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 12, inclusive, answered orally.

Overseas Missions.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

13 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Defence if the Defence Forces and military authorities are reviewing the threat assessment in Afghanistan in view of recent violent incidents there; the roles and functions carried out by Irish troops serving in Afghanistan; if security measures there have been stepped up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42169/09]

Ireland has participated in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan since 5 July 2002, following the Government Decision of 2 July 2002, authorising the provision of seven (7) members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the force. Since then, the Government has reviewed and approved, on an annual basis, the continued participation by seven (7) members of the Permanent Defence Force in ISAF.

On 20 December 2001, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1386 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, authorising the establishment of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for six months. NATO assumed the lead in ISAF on 11 August 2003. In October 2003 the UN Security Council extended the authorisation of ISAF to cover all of Afghanistan. On 8 October 2009 the UN Security Council extended the current mandate for twelve months beyond 13 October 2009 under Resolution 1890. The seven Irish personnel, comprising 4 Officers and 3 Non Commissioned Officers, serving with the force are currently located in the two ISAF Headquarters in Kabul. The Irish personnel work in staff appointments in planning and administrative roles.

The threat assessment for all theatres of operations where Defence Forces personnel are deployed is constantly reviewed and updated by the Defence Forces. The security situation in Afghanistan requires constant vigilance. The Commander of ISAF constantly monitors the security situation and directs changes to the force's security measures when and if they are required. In addition, the security situation in Kabul is closely monitored by the Defence Forces and the level of threat to Defence Forces personnel serving there is constantly reviewed. Armoured protection vehicles and other additional security measures have been provided to the Irish Defence Forces personnel serving in Kabul and other security measures in relation to routes and travel have also been taken.

Defence Forces Discipline.

Mary Upton

Question:

14 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces who have been removed from membership for being in contravention of the Defence Forces policy on drugs and substance abuse or misuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42173/09]

The Irish Defence Forces policy on drug and substance abuse or misuse is based on the premise that unlawful possession, supply or use of a controlled drug is incompatible with membership of the Defence Forces. Any member who tests positive is liable to be removed from the Defence Forces. A Compulsory Random Drug Testing (CRDT) programme aimed at deterrence was introduced in October 2002. Since then, 10,178 tests have been conducted with 41 tests yielding a positive result (4.0%). To date, a total of 25 members have been discharged as a result of a positive test result.

Following a review of the regulations and procedures covering Compulsory Random Drug testing in the Defence Forces, I signed an amended set of Regulations relating to CRDT with effect from 11 March 2009. These revised regulations introduced new processes for handling representations as well as enlarging on the appeals procedures. They also provided for the introduction of Targeted Drug Testing (TDT) in defined circumstances.

Departmental Expenditure.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

15 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Defence if the Department of Finance has indicated the amount of money to be deducted from his Department’s vote in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42179/09]

The allocation for my Department for 2010 will be decided by the Government in the context of the on-going Estimates and Budgetary process.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

16 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Defence his views on whether the target for pay bill cuts of 6.85% will be met by the Permanent Defence Forces by the end of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42191/09]

The Defence Forces have improved in every respect since 2000 through the implementation of the White Paper. This represents a significant public service success story and has been acknowledged by both the Taoiseach and myself. Arising from the White Paper on Defence, we have created a modern well-equipped Defence Forces capable of meeting the needs of Government and the public and ensuring value for money.

The White Paper on Defence set out a figure of 10,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force as the strength sufficient to deliver on the roles laid down by Government for domestic operations and to provide a sufficient pool for rotation for overseas missions as well as maintaining sufficient depth across the required range of skills. The strength of the Defence Forces at 31 October 2009 was 10,013. This reduction has resulted from the moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public service introduced by the Government in March of this year. I am acutely aware of the impact of the moratorium on the Permanent Defence Force particularly in light of the very high turnover rate that is part of any military organisation. I am addressing the impact of the moratorium with my colleague the Minister for Finance.

