010.

Finian McGrath

Question:

185 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17. [36103/09]

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

Health Service Funding.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

186 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a project (details supplied) in Dublin 8; when this centre is due to open; the services which will be provided; the way it will be funded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36121/09]

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

Health Services.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

187 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will make a commitment that there will be no further reductions (details supplied) in cardiac rehabilitation services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36151/09]

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

188 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will give an undertaking to ensure that cardiac rehabilitation is properly resourced through the reversal of recent staff cuts and the protection of current services from future cutbacks noting that international clinical trial evidence indicates that cardiac rehabilitation is directly responsible for reducing cardiac and all cause mortality by 26%; her views on the fact that, if all eligible patients here received cardiac rehabilitation, some 2,300 lives could be saved each year; and her further views on whether there is a need to protect this life-saving capability and the quality of life benefits accruing to thousands more cardiac patients. [36152/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 187 and 188 together.

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

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

189 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will give assurances that funding and assistance will continue to be made available to an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36153/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

190 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason general practitioners in general practice who have retired from the general medical service on age grounds and are fully covered by insurance and registered with the Irish Medical Council are not provided with influenza vaccines for their patients; the reason they are not provided with vaccines for the immunisation of children, MMR and Pridel, in view of the fact that their mothers are being cared for by the GP in antenatal care but they have to refer the children to GMS doctors against the wishes of their parents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36157/09]

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

Bobby Aylward

Question:

191 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health and Children if general practitioners in private practice who are retired from the general medical service on age grounds and are fully covered by insurance and registered with the Irish Medical Council will be supplied with and permitted to provide the swine influenza vaccine to their patients who would be considered eligible for such vaccine on health grounds and when it is considered by the GP that it would be beneficial to the health of the patient. [36158/09]

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

Health Services.

Ulick Burke

Question:

192 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children waiting for speech and language therapy; the average waiting time for this service; the number of therapists servicing the needs of these children in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36167/09]

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 Property.

Ulick Burke

Question:

193 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in the sale of health board lands and buildings at St. Brigid’s hospital, Ballinasloe, County Galway, she will confirm that the funds received from such sales will be ring fenced as promised for the improvement of mental health services in east Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36168/09]

'A Vision for Change’ the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy recommended that a plan to bring about the closure of all psychiatric hospitals should be drawn up and implemented and that the resources released by these closures should be re-invested in the mental health service. The Departments of Finance and Health and Children have agreed in principle to the release of the proceeds of the disposal of properties prior to 2006 for reinvestment in mental health capital development.

The arrangements for property disposal require Department of Finance approval in each case, the lodging of the proceeds as Exchequer Extra Receipts and the re-voting of the funds for approved projects. The HSE has disposed of a small number of psychiatric properties in recent years and the proceeds of these sales, which amount to just over €42m, have been surrendered to the Exchequer. A submission detailing the priority projects to be funded from these historic disposals has been received from the HSE. The submission was examined in detail in the Department of Health & Children and some preliminary discussions took place with the Department of Finance. However, a number of issues required clarification and a revised submission has now been submitted to the Department of Finance.

Health Service Allowances.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

194 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when domiciliary care allowance will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if this question will be accepted as an appeal for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36317/09]

I understand that the Health Service Executive's Local Health Manager for Kildare/West Wicklow wrote to the Deputy last week informing him that the person's application for a domiciliary care allowance had been refused on medical grounds and the person was advised that an appeal may be made to the HSE Appeals Office, Dublin Mid-Leinster Area, Bridgecourt Office Park, Walkinstown, Dublin 12.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

195 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [36354/09]

The Deputy's question was referred to the Health Service Executive who have advised that the issue raised is appropriate to Dublin City Council.

Finian McGrath

Question:

196 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin. [36355/09]

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.

Willie Penrose

Question:

197 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the orthodontic help available for a student, who is 16 years of age and needs to have important orthodontic procedures carried out; the assistance available from her or the Health Service Executive in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36362/09]

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

Rural Transport Services.

Ulick Burke

Question:

198 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Transport if he will continue to fund the provision and continuation of the rural bus service in east Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36172/09]

John Deasy

Question:

204 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that funding will expire for operators of the rural transport scheme in November 2009 and services will be withdrawn at that time unless an indication of continued funding is given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36361/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 198 and 204 together.

There are commitments to the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) in the National Development Plan, Towards 2016 and the Department of Transport's sectoral plan under the Disability Act 2005. The renewed Government Programme also contains a commitment to explore the provision of a full-scale transport system in rural areas using the network expertise of Bus Eireann and the resources of the school and health transport systems. The Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes recommended the abolition of the RTP. The Government will consider the Group's recommendations as part of its preparations for Budget 2010. The Government has also referred the Group's report to the Oireachtas Committee on Finance and General Affairs for consideration prior to the Budget.

Light Rail Project.

Liz McManus

Question:

199 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the extension of the Luas to Bray in view of the media reports that the proposal has been postponed due to the economic climate; the expected start date of when the extension will commence; the expected completion date; if he will give an assurance that he is still committed to Luas coming to Bray; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36039/09]

I remain committed to the delivery of the Luas extension from Cherrywood to Bray. The Railway Procurement Agency continues to progress planning and design for this project. The start and completion dates for this project will be determined by the outcome of on-going public consultation, the statutory planning approval process, the public procurement process and the availability of financial resources during the current difficult economic climate. The implementation of this project as currently proposed will also require substantial non-Exchequer funding, including levies from supplementary development contribution schemes and other developer contributions.

Road Network.

Tom Hayes

Question:

200 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Transport his views on the need to retain all transport links with Rosslare, one of the busiest ports here, particularly in view of several road bottlenecks if road transport is used; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36045/09]

It is important that all strategically important transport links including those serving Rosslare be maintained and upgraded having regard to the resources available.

Rail Services.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

201 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Transport if the western rail corridor will be extended from Athenry to Tuam and onwards to Claremorris as per the timetable announced when work commenced on the first stage from Ennis to Athenry; if he will state the funding arrangements which have been put in place for the proposed second phase of this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36126/09]

Ulick Burke

Question:

202 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Transport if he will confirm that he will continue the provision of the western rail service from Tuam, County Galway northwards as originally intended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36174/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 and 202 together.

Work is continuing on the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor, from Ennis to Athenry, and the line is on target to be completed by the end of the year. The Government has previously decided to reopen phases 2 (Athenry-Tuam) and 3 (Tuam-Claremorris) of the corridor under Transport 21, my Department's investment framework for the years 2006-2015. As we have stated in the Renewed Programme for Government, published on 10 October, we remain committed to the earliest possible delivery of subsequent Phases of the Western Rail Corridor.

The immediate next step, following completion of phase 1, will be for Iarnród Éireann to undertake a detailed evaluation of phases 2 and 3 with a view to arriving at precise costs to undertake the works. I am committed to progressing planning on the Western Rail Corridor. The current funding environment is very difficult and it will not be possible to progress all the projects in Transport 21 in accordance with the ambitious timescale envisioned at its launch. Nevertheless, I am seeking to progress planning of the Western Rail Corridor phases 2 and 3, to ensure that we are in a position to move speedily to construction as soon as financial circumstances permit.

Departmental Staff.

Ulick Burke

Question:

203 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Transport the agreement made with Galway County Council for the provision of staff car parking facilities for staff in his Department at Railway Road, Loughrea, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36176/09]

Such arrangements are made by the Office of Public Works as part of its general responsibility to provide accommodation for Government Offices. The Office of Public Works have advised that there is an agreement in place to rent 30 car parking spaces from Galway County Council for both the Department of Transport and the Road Safety Authority. The rental cost is €450 per annum for each space.

Question No. 204 answered with Question No. 198.

Visa Applications.

Billy Timmins

Question:

205 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to visa applications from persons from the Philippines to visit Ireland; the length of time it takes to process such visas in the Philippines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36187/09]

The initial processing of visa applications from Filipino nationals is handled by the Honorary Consulate of Ireland, Manila. In general such applications are then forwarded to the Visa Office, Dublin for consideration. Visa applications are processed as speedily as possible having regard to the numbers on hand and the resources available to process them. Although the INIS website states that visa applications are processed in six to eight weeks, in fact most applications are processed much faster than that. Currently "visit" visa applications referred to Dublin are generally being decided upon within ten to fifteen working days of receipt in Dublin.

Residency Permits.

Bernard Allen

Question:

206 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on an application for residency by a person (details supplied) in County Louth. [36009/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 28 October 2003. His asylum application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3(3)(b)(ii) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 30 September 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was advised of the options open to him at that point in time which were to leave the State voluntarily, to consent to the making of a Deportation Order or to submit, within a period of 15 working days, written representations setting out reasons as to why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. Following the consideration of the case of the person concerned under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, a Deportation Order was signed in respect of him on 15 September 2006. This Order was served by registered post which placed a legal requirement on the person concerned to present himself at the Offices of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) on 3 October 2006 in order to make travel arrangements for his deportation from the State.

The legal representative of the person concerned lodged a request for revocation of the Deportation Order pursuant to Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999, (as amended). Following consideration of this application, a decision was made to refuse the application with the consequence that the original Deportation Order was affirmed. The person concerned was notified of this decision by letter dated 10 June 2008. The person concerned has continued to meet the presentation requirements of the Garda National Immigration Bureau in accordance with Section 8(1)(b) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). The person concerned remains the subject of a valid Deportation Order and, as such, there are no residency issues outstanding in his case. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the GNIB.

Proposed Legislation.

Richard Bruton

Question:

207 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Spent Convictions Bill which was introduced initially in 2007, but did not complete its passage, will be re-introduced; and the expected timescale in relation to same. [36021/09]

The Spent Convictions Bill 2007 was introduced in October 2007 as a Private Members Bill by Mr Barry Andrews, TD (who has in the meantime been appointed to the post of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs). Deputy Andrews had previously introduced the Rehabilitation of Offenders Bill in March 2007. It addressed similar issues to those dealt with in the Spent Convictions Bill. However, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Bill fell with the dissolution of the 29th Dáil. The Government agreed to take over the Spent Convictions Bill 2007 and to progress it through all stages in Government time. The Spent Convictions Bill 2007 is now awaiting Committee Stage in the Dáil, having completed Second Stage on 18 December 2008.

Refugee Status.

Jack Wall

Question:

208 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for declaration of status as a refugee in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36031/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 18 December 2006. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was entitled to remain in the State until his application for asylum was decided. His asylum application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 18 June 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Garda Strength.

Jack Wall

Question:

209 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of senior Garda officers and non-officers who have applied for or have been granted permission to retire from the Kildare division before reaching their mandatory retirement date from the force; if this number is in line with the average in other divisions or if there is any pattern in regard to such retirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36040/09]

The Deputy will be aware that County Carlow and County Kildare formed the Carlow/Kildare Division until 1 January 2009 when, as part of the boundary realignment project, the Kildare Division of An Garda Síochána was formed. However, I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of Gardaí, by rank, who have retired from the stations currently within the Kildare Division from the 1 January 2008 to 30 September 2009 is set out hereunder:

Number

Gardaí

10

Sergeant

5

Inspector

1

Superintendent

1

I have also been informed by the Garda authorities that on the latest date for which figures are readily available the total strength of Kildare Division was 321. Garda Divisions throughout the country differ in many ways including size, geographical spread, the number of Gardaí allocated to each, the age and service profile of members etc. Therefore, it is not feasible to illustrate a comparison that would determine any pattern in regard to such retirements.

Citizenship Applications.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

210 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if consideration has been given to reviewing Ireland’s record on citizenship applications to international comparisons in terms of rejection rates and application processing times; his views on whether the processing time in Australia is generally 90 days, in the UK is six months, in Canada is 11 months as opposed to over two years here, and that the refusal rate in Canada is 3%, in Australia and the UK is 9% as opposed to 47% here; if he will establish a more efficient system for dealing with such applications here. [36043/09]

The immigration policies adopted by a country have a significant influence on the naturalisation process as both systems must link seamlessly. Immigration and naturalisation policies and systems vary from country to country and are therefore not directly comparable. For example, in the Australian system, the application for citizenship is only accepted once an applicant has satisfied other requirements, which are not part of the naturalisation process in the State. Because certain processing requirements are completed prior to allowing an applicant to submit their application, a quarter of applications in Australia receive a decision on the date of application, with the average being 3 months.

A review of the current framework for the acquisition of Irish citizenship is underway in my Department. Statutory provisions for the acquisition of Irish citizenship are contained in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. While the provisions of that Act have been amended on a number of occasions, in 1986, 1994, 2001 and 2004, to take account of significant policy developments in the State, it is now timely to look again at those provisions having regard to our recent immigration experience.

The review will consider a wide range of issues relating to the current statutory framework as well as other administrative arrangements in the granting of citizenship. Among the issues to be considered are eligibility periods for naturalisation, appropriate language and integration tests, proposals for a citizenship ceremony, as well as methods by which the current application procedures can be improved upon. Many countries have adopted integration, culture and language tests along with a number of other concepts such as earned citizenship in conjunction with longer residency requirements.

In addition, the Deputy will be aware that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008, which is currently before the House, contains significant proposals which will streamline and overhaul our immigration legislation. It will therefore be necessary to ensure that any new proposals on citizenship link with the policies outlined in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill.

I expect to publish the review in 2010 and the review will be subject to public consultation before final proposals are published. In conducting a review of our citizenship requirements it must be remembered that the granting of an Irish citizenship application by the State is a privilege for its recipient, not an entitlement. It cannot be regarded as being automatically awarded to applicants who have simply been lawfully resident in the State for a specified length of time. On the contrary, naturalisation should be seen as a major and mutual commitment by the prospective citizen and the State. It is entirely appropriate in those circumstances that the State should require that the applicant demonstrate a real commitment to the nation. It is with this overarching principle in mind that the review is being conducted.

For clarity, the refusal figure quoted by the Deputy includes applications that were ineligible/invalid. The percentage of applicants who were refused a certificate of naturalisation in 2008 was 9%. In terms of efficiency, the average processing time has been reduced from 30 months to 24 months during a period of rapid growth in the volume of applications received. I am assured by my officials that all the procedures involved in processing an application are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are conducted as efficiently as possible. A number of refinements have been introduced this year. These include conducting identity checking and application quality assessment at the initial processing stage and giving the applicant feedback on the initial assessment within a week of receipt of the application.

Garda Stations.

Brian Hayes

Question:

211 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will confirm the terms agreed for the proposed new premises for An Garda Síochána in Q House Sandyford in Dublin 18 were the best financial terms for the taxpayer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36090/09]

The property in question was acquired by my Department and An Garda Síochána with the aid of professional advice from the Office of Public Works. No lease has been agreed. However, my Department has been professionally advised that the property in question represents the best value for money solution to the very specific and complex requirements of An Garda Síochána.

