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 72, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 73 to 79, inclusive, answered orally.

Garda Ombudsman Commission.

Enda Kenny

Question:

80 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the budget of the office of the Garda Síochana Ombudsman for 2008 and to date in 2009; the projected budget for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40324/09]

The budget for the Garda Ombudsman Commission is provided from the Vote for the Office of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

The budget for the Garda Ombudsman Commission for 2008 was €11.645 million. During the supplementary estimates process for that year savings of approximately €1.8 million were identified yielding a final outturn figure of €9.845 million for 2008. Savings arose in 2008 for a number of reasons including, deferral of proposed works on the Garda Ombudsman Commission's accommodation, savings achieved in the purchase of IT software and IT training and legal costs being less than originally anticipated.

The budget for the Garda Ombudsman Commission for 2009 is €11.058 million. The 2009 outturn is expected to be on a par with 2008.

As the Deputy will be aware, a significant reduction in public expenditure for 2009 and 2010 must be achieved. No area can expect to escape the impact of these cuts. Next year's budget for the Garda Ombudsman Commission is still being considered in the context of the preparation of the 2010 estimates for the wider Justice Vote. At this stage I am not in a position to give a figure in this regard.

Prison Committals.

Shane McEntee

Question:

81 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of non-Irish citizens in prison here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40330/09]

It is important when examining prison statistics to bear in mind that at any time approximately 90% of the sentenced prison population is of Irish nationality. In relation to the question raised, I wish to inform the Deputy that on 6 November 2009 there were 538 non-Irish nationals in custody, including 98 on remand. This represented 13% of the prisoner population on that day.

In 2008 non-Irish nationals accounted for approximately 30% of all committals to prisons. This was down on 2007 when non-Irish nationals accounted for approximately 34% of all committals to prisons. A profile of prisoners committed in 2008 shows that 2% were from the UK, 11.2% were EU citizens, 2.5% were other Europeans, 6.9% were African, 4.7% were Asian, 1.7% were from South America and 0.2% were North American.

The 1983 Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, which is provided for in Irish legislation by virtue of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts, 1995 and 1997 provides a mechanism whereby non-nationals serving sentences in Ireland may apply to serve the remainder of their sentences in their own countries. The policy of the Convention, which is based on humanitarian considerations, is to overcome the difficulties posed for prisoners serving sentences in foreign jurisdictions, such as absence of contact with relatives and differences in languages and culture. In this regard, it has been long established Government policy that, whenever possible, prisoners should be permitted to serve their sentences close to their families. Such transfers may be facilitated where the home state of the foreign prisoner has ratified the Convention. The consent of all three parties in the process is required prior to any transfer, i.e. the sentencing state, the receiving state and the sentenced person. I decide on all such requests following the collation of a number of reports from various agencies setting out the consequences of such a transfer.

The "Council of the European Union Framework Decision on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving the deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the EU" was recently adopted. It arises from a proposal by Austria, Sweden and Finland to revise the 1983 Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

The primary purpose of this new Framework Decision is to build greater efficiency into the transfer process. The Framework Decision has been the subject of extensive negotiation at various levels within the EU in which Ireland has played an active and constructive part. However, unlike the 1983 Convention, which has international participation beyond the territory of the EU, the scope of this Framework Decision will apply only to EU Member States.

The principal changes from the 1983 Council of Europe Convention involve the removal of the requirement for the consent of the prisoner and a modification of the requirement for the consent of the receiving state in certain circumstances in order for a transfer to proceed, primarily where the prisoner is a national of the other EU State and is normally resident in that State.

My Department is currently making the necessary preparations to comply with our obligation to make provision for this new mechanism in domestic legislation by December 2011.

Joint Policing Committees.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

82 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of joint policing committees that have met to date in 2009; the number of same that have yet to meet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40311/09]

Joint Policing Committees are provided for in the Garda Síochána Act 2005. Their purpose is to provide a forum where An Garda Síochána and the local authority — the two organisations which make the most significant contribution to preventing and tackling crime in a specific area — can come together, with the participation of members of the Oireachtas and community and voluntary interests, on matters affecting the area.

During 2006 and 2007, Committees were established in 29 local authority areas in a pilot phase, prior to extending them to all 114 county, city and town council areas. The guidelines under which these operated were amended in the light of the experience gained in their operation. On 24 September, 2008 I launched, with my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the amended guidelines providing for the establishment of Committees in all 114 local authority areas by the relevant local authorities and the Garda Commissioner.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, up to the end of October 2009, Committees had been established in 93 local authority areas, representing 82% of the total. Committees remain to be established in the remaining 21 local authority areas. The process of establishing a Committee can take some time since it is necessary to select Committee members from the elected local authority members, Oireachtas members who have expressed an interest in becoming members and the community and voluntary sector in accordance with the procedures set out in the guidelines and local arrangements. Furthermore, Committees already established had to be reconstituted following the local elections last June.

The Garda Commissioner and I attach importance to the Committees and the constructive role they are playing in preventing and tackling crime in partnership.

Appointments to State Boards.

Mary Upton

Question:

83 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedures used for the selection of persons for appointment to the board of the Equality Authority; the organisations or sectors that are consulted in the selection process; the contact he has had with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions regarding the appointment of board members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40166/09]

The procedure for making appointments to the Board of the Equality Authority is set out in Part V of the Employment Equality Act 1998 as amended.

Section 44 of the Act provides that two persons (one male and one female) shall be appointed on the nomination by organisations representative of employees and two persons (one male and one female) shall be appointed on the nomination by organisations representative of employers.

The section provides that the remaining number of ordinary members of the Authority shall be such persons as appear to the Minister to be persons who have knowledge of, or experience in — (i) consumer, social affairs or equality issues, including issues relating to the experience and circumstances of groups who are disadvantaged by reference to gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin or membership of the Traveller community, (ii) issues related to the provision of goods and services, or (iii) such other subject-matter (including law, finance, management or administration) as appears to the Minister to be relevant to the issues to which the functions of the Authority relate.

Apart from the provision relating to nominations from employee or employer organisations, the Act does not list organisations or sectors to be consulted prior to the making of appointments.

Section 44 provides that where a casual vacancy occurs among any members of the Authority nominated by employee or employer organisations the Minister shall forthwith invite the organisation which made the nomination concerned to nominate a person for appointment to fill the vacancy and the Minister shall appoint to fill the vacancy the person so nominated.

When the members of the Authority appointed on the nomination of ICTU and IBEC resigned, I immediately wrote to ICTU and IBEC requesting them to nominate persons for appointment. IBEC made such nominations but ICTU have not done so to date. The General Secretary of ICTU wrote to me raising certain issues to which I have recently responded.

The Act provides that the Authority shall consist of not less than 12 and not more than 16 members. There are 13 members at present.

Garda Strength.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

84 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the garda manpower in each division following the reorganisation of the Garda divisions in 2009 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40301/09]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 30 September 2009, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of each Garda Division is set out in the table which I am circulating with this answer.

In accordance with the provisions of the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007 proposals,inter alia, to alter the boundaries of a divisional geographical area are a matter in the first instance for the Garda Commissioner in the context of the Annual Policing Plan. The 2008 Policing Plan, which was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, contained the Commissioner’s proposals to realign Garda boundaries in a number of areas around the country to make them coterminous with the functional boundaries of local authorities. The boundary changes will bring about greater efficiencies and effectiveness in facilitating the establishment and functioning of Joint Policing Committees.

A Programme Board was established by the Garda Síochána and chaired by an Assistant Commissioner to oversee the implementation. In addition, Project Boards chaired by the local Divisional officer, were established in each Division to develop tailored implementation plans. The relevant Project Boards, on which the staff associations are represented, are managing all tasks associated with each individual rollout.

Significant progress has been made to date commencing with the creation of new Divisions e.g. Louth, Wicklow and Roscommon/Longford and the rollout of re-aligned divisional boundaries across all the regions.

Division

Strength

Division

Strength

DMR East

489

DMR North

828

DMR North Central

730

DMR South

651

DMR South Central

801

DMR West

789

Kildare

326

Laois/Offaly

334

Meath

318

Westmeath

253

Wicklow

358

Cavan/Monaghan

421

Donegal

480

Louth

322

Sligo/Leitrim

311

Kilkenny/Carlow

309

Tipperary

398

Waterford

307

Wexford

291

Cork City

692

Cork North

304

Cork West

311

Kerry

345

Limerick

647

Clare

338

Galway

601

Mayo

320

Roscommon/Longford

299

Garda Transport.

Tom Hayes

Question:

85 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount that An Garda Síochana have spent on vehicles in each of the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40318/09]

The total expenditure on Garda vehicles amounts to €27.6m for each of the years 2007 and 2008 and €16.6m for this year to the end of October. These figures include the purchase of new vehicles in addition to the maintenance, repair and fuel required for the existing fleet. For the period mentioned by the Deputy almost €72m has been expended on the Garda fleet. In addition, in 2006 a major capital injection was made with the purchase of over 1,300 new vehicles at a cost of over €28.6m. This has enabled both the expansion of the fleet as well as lowering the age profile. Since September 2006 the size of the fleet has increased from 2,247 to 2,820 — an increase of 25%.

Juvenile Offenders.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

86 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on the manner whereby Garda youth diversion projects tailor their activities to ensure they address the patterns of offending behaviour in their specific area. [40298/09]

I presume the Deputy is referring to a new approach developed for Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) which is currently in the process of being implemented. This new approach was developed by the Irish Youth justice Service (IYJS) as a result of an analysis of projects which was carried out in 2008 and published earlier this year. The report on the findings, entitled "Designing effective local responses to youth crime" was drawn up to fulfil a key objective of the National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010, which was approved by Government in early 2008. Both of these documents are available on www.iyjs.ie.

Improving the effectiveness of diversionary measures is a key objective of this strategy and this report makes recommendations for the development of existing projects. The IYJS is working in partnership with An Garda Síochána in this endeavour.

These projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people from becoming involved (or further involved) in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour by providing suitable activities to facilitate personal development, promote civic responsibility and improve long-term employability prospects. By doing so, the projects also contribute to improving the quality of life within communities and enhancing Garda/community relations.

The first two GYDPs were established in Dublin in 1991 and they have expanded gradually over the intervening years to reach the current figure of 100. Essentially they provide a resource to An Garda Síochána, and to Juvenile Liaison Officers in particular, in the implementation of the Diversion Programme as set out in Part 4 of the Children Act 2001. The dispersal of GYDPs across the country and their gradual expansion through a variety of youth organisations and local community groups resulted in a varied approach across projects to their crime prevention objectives.

The report outlines three specific improvement measures for GYDPs:

1. Improved alignment of project activities with local youth crime patterns;

2. Improved service design and development, to be implemented initially in five of the projects on a trial basis; and

3. Improved knowledge and capacity across all Projects.

In addition, projects will be required to submit a detailed annual business plan which includes:

an analysis of the youth crime patterns in the project catchments area; and

a subsequent statement setting out how the project's proposed activities will impact on youth crime in the catchments area.

IYJS will require that the projects discuss and agree these items with respective local Garda management. The work of IYJS and An Garda Síochána in improving the effectiveness of the diversion projects will be monitored by the National Youth Justice Strategy Oversight Group throughout the life of the strategy.

The Deputy will be aware that GYDPs are funded by the IYJS, through An Garda Síochána.

Public Order Offences.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

87 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason existing by-laws that prohibit the public consumption of alcohol in public places are not rigidly enforced in view of the fact that groups of young people and older men regularly congregate and drink under canal bridges in areas (details supplied) in County Dublin creating antisocial behaviour including public drug taking. [40262/09]

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 introduced tougher public order provisions, allowing the Gardaí to seize alcohol from persons who are under 18 and to seize alcohol where they have a reasonable apprehension of public disorder or damage to property and require a person to leave the place concerned in a peaceable and orderly manner. Provision was also made to issue fixed charge notices for certain offences under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.

One of the strategic goals of An Garda Síochána is to reduce significantly the incidence of public disorder and anti-social behaviour in communities. This is achieved by developing a specific public order policing strategy based on frequency of incident type, location, time and day analysis and to develop and deploy a strategic, area-specific policing strategy to manage the night-time economy and reduce the fear associated with alcohol-related public disorder.

I attach a high importance to the achievement of the maximum levels of safety for local communities, in particular through the tackling of problems resulting from the misuse of alcohol. This is reiterated in the Renewed Programme for Government, which contains a specific commitment that we will continue to target Garda actions within communities experiencing significant anti-social behaviour.

I am confident that the restrictions on the availability and visibility of alcohol provided for in the Intoxicating Liquor Act, along with the provisions for more effective enforcement to deal with the consequences of alcohol abuse in particular anti-social behaviour, will contribute to bringing about more responsible behaviour on the part of those concerned.

Departmental Agencies.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

88 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the commencement and completion date of the value for money audit of the Equality Authority carried out by Deloitte and Touche; the cost of the audit; when he will publish the results of the audit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40164/09]

Work commenced on the value for money review (VFM) of the Equality Authority in August 2008. The final draft of the VFM report is currently being reviewed by the Steering Group which was established to assist with this report. When the Group have completed their review in the very near future, the report will be sent to my office for consideration. It is intended that the report be published as soon as possible thereafter.

A comprehensive review has been undertaken, subject to external quality assurance. A broad range of stakeholders have been interviewed to get an appreciation of the work being carried out by the Equality Authority. To date the VFM project has cost €36,450, which is within the norm for a review of this scale.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

89 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the additional supports he will put in place for the gardaí to deal with anti-social behaviour in public and private housing estates due to the failure of the anti-social behaviour order legislation. [40359/09]

I attach a high importance to the achievement of the maximum levels of safety for local communities, in particular through the tackling of problems resulting from the misuse of alcohol. This is reiterated in the Renewed Programme for Government, which contains a specific commitment that we will continue to target Garda actions within communities experiencing significant anti-social behaviour.

In this regard, I believe that the provisions of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 which I piloted through this House, particularly those relating to public order, have been of substantial assistance.

A measure of the level of Garda activity in the area of public order, such as targeting public order hot-spots, is the fact that over 650,000 offences were detected since February 2002 as a result of Operation Encounter. I welcome the fact that as a result of this activity the number of disorderly conduct offences decreased by 7% in the twelve month period up to the end of September.

The Criminal Justice Act 2006 provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults and children and sets out an incremental procedure for addressing such behaviour. The intention was that these interventions would address the problem behaviour. It is only if they fail to lead to a behaviour adjustment by the person in question that a court order will be applied for. I do not accept that these provisions are not effective. To date, 2,464 behaviour warnings have been issued.

Nevertheless, as these provisions have been operating since 2007, I believe that it is appropriate to review their operation to see whether any improvements can be made, and in this regard my Department is in consultation with the Garda authorities.

Prison Accommodation.

Joe Costello

Question:

90 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the recent submission made by the Irish Human Rights Commission to the UN Human Rights Committee that overcrowding in prisons here amounted to inhumane treatment of inmates; his views on the description of the situation put forward by the commission; the steps he is taking to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40139/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that I am aware of the recent submission. Overcrowding in prisons is an international problem and is not unique to Ireland. The Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts into its custody and does not have the option of refusing committals. It is the case that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 330. This represents a 9% rise in the number in custody.

Since 1997, the Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure. This has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. There are contingency plans in place in all of our prisons to deal with peak population numbers. A new accommodation block for 123 prisoners recently opened at Castlerea Prison. Furthermore, current projects will also provide the potential for an additional 750 prison spaces during 2009 and 2010 by means of:

a new block in Portlaoise Prison which will have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners and has started to accommodate prisoners;

a new block in Wheatfield Prison which will also have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners and is due to open by the end of 2009;

opening the separation unit in Mountjoy Prison which will have the potential to accommodate 50 prisoners and is due to open by the end of this month;

a new wing at the Portlaoise/Midlands Prisons complex will have the potential to accommodate 300 prisoners. Work is due to commence in early 2010.

Despite this significant investment, it is quite clear that in some of our prisons we are operating in excess of our bed capacity at this time. In the longer term, the Government remains firmly committed to replacing the largely 19th Century prison buildings on the Mountjoy complex with modern prison accommodation at Thornton Hall. Building new prison facilities at Thornton Hall on a green field site will open up new opportunities for the development of structured regime activities that support rehabilitation and resettlement of prisoners. In developing its design concept for Thornton Hall the Irish Prison Service sought and continues to seek to deliver a modern, operationally efficient and cost effective facility which will provide decent living conditions for prisoners with appropriate support programmes including the provision of modern facilities for prison staff.

The new facilities at Thornton Hall will, in addition, offer significant improvements in the areas of work training, education and medical services as well as providing predominantly single cell accommodation with in-cell sanitation facilities. These are major undertakings involving replacement of close to 40% of the entire prison estate. They will take a number of years to complete but it is my intention that they will proceed as quickly as possible.

Civilianisation Programme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

91 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the creation of 900 civilian posts within the gardaí has resulted in the release of only 144 garda personnel for frontline policing duties as highlighted in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40158/09]

An effective police civilianisation programme does not always involve pure "one for one" replacement of individual Gardaí with civilians — it can take a number of forms. Firstly, of course there is the replacement of sworn members, who are engaged in exclusively clerical, administrative or technical duties, with civilian staff. Secondly, and very importantly there is the use of civilian support which allows sworn members who would otherwise have to devote a significant part of their working day to performing some administrative duties to focus exclusively on front-line policing duties. Thirdly, there is the recruitment of civilians to perform completely new or expanded administrative, managerial and professional support roles in An Garda Síochána, for example, as crime analysts or IT specialists.

On this account, and because of the significant restructuring of roles, functions and business areas that has taken place at all levels of An Garda Síochána in recent years, it is very difficult to quantify the exact number of posts which were occupied by sworn members but which today are held by civilians. I can however confirm that since 2003 the number of civilians in An Garda Síochána has more than doubled to approximately 2,115 whole time equivalents. Civilian staff are now involved in the provision of vital support services in a wide range of administrative, professional, technical and industrial areas, including Human Resources, Training & Development, IT and Telecommunications, Finance and Procurement, Internal Audit, Communications, research and analysis, accommodation and fleet management, scene-of-crime support and medical services. In addition, a number of essential operational support areas, having throughout their history been almost exclusively manned by Gardaí, are now wholly or largely staffed by civilian staff, such as the Central Vetting Unit, the Garda Information Services Centre which is based in Castlebar and which operates the Pulse System, and the Fixed Charge Processing Office. The Garda Síochána Analysis Service, to which I referred earlier, is staffed by qualified and highly trained civilian analysts and civilian Telecommunications Technicians provide front-line support to the whole of the Garda organisation across a range of technologies and services.

Prisoner Releases.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

92 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisoners on temporary release at the latest date in 2009 for which figures are available; the highest number of temporary release on any date during 2009; the average number of prisoners on temporary release during 2009; the steps he is taking to deal with this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40135/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that on 6 November 2009 there were 644 prisoners on temporary release. This represented 14% of the overall prisoner population for that day.

In contrast, the equivalent percentage of prisoners on temporary release for the years 1994 to 1997 was as follows: 1994 — (22.2%), 1995 — (20.2%), 1996 — (17.9%) and 1997 — (19.2%).

The highest number of prisoners on temporary release on any one date in 2009 was 686 on 24 June 2009. This represented 15% of the overall population on that date. The daily average figure to date in 2009 for prisoners on temporary release is 510 and this represents 12% of the daily population figure.

The Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003, provides that the Minister may approve the temporary release of a sentenced prisoner. This discretionary instrument assists in gradually preparing suitable offenders for release and in administering short sentences, and is an incentive to well-behaved prisoners.

Temporary release arrangements operate similarly to a system of parole, which is a feature of prison systems worldwide. They are an important vehicle for re-integrating an offender into the community in a planned way. The generally accepted view is that the risk to the community is reduced by planned re-integration of offenders compared with their return to the community on the completion of their full sentence. Each case is examined on its own merits and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made. In addition, all releases are subject to conditions, which in the vast majority of cases include a requirement to report on a regular basis to the offender's Garda Station. Of course, any offender who breaches his or her conditions may be arrested and returned to prison immediately by the Gardaí.

As the Deputy will appreciate the Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts into its custody and do not have the option of refusing committals. It is the case that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 330. This represents an 9 % rise in the number in custody.

Since 1997, the Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure which has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. A new accommodation block for 123 prisoners recently opened at Castlerea Prison. Furthermore, current projects will also provide the potential for an additional 750 prison spaces during 2009 and 2010 by means of:

a new block in Portlaoise Prison which will have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners and has started to accommodate prisoners;

a new block in Wheatfield Prison which will also have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners due to open by end of 2009;

opening the separation unit in Mountjoy Prison which will have the potential to accommodate 50 prisoners due to open by end of this month;

a new wing at the Portlaoise/Midlands complex which will have the potential to accommodate 300 prisoners. Work is due to commence in 2010.

Garda Remuneration.

John O'Mahony

Question:

93 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Garda allowances that are available for gardaí to claim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40350/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the allowances available to members of An Garda Síochána, are as follows:— Air Support Unit Allowance, Analyst Allowance, Aran Island, Availability Allowance, Boot Allowance, Change Management Allowance, Clerical Allowance, Collator Allowance, Court Presenter Allowance, Community Relations, Crime Examiners Allowance, Cycle Allowance, Detective Allowance, Dog Handling Allowance, Expert Allowance, Gaeltacht Allowance, Garda Trainees, Immigration Allowance, Instructors Allowance, Interpol Allowance, Juvenile Liaison Officer/Community relations, Living Allowance, Local Post Allowance, Protection Officers, Motor Technician, Night Duty Allowance, Non Public Duty — Unsocial Hours, Non Public Duty Allowance — Sunday, Non Public Duty Allowance — Weekend, Overseas Allowance, Plain Clothes Allowance (Detective), Premium Payments, Private Secretary to Commissioner, PSNI Exchange Allowance, PSNI Expense Allowance , Public Holiday Allowance, Qualifying Bonus Allowance, Radio Allowance, Rent Allowance, Safety Adviser, Saturday Allowance, Sub Aqua Allowance, Substitution Allowance, Sunday Allowance, Training Course Premium Payment, PSV Allowance, Transport , Uniform Allowance, Uniform Grant (Officers and Inspectors), Welfare Officer Allowance.

The Deputy should be aware that not all allowances are payable to all members.

Organised Crime.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

94 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he proposes to take to combat the activities of criminal gangs; the degree to which the special powers included in Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 have been evoked to date in 2009 in this context; his further proposals including a review of the availability of bail in almost all circumstances; the action he will take to prevent further criminal activity while on bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40260/09]

I wish to assure the Deputy that the Government attaches the highest priority to tackling serious crime and bringing those involved in such activities to justice.

An Garda Síochána undertakes a number of multi-agency activities designed to target and disrupt the operations of criminal organisations. The targeting of those involved in serious crime is done in a number of ways, including through the use of focused intelligence led operations by specialist units such as the Organised Crime Unit, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.

In addition the Government has in recent times introduced an extensive suite of criminal justice legislation containing a range of new provisions targeted at those engaged in serious crime.

These measures include provisions contained in the Criminal Justice Acts of 2006 and 2007, in the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009 and in the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 is a very new piece of legislation aimed at tackling serious crimes but I can assure the House that An Garda Síochána are already actively making use of the provisions in this Act.

I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that given the seriousness of the offences being dealt with under this legislation that a full and thorough investigation of individuals and their activities must be conducted before charges can be brought against them. Therefore it is too early at this stage to provide details as sought by the Deputy.

Finally in relation to bail issues the Government today has agreed to my proposal to commence work on a new Bail Bill.

The purpose of the Bill is to consolidate and update bail law with a view to presenting a clear, accessible and modern statement of the law.

In preparing the Bill, I will be concerned with ensuring that the bail regime can operate in as tight and effective a way as possible. I will also examine the extent to which the current law could be restated to better guide the courts on the need to protect the public against those who present an unacceptable risk of committing a serious offence if granted bail.

Prisoner Transfers.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

95 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to repatriate non-Irish citizens to serve out their sentences in their home country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40336/09]

The Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts, 1995 and 1997 provide a mechanism whereby non-nationals serving sentences in Ireland may apply to serve the remainder of their sentences in their own countries, where those countries are party to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Similarly, Irish persons who are imprisoned overseas in such countries may apply to serve the remainder of their sentences in Ireland.

The Convention is open to States outside Europe and the Government supports the Council of Europe policy of encouraging states to ratify and operate the Convention. There are over sixty states operating the Convention at present.

The policy of the Convention, which is based on humanitarian considerations, is to overcome the difficulties posed for prisoners serving sentences in foreign jurisdictions, such as absence of contact with relatives and differences in languages and culture. In this regard, it has been long established Government policy that, whenever possible, prisoners should be permitted to serve their sentences close to their families.

All applications for transfer are subject to a three way consent mechanism; that of the applicant, the sentencing state and the receiving state.

It should be noted, however, that, even where all of the conditions are satisfied, there is no obligation on a State to comply with a transfer request.

Garda Equipment.

David Stanton

Question:

96 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount of money expended to date in 2009 for the purchase and usage of decibel counters by An Garda Síochána to monitor the level of noise emitted from motor vehicles; if a pilot project is in operation and the details of same; his plans to ensure that decibel counters for vehicle noise pollution are available to An Garda Síochána nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40364/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that following a review of suitable equipment available in the market, testing of a range of sound level meters was carried out in the Laois/Offaly Division earlier this year with a view to establishing their benefits as an aid to enforcement and the successful prosecution of motorists driving vehicles with excessively noisy exhausts.

Following on from this, a request for tender for the supply (including maintenance and training) of sound level meters was published in July of this year and the Garda authorities are now in the latter stages of the evaluation of tender responses. It is envisaged that following selection of the preferred supplier, sufficient numbers of devices will be purchased to ensure availability within each Garda Division. As the procurement process is still ongoing, there has been no financial outlay on the purchase of such equipment to date this year.

Departmental Agencies.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

97 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the review of the Equality Authority’s budget and on the pause on its decentralisation programme announced on 22 April 2009; his views on the recommendation in the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programme that the non-pay budget of the authority should be cut by 10%; the plans he has for the Equality Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40163/09]

I refer the Deputy to my replies to Questions Nos. 728, 730, 742 and 743 of 3rd November, 2009. The position is as stated in the replies.

Garda Divisions.

Denis Naughten

Question:

98 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he last held a formal meeting with the Garda Commissioner; if he is satisfied with the implementation by the Garda of the new divisional boundaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40178/09]

I am in continuous communication with the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána, and I meet with him personally on a regular basis.

The changes to Divisional boundaries were contained in the Commissioner's 2008 Annual Policing Plan which was approved by me and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. At the outset, an overall Programme Board was established by the Garda Síochána, chaired by an Assistant Commissioner, with broad representation for the various Garda areas and a representative from my Department. The purpose of this Board was to develop an overall strategy for the rollout and to devise templates setting out the various tasks to be undertaken. Project Boards, chaired by the local Divisional officer, were then established in each Division to develop tailored implementation plans based on these templates. The relevant Project Boards, on which the staff associations are represented, are managing all tasks associated with each individual rollout.

Significant progress has been made to date commencing with the creation of new Divisions e.g. Louth, Wicklow and Roscommon/Longford and the rollout of re-aligned Divisional boundaries across all the regions.

Vagrancy Prosecutions.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

99 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason gardaí do not take action regarding young people seen begging on city streets here during school hours in view of the fact that national legislation requires school attendance until the age of 16. [40263/09]

The provisions of section 247 of the Children Act 2001, which provides that an offence is committed by a person causing, procuring or allowing a child to beg, are regularly utilised by members of An Garda Síochána in circumstances where children are being used by adults for the purposes of begging. During 2009 a number of arrests were made in relation to children being used for begging in Dublin. Reports were also provided to the Health Service Executive in respect of each incident, in compliance with the Children First Guidelines.

Gardaí in Dublin city centre have, on occasion, used the provisions of section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 which provides for the protection of children in emergency situations, whereby a child can be brought into care without a care order where a member of An Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds to believe that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health and welfare of the child.

The National Educational Welfare Board, which was established under the Educational Welfare Act 2000 and is under the aegis of the Department of Education and Science, is the statutory body with responsibility for school attendance.

Prison Building Programme.

Joan Burton

Question:

100 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the proposed prison at Thornton Hall, County Dublin; the amount spent on the project to date, including the cost of the purchase of the site, preparatory work, professional fees and any other costs; when it is expected that building work on the project will commence; when it is expected to be completed and operational; the planned capacity of the prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40136/09]

The new prison campus at Thornton Hall, County Dublin will have a design capacity of 1,400 with operational flexibility to accommodate up to 2,200 offenders in a range of security settings. The revised plan for the new prison campus aims to protect the taxpayers' interests and provide good quality, regime focused accommodation and programmes to prepare offenders for reintegration back into society, on a scale that cannot currently be delivered at Mountjoy Prison.

The development is proceeding on a phased basis with phase one comprising essential preliminary works required for the prison development including the construction of a dedicated access route, perimeter wall and related services. The tender documentation and scope of works for this phase of the project is well advanced. It is anticipated that the preliminary works tender documentation will be issued to the market early in the New Year. While the essential preliminary work in phase one is in progress the procurement process for the buildings and other facilities that will make up the new prison campus will be examined and finalised in accordance with Department of Finance public procurement guidelines. The objective is to complete the procurement process for the main prison complex while the construction of phase one work is underway.

The development of the new prison campus at Thornton Hall is a complex project which is governed by Department of Finance and EU procurement guidelines. These guidelines set out a range of actions that must take place prior to inviting tender for the project. The Irish Prison Service with the assistance of the National Development Finance Agency is in the process of finalising the various preparatory steps prior to inviting tenders for the construction of the prison. It is intended to issue the tender documentation for the construction of the prison next year. Construction and fitting out of the prison will take two to three years from the date of signature of a contract.

In relation to expenditure on the project to a total of €41.9 million has been expended on the project to end October, 2009. This sum includes site cost of €29.9 million. The cost of the site was largely offset by the sale of surplus prison lands at Shanganagh, County Dublin. An additional 8.7 acres has also been acquired at a cost of €1.3m to provide a dedicated access route to the prison. This was done following representations from the local community which reflected concern in relation to effect of increased traffic generated by the prison development.

A total of €10.7 million has been expended on professional fees (€7 million), site preparation and surveys (€2.8m), landscaping (€0.4 million) and security (€0.5 million). As is the case with all major infrastructure projects a comprehensive set of geological, engineering and archaeological surveys have been undertaken and these surveys will help to reduce the overall construction programme once a contract for the construction of the prison is awarded.

Programmes for Government.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

101 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date in 2009 regarding the implementation of those sections of the programme for Government under the headings of community payback, parental responsibility and anti-social behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40143/09]

I refer the Deputy to my response to PQ No. 33 of 22 September 2009. The position remains as stated. However, the value for money and policy review of the Community Service Scheme was published on my Department's website in October 2009.

Proceeds of Crime.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

102 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on amending the law to allow the Criminal Assets Bureau to apply to forfeit seized property after two years rather than the seven year wait; the estimate of the additional revenue that would be raised if this change were made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40145/09]

As the Deputy is aware the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is a statutory body which operates under the Proceeds of Crime Acts 1996 and 2005 (as amended). Under the provisions of this legislation CAB may apply to the High Court to obtain either an interim or interlocutory order to freeze certain assets it believes to be the proceeds of criminal activity. If the High Court is satisfied that such assets are the proceeds of crime then they may be frozen for a period of at least seven years.

The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 introduced provisions whereby all relevant parties can consent to the application of Section 4A Order to allow for a disposal order to be made by the High Court before the seven year period has elapsed.

When the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 was being debated, the Oireachtas considered the issue of reducing the standard seven year waiting period to a minimum three year period. However at that stage it was decided to retain the current timeframe of seven years, on the basis that reducing the period between the interlocutory order and the disposal order might result in the legislation being more open to challenge in terms of due process.

However, I have asked my officials, together with the Criminal Assets Bureau, to review the legislation relating to the length of time an asset must be held before it can be disposed of, particularly in relation to certain types of assets which may be disposed of before they depreciate significantly.

Prison Accommodation.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

103 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the recent comments made by the chairman of the Mountjoy visiting committee that prisons have become overcrowded and that the rate of drug taking is high; the steps he is taking to deal with this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40138/09]

I am aware of the comments made by the Chairman of Mountjoy Visiting Committee.

As the Deputy will appreciate the Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts into its custody and does not have the option of refusing committals. It is the case that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 330. This represents an 9% rise in the number in custody. On 6 November 2009 there were 3,998 prisoners in custody.

Since 1997, the Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure which has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. A new accommodation block for 123 prisoners recently opened at Castlerea Prison. Furthermore, current projects will also provide the potential for an additional 750 prison spaces during 2009 and 2010 by means of:

a new block in Portlaoise Prison which will have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners and which has recently started to accommodate prisoners;

a new block in Wheatfield Prison which will also have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners which is due to open by end of 2009;

opening the separation unit in Mountjoy Prison which will have the potential to accommodate 50 prisoners due to open by end of this month;

a new wing at the Portlaoise/Midlands complex will have the potential to accommodate 300 prisoners. Work is due to commence in 2010.