The Deputy will be aware that discussions are ongoing with the public sector trade unions affiliated to ICTU about mechanisms to deliver the required savings of up to €1.3 billion in the public sector pay bill in 2010. Discussions are also taking place between officials of my Department and the Associations representing members of the Permanent Defence Force in parallel. While I would not wish to anticipate the outcome of these various discussions, it is my view that any agreement reached will apply across all sectors of the public service. I do not therefore foresee the required adjustment in pay levels being offset against a reduction in numbers on a sector specific basis in the context of the savings required in 2010.

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

Defence Forces Strength.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

17 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Defence his views on whether the drop in Defence Forces numbers from 12,750 in 1996 to 10,081 in 2009 leaves little scope for further cuts if he wishes to maintain a credible organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42193/09]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

35 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Defence the numbers serving in the Defence Forces at present and the anticipated number on 1 January 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42178/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

36 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence his plans to maintain the full strength of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42334/09]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

42 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Defence his views on whether the reduction in Defence Forces numbers from 12,750 in 1996 to 10,081 in 2009 leaves little scope for further cuts if he wishes to maintain a credible organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42170/09]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

46 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Defence his views on whether the reduction in the Permanent Defence Forces strength of 500 personnel recommended in the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes will be met by December 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42190/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

141 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence his plans for the future strength at all levels in the Army; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42480/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

142 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence his plans for the future strength at all levels in the Navy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42481/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

143 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence his plans for the future strength at all levels in the Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42482/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 17, 35, 36, 42, 46, 141, 142 and 143 together.

The White Paper on Defence of February 2000 sets out a figure of 10,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force comprising 930 for the Air Corps, 1,144 for the Naval Service and 8,426 for the Army. The recent Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes recommended that the number of personnel in the PDF be reduced by 500 over a two to three year period as "operational requirements allow." The reality is that based on current trends, numbers are already reducing within the Permanent Defence Force. The Defence Forces, as do all military organisations, have an unusually high turnover of people on an ongoing basis in order to maintain the age and fitness profile.

I am advised by the Military authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force as at 31 October, 2009 was 10,013, comprising Army 8,175, Air Corps 807 and Naval Service 1,031. I am advised that at this time the Defence Forces retain the capacity to undertake the tasks laid down by Government at home and overseas. I intend, within the resources available, to retain the capacity of the organisation to operate effectively across all roles while contributing to the necessary public service economies.

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

Departmental Expenditure.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

18 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Defence his views on whether spending on the Irish Defence Forces as a proportion of GDP is the lowest amongst the 27 European Union states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42192/09]

The level of expenditure on Defence in any particular country is influenced by a variety of factors, including that country's political and security environment, its history, demography and economy. The most recent available statistics on Defence expenditure in the EU indicate that in 2007 Defence spending in Ireland, as a percentage of GDP, was the lowest in the E.U. at 0.53%. In 2008 Defence spending in Ireland represented 0.6% of GDP.

Expenditure under the Defence and Army Pensions Votes increased from €702m in 1999 to an estimated expenditure of €1,031m in 2009 i.e. an increase of 47%. During the same period the CPI increased by about 34%. There has been a very significant investment in infrastructure and equipment for the Defence Forces in recent years. This was made possible by the Government's decision that pay savings arising from personnel reductions in the Defence Forces, along with proceeds from the sale of surplus properties, would be fully reallocated for investment in modern facilities and equipment.

Defence Forces Reserve.

Jack Wall

Question:

19 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Defence the number of the Permanent Defence Forces cadre that are servicing Reserve Defence Force units in Tipperary; if they are in receipt of an allowance for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42171/09]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Unit

No. of PDF Cadre

No. in Receipt of an RDF Allowance

1 Southern Brigade RDF HQ

9

8*

31 Res Artillery Regiment

12

12

31 Res Cavalry Squadron

3

3

Sp Coy 32 Res Infantry Battalion

5

5

*Of the 9 PDF Cadre servicing 1 S Bde RDF HQ, 1 Private is attached long term to HQ and, as such, is not in receipt of an Allowance.