Victims of Crime.

Finian McGrath

Question:

212 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [36104/09]

I understand that, following discussions by officials with possible providers of counselling services, the legal advisor to the Victims Committee has been consulted to establish the level of interest among the bereaved families in taking up such services at this juncture. Appropriate arrangements to provide services will be made for those among the bereaved families who feel this would be of benefit.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

213 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing concerns expressed by victims of crime regarding the way in which cases are dealt with and prosecuted; the timeframe whereby actual enacted legislation redressing the rights of victims will become law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36133/09]

I am very aware of the concerns of victims of crime and addressing those concerns is one of my priority objectives. Very shortly after my appointment to this post I established a dedicated Victims of Crime Office within my Department with a view to better coordination and delivery of services to victims. The Office works closely with groups representing victims of crime.

The establishment of the Office was part of myJustice for Victims initiative. The Initiative also includes making important legislative changes; those changes are contained in the Criminal Procedure Bill 2009. That Bill was presented to the Seanad on 21 May 2009 and completed Second Stage on 10 June 2009. I expect that Committee Stage will be scheduled soon. It is my aim to have the Bill enacted before the end of the year. The Bill updates and expands the arrangements for victim impact statements and provides for three sets of circumstances where acquitted persons may be re-tried, including situations where new and compelling evidence emerges. The Bill will also contain provisions that will protect the good name of victims who have died or are seriously incapacitated from attacks on their character by the accused.

The Deputy will be aware that I, as Minister, have no function in relation to the prosecution of offences, that is the responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions who is independent in the discharge of his functions.

Residency Permits.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

214 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 707 of 6 October 2009, if he will arrange for an official from his Department to meet a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 to explain the reason for the ongoing delay in having their passport stamped in view of the nature of their circumstances. [36135/09]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department, that as stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 707 of 6 October 2009, further documentation provided by the legal representative for person concerned is currently being authenticated by the Garda Authorities. The person concerned provided a Liberian passport in support of his application for renewal of his residence in the State based on his marriage to an EU National. This application was approved on 30 April 2009. Following the approval of this application the legal representative for the person concerned informed the Immigration Division that their client now wished to be registered in his Nigerian passport. My Department will contact the legal representative for the person concerned when the documentation under examination is returned by the Garda Authorities.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36337/09]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his recent Parliamentary Question, No. 685 of Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, in this matter. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

216 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36338/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 298 of Tuesday, 19 May, 2009, and the written Reply to that Question. The person concerned applied for asylum on 15 December 2003. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was entitled to remain in the State until his application for asylum was decided. His asylum application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 18 July 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned.

The position in the State of the person concerned will now be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

217 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36339/09]

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 702 of Wednesday 16th September 2009. There is currently no application pending in my Department in the case of the person whose details were supplied.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

218 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36340/09]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that they have received an application from the person referred to by the Deputy. The INIS will be in touch with this person shortly.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

219 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36341/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in July 2004. Processing of the file has been completed and I have reached a decision. The person in question was informed of that decision in a letter issued on 9th October, 2009.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

220 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36342/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 150 of Thursday, 5 February, 2009, and the written Reply to that Question. The person concerned applied for asylum on 11 May 2005. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was entitled to remain in the State until his application for asylum was decided. His asylum application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 12 June 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. Representations were submitted by the person concerned at that time.

The person concerned was subsequently notified of his entitlement to submit an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

221 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36343/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 26 January 2004. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was entitled to remain in the State until her application for asylum was decided. Her asylum application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 28 September 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The 15 working day period referred to in my Department's letter of 28 September 2009 expires on 19 October 2009. It is open to the person concerned to make representations and/or apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State within that period. In any event, the case of the person concerned will not be further processed until the 15 working day period referred to has elapsed.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

222 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress of the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36344/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 138 of Thursday, 26 February, 2009, and the written Reply to that Question. The person concerned applied for asylum on 28 March 2006. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was entitled to remain in the State until her application for asylum was decided. Her asylum application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 20 February 2007, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

223 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36345/09]

I refer the Deputy to the Reply to his Parliamentary Question No. 290 on Wednesday 7 November 2009. The status of the person concerned remains as set out in that Reply. The person concerned has continued to meet her presentation requirements with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). She is due to present again on Thursday 13 October 2009. The enforcement of the Deportation Order remains an operational matter for the GNIB.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

224 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will grant residency in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36346/09]

The first named person concerned applied for asylum on 22 October 2001. Her asylum application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the first named person concerned was informed, by letter dated 30 October 2002, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should not have a Deportation Order made against her.

Her case was then examined under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. Consideration was given to all representations submitted. On 10 September 2003, a Deportation Order was signed in respect of the person concerned. This Order was served by registered letter dated 30 October 2003 which placed a legal requirement on the person concerned to present herself at Ennis Garda Station, Ennis, County Clare on Thursday 6 November 2003 in order to make arrangements for her removal from the State. The person concerned 'presented' as required and was given three further presentation dates which she kept. According to our records, she last 'presented' on 13 January 2004. She has not 'presented' since that date and is therefore classified as evading her deportation. This being the case, she is liable to arrest and detention for the purposes of effecting her deportation from the State.

By correspondence dated 16 January 2007, the first named person concerned sought permission to make an application for Subsidiary Protection. Following consideration of the case made, the request was refused because the first named person concerned was the subject of a Deportation Order. The person concerned was notified of this decision by letter dated 5 February 2007. The first named person concerned remains the subject of a Deportation Order and the enforcement of that Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

With regard to the second named person concerned, it is not the practice to comment on individual asylum applications where a final decision has not been made. As the Deputy will be aware, applications for refugee status in the State are determined by an independent process comprising the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal which make recommendations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on whether such status should be granted or refused.

The third named person concerned applied for asylum on 28 June 2002. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 13 June 2003, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should not have a Deportation Order made against her.

Her case was examined under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. Consideration was given to all representations submitted. On 10 September 2003, a Deportation Order was signed in respect of the third named person concerned. This Order was served by registered letter dated 30 October 2003 which placed a legal requirement on the third named person concerned to present herself at Ennis Garda Station, Ennis, County Clare on Thursday 6 November 2003 in order to make arrangements for her removal from the State. The person concerned 'presented' as required and was given three further presentation dates which she kept. According to our records, she last 'presented' on 13 January 2004. She has not 'presented' since that date and is therefore classified as evading her deportation. This being the case, she is liable to arrest and detention for the purposes of effecting her deportation from the State. The third named person concerned remains the subject of a Deportation Order and the enforcement of that Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

In light of the above, the Deputy will appreciate that there are no residency issues outstanding in the context of the first and third named persons concerned while the position in the State of the second named person concerned remains to be determined. My Department has no record of the fourth named person concerned.

Visa Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

225 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for a visa in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36347/09]

The visa application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Visa Office, Abuja on 14 August 2009. It was refused by the Visa Officer on the 1 September 2009 for the following reasons:

1. It is not the general policy to grant a visa to dependent family members who are not spouses or children of persons granted residency in the State. The case was fully examined and there were no compelling grounds shown as to why an exception to this policy should be made;

2. The Visa Officer was not satisfied as to the authenticity of certain documents submitted, in this case the birth certificate;

3. There were inconsistencies in the information supplied, this is linked to the above refusal reason;

4. There was insufficient documentation submitted in support of the application in that there was no P60 provided.

It is open to the person concerned to submit an appeal within two months of the date of refusal, in this case before the 1 November 2009. Where doing so the applicant should be in a position to address the concerns of the Visa Officer.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

226 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application for residency in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 22; if a review of the deportation order will be undertaken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36348/09]

The first person concerned arrived in the state with her two children in November 2007 and they made an application for asylum on the 27th November 2007. The application for refugee status was refused following consideration of the case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 6th March 2009, that I proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. The letter also informed her of the three options now open to her, one being to make written representations setting out reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the state. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the state in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The second person concerned was born in the State on the 4th January 2008 and is the infant daughter of the first person concerned. On the 23rd January 2008, an application for asylum was made on her behalf by her mother. This application was refused following consideration of the case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 6th March 2009, that I proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. The letter also informed her of the three options now open to her, one being to make written representations to myself setting out reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the state. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the state in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

The people concerned submitted representations for Leave to Remain and Subsidiary Protection dated 6th April 2009 to my Department. The application for Subsidiary Protection was considered and refused by my Department on the 20th May 2009. An examination of the file under Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 was then compiled and the file was forwarded to myself recommending Deportation on the 20th May 2009. I considered all aspects of the files and made Deportation Orders in respect of the people concerned on the 27th May 2009.

The persons concerned have instituted Judicial Review proceedings on the 15th June 2009 challenging the refusal to grant Subsidiary Protection and seeking to quash the Deportation Orders made in respect of them. Accordingly, this case is sub judice and I do not propose to comment further.

Ministerial Appointments.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

227 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the persons appointed as peace commissioners between 1 January and 30 September 2009 inclusive; the place or town of residence of each appointee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36358/09]

Seventy persons were appointed as Peace Commissioners between January 1 and September 30, 2009. The names and place of residence of the Peace Commissioners appointed are as follows:

Name

Sub-district

County

1.

Dunican, Eamon

Tullamore

Offaly

2.

Jones, Tom

Killucan

Westmeath

3.

Kennedy, Mark

Ex-Officio Prison Official

Laois

4.

McCormack, Teresa

Ex-Officio Prison Official

Laois

5.

Hayes, Margaret

Littleton

Tipperary

6.

Devine, Bernard

Collon

Louth

7.

Wall, Geraldine

Howth

Dublin

8.

Carroll, Michael

Blackwater

Wexford

9.

McDermott, Tony

Rathmines

Dublin

10.

Power, J.J.

Naas

Kildare

11.

Arkins, Joe

Ennis

Clare

12.

Moore, Thomas

Tallaght

Dublin

13.

Campbell, Kenneth

Dungloe

Donegal

14.

Erangey, John

Stuake

Cork

15.

Collins, Donncha

Glanmire

Cork

16.

Murphy, Richard

Enniscorthy

Wexford

17.

Martin, John

Mary Street

Limerick

18.

Power, Eamon

Tipperary

Tipperary

19.

Clifford, Michael

Rathfarnham

Dublin

20.

Irwin, Thomas

Bruff

Limerick

21.

Delaney, Ciarán

Rathcormac

Cork

22.

Palmer, John

Kilmacow

Waterford

23.

Dunphy, John

Kilkenny

Kilkenny

24.

Murphy, Jim

Passage West,

Cork

25.

Farr, Edward

Pasage West

Cork

26.

McCarthy, Colum

Passage West

Cork

27.

Ring, Noel

Clontarf

Dublin

28.

O’Neill, Brian

Kinsale,

Cork

29.

Jackson, John

Ballyduff

Waterford

30.

Murray, Brian

Donnybrook

Dublin

31.

Duggan, Bríd

Mary Street

Limerick

32.

Massey, Eugene

Terenure

Dublin

33.

Daly, John

Passage West

Cork

34.

O’Dwyer, Mary

Miltown Malbay

Clare

35.

McLoughlin, Brendan

Blackrock

Dublin

36.

Lyons, Donal

Salthill

Galway

37.

Fennell, William

Oranmore

Galway

38.

Butt, Rashid

Mullingar

Westmeath

39.

Nolan, Anthony

Ex-Officio

Tipperary

40.

Meyler, Sarah

Ex-Officio

Tipperary

41.

Reid, Patrick

Carrick-on-Shannon

Leitrim

42.

Lawton, Timothy

Killeagh

Cork

43.

Purcell, Patrick

Gorey

Wexford

44.

Carty, Michael

Gorey

Wexford

45.

O’Loghlen, Martin

Ennis

Clare

46.

Walsh, John D.

Tullamore

Offaly

47.

Reilly, Terence

Trim

Meath

48.

Moore, Thomas

Tallaght

Dublin

49.

Stafford, Jonathan

Clontarf

Dublin

50.

Stewart, Paul

Oughterard

Galway

51.

Hanratty, Kay

Rush

Dublin

52.

Murnane, Peter

Ballybay

Monaghan

53.

Hanley, Gerard

Roscommon

Roscommon

54.

Hanratty, Kay

Clonmel

Tipperary

55.

Flynn, John

Cabinteely

Dublin

56.

Murphy, Gerard

Castleisleand

Kerry

57.

Dunphy, Eugene

Mooncoin

Kilkenny

58.

Horan, Dermot

Castleisland

Kerry

59.

Keeney, Jack

Donegal

Donegal

60.

Murray, Anna

Pettigo

Donegal

61.

Callely, Ronan

Clontarf

Dublin

62.

Hickey, Noel

Kildare

Kildare

63.

Greene, Anthony

Terenure

Dublin

64.

Melia, John

Ardee

Louth

65.

Joyce, Joseph

Ex-Officio Prison Official

Dublin

66.

Quinn, John

Ex-Officio Prison Official

Dublin

67.

McPartland, Fergal

Drumshanbo

Leitrim

68.

O’Brien, John

Blanchardstown

Dublin

69.

Hayes, David

Ex-Officio Prison Official

Roscommon

70.

Kelly, Jimmy

Ex-Officio Prison Official

Roscommon

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

228 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the appointments to prison visiting committees made by him between 1 January and 30 September 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36359/09]

A Visiting Committee is appointed to each prison under the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925 and Prisons (Visiting Committees) Order, 1925. Members of Committees are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for a term not exceeding three years. A Committee should have a minimum of 6 members and a maximum of 12 members. The current membership levels of each Visiting Committee is set out on the table below for the Deputy's information.

Visiting Committee

No. of Members

Arbour Hill

9

Castlerea

10

Cloverhill

7

Cork

10

Dóchas

8

Limerick

9

Loughan House

9

Midlands

11

Mountjoy

9

Portlaoise

8

Shelton Abbey

8

St. Patrick’s Institution

9

Training Unit

10

Wheatfield

9

The function of Visiting Committees is to visit at frequent intervals the prison to which they are appointed and hear any complaints which may be made to them by any prisoner. The Visiting Committee have free access either collectively or individually to every part of their prison. They report to me any abuses observed or found by them in the prison and any repairs which they think may be urgently needed. It is the normal practice for each Visiting Committee to submit an annual report which is published on the Department's website.

The following table sets out details of the individuals who have been appointed to the various Prison Visiting Committees between 1st January and 30th September 2009, and the date of appointment of each member.