In the longer term, the Government remains firmly committed to replacing the prisons on the Mountjoy complex with modern prison accommodation at Thornton Hall. Building new prison facilities at Thornton Hall on a green field site will open up new opportunities for the development of structured regime activities that support rehabilitation and resettlement of prisoners.

It is acknowledged that drugs present a major challenge to the Irish Prison Service and in this context, the Irish Prison Service Drugs Policy and Strategy, entitledKeeping Drugs out of Prison was launched in May 2006. The implementation of this Policy and Strategy has seen an intensification of efforts in the prison system to eliminate the availability of illicit drugs within prisons including:

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

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

Greater use of screened visits.

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

Increased random searching of cells and their occupants.

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

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

Installation of nets over exercise yards to prevent access to contraband items, including mobile phones and drugs. Use of phone detectors and phased installation of telephone blocking technology.

In addition, a number of new security initiatives have been introduced in all closed prisons including:

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

The establishment of a drug detection dog service within the Irish Prison Service involving approximately 30 handling teams.

The establishment of Operational Support Units dedicated to and developing expertise in searching and gathering intelligence on illicit material being hidden inside our prisons; they will be available in addition to the normal prison staff and can target specific security problem areas.

The Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS) chair was introduced by the Irish Prison Service in early 2008 and to date eight chairs have been installed.

The new security screening at prison entrances and the measures introduced have had considerable success in preventing the flow of and assisting in the capture of contraband such as illicit drugs. The battle will be an ongoing one in which I an determined to take whatever practical measures are possible to thwart illegal activity. There will be no easing off in relation to the security measures already in place and that enhancements and improvements will continue to take place in the future.

As the Inspector of Prison states in his recently published 2008 Annual Report, the new security measures have significantly impacted upon the availability of drugs in prison. However, the reality is that as long as there is drug misuse in the community this will be inevitably reflected in a prison setting. That said, the Irish Prison Service continues to work to implement its Drugs Policy and Strategy, which also includes continued investment in services within prisons to reduce the demand for illicit drugs in the prisoner population as well as meeting prisoners' treatment and rehabilitative needs.

Proposed Legislation.

Martin Ferris

Question:

104 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the Equal Status Act 2004 following the Supreme Court decision in a case (details supplied). [40265/09]

I can confirm that the effect of the recent judgement of the Supreme Court on the Equal Status Act 2000 is being examined by my Department.

Garda Strength.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

105 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the strength of the Garda Síochána at the latest date for which figures are available broken down by full members, those who have attested but not yet concluded their training and those in training; the expected number which will be recruited during 2009; the anticipated number at each category at the end of 2009; the number of members of the force expected to retire during 2009; the number which will be recruited in the first half of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40154/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána was 14,716. This figure includes 1,098 probationer Gardaí who have been attested and will graduate over the next six months. On that date there also were 326 unattested students in training. A total of 200 students — 100 in February and 100 in May — were inducted into the Garda College in 2009.

In relation to retirements, a total of 708 members of the Force have retired or declared their intention to retire, either voluntarily or on age grounds, in 2009.

The moratorium on Public Service recruitment, introduced in May 2009, applies to Garda recruitment. I intend to keep the position under review during the course of 2010 in consultation with the Garda Commissioner and my colleague the Minister for Finance.

Proposed Legislation.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

106 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals regarding bail laws in view of an interview that he gave to a newspaper (details supplied). [40159/09]

I will be asking the Government to approve my proposal to commence work on a new Bail Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to consolidate and update bail law with a view to presenting a clear, accessible and modern statement of the law. In preparing the Bill I will address a number of weaknesses in the current law to ensure that the bail regime can operate in as tight and effective a way as possible. I will also examine the extent to which the law could be restated to better guide the courts on the need to protect the public against those who present an unacceptable risk of committing a serious offence if granted bail.

Garda Deployment.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

107 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda personnel engaged in providing driver and security services to the members of the Government, members of the Judiciary, former Taoisigh or former Government Ministers; his plans to review the numbers involved with a view to transferring some of these Garda officers to front line duties fighting crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40146/09]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that there are 56 members of An Garda Síochána permanently assigned duties as Garda Protection Officers to 27 designated persons including current Office holders and former Taoisigh. Included in the duties of the Protection Officer is a requirement to drive the Protected Person. There are no protection officers assigned to former Ministers.

Responsibility for the allocation of personnel rests with the Garda Commissioner, in conjunction with his senior management team. Resource levels are constantly monitored, in conjunction with crime trends and other demands made on An Garda Síochána, and are kept under review.

Drug Seizures.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

108 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the quantity and values of seizures of heroin, cocaine, cannabis and other drugs here during 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the proportion of the overall flow of drugs being imported that are believed to be represented by these seizures; the new initiatives he is planning to control this flow of illegal drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40151/09]

I am setting out below a tabular statement giving the latest available information in relation to drug seizures for 2007, 2008 and this year to date (up to and including 11 September 2009).

As I have said before when replying to similar questions on this subject in the House, because of the covert nature of the activity, it is simply not possible to give a reliable estimate of the proportion of drugs coming into the country that these figures represent.

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

In addition to the officers of the Force specifically assigned to the drugs issue who are attached to the Garda National Drugs Unit and the Divisional Drug Units, officers from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Organised Crime Unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau all assist in our overall law enforcement response to drug trafficking and drug dealing. In addition, the Gardaí work closely with Customs and the Naval Service under the umbrella of the Joint Task Force on Drugs as well as with their international colleagues in tackling the problem.

Recent and ongoing initiatives include

the operation of the Organised Crime Unit on a permanent capacity,

ongoing Irish involvement in the work of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre in Lisbon,

strengthened provisions in the Criminal Justice Acts 2006 and 2007 and

the ringfencing of resources this year for Operation Anvil.

Furthermore, as the Deputy will know, I have in recent times introduced an extensive suite of criminal justice legislation targeted at those engaged in serious crime (including drug trafficking) including the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act, the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act and the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. I am confident that this package of legislation will be of particular value in tackling drugs gangs.

Finally, as I have also said on many occasions before, it is clear that we cannot tackle the problem of drug misuse through law enforcement measures alone. As set out in the Government's recently launched new National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009 to 2016, we need to address the problem in a co-ordinated way across the pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research.

In this context, I can assure the House that my Department, and all the agencies under its aegis, remain fully committed to this approach and to the implementation of the Strategy.

The Garda authorities advise that the following tables show the quantities of drugs seized in 2007, 2008 and up to and including 11 September 2009, on the basis of cases already reported to the Forensic Science Laboratory.

2009: Drug Seizures (up to and including 11 September 2009)

Drug Type

Quantity

Estimated Street Value

Cannabis

350,812.993 grams

4,209,755.916

Cannabis Resin

1,246,001.593 grams

7,476,009.558

Heroin

55,549 grams

8,332,350

Cocaine

56,237.687 grams

3,936,638.09

Ecstasy

12,872 tabs & 799.675 grams

104,343.75

Amphetamine

17,114.723 grams

256,720.845

Total Value

24,315,818.159

*Statistics provided for 2009 are operational, provisional and liable to change.

2008: Drug seizures

Drug Type

Quantity

Estimated Street Value

Cannabis

1,014,372.661 grams

2,028,745

Cannabis Resin

5,366,190.236 grams

37,563,332

Heroin

212,312.287 grams

42,462,457

Cocaine

1,688,091 grams

118,166,370

Ecstasy

113,884 tablets & 1,185.359 grams

1,198,108

Amphetamine

11,767.840 grams, 1,698 tablets

201,988

Total Value

201,621,000

2007: Drug seizures

Drug Type

Quantity

Estimated Street Value

Cannabis

779,310.871 grams

1,558,622

Cannabis Resin

1,279,697.544 grams

8,957,883

Heroin

148,520 grams

29,704,000

Cocaine

1,768,990.933 grams

123,829,365

Ecstasy

279,017 tablets, 17,375.362 grams

3,658,938

Amphetamine

58,223 grams, 10,471 tablets

1,030,410

Total Value

168,739,218

Question No. 109 answered with Question No. 79.

Legal Aid Service.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

110 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the implications for the legal aid system of the decision of the Supreme Court on 23 October 2009 expanding the constitutional right to legal aid for persons facing trial in the District Court for serious offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40161/09]

The Deputy is referring to a recent judgment in which the Supreme Court found that a person charged before the District Court had a constitutional right to apply for legal aid for representation by counsel in cases where the court considers that there is a degree of gravity and complexity as well as any other exceptional circumstances which, taken together, necessitate that the legal aid granted should include counsel. The provisions of the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 limit the granting of legal aid to representation by a solicitor in District Court cases, except in cases of murder.

Having consulted with the Attorney General I introduced, with immediate effect following the judgment, an administrative scheme which ensures that the criminal courts can operate without restriction or delay. The scheme is drafted to operate concurrently with the statutory scheme in the 1962 Act but differs from it to the extent that the court will not now be prevented from considering the provision of counsel in certain circumstances in the District Court.

I intend to allow the administrative scheme to operate for a short period before bringing forward amending provisions to place the new provisions on a statutory footing. This will be done in the Criminal Legal Aid Bill which is already being drafted to achieve other important changes in the operation of the Scheme.

Crime Levels.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

111 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of cases of murder in which firearms were used each year from 1998 to date in 2009; the number of such cases in which prosecutions for murder were initiated; the number of such cases in which convictions were secured; if he is satisfied with the level of detection and conviction in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40152/09]

Liz McManus

Question:

117 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gun murders that have taken place since the beginning of 2009; his views on the number of such gun murders in the Dublin area; the extent to which this reflects the continued operation of criminal gangs; the steps being taken to deal with such murders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40149/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 111 and 117 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following table contains the number of cases of murder in which a firearm was used, proceedings commenced and convictions secured from 1998 to 2008 and in 2009 up 5 November. Of these murders, 21 took place in 2009.

As the Deputies are aware, these statistics, by their nature, carry a significant health warning. The detection rate for murders by its nature increases over time as Garda investigations progress. It is expected that the number of convictions obtained will increase as Garda investigations are concluded and proceedings commenced are finalised by the courts. This applies particularly to murders committed in the most recent years. In addition, directions may be received from the Law Officers to charge persons arrested in connection with such incidents with offences other than murder, for example firearms offences. Furthermore such persons charged and brought before the courts may be convicted of offences other than murder.

All killings, regardless of the circumstances involved, are the subject of rigorous investigation by An Garda Síochána and will continue to be so.

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

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

A significant further strengthening of the law dealing with those involved in criminal organisations took place with the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, which became law on 23 July. As a result, all organised crime offences will be tried in the Special Criminal Court unless the DPP directs otherwise. This is being done to prevent intimidation of juries in those cases where such measures are necessary. A new offence of directing or controlling a criminal organisation has been created, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The maximum penalty for the offence of participation or involvement in organised crime has been increased from 5 years to 15 years imprisonment. Expert Garda opinion evidence on the existence and operations of criminal gangs is now admissible in evidence. Furthermore, there are significant new provisions relating to bail, sentencing, drawing of inferences by the courts, intimidation of witnesses and jurors and a simplification of the procedures relating to the extension of time for questioning.

Other significant pieces of legislation introduced to target organised crime include the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act, which provides a statutory framework for evidence obtained by means of covert surveillance to be used in criminal trials, and the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which further tightens the legislative provisions relating to guns and knives and similar weapons.

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

I expect that the Criminal Justice (Forensic Sampling and Evidence) Bill, which will provide for the establishment and operation of a DNA database, will be published in this session.

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

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

Number of murders recorded in which a firearm was used, proceedings commenced and convictions from 1998 to 2008 and in 2009 up to 5 November

Recorded

Proceedings Commenced

Convictions

184

50

21

Willie Penrose

Question:

112 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of occasions in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 in which grenades, bombs or improvised explosive devices have been used; the number of occasions in each year when the Garda called on the assistance of the Army ordinance unit to deal with such devices; the number of prosecutions initiated as a result of the discovery or such devices; his views on the increased use of such devices by criminal elements; the steps that are being taken to curb the use of such devices, particularly having regard to the danger that they pose the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40155/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that in 2009 (to 5 November) there have been 167 incidents involving suspected grenades, pipe-bombs or other improvised devices nationwide at which a Defence Forces Explosive Ordnance Device team has attended, with 180 such incidents recorded in 2008 and 98 incidents in 2007.

I am further informed that in respect of the incidents that occurred in 2008 and 2009 (to 5 November) there have been a total of 89 arrests. There have been four convictions and in another 56 cases the matters are currently before the courts or files are with the DPP. The Deputy will appreciate that it is in the nature of proceedings for criminal offences that there may be a time period for the investigation, charge, prosecution and eventual conviction or acquittal, and the figures given may, therefore, be subject to change. A detailed breakdown of the figures for 2007 is not readily available.

Investigations by the Garda Síochána into certain incidents involving the use of pipe bomb attacks in the greater Dublin area indicate links between members of a republican group and organised criminal elements.

Garda strategies in counteracting these activities are firmly focused on disrupting these organised criminal groups and where sufficient evidence is adduced, proffering charges and bringing such persons before the Courts. The Gardaí will continue to take vigorous action in counteracting the threat posed by these gangs. One of the priorities I have set for the Garda Síochána in 2009 is the targeting of serious crime, in particular organised, gun and drug related crime. The Garda Policing Plan for 2009 contains a series of measures aimed at reducing the impact of crime and criminal behaviour. These goals are backed up by strategic actions which include a commitment to continue and intensify intelligence-led operations against groups and individuals engaged in criminality.

Operation Anvil is an important nationwide operation to deal with serious crime, including murder and other violent crime. The primary focus of this Operation is to target active criminals and their associates involved in serious crime by preventing and disrupting their criminal activity through extensive additional overt patrolling and static checkpoints by uniform, mobile and foot patrols, supported by armed plain clothes patrols.

The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 further strengthens the law dealing with those involved in criminal organisations. As a result, all organised crime offences will be tried in the Special Criminal Court unless the DPP directs otherwise. This is being done to prevent intimidation of juries in those cases where such measures are necessary. A new offence of directing or controlling a criminal organisation has been created, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The maximum penalty for the offence of participation or involvement in organised crime has been increased from 5 years to 15 years imprisonment. Expert Garda opinion evidence on the existence and operations of criminal gangs is now admissible in evidence. Furthermore, there are significant new provisions relating to bail, sentencing, drawing of inferences by the courts, intimidation of witnesses and jurors and a simplification of the procedures relating to the extension of time for questioning.

Other significant pieces of legislation introduced to target organised crime include the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, which provides a statutory framework for evidence obtained by means of covert surveillance to be used in criminal trials, and the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 which further tightens the legislative provisions relating to guns and knives and similar weapons.

Community Policing.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

113 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date in 2009 with regard to the implementation of the new Garda Siochána national model of community policing; the number of gardaí currently committed to community policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40157/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of Gardaí assigned as dedicated Community Gardaí has increased from 698 at the end of September 2008 to 987 at the end of September 2009. It is important to note, however, that the work of the Garda Síochána is driven by a community policing ethos. The new Garda Síochána National Model of Community Policing was launched earlier this year. This new model is about renewing, re-invigorating and re-structuring the Community Policing function within An Garda Síochána to deliver:

A consistent national structure to the Community Policing function,

A more coordinated and efficient Garda service to the community,

The spread of good practices and quality service in Community Policing on a national basis.

A National Community Policing Office has been established within Garda Community Relations Section to develop and oversee the implementation programme. The model is being rolled out nationwide in line with an action plan which has been developed for implementation. Training has already commenced in some Districts and it is intended that every District Officer throughout the country will take ownership of community policing within their area of responsibility. The Garda Síochána National Model of Community Policing Report is available on the Garda website www.garda.ie.

Garda Investigations.

Liz McManus

Question:

114 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when arrangements will be made to instruct members of the Garda Siochána that it is not necessary to take a longhand note of interviews with persons in custody when such interviews are being electronically recorded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40150/09]

My Department and the Garda Síochána, in consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of the Attorney General, are considering proposals for a new system which would allow the taking of contemporaneous written notes to cease where interviews are electronically recorded.

There is a complex range of training, technological, financial and legal issues to be addressed before the changeover to a new system could take place.

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

Garda Stations.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

115 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has made a decision on the recommendation contained in the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programme report that the Garda station network should be reduced by about half which would result in the closure of around 350 Garda stations; if his attention has been drawn to the concern created in many communities by this recommendation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40142/09]

I am aware of the role Garda stations play particularly in rural communities. As the Deputy is well aware the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, and the decisions on the issues arising, including the recommendations in relation to the Garda network will be a matter for the Government. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage pending the outcome of these deliberative processes.

EU Directives.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

116 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of EU directives for which he has responsibility that remain to be implemented; the directives that are overdue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40153/09]

My Department has responsibility for seven EU Directives which have to be implemented. There are four Directives which are currently overdue as follows:

Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status.

The minimum standards on procedures required by this Directive are operated by the State in its national provisions and procedures, and therefore, the State is substantially in compliance with the Directive in law and practice. The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008, which is currently before the Oireachtas, includes provisions to revise the law on refugee and other protection procedures and this revision will be in compliance with the terms of the Directive.

Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC.

Part of this Directive is covered by Part 7 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005. The remainder of it is to be transposed by the Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2009 which was published on 9 July 2009 and is currently before Dáil Éireann.

Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing; and

Commission Directive 2006/70/EC of 1 August 2006 laying down implementing measures for Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the definition of politically exposed person and the technical criteria for simplified customer due diligence procedures and for exemption on grounds of a financial activity conducted on an occasional or very limited basis.

The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Bill 2009, which will transpose both of these Directives, was published on 28 July, 2009 and is currently before Dáil Éireann.

There are three Directives which remain to be implemented. They are not overdue. They are:

Directive 2008/51/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons;

Directive 2007/23/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 May 2007 on the placing on the market of pyrotechnic articles;

Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters.

Question No. 117 answered with Question No. 111.

Crime Levels.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

118 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on crime statistics from the Central Statistics Office for the third quarter of 2009 and particularly the growth in burglaries and related offences; the steps that are being taken to combat the rise in this type of crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40134/09]

The recorded crime statistics for the third quarter of 2009 released by the Central Statistics Office show a decrease in 10 of the 14 crime groups for which statistics are given.

I particularly welcome the positive trends in the two groups containing the most serious offences of homicide and sexual offences, which showed decreases of 30% and 7.1%, respectively. The number of murders was essentially static compared with the same quarter last year. There were no incidents of manslaughter, and the number of cases of dangerous driving causing death decreased by 75%.

I also welcome the reduction of 3.9% overall in the number of weapons and explosives offences, with the number of cases of discharging a firearm decreasing by 1.8% and of possession of a firearm by a significant 30.9%. The legislative provisions relating to guns and knives and similar weapons have been further tightened by the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. It is also heartening to see the reduction of 8.5% in public order offences, and I believe that the Garda strategy of identifying and targeting public order hotspots has been a significant factor in achieving this improvement.

The serious traffic offences of driving or being in charge of a vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit and being under the influence of drugs decreased by 18.8% and 36.3%, respectively. These outcomes are due to a significant extent to the continuing high level of policing of our roads, as a result of which there have been 42 fewer deaths on the roads to date this year compared with the same period last year. Controlled drugs offences showed a decrease of 16.2%, with reductions in both the number of cases of possession of drugs for sale or supply (down 4.1%) and for personal use (down 19.6%).

Three of the four groups which showed an increase cover burglary, robbery and theft offences. This trend is being monitored by the Garda Commissioner and his senior management, who have been constantly updating strategies and taking the actions necessary to counter it. These include intelligence led operations to target those who are committing burglaries.

An Garda Síochána continually develops and implements crime prevention and detection strategies to target in particular those who are committing burglaries with intelligence-led and focused operations. For example, in order to prevent criminals moving around the country to commit such crimes, An Garda Síochána set up roving checkpoints. There is also a strong focus on crime prevention and reduction. At the beginning of this year, the Commissioner and I launched the new Garda National Model of Community Policing, not only to reduce crime but also the fear of crime and ensure a better quality of community life for all. Furthermore, An Garda Síochána supports a number of initiatives which promote a community contribution to increasing public safety, including the Community Alert Programme, Neighbourhood Watch and Crimestoppers.

While the sentences provided by law for such crimes are already severe, at my request the Attorney General has asked the Law Reform Commission to look at the question of mandatory sentencing, particularly for those attacking the vulnerable in our society in this way. Even where violence is not involved, I am very aware of the devastating effects these offences can have on people's lives.

Commissions of Investigation.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

119 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects to be in a position to publish the report of the Commission of Investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40140/09]

Following receipt of the report dealing with the Dublin Archdiocese from the Commission of Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse and following consultation with the Attorney General's Office and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, I applied to the High Court for directions on publication of the report. This was in accordance with section 38 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, which provides for such an application if a Minister considers that the publication of a report might prejudice any criminal proceedings. The High Court directed that the report be published but that references to a particular person not be published until the court otherwise directs.

As a result of a legal issue raised by the Director of Public Prosecutions after the court judgement, and in line with advice from the Attorney General's Office, I brought the matter back to the High Court for directions. I am hopeful that the matter will be resolved shortly.

My primary goal is to see the perpetrators of appalling abuse face justice and due punishment and ensure that crimes against children are prevented in the future. I have consistently made clear my wish to publish the report as quickly as possible, while at the same time ensuring, in line with the legislation governing the work of the Commission, that nothing would be done which might prejudice the possibility of a criminal prosecution. It will be clear that I have acted at all times with due expedition, and in accordance with the legal advice which I have received, to achieve this.

Claims against Garda Síochána.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

120 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the fact that almost €32 million has been paid out over the past five years in respect of claims made against members of the Garda for wrongful arrest, assault and other reasons; the steps he is taking to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40147/09]

Members of the Garda Síochána are called upon to interact with members of the public on a twenty four hour basis in a wide variety of situations — many of which are unavoidably contentious. In the vast majority of cases these interactions are handled in an exemplary and professional manner and do not give rise to difficulty from a litigation point of view. However, inevitably there is a small number of cases which give rise to the question of a legal liability on the part of the State.

The Commissioner, as Accounting Officer for An Garda Síochána, is concerned about the impact of the cost of these cases on the funds available to An Garda Síochána. In all cases the advice of Counsel, the Chief State Solicitor and the Attorney General inform the approach taken in addressing the issues involved. In most cases the advice leads to settlement of the cases but the question cannot be decided on a fiscal basis alone. The Commissioner must ensure that a proper balance is maintained between the benefits that might accrue for the public purse in the event of prudent settlement agreements and the necessity to vigorously defend the right and duty of the gardaí to carry out their functions.

Certain costs are outside the control of the Commissioner. Once a case goes before the Courts the levels of compensation is determined by the Courts. That said, one of the main elements of expenditure in this area is legal costs and my Department, in conjuction with the Attorney General, the Department of Finance and An Garda Síochána, is currently exploring possible ways to minimise such costs.

I should point out that many of the civil actions that are taken do not involve any wrongdoing on the part of the Garda members concerned. However, I can assure the Deputy that where there is wrongdoing the Commissioner enforces the discipline regulations appropriately. Breaches of discipline are dealt with under new Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations which came into operation on 1 June 2007. These Regulations have streamlined the disciplinary process and replaced the complex system which had developed over the years and was the subject of much criticism by the Morris Tribunal.

Finally, as regards the actual amounts paid over the past five years, the Deputy will see from the figures provided in my answer to Question 18 of 22 September 2009 that as the "Donegal-related" cases are finalised and removed from the equation the cost of legal actions is being reduced significantly.

Crime Levels.

Martin Ferris

Question:

121 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extra steps being taken to address the recent rise in household break-ins. [40264/09]

An Garda Síochána continually develops and implements crime prevention and detection strategies to target in particular those who are committing burglaries with intelligence-led and focused operations. For example, in order to prevent criminals moving around the country to commit such crimes, An Garda Síochána set up roving checkpoints. There is also a strong focus on crime prevention and reduction. At the beginning of this year, the Commissioner and I launched the new Garda National Model of Community Policing, not only to reduce crime but also the fear of crime and ensure a better quality of community life for all. Furthermore, An Garda Síochána supports a number of initiatives which promote a community contribution to increasing public safety, including the Community Alert Programme, Neighbourhood Watch and Crimestoppers.

Burglary is a crime which impacts significantly on individuals and their sense of security. Members of the public are encouraged to put relatively minor and practical crime-preventative measures in place in their own homes to protect themselves and their property and to reduce their vulnerability to such crime. Communities are asked to be attentive in their own neighbourhoods and are requested to look out for unexpected or unusual activities or persons in their area. They are encouraged to take the time to make a call to their local Garda Station and bring such suspicious activities to the attention of Garda personnel.

While the sentences provided by law for such crimes are already severe, at my request the Attorney General has asked the Law Reform Commission to look at the question of mandatory sentencing, particularly for those attacking the vulnerable in our society in this way. Even where violence is not involved, I am very aware of the devastating effects these offences can have on people's lives.

Asylum Support Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

122 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the discussions he has had with the Health Service Executive on the provision of accommodation for separated migrant children seeking asylum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40179/09]

Responsibility for the provision of accommodation for separated children seeking asylum (SCSAs) falls to the Health Services Executive (HSE). Section 8(5)(a) of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) provides that, where it appears to an immigration officer or an authorised officer that a child under the age of 18 years who has arrived in the State and is not in the custody of any person, that child must, as soon as is practicable be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) and thereupon the provisions of the Child Care Act 1991 apply to the child.

There are regular contacts between my Department and the HSE on a wide range of matters of common interest. For example, there are regular discussions on practical matters relating to the transfer of those "aged out" SCSAs — i.e. who have reached the age of 18 — from HSE accommodation to accommodation for which the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible.

Departmental Agencies.

Mary Upton

Question:

123 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority are not directly answerable to the Houses of the Oireachtas as outlined in the UN Paris Principles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40165/09]

I refer the Deputy to my replies to Questions Nos. 733 and 747 of the 3rd November, 2009. The position is as stated in these replies.

Garda Investigations.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

124 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made in the Garda investigation regarding activities in a financial institution (details supplied); when he expects a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecution in view of his comments in a newspaper interview that his attention had been drawn to the fact that the public were demanding arrests and would not support the National Asset Management Agency otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40160/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that following receipt of a complaint from the Financial Regulator an investigation was commenced by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. The investigation is ongoing and involves a number of financial institutions.

The investigation is particularly complex, involving a vast amount of documentation and a large number of witnesses. I am informed that it is being progressed as expeditiously as possible with a view to submitting an investigation file to the Law Officers. Liaison is being maintained with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

Departmental Investigations.

Joe Costello

Question:

125 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the investigations that are under way into allegations that a small number of gardaí may have been providing information to criminal gangs thus potentially jeopardising investigations and putting members of the force at risk in view of comments made by the Garda Commissioner in Templemore, County Tipperary, on 29 October 2009. [40141/09]

I have requested the information sought from the Garda authorities. I will be in contact with the Deputy when this information is to hand.

Garda Reserve.

Willie Penrose

Question:

126 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of members of the Garda Reserve recruited to date in 2009; the stations to which they have been allocated; the number of applicants for the reserve currently in training; if he is satisfied with the rate of recruitment; when he expects that the full complement of 1,500 will be in place; if restrictions have been placed on recruitment to the reserve arising from budgetary restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40156/09]

At 30 September 2009, there were 404 attested Reserve Gardaí and there are currently 201 Reserve trainees. Details of the stations to which the Reserve members were assigned are set out in the table below.

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

Recruitment is ongoing and the Public Appointments Service has received over 1,700 expressions of interest to join the Reserve in 2009. The PAS hold interviews on a rolling basis at a range of locations around the country. The ongoing public information campaign to recruit members to the Garda Reserve includes indoor and outdoor awareness raising campaigns and radio and TV promotional interviews nationally and locally.

The Government is strongly committed to the development of the Reserve.

Reserve Gardai at 30/09/2009

Station

Total

D.M.R.S.C.

Kevin Street

6

Kilmainham

3

Pearse Street

17

Harcourt Tce

0

Donnybrook

4

Irishtown

0

Total

30

DMR NC

Store Street

6

Bridewell

5

Fitzgibbon Street

8

Mountjoy

0

Total

19

DMR NORTH

Santry

5

D/Airport

0

Whitehall

2

Ballymun

7

Raheny

3

Clontarf

4

Howth

2

Coolock

8

Swords

5

Malahide

1

Balbriggan

5

Skerries

0

Lusk

0

Rush

0

Garristown

0

Total

42

DMR EAST

Dún Laoghaire

7

Dalkey

0

Cabinteely

0

Kill-O-Grange

0

Shankill

0

Blackrock

7

Dundrum

0

Stepaside

0

Total

14

DMR SOUTH

Crumlin

5

Sundrive Road

1

Tallaght

6

Rathfarnham

3

Rathmines

2

Terenure

4

Total

21

DMR WEST

Cabra

0

Finglas

7

Blanchardstown

17

Lucan

8

Ronanstown

1

Ballyfermot

4

Clondalkin

5

Rathcoole

0

Total

42

Waterford

Waterford

9

Tramore

2

Dungarvan

0

Total

11

Wexford

Gorey

3

Enniscorthy

2

New Ross

1

Wexford

2

Total

8

Tipperary

Nenagh

1

Thurles

1

Roscrea

1

Carrick-On-Suir

1

Clonmel

4

Cahir

3

Tipperary

2

Total

13

Kilkenny/Carlow

Kilkenny

6

Thomastown

0

Carlow

5

Total

11

Cork City

Anglesea Street

8

Mayfield

4

Watercourse Road

4

Togher

7

Gurranbraher

8

Total

31

Cork North

Cobh

1

Fermoy

2

Midleton

3

Total

6

Cork West

Bandon

1

Clonakilty

2

Macroom

1

Total

4

Kerry

Tralee

2

Killarney

0

Total

2

Limerick

Henry Street

10

Total

10

Donegal

Letterkenny

9

Ballybofey

1

Total

10

Cavan/Monaghan

Cavan

3

Monaghan

3

Total

6

Sligo/Leitrim

Sligo

6

Carrick-On-Shannon

1

Total

7

Louth

Drogheda

8

Dundalk

5

Ardee

1

Total

14

Clare

Ennis

8

Killaloe

0

Total

8

Mayo

Castlebar

9

Ballina

3

Swinford

1

Claremorris

1

Westport

3

Total

17

Galway

Galway

24

Tuam

2

Salthill

2

Total

28

Roscommon/Longford

Roscommon

3

Boyle

0

Longford

2

Total

5

Westmeath

Athlone

2

Mullingar

7

Total

9

Meath

Navan

3

Ashbourne

1

Trim

2

Kells

2

Total

8

Kildare

Naas

2

Athy

2

Celbridge

1

Newbridge

3

Kildare

5

Total

13

Laois/Offaly

Tullamore

6

Birr

1

Portlaoise

2

Total

9

Wicklow

Bray

4

Wicklow

0

Arklow

1

Baltinglass

1

Total

6

Total

404

Departmental Expenditure.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

127 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the concerns expressed by the Garda representative bodies at the implications of proposed cutbacks on Garda services; the discussions he has had or plans to have on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40144/09]

My Department is currently engaged in detailed discussions with the Garda associations on the need for savings in public expenditure and the continued delivery of an efficient and effective policing service.

It is also the case that expenditure levels for all the votes in my Department are currently being considered as part of the estimates and budgetary processes for 2010. The decisions on these issues will be a matter for the Government.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

128 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he proposes to take to prevent so called tiger kidnappings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40261/09]

I refer the Deputy to the answer given to Priority Question No. 2 of today's date.

Prison Population.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

129 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisoners in jails at the latest date in 2009 for which figures are available; if he will confirm that the prison population recently exceeded 4,000; the steps that are being taken to deal with prison overcrowding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40137/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that on 6 November 2009 there were 3,998 prisoners in custody. I can confirm that on two occasions recently the prison population exceeded 4,000. These were on 9 October 2009 when 4,009 prisoners were in custody and on 15 October 2009 when 4,003 prisoners were in custody.

As the Deputy will appreciate the Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts into its custody and do not have the option of refusing committals. It is the case that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 330. This represents a 9% rise in the number in custody.

The Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure which has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. A new accommodation block for 123 prisoners recently opened at Castlerea Prison. Furthermore, current projects will also provide the potential for an additional 750 prison spaces during 2009 and 2010 by means of:

a new block in Portlaoise Prison which will have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners and which has recently started to accommodate prisoners;

a new block in Wheatfield Prison which will also have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners which is due to open by end of 2009;

opening the separation unit in Mountjoy Prison which will have the potential to accommodate 50 prisoners due to open by end of this month;

a new wing at the Portlaoise/Midlands complex will have the potential to accommodate 300 prisoners. Work is due to commence in 2010.

In the longer term, the Government remains firmly committed to replacing the prisons on the Mountjoy complex with modern prison accommodation at Thornton Hall. Building new prison facilities at Thornton Hall on a green field site will open up new opportunities for the development of structured regime activities that support rehabilitation and resettlement of prisoners.

In developing its design concept for Thornton Hall the Irish Prison Service sought and continues to seek to deliver a modern, operationally efficient and cost effective facility which will provide decent living conditions for prisoners with appropriate support programmes including the provision of modern facilities for prison staff.

Cabinet Committees.

Brian Hayes

Question:

130 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Taoiseach the number of Cabinet Sub-Committees that have been established since May 2008; the number of times each of these sub-committees have met; and the person who chairs each sub-committee. [39963/09]

The title of each Committee established since May 2008 and the number of meetings held since then is as follows:

Title of Cabinet Committee

Number of meetings held since May 2008

Aspects of International Human Rights

3

Economic Renewal

14

Transforming the Public Services

6

The Government also decided to continue with the following Committees already established:

Title of Cabinet Committee

Number of meetings held since May 2008

European Affairs

12

Housing, Infrastructure and PPPs*

1

Climate Change and Energy Security

6

Science, Technology and Innovation

2

Social Inclusion, Children and Integration

3

Health

11

Irish and the Gaeltacht

3

To address the Law Reform Commission’s Report on Multi-Unit Developments (Committee now concluded)

2

*The work of the Committee on Housing, Infrastructure & PPPs has been absorbed by the Committee on Economic Renewal.

I chair all Committees with the exception of the Committee on Aspects of International Human Rights which is Chaired by the Minister for Finance and the Committee to address the Law Reform Commission's Report on Multi-Unit Developments which is chaired by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Fur Farming Sector.

Michael Creed

Question:

131 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if provision is being made for the re-employment of more than 80 people employed in the fur farming sector, following her decision to phase out this sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39993/09]

FÁS has not been involved to date in any specific issue to address redundancies arising in the fur farming sector. The agency's approach to redundancies and/or company closures is to offer a tailored approach as early as possible to the workers affected with a view to assisting them access alternative employment. FÁS has recently put in place with my Department a fast-track redundancy notification system which facilitates early contact with companies and employees affected. The agency, on receipt of notification from my Department of impending redundancies, makes contact with the company management concerned to discuss the services available from FÁS and the potential needs of the employees. Each response is tailored on a case-by-case basis and includes a meeting with the workers at which the range of services available through FÁS is outlined.

In the event of notifications of redundancies in fur farming, FÁS will adopt the approach outlined above.

Departmental Agencies.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

132 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 130, 131, 132, 135 and 136 of 21 October 2009, if she has received a reply from FÁS relating to these issues; the reason, in view of the firm’s acceptance in April 2007 that assessment material had been manipulated on one contract, FÁS, and the private firm did not ensure that the same thing did not occur on subsequent contracts; if FÁS will be able to recover from the firm the cost of retraining and recertifying the trainees; if FÁS plans to establish if there is a basis for seeking to have this firm removed from the FÁS and Enterprise Ireland national register of trainers; the action FÁS is taking to ensure that events of this nature cannot recur; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40112/09]

I am advised by FÁS that the issues that arose with this company since April 2007 are being reviewed. Pending the outcome of this review, FÁS has advised that it will introduce a system whereby issues of potential serious non-compliance by trainers in particular regions are brought to the immediate attention of senior management for resolution and referred to the National Register of Trainers for a determination as appropriate.

FÁS is currently taking advice on the options for recovery of funds from the firm in question.

FÁS has also:

commenced a review of all courses where potential non-compliance instances have been identified by them;

initiated a review of all contracted training programmes;

authorized the full implementation of a revised quality management system to enhance quality control standards.

Community Employment Schemes.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

133 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of community employment participants to date in 2009 with a breakdown by their principal welfare payment. [40187/09]

I am advised that at 30 October 2009 there were 22,898 people participating on Community Employment Schemes.

A breakdown by principal welfare payment is provided in the following table:

CE Participants as at 30/10/2009 by CE Eligibility

CE Eligibility

Total

Adult Dependent Swap — JA

51

Adult Dependent Swap — JB

13

Blind Pension

18

Carers Allowance

20

Deserted Wives Allowance

198

Disability Allowance

2,491

Employment Action Plan

32

Ex Offenders

3

Exception (Special)

210

Illness Benefit

1,087

Invalidity Pension

1,874

Jobseekers Allowance

4,975

Jobseekers Benefit

4,364

Medical Referral

72

Offshore Island Inhabitants

8

One Parent Family Payment

4,986

Qualified Adult Dependent

53

Refugees

6

Supervisor Status

1,417

Task Force Response (Drugs)

209

Traveller Training Centre

2

Travellers on Live Register

59

Travellers on Lone Parents

23

Widow/ers

727

Total

22,898

Redundancy Payments.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

134 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons in Cork awaiting redundancy payments from her Department; the duration that they have been waiting; when it is envisaged that they will be paid; the number of persons awaiting payment nationally; the steps she will take to expedite the process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40193/09]

I can advise the Deputy that the latest figures available to end October 2009 indicate that the number of redundancy claims awaiting processing stands at 43,826. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide the Deputy with the specific information she has requested as the Department does not collate statistics for applications awaiting processing on a county basis. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that at this time my focus and that of my Department is on ensuring that redundancy payments are processed as quickly as possible.

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is currently processing applications filed online from March 2009 and those submitted by post from February 2009 but expects shortly to be processing online claims submitted from April 2009 and manual claims from March 2009. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees in instances where employers are unable to pay the statutory redundancy entitlements as in this case, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from June 2009.

Given the unprecedented increase in Redundancy Payment claims lodged with my Department since late 2008 it has proved impossible to maintain the customer service targets that previously obtained. The scale of the challenge is evident from the statistics that show incoming redundancy claims with a cumulative figure for the first ten months of 2009 at 67,346. This figure exceeds the claims lodged for the full year 2008 (40,607) and 2008 was, of itself, an exceptional year as compared with earlier years when claims received were of the order of 25,000.

Efforts continue to be made by my Department to deliver more acceptable turnaround processing times for redundancy payments given the difficulties that this gives rise to for both individual employees and the business community. Measures already taken include:

the reassignment of 26.7 additional staff (full time equivalents) from other areas of the Department to the Redundancy Payments area since early 2009 with ongoing review of trends and demands. The current number of staff serving in the Redundancy Payments Section in terms of full time equivalents is 51.5 although the Section is currently carrying two vacant positions which are due to be filled;

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

the establishment of a special call handling facility to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses who are naturally concerned about their payments, using the facilities and cooperation of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA). This centre has received an average of 12,500 calls per month this year with an estimated 60% relating to redundancy payments;

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

Engagement with the Revenue Commissioners to facilitate the offset of redundancy rebate payments by employers against outstanding tax liabilities with the Revenue Commissioners.

The Tánaiste and I continue to monitor closely the impact of these changes against the continuing influx of redundancy claims and will consider further measures to deal with the situation should current measures prove to be inadequate.

Departmental Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

135 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in her Department on 1 May 2009. [40212/09]

The number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in my Department on 1 May 2009 was 74.

Industrial Development.

Michael McGrath

Question:

136 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will respond to a query (details supplied) regarding support for enterprises. [40382/09]

Financial supports from the agencies of my Department to eligible businesses in Ireland are provided regardless of the nationality of the business person. There is no discrimination in favour of any particular nationality.

County Enterprise Boards.

Michael Ring

Question:

137 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if grant aid is available for a project (details supplied). [40395/09]

The 35 County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) provide a source of support to small businesses with ten employees or fewer. Subject to certain eligibility criteria new and developing enterprises may qualify for financial (grant) support from the CEBs. All of the CEBs operate to the same criteria in relation to the assistance which they can offer i.e. they can support the establishment and/or the development of enterprises provided that the projects, which should generally be in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector, have the capacity to achieve commercial viability and which over time may develop into strong exporting entities. In addition, the CEBs deliver a range of non-financial supports to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow.

However, I would stress that priority is given to projects in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. It is considered inappropriate to support other areas such as retail enterprises, personal services (e.g. hairdressers, gardeners, etc), professional services (accountants, solicitors, etc), construction, as it is considered that these enterprises generally give rise to unacceptable deadweight (where projects would have proceeded anyway) and/or displacement (where the projects simply displace business from other players in the market) concerns.

As detailed above, not all projects fall within the CEB eligibility criteria for grant assistance, however, the company are advised to contact their local CEB to discuss matters in greater detail. In addition to providing direct financial assistance, the CEBs also provide a range of indirect business advice and information assistances such as mentoring services, management capability training and development programmes, e-Commerce training initiatives, and the delivery of targeted Programmes to promote female entrepreneurship; these services may be available to the company. In order to more fully explore the range of options that may be available to them, they should initially contact their local County or City Enterprise Board (contact details of which are available at their national website www.enterpriseboards.ie), to discuss their business needs with the relevant staff of the board.

FÁS Training Programmes.

George Lee

Question:

138 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 217 of 3 November 2009, if she will provide the data tables that will be compiled by the end of 2009 to this Deputy before the end of the year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40398/09]

I understand that the data tables and any other results from the 2008 Customer Survey will be released when the report is completed and published in the first half of 2010.

Departmental Correspondence.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

139 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will respond to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40413/09]

Redundancy claims from the company in question were received by my Department earlier this year and were paid out of the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in September 2009. The employer claimed inability to pay the statutory redundancy entitlements of the employees on the basis that the company was insolvent.

In the case of employer default, where either the employer genuinely has insufficient assets or simply refuses to pay entitlements, the statutory redundancy lump sum entitlement is paid in full to the employee(s) from the Social Insurance Fund. In such cases, the Department seeks to recover the moneys paid (which have preferential creditor status in a winding-up situation) from the employer, as these constitute debts due to the SIF. This applies equally in circumstances such as liquidations, receiverships, examinerships or bankruptcy cases.

In the current case, the Department has recently sought to recover from the employer 40% of the moneys owing to the SIF. The basis for seeking the recovery of 40% of the statutory redundancy entitlements paid is that the employer would anyway have been entitled to a 60% rebate had he paid the redundancy entitlements directly to the employees.

In general, Employment Law provides recourse for employees to pursue companies who have not respected certain entitlements due to them. Under the Payment of Wages legislation for instance, an employee is entitled to take a case before the Rights Commissioner Service to establish a right and entitlement to a claim for unpaid wages and, if necessary, to have this enforced through the courts.

In relation to the question of whether the named company has any contracts with the Office of Public Works, responsibility for that Office lies with my colleague the Minister for Finance and I have no direct responsibility for that Office.

Contracts by agencies within the remit of my Department are a day to day matter for those agencies and I have no direct function in relation to such contracts.

I have passed the Deputy's question in relation to the "phoenix syndrome" to the Director of Corporate Enforcement for his attention and direct reply.

FÁS Training Programmes.

John Cregan

Question:

140 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if apprentice electricians, who have been made redundant and have had their final phase of training accommodated by the ESB, will be facilitated further, subsequent to completing their final phase in college, by providing them with the necessary 12 weeks work experience. [40421/09]

The apprenticeship system is a modular standards based system comprising seven alternating phases of on-the-job and off-the-job training and development. Phases 1, 3, 5 and 7 are the on-the job phases and take place with a FÁS approved employer while the off-the-job phases 2, 4, and 6 are delivered in FÁS Training Centres; Institutes of Technology or Colleges of Further Education.

ESB Networks are providing up to 400 places, over two years, of on-the-job training, to redundant Electrical Apprentices. These places are at phase 5 on-the-job, which is 26 weeks in duration. ESB Networks will also provide on-the job training to apprentices at phase 7, which is 12 weeks in duration. Phase 7 is the final phase of the apprenticeship programme.

To qualify for the Advanced Certificate Craft an apprentice must successfully complete all phases (1-7) of the Standards Based apprenticeship programme and have completed a minimum of four years in employment as an apprentice in the specified trade.

In the case where a redundant apprentice has completed phase 5 with ESB Networks successfully, and has also completed phase 6 successfully, their names will be submitted to ESB Networks by FÁS on a longest redundant basis for consideration for phase 7.

An allocation of a phase 7 placement will depend on the outcome of the interview process undertaken by ESB Networks and the availability of places in ESB Networks at that time.

Science and Technology Groups.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

141 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the funding, broken-down by month and by funding programme or scheme, allocated by Enterprise Ireland to new projects with start dates from January 2009 to October 2009 within the funding programmes or schemes of innovation partnerships, industry led research programmes, competence centres, technology expertise and applied research enhancement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40515/09]

Following is the information requested by the Deputy.

Industry collaboration with the third-level sector

Enterprise Ireland operates three primary mechanisms aimed at helping companies to engage in R&D both within the company and in collaboration with third level institutions: promoting market-led innovation and R&D in manufacturing and services companies, supporting effective and flexible collaborations between companies and third-level researchers, and capitalising on the research investment made in the Higher Education sector by taking commercially useful technology on to the market.

Enterprise Ireland operates a range of innovative supports to help companies engage with third level researchers to undertake collaborative research for the benefit of the company. Companies can be supported to undertake individual research projects from initial small-scale collaborations, supported by means of €5,000 Innovation Vouchers or larger Innovation Partnerships. Larger collaborative research projects involving groups of companies are also supported. Industry Led Research Programmes and the new EI/IDA Competence Centre initiative allow industry groups to set a commercially valuable research agenda, which academics in the higher education sector will deliver on.

Innovation Partnership Initiative

It has proved extremely useful for firms to access innovative "know how" and R&D solutions in the Third level system. However participating in larger scale collaborative research projects can be both a risky and a costly process. By providing key funding Enterprise Ireland helps to reduce both the cost and the risk associated with larger collaborative research projects. As a result, the Innovation Partnership Initiative helps industry to engage in collaborative research projects with Irish universities and Institutes of Technology to develop new products and services.

Impacts/Achievements:

In 2008 52 collaborative projects were supported with €8.3 million grant aid and €5 million cash and in-kind aid being inputted by the industrial partners. The majority of these research ventures were large projects which reflects EI's strategy to increase the scale of supported projects. Companies from 17 diverse sectors have participated in the scheme. 133 industrially relevant research staff were hired and supported through the programme in 2008.

The aim is to support 34 EI Clients in the programme in 2009. 21 companies collaborative projects are currently being supported or in the pipeline.

Industry-led research Programmes

TheIndustry-led Research Programme brings companies with a common research problem together to collaborate with each other and the available talent pool. Designed to suit SMEs and start-up companies, each Industry-led Network typically runs for 2-3 years.

Impacts/Achievements:

To date 93 companies are engaged in six Industry-led Research Programmes in areas like power electronics, e-Learning and mobile telecommunications. The e-Learning ILRP is recognised as a world leader in learning technology. In 2009 60 new collaborative research projects will be supported through this programme.

Competence Centres

Competence Centres, a joint EI/IDA initiative are collaborative centres of excellence established and led by industry, resourced by highly-qualified researchers within research institutions who are empowered to undertake market focused strategic R&D for the benefit of industry. They have a more formal industry led organisational structure which brings academics and companies together in a more ordered environment and also have a longer term research focus than Industry Led Research Programmes.

Impacts/Achievements:

To date 65 companies have become involved in establishing seven competence centres nationally. Two centres have launched to date.

The Food for Health Competence Centre (FHI) was launched in 2008. FHI is pursuing a collaborative market led research programme between four of Ireland's largest dairy companies; Dairygold Food Ingredients, Glanbia Nutritionals, Carbery and Kerry Ingredients Ireland and a partnership between University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick and Teagasc.

I had the pleasure of launching, on November 2nd, the Competence Centre for Applied Nanotechnology involving some of the world's leading companies such as multinationals Intel, Seagate, Medtronic and Analog Devices and Irish companies Aerogen, Audit Diagnostics, Creganna and Proxy Biomedical. Nanotechnology is one of these fields where there is enormous potential for Ireland, in niche areas of drug delivery and diagnostic equipment, medical devices and ICT, which is why the Government has committed to invest, through Enterprise Ireland, €5 million over the next five years in the Competence Centre for Applied Nanotechnology.

Applied Research Enhancement Programme

The Enterprise Ireland Applied Research Enhancement Centres scheme provides a local centre of excellence in applied research in the Institutes of Technology which collaborate with local companies. The objectives of the ARE Programme are to generate regional economic activity through the creation of a strong applied research base. The ARE funding has increased the size and skills base of the research teams in the IoTs and increased their capability and capacity to engage in applied research with regional and national based businesses.

Impacts/Achievements:

To date 17 ARE centres are established throughout the country with funding of €1.2 million to €2 million per centre for a 3 to 5 year period. This is a commitment from EI of €23.4 million (excluding overheads). 35 industrially relevant research projects have been completed in 2008. Forty one industrial projects have been completed since the start of this year and there are sixty five ongoing collaborative projects with industry partners. These include Innovation Vouchers, Innovation Partnerships and fully funded industrial projects. Two spinout companies have emerged from the 3CS centre at WIT.

The following table shows commitments and payments up to the end of August for new projects. Contracts for approvals made in September and October have yet to issue.

Month

Programme

Total Grant

Total Paid to date

January

Applied Research Enhancement

1,880,031

564,009

Commercialisation Plus

159,300

143,370

HE Patent Fund

253,000

143,957

Innovation Partnerships

892,117

170,212

Innovation Vouchers

925,000

222,413

International Collaboration

422,840

381,941

January Total

4,532,288

1,625,902

February

Commercialisation Plus

117,527

105,774

HE Patent Fund

98,000

18,852

Innovation Partnerships

643,156

62,987

Innovation Vouchers

190,000

64,796

International Collaboration

264,994

252,570

International Research Fund

317,900

95,370

February Total

1,631,576

600,349

March

Competence Centres

1,064,630

319,389

HE Patent Fund

171,000

76,553

Industry Led Networks

207,059

62,118

Innovation Partnerships

612,024

165,607

Innovation Vouchers

410,000

104,581

International Collaboration

94,975

50,040

Proof of Concept

6,751,836

399,358

Technology Development

2,275,718

614,045

March Total

11,587,242

1,791,691

April

Commercialisation Plus

90,232

81,209

HE Patent Fund

196,000

80,253

Innovation Partnerships

419,936

14,400

Innovation Vouchers

105,000

35,000

International Collaboration

8,160

8,160

Proof of Concept

3,316,241

111,444

April Total

4,135,570

330,466

May

Business Partner

437,000

61,028

Commercialisation Plus

75,338

67,804

Competence Centres

1,444,734

168,000

Innovation Partnerships

617,952

112,170

Innovation Vouchers

95,000

24,961

International Collaboration

87,290

58,967

May Total

2,757,314

492,930

June

Commercialisation Plus

101,340

91,206

HE Patent Fund

70,000

22,857

Innovation Partnerships

372,811

104,980

Innovation Vouchers

1,180,000

95,000

International Collaboration

80,772

74,094

International Research Fund

658,754

June Total

2,463,678

388,138

July

Commercialisation Plus

200,517

180,465

HE Patent Fund

1,008,000

282,983

Innovation Partnerships

782,718

108,876

Innovation Vouchers

60,000

International Collaboration

110,827

87,116

International Research Fund

400,000

Proof of Concept

2,684,573

540,810

Technology Development

4,841,966

1,153,277

July Total

10,088,601

2,353,526

August

Commercialisation Plus

89,141

80,227

Competence Centres

11,538,000

Innovation Partnerships

421,203

134,911

Innovation Vouchers

445,000

15,000

International Collaboration

152,034

133,796

August Total

12,645,378

363,933

Grand Total

49,841,646

7,946,935

Hazardous Substances Regulations.

John McGuinness

Question:

142 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to a previous parliamentary question, if the national guidelines relating to unattended petrol dispensing have been made available to all chief fire officers and local authorities here; if the local authorities and fire officers have assessed the guidelines; if the guidelines are being implemented in a uniform way throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40525/09]

As I indicated in my response to [PQ 33556/09], no guidelines have been issued by my Department relating to the control of unattended petrol dispensing outlets nor does my Department issue guidelines on such matters. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is responsible for both the Local Authorities in general and the Fire Services in particular.

Departmental Correspondence.

Frank Feighan

Question:

143 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will respond to correspondence sent to her office on 28 September 2009 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [40538/09]

A reply to the correspondence referred to by the Deputy issued from the Tánaiste's office on Friday, November 6th 2009.

Departmental Agencies.

Denis Naughten

Question:

144 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of whole time equivalent staff employed by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement on 1 January 2008, 1 January 2009 and on 1 October 2009 at each grade and within each profession; the corresponding number of retirements since 1 January 2009 and the planned retirements by 31 December 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40581/09]

The table below outlines the number of whole time equivalent staff employed by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement on 1 January 2008, 1 January 2009 and on 1 October 2009 at each grade and within each profession.

1st January 2008

1st January 2009

1st October 2009

Director

1.0

1.0

1.0

Principal Officers

2.0

2.0

2.0

Assistant Principal

4.0

4.0

4.0

Higher Executive Officer

5.2

6.8

10.3

Executive Officer

6.8

7.8

7.8

Clerical Officer

6.1

5.1

7.1

Professional Staff

Corporate Compliance Manager

1.0

1.0

1.0

Legal Advisor

3.0

3.0

3.0

Principal Solicitor

1.0

1.0

1.0

Solicitor

1.0

2.0

2.0

Accountant Grade 1

2.0

2.0

2.0

Total

33.1

35.7

41.2

There were no retirements from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement since 1 January 2009 and there are no planned retirements before 31 December 2009.

Pension Provisions.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

145 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the individual pension fund deficit for the Industrial Development Authority, Shannon Free Airport Development Company, FÁS, and Forfás; the financial exposure of the taxpayer for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39982/09]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

148 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the individual pension fund deficit for all organisations and bodies with extended guarantees arising from the Financial Measures (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009; the financial exposure of the taxpayer for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39983/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 and 148 together.

The tabular statement below, based on returns from the relevant Bodies, shows the assets and liabilities at 31 December 2008 of the covered pension funds listed in Schedule 1 of the Financial Measures (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. The asset figures have in general improved in the interim but are subject to market fluctuations. As it is not proposed to transfer any assets from these funds to the National Pensions Reserve Fund before 31 December 2009, there will be no exposure for the taxpayer for 2009.

2008 Assets

2008 Liabilities

Arts Council

2,424,539

6,950,047

Bord Bia

12,800,000

20,000,000

CERT (Fáilte Ireland)

10,455,000

18,693,000

FÁS

328,193,000

631,428,000

IDA (Forfás)

182,800,000

209,340,000

Irish Goods Council (Forfás)

2,081,000

3,529,000

Regional Tourism

16,000,000

31,000,000

SFADCo

48,000,000

64,900,000

IPA

20,700,000

40,800,000

ESRI

13,372,000

25,257,000

NUIG

176,995,701

249,000,000

NUIM

47,372,000

114,000,000

TCD

245,910,831

554,644,927

UCC

267,495,000

385,579,000

UCD

403,400,000

712,000,000

National University of Ireland

6,133,000

13,104,000

Decentralisation Programme.

Martin Ferris

Question:

146 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance when construction will begin on the new Department of Agriculture offices in Portlaoise, County Laois and what is the timescale for completion of the project. [40254/09]

A number of key projects were identified as priority elements of the decentralisation programme in the Government announcement of 14 October 2008. The construction of a new headquarters building in Portlaoise for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in conjunction with a new headquarters for the Department of Education and Science in Mullingar, and a new decentralised office for staff of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in Carlow was one of the projects given priority.

The proposed decentralised offices in the above three locations are being procured by means of a Public Private Partnership as a single Design, Build, Finance and Maintain contract.

Planning permissions have been received for all three buildings and discussions are proceeding with the successful tenderer with a view to finalising financial closure and contract signing. The anticipated construction period is 20.5 months.

The award of this contract is subject to Government approval.

Garda Stations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

147 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the disposal of the old Garda Station at Carbury, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40678/09]

Tenders for the sale of Carbury former Garda Station are due in OPW at 12 noon on 3 December 2009.

Question No. 148 answered with Question No. 145.

Tax Code.

Jack Wall

Question:

149 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if third level education fees are tax deductible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40051/09]

Section 473A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides, subject to certain conditions, for tax relief at the standard rate of income tax (20%) on qualifying fees, paid by an individual in respect of third level education courses including postgraduate courses.

Qualifying fees means tuition fees paid in respect of an approved course at an approved college. The maximum limit on such qualifying fees is €5,000 @ 20% (i.e. the standard rate of income tax) per annum.

Tax relief is confined to tuition fees only and does not extend to items such as registration fees, administration fees, accommodation, etc.

Tuition fees that are, or will be, met directly or indirectly by grants, scholarships, employer contribution or other means are deducted in arriving at the net fees qualifying for tax relief.

Full details of the tax relief on tuition fees is available on the Revenue Commissioners website (www.revenue.ie)

Joe Costello

Question:

150 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the number of registered tax exiles in each of the past three years; the legal and constitutional basis for the continued existence of tax exile status here; if he will consider abolishing such tax free status or curtailing its operation in view of the current economic crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40059/09]

Joe Costello

Question:

151 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the number of tax exiles who will be able to avail of the provisions of the National Assets Management Agency; his views on whether it is appropriate that people with tax exile status should have their loans at home or abroad protected by NAMA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40060/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 and 151 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners there is no register or list of so called "tax exiles"; there is nothing in Irish tax law that makes reference to "tax exile status".

The taxation of individuals in the State is in line with that prevailing in most other OECD jurisdictions, that is to say — (a) Individuals who are resident in the State for tax purposes (based on the number of days of presence in the State) are taxable here on their worldwide income; and (b) Individuals who are not resident here for tax purposes pay tax here only on income arising in the State and on income derived from working here.

I am informed by Revenue that 5,867 non-resident individuals filed Irish tax returns for the 2007 tax year (the latest year for which figures are available) in respect of their Irish-source income or income derived from working here. Many of these non-residents are foreign nationals or have a foreign domicile; and many of the non-resident Irish citizens or Irish domiciled individuals included in this figure may have become non-resident for reasons unrelated to taxation, but have retained Irish investments such as rental property. These individuals could not be categorised as "tax exiles" under any reasonable definition of that term.

I have already, in section 15 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2008, amended the tax residence rules to provide that an individual will be regarded as present in the State for a day if he or she is in the State at any time during the day, not just at midnight. This applies for the 2009 tax year and subsequent tax years. The Commission on Taxation has recommended further changes in this area. The renewed Programme for Government also contains a commitment to further changes.

As to the NAMA issues, as stated, there is no list or register of so called "tax exiles". Individuals do not "avail of" NAMA. It is not, as the Deputy is aware, a bail out or support for borrowers, it is a transfer of loans from banks to NAMA, which will pursue payment of these loans. The National Asset Management Agency Bill 2009 is designed to address a serious threat to the economy and to the stability of credit institutions in the State through the transfer of the riskier loans on the balance sheets of participating institutions to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). Until the full transfer of eligible loans has been completed, it will not be possible to analyse individual loan files and collate detailed information on borrowers.

Revenue Investigations.

John McGuinness

Question:

152 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance the reason for the delay in refunding money to a company (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if matters have been resolved. [40073/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxation affairs of the above company are currently under active investigation and that they are not in a position to deal with any repayments at present. The refusal to issue the VAT repayment has been appealed and is listed for hearing by the Appeal Commissioner on Thursday 19 November 2009.

Banking Sector.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

153 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of funding that was given to the three main Irish banks by the European Central Bank to date in 2009; the amount of funding that has been lent to date in 2009 by these banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40195/09]

I have no function in regard to the level of ECB lending as this is a matter for the ECB and the associated national central banks, and it would be inappropriate for Ministers to comment on specific institutions in that regard.

AIB and Bank of Ireland gave certain commitments to make funds available as part of recapitalisation and figures on their SME lending form part of the supplementary documentation on NAMA which I circulated in the Dáil on 16 September 2009.

A Report Stage amendment to the NAMA Bill provides a power to issue guidelines to the participating institutions on lending practices and procedures to improve the flow of credit to SMEs and, if necessary, other sectors and guidelines relating to the review of decisions of participating institutions to refuse credit facilities. The power is a wide ranging one and will allow for a response adapted to the particular circumstances of different institutions and sectors. This approach recognises that this is a complex situation and allows for a flexible response to changing credit needs.

It should be noted that the Central Bank figures for lending are calculated after various adjustments, notably the deduction of banks' provisions against possible losses. Accordingly, where the headline figure shows a reduction, this may not mean that actual lending has fallen, as the ECB monthly bulletins have explained.

Financial Regulator.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

154 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance if complaints were received by him regarding the Financial Regulator’s failure to act in certain cases following the setting up of the Financial Regulator in 2003; if so, the action he has taken on foot of these complaints; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40196/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

155 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance if the attention of his predecessor was drawn to the complaints about the Financial Regulator; if so, the number of complaints that were received; the action that was taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40197/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 154 and 155 together.

Under the terms of the Central Bank Act 1942, as amended, the Financial Regulator is responsible for the regulation and supervision of the financial system and also the promotion and protection of the interest of consumers of financial services. In the exercise of these functions, the Financial Regulator is independent of the Minister for Finance. The Central Bank Act also provides that appeals against appealable decisions of the Financial Regulator shall be made to the independent Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal and that complaints from consumers against a financial institution shall be made to the independent Financial Services Ombudsman. As Minister for Finance I do not have a formal complaints determination role in connection with the Financial Regulator. However, I am informed that the Financial Regulator has, in accordance with good administrative procedures, a well established internal review procedure for handling complaints made to it.

If the Deputy has a concern in respect of a specific issue raised with the Financial Regulator, he should provide details to me and my Department will bring the matter to the attention of the Financial Regulator for appropriate follow up action as necessary.

National Aquatic Centre.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

156 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that the valuation issued by the Valuation Office in respect of the National Aquatic Centre was valid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40198/09]

The responsibility for making valuations and issuing valuation certificates for rating purposes under the Valuation Act 2001 rests with the Commissioner of Valuation. There is provision for the ratepayer to make representations before the valuation becomes effective. If the ratepayer is dissatisfied with the outcome of his representations there is a right of appeal, also embodied in the Act, in the first instance to the Commissioner and subsequently to the independent Valuation Tribunal. There is a further right of appeal to the Superior Courts on a point of law.

I am informed that the current rateable valuation on the National Aquatic Centre was determined on appeal to the Commissioner in 2004. The valuation of the Aquatic Centre was also the subject of a Valuation Tribunal appeal in 2008 and neither its valuation nor rateable status was altered.

Currently, rateable properties in Fingal, including the National Aquatic Centre, are the subject of a revaluation under the provisions of the Valuation Act 2001. This revaluation will be completed with the publication of a new valuation list for Fingal on 31 December 2009. There will in every case, as per the Act, be a right of appeal to the Commissioner of Valuation in the first instance and subsequently to the independent Valuation Tribunal.

The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Valuation Act 2001 and the making of valuations for rating purposes is his sole prerogative. The statute does not accord me as Minister for Finance any function in this regard. The extensive appeal provisions provide safeguards in protecting the rights of ratepayers and ensuring the validity of the valuations assessed under the provisions of the Valuation Act.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

157 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number and the proportion of earners who pay no tax, pay tax at the standard rate and pay tax at the higher rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40202/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is as follows in respect of the income tax year 2009.

Tax year

Exempt (Standard rate liability fully covered by credits or Age Exemption Limits)

Marginal Band

Paying tax at the standard rate (including those whose liability at the higher rate is fully offset by credits)

Higher rate Liability not fully off set by credits

All cases

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

2009

1,048,790

45.7

17,060

0.7

926,840

40.4

300,209

13.1

2,292,899

The figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2007, adjusted as necessary to take account of the most recent data available for income and employment trends for the year in question. It is therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

It should be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Joan Burton

Question:

158 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will itemise all tax expenditures and reliefs, including their expected revenue for 2009 and 2010 if left unchanged; their actual revenue for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008; the revenue that would be raised on a 2010 and full year basis through the abolition of each through the standard rating of each and through excluding each for all incomes over €50,000, €60,000, €70,000, €80,000, €90,000, €100,000 and €125,000 respectively. [40203/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the total identifiable costs to the Exchequer of all income tax and corporation tax allowances, reliefs, exemptions and tax credits available, are set out in the following tables for 2006, the most recent year for which the necessary detailed historical information is available. Relevant notes relating to items in the tables are also included. The Deputy will be aware I have provided similar information to Deputy Mary Upton as recently as 3 November, 2009 in reply to PQ 38216/09.

Estimates of the prospective yield to the Exchequer in 2010 from the abolition or standard rating of each deduction and relief from incomes over the specified ranges, are not available. These estimates could not be provided without undertaking an extensive and costly development of the Revenue tax model nor would they capture any behavioural change on the part of taxpayers as a consequence of such change or their economic effects.

Cost of Tax Credits, Allowances and Reliefs 2006 and 2005

The following table IT 6 shows the estimated cost in terms of revenue forgone of the personal tax credits and the main reliefs and deductions allowable under the income tax system. A number of reliefs which apply both to individuals and companies is also included and the cost shown in relation to these reliefs covers income tax and corporation tax.

An adjustment is included in the cost figures applying to income tax to compensate for incomplete numbers of tax returns on record at the time of compiling the estimates.

The tax credits and reliefs listed in the table serve varying purposes. Many are essentially structural reliefs through which individual tax liabilities are adjusted to reflect relative taxable capacity. The main personal tax credits are a good example of this since they may be regarded as part of the progressive income tax structure representing a band of income chargeable at a zero rate. Others, such as relief for interest paid in full or investment in corporate trades, are tax-based incentives in favour of specific groups or activities which are designed to promote certain aspects of public policy.