Name

Committee

Appointment Date

Michael Freeman

St. Patrick’s Institution

09/01/2009

Thomas Lillis

Wheatfield

09/01/2009

Seamus Quinn

Limerick

09/01/2009

Daniel Dennehy

Cork

09/01/2009

Christopher Faulkner

Training Unit

28/01/2009

Michael Nevin

Castlerea

17/02/2009

Betty Minihane

Mountjoy

18/02/2009

P.J. Sheridan

Shelton Abbey

18/02/2009

Susan Meagher

Portlaoise

24/02/2009

Martin Daly

Castlerea

07/04/2009

John Murphy

Shelton Abbey

07/04/2009

Angela O’Connor

Arbour Hill

07/04/2009

Ita Greene

Arbour Hill

07/04/2009

Eddie Brady

Castlerea

07/04/2009

Willie Foley

Portlaoise

23/04/2009

Francis Fitzsimons

Castlerea

24/04/2009

Paddy Summers

Wheatfield

17/06/2009

Marie Murphy

Dóchas Centre

17/06/2009

Jacqui McConville

Dóchas Centre

17/06/2009

Overseas Development Aid.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

229 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the reason the budget for overseas aid has been cut by 21.8%; if there is a link between aid and national income; if so, the reason there has to be a cut and if it is proportionate. [36029/09]

In 2008, Ireland spent €920 million on Official Development Assistance (ODA). This represented approximately 0.59 % of our Gross National Product (GNP) and maintains Ireland's position as one of the most generous donors in the world on a per capita basis. For 2009, the total budget for ODA is expected to reach at least €696 million. Based on current projections this will represent at least 0.48% of GNP. The Government fully recognises that the reduction in the 2009 ODA budget was significant. However it follows a period of unprecedented growth. At the start of this decade, Ireland's ODA stood at €254 million — by 2008 it had reached €920 million, more than trebling in volume. In the same period, our percentage share of GNP spent on development assistance increased from 0.30% to 0.59% — effectively doubling.

The reduction in the 2009 ODA budget was a necessary but regrettable decision that was made solely in the context of the exceptional economic situation currently facing the country. Its core objective is to assist in stabilising the public finances in order to establish a solid platform for renewed economic growth. The Government is firmly of the view that this is the only secure and sustainable way for Ireland to meet its commitments to ODA. The Government has a target of spending 0.7% of GNP on ODA by 2012. This percentage is a UN established target and is the internationally recognised measure of a country's commitment to ODA. Ireland is significantly ahead of most EU donor countries in achieving this percentage – Ireland was ranked sixth in 2008. This ranking is likely to be maintained in 2009.

Nevertheless the Government is fully aware that achieving the target by 2012 will be a challenge in the current difficult economic circumstances. During the estimates process for 2010 which is currently under way, the Government will make a comprehensive assessment of our capacity to achieve this target. Finally, I would point out that Ireland's aid programme is recognised internationally as one of the best in the world. Our peers in the OECD have described it as "cutting edge". I can assure the Deputy that this quality will be maintained while we continue to ensure maximum value for taxpayers' money in our aid programme.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Ulick Burke

Question:

230 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the reason for the delay in the construction of the new swimming pool in Loughrea, County Galway, having provided the grant aid promised; the position regarding this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36170/09]

On 25 May 2009 my Department informed Galway County Council that a grant capped at €1.7m had been allocated under the Department's Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme towards the construction of a pool at Loughrea.

At this stage it is for Galway County Council in consultation with the developer to make progress in moving the project on. However, I understand that Galway County Council wrote to the developer setting out the Department's Terms and conditions, on receipt of same, and requested him to confirm that he could comply with those elements, which were relevant to him. The developer has informed Galway County Council that he has spent considerable time over the past few months progressing the project and working through the detailed requirements including taking advice on operational requirements which need to be factored in at this stage. It is expected that agreement on the Terms and Conditions and progression towards construction stage will be significantly advanced in the coming weeks.

Inland Waterways.

Jack Wall

Question:

231 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied); if there is a general policy on the matter; if there are other areas on the waterways that facilitate such facilities; if so, the areas and the person who determines rules and regulations in regard to such areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36030/09]

Waterways Ireland is responsible for the matter raised by the Deputy and I understand that it has responded to the correspondence concerned. I am informed by Waterways Ireland that it is at present finalising a draft policy that will determine the future manner of regulation and management in relation to this issue and that Shannon Harbour is under consideration as a pilot location in this context.

With regard to the location referred to particularly in the correspondence supplied by the Deputy, I am advised that boat access to that location for mooring purposes is suspended at present, due to a number of ongoing and planned major infrastructural improvements, including structural repairs and the extension of a surface water outfall pipeline through the area by the local authority. I am further advised that further progress in regard to the issue raised by the Deputy will not be possible until the works in question have been completed and the appropriate planning approvals received.

Community Development.

Pat Breen

Question:

232 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the impact that the reduction in funding will have on a group (details supplied) in County Clare; if he will review his decision to reduce its funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36046/09]

As the Deputy is aware, as with many Government Programmes and initiatives, the economic realities reflected in the Supplementary Budget allocations in April 2009 inevitably mean that the amount of funding available for the Community Development Programme is considerably less than in recent years. My Department is aware that this presents significant challenges for Community Development Projects. The revised allocation for the Community Development Programme for 2009 is €20.9m. It is a matter for the boards of the projects to decide how best to operate with reduced budgets. I am not in a position to review the 2009 allocations to Community Development Projects.

Security of the Elderly.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

233 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, further to Parliamentary Question No. 793 of 6 October 2009, if he will make available a copy of the draft report mentioned in the reply; the changes that will be made to the 2010 scheme due to the fact that these changes could be crucial in allowing a community group (details supplied) in Dublin 22 continue in its supporting role to 25 community groups in the Dublin area as well as operating as a link office to community groups for older people needing to access the grant. [36134/09]

As I indicated to the House last week, the draft report is in the process of being prepared and, as agreed with the key stakeholders, will be made available to them in the first instance prior to making it more widely available. You will appreciate that any recommendation resulting from the review will need to be carefully considered before revising the current Scheme. I do not expect revised arrangements to be ready for implementation until early 2010.

Clár Forbartha Áitiúil.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

234 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé ar intinn aige deireadh a chur leis an scéim oifigeach forbartha faoi oiliúint atá ar siúl in ionad (sonraí tugtha) i bhfianaise an dochair a dhéanfadh cinneadh dá leithéid don ionad agus don phobal áitiúil; an gcuirfidh sé na hacmhainní cuí ar fáil chun a chinntiú go leanfar ar aghaidh leis an scéim; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [36137/09]

Feidhmíonn Údarás na Gaeltachta faoi réir fhorálacha na hAchtanna um Údarás na Gaeltachta 1979 go 1999. Tuigfidh an Teachta, mar sin, gur gnó don Údarás féin an cheist atá ardaithe aige agus nach bhfuil aon fheidhm reachtúil agamsa mar Aire maidir le riaradh ghnóthaí laethúla na heagraíochta. Cuirtear maoiniú ar fáil ó mo Roinnse don Údarás gach bliain agus is gnó don eagraíocht an maoiniú sin a úsáid ar bhealach éifeachtach ar mhaithe lena cuid spriocanna a bhaint amach.

Departmental Funding.

Jack Wall

Question:

235 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if funding is available for a group (details supplied) in County Kildare from any of the agencies within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36143/09]

I have been informed by the agencies within the ambit of my Department that no such funding is available. In respect of my Department itself, details of all relevant programmes and schemes including guidelines and criteria, are available on the Department's website at www.pobail.ie.

My Department provides grant support to help with the costs of refurbishment, equipment and related works in facilities owned, or held on long term leases, by community organisations. Due to the current economic situation, the Programmes of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organisations was suspended earlier this year and no new applications have been approved in recent months. Under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 Axis 3 and 4(LEADER), funding is available under the Basic Services for the economy and rural population measure, which includes general community and recreational infrastructure. All applications for such funding should be made directly to the relevant Local Action Group. The Deputy will appreciate that eligibility for grants available depends on the nature of the grant sought and details of the group seeking them.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Bernard Allen

Question:

236 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will be made on the appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [36011/09]

The claim for carer's allowance, by the person concerned, was refused by a Deciding Officer of the Department on 21 July 2009 on the grounds that the care recipient was not as invalided or disabled as to need full-time care and attention. Following the submission of additional information the Deciding Officer reviewed the case, but found that were no new facts or fresh evidence that would warrant a revision of the original decision and the person concerned was notified of this on 23 September 2009.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal was registered on 28 September 2009 and the person concerned has been requested to forward her grounds of appeal. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

237 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if there are circumstances in which she will reconsider the decision not to pay the December bonus in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36014/09]

The Christmas Bonus payment was introduced in December, 1980, for social welfare pensioners and people in receipt of long term social welfare payments. There have been a number of developments in this scheme since its inception, including upward and downward adjustments in the level of the bonus payment.

Each year the Government makes a decision on the payment of the Christmas Bonus having regard to the prevailing economic circumstances. This year it has been necessary for the Government to take steps to reduce overall public expenditure so as to restore order and stability to the public finances. In this context, the decision was made that the Christmas Bonus would not be paid in 2009. The decision was announced in the April 2009 Supplementary Budget.

Michael Ring

Question:

238 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be awarded an increase in jobseeker’s allowance. [36034/09]

The person concerned was in receipt of jobseeker's allowance at the weekly rate of €266.90 having been assessed with means at €203.00 derived from spouse's earnings. Following a review, her means have been revised to €115.00 retrospective to 9 February. The arrears due to her will be made within the next few days.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

239 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the status of the carer’s allowance appeal for a person (details supplied); when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36085/09]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the relevant Departmental papers and comments of the Department have been sought in this case. On receipt of its response the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer for early consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Jack Wall

Question:

240 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will consider a mechanism to flag to persons that their jobseeker’s benefit claim is coming to an end and that they should apply for jobseeker’s allowance in view of the timeframe involved in determining the jobseeker’s allowance claim and the hardship this period is having on families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36097/09]

Local Offices notify claimants up to 13 weeks in advance of the expiry date of their jobseeker's benefit entitlement. The person may then make an application for jobseeker's allowance, which is a means tested payment. If they do not qualify for this payment they may continue to sign-on for jobseeker's credits to preserve the continuity of their insurance and to protect their entitlement to benefits and pensions in the future. The Department has introduced a more streamlined procedure for claimants moving to jobseeker's allowance when their jobseeker's benefit expires and the department plans to further enhance this process later this year.

The average processing times for jobseeker's allowance claims decided in September was 7.53 weeks. Over 60% of local offices are achieving shorter processing time. I know that some offices are performing less well and the Department is making every effort to improve processing times generally at these offices thereby eliminating the possibility of a delay in payment in the transition from jobseeker's benefit to jobseeker's allowance.

As the Deputy will be aware, anyone who is under financial pressure while awaiting a decision on any social welfare claim may apply to their local Community Welfare Officer for supplementary welfare allowance which is subject to a means test and other qualifying conditions.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

241 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will be made on the appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry for jobseeker’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36106/09]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was received on 19 June 2009 and following consideration by an Appeals Officer the case has been referred to a Social Welfare Inspector for further investigation and clarification on certain matters. Every effort will be made to have this appeal dealt with as quickly as possible. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

242 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will be made on the appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Limerick for jobseeker’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36108/09]

Further to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 936 on 16 September 2009, I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that there is no update to the information given in that response. Every effort will be made to have this appeal dealt with as quickly as possible. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on Social Welfare entitlements.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

243 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will be made on the appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry for jobseeker’s benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36111/09]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, including that adduced at an oral hearing, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the decision. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

244 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved and awarded jobseeker’s allowance in view of the fact that they applied in July 2009. [36117/09]

The person concerned made an application for jobseeker's benefit on 6 July 2009 retrospective to 5 March. She subsequently went to the United Kingdom in early September. She has now been awarded benefit from 5 March 2009 to 5 September 2009 at the weekly rate of €204.30.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

245 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding a carer’s allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36130/09]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the relevant Departmental papers and comments of the Department have been received and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Code.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

246 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the rate, in respect of each basic social welfare payment, by which that payment is reduced if the claimant engages and is paid the full rate of community employment. [36141/09]

There are a number of different scenarios in relation to entitlement to a social welfare payment, including the rate of the relevant payment, for people participating in a Community Employment scheme. In the first instance, such participants are not eligible to receive either jobseeker's allowance or benefit. In the case of other social assistance payments, the Community Employment payment is assessed as earnings and the earnings disregard and tapering arrangements which relate to a particular scheme are applied. One parent family payment and disability allowance are the two main social assistance schemes whose recipients participate in Community Employment.

In the case of one-parent family payment, the first €146.50 per week of employment income is disregarded in full and half of any balance between that and €425 per week is also disregarded. For example, a lone parent with one child who receives €254.70 per week on a Community Employment scheme (€228.70 plus €26 child allowance) is regarded as having means of €54.10 for one-parent family payment and consequently, receives €182.80 per week in one-parent family payment (as opposed to the maximum rate of €230.30) in addition to the €254.70 from Community Employment, bringing the total income to €437.50.

In the case of disability allowance, the first €120 per week of the Community Employment Payment is disregarded and the balance up to a ceiling of €350 per week is assessed at 50%. For example, a single disability allowance recipient receiving €228.70 per week on a Community Employment scheme is regarded as having means of €54.35 per week and, consequently, receives €151.80 per week in disability allowance (as opposed to the maximum rate of €204.30). This is in addition to the €228.70 from Community Employment, bringing the total paid to €380.50.

Given that the level of a Community Employment payment depends on the family composition of the participant, the precise level of reduction in entitlement will vary in the case of social assistance schemes generally. Persons in receipt of illness benefit and invalidity pension may participate in Community Employment, subject to the approval of my Department that the work involved is therapeutic and rehabilitative. In such cases they continue to receive their social insurance payment at its full normal level.

Social Insurance Fund.

Michael Ring

Question:

247 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of money paid into the social insurance fund for each of the past ten years and to date for 2009 in tabular format; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36144/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

248 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of money paid out of the social insurance fund to qualifying persons in each of the past ten years and to date in 2009 in tabular format; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36145/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

249 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the surplus in the social insurance fund for each of the past ten years and to date in 2009; the ongoing cumulative total in this fund in tabular format; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36146/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

250 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the projected income for the social insurance fund for the remainder of 2009 and 2010; if she will compare this to the projected outgoings from this fund for these periods in tabular format; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36147/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 247 to 250, inclusive, together.