In computing taxable profits, account needs to be taken in some way of the depreciation of capital assets incurred in earning those profits. To this extent, the figures in the table of the "costs" of capital allowances should not be regarded as measuring a "loss of tax revenue" on profits. To compute such "loss", regard would have to be had to the excess of the amount of the capital allowances at current rates over the amount of the normal allowances.

The figures shown for the basic personal tax credits (married, single and widowed) are the costs of these tax credits as if all other tax credits and the exemption limits did not apply. They do not include individuals who are not on Revenue records because their incomes are below the income tax thresholds. The cost figures for the exemption limits are based on the excess of the exemption limits over the basic personal tax credits.

The figures of cost are for 2006 and 2005 and all figures are based on tax due in respect of assessments for each year and not on tax receipts within that year.

The figure against each credit or allowance represents the additional tax which would become payable if the tax credit or allowance were withdrawn assuming no consequent change in the behaviour of taxpayers (for example, in relation to the reliefs for savings), or the amounts of payments (for example, interest payable on certain savings schemes might need adjustment to take account of the new tax liability).

The numbers of claimants of each credit or relief are shown for both years to the extent that they are available. The numbers included are the taxpayers who would be adversely affected by the withdrawal of the respective credit or relief.

In the calculations, each tax credit or allowance has been dealt with separately and on the assumption that the rest of the tax system remained unchanged. It would be therefore inaccurate to calculate the effect of withdrawing all the credits, reliefs and allowances by simply totalling the figures. For example, the costs shown for capital allowances and stock relief are also calculated on the basis of separate withdrawal of these reliefs. Their combined cost would be greater than the sum of the separate costs because allowances are not always fully set off against available profits. For instance, a person with €1,000 gross trading profits, €1,000 capital allowances and €1,000 stock relief would pay no tax if either of the reliefs were withdrawn but would pay tax on €1,000 profits if both reliefs were withdrawn. In this case, the cost of each relief separately is nil but the combined cost is tax on €1,000. Basic data is not available to enable an estimate of the combined cost of these reliefs to be made.

The figures for estimates based on tax returns have been grossed up to an overall expected level to adjust for incompleteness in the numbers of returns on record at the time the data was extracted for analytical purposes.

Finally, the estimates shown in many cases are tentative and are subject to revision in the light of later information. Some of the cost figures included in the table for 2005 reflect revisions to figures previously published in the 2007 Report.

TABLE IT6: INCOME TAX AND CORPORATION TAX

Cost of Tax Credits, Allowances and Reliefs 2005 and 2006

(1)Estimated cost for Tax Relief Provision

2005

2006

€m

Numbers

€m

Numbers

INCOME TAX

Exemption limits:

General Exemption(2)

0.0

0

0.0

0

Child Addition(2)

0.3

1,000

0.2

800

Age Exemption(2)

61.5

49,600

62.0

50,100

Married Person’s Credit(3)

2,268.9

756,500

2,396.9

777,700

Single Person’s Credit(3)

1,854.3

1,330,100

2,137.2

1,494,700

Widowed Person’s Credit(3)

132.2

71,500

155.2

78,400

Additional Credit to Widowed Person in Year of Bereavement

4.7

4,000

4.5

4,000

Additional Bereavement Credit to Widowed Parent

4.3

2,400

4.9

2,300

Additional Personal Credit for Lone Parent

194.1

124,900

186.1

123,100

Homecarer Credit

63.9

87,900

61.8

85,000

Additional Credit for Incapacitated Child

10.3

10,400

16.0

11,000

Employee (PAYE) Credit

2,030.8

1,493,300

2,522.0

1,626,700

Dependent Relative Credit

1.0

15,200

1.4

15,500

Person Taking Care of Incapacitated Taxpayer

1.8

660

2.8

820

Age Credit

20.6

68,800

28.3

76,700

Blind Person’s Credit

0.8

890

1.2

880

Medical Insurance Premiums(4)

229.6

1,073,400

260.5

1,134,800

Health Expenses

134.0

260,700

167.2

348,800

Contributions Under Permanent Health Benefit Schemes, after Deduction of Tax on Benefits Received(5)

3.2

21,600

3.1

23,000

Employees’ Contributions To Approved Superannuation Schemes(6)

423.4

565,200

543.3

693,100

Employers’ Contributions To Approved Superannuation Schemes(6)

90.0

296,500

120.0

363,100

Exemption of Investment Income and Gains of Approved Superannuation Funds(6) (7) (11)*

1,050.0

N/A

1,200.0

N/A

Exemption of employers’ contributions from employee BIK(6)

370.0

296,500

510.0

363,100

Tax Relief on “tax free” lump sums(6)

120.0

N/A

130.0

N/A

Retirement Annuity Contracts(6)

357.7

121,200

435.9

125,900

Personal Retirement Savings Account(6)

42.2

32,900

56.4

45,200

Interest paid:

Loans relating to Principal Private Residence

279.0

587,800

351.6

668,400

Other(8)

22.2

4,800

31.1

4,900

Rent Paid in Private Tenancies

48.1

144,500

64.0

171,800

Expenses Allowable to Employees under Schedule E

65.0

908,800

71.2

960,400

Third Level Education Fees

14.3

29,900

15.7

30,800

Exemption of Certain Earnings of Writers, Composers and Artists

34.8

2,220

65.9

2,890

Dispositions (Including Maintenance Payments made to Separated Spouses)

18.9

6,100

20.2

7,640

Exemption of Interest on Savings Certificates, National Instalment Savings & Index Linked Savings Bonds

129.5

N/A

216.3

N/A

Rent a Room

3.3

2,820

3.9

3,560

Exemption of Income of Charities, Colleges, Hospitals, Schools, Friendly Societies, etc.(9)

19.8

N/A

35.0

N/A

Donations to Approved Bodies

34.0

63,800

49.5

107,100

Donations to Sports Bodies(10)

0.2

430

0.3

580

Retirement Relief for certain Sports Persons(10)

0.3

42

0.2

32

Exemption of Irish Government Securities where owner not ordinarily resident in Ireland(11)*

169.3

N/A

197.0

N/A

Exemption of Statutory Redundancy Payments

72.8

22,000

77.7

22,100

Service Charges

17.2

304,700

21.4

363,900

Top Slicing Relief — Reduced Tax Rate for Payments in Excess of Exemption Amounts Made as Compensation for Loss of Office

11.1

1,480

20.2

2,050

Revenue Job Assist allowance

0.4

550

0.3

360

Allowance for seafarers

0.4

200

0.3

170

Trade Union Subscriptions

11.8

272,100

19.2

294,300

Exemption From Tax of Certain Social Welfare Payments:

Child benefit*

366.6

373,500

377.4

375,300

Early childcare Supplement*

N/A

N/A

64.9

192,000

Maternity allowance*

9.6

10,800

12.2

14,900

Exemption of Income arising from the Provision of Childcare Services

N/A

N/A

0.3

230.0

Approved Profit Sharing Schemes*

55.8

55,000

87.8

87,500

Savings-Related Share Option Schemes*

6.2

N/A

2.8

N/A

Approved Share Option Schemes*

0.4

464

3.4

1,400

Reilief for New Shares Purchased by Employees

N/A

N/A

0.2

184

Investment in Corporate Trades (BES)

16

1,650

21.4

2,000

Investment in Seed Capital

1.3

42

1.2

42

Stock Relief*

2.0

N/A

2.0

N/A

Relief for expenditure on significant buildings and gardens

3.3

84

6.2

180

Donation of Heritage items

5.8

7

5.7

5

Special Savings Incentive Scheme

597.4

1,083,600

438.9

718,570

INCOME TAX AND/OR CORPORATION TAX (12)

Employee Share Ownership Trusts*

1.8

16,800

6.3

16,300

Total Capital Allowances:(13)

1,877.5

266,200

2,036.3

260,700

Rented Residential Relief — Section 23(14)*

239.7

4,126

252.4

4,132

Effective Rate of 10% for Manufacturing and Certain Other Activities(15)

396

3,034

384.1

2,831

Double Taxation Relief

439.1

13,200

590.0

15,400

Investment in Films*

15.7

1,500

36.4

3,500

Group Relief

421.6

1,578

255.6

1,592

Research & Development Tax Credit(16)

65.2

135

74.7

141

NOTES ON TABLE IT 6

(1) Figures accompanied by an asterisk * are particularly tentative and subject to a considerable margin of error.

(2) The cost figures for the exemption limits are based on the excess of the exemption limits over the basic personal tax credits. They include the cost of marginal relief for taxpayers whose incomes are not greatly in excess of the exemption limits.

(3) The figures shown for the basic personal tax credits (married, single and widowed) are the costs of these tax credits as if all other tax credits and the exemption limits did not apply. They do not include individuals who are not on Revenue records because their incomes are below the income tax thresholds.

(4) Arising from the change over toTax Relief at Source the figures relate to the number of policies issued. These include policies where subscriptions were paid by businesses on behalf of their employees.

(5) Part of the cost of contributions to Permanent Health Benefit Schemes is not identifiable as a result of the move to a “net pay” basis for contributions by PAYE taxpayers from 6 April 2001.

(6) See the following table “Green Paper on Pensions” for background commentary and cost figures for 2007.

(7) Arising from the work on the “Green Paper on Pensions” (2007) the basis for costing this item was changed for 2005 and is not directly comparable with the figures for earlier years. See also the following table “Green Paper on Pensions” for more recent figures.

(8) “Other” relates to borrowings for purposes such as acquiring an interest in a company or partnership or to pay death duties.

(9) The cost of exempting the income of charities, colleges, hospitals, schools, friendly societies, etc. from income tax includes the sums repaid in respect of tax credits, income tax deducted at source (certain dividends, other investment income and payments received under covenant), and also includes tax on (see Note 10) (a) donations made by the PAYE and self-employed sectors to approved bodies (b) income tax repayments on foot of PAYE donations. It also includes the cost of exempting certain bodies from the deduction on income arising from government securities. Information is not available about other income received gross.

(10) The cost figures for relief for donations to Approved Sports Bodies and for certain Sports Persons are based on self assessment returns.

(11) In the absence of other information, tax has been assumed at the standard rate of income tax even though a different rate might be appropriate in many cases.

(12) The costs included for corporation tax are by reference to accounting periods which ended in the years 2005 and 2006.

(13) The cost shown for capital allowances does not include any cost associated with “unused capital allowances”, that is, capital allowances which are not absorbed by a company in the accounting period in which they arise because they exceed the amount of the company’s profits of that accounting period which are available for offset. Unused capital allowances can be offset as losses against taxable profits arising in the previous accounting period and against certain profits arising in future accounting periods and can be offset against the profits of another company in the same group of companies. It is estimated that €3340 million of unused capital allowances were claimed in respect of 2006 accounting periods but as the proportion of this item which is included in previous years losses and in group relief is not separately identifiable a reliable estimate of the cost of the capital allowance element cannot be provided.

(14) The tax cost shown for section 23 type relief is the estimated ultimate tax cost relating to the total allowable expenditure in respect of claims made in 2005 and 2006 tax returns for the first time. The cost shown is for income tax cases only.

(15) The cost does not include any notional cost associated with IFSC companies. The International Financial Services activity in Ireland represents new business which has developed as a result of, among other things, the concessionary tax rate. This means that as the cost of the concessionary rate is not just the difference between the concessionary tax rate and the full tax rate, it is therefore not quantifiable. In regard to the cost shown for the effective rate of 10 per cent for manufacturing and certain other activities, no account is taken of the fact that without these incentives, many enterprises may not have set up here. To the extent that profits earned by such enterprises would not have been available for Irish tax purposes, part of the cost figure shown might be regarded as notional.

(16) The costs shown for R&D is for claims for R&D on corporation tax returns for accounting periods ending in 2005 and 2006. However, the cost includes the cost associated with claims where the company was entitled to the credit but was unable to absorb it in that accounting year.

Green Paper on Pensions — updated estimates of cost for 2007

As part of the work on the Green Paper on Pensions, a review was carried out of the current regime of incentives for supplementary pension provision with a view to developing more comprehensive and reliable estimates of the cost of reliefs in this area. The review examined, among other things, the current reliefs and incentives for investment in supplementary pensions and the data available on which to base reliable estimates of the costs in revenue foregone to the Exchequer.

The review drew on newly available 2007 aggregate data on contributions to pension schemes by employers and employees arising from a P35 initiative introduced on foot of provisions that were included in the Finance Act 2004 with a view to improving data quality. Estimates of the cost of tax for private pension provision updated for 2007 are included in the table below.

Estimate of the cost of tax and PRSI reliefs for private pension provision 2007.

Estimated costs

Numbers*

€million

Employees’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

590

708,100

Employers’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

150

385,100**

Estimated cost of exemption of employers’ contributions from employee BIK

540

385,100

Exemption of investment income and gains of approved Superannuation Funds

900

Not available

Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs)

420

123,900

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs)

65

56,400

Estimated cost of tax relief on “tax-free” lump sum payments

130

Estimated cost of PRSI and Health Levy relief on employee and employer contributions

240

Not available

Gross cost of tax relief

3,035

Estimated tax yield from payment of pension benefits

410

Net cost of tax relief

2,625

*Numbers as included in P35 returns from employers to Revenue for 2007. Figures are as verified to date but may be understated and subject to revision.

**This is numbers of employees for whom employers are contributing to occupational pension funds as included in P35 returns to Revenue for 2007. Figures are as verified to date but may be understated and subject to revision.

The breakdown and make-up of these estimated costs of reliefs differ from presentations of costs in this area for previous years in a number of respects and are not directly comparable. For further details on the cost of tax and other reliefs and the changes in the methodology, refer to pages 106 and 107 of the Green Paper on Pensions which is available at:

www.pensionsgreenpaper.ie.

Certain property-based tax incentives and incomes exempt from tax — uptake and estimated potential cost to the Exchequer in terms of income tax and corporation tax forgone based on 2006 tax returns

Provisions were included in the Finance Acts of 2003 and 2004 to enable new statistical data on the uptake of tax relief for certain property-based tax incentives and incomes exempt from tax to be obtained from tax returns. This information, derived from changes introduced by the Revenue Commissioners to income tax returns and corporation tax returns for 2006, is set out in the following table.

The figures shown include the amounts claimed in the year but exclude amounts carried forward into the year either as losses or capital allowances, and include any amounts of unused losses and/or capital allowances which will be carried forward to subsequent years.

Tax Incentive/Income Exemption

Amount Claimed

Assumed maximum tax cost

Number of claimants

€m

€m

Urban renewal

351.7

140.5

3,436

Town Renewal

93.0

38.7

1,149

Seaside Resorts

15.7

6.4

1,167

Rural Renewal

94.0

38.0

2,137

Multi-storey car parks

40.2

16.6

119

Living Over the shop

7.1

2.7

82

Enterprise Areas

7.4

3.0

129

Park and Ride

6.9

2.8

32

Holiday Cottages

22.9

9.5

660

Hotels

277.1

106.6

1,515

Nursing Homes

35.5

14.7

538

Housing for the Elderly/infirm

3.4

1.4

95

Hostels

1.96

0.82

23

Guest Houses

0.2

0.1

7

Convalescent Homes

4.1

1.7

18

Qualifying Private Hospitals

25.2

0.61

284

Qualifying sports injury clinics

0.1

0

3

Buildings Used for certain childcare purposes

14.3

6.0

304

Student Accommodation

162.5

64.3

1,059

Exemption of profits or gains from Greyhounds

0.4

0.1

6

Exemption of profits or gains from Stallions

90.7

22.5

185

Exemption of profits or gains from Woodlands

13.6

5.4

1,231

Exempt Patents (section 234, TCA 1997)

395.0

83.8

1,120

Totals

1,662.9

576.2

15,299

Notes:

The figures shown relate to the various reliefs/incentives and exemptions as specified in the 2006 form 11 and CT1.

There were concerns that in some instances the new, separately categorised data on property incentives may not have been correctly entered on the Tax returns. Revenue drew the attention of the relevant tax practitioner bodies to these deficiencies to rectify them in future returns and also increased awareness among its own staff involved in processing tax returns of the need to ensure, through closer examination of the returns, that they are correctly completed.

The estimated costs have assumed tax foregone at the 41% rate in the case of income tax and 12.5% in the case of corporation tax. This means the figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax. However, the actual Exchequer cost could be lower, particularly in relation to the exempt income items, as the income could be subject to deductions for allowable expenses and other costs thereby reducing the level of income that would be actually subject to tax.

Some of the costs shown above are included in the costs shown for capital allowances and section 23 relief in Table IT6. For example, exempt income included above is not part of capital allowances.

Reliefs in Respect of which Costs are not Currently Quantifiable or are Negligible or are not Identifiable within Total Aggregates

Exemption in respect of certain income derived from the leasing of farm land;

Relief for new shares purchased on issue by employees;

Relief from averaging of farm profits;

Exemption for income arising from payments in respect of personal injuries;

Exemption of certain payments made by Hemophilia HIV Trust;

Exemption of Pensions, Benefits or Gratuities Payable to Veterans of the War ofIndependence their Widows or Dependents;

Exemption of lump sum retirement payments;

Relief for allowable motor expenses;

Tapering relief allowable for taxation of car benefits in kind;

Reduced tax rate of 10% for authorised unit trust schemes;

Reduced tax rate of 10% for special investment schemes;

Exemption of certain grants made by Údarás na Gaeltachta;

Relief for investment income reserved for policy holders in life assurance companies;

Relief for various business related expenses such as staff recruitment, rent, legal fees, and other general expenses;

Exemption in certain circumstances on the interest on quoted bearer Eurobonds;

Exemption of payments made as compensation for loss of office;

Exemption of scholarship income;

Exemption for income received under Sceim na bhFoghlaimeoiri Gaeilge.

Employment Law.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

159 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40414/09]

Policy issues relating to redundancy, company law and employment law and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, are a matter for my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Ms Mary Coughlan in the first instance.

I can confirm that this company does not have any contracts directly with my Department. The position in other Departments or Government agencies is a matter for the relevant Ministers. I understand that material is currently being collated in relation to current contracts with the Office of Public Works and this will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is made available.

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

Vehicle Registration.

John Cregan

Question:

160 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Finance the reason a vehicle purchased in and imported from the UK, where vehicle registration tax was originally paid, is subject to further VRT here. [40419/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that under section 132 of Finance Act 1992, vehicle registration tax (VRT) is chargeable, leviable and payable on the registration of vehicles in the State. There is no provision in law for the exemption from, or reduction in, the charge to VRT in relation to vehicles that were previously registered in another jurisdiction.

I would add that VRT is a national tax and does not contravene EU law. Article 90 of the EC Treaty allows Member States to charge national taxes provided that there is no discrimination against imported goods in favour of indigenous goods. It provides that "No Member State shall impose, directly or indirectly, on the products of other Member States any internal taxation of any kind in excess of that imposed directly or indirectly on similar domestic products".

Accordingly, in the case of a vehicle brought into Ireland from the UK or any other jurisdiction, VRT is payable on the registration of the vehicle in the State, irrespective of whether or not the taxes and duties payable in another jurisdiction on such vehicle have been properly paid.

Departmental Telephony.

Joan Burton

Question:

161 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money which could be saved by directing all Government Departments, agencies and State bodies to utilise skype, or other similar voice internet protocol technology, to the exclusion of traditional fixed telephony; if this has been examined; the usage to date of such technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40516/09]

My Department has examined Skype and equivalent services, and agrees that it offers potential to reduce telephony costs. However, Skype is just one provider of public IP-based telephony services and there are numerous other ways in which IP-based telephony can be provided. Under procurement law, and to ensure maximum competition, my Department and all public bodies must give equal opportunity to other providers. Additionally, the use of public IP-based telephony services introduces considerable security risks for corporate networks. Consequently, to ensure the protection of their networks and the data of customers of public bodies, it is imperative that public bodies remain in direct control of their IP-based telephony services.

Accordingly, my Department has worked with public bodies over the past number of years to implement secure IP-based telephony services — these use the same underlying IP-based technology and bypass techniques of public IP-based telephony systems such as Skype. This approach has resulted in considerable cost reductions for telephony services.

In addition, my Department has put in place a range of telephony procurement frameworks and central procurement standards for mobile voice and data, fixed voice and Voice over IP (VoIP), and fixed data communications. These frameworks and central standards have ensured that all telephony providers have equal access to procurement opportunities in the public service. The Government decided some time ago that these frameworks and standards must be used by all civil and public service bodies. As a result, there is now intense competition for public service telephony business resulting in considerable cost reductions.

The combination of these procurement frameworks and central standards, and the IP-based technology approaches being used, have resulted in very considerable cost reductions for telephony use in the public service, ranging from 20% to 70%, dependent on the nature of the organisation and the type of calls it makes.

Garda Stations.

Phil Hogan

Question:

162 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the transfer of part of a site in his ownership (details supplied) for the benefit of the local community and nearby educational facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40526/09]

The former Garda Barracks at Barrack Street, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny is being assigned to the Affordable Housing Initiative, as per Government Decision S205511 of 15 April 2008.

Banking Sector.

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

163 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the amount that has been loaned out or underwritten by Anglo Irish Bank since that institution was nationalised. [40543/09]

As a condition of EU State Aid approval given earlier this year in relation to the €4 billion capital injection, the bank is not allowed to engage in new lending except to existing customers for existing projects. This was further elaborated on in the Subscription Agreement between the bank and the Minister at the time of the payment of the €4 billion. The specific figure for new lending since nationalisation is commercially sensitive and cannot be disclosed at this time.

Ferry Services.

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

164 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the estimated annual cost to the Exchequer in direct and indirect tax revenue caused by the demise of a ferry service (details supplied). [40544/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that their obligation to observe confidentiality for taxpayers and small groups of taxpayers precludes them from providing the information requested.

Tobacco Smuggling.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

165 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 128 on 13 October 2009, if his attention has been drawn to a report compiled by independent consultants specifically outlining on a country by country basis the extent of illicit cigarette trade in the European Union; if he has information on the way Ireland compares with other EU Member States on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40587/09]

A copy of a section of the report referred to by the Deputy was received by my Department and by the Revenue Commissioners.

The report in question is indeed compiled by independent consultants, but is based on research commissioned by a global cigarette manufacturer. While the report provides an annual assessment of the position concerning the total consumption of counterfeit and contraband cigarettes throughout the European Union, the authorities of each Member State only receive details, on a confidential basis, in respect of their own individual market; and do not receive details of the estimate disclosed to each of the other Member States in respect of their markets. These restrictions were put in place by the European Commission, which oversees the project.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

166 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the number of checks that have taken place by customs officers in retail stores for verifying the legitimacy of their cigarette stock in each of the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40588/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that statistics are not maintained in a manner that would provide precise information regarding the number of stock checks at retail stores.

I can, however, advise that Revenue enforcement officers have been conducting checks at retail outlets, markets, and distribution centres in an ongoing operation entitled Operation Downstream since December 2007. This operation focuses on seizing illicit cigarettes that evaded detection at the point of importation. In the course of this operation 12 seizures totalling 1 million cigarettes were made in December 2007, 128 seizures totalling 6.4 million cigarettes in 2008, and 208 seizures totalling 8.7 million cigarettes were made during the first nine months of 2009. These checks are carried out on the basis of specific information received concerning certain outlets and at premises such as markets where contraband cigarettes are known to be on sale.

In a parallel ongoing operation targeting cigarette packs bearing counterfeit tax stamps, checks have been made at more than 200 retail stores in the Dublin region in the course of 2009 to date. This operation was instigated following the detection of bogus Irish Tobacco Tax Stamps on counterfeit cigarettes smuggled from China.

Pension Provisions.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

167 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 253 of 3 November 2009, when the ongoing consultations between officials in his Department and officials in the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will be resolved. [40699/09]

As outlined in my reply to Deputy Brian Hayes on 20 October 2009, and to Deputy O'Sullivan on 3 November 2009, my officials are involved in ongoing consultation with officials in the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on this matter and it is hoped that, with co-operation from all parties involved, the scheme will be in order for the Ministers to approve in the near future.

Health Services.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

168 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if there was an evaluation of the effectiveness of the free phone service operated by the homeless persons unit since 1993 undertaken before the decision was taken to replace it; if she will guarantee that the new 24 hour help line will be staffed from within the statutory sector; if protocols have been put in place between the new service provider and social work and out of hours social work services which will ensure the continued sharing of essential information in relation to child welfare and child protection issues; the projected costings for this help line; the projected costings of the expanded outreach services which the introduction of the new help line will necessitate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39999/09]

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

John McGuinness

Question:

169 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an appeal for back to school allowance will be approved in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [40070/09]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

170 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare did not receive the back to school clothing and footwear allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40389/09]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

171 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has not received the clothing allowance in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40582/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

172 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the ear, nose and throat unit along with two other wards are being closed in Sligo General Hospital for a number of months in 2010 as part of a cost saving exercise by the hospital management; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39970/09]

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

Long-Term Illness Scheme.

David Stanton

Question:

173 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of long-term illness books on issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39971/09]

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

174 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the weekly cost of each public nursing home under the fair deal scheme; the corresponding cost of each private run home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39974/09]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 defines "long-term residential care services" as maintenance, health and personal care services.

Under the Act, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has responsibility for the negotiation of prices for the provision of long-term residential care services with private nursing home providers. This price negotiation is based on the definition of "long-term residential care services" as set out in the Act and on the supplementary policy information provided by the Department as follows: bed and board, nursing and personal care appropriate to the level of care needs of the person, laundry service, and basic aids and appliances necessary to assist a person with the activities of daily living.

The cost for each public nursing home has been determined using the definition of "long-term residential care services" underpinned by an agreed set of cost components which has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The cost components are consistent with the supplementary policy information outlined above but differ in format in order to mirror existing cost coding structures within the HSE. The cost components are as follows:

Pay Related Services — Management/Administration Staff directly involved in running the relevant facility;

Nursing Staff directly involved in managing and providing health and personal care services within the relevant facility;

Health Care Assistants, Attendants and equivalent grades directly involved in providing health and personal care services within the relevant facility;

Porters, Catering, Laundry and Housekeeping Staff directly involved in maintaining the relevant facility and its residents;

Maintenance/Technical Staff directly involved in maintaining the relevant facility.

The staff costs listed above shall include pay, including any overtime and allowances, and Employer's PRSI. Non-Pay Related Goods and Services: Basic clinical consumables, including:

basic bandages;

basic, non-medicated dressings;

swabs;

aseptic packs;

syringes and needles;

sterile gloves, wipes, aprons etc.;

hip protectors and disposable underwear;

sharps box;

catheters;

drainage bags and leg bags;

tubing for oxygen, feeding pumps etc.;

Oxygen;

Catering;

Heat, Power and Light;

Cleaning and Washing;

Upkeep of Furniture, Equipment, Crockery and Hardware — Costs under this heading are capped at a maximum of €7,000 per annum;

Bedding and Clothing;

General Maintenance — This item encompasses only regular maintenance works and service contracts with an annual value of €7,000 or under;

Education and Training directly related to health and long-term care and undertaken by staff directly involved in the provision of care within the relevant facility — This item excludes pre-registration training and it is also capped at a maximum of 4% of the gross cost of direct salaries for the relevant facility;

Insurance (public liability, employer's liability and property); Audit; Office Expenses Rent / Rates directly attributable to the relevant facility — costs under this heading are capped at a maximum of €7,000 per annum;

Miscellaneous — this cost category is capped at a maximum of 2% of the overall non-pay expenditure per annum in accordance with existing HSE accounting principles.

As regards the exact weekly cost of care in each public, private and voluntary nursing home, unfortunately the tables are too lengthy to replicate in this response. Therefore, I would refer the Deputy to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme page of the HSE's website where they have been published:

http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/Find_a_Service/Older_People_Services/nhss/costs.html.

Health Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

175 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when a facility (details supplied) in County Roscommon will be opened; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39975/09]

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

Inter-Country Adoptions.

George Lee

Question:

176 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will include transition measures in the Adoption Bill that will allow applicants continue with adoptions from Russia when they have, emotionally and otherwise, invested many years in choosing that country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39976/09]

George Lee

Question:

177 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will include transition measures in the Adoption Bill that will allow couples that are currently in the process of adopting a child from Russia to complete the adoption process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39979/09]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

194 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding Irish adoptions from Russia; if she will make transitional arrangements for parents to allow applications in process to be completed irrespective of whether a country is a Hague Convention signatory; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40079/09]

John Deasy

Question:

201 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that adoptions from other countries, in process but not completed when the Adoption Bill 2009 is enacted, will be allowed to be finalised, even if the other country is neither covered by the Hague Convention nor by a bilateral agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40132/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 176, 177, 194 and 201 together.

The Adoption Bill 2009, which is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption, has passed through the Seanad and I am actively seeking time for its progression in the current Dáil session. As I have stated on many previous occasions, under the new legislation, prospective adoptive parents will be able to adopt from countries that have also ratified the Hague Convention and from countries with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement that meets Hague standards.

I firmly believe that legislation and, specifically, the regime of the Hague Convention, provides an assurance for individual children, their families, and the State, that appropriate procedures have been followed and that the adoption was effected in the best interests of the child. For non-Hague countries only those adoptions effected prior to the commencement of the new law can be registered on the Register of Inter-Country Adoptions to be established under the Bill.

There are transitional provisions contained in the Bill. However, the issue of further transitional measures for prospective parents who are at an advanced stage in the adoption process with Russia or other countries, when the Bill is enacted, and who wish to continue with an adoption from a non-Hague, non-bilateral country, have been raised with me by representative groups. I am currently examining this and other related matters.

Preliminary work has been undertaken on the development of a bilateral agreement with the Russian authorities on inter-country adoption and discussions in this regard take account of the provisions of the Adoption Bill 2009.

George Lee

Question:

178 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made on a bilateral agreement with Vietnam to allow adoptions to take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39981/09]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

193 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding Irish adoptions from Vietnam; the possibility of an interim agreement to facilitate parents who have already been involved for years in the adoption process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40078/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 193 together.

The Adoption Bill 2009, which is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption, has passed through the Seanad and is scheduled to be debated in Dáil Éireann in the current Dáil session. The new legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future intercountry adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Bill 2009 when enacted.

The current policy position, as set out in the Adoption Bill 2009, is that for an adoption to be registered under the Bill it must be effected in a contracting State to the Hague Convention or in a country with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement. For non-Hague countries only those adoptions effected prior to the commencement of the new law can be registered on the Register of Inter-Country Adoptions to be established under the Bill.

There are transitional provisions contained in the Bill. However, the issue of further transitional measures for prospective parents who are at an advanced stage when the Bill is enacted, and who wish to continue with an adoption from a non-Hague, non-bilateral country, have been raised with me by representative groups. I am currently examining this and other related matters.

My Office has been in negotiations with the Vietnamese Government regarding the drafting of a new bilateral inter-country Adoption agreement for some time. I have clearly indicated my intention to await the finalisation of the International Social Services Report on Intercountry Adoption in Vietnam before making final decisions regarding the next steps. I will be considering the report along with the report published in August by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. I anticipate the ISS report will be finalised this month. I will be communicating my decision at the earliest opportunity. I am extremely mindful of the difficult position many prospective adopters find themselves in at this point in time.

The Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai recently led a trade mission to Ireland. I took the opportunity to meet again with Minister Hai whom I had met with during my July visit to Vietnam. The meeting took place on 23 October. Adoption matters were discussed. The meeting was most amicable and allowed both Governments to outline their current positions in relation to the bilateral agreement and legislative developments in each jurisdiction, including Hague Convention ratification. Both Governments restated their desire to achieve the highest standards in intercountry adoption and they committed to ongoing dialogue to advance these goals.

Hospital Staff.

Phil Hogan

Question:

179 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to appoint an audiologist for Waterford Regional Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39990/09]

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

Health Service Capital Programme.

James Reilly

Question:

180 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the breakdown of all capital building and equipping projects planned for the period 2009 to 2013, including a brief outline of the project; the number of additional and replacement beds provided; the target completion date for same; the estimated capital cost for same; the estimated revenue cost for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40002/09]

The Health Service Executive's review of its capital programme for the remainder of the National Development Plan 2007-2013, taking account of the reduced capital allocation available following the Supplementary Budget and the adjustments to the Public Capital Programme, is ongoing.

As I have previously indicated, it is clear that expenditure for the remainder of the NDP will have to be carefully managed and that further commitments will have to be prioritised within the anticipated funding envelope. The HSE, in conjunction with my Department and the Department of Finance, is also examining opportunities to extend the range of projects that can be progressed through the adoption of alternative funding arrangements.

When the review is completed, the Executive is required to submit its proposed capital investment programme for my approval with the agreement of the Minister for Finance. Details of the individual projects being included in the Capital Plan will be made available when the plan is approved.

Tobacco-Related Diseases.

James Reilly

Question:

181 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the estimated cost of the expenditure on treatment of the consequences of smoking per annum; the way this figure is arrived at; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40003/09]

Figures from the World Bank suggest that the annual health care costs attributed to smoking account for between 6 and 15 per cent of total health care costs.

Health Service Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

182 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the key features of the employment control framework for 2009; the way employment is monitored; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40004/09]

The Employment Control Framework, which was agreed in March of this year sets out the overall policy for staffing levels in the health sector for 2009. The Framework incorporates the general moratorium on recruitment in the public sector. However, the moratorium has been modulated to minimise the impact on front line services and, in particular, on areas such as disability, services for older people, and child care.

One of the key features of the Employment Control Framework for 2009 is that the approved employment ceiling for the health sector for 2009 is 111,800 WTEs. In addition, within this employment ceiling there will be a 3% payroll reduction for management and administrative grades in 2009 leading to a reduction of at least 500 in the numbers employed in these grades.

The employment control framework specifically exempts staff in the following front line grades in the health sector from the moratorium: Medical Consultants, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Clinical Psychologists, Behaviour Therapists, Counsellors, Social Workers, and Emergency Medical Technicians.

The framework actually allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800 wtes) for the health sector. The framework also includes provision for the creation of 225 new development posts this year for cancer, mental health and disability services. Following a submission from the Health Service Executive earlier this year, it was agreed that special provisions would also apply in relation to Clinical Engineering Technicians, Dosimetrists, Physicists, and Radiation Therapists, which are specialist grades under the National Cancer Control Programme). The framework also provides that a proposal for the filling of a post on exceptional grounds will only be considered through the redeployment of a member of staff of the same or equivalent grade from another post or, the suppression of another or a number of other posts of an equivalent salary value to the post being proposed for filling.

Furthermore, staff will be redeployed within and across pillars and from one institution to another to support the development of integrated care delivery.

Health employment levels are monitored by the Joint Employment Control Monitoring Committee, which comprises officials from my Department, the Department of Finance and the HSE. This committee also reviews the implementation of the moratorium and any issues arising.

James Reilly

Question:

183 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of contract or agency staff contracts not renewed on a monthly basis since the introduction of the public service recruitment ban in the health service; the number of appeals made for exemption; the number of appeals granted; the person who has responsibility for granting appeals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40005/09]

The Employment Control Framework, which was agreed in March of this year sets out the overall policy for staffing levels in the health sector for 2009. The Framework incorporates the general moratorium on recruitment in the public sector. However, the moratorium has been modulated to minimise the impact on front line services and, in particular, on areas such as disability, services for older people, and child care.

A number of requests for derogation from the moratorium has been received from the Health Service Executive. The number of posts relevant to these requests is 87 and, of these, the total number of posts approved is 69. Approval is granted by the Department of Finance in conjunction with my Department.

In relation to the number of contract or agency staff contracts not renewed since the introduction of the moratorium on recruitment, as this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

James Reilly

Question:

184 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the workforce planning strategy; when this will be finalised; if she will publish this strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40006/09]

The documentAn Integrated Workforce Planning Strategy for the Health Services — 2009–2012 was published on 6 November. The strategy was designed and developed to ensure integration of workforce planning activity with the broader objectives of financial and service planning in the Irish health care and social care system.

As a significant proportion of health funding is spent on staff costs, it is necessary to ensure that it is spent efficiently and delivers on key health goals. The strategy sets out the four key principles to guide integrated workforce planning, i.e., patient/client focus, sustainability, availability and flexibility.

It supports the development of health service human resources including initiatives already under way such as improved Consultant/NCHD ratios, Nurse Prescribing and SKILL development for support staff. It also provides health service planners with the tools to assess other sources of supply through redeployment, retraining or changed skill mix.

This strategy sets out to enhance existing workforce planning analysis in the Irish health service for a wide range of health care occupations. For example, the Strategy follows the publication in June of the report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) and FÁS —A Quantitative Tool for Workforce Planning in Healthcare. That report contained workforce planning analysis for selected health care occupations and provided a valuable evidence base for workforce planning decisions resulting from policy and demographic changes.

Departmental Reports.

James Reilly

Question:

185 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details on the FÁS health care skills analysis as requested by her; when FÁS was asked to do this; when it will be completed; the terms of reference for same; if it will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40007/09]

The reportA Quantitative Tool for Workforce Planning in Healthcare, which was undertaken by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in FÁS, was commissioned in December 2007 and the research began in February 2008.

The purpose of the FÁS workforce planning study of 12 health care grades was to inform the workforce planning analysis of the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive. The work of FÁS was overseen by a liaison group which assisted FÁS and reported to the Joint DOHC/HSE Working Group. The terms of reference were as follows:

FÁS will undertake an analysis of supply and demand for the specified health care grades.

This will include an analysis of relevant factors affecting supply and demand for the individual grades. These factors could include the demand and availability of the grades internationally, but particularly in the UK.

It is anticipated that both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected for the purpose of the study.

If insufficient data is available through the secondary sources available to FÁS, primary data collection in terms of surveys will take place. The Department and the HSE will provide the necessary support to FÁS to compile secondary data.

FÁS will be required to make recommendations on the workforce planning implications for the ten professions. This will involve looking at UK and wider international availability of these professions and current immigration inflows of professionals.

A timeframe of 6-9 months is estimated for the project.

HSE representatives will shadow FÁS staff during this study to allow for the transfer of skills from FÁS to the HSE thus increasing workforce planning capacity in the HSE.

12 Professions:

Medical Consultants;

General practitioner;

Specialist in public health medicine;

Speech and language therapist;

Physiotherapist;

Nurse and midwife;

Health care assistant;

Home help;

Social care worker;

Clinical psychologist;

Medical physicist;

Radiation therapist.

The objectives of the study were (i) to develop a quantitative model which can be used beyond the project as a tool for assessment of different policy scenarios relevant in the context of the Governments' health care workforce planning; and (ii) to simulate the model and assess, in quantitative terms, the balance between the current and expected future demand and supply of skills under different sets of assumptions about the model parameters as defined by the liaison group.

The report was published on 17 June 2009 and provides a valuable evidence base for workforce planning decisions in respect of the twelve health care occupations covered by the study. It has attempted to take an economy wide approach including the private sector to assess the total demand for the occupations. The report outlines a number of workforce projections for some grades. For some occupations, there are forecasted shortages while others show an excess supply. The report can be used as a tool for future workforce planning projections. It is available on the website of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.

Health Service Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

186 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and percentage of serving consultants who have signed up to the new consultants’ contract; the amount by which salaries will increase under the new contract; the additional cost of this to the Heath Service Executive; the amount made available for this by the HSE during 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40009/09]

The Health Service Executive has advised that to date almost 90% of medical consultants have accepted Consultant Contract 2008, with 1,688 consultants out of 1,888 permanent consultants working in the public health service having opted for the new contract arrangements. The Executive has advised that approximately 200 consultants have remained on the 1997 consultants contract.

It had been agreed that consultants who signed the new contract would receive a 5% increase in salary with effect from 14 September 2007 and a further increase, the level of which would depend upon the individual's existing and new contract type: half of this remaining increase was to be paid from 1 June 2008 and the balance from 1 June 2009.

Although I sought and received Oireachtas approval for a Supplementary Estimate of €68m to cover the 2008 costs of the new contract, it was ultimately decided not to proceed with the new salary rates in the absence of sufficient demonstrable progress in relation to implementation on the ground and, as a result, no payments were made in 2008 in respect of the new contract. Accordingly the €68m provided in the Supplementary Estimate was subsequently surrendered to the Exchequer.

The HSE's 2009 Estimate provided for an additional €140m to cover the full year cost of implementing the Consultant Contract 2008. On 24 April 2009, following a verification exercise undertaken by the HSE, I sanctioned part payment of the new salary scales for consultants who signed up to the new contract. The previously agreed rates would apply from 1 January 2009. However, I was not in a position to sanction the final phase, the increase due from 1 June 2009 nor increased on-call and call-out payments. It is estimated that this will save approximately €75m in 2009 in addition to the €68m not paid in 2008.

Salary increases under the new contract, excluding the final phase payment that would have been due from 1 June 2009, range from €35,249 to €52,909 for a Type A contract, €24,743 to €42,402 for a Type B Contract and €18,737 to €26,643 for a Type B* Contract. A copy of the current payscales for consultants is available on my Department's website at www.dohc.ie.

It is my intention that the deferred increase would be reviewed in September 2010 on the same basis as the deferred increase awarded to Ministerial and Parliamentary office-holders and for other senior public servants under the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector (Report 42). However, this is without prejudice to any decisions that the Government might make in the interim in relation to the remuneration of senior public service grades generally arising from the review recently undertaken by the Review Body.

Departmental Expenditure.

James Reilly

Question:

187 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details on mid-year savings in 2008 including the amount saved; where it was saved from; if this money was reallocated to other areas; the way it was reallocated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40010/09]

The budgetary consolidation measures decided by Government in July 2008 were to ensure that we continued on a sound fiscal basis which would support economic growth and provide for improved public services into the future.

Within the Health Group of Votes, the 2008 Budget provided for an additional €1.16 billion expenditure in 2008 bringing the total to €16.156 billion.

A total of €143.52m was saved within the health sector last year.

This amount was saved through a combination of the following:

(i) savings of €85m in 2008 arising from the delay in implementing the new nursing home support scheme, theFair Deal;

(ii) savings of €38m in 2008 arising from the slower than expected roll-out of new developments provided for in the December 2007 budget;

(iii) savings of €20.52m in administrative costs across the Department and all agencies other than the HSE to include payroll, advertising, procurement, consultancy; and in other schemes within Vote 39 (Department of Health and Children) and Vote 41 (Office of the Minister for Children).

The savings applicable to the HSE were used to offset the cost of the December supplementary estimate for the HSE Vote so that the net impact on Exchequer spending in 2008 was minimised as far as possible. The balance applicable to Votes 39 and 41 was surrendered to the Exchequer.

Health Service Expenditure.

James Reilly

Question:

188 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details on Health Service Executive value for money programme and what this includes; the estimated saving in each area; the estimated savings on a per annum basis; the way savings are going to be achieved; the defined targets and timelines for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40011/09]

Clearly, the current fiscal position demands the most careful control of public expenditure and I am strongly of the view that account needs to be taken of all opportunities for efficiencies. I am conscious of the need to make savings where possible without impacting on service levels and I have consistently communicated this need to the HSE and other health agencies.

As part of a multi-annual approach to value for money announced by me in the context of the Budget, a range of value for money measures was outlined in the HSE Service Plan 2009 and is reported on a monthly basis in the HSE Performance Reports against the Plan. The value for money savings of €280m achieved in 2008 are currently reported as being broadly maintained in 2009. The HSE also currently anticipates meeting the required €115m overall value for money savings target for 2009 identified in the Plan. While savings in some areas have been lower than expected, the HSE envisages that these will be compensated for through additional savings being achieved in other areas.

The Service Plan also targeted the achievement of €135m in service reconfiguration efficiency measures in 2009 in order to offset expected cost pressures and stay within budget. The HSE has experienced unforeseen cost pressures in areas such as the pandemic flu and higher than expected superannuation costs associated with increase in retirements. Notwithstanding these pressures, the HSE continues to control spending to the greatest degree possible within the limits approved for its Vote.

Operational responsibility for the management of value for money is a matter for the Health Service Executive. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have a more detailed reply issued directly to the Deputy on the specific matters raised.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Tom Hayes

Question:

189 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the fair deal scheme and family homes; if a son or daughter lives in the home and is dependent on that as being their place of residence will they be expected to sell their home; when they will be expected to find the money which is owing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40040/09]

Under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, individuals contribute up to 80% of their assessable income and 5% of the value of any assets in excess of the asset disregard per annum towards their long-term nursing home care costs. The asset disregard is €36,000 for an individual and €72,000 for a couple.

Where a person's assets include land and property, the 5% contribution based on such assets may be deferred and collected at a later date. This is an optional element of the scheme called the Nursing Home Loan. This loan will become repayable after the person's death or if the person sells/transfers their property (if this occurs before their death).

A person's principal residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in care. This is known as the 15% or "three year" cap. It means that a person will pay the 5% contribution based on their principal residence for a maximum of three years regardless of the time they spend in nursing home care. After three years, even if a person is still getting long-term nursing home care, they will not pay any further contribution based on the principal residence. This "three year" cap applies regardless of whether a person chooses to opt for the loan or not.

In the case of a couple, where one partner remains in the home while the other enters a nursing home, the contribution based on assets is 2.5% per annum and the contribution based on the principal residence is capped at 7.5%.

If there is a spouse or certain dependents living in the principal residence when the person in nursing home care dies, the repayment of the loan may be further deferred.

The people who can avail of a further deferral are:

(i) the spouse or partner of the original applicant, or

(ii) certain people, termed "connected persons", who satisfy the following conditions:

The asset in question must be their only residence.

They must have lived there for not less than 3 years preceding the original application for Ancillary State support.

They must not have an interest in any other property.

Connected persons include:

a. a child of the original applicant (or their spouse or partner) who is under the age of 21 or whose assets do not exceed the asset disregard (i.e. €36,000 for a single person and €72,000 for a couple),

b. a sibling of the original applicant whose assets do not exceed the asset disregard,

c. a relative in receipt of certain State payments or with income below the State Pension (Contributory), or

d. any person who cared for the applicant prior to the latter entering nursing home care. This is defined by reference to relevant caring-related State payments.

If a further deferral is availed of, the loan will not become repayable until:

the spouse/partner or connected person dies,

the connected person ceases to qualify as a connected person or meet the conditions outlined at (ii) above, or

the house is sold/transferred,

whichever happens first.

Mary Upton

Question:

190 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 can opt into the nursing homes support scheme at a later date rather than now; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40056/09]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is a voluntary scheme of financial support towards the cost of long-term nursing home care. Individuals currently in nursing homes which qualify for the scheme can choose to retain their current arrangements or can transfer to the new scheme now or at any time in the future.

The lady referred to by the Deputy may wish to note that, if she downsizes her home, the value of her new house as well as any savings in the bank, e.g. proceeds from the sale of her existing house, would be taken into account during the financial assessment.

Medical Cards.

John Perry

Question:

191 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will have their medical card reinstated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40063/09]

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

Ambulance Service.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

192 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there is no wheelchair accessible ambulance available in north Kildare to transport patients for outpatient appointments in hospitals which results in the widespread use and cost of hiring wheelchair accessible taxis. [40067/09]

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

Question No. 193 answered with Question No. 178.
Question No. 194 answered with Question No. 176.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

195 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a placement will be arranged for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40083/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

196 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40084/09]

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

Health Services.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

197 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost related to the proposal to build a new health centre in Carrigaline, County Cork; the cost of purchasing a site for the new building; the cost of designing a new health centre; the cost of obtaining planning permission from Cork County Council and all other costs related to this project including professional fees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40109/09]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

198 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the population served by the Carrigaline health centre in County Cork; the number of persons using the Carrigaline health centre; the ideal size and facilities of a health centre to cater for a population base the size of Carrigaline by comparison with the size and facilities of the current Carrigaline health centre; the reason it was decided to build a new health centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40110/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 and 198 together.

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Billy Timmins

Question:

199 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding Baltinglass Hospital, County Wicklow; if she will respond to a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40128/09]

The new Nursing Homes Support Scheme, A Fair Deal, commenced on 27 October 2009. The Fair Deal is now the single system for entry to public, private and voluntary long-term nursing home care for individuals who wish to avail of State support.

The objectives of the new scheme are to equalise State support for public and private long-term care, to render private long-term care affordable and anxiety-free, and to ensure that no-one has to sell their home during their lifetime to pay for their care. The central principle of the scheme is that each person makes a contribution towards their nursing home costs based on their ability to pay and then has the balance of their care costs met by the State regardless of whether they are in a public, private or voluntary nursing home. Applicants to the scheme will be furnished with a list of public, voluntary and approved private nursing homes and can choose care in any nursing home on the list. However, in order for financial support to be provided, the nursing home must have a place for them and it must be able to cater for their particular care needs. Full information on the scheme is available on both the Department and HSE websites.

Individuals who are on waiting lists for public nursing homes should apply under the scheme if they require State support. It should be noted that, in accordance with the terms of the scheme, these individuals can choose care in any nursing home which qualifies for the scheme.

The final element of the Deputy's question is a service matter and I have referred it to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Staff.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

200 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when the senior consultant orthodontist position at St. Finbarr’s Hospital in County Cork will be filled; the interim measures that are in place to deal with the current caseload; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40129/09]

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

Question No. 201 answered with Question No. 176.

Mental Health Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

202 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to invest in step down facilities at a hospital (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40168/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

203 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 was charged €80 for an X-ray at a facility; if she will arrange for a full refund for this person. [40171/09]

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

Assisted Human Reproduction.

Frank Feighan

Question:

204 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the provision and availability of IVF; if the costs involved have been examined to make same less costly and more accessible; and her plans regarding same. [40176/09]

Assisted Human Reproduction treatment is not funded under a specific national scheme in the public health system; such treatment is available from clinics that operate privately. I am conscious though of the financial burden that such treatment can place on the couples concerned and have asked my Department to consider policy in this regard as part of the process of developing an appropriate regulatory framework for this area. Any proposals that might emerge from that process will have to be considered in the context of the difficult economic situation that now prevails and other competing funding demands across the full range of health issues.

Medical Research.

Joe Costello

Question:

205 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will continue to co-fund the joint funding scheme with the medical research charities group for patient-led medical research; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40177/09]

Mary Upton

Question:

220 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will continue to support the medical research charities group joint funding scheme; if this funding will be itemised in the budget Estimates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40404/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 205 and 220 together.

I am a strong supporter of health research and believe that it makes significant contributions not only to the achievement of health research goals but to the broader social and economic ones. This has been acknowledged in the Renewed Programme for Government and also in the Action Plan for Health Research which I recently published. That Action Plan recognises the significant level of investment made by the Medical Research Charities Group in health research in this country.

Over the period 2006-2008 a total sum of €3 million has been made available from the allocation to the Health Research Board towards the joint funding scheme operated in conjunction with the Medical Research Charities Group. The annual provision of €1 million which supports this initiative continues to be available to the Health Research Board in the current year. I understand that on an annual basis this provision supports both commitments in respect of previous awards and new awards.

The allocations to health agencies in 2010, including the Health Research Board, will be determined after the Budgetary process is concluded and I am not in a position to provide details at this stage in the process.

Vaccination Programme.

Mary Wallace

Question:

206 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children if there are two different types of swine flu vaccines, pandemorix which includes mercury and celvapan which is mercury-free; if it is solely pandemorix that has been issued to general practitioners; if the entire supply of the mercury-free vaccine, celvapan, was retained for the Health Service Executive clinics and not made available to the GPs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40188/09]

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

Health Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

207 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children her estimate of the administrative costs of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance; and her plans to streamline the application process for repeat applicants. [40190/09]

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

Hospital Procedures.

Alan Shatter

Question:

208 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 443 of 16 September 2009 from the Health Service Executive has not yet been received by this Deputy; and the action she will take to ensure that this reply is received. [40200/09]

The Health Service Executive has informed my Department that a reply in relation to this matter issued to the Deputy on 30 October 2009.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

209 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to correspondence (details supplied) in respect of a person who is awaiting surgery; if treatment will be expedited; if he or she will be dealt with by the National Treatment Purchase Fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40204/09]

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

The National Treatment Purchase Fund arranges treatment for patients who have been on a surgical waiting list for more than three months. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Departmental Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

210 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in her Department on 1 May 2009. [40216/09]

The total number of officials (whole time equivalents) at principal officer level or higher working in my Department on 1 May 2009 was 62.7 as detailed in a table. This figure does not include Ministerial appointments.

Grade

Whole Time Equivalents

Secretary General

1.00

Chief Medical Officer

1.00

Assistant Secretaries

8.00

Directors

2.00

Chief Pharmacist

1.00

Chief Nursing Adviser

1.00

Senior Statistician

1.00

Legal Advisor

0.73

Deputy Chief Medical Officers

4.40

Principal Officers

36.60

Others

6.00

Total

62.73

Hospital Services.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

211 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the new Dingle Community Hospital, Dingle, County Kerry; when the hospital and all of its day services will be fully operational; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40225/09]

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

National Drugs Strategy.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

212 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received correspondence from a group (details supplied) regarding the progress on the implementation of the national drugs strategy for service user involvement in the Irish health service; her views on this correspondence; when she will reply to the correspondence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40236/09]

I can confirm that representations have been received from Patients Together and have been forwarded to the HSE for attention and direct reply.

Health Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

213 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is the case that carers who previously availed of the short-term respite care from the Health Service Executive no longer have an entitlement to this care due to the changes made under the fair deal scheme; if she will explain the statutory basis for withdrawing short-term respite care or if the policy has changed; and the reason for the change. [40308/09]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme only applies to long-term residential care in nursing homes. The definition of "long-term residential care services" stipulates that the care services must be provided for a period of not less than 30 days or periods in the aggregate amounting to not less that 30 days within a period of 12 consecutive months.

The scheme does not apply to individuals who enter nursing homes on a short-term basis for respite or convalescence and does not alter the current position in relation to such care.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

214 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40369/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Noel Coonan

Question:

215 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the definite timeframe for reinstating a community welfare officer to a village (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if accommodation has been sourced in the village for the CWO; if her attention has been drawn to the inconvenience it is causing the residents who have to travel to another town to avail of the CWO; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40380/09]

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

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

216 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details suppled) in County Kildare will receive optical treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40387/09]

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

Pharmacy Services.

Chris Andrews

Question:

217 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of pharmacists which have closed since 1 May 2009; and the location of same. [40388/09]

I presume that the Deputy is referring to the number of retail pharmacy businesses (pharmacies) which have closed since 1 May 2009. In the period 1 May to 5 November 2009 the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) has received 18 applications to cancel registration (closures) from retail pharmacy business (pharmacies) — the breakdown of closures by county is set out below. However, I should bring to the Deputy's attention that on 1 May 2009 there were 1,691 retail pharmacy businesses registered and that up to 5 November 2009 there have been 30 new retail pharmacy businesses registered. Taking account of the 18 applications to cancel the new total for retail pharmacy businesses registrations is 1703, a net gain of 12 in the period.

The breakdown by County is as follows:

County

Number

Dublin

2

Donegal

2

Galway

1

Kerry

2

Kildare

1

Kilkenny

1

Laois

1

Limerick

1

Mayo

1

Meath

2

Roscommon

1

Wexford

1

Waterford

1

Westmeath

1

Total

18

Michael McGrath

Question:

218 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the primary care teams and primary care centres currently in operation in Cork city and county, including locations and the services available; her plans to roll out further primary care teams and primary care centres, including the location and projected timeline; the locations at which the Health Service Executive plans to develop primary care centres in collaboration with the private sector through leasing arrangements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40390/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Mary Upton

Question:

219 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that the lack of intensive care unit facilities in Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Dublin 12 will be remedied; if she will address the problems in Crumlin and not within an 18 month timeframe; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40403/09]

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

Question No. 220 answered with Question No. 205.

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

221 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if further home help hours will be allocated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will expedite a decision. [40426/09]

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

Preschool Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

222 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the monthly benefit from her Department expressed in cash terms for a parent of a four year old who avails of the free preschool place from January 2010 with a breakdown for the benefit if the child attends one day, two days, three days, four days or five days a week. [40436/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the implementation of the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which is being introduced in January 2010.

The standard capitation fee which will be payable to services participating in the new scheme, will be approximately €2,450 per annum in respect of each qualifying child availing of the free pre-school year in the service. This is equivalent to approximately €276 per month, where a service is participating for 38 weeks or €207 per month, where it participates for 50 weeks. This payment will be made, in advance, at the beginning of each term. A higher capitation fee of €2,850 per annum will be payable to sessional playschool services with highly qualified staff. This is equivalent to approximately €321 per month.

Services can choose to deliver the pre-school year from a range of options. For example a full or part-time daycare service normally providing the free pre-school place for 2 hours 15 minutes a day, five days a week over 50 weeks will be paid a capitation fee of €48.50 per week, and a playschool sessional service normally providing the pre-school service for three hours a day, five days a week over 38 weeks will be paid a capitation fee of €64.50 per week, or €75 per week where the higher capitation fee applies. Full or part-time daycare services may also provide the free pre-school place for three hours 45 minutes a day, three days a week over 50 weeks, to facilitate parents in part-time employment in which case the capitation fee payable will not be affected

The objective of the ECCE scheme is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to avail of free pre-school provision. It is hoped that parents will avail of the full provision and maximise the benefits to their children from exposure to early learning in appropriate settings. To facilitate existing patterns of pre-school provision during the introductory stage of the scheme in January next, services which currently provide pre-school places on a pro-rata basis (i.e. places are offered on a shared basis) may continue to do so during January/June 2010. Pro-rata arrangements may not, however, be continued beyond September 2010.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

223 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will recognise that some child-care providers have greater overhead costs in view of capital investments they have made in recent years particularly in areas in which there has been a growth in population resulting in higher property costs and that this factor should be reflected in payments to providers of the free preschool year in the early child-care education scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40459/09]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

224 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the fact that many parents may consider five days a week of preschool to be excessive for young children and thus may not send their children on a full-time basis to the free preschool place available to them from September 2010; the effect this will have on availability of places where to date providers have introduced flexibility by splitting the five day a week place between two children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40460/09]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

225 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will acknowledge that many preschool providers will have years of experience that should be recognised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40461/09]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

226 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of child care providers who have applied to the early child care education free preschool year; the number who have been approved to provide the scheme; the number of preschool places that will be available from January 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40462/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 to 226, inclusive, together.

I have responsibility for the implementation of the new free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which will be introduced in January 2010.

Under the ECCE scheme, participating services will be paid a standard annual capitation fee of €2,450 in return for the provision of the free pre-school year. The payment will be made, in advance, at the beginning of each term. Services participating in the scheme should be satisfied that they will be in a position to meet all of their costs from the capitation provided and additional funding will not be provided where this is not the case. Participating services may charge parents for additional services, provided these are clearly optional and children not availing of such services continue to receive appropriate programme based provision.

A higher capitation rate of €75 per week (€2,850 p.a.) will be available to sessional playschool services in which all childcare workers have qualification levels above the minimum requirements for the scheme. To qualify for the higher capitation rate all Pre-School leaders in the service must hold a major award in early childhood care and education or equivalent (title of courses may vary) at a minimum Level 7 on the National Framework of Qualifications and have three years experience working in the sector, and all assistants must hold a relevant Fetac level 5 qualification or its equivalent.

It is considered that the capitation rates are reasonable and will accommodate the greater majority of services. This is borne out by the fact that 90% of pre-school services operating in the State have applied for entry to the scheme. The financial circumstances of individual pre-school service providers are matters for the persons concerned and cannot be provided for when establishing a national scheme in which more some 4,200 services will participate. The scheme represents an investment of almost €170 million annually in pre-school services and in light of the current economic situation there are no proposals to increase this provision.

The scheme will normally be required to provide services on a five day per week basis. However, during the initial period January-August 2010, services which are already accommodating children on a pro rata-basis, may continue to do so and the capitation grant will be set by reference to the number of children attending per day rather than the total number of children per week. This is a transitional arrangement to allow services to adjust to the requirements of the new scheme. However, from September 2010, services participating in the scheme will be required to provide full rather than pro-rata preschool year places. Parents will be encouraged to avail of the free pre-school year on the basis of full attendance and participating services will be required to give priority to parents using the service on this basis.

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

Applications by approximately 4,200 childcare pre-school services to enter the new scheme indicate a capacity of 98,000 pre-school year places. It is hoped that some 63,000 children will avail of the scheme in January 2010. Contracts are currently issuing to all services which meet the criteria of the scheme and a list of services approved to participate in the scheme will be available shortly from the City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs). Based on the applications to date, I am confident that the total number of places available in pre-school services applying to enter the scheme will meet the number of places required.

Ambulance Service.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

227 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive has targets for ambulance response times; the details of same; if they are monitored; and if so, the person by whom they are monitored; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40474/09]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

229 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive considered tiering the ambulance service to ensure greater value for money in view of the fact that it is the case that emergency personnel are involved in non-emergency patient transfers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40476/09]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

231 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive has a contract in place with approved ambulance operators for the transport of public patients; if inspections of these operators have taken place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40478/09]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

237 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive will support the regulation of the private ambulance sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40489/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 227, 229, 231 and 237 together.

The HSE's National Service Plan 2009 contains targets in relation to the percentage of emergency calls responded to within predetermined time bands. Performance against these targets is reported in the Executive's monthly Performance Report and the relevant data is as follows:

Target 2009

Year to date as of August 2009

%

%

< 8 minutes

32

29.6

< 14 minutes

62

60.2

< 19 minutes

76

72.9

< 26 minutes

86

83.5

Private ambulance services must comply with the requirements of the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council in relation to the training and qualifications of ambulance personnel.

As the other information requested by the Deputy relates to HSE service matters, the relevant issues have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Staff.

James Reilly

Question:

228 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on posts currently remaining unfilled in a health office area (details supplied); if it is intended to fill these positions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40475/09]

The Government decision on the moratorium on recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade is being implemented in the health sector in such a way as to ensure that key services are maintained in so far as possible in the health services, particularly in respect of children at risk, older people and persons with a disability.

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

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

The HSE will be focusing on the scope that exists within the health services for reorganising and restructuring of work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. The redeployment and reassignment of existing staff will also support the reorientation of care from hospitals to the community and to facilitate the development of integrated care. It is seeking a high level of flexibility from staff and unions to achieve this.

The operation of the framework, including the moratorium on recruitment, is kept under review by my Department, in consultation with the Department of Finance and the Health Service Executive.

Question No. 229 answered with Question No. 227.

Special Educational Needs.

James Reilly

Question:

230 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding that is being made available in 2009 for existing rehabilitative training programmes in counties Laois and Offaly in respect of persons with intellectual disability or autism for exiting rehabilitative training programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40477/09]

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

Question No. 231 answered with Question No. 227.

James Reilly

Question:

232 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the placements for further development available to persons with intellectual disability or autism exiting rehabilitative training programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40479/09]

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

James Reilly

Question:

233 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on priority being given to school leavers with an intellectual disability or autism for funding over people exiting rehabilitative training programmes and vocational training programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40483/09]

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

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Joe McHugh

Question:

234 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children further to a statement by her Minister of State in Dáil Éireann on 4 November 2001 that he will meet with a group (details supplied) in a week or two, if he will arrange a meeting that will not coincide with the Treating MD/NIH neuromuscular conference that is scheduled to take place on 17 to 19 November 2009; if he will make contact with an organisation in Newcastle, England; and his plans to secure an clinician based here to lead clinical trials. [40485/09]

I have given an undertaking to meet with Duchenne Ireland as soon as possible. I will ensure that the meeting does not coincide with the conference scheduled for 17 to 19 November.

As I outlined in my reply to Oral Parliamentary Question No. 84 on 4 November, the issues raised by Duchenne Ireland are under active deliberation and receiving detailed consideration at the highest levels in the Department. I also pointed out that while the Department is working through the various issues raised by Duchenne Ireland, it may not be possible to come to a full resolution of all the issues that are of concern to them.

Special Educational Needs.

James Reilly

Question:

235 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the hardship being experienced by persons with intellectual disabilities or autism in existing rehabilitative training and vocational training programmes not being given priority for funding to allow them to attend further development programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40486/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

236 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the remit of the Health Information and Quality Authority covers issues relating to private patients in public hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40488/09]

The Health Information and Quality Authority was established in May 2007 as part of the health reform programme. Its primary function is to drive quality, safety, accountability and the best use of resources in our health and social care services. Currently these roles are achieved in the public hospital sector through standards setting and monitoring compliance with these standards and, where necessary, conducting investigations. The authority does not distinguish between public and private patients in a public hospital setting.

Question No. 237 answered with Question No. 227.

Medical Cards.

Billy Timmins

Question:

238 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; if this card will be renewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40497/09]

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

Joe Costello

Question:

239 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical card renewals that have been received since the new centralised system has been put in place; the number of applications processed since this new system began; the provisions in place for extending cover to applicants who are awaiting a decision; the reason for the delay in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40507/09]

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Billy Timmins

Question:

240 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the new fair deal scheme; if exemptions apply in the case of a person (details supplied). [40509/09]

Under the legislation, any income or assets transferred within the five years prior to applying for the scheme are taken into account in the financial assessment. This is not a new concept; the same measure was in place under the subvention scheme.

This provision does not affect a person's right to sell assets for full market value. Rather it is intended to prevent people from depriving themselves of assets for the purposes of the financial assessment.

However, the legislation also includes a provision, which only applies to items transferred prior to 9 October 2008 (i.e. the date of publication of the Bill), that enables people to appeal the inclusion of transferred income/assets in the financial assessment. The applicant may apply to have transferred income/assets excluded from the financial assessment on the basis that their inclusion would cause undue financial hardship to themselves, their spouse/partner or their child under the age of 21.

Health Services.

Phil Hogan

Question:

241 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason persons in counties Carlow and Kilkenny have the lowest national uptake of home care packages; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40527/09]

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

Domestic Violence.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

242 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding allocated to each of the frontline services for domestic violence here over the past four years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40551/09]

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

Hospital Services.

James Reilly

Question:

243 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is now her policy to close small maternity units and in particular the unit at Tralee General Hospital, County Kerry; if she will cover the issue of the economic argument in her statement on the matter. [40554/09]

The HSE has stated that maternity services will continue to be provided at Kerry General Hospital. The Executive has committed to enhance the service by appointing a fourth Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist at the Hospital and, in the context of the reconfiguration of acute hospital services in the region, establishing more formal links with Cork University Maternity Hospital.

State Property.