The legislation covering the Social Insurance Fund established a tripartite funding arrangement with the Exchequer acting as a residual financier to contributions from employees and employers. It has never been envisaged that the fund would ever have to operate solely on the basis of being in surplus on foot of contributions from employees and employers. In fact Exchequer contributions to cover funding shortfalls from the other two sources have been the norm since the establishment of the SIF. For example the State contribution to benefits paid from the fund was 38% in 1967 and almost 29% in 1985.

Only since 1996 has the fund been in surplus as a result of contributions from employers and employees. During 2008 the fund experienced a deficit on a current basis and the excess of outgoings over expenditure is being met at present from the accrued surplus. The approaches to the current and future deficits are matters for the Government to consider in a budgetary context. The table provides data on social insurance income and expenditure. The data for 2008 is provisional, pending completion of the audit of the Social Insurance Fund by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The estimated outturn for 2009 is based on provisional PRSI income and expenditure data to end July 2009 and predictions of likely trends to the end of year.

Estimates as to the likely level of PRSI income future years and the likely impact on the Social Insurance Fund of both income and expenditure demands during this period is dependent on macro-economic data which will be updated by the Department of Finance in the run-up to the forth coming Budget.

Social Insurance Fund

Year

Scheme Payments

Other Payments*

Receipts

Excess/Surplus in Year

Cumulative Surplus

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

1998

78,634

1999

2,680,837

136,376

3,158,557

341,344

419,978

2000

2,993,270

297,767

3,725,979

434,942

854,920

2001

3,516,768

158,910

4,306,902

631,224

1,486,144

2002

4,198,466

177,458

4,798,243

422,319

**1,273,463

2003

4,649,155

184,042

5,088,532

255,335

1,528,798

2004

5,081,230

191,313

5,649,620

377,077

1,905,875

2005

5,462,029

202,580

6,159,018

494,409

2,400,284

2006

6,103,870

221,684

6,974,411

648,857

3,049,141

2007

7,008,279

242,711

7,834,147

583,157

3,632,298

2008***

8,141,959

257,780

8,144,410

(255,329)

3 ,376,969

2009****

5,478,688

157,421

4,457,664(End of year estimate 7,400,000)

(End of year estimate 1,000)

*Other payments are administration payments and a once of payment of €152.3 million in 2000 to the National Training Fund in accordance with section 4 (11) of the National Training Fund Act, 2000.

**In 2002 €635 million was paid from the Social Insurance Fund to the Exchequer in accordance with section 7 of the Social Welfare (No 2) Act, 2001.

***2008 figures are subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor Generals Office.

****2009 figures only included data up to 31st July 2009 and are subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor Generals Office.

Both receipts and payments exclude the collection and pay-over of Health Contributions and National Training Levy amounts.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

251 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason unemployment benefit was terminated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36311/09]

The entitlement of the person concerned to jobseeker's benefit was terminated on 19th August 2009 because she exhausted her entitlement to benefit. She may have a possible entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance. In this regard she should contact her local Social Welfare Branch Office in Trim.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

252 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when disability allowance will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36312/09]

Disability Allowance is a weekly Allowance paid to people with a specified disability who are aged over 16 and under 66. The disability must be expected to last for at least one year and the allowance is subject to a medical assessment, a means test and a habitual residency test. The person concerned applied for Disability Allowance on 26 May 2009. His claim was assessed by a Medical Assessor on 23 September 2009 and he was deemed not medically suitable for Disability Allowance. Further medical evidence was received from the person's doctor and this was reviewed by a Medical Assessor on 12 October 2009 who deemed that he was medically suitable for Disability Allowance.

The person concerned's file was forwarded to a Social Welfare Inspector in order to determine his weekly means. The Inspector called to his address on 26 August 2009 and 6 September 2009 but he was not at home. An appointment was made for him to call to the Social Welfare Inspector's office in Newbridge on 9 October 2009 but the applicant was unable to attend due to illness. The Social Welfare Inspector will be in contact with him shortly to arrange another appointment. A decision on the Disability Allowance claim will be given upon receipt of the Social Welfare Inspector's report and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

253 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if approval will issue for rental allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36313/09]

The position remains, as advised in question number 887, which I answered for the Deputy on 6 October 2009. A letter issued to the person concerned on 17 September 2009 from the community welfare officer seeking documentary evidence in relation to a number of matters including the lease on her rented property and her financial position. Her claim will be considered further when the details requested by the community welfare officer have been supplied by the person concerned.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

254 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will be made in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36314/09]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, having considered all the available evidence in the case, the Appeals Officer has disallowed the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the decision. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

255 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when rent support will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36319/09]

The Health Service Executive has advised that according to its records, an application for mortgage interest supplement has not been received from the person concerned. It is open to the person concerned to contact his local community welfare officer with a view to making an application for mortgage interest supplement.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

256 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when rent support will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36321/09]

The Health Service Executive has advised that according to its records, an application for mortgage interest supplement has not been received from the person concerned. It is open to the person concerned to contact his local community welfare officer with a view to making an application for mortgage interest supplement.

Defence Forces Strength.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

257 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Defence the age profile of new recruits into the Defence Forces in 2009; the age profile of new recruits into Defence Forces for each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36006/09]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

259 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Defence the number of recruits into the Army in 2009; the number of recruits into the Army for each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36008/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 257 and 258 together.

The age profile of personnel recruited for general service into the Defence Forces in 2009 and over the past 10 years is presented in the attached Tabular Statement. The number of personnel recruited for general service in each of the past 10 years is also attached in Tabular Statement. The 2000 White Paper on Defence and the earlier Defence Force Review Implementation Plan (DFRIP) both identified the requirement to address the high age profile in the Defence Forces. The key element in military life is the need for personnel to maintain a level of fitness for combat readiness. This requirement must be balanced with the need to retain experience and expertise, particularly at managerial level in the Defence Forces.

I am advised by the military authorities that the strength of the Defence Forces at 30 September 2009, the last date for which figures are available is 10,081. I am keenly aware of the impact that measures such as the moratorium on recruitment, promotion and acting appointments are having on the Permanent Defence Forces in light of the very high turnover rate that is part of any military organisation. My focus is on retaining the capacity of the organisation to operate effectively across all roles. T his will represent a significant challenge in the coming months. I am in contact with my colleague the Minister for Finance with regard to targeted exemptions from the moratorium. I am advised that at this time the Defence Forces retain the capacity to undertake the tasks laid down by Government at home and overseas.

Age profile of personnel recruited for general service to the Defence Forces in each of the past 10 years.

Year

Average Age

2009 (To Sep)

None Recruited

2008

20.31

2007

20.55

2006

20.54

2005

20.47

2004

20.45

2003

20.52

2002

20.60

2001

20.70

2000

19.83

1999

19.41

Number of personnel recruited for general service to the Defence Forces in each of the past 10 years

Year

Number Recruited

2009 (To Sep)

0

2008

507

2007

565

2006

559

2005

384

2004

571

2003

436

2002

500

2001

827

2000

503

1999

427

Arthur Morgan

Question:

258 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Defence the number of people in the Army in 2009; the number of people in the Army for each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36007/09]

The strength of the Army for each of the past ten years and as of 30 September 2009 is set out in the following tabular statement. This statement also provides figures for the Air Corps and the Naval Service for the same period. The White Paper on Defence of February 2000 sets out a figure of 10,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force comprising 930 for the Air Corps, 1,144 for the Naval Service and 8,426 for the Army. I am advised by the military authorities that on 30 September 2009, the most recent date for which figures are available, the actual total of the Permanent Defence Force was 10,081 comprising 812 Air Corps, 1,038 Naval Service and 8,231 Army personnel.

In the context of the Government decision on the implementation of savings measures on public service numbers and the reduced budgetary provision available for 2009, all recruitment was suspended. My focus at this point in time is on ensuring that the Defence Forces retain operational capability. I am acutely aware of the impact of the moratorium on the permanent Defence Force particularly in light of the very high turnover rate that is part of any military organisation. I am in ongoing contact with my colleague, the Minister for Finance regarding limited exceptions to the moratorium which are targeted at maintaining the operational capability and command arrangements of the Permanent Defence Force. I am advised that at this time the Defence Forces retain the capacity to undertake the tasks laid down by Government at home and overseas.

End of Year Personnel Strength 1998-2008 and end September 2009

YEAR

ARMY

NAVY

AIR CORPS

OVERALL

OFFR

NCO

PTE

Total

OFFR

NCO

PTE

Total

OFFR

NCO

PTE

Total

OFFR

NCO

PTE

Total

1998

1,056

3,387

4,909

9,352

127

434

440

1,001

128

327

420

875

1,311

4,148

5,769

11,228

1999

1,008

3,378

4,699

9,085

125

432

427

984

129

329

397

855

1,262

4,139

5,523

10,924

2000

1,016

3,249

4,576

8,841

116

435

411

962

130

335

350

815

1,262

4,019

5,337

10,618

2001

1,011

3,159

4,562

8,732

120

426

393

939

130

379

388

897

1,261

3,964

5,343

10,568

2002

997

3,130

4,493

8,620

136

437

461

1,034

137

395

373

905

1,270

3,962

5,327

10,559

2003

1,027

3,086

4,404

8,517

139

467

473

1,079

137

414

351

902

1,303

3,967

5,228

10,498

2004

1,040

3072

4,480

8,592

156

490

442

1,088

140

398

333

871

1,336

3,960

5,255

10,551

2005

1,052

3,060

4,427

8,539

163

471

421

1,055

134

403

315

852

1,349

3,934

5163

10,446

2006

1,060

3,030

4,442

8,532

164

506

412

1,082

136

383

346

865

1,360

3919

5,200

10,479

2007

1,049

2,947

4,516

8,512

159

487

431

1,077

137

383

325

845

1,345

3,817

5,272

10,434

2008

1,071

2,970

4,466

8,507

160

495

415

1,070

147

380

305

832

1,378

3,845

5,186

10,409

Sep 2009

1,074

2,905

4,252

8,231

162

485

391

1,038

143

374

295

812

1,379

3,764

4,938

10,081

Question No. 259 answered with Question No. 257.

Overseas Missions.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

260 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Defence his views on the continuation of the Defence Force mission in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36351/09]

Ireland has participated in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan since 5 July 2002, following the Government Decision of 2 July 2002, authorising the provision of seven members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the force. Since then, the Government has reviewed and approved, on an annual basis, the continued participation by seven members of the Permanent Defence Force in ISAF. Continued participation in overseas missions is considered in the context of the viability of the operation, the threat assessment, existing Defence Forces commitments, the costs involved, the benefit of the operation to the Defence Forces and Ireland's strategic interests, in particular in relation to the maintenance of international peace and security. While there are no plans at this time to withdraw from the mission in Afghanistan, continued participation will be reviewed again in the context of the estimates and available resources.

Ministerial Travel.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

261 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Defence if Air Corps helicopters are used for ministerial transport; the circumstances under which such travel is approved; the person by whom it is approved; the guidelines or policies that regulate such use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36352/09]

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

262 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Defence the number of times in the past five years that Air Corps helicopters have been used for ministerial or related transport; the name of the Minister in each case; the reason for the use in each case; the cost to the taxpayer of each such use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36357/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 261 and 262 together.

The Air Corps helicopter fleet comprises two light utility EC135 helicopters and six utility AW139 helicopters. The Dauphin helicopters were withdrawn from Air Corps service in January 2006, and the Alouette fleet was withdrawn in September 2007. The helicopters are operated by the Air Corps in a general purpose military operational and training role. Primary taskings include security, aid to the civil power, military exercises, infantry interoperability training and limited troop transport. They are also used to perform air ambulance, non-maritime search and rescue, aid to the civil authorities, community support and ministerial and VIP air transport tasks.

Helicopters are used from time to time for ministerial air transport in situations where, for operational reasons, fixed wing aircraft may not be available, the point of destination may not be close to an airport and in circumstances where there is a requirement for greater flexibility than can be delivered by fixed wing aircraft. In 2008, ministerial transport represented approximately 5% of total helicopter flying hours.

Approval for the use of Air Corps helicopters for ministerial transport is a matter for the Taoiseach, providing the helicopters are available and have not been otherwise tasked in their military role. Guidelines regarding the use of the Ministerial Air Transport Service are set out in the Cabinet Handbook. The guidelines specify that requests for the use of the service should be made to the Taoiseach in respect of every mission, giving details of the justifying need, the destination, route, timings, passenger details and purpose of travel.

Details regarding the number of times Air Corps helicopters have been used for ministerial or related transport in the past five years are listed in the following tabular statements, including the date of each trip, the helicopter type tasked, the ministerial time on board and the requesting Minister. Each trip was in the conduct of official engagements and had the prior approval of the Taoiseach.

I have availed of Air Corps helicopters for transport in connection with my ministerial duties, most recently in November 2008. With regard to the cost, the Department of Defence follows the normal practice in the aviation business of costing aircraft by reference to the cost per flying hour under either of two headings: the direct cost, i.e. the costs which are additional to those associated with having the aircraft and which only arise when the aircraft is flown including maintenance, fuel and support services; and the total cost, i.e. the direct cost plus the costs associated with having the aircraft, i.e. depreciation and personnel costs.

The Deputy should note that the costs associated with having the aircraft, which are costs arising for having aircraft available for their primary taskings in their military operational and training roles, arise regardless of whether or not the aircraft is tasked with ministerial transport. The current rates per hour used to establish these costs in relation to helicopters are also set out in the following tabular statements. The costs are an approximation to actual costs.