James Reilly

Question:

244 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when a premises (details supplied) in County Dublin was purchased; the purchase price; the use it has been put to since its purchase; the moneys that have been spent on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40555/09]

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

National Drugs Strategy.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

245 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to public concern about the proliferation of “head shops” which sell mind-altering substances and paraphernalia for propagating illegal drugs; and her plans to regulate or restrict such outlets. [40562/09]

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and regulations made thereunder regulate and control the import, export, production, supply and possession of a range of named narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances listed in the Schedules to the Act. Substances are scheduled under the Act in accordance with Ireland's obligations under international conventions and/or where there is evidence that the substances are causing significant harm to public health in Ireland.

Items available for sale in so-called "head shops" are currently not scheduled under Misuse of Drugs legislation. The list of scheduled substances is kept under ongoing review. For example, in 2006 psychotropic ("magic") mushrooms, which were on sale in such outlets, were banned and their possession and sale is now illegal. On 31 March 2009, BZP was similarly subjected to legislative control measures and criminal sanctions.

Minister John Curran, Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, who has responsibility for co-ordinating the National Drugs Strategy, has identified head shops as an area of concern, and is currently considering the options available to more effectively control the activities of head shops. My officials are in contact with their counterparts in the Office of the Minister for Drugs in this regard.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

246 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to a newspaper article (details supplied) which makes allegations in respect of some Vietnamese adoptions; and her views on same. [40566/09]

My attention has been drawn to the newspaper report referred to by the Deputy. As I have previously indicated my Office has been in negotiations with the Vietnamese Government regarding the drafting of a new bilateral inter-country Adoption agreement.

I have clearly indicated my intention to await the finalisation of the International Social Services Report on Intercountry Adoption in Vietnam before making final decisions regarding the next steps. I will be considering that report along with the report published in August by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. I anticipate the ISS report will be finalised this month. I will be communicating my decision at the earliest opportunity.

Health Service Staff.

John McGuinness

Question:

247 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is the intention of the Health Service Executive to recruit paramedics in the south east region. [40569/09]

The Government decision on the moratorium on recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade is being implemented in the health sector in such a way as to ensure that key services are maintained in so far as possible in the health services, particularly in respect of children at risk, older people and persons with a disability.

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

As the recruitment of paramedics in the south east region is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Denis Naughten

Question:

248 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in approving over 70 years medical cards in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Roscommon; when the cards will be issued in view of the fact that the previous cards expired in October 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40570/09]

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

Special Educational Needs.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

249 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the special needs assistant support entitlement for preschool children with special needs in County Louth; the way in which this compares with such entitlement in the Dublin area; and if she will intervene in the case of a child (details supplied) in County Louth in order to improve the supports available to them. [40571/09]

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.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

250 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the need for some children with special needs to have more than one year’s preschooling and their entitlement under the early childhood care and education scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40572/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the implementation of the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which is being introduced in January 2010.

The ECCE scheme is a general one and services participating will be required to make reasonable accommodation for children with special needs in accordance with the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004. However, the scheme takes account of a number of issues to accommodate children with special needs.

While the age range in which children will qualify for the scheme is, generally, between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months on 1 September each year, exceptions are allowed where a child has been assessed by the HSE as having a special need which will delay his or her entry to primary school. In such cases, the pre-school year relevant to such children will be taken as their qualifying year.

Additionally, the general requirement that a child would be expected to attend 4 or 5 days each week will not apply to children with special needs where a shorter week would be more appropriate to their needs. Many specialist pre-school services arrange for children attending their services to also attend a mainstream service for 1, 2 or 3 days a week. As a result, 1 full week place in the mainstream service could cater for 2 or more children with special needs on a pro-rata basis. Where appropriate, children with special needs attending a mainstream pre-school service on a pro-rata basis, may be permitted to avail of a second free pre-school year e.g. attending 2 days per week in the first year and 3 days per week in the second. Should additional flexibility in the arrangements for the scheme be required by specialist pre-school services for children with special needs, these will also be considered.

Vaccination Programme.

Michael McGrath

Question:

251 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will details in relation to a medical condition (details supplied). [40573/09]

International studies have shown that seasonal influenza causes significant morbidity and mortality every year. This mortality occurs mainly in the elderly. Only a small number of deaths are registered each year as being due to influenza as the cause of death is often not registered specifically as influenza (See Table 1). Standard international methodology uses excess deaths (deaths over and above the expected number of deaths for the particular season, place and time) as a proxy for estimating influenza-related deaths.

Table 1. Number of influenza deaths reported by the General Register Office during the influenza season

Influenza Season (Year)

Number of deaths registered with influenza as the cause of death by GRO

2004/2005

2

2005/2006

1

2006/2007

1

2007/2008

2

2008/2009

4

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) currently monitors death registration data from the General Register Office. Using these data, the estimated excess number of all cause deaths was 500 (Range: 360 and 638) during the 2008/2009 influenza season which represented the highest level of seasonal influenza since 2000/2001. In general, the current Irish national estimate of the number of deaths annually from seasonal influenza and its complications is 300-400 deaths per year.

In relation to the second part of the question, a research study would be required to answer this. These data are not routinely available in Ireland, as there is currently no immunisation register for adults or a unique identifier for health related issues, so it is not possible to link data on persons who have died with their vaccination status prior to death.

Health Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

252 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if an appointment will be allocated to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [40574/09]

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

Róisín Shortall

Question:

253 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties being faced by a project in the Ballymun area of Dublin due to budgetary problems which have delayed their new premises; the steps she will take to ensure that the Health Service Executive provide the necessary supports to enable this project to continue to provide a local service for at-risk young people. [40594/09]

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

Thomas Byrne

Question:

254 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of an application for occupational therapy in respect of a child of a family (details supplied) in County Meath. [40586/09]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

255 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if a disabled person’s car sticker will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40366/09]

The Road Traffic Acts and the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations, 1997 set the legislative framework for the operation of the Disabled Parking Scheme.

Under the Regulations, the granting of a disabled person's parking permit is a matter for local authorities, the Irish Wheelchair Association and the Disabled Drivers Association. For the purposes of the Scheme, a disabled person is defined as a "person who is suffering from a disability that prevents that person from walking or causes undue hardship to the person in walking". Eligibility criteria have been agreed with the issuing authorities based on the legislative definition.

State Airports.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

256 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport the progress being made with regard to the separation of Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority; the expected timeframe before Shannon Airport becomes an independent entity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39980/09]

In December last, following the recommendations of the boards of the three State Airport Authorities, I announced the deferral until 2011 of a decision on the separation of the Airports under the State Airports Act, 2004 given the current very difficult circumstances in the aviation sector.

In line with my decision at the time I continued to take the view that it would be best to provide a reasonable period of time to enable the boards and management of these airports to address the very significant challenges facing the aviation market.

Local Authority Funding.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

257 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Transport the basis on which funding is allocated for the local improvement scheme; the funding provided to Kildare County Council for each of the past three years; if this funding was decided by him or if it was based on a specific application by Kildare County Council; the way the allocation to Kildare compares with the moneys provided to other county councils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39988/09]

The administration of the Local Improvements Scheme (LIS) is a matter for the relevant county council, subject to the terms of the Local Improvements Scheme Memorandum and relevant Departmental circulars. Applications under the scheme are submitted to, and decided by, the relevant county council. My Department has no function in the selection of specific projects for grant aid.

My Department's role is confined to the allocation of funds under the scheme to individual county councils. This is decided annually in the context of the overall funds available and the number of LIS applications on hands in each county at the end of the previous year.

I have set out the details regarding Local Improvement Scheme grants provided by my Department to local authorities for 2007 and 2008 in the table below together with the grant allocations made by my Department in 2009.

County Council

2007 Payment

2008 Payment

2009 Allocation

Carlow

219,921

110,000

110,000

Cavan

1,817,708

909,000

909,000

Clare

1,811,772

906,000

906,000

Cork

2,356,024

1,156,910

1,183,000

Donegal

3,661,409

1,747,232

1,831,000

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown

Fingal

29,321

Galway

1,782,070

895,382

924,000

Kerry

2,669,668

1,335,000

1,335,000

Kildare

154,283

77,000

82,000

Kilkenny

621,086

311,000

311,000

Laois

687,175

354,000

354,000

Leitrim

1,349,619

675,310

700,000

Limerick

1,002,476

501,000

501,000

Longford

793,953

418,528

458,000

Louth

193,510

113,000

113,000

Mayo

4,004,296

1,971,679

1,972,000

Meath

151,435

76,000

100,000

Monaghan

1,783,555

892,000

892,000

North Tipperary

374,564

186,453

188,000

Offaly

418,140

209,000

209,000

Roscommon

569,101

285,000

285,000

Sligo

1,013,471

507,000

507,000

South Dublin

South Tipperary

369,764

183,796

185,000

Waterford

435,921

218,000

218,000

Westmeath

214,888

99,781

107,000

Wexford

698,469

349,000

349,000

Wicklow

542,267

271,000

271,000

State Airports.

Pat Breen

Question:

258 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport his views on the recent breakdown of negotiations between the Shannon Airport Authority and an airline (details supplied); if he will intervene in an effort to have the talks resumed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39989/09]

Negotiations between the Shannon Airport Authority and an airline are day to day operational matters for the authority and I have no statutory function in this regard.

Road Safety.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

259 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Transport his plans to introduce legislation to implement the new safety measures for farm tractors used in goods haulage as recommended in a recent Road Safety Authority Report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40199/09]

A review of the regulation, classification and safety issues concerning the use of agricultural and works vehicles on public roads was carried out by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) during 2008. The RSA engaged in a consultation process with a wide range of stakeholders to establish the views, concerns and recommendations of those with experience or interest in the use of agricultural and works vehicles on public roads.

Departmental Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

260 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in his Department on 1 May 2009. [40220/09]

There were 39 officers at Principal Officer level or higher working in my Department on 1 May 2009. Of this number 12 are in Principal Officer equivalent grades in professional and technical posts.

The report and recommendations are wide ranging with implications for a number of policy areas and Government Departments. The RSA has submitted the report to my Department and it is currently under consideration.

Equal Opportunities Employment.

Seán Barrett

Question:

261 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the 3% disability employment quota still pertains in the public service; the extent to which it has been taken up in the various local authorities; the steps he proposes to take to ensure its enforcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40085/09]

Policy, set at 3% for the employment of people with disabilities in the public sector, remains as prescribed in Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005. Part 5 also provides the framework for monitoring the employment target in all public bodies by the establishment of committees under the aegis of relevant Ministers of the Government.

The Department of Finance is responsible for monitoring the target in relation to all Government Departments and public bodies whose staff are civil servants. In the case of other public bodies the target is monitored by the parent Department. The NDA has an overall monitoring and reporting role under the Act.

The employment of persons in the Local Authorities with disabilities was 3.6% in 2007.

Detention Centres.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

262 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the person who is responsible for the plan and orderly transfer of a centre (details supplied) in Dublin 11 to the Oberstown campus, County Dublin; the management structure proposed and the director of this facility; if there will be a review of the whole service prior to the amalgamation of the centre into Oberstown; if the assessment service, as offered by this centre, will be kept as a separate service in the Oberstown campus, as recommended by the working group in view of the fact that this service is internationally known and respected by the Courts as unique in its approach to young people; the proposed number of young people to be facilitated at the campus with regard to the primary care of the young people; if the best practice, as offered by the centre, will be continued within the proposed living facilities offered at the Oberstown campus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40120/09]

The Deputy will be aware that the Government approved proposals in March, 2008 to develop national children detention facilities to be located on the existing State-owned Oberstown campus near Lusk, Co. Dublin. The Government also approved the establishment of a cross-Departmental Working Group to consider the possible future role for Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre (FCAC), the only children detention school not currently located on the Oberstown campus.

The Working Group presented its report earlier this year (available at www.iyjs.ie) and I have accepted its recommendations. This will involve the closure of the Centre, which will be completed by the end of March 2010, and the transfer in the meantime of all children, staff and services from FCAC to the Oberstown campus.

The Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS), an executive office of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and part of my Office, is responsible for managing the four Children Detention Schools. Working with the Directors and senior management of all four Schools, the IYJS is now planning for the development of an integrated unified detention school service based in Oberstown. This is in line with the Government decision to build new children detention facilities there which will provide the full range of remand, assessment and detention services for all young offenders remanded or detained by the courts. It will provide all of the services currently provided by the FCAC.

To this end, the IYJS is currently working on implementing a strategy for the future integration of the Schools. I am pleased to say that the Directors of the four Schools have each taken on additional cross-campus responsibilities in preparation for integration. Working closely with the IYJS, the Directors are now leading on and developing proposals for the future management, staffing and operational needs of the Schools. In the meantime, discussions, facilitated by the Labour Relations Commission, are due to commence in the next fortnight with some of the Unions representing the staff in Finglas on the closure of the Centre, the transition to Oberstown and the arrangements that need to be made.

As regards the assessment service, rather than keep it as a separate service, the working group was of the view that the experience and skills of FCAC staff will form a necessary part of an integrated detention school in Oberstown. The group also recommended that further work should be carried out to identify and develop the appropriate range of assessment services for detained children in the new facility at Oberstown and for all other young people, offending or non-offending, in the community. Building on the expertise already available and working with the key people involved, I understand that the IYJS will be undertaking this work as quickly as possible.

The IYJS is also responsible for providing safe and secure accommodation for children detained by the courts. As things stand, there are more than enough bed places in Oberstown to accommodate the children currently detained in FCAC, and that has been the case for some time now. I am satisfied that the IYJS will be in a position to provide sufficient places within the existing detention school facilities in Oberstown to meet the needs of the courts for the detention of young offenders and, where appropriate, assessment.

Peace Commissioners.

David Stanton

Question:

263 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Peace Commissioners appointed in 2007 and 2008 and to date in 2009; the procedure for appointing Peace Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40019/09]

There were 93 appointments to the Office of Peace Commissioner in 2007, 160 in 2008 and 82 to date in 2009.

Peace Commissioners are appointed under section 88 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924. The Office of Peace Commissioner is an honorary appointment and Peace Commissioners receive no remuneration or compensation by way of fees or expenses for their services. An application for appointment may be submitted by a person who is interested in obtaining an appointment or a third party may submit a nomination in respect of a person considered suitable for appointment. Nominations are generally received from public representatives. A local Garda Superintendent sometimes requests an appointment in a particular area in the public interest.

There is no qualifying examination involved but appointees are required to be of good character and they are usually well established in the local community. Persons who are members of professions or employed in occupations which engage in legal work or related activities and members of the clergy are, as a matter of practice, not appointed because of their occupation and civil servants are usually only appointed where the performance of their official duties requires an appointment (i.e.ex-officio). Persons convicted of serious offences are considered unsuitable for appointment.

The fact that an applicant or nominee may be suitable for appointment does not in itself provide any entitlement to appointment because appointments are made at the discretion of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and having regard to the needs of particular areas.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

264 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 613 of 16 September 2009, if the meeting with the Minister for Social Development in Northern Ireland on the possibility of a joint North-South initiative to tackle alcohol promotions has taken place; if so, the response and views of the Minister and the Northern Executive to such a proposal; if this meeting has not taken place, when will this meeting take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40023/09]

I met the Northern Ireland Minister for Social Development, Ms Margaret Ritchie, MLA, on 27 October. We agreed on the desirability of developing a joint North-South initiative to tackle alcohol promotions and have asked our respective officials to discuss details of such an initiative. The first meeting of the officials group will take place in the coming weeks.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

265 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received the first report on the implementation and compliance with the new voluntary Code of Practice On The Display And Sale Of Alcohol Products In Mixed Trading Premises from a group (details supplied) which was due for publication in September 2009; if he will provide and publish a copy of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40024/09]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

266 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the fact that one large retailer (details supplied) has not signed up to the new voluntary Code of Practice On The Display And Sale Of Alcohol Products In Mixed Trading Premises, and as a result compliance with the voluntary code cannot be monitored at the large number of outlets here; his views on that the voluntary code is compromised; if he will commence with Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 as he committed to if the voluntary code did not work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40025/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 265 and 266 together.

Mr. Padraig White, Chairperson of Responsible Retailing of Alcohol in Ireland (RRAI), submitted the first compliance report on implementation of the Code of Practice on the Display and Sales of Alcohol Products in Mixed Trading Premises to me on 30 September.

In light of the high levels of compliance with the Code outlined in Mr. White's report, coupled with recent increases in RRAI membership which will ensure that a much greater number of mixed trading outlets will be subject to compliance audit in future years, I have concluded that implementation of section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 is not required at this time.

I circulated a copy of Mr. White's report, together with a covering note outlining my conclusion that implementation of section 9 is not required at this stage, to all Oireachtas members on 27 October. The report is also available on my Department's websitewww.justice.ie.

Public Order Offences.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

267 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there has been an increase or decrease in the number of public order offences as a result of the enactment of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 which came into force on 30 July 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40026/09]

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

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

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

268 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the legislative measures being introduced and or amended in the promised Sale of Alcohol Bill; if he will commit to engaging in consultation with relevant groups and stakeholders such as public health, youth and medical organisations who are concerned about alcohol misuse and alcohol related harm prior to publication of the legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40027/09]

The Government Legislation Programme provides for publication of the Sale of Alcohol Bill in 2010. The Bill, which is currently being drafted, will modernise and streamline the law relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol by repealing the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2008, as well as the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008, and replacing them with updated provisions.

As regards consultation with relevant interests, my Department engaged in an extensive consultation process with stakeholders and other interested bodies, including public health, youth and medical organisations, during an earlier phase in the development of the Bill. A further consultation was undertaken last year by the Government Alcohol Advisory Group in the context of preparing the Report and recommendations which provided the basis for the measures included in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008. Any further submissions from relevant groups and stakeholders will of course be carefully considered in the context of publication of the forthcoming Bill.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

269 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 266 of 24 February 2009, the reason for the delay in the commencement of test purchasing as provided for in section 14 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40028/09]

Draft guidelines in respect of the procedures to be followed during test purchasing operations, which had been prepared by a Working Group chaired by my Department, are now to be finalised on the basis of formal consultations with the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána and the Minister for Health and Children, as provided for in the legislation. I intend to launch the guidelines as soon as possible.

Data Protection.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

270 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the existing powers available under the Data Protections Acts to penalise those found in breach of the existing legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40029/09]

The powers of the Data Protection Commissioner regarding enforcement of data protection law, the penalties applicable in cases of non-compliance with the Commissioner's enforcement mechanisms and the remedies available to aggrieved individuals in cases of breaches of the law, are set out in Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

271 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects to receive the final report of the data protection review group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40030/09]

The data protection review group invited and received submissions from interested parties. In response to the submissions and research by group members, a consultation document was issued with a deadline for receipt of responses of 31 October. Responses to this document are being considered and some follow-up fact finding is being carried out — especially in the context of recent developments within the EU — to allow the group to reach conclusions. It would hope to submit its report by the end of the year.

Youth Services.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

272 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the location of and the funding provided to each Garda Youth Diversion Project here in the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40031/09]

There are 100 Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) in operation around the country. The location of and funding provided to each project for 2007, 2008 and 2009 is set out in the following table.

In 2007, the total amount of funding provided to GYDPs was €7,711,457. This amount includes payments totalling €120,000 to 24 of these projects arising from project participation in the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme under the European Social Fund (ESF).

In 2008, the total amount of funding provided to GYDPs was €9,134,095. This amount includes payments totalling €1,137,879 provided in relation to the ESF programme.

Finally in 2009 to date, the total amount of funding provided to GYDPs is €8,579,913. This amount includes payments totalling €3,203,326 in relation to the ESF programme.

The amount paid to projects may differ from the notified allocation in any year due to savings being made by projects and the deduction of balances from grants carried forward from the previous year.

Project Name

Location

2007

2008

2009

Total Paid

Total Paid

Total Paid to date

ABLE

Ballyfermot, Dublin 10

85,189

89,905

47,342

ACORN

Edenderry, Co. Offaly

109,330

144,041

110,983

ALF

Athlone, Co. Westmeath

83,865

117,817

93,060

An tOileain

Castleisland, Co. Kerry

750

92,463

81,662

APT

Tallaght, Dublin 24

21,000

88,944

65,949

BALL

Lisduggan, Co. Waterford

99,196

127,529

107,112

BAN

Galway, Co. Galway

114,040

87,809

44,660

Bandon

Bandon, Co. Cork

92,966

111,153

96,726

BAP

Ballincollig, Cork

80,211

102,900

75,175

BAPADE

Killarney, Co. Kerry

104,556

119,949

95,061

BEST

Ballymun, Dublin 9

65,500

5,400

65,401

BLOCK

Portlaoise, Co. Laois

97,307

111,043

98,554

Boost

Tallaght, Dublin 24

65,500

27,175

64,857

Boyne

Drogheda, Co. Louth

77,787

114,045

89,614

Brís

Galway

13,811

Project ceased

Cable

Drogheda, Co. Louth

65,500

5,400

41,430

Cabra Step Up

Cabra, Dublin 7

76,000

83,707

25,689

Cavan 365

Cavan, Co. Cavan

21,000

94,920

91,807

CCYDG

Moyross, Limerick

251,168

296,878

127,346

CLAY

Crumlin, Dublin 12

65,000

5,400

51,438

CODY

Ballyfermot, Dublin 10

77,200

112,985

95,678

Compass

Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

91,172

145,291

118,851

Connect 7

Tralee, Co. Kerry

96,400

119,981

99,970

CYAP

Castlebar, Co. Mayo

47,623

114,863

104,256

CYD

Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

98,328

122,195

91,404

DAN

Donore Avenue, Dublin 8

94,162

112,956

63,939

DAY

Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

87,516

113,158

88,698

DIME

Hardwicke Street, Dublin 1

98,135

114,595

102,449

Douglas West

Douglas, Co. Cork

65,250

41,176

80,704

EDGE

Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary

65,500

47,369

72,456

Effort

Finglas, Dublin 11

65,000

5,400

84,050

Ennis Youth

Ennis, Co. Clare

99,993

123,482

86,625

EYE

Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

100,868

134,601

104,761

Falcarragh

Falcarragh, Co. Donegal

65,500

26,525

52,072

FAN

Finglas, Dublin 11

106,352

87,620

90,772

FAYRE

Faranree, Co. Cork

83,970

123,449

85,438

Feabhas

Cobh, Co. Cork

80,500

87,176

79,632

Fusion

Tullamore, Co. Offaly

69,580

18,295

91,786

GAP

The Glen, Cork City

96,078

108,495

97,438

GRAFT

Clondalkin, Dublin 22

98,907

148,257

102,974

HAY

Dunne St, Dublin 1

45,750

5,400

93,633

High Voltage

Dundalk, Co. Louth

94,169

122,825

95,753

HUB

Carlow, Co. Carlow

20,750

99,524

80,767

Irishtown

Garryowen, Limerick

65,000

19,221

102,287

JAY

Tallaght, Dublin 24

97,616

120,700

83,727

JETS

Swords, Co. Dublin

66,000

5,400

39,125

Junction

Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

81,400

111,764

91,572

JUST US

Tralee, Co. Kerry

71,899

120,801

86,102

KEY

Tallaght, Dublin 24

167,961

197,414

113,070

Kilmore West

Kilmore, Dublin 5

85,289

85,911

43,818

Kilrush

Kilrush, Co. Clare

65,750

35,400

61,730

King’s Island

Kings Island, Limerick

58,622

98,297

96,618

Knocknaheeney/Holyhill

Knockanaheeney, Cork

103,489

136,734

109,929

LAB

Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

86,776

118,595

98,523

LEAF

Raphoe, Co. Donegal

87,940

150,207

103,127

LEAP

Longford, Co. Longford

97,082

97,925

83,798

LSCYI

Roxboro, Limerick

111,976

122,947

106,666

Mallow

Mallow, Co. Cork

1,000

68,260

74,077

MAY

Mahon, Co. Cork

90,423

95,458

97,806

MEAS

Galway, Co. Galway

70,580

50,124

74,423

MNYP GYDP

Monaghan, Co. Monaghan

84,451

96,257

36,501

MOST

North Circular Road, Dublin 7

76,435

82,950

59,544

MY

Tralee, Co. Kerry

20,500

72,050

94,241

New Directions

Bray, Co. Wicklow

70,929

83,180

85,318

NICKOL

Buckingham Street, Dublin 1

130,091

166,382

123,139

NK 10

Listowel, Co. Kerry

1,000

91,434

90,689

Northside Youth Development Project

Ballynanty, Limerick

90,750

112,020

96,280

NYPD

Navan, Co. Meath

124,883

184,588

130,939

ORB

Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

22,312

89,289

68,688

PACT

Ferrybank, Co. Waterford

91,294

122,062

98,768

Poddle Close

Crumlin, Dublin 12

66,304

86,438

24,386

Port

Portarlington, Co. Laois

65,500

14,205

95,561

RAD

Roscommon, Co. Roscommon

86,669

124,202

101,137

RAY

Roscrea, Co. Tipperary

65,750

7,850

76,436

SAFE

Coolcotts, Co. Wexford

83,209

80,660

95,187

SAY

Sandyford, Dublin 18

69,870

121,962

81,763

Slaney

Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

65,750

27,475

88,242

Slí Eile

Tullamore, Co. Offaly

7,500

Project ceased

SMART

Trim, Co. Meath

82,328

94,478

91,533

SUB

Birr, Co. Offaly

20,750

114,649

81,540

SWAN

Store Street, Dublin 1

65,500

4,580

84,753

SWAY

St. John’s Park, Waterford

92,345

114,354

85,157

SWIFT

Clondalkin, Dublin 22

86,000

102,188

54,902

TACT

Togher, Co. Cork

80,419

103,466

93,085

TAR

Tipperary, Co. Tipperary

65,750

65,165

81,662

TEAM

Dundalk, Co. Louth

123,233

157,591

130,544

The Bridge

Celbridge, Co. Kildare

66,000

82,008

81,662

The Castle

Rathfarnham, Dublin 14

66,000

71,728

86,525

The Curragh

Newbridge, Co. Kildare

65,000

10,697

85,803

The Valley

Clondalkin, Dublin 22

21,000

93,525

88,749

Treo Nua

Tuam, Co. Galway

750

102,638

90,772

Treoin

New Ross, Co. Wexford

66,000

69,986

74,371

TYRE

Tramore, Co. Waterford

65,500

40,700

73,432

WAY

Wicklow, Co. Wicklow

79,562

100,360

95,693

WEB

Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

89,444

106,144

87,375

West Limerick

Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick

65,750

4,580

88,337

Woodale GYDP

Darndale, Dublin 17

46,000

77,778

114,990

YAB

Ballina, Co. Mayo

102,222

128,028

104,462

YAPS

Sligo, Co. Sligo

97,023

123,730

102,567

YEW

Ballyboden, Dublin 16

78,102

95,461

84,679

YIS

Meath Street, Dublin 8

51,400

105,427

86,593

Youghal

Youghal, Co. Cork

65,000

4,580

79,549

Totals

7,711,457

9,134,095

8,579,913

Visa Applications.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

273 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a temporary visa application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork was rejected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40054/09]

The visa applications referred to by the Deputy were received in the Visa Office, Dublin on 16 September 2009. They were refused by the Visa Officer on 22 September 2009 for the following reasons:

1. The evidence of finances shown was deemed insufficient;

2. There was insufficient documentation submitted in support of the visa applications. This is linked to the above refusal reason in that the financial documents submitted were internet banking copies which did not provide contact details for the financial institution concerned. Details in respect of the documentation required in support of a visa application is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (www.inis.gov.ie);

3. The obligations to return to the home country were not deemed sufficient;

4. It was the opinion of the Visa Officer that the applicants may not observe the conditions of the visas, if granted.

It is open to the persons concerned to submit an appeal within two months of the date of visa refusal, in this case before 22 November 2009. Correspondence notifying the applicants of the visa refusals issued from the Honorary Consulate, Karachi on 24 September 2009. Guidelines on making an appeal are available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service(www.inis.gov.ie).

Missing Persons.

John McGuinness

Question:

274 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if establishing a missing persons unit is part of the Programme for Government; if so, the progress made to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40074/09]

The Programme for Government 2007 contained a commitment to task the Garda Inspectorate with assessing the need to establish a dedicated Missing Persons Unit, including a response network similar to Amber Alert in the USA.

I consequently asked the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to assess the need to establish a dedicated Missing Persons Unit within An Garda Síochána including a response network similar to Amber Alert and to report their findings to me. The Inspectorate published their report earlier this year, and I welcomed their recommendations on the handling of missing persons cases.

The Inspectorate report found overall that Garda systems for handling missing persons cases are in line with international best practice and has made recommendations on how those systems can be further enhanced. One of its recommendations was that the Garda Missing Persons Bureau continue to advise and assist in high risk missing person cases leaving direct, day to day responsibility to District Superintendents and their personnel.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that local investigation teams are appointed by the District Officer and all means necessary, including the services of specialist units, are deployed to assist in these investigations. The Missing Persons Bureau provides expert assistance and advice to District officers in all high risk missing person cases. I am further informed that the Garda authorities are satisfied that adequate resources, including staff and technological resources, are in place to deal with missing persons cases.

Crime Levels.

Brian Hayes

Question:

275 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of household burglaries in the Dublin 24 area in each quarter over the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40093/09]

Brian Hayes

Question:

280 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of burglaries recorded to each Dublin Garda station over the past 12 months. [40223/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 275 and 280 together.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide the statistics sought by the Deputy directly to him.

Community Service Orders.

Bernard Allen

Question:

276 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons the courts have directed to carry out community service since 2002 to date in 2009; the number of persons directed to carry out community service who have been injured or who have complained of an injury during this service; the number of persons who have lodged compensation claims for injuries sustained during their community service; the amount of compensation which has been paid out to persons who lodged claims; and the number of compensation claims which are currently before his Department. [40113/09]

Information as to the number of persons the courts have directed to carry out community service is a matter for the Courts Service, which under the Courts Service Act 1998 is independent in the performance of its functions (section 4(3)), which include the management of the courts, (section 5(a)) and the provision of statistics (section 5(c)).

By way of indication I can say that the number of Community Service Orders dealt with by the Probation Service is available from the website of the Probation Servicewww.probation.ie and the figure in question for 2008 is 1,413.

All personal injury claims against the State for injuries incurred by individuals performing unpaid work as a condition of a Community Service Order are managed on behalf of the State, by the State Claims Agency. I have been advised by the State Claims Agency that during the specified period, they have handled two such claims on behalf of the State. One has been settled for €2,000 plus costs and the other is still active.

In relation to the number of persons who have been involved in an incident while performing Community Service during the specified period I can confirm that the Probation Service has recorded 19 incidents, which for the most part, involved minor injuries such as cuts and scrapes.

Asylum Applications.

Damien English

Question:

277 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on an application by a person (details supplied) in County Meath to remain here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40173/09]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that it has been in contact with the persons referred to by the Deputy. An application for leave to remain in the State which was received on 29 September 2009, is currently receiving attention and a decision will issue shortly.

Visa Applications.

Jack Wall

Question:

278 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40185/09]

Firstly, it is open to any individual to seek a visa on the basis of being the partner of an Irish citizen. One of the key factors a Visa Officer takes into consideration is that the persons concerned can provide documentary evidence that clearly demonstrates and supports the existence and durability of a relationship of at least two years duration.

Marriage to an Irish National does not grant any automatic right to enter or reside in the State solely on that basis; the same applies to partners. A person who is visa required wishing to come to Ireland to reside in the State with his/her spouse must apply for a "Join Spouse" visa.

In the cases of both spouses and partners, evidence of the bona fides of a pre-existing relationship is of paramount importance. Each visa application is considered on its individual merits, the onus resting with the applicant to satisfy the Visa Officer as to why a visa should be granted. Comprehensive information where making a visa application is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service(www.inis.gov.ie).

On the basis of the information provided, the age of the person referred to would not have any implications with regard to the type of visa that may be granted.

Departmental Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

279 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in his Department on 1 May 2009. [40217/09]

There were 128 staff at principal officer level or higher working in my Department and agencies staffed by it on 1 May 2009.

Question No. 280 answered with Question No. 275.

Asylum Applications.

Dan Neville

Question:

281 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will ensure same will get priority in his Department. [40319/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 19 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 25 February 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 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.

Question No. 282 answered with Question No. 79.

Refugee Status.

Denis Naughten

Question:

283 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons who have been granted refugee status as a result of being members of a community (details supplied). [40375/09]

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.

The information requested by the Deputy is not available as statistics are not maintained in relation to the grounds under which asylum applications are made or determined.

Garda Records.

Enda Kenny

Question:

284 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has a conviction record against them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40378/09]

The matter to which the Deputy refers relates to a court case. It is not open to me to comment or intervene on the conduct of any individual case. If a person has a query about personal data held in respect of him or her by An Garda Síochána he or she should personally contact the Garda Criminal Records Office, Thurles, County Tipperary.

Visa Applications.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

285 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the fact that citizens of the Republic of Mauritius may visit 27 EU countries, including the UK and Ireland, without applying for and being granted a visa; if he will make a statement on the position regarding same and the proposals and changes to the current regime. [40505/09]

Section 17 of the Immigration Act 2004 sets out the purposes for which the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform can make a Visa Order declaring that members of specified classes of non-nationals are not required to be in possession of an Irish visa when landing in the State. At present, nationals of Mauritius are not visa required as set out in Statutory Instrument No. 239 of 2009. However, with effect from 1 January 2010, this position will change and nationals of Mauritius will require an entry visa.

The agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Mauritius provides for visa free travel for a maximum period of three months and does not cover travel for the purposes of paid activity. The agreement is binding only on the member states that fully apply the Schengen acquis and so, Ireland is not bound by it or subject to its application.

In maintaining the Common Travel Area (CTA) that Ireland shares with the UK both States co-operate to ensure that their respective Visa Lists cohere as much as possible in all practical respects to the extent warranted by immigration concerns. However, it does not preclude divergence by either State. It should be noted that in the UK, all non-EEA or non-Swiss nationals are visa-required if they are coming for more than six months. The Irish system operates on the basis that, depending on his or her nationality, the visitor is either visa required or not, irrespective of the length of their stay.

Visa and pre-entry clearance systems are at the core of immigration controls and the inclusion of nationalities on lists of persons who require visas is usually the result of experience regarding the nationalities concerned. There are currently over 5,000 Mauritian nationals registered with the Garda National Immigration Bureau, mostly as students. Taking the population of Mauritius as being approximately 1.25 million this means that one in every 250 Mauritian nationals is in Ireland.

The Mauritian authorities have been informed by our Department of Foreign Affairs of this change in the visa requirement. Information has been placed on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) in this regard.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

George Lee

Question:

286 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if charging only €2 for alcoholic drinks is illegal under current legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40558/09]

Below-cost selling of alcohol products was one of the areas examined last year by the Government Alcohol Advisory Group. However, due to the complex pricing systems which it encountered during its examination of the issue, the group was unable to establish any standard costs for the purposes of prohibiting below-cost sales of such products. I recently met with the Minister for Social Development in Northern Ireland, Ms Margaret Ritchie, MLA, to discuss alcohol-related issues and we agreed on the desirability of developing a joint North-South initiative to tackle alcohol promotions. We have asked our respective officials to discuss details of such an initiative and the first meeting of this group will take place in the coming weeks.

George Lee

Question:

287 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there is a distinction between pubs and clubs under legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40559/09]

Provisions relating to the licensing of premises for the sale of alcohol, and the conditions under which alcohol may be sold and consumed on such premises, are set out in the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2008. Provisions relating to the registration of clubs, and the issuing of certificates which permit clubs to supply alcohol to members and their guests, and the conditions under which alcohol may be consumed on clubs' premises, are set out in the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008.

Garda Investigations.

George Lee

Question:

288 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an investigation is under way into an incident (details supplied); if he can provide any details on the condition of the victim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40560/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the incident referred to by the Deputy occurred on 1 November. A pedestrian was removed to hospital for treatment for minor injuries and was released a short while later.

I am further informed that the incident is under investigation by Rathfarnham Garda station.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

289 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the public concern about the increasing availability of alcohol to minors through home deliveries; his views on the severe difficulties in enforcing the law in this regard; and if he will give consideration to banning such deliveries in order to help combat the abuse of alcohol among minors. [40561/09]

It is already an offence under section 31(2) of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 (as amended) for a licence holder to sell or deliver, or permit any other person to sell or deliver, intoxicating liquor for consumption by a person under the age of 18 years in any place except with the explicit consent of the person's parent or guardian in a private residence in which he or she is present either as of right or with permission.

During discussions leading up to enactment of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, I undertook to examine the need for any additional statutory provisions to prohibit third parties from purchasing and then delivering intoxicating liquor, including such deliveries to persons under the age of 18 years. I intend to address this matter in the forthcoming Sale of Alcohol Bill.

I should add that new statutory provisions in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 enable the Garda to confiscate intoxicating liquor found in the possession of minors in public places. It also enables the Garda to confiscate intoxicating liquor in the possession of persons over the age of 18 years of age in order to prevent public disorder or damage to property. I am confident that these provisions have strengthened the capacity of the Garda to deal with problems arising from the consumption of intoxicating liquor in public places.

National Drugs Strategy.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

290 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if her attention has been drawn to public concern about the proliferation of Head Shops which sell mind-altering substances and paraphernalia for propagating illegal drugs; and his plans to regulate or restrict such outlets. [40563/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 143 of 5 November, 2009.

Criminal Prosecutions.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

291 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will establish with the Courts Service or other source the number of cases which have been prosecuted under section 185 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 in relation to assaults or threats to members of the emergency services; if he has satisfied himself that the existing law is sufficiently strong to address these crimes, in view of the escalation in such cases, and that there is sufficient awareness of this legislation among the Judiciary. [40565/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following table shows the number of proceedings commenced and convictions recorded for offences contrary to section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 as amended by section 185 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006.

Year

No. of proceedings commenced

No. of convictions recorded

2009 to 4 November

98

14

2008

186

63

2007

44

21

Figures provided are provisional, operational and liable to change and are valid up to 4 November 2009.

The effectiveness and use of the provisions are kept under review in conjunction with the Garda Commissioner.

Citizenship Applications.

Willie Penrose

Question:

292 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation by persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40593/09]

Valid applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy's question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in December 2007.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 24 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that further processing of both applications has commenced and the files will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Sentencing Policy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

293 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if plea bargaining in serious criminal cases as applicable in other jurisdictions has been studied with a view to limited introduction here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40676/09]

I can confirm that the question of plea bargaining and the factors that might be relevant to its operation in this jurisdiction have been reviewed, most notably by the Law Reform Commission in its 1996 Report on Sentencing. The Commission decided against making any recommendations on legislation in the area of plea negotiations.

The current practice is set out in the Director of Public Prosecutions' Guidelines for Prosecutors. I refer the Deputy to chapter 10 of those Guidelines. These Guidelines are available on the Director of Public Prosecution's website.

The criminal law already makes a limited allowance where the defendant enters a guilty plea. Section 29 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999, together with some more specific provisions such as section 27(3D)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, provide that an early plea of guilty should, as a general rule, be taken into consideration by the court when determining the appropriate sentence (in cases other than where the sentence is fixed by law). I have no plans to alter the current arrangements.

Legal Aid Service.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

294 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost on a monthly basis of free legal aid in criminal cases over the past 60 months; the number of such cases involving members of organised crime gangs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40677/09]

The Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 provides that free legal aid may be granted for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. Jurisprudence since then has established as a Constitutional right the provision of aid in such circumstances. An applicant for criminal legal aid must establish to the satisfaction of the court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal aid and the court must also be satisfied that by reason of the "gravity of the charge" or "exceptional circumstances", it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid. However, where the charge is one of murder or where an appeal is one from the Court of Criminal Appeal to the Supreme Court, free legal aid is granted merely on the grounds of insufficient means.

The courts, therefore, through the Judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. The Deputy will appreciate that eligibility for legal aid in criminal cases is determined by the Judge hearing the case and that I have no function in this regard. However, I have been concerned about the mounting expenditure on criminal legal aid. In that context, I am bringing forward a Bill to amend the current system with a view to ensuring that, while accused persons of insufficient means who are facing serious charges are entitled to have a defence provided for them, there are tight controls against any abuse of the scheme.

The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 created a new offence of directing or controlling a criminal organisation which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The maximum penalty for the offence of participation or involvement in organised crime has been increased from five years to 15 years imprisonment. While the Garda authorities are already making use of its provisions, it will take some time before they are in a position to bring criminals before the courts. It will remain a matter for the court to determine eligibility for criminal legal aid in respect of any charges brought under this new legislation.

The monthly expenditure on criminal legal aid from 2005 to end October 2009 is set out in tabular form below.

Monthly expenditure on Criminal Legal Aid 2005-October 2009

Criminal Legal Aid Expentiture Jan 2005-Oct 2009

2005

2006

2007

2008

To Oct 2009

Period

Amount

Period

Amount

Period

Amount

Period

Amount

Period

Amount

Jan-05

2,778,701.18

Jan-06

2,074,772.69

Jan-07

2,821,272.12

Jan-08

2,882,823.29

Jan-09

3,650,741.32

Feb-05

2,934,878.30

Feb-06

2,888,683.08

Feb-07

3,170,259.47

Feb-08

4,007,902.67

Feb-09

4,576,536.50

Mar-05

4,211,910.88

Mar-06

4,945,310.56

Mar-07

3,651,592.49

Mar-08

6,000,737.62

Mar-09

6,202,018.07

Apr-05

3,719,430.17

Apr-06

2,499,919.47

Apr-07

5,943,135.77

Apr-08

4,058,703.49

Apr-09

5,012,260.91

May-05

3,012,086.11

May-06

5,602,224.55

May-07

3,822,305.97

May-08

3,838,142.75

May-09

5,915,033.24

Jun-05

3,336,784.71

Jun-06

4,601,568.00

Jun-07

3,479,234.46

Jun-08

5,372,656.05

Jun-09

6,894,425.50

Jul-05

5,673,496.41

Jul-06

2,650,994.41

Jul-07

3,788,376.32

Jul-08

5,042,586.85

Jul-09

5,367,515.96

Aug-05

3,596,117.10

Aug-06

4,064,557.87

Aug-07

3,214,970.53

Aug-08

5,250,038.67

Aug-09

4,093,198.67

Sep-05

1,908,709.21

Sep-06

2,026,690.53

Sep-07

2,640,995.78

Sep-08

3,756,385.86

Sep-09

3,020,649.29

Oct-05

2,459,810.30

Oct-06

3,722,347.82

Oct-07

4,788,767.84

Oct-08

3,568,925.22

Oct-09

3,208,955.91

Nov-05

3,390,676.25

Nov-06

3,625,522.02

Nov-07

4,123,906.48

Nov-08

5,060,144.73

Dec-05

3,172,735.39

Dec-06

3,386,711.44

Dec-07

4,910,677.40

Dec-08

6,437,117.48

Total 2005

40,195,336.01

Total 2006

42,089,302.44

Total 2007

46,355,494.63

Total 2008

55,276,164.68

Total 2009

47,941,335.37

Garda Stations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

295 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which upgrading or refurbishment requirements have been met at each Garda station throughout County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40679/09]

The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation around the country is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána. Significant works have already been undertaken to meet the Garda accommodation requirements of the Kildare Division.

A new Garda Station for the new District of Leixlip was completed in late 2008 and was officially opened on 24 May this year. A new station was also completed at Derrinturn in 2007. I am informed by the Garda Authorities that a Regional Response Unit and a Divisional Property and Exhibit Management Store are to be located at Newbridge Garda Station and work is already well under way in this regard. Work on the provision of additional accommodation in Naas Garda Station is also expected to commence next year.

The future accommodation requirements for the Division will continue to be considered in the context of overall priorities and in the light of available resources.

Garda Strength.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

296 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí available for patrol duties in each of the Garda stations in County Kildare; the extent to which such numbers have increased or decreased in the past 12 months; if any of the stations require increased Garda strength; the extent of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40680/09]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of each Garda Station in the Kildare Garda Division on 30 September 2008 and 2009 was as set out in the table hereunder:

Station

30/09/2008

30/09/2009

Athy

19

28

Ballytore

2

2

Castledermot

1

3

Kildare

32

33

Monasterevin

6

4

Newbridge

36

45

Rathangan

4

4

Carbury

4

5

Celbridge

22

18

Kilcock

5

8

Leixlip

25

36

Maynooth

18

14

Ballymore Eustace

1

1

Clane

7

7

Kilcullen

4

3

Kill

3

3

Naas

105

108

Robertstown

4

4

Total

298

326

Garda management state that for security and operational reasons it is not Garda policy to disclose the number of personnel on patrol duties in any given area at any specific time.

Alarm Systems.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

297 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the flaw in a number of security systems, the existence of which has not been made known to householders or businesses which can result in easy breach of intruder systems resulting in crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40681/09]

Issues relating to deficiencies with alarm systems are matters for the service providers concerned and, accordingly, not within the remit of my Department.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

298 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of burglaries including house burglaries reported to each of the Garda stations throughout County Kildare in the past five years and to date in 2009; the number of prosecutions arising therefrom; the number of convictions; the extent of recovery of the stolen goods; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40682/09]

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

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

Prisoner Releases.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

299 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisoners released in the past 24 months; the number who have served their sentences in full; the number who were on special release; the number who committed crimes after release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40683/09]

There is no provision for special release in the Irish prison system. Statistics pertaining to the level of temporary release from prison are contained in my reply to the Deputy's Question No. 300 of today.

It is not possible to provide the other figures requested by the Deputy as this would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort and could not be justified where there are other significant demands on resources.

However, I can provide some information pertaining to the year 2008. In that year there were 13,557 instances of committal to prison involving 10,928 individuals. These committals comprised of:

7,461 under sentence, 3,526 of which were for less than 3 months and 65 of which were for ten years or more;

5,052 on remand;

1,034 for immigration related matters, 759 of whom spent less than 8 days in prison;

10 for contempt of court.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service facilitated a major study of prisoner re-offending by the UCD Institute of Criminology. The study found that 27.4% of released prisoners were serving a new prison sentence within one year. This rose to 39.2% after two years, 45.1% after three years, and 49.2% after four years.

The Irish Prison Service provides a range of rehabilitative programmes which have the dual purpose of providing prisoners with purposeful activity while serving their sentences and encouraging and equipping them to lead productive lives on release. Prisoner rehabilitation involves significant multi-dimensional input by a diverse range of general and specialist services provided both by the Irish Prison Service and in-reach statutory and non-statutory services. Amongst these are healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, educational, work and training, vocational, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These services are important in addressing offending behaviour, drug and alcohol addiction, missed educational and vocational opportunities, anger management, and self management in the interest of encouraging positive personal development in prisoners, and preparing them for re-integration and resettlement on release from custody.

In addition, the Probation Service has an active role during the course of the prisoner's sentence in helping maintain links with family and community agencies, encouraging prisoners to address their offending behaviour and engaging prisoners in individual counselling and group counselling programmes such as offending behaviour, addiction, violence and sex offending.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

300 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the average number of prisoners on day, early or special release in each week in the past 24 months; the degree to which the numbers have fluctuated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40684/09]

It is not possible to provide figures to the Deputy as requested as this would require the manual examination of records going back over a considerable time period. Such an examination would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort and could not be justified in current circumstances where there are other significant demands on resources.

However I am informed by the Irish Prison Service that the number of prisoners on temporary release on 6 November 2009 was 644. This represented 14% of the overall prisoner population for this day. In contrast, the percentage for the years 1994 to 1997 are as follows:

1994 — (22.2%);

1995 — (20.2%);

1996 — (17.9%);

1997 — (19.2%).

The highest number of prisoners on temporary release on any one date in 2009 was 686 on 24 June 2009. This represented 15% of the overall population on that date. The daily average figure to date in 2009 for prisoners on temporary release is 510 and this represents 12% of the daily population figure.

The Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003 provides that the Minister may approve the temporary release of a sentenced prisoner. This discretionary instrument assists in gradually preparing suitable offenders for release and in administering short sentences, and is an incentive to well-behaved prisoners.

Temporary release arrangements operate similarly to a system of parole, which is a feature of prison systems worldwide. They are an important vehicle for re-integrating an offender into the community in a planned way. The generally accepted view is that the risk to the community is reduced by planned re-integration of offenders compared with their return to the community on the completion of their full sentence. Each case is examined on its own merits and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made. In addition, all releases are subject to conditions, which in the vast majority of cases include a requirement to report on a regular basis to the offender's Garda Station. Of course, any offender who breaches his or her conditions may be arrested and returned to prison immediately by the Garda.

Candidates for temporary release are identified by a number of different means but primarily on the recommendation of the Prison Governor or the therapeutic services in the prisons. The prisoner, their family or their legal representative can also apply for consideration of such a concession. Recommendations are also made in relation to long term sentence prisoners by the Parole Board. It is very important to note that it does not necessarily follow that a prisoner will receive temporary release even if the recommendation is to that effect. Before a final determination a number of factors are taken into account including:

the nature and gravity of the offence to which the sentence being served by the person relates;

the sentence concerned and any recommendation made by the Court in relation to the sentence imposed;

the period of the sentence served by the person;

the potential threat to the safety and security of the public should the person be released;

the person's previous criminal record;

the risk of the person failing to return to prison at the expiration of the period of temporary release;

the conduct of the person while in custody or while previously on temporary release;

any report or recommendation made by the Governor, the Garda Síochána, a Probation and Welfare Officer, or any other person whom the Minister considers may be of assistance in coming to a decision as to whether to grant temporary release;

the risk that the person might commit an offence during any period of temporary release;

the risk of the person failing to comply with any of the specific conditions of temporary release laid down;

the likelihood that a period of temporary release might accelerate the person's reintegration into society or improve his prospects of obtaining employment.

Prison Committals.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

301 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisoners currently located at the various prisons here; the number in each of the past five years and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40685/09]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table for each of the years 2005 to 2009 for the 6 November or a similar date.

Prison/Place of Detention

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

Arbour Hill Prison

154

149

137

137

137

Castlerea Prison

365

238

221

230

205

Cloverhill Prison

434

470

458

407

389

Cork Prison

299

287

264

269

247

Dóchas Centre

114

110

97

93

97

Limerick Prison (male)

304

273

281

274

236

Limerick Prison (female)

22

20

21

21

15

Loughan House

146

122

74

90

74

Midlands Prison

523

474

439

427

408

Mountjoy Prison (male)

643

604

532

470

489

Portlaoise Prison

114

110

114

116

116

Shelton Abbey

100

87

57

45

41

St. Patrick’s Institution

220

223

203

182

180

Training Unit

115

103

91

96

91

Wheatfield Prison

443

398

373

378

355

Total

3,996

3,668

3,362

3,235

3,080

As the Deputy will appreciate the Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts into its custody and do not have the option of refusing committals. It is the case that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 330. This represents a 9% rise in the number in custody.

Since 1997, the Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure which has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. A new accommodation block for 123 prisoners recently opened at Castlerea Prison. Furthermore, current projects will also provide the potential for an additional 750 prison spaces during 2009 and 2010 by means of:

a new block in Portlaoise Prison which will have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners and which has recently started to accommodate prisoners;

a new block in Wheatfield Prison which will also have the potential to accommodate approximately 200 prisoners which is due to open by end of 2009;

opening the separation unit in Mountjoy Prison which will have the potential to accommodate 50 prisoners and is due to open by the end of this month;

a new wing at the Portlaoise/Midlands complex will have the potential to accommodate 300 prisoners. Work is due to commence in 2010.

In the longer term, the Government remains firmly committed to replacing the prisons on the Mountjoy complex with modern prison accommodation at Thornton Hall. Building new prison facilities at Thornton Hall on a green field site will open up new opportunities for the development of structured regime activities that support rehabilitation and resettlement of prisoners.

In developing its design concept for Thornton Hall the Irish Prison Service sought and continues to seek to deliver a modern, operationally efficient and cost effective facility which will provide decent living conditions for prisoners with appropriate support programmes including the provision of modern facilities for prison staff.

Garda Deployment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

302 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of budgetary considerations, he will ensure that the policing needs in both urban and rural areas are adequately provided for with particular regard to the security requirements of the community at large; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40688/09]

There has been an unprecedented level of investment in An Garda Síochána over the past number of years to provide the necessary resources in terms of manpower and equipment, to protect communities both rural and urban throughout the State. The gross allocation for the Garda Vote for this year alone is over €1.56 billion and there has been a 41% increase in the number of dedicated Community Gardaí for the 12 month period to the end of September this year.

The Commissioner and I are determined that all resources possible will be directed towards frontline policing across all communities. While no area of Government expenditure can be immune from the adjustments necessary to our public finances, in relation to next year's Estimates for my Department's group of Votes, I am determined that the highest priority will continue to be given to front line policing services.

Garda Stations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

303 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if all Garda stations here are fully fitted with PULSE and all other modern technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40689/09]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 350 (Ref. 37125/09) of Tuesday, 20 October 2009 which sets out the position in relation to the availability of PULSE.

With regard to other modern technology I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are constantly looking at opportunities to employ new technologies to achieve their corporate goals and meet the business needs of the organisation. It is a policy of the Garda Síochána to ensure that the most proven up to date technology is utilised where appropriate and IT Hardware and telecommunications infrastructures in the Force are regularly updated to meet the needs of a modern police service.

I am further advised that a new Garda Information and Communications Technology Strategy for the period 2010-2012 is being developed which will identify future technologies required to support the Garda Síochána in meeting the objectives set out in the Garda Strategy Statement for the same period.

Criminal Prosecutions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

304 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of criminal gang leaders or members apprehended, prosecuted or convicted under the 2009 Criminal Justice legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40690/09]

As the Deputy will acknowledge the Government has introduced an extensive package of criminal justice legislation this year targeted at those engaged in serious crime, including:

the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 by which all organised crime offences will be tried in the Special Criminal Court unless the DPP directs otherwise;

the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, which provides a statutory framework for evidence obtained by means of covert surveillance to be used in criminal trials;

and the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 which further tightens the legislative provisions relating to the use of weapons.

As the Deputy will appreciate, all of these provisions are very new pieces of legislation aimed at tackling serious crimes but I can fully assure the House that An Garda Síochána are already actively making use of these new legislative measures.

I am sure the Deputy will understand that given the seriousness of the offences being dealt with though this range of legislation that a full and thorough investigation of individuals and their activities must be conducted before charges can be brought against them. Therefore it is too early at this stage to provide details as sought by the Deputy.

Recidivism Rate.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

305 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of offences committed by members of criminal gangs while on bail for previous offences in each of the past three years and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40691/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

306 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of crimes committed by persons on bail in each of the past five years and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40692/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

307 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he proposes to take to prevent the committing of a crime by those on bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40693/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 305 to 307, inclusive, together.

The law takes a serious view of offences committed by persons on bail. The Criminal Justice Act 1984 provides for mandatory consecutive sentences to apply where a person is convicted of an offence committed while on bail. In addition, the law provides that the fact that an offence was committed while on bail must be treated as an aggravating factor at sentencing and that the court shall impose a sentence that is greater than that which would have been imposed otherwise, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

There have been concerns at how, in practice, our bail laws have been operating, and these led to the inclusion in the Criminal Justice Act, 2007 of a series of new provisions designed to tighten up on the granting of bail. These allow the prosecution to mount a more effective challenge to bail applications. For example, applicants for bail can be required to provide a statement of their means so that the prosecution can highlight any divergence their between their lifestyles and their stated means as evidence of their involvement in gangland activity. The Director of Public Prosecution is now able to appeal to the High Court against a decision of the District Court to grant bail and against the conditions attached by the District Court to the bail.

I am asking the Government this week to approve my proposal to commence work on a new Bail Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to consolidate and update bail law with a view to presenting a clear, accessible and modern statement of the law. In preparing the Bill I will address a number of weaknesses in the current law to ensure that the bail regime can operate in as tight and effective a way as possible. I will also examine the extent to which the law could be restated to better guide the courts on the need to protect the public against those who present an unacceptable risk of committing a serious offence if granted bail.

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

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

International Agreements.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

308 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a status of forces agreement has been agreed between the United States and Ireland relating to foreign military personnel and military contractors accused of off-duty crimes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40393/09]

Ireland has not concluded a Status of Forces Agreement with the United States. United States military personnel and persons engaged in business in Ireland are subject to Irish law in the same manner and to the same extent as all other persons.

The only exception relates to military personnel attached to the Embassy of the United States and duly accredited under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 whose status is governed by the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Act of 1967.

Foreign Conflicts.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

309 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the recent media reports concerning a company’s (details supplied) commercial involvement with a person in contravention of EU sanctions on Zimbabwe; in view of these reports, if he is satisfied with the review procedures of the national pensions reserve fund’s investments which had included this company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40175/09]

Ireland has worked closely with our EU partners in maintaining a consistent approach to Zimbabwe. The EU operates targeted restrictive measures against individuals and businesses which have supported or participated in the destruction wrought by President Mugabe and his close associates within ZANU PF.

I am concerned at reports of a commercial involvement between the company referred to and a farm which it would appear was seized illegally by the wife of President Mugabe. However, Ireland has no independent means of assessing the extent or directness of the commercial connection referred to. The company concerned confirmed subsequently that it has severed this commercial relationship.

I am advised by my colleague, the Minister for Finance that, with regard to the investment held by the National Pensions Reserve (NPRF) in the company, the NPRF Commission has a policy of engagement with companies where environmental, social and governance issues arise. Engagement is a process whereby shareholders initiate dialogue with the boards and management of a company to seek to address issues of concern. The National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission has appointed Hermes Equity Ownership Services to engage with companies on its behalf across its global equity portfolio. In the light of concerns raised about foreign investment in Zimbabwe, the NPRF has engaged, through Hermes, with a number of companies concerning their activities in that country, including the company referred to by the Deputy. It is important to note that the issues raised concerning Zimbabwe relate not to investments by the Fund in Zimbabwe itself, but to investments in a number of multinational companies which have investments across the globe.

I am also advised that the investment mandate of the NPRF Commission, as set out in section 19 of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000, provides that the Fund shall be invested so as to secure the optimal financial return provided the level of risk to the moneys invested is acceptable to the Commission. The mandate is not qualified by any ethical investment criteria. However, the Minister for Finance has established an Interdepartmental Committee to consider the issue of an ethical investment policy for the NPRF. The Committee is preparing a report which is expected to be finalised shortly.

Ireland will remain engaged, both bilaterally and with our EU partners, to support a return to democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe, and an end to the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses which have had such a devastating effect on its people. It is vital for the future of Zimbabwe that the power sharing government delivers on the promise of reform, and secures for Zimbabwe's people real political freedoms, a return to the rule of law and economic development. Ireland will continue to work with our partners in the international community to encourage progress in these areas.

Departmental Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

310 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in his Department on 1 May 2009. [40215/09]

The total number of staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs at principal officer level or higher on 1 May 2009 was 139.

Middle East Peace Process.

Chris Andrews

Question:

311 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40492/09]

The Government does not consider that trade or other embargoes on Israel would contribute to the search for peace in the Middle East. I have made it clear that there is no prospect of reaching consensus at EU level in favour of such a policy. In these circumstances, to link this issue with the discussion of the Goldstone report serves to make more difficult a clear and constructive discussion on the report and the important issues it addresses. The Government has made it clear, in debates at the Human Rights Council in Geneva and the United Nations General Assembly in New York, its support for the Goldstone report as a serious investigation which needs to be considered carefully and acted on. Ireland was one of five EU member states which voted in favour of the resolution on the report at the General Assembly last week. I have made clear my view that there must be accountability for actions taken.

Chris Andrews

Question:

312 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the recommendation in a report (details supplied) that the perpetrators of the war crimes be subject to trial by International and National Courts under universal jurisdiction. [40493/09]

The Government has made it clear in international debates at the Human Rights Council in Geneva and most recently at the UN General Assembly in New York, that it supports the Goldstone report and attaches importance to it. Ireland was one of five EU member states to vote in support of the resolution on the report at the UN General Assembly last week. The report is a complex and detailed document. Its recommendations cover wide-ranging actions in many national and international fora, with wide and far-reaching political and legal implications. In common with many countries, we will need to consider carefully these implications before agreeing on the best way forward on these crucial issues. In the first instance, the report calls for the parties to the Gaza conflict to institute credible and transparent investigations into the alleged breaches of international law which it details, investigations which are in conformity with international standards and which can command confidence. We fully support the report's recommendations in this regard. The other recommendations, including that referred to by the Deputy, are put forward as alternative mechanisms if those investigations do not take place. They would need to be considered at that stage, if necessary.

Irish United Nations Association.

Billy Timmins

Question:

313 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding correspondence from a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40584/09]

The Irish United Nations Association is a non-governmental organisation that is based in Dublin. Its objectives are to promote the aims and activities of the United Nations and its specialised agencies in Ireland. The association has received funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs since 1972. In addition to this funding, my Department has also provided support to the association in terms of advice on strategy and internal governance procedures. In 2007-08, my Department, in co-operation with the association, conducted two extensive reports which produced a series of recommendations identifying reforms geared to better enabling the association to fulfil its mandate. Consultations are ongoing with the Irish United Nations Association on how to ensure an appropriate follow-up to the two reports. The proposal to cease funding of the association is one of a number of recommendations made in the McCarthy report in relation to expenditure by this Department. Those recommendations are being examined by the Government in the context of preparations for the 2010 budget. In the meantime, I have recently written to the association outlining proposals to address their immediate financial situation, in line with our existing commitment to support its activities.

Sports Inclusion.

Martin Ferris

Question:

314 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will provide guarantees that funding for the sports inclusion development officers programme will be made available after 2010. [40047/09]

Martin Ferris

Question:

318 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his plans to continue to move programme under the sports inclusion development programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40121/09]

Noel Coonan

Question:

320 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will ensure continued funding for the ongoing implementation of the sports inclusion development office programme in north Tipperary beyond 2010; if he will guarantee a further three years of funding; if not, the reason for same; his views on the importance and contribution the SIDO makes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40381/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 314, 318 and 320 together.

In 2008, special funding of €2.5 million was allocated from the dormant accounts fund for the appointment of 20 sports inclusion development officers in local sports partnerships. The officers were appointed on two-year contracts to provide opportunities for people with a disability to participate in sport and physical activity. A network of 33 local sports partnerships have been set up throughout the country by the Irish Sports Council to co-ordinate and promote sport at local level, especially among specific target groups such as older people, girls and women, people with disabilities, unemployed people and those who live in identified disadvantaged communities. The special dormant accounts funding was in addition to the annual funding provided to the local sports partnerships by the Irish Sports Council for programmes and initiatives aimed at increasing participation in recreational sport. The council has allocated €6 million to the local sports partnerships in 2009. The continuation of the sports inclusion development officer scheme from 2010 will depend on negotiations on the 2010 Estimates.

Tourism Revenue.

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

315 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the method used for calculating the benefit to the Exchequer from tourist visits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40545/09]

The Exchequer contribution of a sector can generally be derived from the official national accounts. In the case of tourism, however, the conventional means of presenting official national accounts do not allow for it to be presented as a distinct sector, due to its fragmented nature. There are a number of alternative means by which its contribution can be estimated, of which the production of tourism satellite accounts is considered to be the most robust, although complex and costly. In the absence of regular tourism satellite accounts, Fáilte Ireland, with assistance from external experts in the area, has developed an economic model to estimate the value of tourism's contribution, based on available data. It is a generalised input-output model using an integrated supply and demand framework which links tourist expenditure on products to the supply of products by industry. Using multipliers to measure the direct, indirect and induced effects of tourism expenditure, it was estimated that total tourism revenue in 2008 represented some 4% of gross national product in revenue terms, equivalent to 2.2% of gross value added or 2.6% of gross domestic product. Figures for total out-of-State and domestic tourism revenue are based primarily on the estimates produced by the Central Statistics Office through its tourism-related surveys, the passenger card inquiry for overseas visitors and the household travel survey for domestic tourists, as well as data from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board for Northern Ireland resident visits and overseas visitors arriving via Northern Ireland. Fáilte Ireland's survey of overseas travellers allows estimation of the contribution of key overseas segments such as activity tourists, conference visitors, language students, etc. — segments that are not identified in the CSO estimates. Applying the Fáilte Ireland economic model, it is estimated that, in 2008, the Exchequer earned €1.5 billion through taxation of tourism spend, of which €1.1 billion came from foreign tourism.

Sports Capital Programme.

Jack Wall

Question:

316 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position regarding sports capital funding; if there will be capital funding in 2009; the future plans for this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40038/09]

Under the Sports Capital Programme, which is administered by my Department, and part-funded from the proceeds of the National Lottery, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Since 1998, over €725 million has been allocated to over 7,400 projects across the country. No new applications for funding have been sought in 2009 and no decision has been made on the timing of the next round of the programme. However, €56 million has been provided in my Department's Vote in the 2009 Estimates to cover payments to be made from the C1 subhead, out of which grants are paid for the provision of sports and recreation facilities. Work on the national sports facilities strategy, which will provide an improved policy platform for any future rounds of the programme, is at an advanced stage of preparation in my Department. It is my intention to publish the strategy once it has been completed and considered by the Government.

Jack Wall

Question:

317 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of outstanding grants still not drawn down over the past five years for the capital sports grants; the number on a county basis; the length of time on the list; his plans to assist clubs that have not drawn down assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40045/09]

The following table sets out the value of outstanding Sports Capital Programme grants as at the start of 2009 for each of the past five years:

Year

Outstanding

2008

46,688,335

2007

54,111,057

2006

33,159,690

2005

15,437,731

2004

12,258,613

Total

161,655,426

The information sought by the Deputy on the number of outstanding sports capital grants on a county basis for the past five years cannot be compiled within the time available. However, it will be forwarded to the Deputy in due course. For a variety of reasons it can take grantees several years to draw down allocations. Some of the more common reasons for this include delays in finalising the legalities required to protect the State's investment, delays in the planning process and construction and difficulties in raising the required own funding. While my Department seeks to give grantees every opportunity to draw down allocation, where delays are excessive, or the project has ceased, my Department seeks to withdraw allocations. This is a labour intensive and time consuming process, although in 2008 it was possible to withdraw €6.6 million of previous years allocations. Some €56 million has been provided in my Department's vote in the 2009 Estimates to cover payments to be made from the C1 subhead, out of which grants are paid for the provision of sports and recreation facilities. All of this money must be spent before the end of the year. The corresponding figure for 2008 was €58 million. In 2009, it has been business as usual for grantees allocated funding under previous rounds of the programme. By close of business on Friday, 6 November last, over 1,360 payments had been approved with a total value of over €50 million. It is the intention to meet existing commitments made to grantees under the programme, subject to their compliance with the relevant criteria required for the payment.