Ministerial use of Air Corps helicopters

Date

Aircraft

Ministerial Time on Board (minutes)

Minister

18 Feb 05

Dauphin

85

Taoiseach

15 Apr 05

Dauphin

140

Tánaiste (Health and Children)

22 Apr 05

Dauphin

95

Taoiseach

28 Apr 05

Dauphin

110

Justice

21 Jun 05

Dauphin

95

Arts, Sports and Tourism

24 Jun 05

Dauphin

40

Tánaiste (Health and Children)

27 Jun 05

Dauphin

50

Taoiseach

21 Jul 05

Dauphin

195

Communications, Marine and Natural Resources

04 Aug 05

Dauphin

215

Communications, Marine and Natural Resources

08 Sep 05

Alouette

60

Taoiseach

27 Sep 05

Dauphin

20

Taoiseach

18 Nov 05

Dauphin

50

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

16 Dec 05

Dauphin

80

Defence

26 Jan 06

EC 135

90

Justice, Equality Law Reform

23 Feb 06

Alouette

110

Arts, Sports and Tourism

15 Mar 06

EC 135

100

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

06 Apr 06

EC 135

105

Taoiseach

07 Apr 06

EC 135

60

Taoiseach

25 Apr 06

EC 135

100

Defence

05 May 06

EC 135

195

Education and Science/Minister of State Transport

18 May 06

EC 135

120

Environment, Heritage and Local Government

08 Jun 06

EC 135

150

Social and Family Affairs

21 Jun 06

EC 135

160

Education and Science/Minister of State Transport

23 Jun 06

EC 135

65

Taoiseach

28 Jun 06

Alouette

160

Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

07 Jul 06

EC 135

45

Taoiseach

11 Jul 06

Alouette

210

Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

30 Jul 06

EC 135

120

Defence

31 Jul 06

EC 135

60

Taoiseach

15 Aug 06

EC 135

140

Communications, Marine and Natural Resources

06 Sep 06

EC 135

165

Defence

08 Sep 06

EC 135

30

Taoiseach

29 Sep 06

EC 135

50

Taoiseach

02 Oct 06

Alouette

45

Taoiseach

08 Oct 06

Alouette

120

Taoiseach

16 Oct 06

EC 135

100

Taoiseach

27 Oct 06

EC 135

50

Taoiseach

09 Nov 06

EC 135

50

Taoiseach

10 Nov 06

EC 135

50

Taoiseach

11 Dec 06

Alouette

25

Tánaiste (Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

15 Dec 06

EC 135

80

Tánaiste (Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

25 Jan 07

EC 135

110

Tánaiste (Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

02 Feb 07

Alouette

120

Tánaiste (Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

02 Feb 07

EC 135

35

Taoiseach

16 Feb 07

EC 135

45

Taoiseach

01 Mar 07

EC 135

110

Environment, Heritage and Local Government/ Agriculture

30 Mar 07

EC 135

150

Environment, Heritage and Local Government

05 Apr 07

EC 135

80

Arts, Sports and Tourism

19 Apr 07

EC 135

135

Health

23 Apr 07

EC 135

70

Taoiseach

26 Apr 07

EC 135

100

Tánaiste (Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

27 Apr 07

EC 135

95

Taoiseach

16 May 07

EC 135

90

Transport

03 Jul 07

AW 139

80

Agriculture

04 Jul 07

AW 139

90

Taoiseach

09 Jul 07

AW 139

90

Taoiseach

17 Jul 07

AW 139

80

Taoiseach

06 Sep 07

EC 135

130

Defence

13 Sep 07

AW 139

140

Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

25 Sep 07

AW 139

60

Agriculture

27 Sep 07

AW 139

80

Taoiseach

02 Nov 07

AW 139

100

Transport

16 Nov 07

AW 139

80

Taoiseach

17 Dec 07

AW 139

60

Health

17 Dec 07

AW 139

45

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

31 Jan 08

EC 135

80

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

01 Feb 08

AW 139

90

Taoiseach

08 Feb 08

AW 139

40

Taoiseach

23 Mar 08

EC 135

100

Defence

25 Mar 08

EC 135

60

Education and Science

26 Mar 08

EC 135

120

Education and Science

04 Apr 08

EC 135

30

Taoiseach

11 Apr 08

EC 135

100

Taoiseach

11 Apr 08

EC 135

45

Health and Children

14 Apr 08

EC 135

50

Defence

09 Apr 08

EC 135

55

Health and Children

17 Apr 08

EC 135

30

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

18 Apr 08

EC 135

70

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

29 Apr 08

EC 135

20

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

01 May 08

AW 139

115

Defence

01 May 08

AW 139

60

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

30 May 08

AW 139

100

Defence

29 May 08

EC 135

120

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

30 May 08

AW 139

90

Health and Children

10 Jun 08

EC 135

70

Defence

19 Jun 08

EC 135

100

Defence

15 Aug 08

AW 139

80

Taoiseach

26 Aug 08

AW 139

100

Defence

05 Sep 08

EC 135

55

Arts, Sports and Tourism

10 Sep 08

EC 135

40

Defence

12 Sep 08

EC 135

80

Defence

13 Sep 08

AW 139

60

Tánaiste (Enterprise Trade and Employment)

23 Sep 08

AW 139

45

Taoiseach

23 Sep 08

AW 139

45

Tánaiste (Enterprise, Trade and Employment)

03 Oct 08

AW 139

85

Taoiseach

31 Oct 08

EC 135

100

Transport

04 Nov 08

AW 139

70

Justice

08 Nov 08

AW 139

100

Taoiseach/Defence

30 Nov 08

EC 135

65

Taoiseach

05 Dec 08

AW 139

120

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

04 Dec 08

AW 139

60

Tánaiste (Enterprise, Trade and Employment)

09 Dec 08

AW 139

100

Education and Science

30 Jan 09

AW 139

120

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

29 Jan 09

AW 139

45

Foreign Affairs

06 Feb 09

AW 139

90

Transport

23 Feb 09

AW 139

45

Transport

02 Mar 09

AW 139

110

Arts, Sports and Tourism

30 Mar 09

AW 139

60

Tánaiste (Enterprise, Trade and Employment)

13 Apr 09

EC 135

100

Education and Science

14 Apr 09

AW 139

95

Education and Science

20 Apr 09

EC 135

110

Finance

17 Jul 09

AW 139

205

Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

16 Jul 09

EC 135

120

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

23 Sep 09

EC 135

130

Tánaiste (Enterprise, Trade and Employment)

Costs associated with Air Corps helicopters used in the provision of Ministerial Air Transport Service

Aircraft

Average Direct Cost Per Hour

Average Total Cost Per Hour

Alouette

1,150

1,880

Dauphin

1,650

3,100

EC 135

430

1,590

AW 139

1,470

3,130

Social and Affordable Housing.

Phil Hogan

Question:

263 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress local government has had in increasing housing supply via leasing; the estimated cost to the State over a 20 year period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36116/09]

To date, my Department has issued funding approval in respect of some 842 properties under the Social Housing Leasing Initiative. In addition, a further 367 units have received provisional approval subject to additional information being provided to and reviewed by my Department. This gives a total of 1,209 properties that have received approval this year. There are also a number of other new leasing proposals currently being assessed to determine their suitability for inclusion under the initiative.

To support this new initiative, €20 million has been set aside by my Department in 2009 to facilitate the leasing of at least 2,000 units. However, the cost of the scheme in future years will be determined by the number of homes leased, the rental payments involved, and the length of time for which leases are procured. From a value for money perspective, there is a clear benefit to the State, particularly in light of the current constraints on the public finances, in entering into such lease agreements as a greater number of units can be provided to households in need than could otherwise be provided through more traditional supply mechanisms such as construction or acquisition.

Tax Code.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

264 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will correct the anomaly under section 4(6)(a) of the Local Government Charges Act 2009, whereby an arbitrary two kilometres governs the liability for the charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36015/09]

The Government has decided to broaden the revenue base of local authorities by introducing this charge on all non-principal private residences, including private rented accommodation, holiday homes and any other residential property that is not the owner's sole or main residence. The charge has been set at €200 per annum. The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, which sets out the detail of the charge, is premised on a universal liability for residential property in respect of the charge. It exempts certain buildings and owners from this liability, the most important exemption being where a property is occupied by the owner as his or her sole or main residence on the liability date.

Section 4(6) of the Act includes an exemption for property in which a relative of the owner is living rent-free, as long as that residence is on the same property or within two kilometres of the owner's main residence. This provision was intended principally to cater for situations in which accommodation might be provided for an elderly parent by a son or daughter, and follows precedent from Revenue legislation dealing with the home carer tax credit.

Question No. 265 answered with Question No. 158.

Social and Affordable Housing.

George Lee

Question:

266 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to provide capital assistance funding to a community (details supplied) in Dublin 14; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36018/09]

Having regard to the existing high level of commitments under the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS), I am not in a position to approve funding for these proposals at this time. They will be considered in the light of the Estimates provision for the CAS for 2010.

John Cregan

Question:

267 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of an application for funding by a voluntary housing group (details supplied); if he will confirm that this application has met all relevant criteria and will be approved should funding become available. [36022/09]

Having regard to the existing high level of commitments under the Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme (CLSS), it is not possible to approve the funding application submitted by South Tipperary County Council at this time. The application will be considered in the light of the Estimates provision for the CLSS in 2010, social housing needs locally and the potential for market based social housing delivery mechanisms such as long-term leasing and the rental accommodation scheme.

Local Authority Court Cases.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

268 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the financial implications of court cases involving local authorities; if he will provide a breakdown of both legal costs and amounts awarded in such cases per local authority for the past five years; if any members of staff or any local authorities have been disciplined as a result of a local authority having lost a court case in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36087/09]

The question of court cases and their associated financial implications is a matter for the individual local authorities concerned. My Department does not compile or hold information of the kind sought.

Social and Affordable Housing.

John Cregan

Question:

269 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of an application for funding by a voluntary housing association (details supplied) to his Department; if he will confirm that the application has met all relevant criteria and will be approved should funding become available. [36088/09]

Having regard to the existing high level of commitments under the Capital Assistance Scheme it has not been possible to approve this scheme. The scheme will, however, be considered for approval in the context of the 2010 Estimates considerations and my Department's capital investment programme.

Waste Disposal.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

270 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has hired an economist to conduct an analysis of the contract for the Poolbeg incinerator, Dublin; if the analysis revealed that the contract was anti-competitive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36138/09]

The Attorney General sought and received, on my behalf, the contract for the Poolbeg incinerator from Dublin City Council earlier this year. I can confirm that an economist was hired to carry out an analysis of the contract for the purposes of informing pending legal advice by the Attorney General. The Attorney General has recommended that a further analysis be carried out by a financial expert before any definitive advice can be furnished.

Waste Management.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

271 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the proposals he has for the plastic bag levy; if he has met interest groups on this issue; the revenue that has been raised from this levy each year since its initiation; the revenue he expects to be raised in the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36154/09]

The primary purpose of the levy on plastic bags is not to generate revenue but to change consumer behaviour and maintain the significant reduction in the consumption of plastic bags, dispensed at retail outlets, that was achieved when the levy was first introduced in 2002. To this end, I am bringing forward legislation that will provide for greater flexibility in amending the level of charge as circumstances require. While the provisions of the proposed legislation will allow for greater increases in the level of charge any amendment will have regard to both the level of plastic bag usage and changes in the consumer price index. A Regulatory Impact Analysis has been carried out in respect of this proposed legislation and my Department is in regular contact with the various stakeholders having an interest in the operation of this economic instrument.

The amounts received from the Plastic Bag Levy for each year since its introduction in March 2002 are set out in the tabular statement below. Details of levies received are published in the Environment Fund Annual Accounts. Copies of the Environment Fund's Annual Accounts up to and including 2007 are available in the Oireachtas Library. The 2008 Annual Accounts will be lodged in the Oireachtas Library in due course after they have been audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The National Litter Pollution Monitoring System is used to measure the impact of the plastic bag levy on an ongoing basis and my Department also studies the receipts from the plastic bag levy to monitor trends in the average per capita consumption of plastic bags. These data will be used to ensure that the plastic bag levy is set at an appropriate level. Future revenues will be largely determined by the usage of plastic bags by the public. I would welcome a reduction in receipts in future years as this would demonstrate that the proposed legislation has succeeded in its aim of reducing plastic bag usage.

Receipts from the plastic bag levy 2002-2007

Year

2002

10,428,413

2003

12,883,408

2004

15,278,107

2005

17,484,551

2006

19,947,315

2007

22,577,535

Social and Affordable Housing.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

272 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of local authority loans that have been recommended for approval nationwide since the affordable homes partnership has become involved in stress testing local authority loan applications; the number of loan approvals that have subsequently issued by local authorities on foot of such recommendations; the type of loans that have been approved; if an analysis of the statistics indicates a trend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36159/09]

The Affordable Homes Partnership (AHP) have processed 173 applications since the Housing (Local Authority Loans) Regulations, 2009 came into force on 27 April 2009. The following table gives a breakdown of the status of these applications, final decisions on which are a matter for the relevant local authority.

Private Housing

Shared Ownership

Incremental Purchase

Affordable Housing

Total Approvals

Applications in Progress

Refusals

Total Applications

8

5

2

5

20

42

111

173

Local Authority Housing.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

273 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Question No. 967 of 6 October 2009, the number of rental subsidy recipients who have been transferred by Kildare County Council to the rental accommodation scheme since 1 January 2009 to date in 2009; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that, while the RAS does not preclude applicants who are in part-time employment, the de facto situation in County Kildare is that such applicants are precluded by Kildare County Council, who have adopted a policy of offering RAS accommodation exclusively to persons in receipt of the maximum level of rent supplement, therefore excluding everyone in part-time employment; if he is satisfied that this national scheme should be implemented in such a limited fashion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36160/09]

Over the period January to end of August 2009, Kildare County Council have transferred 60 households from rent supplement to the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) or other forms of social housing, with a total of 692 households transferred since the commencement of the scheme in 2005.

The qualifying criteria for RAS are that a household must be in receipt of rent supplement, usually for 18 months or more and have a long term housing need. Households in part-time employment or households not in receipt of the maximum level of rent supplement are not precluded from the scheme. It is not national policy that such households would be delayed or deferred from transfer to the scheme on the basis of the amount of rent supplement they receive. Indeed, my Department has over the past number of years introduced a flexible financial model for RAS, to ensure that households such as this could be transferred to the scheme. While it is a matter for each individual authority to manage the transfer of rent supplement households to RAS, the Council has advised that they are implementing the scheme in accordance with national policy and that they will not exclude persons from the scheme who are in part-time employment.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Ulick Burke

Question:

274 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the provision of the new waste water sewerage works at Athenry, County Galway; the reason for the continuing delays in providing this facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36175/09]

The Athenry Sewerage Scheme is included for funding in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007 – 2009. My Department awaits the submission of a revised Design Review Report for the scheme from Galway County Council. I understand that this revised report will take account of some interim improvement works being carried out by the Council at the existing Athenry wastewater treatment plant to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to cater for current loadings and to prevent pollution.

Local authorities were asked in July to submit an assessment of needs for water and sewerage services to my Department by the end of next week. These assessments will form a key input to the development of the 2010 to 2012 Water Services Investment Programme, which it is anticipated will be published in early 2010. In conducting their assessments, local authorities have been asked to prioritise schemes and contracts for progression over the coming years based on key environmental and economic criteria.

Air Quality.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

275 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of locations here at which air quality is monitored; his views on the findings of such research; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36322/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

276 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the extent to which he has studied air pollution reports from the various monitoring locations here; the degree to which he has noted particular trends, in particular harmful emissions; his proposals to address these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36323/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 275 and 276 together.

The monitoring, assessment and management of ambient air quality in Ireland is carried out according to the requirements of the EU Air Quality Framework Directive. This Directive became law through the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, (Ambient Air Quality Assessment and Management) Regulations, 1999. Under further regulations made in 2002, 2004 and 2009, specific ambient air quality standards have been prescribed for the following pollutants; sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead (2002); carbon monoxide and benzene (2002); ozone (2004); and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, nickel, cadmium and mercury in ambient air (2009).

Where the indicative level for any pollutant is exceeded, the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002 require the local authority concerned, following notification by the EPA, to develop a long-term air quality management plan to ensure compliance with the thresholds for the relevant pollutant or pollutants. The EPA reports the results of the air quality monitoring of the above pollutants through its website:http://www.epa.ie/whatwedo/monitoring/air/data/. My Department keeps these data under ongoing review to identify any significant trends which might emerge and also meets periodically with the EPA on air quality issues.

The EPA also publishes a comprehensive annual report on air quality, the most recent being the report on Air Quality in Ireland 2008 (September 2009). This report provides an overview of ambient air quality trends in Ireland in 2008 based on data from 30 monitoring stations. In addition there were a further 18 monitoring stations operated by local authorities to measure black smoke. The Report did not identify any area in the country where ambient air quality is under threat and confirmed that Ireland is fully compliant with the air quality standards in force for all pollutants.

As part of a commitment on monitoring air quality made under the 2007 Programme for Government my Department requested the EPA to undertake an overall review of the adequacy of the air quality monitoring network in light of population change in urban areas. The review has now been completed and a report of its findings is currently being finalised by the EPA.

Local Authority Housing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

277 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of applications for home choice loans made to or through the various local authorities in the past 12 months; the number approved, rejected or pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36324/09]

Over 1,400 prospective purchasers have formally registered interest on the dedicated Home Choice loan website and, to date, 38 applications have been made. Of these 26 have been declined, 3 approvals in principle have issued, 3 applications have been withdrawn, and a decision is pending in respect of 6 applications where further information has been sought from the applicant.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

278 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his proposals to ensure the provision of an adequate number of local authority houses to meet the demands over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36325/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

279 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the full extent of the funding provided by his Department to each of the local authorities here in each of the past five years to date to meet the social housing requirements; the number of houses provided by the local authorities on foot of same; the number provided by voluntary housing sectors and funding by his Department in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36326/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 278 and 279 together.

The overall level of funding provided under the Social Housing Investment Programme for the supply of local authority and voluntary/co-operative housing for the years in question is as follows:

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Local Authority

702,739,974

833,692,272

940,225,258

940,041,951

978,631,660

Voluntary/Co-Operative*

182,522,304

160,098,927

182,906,541

273,764,512

396,139,271

*Capital Assistance Scheme and Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme

A breakdown of funding by area is set out in the following tables.

Information in relation to activity under the range of housing programmes over the past five years, including details of the numbers of housing units provided, is set out in my Department's annual and quarterly Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas library and on my Department's website, www.environ.ie.

Meeting social housing need remains a high priority for the Government. To this end, the range of delivery mechanisms continues to be adapted to ensure that we meet the maximum number of housing needs, in good quality accommodation, in the most cost effective way, having regard to the prevailing economic climate. For example, I announced earlier this year the introduction of a new Social Housing Leasing Initiative, through which it is expected that a substantial number of dwellings will be provided in the years ahead to meet housing demand. I will be keeping this, and all the other local authority and voluntary and co-operative housing programmes under ongoing review to ensure that they are appropriately geared towards meeting the maximum level of housing need.

Table 1: Local Authority Housing Supply

Local Authority

2004 Outturn

2005 Outturn

2006 Outturn

2007 Outturn

2008 Outturn

Carlow County Council

8,938,666

9,538,881

11,749,555

8,557,743

7,454,118

Carlow Town Council

2,844,740

8,641,264

7,943,370

4,702,107

4,064,828

Cavan County Council

12,562,344

12,165,200

3,461,966

8,599,287

11,566,375

Cavan Town Council

1,661,920

1,958,900

1,911,334

1,228,793

2,908,677

Clare County Council

11,901,198

9,232,092

17,190,924

11,406,004

13,500,000

Ennis Town Council

4,314,437

1,740,744

219,626

5,190,793

4,160,114

Kilrush Town Council

17,720

294,990

276,326

250,000

339,886

Cork City Council

43,097,957

49,842,039

103,680,792

63,970,097

71,909,300

Cork County Council

27,516,847

47,749,993

39,454,278

60,015,977

53,289,548

Fermoy Town Council

331,376

1,019,518

884,607

571,000

1,158,450

Mallow Town Council

914,000

833,587

846,640

1,491,082

2,104,588

Cobh Town Council

699,849

859,148

1,264,197

1,251,569

1,250,000

Kinsale Town Council

1,137,287

74,728

0

791,203

751,741

Macroom Town Council

902,892

1,040,630

864,252

1,500,000

1,500,000

Midleton Town Council

150,000

218,000

0

271,971

1,035,300

Youghal Town Council

664,470

2,432,295

1,547,146

1,526,907

1,635,165

Clonakilty Town Council

2,602

0

2,509,084

2,352,139

1,439,167

Skibbereen Town Council

279,223

188,176

1,112,958

765,215

1,250,000

Donegal County Council

27,408,134

29,281,024

30,697,192

21,806,687

23,894,458

Buncrana Town Council

660,040

4,198,242

5,370,354

734,534

1,920,650

Bundoran Town Council

295,068

1,723,100

783,876

507,500

0

Letterkenny Town Council

1,880,000

6,602,745

8,301,126

4,991,633

5,000,000

Dublin City Council

113,698,698

92,920,911

128,093,708

110,278,188

155,192,333

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

17,277,689

16,003,358

32,170,021

17,619,650

29,000,000

Fingal County Council

29,952,793

27,906,174

35,267,319

20,339,823

24,877,234

Galway City Council

6,305,648

9,959,538

15,601,162

29,713,483

27,853,820

Galway County Council

10,239,636

13,166,447

26,620,653

25,999,704

22,500,000

Ballinasloe Town Council

902,142

1,268,555

570,955

241,128

1,500,000

Kerry County Council

17,491,455

19,115,738

20,494,782

17,557,686

15,552,951

Killarney Town Council

1,653,898

1,928,894

0

3,155,184

2,750,000

Listowel Town Council

297,913

1,275,000

791,353

1,288,573

1,162,019

Tralee Town Council

8,761,626

13,140,045

8,375,740

11,339,857

10,500,000

Kildare County Council

14,003,786

29,527,329

32,206,139

40,663,760

45,000,000

Athy Town Council

887,900

3,806,312

1,848,407

1,859,720

3,740,652

Naas Town Council

1,415,789

1,097,982

454,792

0

2,199,207

Kilkenny County Council

8,617,571

10,470,872

20,678,866

19,594,098

22,808,758

Kilkenny Borough Council

4,712,988

5,097,649

4,635,660

5,846,712

2,605,450

Laois County Council

19,655,176

29,357,308

22,183,328

24,025,665

20,000,610

Leitrim County Council

5,204,530

4,552,599

3,885,817

3,051,014

4,481,652

Limerick City Council

7,401,674

3,998,147

6,805,434

11,020,566

17,989,258

Limerick County Council

15,779,012

17,861,714

14,175,347

16,001,690

15,085,899

Longford County Council

14,012,262

15,737,068

18,592,974

10,916,385

10,900,000

Longford Town Council

1,433,433

2,706,797

1,697,175

5,700,091

5,600,000

Louth County Council

5,979,600

8,280,535

16,525,339

20,944,904

18,138,347

Drogheda Borough Council

8,700,980

5,451,363

11,963,730

12,508,074

11,871,500

Dundalk Town Council

15,501,833

15,296,820

8,901,791

5,543,344

7,500,000

Mayo County Council

9,395,402

8,800,029

10,388,011

8,307,347

12,750,000

Ballina Town Council

1,114,680

320,000

625,115

307,200

1,118,908

Castlebar Town Council

712,772

0

199,985

2,354,590

3,850,000

Westport Town Council

200,000

487,986

1,477,738

2,571,294

2,250,000

Meath County Council

17,467,201

15,671,670

13,563,006

25,000,929

25,103,346

Kells Town Council

0

74,019

0

0

0

Navan Town Council

381,877

0

0

0

0

Trim Town Council

0

0

0

0

0

Monaghan County Council

4,626,738

8,100,438

5,871,970

5,723,966

6,000,000

Carrickmacross Town Council

621,565

467,837

626,844

587,822

988,175

Castleblayney Town Council

100,000

998,304

1,022,432

0

996,612

Clones Town Council

100,000

167,000

433,069

2,068,100

2,000,000

Monaghan Town Council

0

2,892,617

1,712,799

2,909,850

3,500,150

Offaly County Council

4,854,293

9,110,952

8,980,476

8,417,897

8,243,205

Birr Town Council

288,011

1,231,109

2,898,156

3,556,713

2,279,094

Tullamore Town Council

1,375,585

1,903,429

4,893,941

8,545,125

7,121,191

Roscommon County Council

4,603,921

15,816,956

9,621,228

9,996,248

8,000,000

Sligo County Council

6,269,243

9,263,449

10,304,412

7,489,612

9,936,665

Sligo Borough Council

6,353,431

8,949,027

4,190,654

12,421,125

11,750,000

South Dublin County Council

59,974,728

91,554,691

51,153,230

75,017,006

32,717,919

North Tipperary Co. Cl.

6,255,525

7,379,559

7,898,692

5,197,822

6,409,223

Nenagh Town Council

1,125,566

0

0

1,467,426

2,500,000

Templemore Town Council

115,000

268,050

168,244

178,465

1,500,000

Thurles Town Council

3,723,793

982,611

554,074

1,520,400

2,000,000

South Tipperary Co. Cl.

4,984,595

5,967,742

11,344,475

10,897,292

13,591,747

Carrick-on Suir Town Council

400,000

182,945

1,229,254

2,403,103

2,000,000

Cashel Town Council

900,000

664,963

1,750,410

1,753,790

499,933

Clonmel Borough Co.

4,550,000

1,038,229

2,205,341

3,250,000

2,500,000

Tipperary Town Council

656,000

1,211,200

3,682,845

3,454,590

2,507,922

Waterford City Council

9,398,107

9,436,473

20,086,640

22,000,000

20,802,985

Waterford County Council

8,562,294

12,265,858

11,678,595

12,281,763

10,499,999

Dungarvan Town Council

631,830

4,070,000

6,489,000

3,293,000

2,000,000

Westmeath County Council

6,687,424

8,750,858

12,151,986

13,784,809

13,500,000

Athlone Town Council

1,357,500

1,135,772

984,311

2,830,106

2,327,034

Wexford County Council

20,521,000

23,740,815

17,147,033

19,593,652

21,794,406

Enniscorthy Town Council

1,701,126

1,023,300

3,601,037

4,870,632

3,856,497

New Ross Town Council

3,987,195

3,363,900

2,335,872

5,364,897

4,233,631

Wexford Borough Council

2,793,873

1,816,547

5,244,689

4,349,746

4,133,987

Wicklow County Council

18,928,374

27,742,652

26,745,909

24,049,794

20,037,940

Arklow Town Council

600,000

986,359

0

739,320

1,868,925

Bray Town Council

2,510,717

4,159,978

4,353,690

2,059,506

8,020,112

Wicklow Town Council

5,841,806

2,132,497

0

1,735,475

2,500,000

TOTAL

702,739,974

833,692,272

940,225,258

940,041,951

978,631,660

Table 2: Voluntary/Co-Operative Housing Supply

Local Authority

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Carlow County Council

30,000

5,905,000

4,737,831

1,661,737

13,434,085

Cavan County Council

37,873

935,556

2,052,879

2,011,087

2,620,441

Clare County Council

581,732

1,719,413

5,538,574

2,367,366

8,288,094

Cork City Council

13,644,556

15,851,759

4,012,640

7,746,147

12,239,619

Cork County Council (S)

2,720,138

3,092,840

13,735,156

7,621,805

19,113,980

Cork County Council (N)

3,692,387

4,730,249

4,707,273

10,700,871

13,371,790

Cork County Council (W)

1,054,786

487,000

1,280,164

1,152,669

0

Donegal County Council

7,189,641

5,263,858

11,713,771

13,671,710

17,183,426

Dublin City Council

24,793,828

19,056,148

19,286,729

85,340,338

80,528,256

Dublin South Co. Cl.

18,908,636

19,810,823

10,879,262

6,511,288

19,111,716

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council

4,801,735

10,777,210

8,650,581

17,810,307

48,343,118

Fingal County Council

16,278,523

12,258,021

10,540,936

13,297,721

17,227,886

Galway City Council

10,349,528

941,068

3,480,008

1,217,912

160,213

Galway County Council

5,343,231

752,915

2,301,654

935,350

1,504,710

Kerry County Council

4,816,585

3,776,021

2,465,000

9,334,512

12,388,005

Kildare County Council

9,536,133

7,724,549

8,637,153

1,381,820

15,659,111

Kilkenny County Council

2,816,374

2,124,634

2,545,728

4,324,352

3,133,989

Laois County Council

5,525,140

4,881,687

6,469,148

6,460,956

15,155,657

Leitrim County Council

1,506,787

1,108,899

392,812

2,825,440

199,426

Limerick City Council

1,630,020

233,400

2,550,896

2,720,756

938,808

Limerick County Council

5,536,947

6,637,741

7,641,028

3,529,835

7,011,667

Longford County Council

291,900

321,041

381,854

1,221,000

11,361,772

Louth County Council

747,888

11,693

159,010

0

0

Mayo County Council

4,868,477

3,979,563

6,635,198

8,075,110

6,911,242

Meath Co. Cl.

127,450

698,425

6,666,891

3,089,355

3,203,121

Monaghan County Council

6,936,188

7,327,174

1,561,572

624,584

5,727,538

Offaly County Council

3,093,835

344,263

4,033,218

4,659,221

7,261,843

Roscommon Co. Cl.

1,083,359

1,001,446

666,917

1,759,247

1,883,210

Sligo Co. Cl.

598,143

351,631

0

0

680,000

Tipperary {N} Co. Cl.

1,573,184

980,889

726,780

10,306,744

13,491,336

Tipperary {S} Co. Cl.

5,182,131

7,685,452

9,195,000

9,121,806

3,170,820

Waterford Co Cl.