Question No. 318 answered with Question No. 314.

Departmental Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

319 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in his Department on 1 May 2009. [40207/09]

As at 1 May 2009, there were 16 officers at principal officer level and higher working in the Department.

Question No. 320 answered with Question No. 314.

National Concert Hall.

Mary Upton

Question:

321 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if an economic needs assessment has been carried out with regard to the redevelopment of the National Concert Hall; the estimated cost of this project including the cost of any land purchases to date; his views on the fact that the development will add to the arts here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40402/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 121 of 21 October last. The procurement phase of the redevelopment of the National Concert Hall is progressing. In accordance with the Government decision, it is a design, build, finance and maintain PPP project. Two participating consortia submitted tenders on 25 September 2009 for the project. These tenders are being evaluated at present. This stage of the process should be competed around the end of this year. As this is a PPP process, costs are determined at the time of contract conclusion. The Commissioners for Public Works acquired the site at Earlsfort Terrace from University College Dublin on behalf of the State in October 2006 for the redevelopment of the National Concert Hall. The purchase price was €41.8 million. An evaluation of the economic benefits of the redevelopment of the National Concert Hall was carried out in 2006 and the Departments of Arts, Sport and Tourism and Finance were satisfied with the outcome of this evaluation. I have no doubt that the redevelopment of the National Concert Hall will make a very substantial contribution to the arts and provide considerable benefits to the economy.

Community Development.

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

322 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if community development programmes will be retained and their activities continued in view of widespread concern over his plans for community development and local development programmes for 2010; his plans in relation to the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes recommendations for cutting budgets to these programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40189/09]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

330 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will ensure that community development projects are maintained in view of the value for money they represent and the wide range of voluntary community work that is activated through the projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40575/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 322 and 330 together.

As I have previously indicated, my view is that a focused programme with a single integrated delivery structure is needed to maximise the impact of the local development programme and the community development programme, which serve disadvantaged communities. My overall aim is to ensure that, from 2010, having regard to the budgetary position, disadvantaged communities will benefit from a more focused programme with clear objectives, simplified and streamlined delivery structures and better-integrated actions, leading to significant administrative savings. The Department is undertaking a review of the community development programme. I expect shortly to have a full report on its findings and recommendations. I would reasonably expect the majority of projects to be endorsed by the review and to move into the new integrated programme. The intention is to preserve elements of best practice from the existing community development programme and local development social inclusion programmes in the redesigned model, to minimise structures and to enhance benefits for individuals and communities through significant administrative and overhead savings. Clearly, these developments are taking place at a time of extreme budgetary difficulties, the full extent of which will not be known until budget day. As regards the recommendations of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes, these are being considered by Government and no decisions have been made as yet.

Departmental Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

323 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in his Department on 1 May 2009. [40209/09]

The number of officials at Principal Officer level or higher that were working in my Department on 1 May 2009 was 18.8. For the sake of completeness, I should point out that there are also two Principal Officers working on secondment to Oifig an Choimisinéir Teanga and the National Advisory Committee on Drugs.

Care of the Elderly.

Michael Ring

Question:

324 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of applications for the community supports for older people scheme that were received by him between the 6 of October and the 21 of October 2009, the number of grants that were issued, the value of grants issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40252/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

325 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of applications that were received for the community supports for older people scheme after the closing date of 21 October 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40253/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 324 and 325 together.

My Department has received 224 applications from Community Groups around the country under the Scheme of Community Support for Older People between 6 October and 21 October 2009. 57 applications amounting to approximately €138,000 and covering 470 elderly individuals have been approved since the scheme was reopened.

As of today a further 27 applications have been received since 22 October 2009.

As I have indicated previously, priority will be given to those applications received up to 21 October 2009. Applications received after this date will be processed subject to the availability of funding.

Community Development.

James Bannon

Question:

326 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding forwarded to a company (details supplied) from 1 January to 30 September 2009; the amount of a shortfall there is from his press statement announcement in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40457/09]

In 2008, I announced an overall Programme allocation under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 for each Local Action Group chosen to deliver the Programme. Expenditure under the Programme is due to be completed during 2015.

Delivery of Axis 3 and Axis 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 commenced in February 2009.

Each group was given an allocation for 2009 for both project and administration activities. This was followed by indicative project funding allocations for 2010 and 2011. It will not be possible to determine the final 2010 allocation until the completion of the current estimates process.

It is envisaged that additional funding will be allocated to all Local Action Groups as the need arises and as Exchequer resources permit, up to the value of each group's overall allocation over the lifetime of the Programme.

The figures in the following table indicate the current financial status of the company in the context of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 to date:

RDP 2007-2013 Overall Programme Allocation

8,714,110.00

RDP 2009 Project Allocation

300,201.00

RDP 2009 Administration Allocation

277,109.00

RDP Indicative Project Allocations 2010

266,873.00

RDP Indicative Project Allocations 2011

245,087.00

RDP Funding allocated to date

1,089,270.00

RDP Funding drawn down to end Sept 2009

174,740.96

RDP Funding drawn down to Date (November 2009)

230,239.26

RDP 2009 allocation available to draw down

347,070.74

The Deputy has also requested information regarding any other funding provided by my Department to this company for the period in question. The following table contains this information.

Scheme/Programme

Amount

Rural Social Scheme

710,869

Local Development Social Inclusion Programme

550,573

State Property.

Frank Fahey

Question:

327 Deputy Frank Fahey asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the outcome of talks with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in connection with his Department’s proposal to Údarás na Gaeltachta to sell lands at Ros an Mhíl Harbour, County Galway, which are of strategic importance to the development of a deepwater harbour, which is proposed for Ros an Mhíl; if the lands in the ownership of Údaras na Gaeltachta will be retained in order to facilitate a new planning application and the issue of contract documents for the development of the harbour. [40473/09]

The development of Ros an Mhíl harbour is of strategic importance to the Gaeltacht, and my Department is in continuing discussions with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in relation to same.

In relation to land owned by Údarás na Gaeltachta in Ros an Mhíl, I am informed by Údarás that no land transfer has taken place to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Údarás na Gaeltachta have also indicated that they have not made any long-term arrangements in relation to land at the harbour, pending further clarification of issues between the two bodies.

Care of the Elderly.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

328 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding provided to voluntary groups to date in 2009 in each county under the scheme of support for older people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40549/09]

My Department has provided funding of approximately €1.38m to date in 2009 under the Scheme of Community Support for Older People. The amounts paid by county are set out in the following table.

County

Total Amount

County

Total Amount

County

Total Amount

Carlow

24,911.47

Kilkenny

12,291.25

Offaly

12,480.88

Cavan

29,495.16

Laois

43,063.84

Roscommon

32,282.40

Clare

56,190.92

Leitrim

12,257.83

Sligo

31,039.79

Cork

120,746.93

Limerick

45,280.60

Tipperary

47,701.54

Donegal

35,766.44

Longford

8,650.10

Waterford

14,144.83

Dublin

382,017.15

Louth

43,794.90

Westmeath

24,244.40

Galway

102,674.55

Mayo

56,976.55

Wexford

62,798.15

Kerry

61355.67

Meath

40,597.95

Wicklow

35,292.51

Kildare

23,474.40

Monaghan

20,128.90

Domestic Violence.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

329 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding allocated to each of the front-line services for domestic violence here over the past four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40550/09]

Women's Aid is funded as a Specialist Support Agency for Community Development Projects under my Department's Community Development Programme and provide advice, guidance and training in the area of domestic violence. The amount of funding allocated to Women's Aid between 2006 and 2008 was €594,594. An indicative allocation of €181,041 is available for 2009.

Many other projects funded under the Community Development Programme, while not having a specific domestic violence focus, provide information on this issue.

Question No. 330 answered with Question No. 322.

Departmental Correspondence.

Joe Carey

Question:

331 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will respond to a query (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39964/09]

The Regional Office with responsibility for dealing with Ennis Social Welfare Local Office is based in Galway. That office can assist the Deputy with any inquiries he may have. The Regional Office will be in touch with him to confirm contact details.

Family Support Services.

Michael Creed

Question:

332 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the service provided by a company (details supplied) through the family resource centres, if she has conducted a value for money review of this funding; if, in view of the targeted nature of the service which is delivered by volunteers, she will ring-fence the funding for this service in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39987/09]

The Family Support Agency funds the Family and Community Services Resource Centre Programme and the Scheme of Grants to voluntary and community organisations providing marriage, relationship, child and bereavement counselling services. The company referred to by the Deputy receives funding under the counselling grants scheme and I am aware of the services that they provide. This year, funding of over €11 million is being granted to some 600 counselling organisations. Petrus Consulting Limited carried out a review of the counselling grants scheme which was published in early 2007.

TheReport of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes made a range of recommendations relating to the Department of Social and Family Affairs including recommendations relating to the Family Support Agency and its programmes. The Department will consider, as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2010, the Report’s recommendations and decisions on all of the issues arising will be a matter for Government. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage pending the outcome of these deliberative processes.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Michael Ring

Question:

333 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when an appeal will be heard on domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [40013/09]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office 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 Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

334 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the correct level of jobseeker’s allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40080/09]

The person concerned claimed jobseeker's allowance from 28 April 2009. Weekly means of €254.00 were assessed on his claim based on his partner's income. His weekly payment is €85.90.

PQ 36615/09 was accepted as notice of appeal. The appeal was registered at the Appeals Office on 14 October 2009 and an acknowledgement was sent to the person concerned. In accordance with the statutory procedures, notice of the appeal was sent to the social welfare local office with a request for a submission from the deciding officer outlining the grounds for the decision.

In light of the appeal and the new information received with this PQ the deciding officer will review the decision. The person concerned will be notified of the outcome of the review. Following the review the deciding officer will forward a submission to the Appeals Office.

The person concerned has been advised to contact the Community Welfare Officer regarding possible entitlement to mortgage interest supplement.

Michael Ring

Question:

335 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo, who is in receipt of a back to education allowance, will receive their book allowance payment. [40099/09]

A €500.00 cost of education allowance will issue to the person concerned with his weekly payment on 12 November, 2009.

Social Welfare Code.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

336 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if and when social welfare inspectors at local level will be advised to use present income for self-employed rather than historical income as is the case to date; her views on the fact that many self-employed and farmers are at present experiencing an economic crisis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40205/09]

Jobseekers Allowance and Farm Assist are both means tested payments. The manner in which means are to be assessed are set out in the Third Schedule of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. In most such cases, a Social Welfare Inspector will interview the claimant and make such inquiries as are necessary to ascertain the means of the applicant.

The Department produces administrative guidelines to assist inspectors in this task. These guidelines are supplemented from time to time to take account of changing legislation or circumstances.

Legislation provides that a person's income in the coming 12 months is the basis of his/her means. The means assessment guidelines state that where the income in the coming 12 months is not otherwise ascertainable and this is usually the case, the income for the last 12 months should be taken as a guide, allowing for any factors which it is known will vary.

Historically self-employed persons tended to be assessed with their income in the 12 months prior to claiming, and a decision was given on that basis. This was in the context of the relatively stable economic conditions. However, it was always the case that where an applicant had ceased self employment and could demonstrate this or where an applicant could justifiably maintain that their income in the coming 12 months was likely to be greatly reduced in light of circumstances which could include personal or economic circumstances, then Inspectors and Deciding Officers would always take account of this, and exercise their best judgement as to the likely income a person would receive in the 12 months following their claim.

In light of the changed economic climate, and recognising that the system of using past-year earnings as a basis for assessing means was no longer as suitable in all cases, the Department issued a circular in May 2008 advising Inspectors of this and pointing out that in light of changed economic circumstances, it would generally be the case that less work was going to be available to a claimant in the foreseeable future. Inspectors were advised that they should thoroughly question any applicant in this regard and apply their knowledge of local conditions to arrive at a fair assessment of their income from self-employment in the coming 12 months.

If a self employed person's situation changes after they have made an initial claim for Jobseekers Allowance or Farm Assist, they can apply to have their means reviewed in the light of the changed circumstances. In addition, it is open to the individual, if he or she is dissatisfied with the means assessed, to make an appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

In the meantime it is important to remember that people who have urgent income support needs can apply for the means tested Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) and more than 95% of basic SWA applications are decided on, and paid, within the week.

I appreciate the need to ensure that claimants who have been self employed, and whose income is significantly affected by the economic downturn, receive their full and fair entitlements in a timely manner, and I assure the House that we are doing our best to achieve this.

Departmental Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

337 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in her Department on 1 May 2009. [40218/09]

At 1 May 2009 there were 57 staff at Principal Officer level or higher working in the Department.

Departmental Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

338 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if her attention has been drawn to complaints from the public regarding difficulties in making telephone contact with her Department’s lo-call telephone numbers and the length of time it is taking to respond on these lines; if she will make extra resources available to have these lines manned in view of the increased number of people seeking support and assistance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40238/09]

The Department receives approximately half-a-million telephone calls per month, across its network of Local Offices and Headquarter buildings. At certain times, due to peaks in the number of incoming calls, callers may encounter some difficulties in getting through to certain areas of the Department. A number of initiatives to minimise delays for callers have been introduced. These include a new telephony system and call management software as well as new organisational arrangements. These initiatives have resulted in a noticeable improvement in telephone response times and overall call management. A continued focus on improving the service for customers across the whole Department will be maintained.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

339 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a disability benefit or invalidity pension has been disallowed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40370/09]

The claim for illness benefit, by the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer of the Department following an examination by a Medical Assessor who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work. Her application for invalidity pension was similarly disallowed. She appealed this decision and was examined by a second Medical Assessor who also expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, in accordance with the statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in each case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeals. These have been received and both cases have 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.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

Noel Coonan

Question:

340 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to open a Money Advice and Budgeting Service office in a town (details supplied) in County Tipperary in view of the fact that residents have to travel a distance to get to the nearest office; if not, the reason for same; the percentage increase in the number of clients seen in the north Tipperary Money Advice and Budgeting Service offices in 2009 in comparison to the same period in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40379/09]

There are currently two MABS offices in north Tipperary: Nenagh and Thurles. There are no plans to open a MABS office in Roscrea.

Members of the public can get money advice, assistance and support from MABS through three channels:

The MABS National Telephone Helpline — LoCall 1890 283438, is available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday;

The MABS website www.mabs.ie provides online money management and budgeting advice through the MABS self-help guide and can be accessed 24 hours a day;

Local personal services are available at over 65 locations throughout the country providing a face-to- face service for people, by appointment.

The Helpline handles straight-forward cases. Over 90% of callers to the Helpline find that their money management and budgeting issues can be resolved with the assistance of the helpline adviser.

There has been an increase of some 50% in the caseload in north Tipperary offices. A total of 226 new clients have sought advice and assistance up to the end of September 2009 compared with 208 for the full year of 2008. To address the increased case load an additional half-time post has been approved for north Tipperary MABS. The post is expected to be filled shortly. I am confident that the provision of the additional resource will strengthen the service for people in north Tipperary.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Bernard Allen

Question:

341 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork was refused disability allowance. [40391/09]

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 6 March 2009. He was examined by a Medical Assessor who deemed that he was not medically suitable for Disability Allowance. He was refused Disability Allowance on 20 July 2009 and he was formally notified of this decision by letter and of his right of appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The person submitted further medical evidence which was assessed by a Medical Assessor who again deemed he was not medically suitable for Disability allowance.

An appeal was opened on 25 August 2009 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The person concerned will be advised when the arrangements have been completed.

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

Family Support Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

342 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a contract will be signed between her Department and a resource centre (details supplied) in County Kilkenny in view of the work already undertaken to establish the facility. [40425/09]

The Family Support Agency funds the Family and Community Services Resource Centre Programme. Following the closure of a Kilkenny-based Family Resource Centre (FRC) in 2007, research was carried out to identify where core funding could be re-directed to another community in County Kilkenny. The research recommended that the town referred to by the Deputy was the area most in need of a Family Resource Centre. The centre was granted approval in principle for inclusion in the FRC Programme on condition that they work with the Regional Support Agency before a contract would issue.

Following approval the Regional Support Agency began pre-development work by liaising with existing local groups and agencies. A group of local people completed community development training and most of this group completed management training and formed a limited company and Voluntary Board of Management. The new FRC have submitted their 2009-2012 workplan to the Family Support Agency. A contract has not yet been signed in the case of this FRC. All contracts are dependent on the availability of funding.

TheReport of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes made a range of recommendations relating to the Department of Social and Family Affairs including recommendations relating to the Family Support Agency and its programmes. The Department will consider, as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2010, the Report’s recommendations and decisions on all of the issues arising will be a matter for Government. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage pending the outcome of these deliberative processes.

Social Welfare Fraud.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

343 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of funds that were recovered from control activity by her Department in each of the past five years, detailing consistently the year in which the fraud was perpetrated or the year the money was recovered; and the percentage of the total overpayment or fraud these recovered amounts represent. [40447/09]

The amount of overpayments attributed to fraud and moneys recovered for years 2004 to 2008 requested by the Deputy is set-down in the tabular statements hereunder. Overpayments are categorised and reported by fraud, customer/third party error, Departmental error and Estates. The most common method of recovering overpayments is through instalments rather than in a single lump sum. Generally the majority of recoveries recouped in any single year will relate to overpayments which came to light in previous years.

Recoveries are reported by the scheme from which the initial overpayment arose and it is not currently possible to produce a report indicating whether these recoveries are in respect of fraud or non fraud. As such categorisation is not conducted by the Central Overpayments and Debt Management Unit it is not possible to provide the percentage of the total fraudulent overpayments recouped by the Department. Overpayments may be recovered in the following ways:

a single payment covering the full amount owed

regular periodic payments

deduction(s) from the customers social welfare payment

by taking civil proceedings

Amount of Overpayments Attributed to Fraud or Suspected Fraud

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Social Insurance

6.24

5.53

5.16

6.26

7.05

Social Assistance

12.69

13.13

15.19

15.14

14.08

Total €m

18.93

18.66

20.35

21.40

21.13

Total Cash Recoveries and Sums Withheld

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

Sums recovered in cash

11,506

11,246

12,032

12,632

15,649

Sums withheld from current entitlements

8,332

8,715

10,509

11,252

11,297

Total €m

19,838

19,961

22,541

23,884

26,946

Social Welfare Benefits.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

344 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance by household type (details supplied); the cost of same between two and three years, three and four years, four years and five years, and five years and more; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40491/09]

The statistics requested by the Deputy are not available. However, statistics relating to household type and duration of entitlement for jobseeker's benefit and allowance are contained in the Social Welfare Services (SWS) Statistical Information Report published annually by the Department. I am making available relevant extracts of the 2008 report, which is available on the Department's website,www.welfare.ie.

Table F4: Number of Recipients of Jobseeker's Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance by Number of Dependants, 2008

Number of Recipients

Job Seeker’s Benefit

Job Seeker’s Allowance

Total

Personal Rate only

99,265

84,540

183,805

With Qualified Adult only

4,663

6,597

11,260

1 full rate Qualified Child

4,245

6,708

10,953

2 full rate Qualified Children

3,715

6,269

9,984

3 full rate Qualified Children

1,775

3,958

5,733

4 full rate Qualified Children

637

1,978

2,615

5 full rate Qualified Children

148

786

934

6+full rate Qualified Children

56

540

596

1 half rate Qualified Child

3,230

850

4,080

2 half rate Qualified Children

2,598

674

3,272

3 half rate Qualified Children

1,077

425

1,502

4 half rate Qualified Children

289

193

482

5 half rate Qualified Children

51

53

104

6+ half rate Qualified Children

14

32

46

Total Number of Recipients

121,763

113,603

235,366

Number of Recipients with a Qualified Adult

13,449

22,872

36,321

Percentage of Recipients with a Qualified Adult

11.0%

20.1%

15.4%

Number of Recipients with Qualified Children

17,835

22,466

40,301

Percentage of Recipients with Qualified Children

14.6%

19.8%

17.1%

Total Number of Children(1)

33,776

50,904

84,680

(1)A Qualified Child Increase is payable at half rate where a spouse, living with the recipient, is not a Qualified Adult. Each spouse may receive half the Qualified Child Increase where both are in receipt of a social welfare payment. This can result in some double counting of the actual number of Qualified Children.

Table F9: Number of Persons on the Live Register in October 2008, Classified by Duration of Claim

Sex/Age

Duration of Continuous Registration

< 3 mths

3 – 6 mths

6 – 12 mths

1 – 2 years

2 – 3 years

> 3 years

Total

Males

< 20 yrs

3,501

1,388

1,343

753

6,985

20 – 24 yrs

12,143

5,611

5,066

2,536

1,247

1,189

27,792

25 – 34 yrs

21,652

9,352

8,926

4,567

1,967

3,875

50,339

35 – 44 yrs

13,377

5,660

6,219

3,587

1,703

4,369

34,915

45 – 54 yrs

8,834

3,546

4,186

2,525

1,476

4,870

25,437

55 – 59 yrs

3,256

1,223

1,646

962

474

1,726

9,287

60 – 64 yrs

2,697

1,092

1,640

919

316

969

7,633

Total Males

65,460

27,872

29,026

15,849

7,183

16,998

162,388

Females

< 20 yrs

2,251

919

813

530

4,513

20 – 24 yrs

7,382

2,748

1,911

1,265

694

700

14,700

25 – 34 yrs

12,494

4,246

3,456

1,558

566

1,180

23,500

35 – 44 yrs

8,554

2,835

2,812

1,586

611

1,301

17,699

45 – 54 yrs

6,717

1,788

1,875

1,153

598

1,730

13,861

55 – 59 yrs

2,549

679

830

595

270

627

5,550

60 – 64 yrs

1,849

559

771

552

219

368

4,318

Total Females

41,796

13,774

12,468

7,239

2,958

5,906

84,141

All Persons

< 20 yrs

5,752

2,307

2,156

1,283

11,498

20 – 24 yrs

19,525

8,359

6,977

3,801

1,941

1,889

42,492

25 – 34 yrs

34,146

13,598

12,382

6,125

2,533

5,055

73,839

35 – 44 yrs

21,931

8,495

9,031

5,173

2,314

5,670

52,614

45 – 54 yrs

15,551

5,334

6,061

3,678

2,074

6,600

39,298

55 – 59 yrs

5,805

1,902

2,476

1,557

744

2,353

14,837

60 – 64 yrs

4,546

1,651

2,411

1,471

535

1,337

11,951

Total

107,256

41,646

41,494

23,088

10,141

22,904

246,529

Source: Central Statistics Office.

John Deasy

Question:

345 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if there are instances where the back to education allowance is awarded to a qualifying person studying an approved course in another EU country; the reason this information is not made clear on the back to education leaflets; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40537/09]

Under the back to education scheme an applicant can pursue a full-time second or third level course up to and including a Higher Diploma in any discipline and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. Full-time day undergraduate courses in another EU country which are recognised by the Department of Education and Science for Higher Education Grant purposes may be considered for the back to education allowance scheme. Only postgraduate courses in Ireland are deemed eligible under the scheme.

The back to education leaflet, SW70, sets out summary conditions for the scheme. Detailed conditions for receipt of the back to education allowance are on the Department's website www.welfare.ie.

Social Insurance.

Joan Burton

Question:

346 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the level of social contributions received in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; the estimated level of social contributions for 2009, 2010 and 2011 assuming no policy change. [40547/09]

Joan Burton

Question:

347 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the balance in the social inclusion fund; the balance of same at end of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and the expected balance for the end of 2009, 2010 and 2011. [40548/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 346 and 347 together.

The following table sets out the information requested by the Deputy.

PRSI Contributions & Balance in the Social Insurance Fund

Year

Actual PRSI Receipts

Estimated PRSI Receipts

SIF Balance

€000

€000

€000

2005

6,109,880

2,400,284

2006

6,921,222

3,049,141

2007

7,722,010

3,632,298

2008

7,984,182

3,376,969

2009

5,050,340*

7,500,000

2,137,141**

2010

6,719,000

2011

6,916,000

*The 2009 receipts are for the period 1 January to 31 August 2009.

**The 2009 balance is at 31 August 2009.

Both of the 2009 figures are provisional.

Year End 2009, 2010 and 2011

The published Estimate for the Social Insurance Fund predicted that a balance of €650 million would remain in the Fund at the end of 2009. It is now expected that the balance will be in excess of €1 billion. The balance will be eliminated during the course of 2010 and as a result the Fund will require an Exchequer subvention in 2010 and 2011.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

348 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will provide a breakdown of the current recipients of rent supplement by work status and those on welfare by principal welfare payment. [40557/09]

The following table shows the number of recipients of rent supplement by primary social welfare payment. A breakdown of recipients by work status is not available.

Number of Recipients of Rent Supplement by Primary Payment at 29 October 2009.

Payment Type

Recipients

As % of Total

%

State Pensions

1,566

1.7

Pre-Retirement Allowance

112

0.1

Widows and Widower’s Pensions

414

0.5

One-Parent Family Payment

16,001

17.5

Invalidity Pension

1,052

1.1

Illness Benefit

2,636

2.9

Disability Allowance

9,902

10.8

Long-Term Jobseekers Allowance

15,525

16.9

Short-Term Jobseekers Allowance

10,396

11.3

Jobseekers Benefit

11,084

12.1

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

13,459

14.7

Employment Support Services *

3,370

3.7

DSS (UK)

359

0.4

Other

5,758

6.3

Total

91,634

100.0

*Includes Back to Work Allowance, Community Employment, Back to Education Allowance, VTOS and FÁS.

Proposed Legislation.

Seán Power

Question:

349 Deputy Seán Power asked the Minister for Defence his plans to implement the recommendations of the interdepartmental task force on the future management and development of the Curragh, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40125/09]

Jack Wall

Question:

352 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Defence his views and his plans to address the concerns expressed in correspondence from a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40430/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 349 and 352 together.

On 21 July 2004 the Government approved the Heads of a Bill in order to implement the recommendations arising from the Inter-Departmental Task Force Report. Drafting of the legislation commenced shortly thereafter. In the course of that process, certain strategic, procedural and technical issues arose relating to the role of the proposed Statutory Authority.

The main technical issue relates to the demarcation of roles between the Minister and the Authority. This concerns the use of lands by the Defence Forces that would be the responsibility of the proposed Authority but over which the Minister is the final arbiter in the event of any dispute. This potentially raises a conflict between the role of the Minister as the Minister with responsibility for the Defence Forces and the Minister's role as head of the Department under whose aegis the Authority would operate.

Further issues have arisen in the context of value for money considerations. The establishment of the Authority as a separate agency under the aegis of my Department would involve additional costs in terms of staff, accommodation, expenses and payments to members of the Authority, which would be significantly greater than the costs incurred by my Department currently in administering the Curragh Lands. Deputies will be aware that the Government has targeted the rationalisation of State agencies as a key cost saving measure. In that context it would be inappropriate and, indeed, costly to establish a separate agency to manage work currently being done successfully, efficiently and economically by the staff in my Department. Given the requirements of administrative efficiency, and the technical issues raised in relation to the role of the Minister as the final arbiter in disputes relating to the use of the Curragh Lands, I have decided not to proceed with the establishment of the Authority, which was a primary focus of the Bill.

The way forward now will involve a review by my Department of the varying usage of the lands by a range of different interests in the Curragh, not least the Defence Forces, with a view to establishing how these can be best accommodated and managed within the existing administrative framework and within existing resources. The Value for Money review of the Defence Forces Training Lands, which is nearing completion, will also feed into this process. The question of the requirement for legislation to address any other issues in relation to the Curragh Lands can then be examined in this context. This work will proceed as resources allow, given the competing demands on the Department's staff and resources and the need to prioritise issues and allocate reducing resources to the core Defence policy and operational issues.

Departmental Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

350 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Defence the number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in his Department on 1 May 2009. [40210/09]

The number of officials at principal officer level or higher working in my Department on 1 May 2009 was 17.5 (full-time equivalent).

Defence Forces Reserve.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

351 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Defence the reason members of the Reserve Defence Force, who took part in training activity on 28, 29, 30 August, 25, 26, 27 September and 9, 10 and 11 October 2009, a total of nine days, are only being paid for three days and who were not informed otherwise when permission to run this was granted in August 2009; if it is intended to pay the annual gratuity to these members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40245/09]

I have requested the military authorities to ascertain the facts in this case. The information is currently being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy in the near future.

Question No. 352 answered with Question No. 349.

Army Barracks.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

353 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Defence the position regarding lands at the former Monaghan Army Barracks beside Monaghan town or the proposed transfer of these lands to Monaghan Vocational Education Committee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40522/09]

Following the closure of Monaghan and other barracks in January last, my Department contacted all other Departments to inquire if they or any or their agencies operating under their aegis wished to acquire the properties. Arising from that process, there have been ongoing discussions between Monaghan VEC, the Department of Education and Science and my Department in respect of the former Monaghan Barracks. These discussions are now at an advanced stage and will, I hope, be concluded shortly.

Ministerial Travel.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

354 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 261 and 262 of 14 October 2009, the origin, destination, and any intermediary stop off points of each one of the journeys listed since May 2007; the person who accompanied the relevant Minister on each one of these journeys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40696/09]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the form of a tabular statement which I propose to circulate in the Official Report.

Date

Aircraft

Ministerial Time On Board

Route

Minister

Passengers

16-May-07

EC 135

90

Baldonnel-Waterford-Baldonnel

Transport

Minister Martin Cullen

03-Jul-07

AW 139

80

Phoenix Park-Cahir-Baldonnel

Agriculture

Minister Mary Coughlan, Tom Moran, Dermot Murphy

04-Jul-07

AW 139

90

St. Patrick’s Drumcondra-Bundoran-St Patrick’s Drumcondra

Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Liam Beirne, Tom Mc Loughlin, Gerry Howlin

09-Jul-07

AW 139

90

St. Patrick’s Drumcondra-Galway Airport-St Patrick’s Drumcondra

Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Liam Beirne, Eddie Walsh

17-Jul-07

AW 139

80

St Patrick’s Drumcondra-Armagh-St Patrick’s Drumcondra

Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, David Feeney, Olive Melvin, John Byrne, Gerard Howlin, Mandy Johnson

06-Sep-07

EC 135

130

Baldonnel-Sarsfield Barracks-Haulbowline-Sarsfield Barracks

Defence

Minister Willie O’Dea, Michael Howard

13-Sep-07

AW 139

140

Baldonnel-Dungloe-Tory Island-Dungloe-Ashford Castle

Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs

Minister Éamon Ó Cuív, Minister of State Pat The Cope Gallagher, Sorcha De Bruch, Seamus Mac Giolla Chonhail

25-Sep-07

AW 139

60

Baldonnel-Tullamore-Baldonnel

Agriculture

Minister Mary Coughlan, Tom Moran, Martina Kearney, Michael Walsh, Trevor Shaw, Gerry Crawford

27-Sep-07

AW 139

80

St Patrick’s Drumcondra — Tullamore — Naas — Bray — Drumcondra

Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Liam Beirne, Eoghan Ó Neachtain, Gerry Hickey, Denise Kavanagh

02-Nov-07

AW 139

100

Baldonnel-Trim-Knock-Trim-Baldonnel

Transport

Minister Noel Dempsey,Minister of State Dr Jimmy Devins, Veronica Scanlon

16-Nov-07

AW 139

80

St Patrick’s Drumcondra-Templemore. Nenagh-St Patricks Drumcondra

Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Eoghan Ó Neachtain, Padraig Tierney

17-Dec-07

AW 139

60

Carnmore, Galway -Cork

Health

Minister Mary Harney, Patricia Ryan, Derek Cunningham, Tony O’Brien

17-Dec-07

AW 139

45

Phoenix Park-Fermoy, Cork

Justice

Minister Brian Lenihan, Sinead McGuinness, Dale Sunderland

31/01/2008

EC 135

80

Phoenix Park — Templemore — Phoenix Park

Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Minister Brian Lenihan, Sinead McGuinness, Dale Sunderland, Shay Martin

01/02/2008

AW 139

90

Baldonnel-Mullingar Barracks- Galgorm Manor Ballymena — St Pats Drumcondra-Baldonnel

An Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Eoghan Ó Neachtain, Olive Melvin, John Byrne, Nick Reddy

08/02/2008

AW 139

40

St Patrick’s Drumcondra -Waterford

An Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Olive Melvin, John Downey, Tom McLoughlin, Eoghan Ó Neachtain, Denise Kavanagh

Date

Aircraft

Ministerial Time On Board

Route

Minister

Passengers

23/03/2008

EC 135

100

Sarsfield Barracks-Phoenix Park-Sarsfield Barracks

Defence

Minister Willie O’Dea, Mrs. O’Dea.

25/03/2008

EC 135

60

Kilkenny Barracks — Farranfore

Education & Science

Minister Mary Hanafin, Bridget McManus, Geraldine Butler, Avril Power

26/03/2008

EC 135

120

Farranfore-Wexford-Baldonnel

Education & Science

Minister Mary Hanafin, Bridget McManus, Geraldine Butler, Avril Power

04/04/2008

EC 135

30

St Patrick’s Drumcondra — Ritz Carlton Powerscourt -Phoenix Park

An Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Eoghan Ó Neachtain, Jackie Bryan, John Downey

11/04/2008