101,382

3,196,497

865,352

1,043,359

4,516,522

Waterford City Council

1,970,208

296,954

6,176,045

12,980,340

2,871,350

Westmeath County Council

646,962

234,677

2,994,306

3,870,082

920,800

Wexford Co. Cl.

4,503,696

715,447

909,389

397,983

2,637,135

Wicklow County Council

659,747

60,434

1,964,409

257,210

4,431,042

Dundalk Town Council

5,037,760

4,739,620

3,490,987

5,283,697

8,376,866

Drogheda Town Council

0

0

2,170,000

8,428,000

8,988,000

Sligo Town Council

31,521

0

0

0

1,324,867

Wexford Town Council

591,280

84,930

0

0

0

Athlone Town Council

82,613

0

690,390

22,795

767,810

TOTAL

182,522,304

160,098,927

182,906,541

273,764,512

396,139,271

Question No. 280 answered with Question No. 140.

Fire Stations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

281 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his future plans for the development of the fire services with particular reference to the need to upgrade the part-time services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36328/09]

The provision of a fire service, including equipment and personnel, is a statutory function of the individual fire authorities under section 10 of the Fire Services Act 1981. Issues relating to the recruitment and employment conditions of fire fighters are matters for the local authority under the Local Government Act 2001. The Department supports local fire authorities through the setting of general policy, the provision of capital funding, the issue of guidance to fire authorities in relation to fire prevention, training support and operational matters and other such initiatives.

Waste Management.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

282 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his current or proposed policy in respect of waste management; if he will proceed with the options available to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36329/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

288 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his current or expected policy in relation to landfill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36335/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 282 and 288 together.

The Programme for Government published in 2007 contained a commitment to establish new ambitious waste management targets for maximum prevention, re-use, recycling and modern waste treatment to ensure that we match the best performance in the EU for recycling with the objective that only 10% of waste or less is consigned to landfill and to ensure that the landfills currently provided for under regional waste management plans should be the last to be constructed for a generation. The reviewed Programme for Government underlines the Government's commitment to ensuring that Ireland reaches its ambitious targets in waste management.

In addition, the Programme contained a commitment to carry out an international review of waste management plans, practices and procedures and act on its conclusions. This review is currently underway and a significant milestone was reached last week when consultants delivered a major international report on waste management policy. My Department is currently examining this report and its recommendations which will be central to informing what further measures may be necessary to underpin sustainable waste management services, whether delivered by the private or public sectors. Ireland must also meet challenging targets under the EU Landfill Directive for the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill. Meeting this obligation will entail doubling the existing level of diversion from landfill by 2010 and further increases in diversion in subsequent years.

Following extensive consultation, the National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste was published in April 2006 and is aimed at diverting 80% of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill through segregated collection and the generation of compost. I have also indicated my intention to introduce primary legislation to allow significant increases in the landfill levy. My Department, in addition, has initiated a public consultation on a Statutory Instrument which will require the source segregation and appropriate treatment of food waste arising from commercial premises.

Last year, I issued a circular to all local authorities to drive forward the roll out of brown bins and promote the use of home composting and the National Waste Report 2007 indicates increased quantities are being dealt with by home composting. I am confident that all of the above measures will contribute significantly to the achievement of the targets for the diversion of biodegradable waste from landfill and a reduction in our overall use of landfill.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

283 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the degree to which Ireland is currently compliant with the parameters of the Kyoto agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36330/09]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 402 of 8 July 2009, which sets out the overall position in relation to greenhouse gas emissions for purposes of Kyoto Protocol compliance over the period 2008 – 2012.

Election Management System.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

284 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position in regard to the electronic voting technology; if all or any of the equipment has been sold off, remains in storage or has been otherwise disposed of; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36331/09]

On 23 April 2009, I announced that the Government had decided not to proceed with implementation of electronic voting in Ireland. Since then, a process has been put in place to address the issues that arise from the decision. An Interdepartmental Task Force, chaired by my Department, has been established to bring the project to an orderly conclusion and to oversee disposal of the equipment and termination of storage arrangements. The first meeting of the Task Force was in July 2009.

In considering options for disposal of the equipment, the priority is to pursue the most economically advantageous approach, with a view to achieving the maximum recovery of cost possible in the circumstances, consistent with environmental and other obligations. Detailed consideration of all relevant factors is underway to inform the manner in which disposal of the machines will be effected. This includes contact with the original suppliers of the machines.

In 2007, over 60% of the machines (4,762 in total) were moved from 12 local storage locations to a central facility at Gormanston Army Camp. The remaining machines are stored at 13 local premises that were originally identified by Returning Officers for this purpose. It is intended that all machines will be removed from their present locations when arrangements for disposal are implemented.

Local Government Reform.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

285 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the commitment by his predecessor during the passage of legislation to abolish the dual mandate to the effect that Houses of the Oireachtas Members would be granted the same access to local authorities as they had previously; if he is satisfied that this is happening; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36332/09]

Regulations made under the Local Government Act 2001 (Section 237A) Regulations 2003 established requirements for local authorities to ensure that information regarding local authority activities is provided to members of the Oireachtas. These include: the local authority budget, draft development plan etc. It is a matter for each local authority to deal with requests for access to information by a parliamentary representative as expeditiously as possible and in accordance with a proper level of customer service. In this regard local authorities are required to put in place arrangements to ensure that systems, procedures and time frames equivalent to those used by them in relation to correspondence from local authority members also apply in respect of parliamentary representatives.

My Department has gathered information from local authorities on a periodic basis, most recently in March 2009, on the practical application of the arrangements established by the above Regulations. Based on the information received, I understand that local authorities are generally complying with these arrangements. However, I will continue to monitor their operation.

Question No. 286 answered with Question No. 140.

Planning Issues.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

287 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way it is expected that de-zoning of lands proposed for residential purposes will be of benefit to house purchasers since a reduction in available zoned land is likely to result in higher house prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36334/09]

Section 10(8) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 already contains a provision to the effect that there should be no presumption in law that any land zoned in a particular development plan should remain so zoned in any subsequent development plan. The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill makes no change to this provision.

As stated in reply to Question No. 146 on today's Order Paper, the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 will address land use zoning reform through requiring an evidence-based core strategy in development plans which must provide information on how the plan and the housing strategy are consistent with regional planning guidelines and with the National Spatial Strategy. The core strategy will outline the location, quantum, and phasing of proposed development over the period of the plan as well as details of transport plans and retail development and proposals for development in rural areas where appropriate. This more strategic approach to zoning should facilitate development to take place in a phased and sequential manner and will enable the State to coordinate and deliver the necessary infrastructure and services with much greater certainty and more efficiency.

In addition, my Department's Development Plan Guidelines (2007) already clearly state that, in setting objectives for the zoning of land, an appropriate balance needs to be struck between:

making sure that enough land is zoned to meet the anticipated economic and social development needs and to allow for an element of choice over the plan period and for a reasonable period (e.g. 3 years) beyond, and

avoiding the zoning of too much land, thereby creating a situation where priorities for development are not clear and where as a result it is difficult to secure an orderly and progressive approach to the development of that area, particularly in the provision of essential infrastructure and services.

Question No. 288 answered with Question No. 282.

Flood Relief.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

289 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he will take to prevent flooding with particular reference to the need for ongoing drainage relating to the water table; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36336/09]

The draft Guidelines for Planning Authorities on the Planning System and Flood Risk Management are aimed at ensuring a more consistent, rigorous and systematic approach to flood risk identification, assessment and management within the planning system. The draft guidelines provide that:

development in areas at risk of flooding, particularly flood plains, should be avoided unless there are wider sustainability grounds that justify appropriate development and where the risk can be reduced or managed to an acceptable level;

a sequential approach must be adopted to flood risk management when assessing the location of new development based on avoidance, reduction and mitigation of flood risk; and

flood risk assessment must be incorporated into the process of making decisions on planning applications and planning appeals.

Therefore, the draft guidelines provide the basis for planning authorities to identify, assess and take appropriate steps to manage flood risk in a sustainable manner. The draft guidelines are being finalised by my Department, in conjunction with the OPW, having regard to the submissions received on foot of a public consultation process, and I expect to issue finalised statutory guidance very shortly.

In addition, where my Department provides funding for local authority sewerage schemes in urban areas, these schemes may, on occasion, provide limited measures to prevent flooding where inadequate collection networks exist. These schemes may also provide storm water drains and outfalls, to facilitate the separation of foul and surface water, to create additional capacity within existing combined systems.

Question No. 290 answered with Question No. 158.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Noel Coonan

Question:

291 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on selecting County Tipperary for the use of its renewable energy resources following a joint submission made to the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Job Creation by North Tipperary County Council and South Tipperary County Council; the feasibility of locating renewable energy projects in the Tipperary renewable energy area, including the establishment of a solarteur school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36048/09]

The Government is committed to developing both domestic and commercial scale renewable technologies and has introduced a range of measures designed to increase market penetration of renewable energy in the heat, transport and electricity sectors. The grant programmes are not specific to any one county but are open to anyone who can fulfil the required criteria. The Deputy will also be aware that the another project in the same Local Authority Area, Cloughjordan Eco Village, has been in receipt of funding under both the House of Tomorrow Programme and the general Renewable Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Programme.

The programme aimed at domestic renewable heating is the Greener Homes Scheme (GHS), which is administered by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), and provides grant support to individuals wishing to install renewable energy heating technologies in their homes. This scheme, in operation since early 2006, has already established a very strong supply industry for renewable energy products, services and fuels while the application of strict product standards and installer training and quality schemes has ensured that consumers are informed in relation to their choices. All installers must be registered with SEI, be qualified and certified in each technology that they are registered in and have achieved certification from an accredited training course in each of the technology areas they wish to work in.

In order to qualify as a registered installer, including for Solar, technicians have to complete a training course with FÁS, which is available at 8 locations around the country, including County Tipperary.

Telecommunications Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

292 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his policy on the use of smart repeaters in the broadband supply; if these are readily available for private customers or only for broadband companies; their effectiveness in boosting the broadband signal; if broadband customers are entitled to request them; when they will be rolled out nationally to allow persons in rural areas to have increased broadband access; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36042/09]

Decisions on the use and effectiveness of smart repeaters and on their deployment in the provision of broadband are a matter for service providers. I have no function in the matter.

Compensation Schemes.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

293 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of applicants who applied for the lost at sea scheme; the number who were successful in their application; the amount of compensation paid under the scheme; the qualifying criteria for eligibility under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36005/09]

In all, there were 68 applicants under the Lost at Sea Scheme by the closing date of 31 December 2001. Six of the 68 applicants qualified under the terms of the Lost at Sea Scheme. The scheme did not provide monetary compensation or financial support for the acquisition of a fishing vessel itself and the capacity (i.e. gross tonnage and engine power) given under the strict terms of the scheme could not be sold on or otherwise traded or realized as a financial asset in the tonnage market.

Fishing Vessels Lost at Sea — Criteria for Considering Applications for Replacement Capacity:

The capacity of a vessel which was lost at sea before the coming into operation of the Register set up by the 1989 Regulations will, as an entirely exceptional measure, be accepted as replacement capacity provided that the Department is fully satisfied, by reference to appropriate documentary evidence, that: (a) the applicant was the owner and skipper of a registered Irish sea boat which was lost at sea; (b) the boat in question was lost at sea after 1 January 1980 as a result of an accident, and that such loss has been verified by the emergency services or another independent source acceptable to the Department; (c) the boat in question is shown, by reference to log sheet returns or other appropriate records, to have been in active and continuous use for a considerable period of years by the person concerned for sea fishing of a category now covered by the replacement policy rules, until its loss at sea; (d) the lost vessel was the sole means (i.e. the only vessel) of the applicant for engaging in sea fishing; (e) the applicant was unable, for verified financial or related reasons, to acquire a replacement vessel, or any other registered vessel, before the introduction of the new Register pursuant to the 1989 Regulations; (f) the applicant has been unable also, for verified financial or related reasons, since the inception of the new registration system, to acquire a fishing vessel to engage in sea fishing of the same class or description as was carried out by the vessel lost at sea, or any other sea fishing vessel which is subject to the replacement policy regime; (g) the applicant did not receive any financial benefit from the loss.

The capacity of a fishing vessel lost at sea will be accepted as replacement capacity for licensing purposes only if it is to be used for the purposes of sustaining or maintaining a family tradition of sea fishing. Any capacity accepted as replacement capacity must, therefore, be used for the purposes of introducing a replacement for the lost vessel which will be owned and skippered by the applicant or by an immediate relation of the applicant. Any capacity from a lost vessel so used may not be sold or otherwise disposed of.

Applications under the scheme must be received by 31 December 2001.

Grant Payments.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

294 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment under the REP scheme will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [36012/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications, including plan checks, to be completed before the first 2009 payments issue. Processing of applications, including the application from the person named, has commenced to facilitate the release of payments at the earliest possible date.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

295 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kerry was not notified that they were randomly selected for satellite inspections, although they have not received payment nor has the satellite inspection been done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36023/09]

The application under the 2009 Single Payment Scheme by the person named was selected for inspection by way of satellite imagery. Such inspections are carried out on a number of applications each year in order to meet the EU requirements for payment under the Single Payment Scheme. Applicants are not notified of this type of inspection. This inspection is in the process of being finalised and the payments due will issue as soon as possible.

Mattie McGrath

Question:

296 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the area aid premiums will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary in view of the fact that the delay in payment is causing hardship; if he will ensure this payment will be awarded as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36083/09]

An application under the 2009 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 14 May 2009. Payments under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme commenced on 22 September, with payments issuing in respect of those cases cleared for payment at that stage. Payments continue to issue, as outstanding issues are resolved. The Single Payment Scheme will commence payments from the 16 October on a continuous basis. The application of the person named has now been fully processed and payment will issue shortly.

Mattie McGrath

Question:

297 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the area aid premiums will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary in view of the fact that the delay is causing hardship; if he will ensure this payment will be awarded as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36084/09]

An application under the 2009 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 13 May 2009. Payments under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme commenced on 22 September, with payments issuing in respect of those cases cleared for payment at that stage. Payments continue to issue as outstanding issues are resolved. The application of the person named has now been fully processed and payment will issue shortly.

Michael Creed

Question:

298 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if an application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork under REPS 4 has been approved; if so, when the payment will be awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36099/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications, including plan checks, to be completed before the first 2009 payments issue. Processing of applications, including the application from the person named, has commenced to facilitate the release of payments at the earliest possible date.

John Perry

Question:

299 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will intercede on behalf of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo whose application under the suckler welfare scheme was refused on the grounds that the information on one of the tag numbers was incorrect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36102/09]

The person named has five animals for consideration under the 2008 Suckler Welfare Scheme. Under the rules of the scheme, meal must be introduced to calves a minimum of four weeks before weaning. According to the dates provided by the person named the rule has not been complied with. A letter issued to the person named on 15 September 2009, informing him that the five animals had been rejected for payment and advising him of his right of appeal. No appeal has been received to date.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

300 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a REPS 4 payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36122/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications, including plan checks, to be completed before the first 2009 payments issue. Processing of applications, including the application from the person named, has commenced to facilitate the release of payments at the earliest possible date.

Question No. 301 withdrawn.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

302 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a REPS 4 application will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; if this file has been processed for payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36129/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications, including plan checks, to be completed before the first 2009 payments issue. Processing of applications, including the application from the person named, has commenced to facilitate the release of payments at the earliest possible date.

EU Directives.

Simon Coveney

Question:

303 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on extending the period for spreading slurry by two weeks until the end of October 2009 in order to allow farmers the time to spread slurry while conditions remain suitable on dry ground. [36136/09]

The prohibited period for the spreading of slurry commences on 15th October in all parts of the country as required by the Nitrates Regulations (SI No. 101 of 2009). These Regulations are a matter in the first instance for my colleague the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The planned review of Ireland's Nitrates Action Programme in 2010 will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to put forward their views on the question of the most appropriate dates for the prohibited periods for spreading fertilisers that are a mandatory requirement under the EU Nitrates Directive.

Grant Payments.

Michael Creed

Question:

304 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive their installation aid payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36139/09]

The person concerned is an applicant under the young farmers installation scheme. Payment will issue when it has been confirmed that all qualifying conditions have been met.

Farm Retirement Scheme.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

305 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the proposed guidelines for a scheme (details supplied); if he will define a hardship case on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36155/09]

I have reopened the Early Retirement Scheme until 30 October 2009 with a view to accepting as many as possible of those applications that were completed or close to completion at the time entry to the scheme was suspended on 14 October 2008. In processing these applications, my Department will give priority to those applications which have leases or deeds of transfer stamped by the Revenue Commissioners before 14 October 2008. After that, and subject to the funds available, priority will be determined by reference to the date on which the lease or deed of transfer was stamped.

Farm Waste Management.

Joe McHugh

Question:

306 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of slatted houses built here under the farm waste management scheme on a county basis in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36163/09]

The number of slatted houses grant aided, to date, in each county under the Farm Waste Management Scheme since the introduction of the Scheme in 2001 is set out in the following table:

County

Slatted Houses

Carlow

241

Cavan

1,445

Clare

1,488

Cork

2,254

Donegal

1,593

Dublin

12

Galway

2,035

Kerry

1,419

Kildare

142

Kilkenny

930

Laois

422

Leitrim

841

Limerick

856

Longford

490

Louth

186

Mayo

1,632

Meath

475

Monaghan

1,557

Offaly

493

Roscommon

1,412

Sligo

772

Tipperary

1,349

Waterford

351

Westmeath

432

Wexford

538

Wicklow

282

Total

23,647

Decentralisation Programme.

Ulick Burke

Question:

307 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the estimated cost of the proposed transfer of staff and facilities from the Dockgate Centre, Galway to Mellows College, Athenry; the proposed staff numbers to be accommodated; the time frame for the proposed move; the cost, in relation to cessation of the existing facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36173/09]

On 15 July last, the Government approved my plan for a reorganisation of my Department's Local Office Network. The plan involves reducing from 57 to 16 the number of offices from which the Department will operate District Veterinary, Forestry and Agricultural Environment and Structures support services in the future. This will result in a reduction of some 400 in the number of staff working in my Department and yield significant savings for the exchequer. As part of this overall reorganisation 74 staff will be relocated to Mellows College, Athenry and three offices currently occupied by the Department in County Galway will be closed. Apart from furnishing and minor costs associated with the transfer of files, etc., there are minimal other costs associated with the move from Dockgate Centre, Galway to Mellows College, Athenry. There are no costs associated with the cessation of the existing facilities at Dockgate Centre as the Office of Public Works has identified an alternative use for that premises. While this reorganisation will yield significant savings for the Exchequer, no staff will be made redundant.

Higher Education.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

308 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science if the strategy group on higher education will report to him by the end of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36013/09]

As the Deputy is aware, I have asked a high level strategy group under the chairmanship of Dr. Colin Hunt to review the operation of the higher education sector and to engage in a process of formulating a comprehensive vision for the sector and developing a strategic road map that will enable the system to respond to the continually evolving demands of Irish society and the economy. A vibrant responsive higher education system will be crucially important in terms of Ireland's future development and the strategy group is cognisant of the need to fully engage with all stakeholders in the sector and wider society. A first round of consultation was completed in the summer under which an open call for written submissions elicited a significant and valuable response. More than 100 submissions were received and are available on the HEA website,www.hea.ie. I understand that the group is planning to undertake additional detailed consultations to fully inform the development of the new strategy. I expect that the overall process of finalising the strategy report will be completed early in the new year.

Special Educational Needs.

Dan Neville

Question:

309 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [36016/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education is responsible, through its network of local special educational needs organisers for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants to schools to support children with special educational needs. The council operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. All schools have the names and contact details of their local organiser. Parents may also contact their local organiser directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available onwww.ncse.ie. I have arranged for the details supplied by the Deputy to be forwarded to the council for its attention and direct reply.

Schools Refurbishment.

Michael Noonan

Question:

310 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will sanction a programme of refurbishment and development at a school (details supplied) in County Limerick forwarded to his Department by the board of management of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36019/09]

A major capital project for the school to which the Deputy refers is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction is dependent on the prioritisation of competing demands on the funding available under the Department's capital budget. The proposed project will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual school building and modernisation programme for 2010 and subsequent years. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the delivery of the project at this time. Earlier this year, the school made two applications to my Department for the replacement of boilers, the replacement of windows and the insulation of a technical graphics room. Both applications were approved and the school has since drawn down funding in respect of these works. An application under the summer works scheme 2009 for an intercom system was also approved.

School Accommodation.

John Cregan

Question:

311 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Education and Science when the schedule of accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Limerick will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36020/09]

The project to which the Deputy refers is at an early stage of architectural planning. The schedule of accommodation has been revised to include an autistic spectrum disorder unit. The revised schedule has been forwarded to the board of management and the design team. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction is dependent on the prioritisation of competing demands on the funding available under the Department's capital budget. The proposed building project will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual school building and modernisation programme for 2010 and subsequent years. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the delivery of the project at this time.

Schools Refurbishment.

John McGuinness

Question:

312 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Science if an application under the emergency works scheme made by a school (details supplied) in County Carlow will be expedited and approved. [36028/09]

While my Department has no record of an application for emergency funding from the school to which the Deputy refers, the school made an application for funding to my Department under its temporary accommodation scheme. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that funding has been approved for the school under this scheme to either purchase or build two 80 sq. m. classrooms. This will allow the school to replace existing prefabs and to re-configure the use of its existing mainstream accommodation. The school will receive a formal letter of approval shortly. The school can apply for summer works scheme funding to carry out improvement works to its permanent structure when the scheme for 2010 is announced later this year.

Denominational Schools.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

313 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of the Committee on Management for Protestant Schools (details supplied) regarding the decision to remove the majority of these schools from the free education scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36032/09]

Jack Wall

Question:

318 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied); his plans to meet with this group; if he will address its concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36156/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 313 and 318 together.

I am in receipt of correspondence from the group to which the Deputies refer. I have arranged to meet the group in the next two weeks to discuss its concerns about the future funding arrangements for Protestant secondary schools.

School Transport.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

314 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Science if a person (details supplied) in County Meath who is availing of the post-primary school transport scheme is entitled to get a bus home under this scheme after 5 p.m. each evening in view of the fact that they are doing evening study at school. [36036/09]

Bus Éireann is responsible for the day-to-day operation of school transport services throughout the country. This is a complex national operation operating during each school year supporting in the region of 75,000 post primary pupils, 52,000 primary and 8,000 special needs pupils. The majority of pupils are allocated a reserved seat on a dedicated contracted service with approximately 9,000 pupils, generally residing in urban areas and environs, using regular public transport services where these exist. A separate payment is made by the Department in respect of those pupils travelling on such regular transport services.

Children travelling under the school transport scheme on either dedicated school transport services or general public scheduled services are provided with seats to and from schools. This arrangement enables children to attend classes during normal school hours. A school transport ticket is not a general commuter ticket that is valid on all regular public transport services at all times and it is not offered as such. Given the numbers being transported nationally, it would not be possible without incurring additional expenditure to offer the flexibility to all eligible pupils to travel on the regular public transport services, other than in accordance with the terms specified on their tickets.

Site Acquisitions.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

315 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Education and Science when the capital costs owing to Westmeath County Council for the provision of a site in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be awarded. [36037/09]

The site for the school referred to by the Deputy was acquired by way of a swap of lands between the Department and Westmeath County Council. Agreement, in principle, was reached between the Department and the Council in relation to the Department's contribution towards the provision of services/road infrastructure. I have requested my officials to make contact with the Council to ascertain the current position with regard to the issue raised by the Deputy.

Schools Building Projects.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

316 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the refurbishment application by a school (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36038/09]

An application for large scale capital funding from the school to which the Deputy refers has been assessed by the Planning and Building Unit of my Department. It has been assigned a band 2 rating under the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects. Due to the inclusion of part of the existing school building on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, it is necessary to appoint a Conservation Architect to the project. Tenders have been received for this appointment and these are currently being reviewed by my Department's Technical Staff, following which the appointment of a Conversation Architect will be finalised. Following the outcome of the Conservation Architect's Report, further progression of this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

317 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of a school building project (details supplied) in Dublin 12; if he will expedite the building of classrooms and a sports hall, promised since 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36120/09]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned an appropriate band rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, are now available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on my Department's website.

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

Question No. 318 answered with Question No. 313.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

319 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Science if he is progressing plans for the delivery of a post-primary school at a location (details supplied) in County Kildare in conjunction with County Kildare Vocational Educational Committee; the status of this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36161/09]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a Band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, are now available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on my Department's website.

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

Róisín Shortall

Question:

320 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding premises for a school (details supplied) in Dublin 11; the status of plans to relocate this school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36164/09]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a Band 1 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, are now available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on my Department's website.

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

Site Acquisitions.

Ulick Burke

Question:

321 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress made by him in the acquisition of a site for the new second level school at Kinvara, County Galway; the details of the temporary lease of existing facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36169/09]

The position regarding the permanent building on the site will be considered in the context of the Department's Multi- Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. As the Deputy will be aware, the Trustees of Seamount College, Kinvara have agreed in principle to enter into a lease arrangement with my Department for the existing school building and site. My Department is in ongoing discussions with the CSSO in order to regularise the Lease arrangement as a matter of urgency.

Schools Building Projects.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

322 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the construction of a new school (details supplied) in County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36180/09]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a Band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, are now available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on my Department's website.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from site acquisition and initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time. In the meantime, in July of this year, the Planning and Building Unit of my Department gave its approval to the Board of Management to submit proposals to re-locate the school to alternative accommodation. It is awaiting these proposals which will be looked at as sympathetically as possible in the context of the funding available.

Higher Education Grants.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

323 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath applying for a higher education maintenance grant; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this individual’s first qualification is in the construction industry which has no economic future in the medium term; the reason many people who are out of work are barred from retraining and upskilling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36182/09]

My Department has received an appeal from the candidate referred to by the Deputy which is currently under review and it is anticipated a reply will issue to the student shortly. It is open to unemployed people to apply for places on further and higher education programmes. In addition, since the beginning of the year the Government has launched a number of new initiatives to support unemployed people return to education and engage in upskilling. In the further education sector, the Government has provided an additional 1,500 PLC places, bringing the total number of PLC places to 31,688 nationwide. In the higher education sector 2,500 places have been provided on part-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses for people who are unemployed. This scheme is open to people who have been on the Live Register for at least six months or who have been awarded statutory redundancy and participants are entitled to retain their social welfare payments.

Other initiatives in the higher education sector include 280 places on a range of newly developed accelerated Level 6 Certificate programmes and over 900 places on a range of newly developed part-time transition programmes. The accelerated and transition courses were targeted specifically at unemployed people and the institutes of technology that were running the programmes worked closely with local FÁS and Department of Social and Family Affairs offices both in terms of marketing the courses and advising participants of their entitlements in relation to social welfare payments. Up to 700 additional training places are also being made available for redundant apprentices under a new Redundant Apprentice Institute of Technology Training Scheme. The purpose of this initiative to provide an opportunity to redundant apprentices who cannot otherwise secure the job placements required in order to complete their normal apprenticeship programme, to acquire additional certified skills in the education sector.

Billy Timmins

Question:

324 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to illness benefit when applying for the special rate of maintenance for third level grant applications; if this will be included; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36188/09]

The report of the Action Group on Access to Third Level Education made detailed recommendations concerning the introduction of special rates of maintenance grants for disadvantaged students. The target group of "those most in need" was defined in terms of the dependants of people receiving long-term welfare payments, where the necessary conditions are fulfilled.

To qualify for the Special Rate of maintenance grant, an applicant must qualify for the ordinary maintenance grant in respect of the 2009/10 academic year. In addition, total reckonable income must not exceed a specified amount, which is €22,308 in the 2008 tax year. Finally, on the operative date, 31st December 2008 for the 2009/10 academic year, the reckonable income must include one of the eligible long-term Social Welfare payments prescribed under the scheme. Illness Benefit is considered to be a short-term payment and, therefore, it is not included as an eligible payment for the purposes of the special rates of maintenance grant.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses.

Willie Penrose

Question:

325 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science the approved allocation of post-leaving certificate places in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36363/09]

The number of places available under the Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) programme currently stands at 31,688. PLC places are allocated to VECs, Voluntary Secondary schools and Community and Comprehensive schools on an annual basis following an application process.

A breakdown by county of the PLC places allocated for the academic year 2009-2010 is set out in the following table.

County

2009/10 Places Approved

Cavan

1,216

Carlow

870

Clare

290

Cork

5,374

Dublin

10,915

Donegal

205

Galway

1,568

Kerry

562

Kildare

357

Kilkenny

528

Laois

370

Leitrim

108

Limerick

1,470

Longford

350

Louth

1,100

Mayo

665

Meath

328

Monaghan

278

Offaly

50

Roscommon

79

Sligo

580

Tipperary

919

Waterford

1,023

Wexford

904

Westmeath

599

Wicklow

980

Total

31,688