The recent Government Decision on savings measures on public service numbers is being implemented in the Defence Forces. While there are no immediate plans to reduce the number of Cadre members, it can be anticipated that flexibility and re-structuring will be required arising from the implementation of the Government cost saving measures. In addition, the RDF was selected for review as part of the 2009-2011 phase of the Government's Value for Money and Policy Review initiative and this Review is scheduled to commence in the near future.

Overseas Missions.

Richard Bruton

Question:

20 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Defence the number of overseas missions he has visited to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42212/09]

Over my term of Office as Minister for Defence, I have visited all the major overseas operations where contingents of the Defence Forces are serving. In 2008, I conducted four visits to our overseas missions in Kosovo (2 visits), Chad and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In February this year, I again visited the mission in Chad, our largest overseas operation. My objective in visiting the missions is to see at first hand the work of the Irish Defence Forces personnel serving in the missions, to communicate the support of the Government and the people of Ireland for the important work they are doing, and to get feedback from the troops themselves and from other actors in the area of operations on the effectiveness of the overall mission.

As I said above, I visited the Irish contingent serving with the EU-led mission in Chad and the Central African Republic, EUFOR Tchad/RCA Chad from 24 to 26 February. EUFOR was the predecessor to the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) with which an Irish contingent have been serving since 15 March 2009. On arrival in N'Djamena, I travelled to Camp Europa (EUFOR's Rear HQ) where I was briefed by EUFOR's Deputy Force Commander. I visited Camp Ciara, the headquarters of the Irish-led multinational battalion serving with EUFOR. After a series of briefings and lunch with the troops, I addressed them and congratulated them on the tremendous job they were doing under extremely difficult conditions and terrain. I conveyed to them the best wishes of the Government and the Irish people in the work they were undertaking. I also had the opportunity to visit a patrol base at Koukou Angarana and a refugee camp.

I was very impressed by the motivation being shown by our troops in the performance of their duties in difficult circumstances, their energy and the good atmosphere in the camp generally. The Irish personnel with EUFOR, like our troops in all other missions, have made a significant difference on the ground and have enhanced Ireland's international reputation as neutral, impartial and professional peacekeepers.

Human Rights Issues.

Mary Upton

Question:

21 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Defence, further to Parliamentary Question No. 59 of 8 October 2009, the reports he has received in regard to violence against refugee women in eastern Chad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42174/09]

I am aware of the Irish Times article relating to a report by Amnesty International on violence against refugee women in eastern Chad; I have not received nor am I aware of any other reports in this matter. I understand that Amnesty International Ireland has contacted my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in regard to the above-mentioned report. The Government shares the concern of Amnesty International Ireland at the content of the report and will continue to make Ireland's voice heard in relation to Chad and peacekeeping there. Ireland will do its utmost to contribute to protecting the vulnerable and building a lasting peace.

The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), which comprises civil, police and military components is authorised, inter alia, to take all necessary measures, within its capabilities and its area of operations in eastern Chad, in liaison with the Government of Chad, to contribute to protecting civilians in danger, particularly refugees and internally displaced persons.

Ireland has made substantial efforts and contributed strongly to the efforts to improve the security and protection of the people in the region and to defend their human rights. To this end we have maintained over 400 Irish troops on the ground in Chad with MINURCAT and previously with the former EU-led mission in Chad. However, at end-September 2009, just over 50% of the total planned military force of 5,200 had been deployed. It is important that this position improve radically over the next months. While the military force can provide for broader security within the area of operations, the role of the UN trained and supported policing — Détachement Intégré de Sécurité or DIS — operating within the camps is essential to ensure the personal security of refugees and IDPs. As at 30 September, 806 DIS personnel were deployed, supported by 248 United Nations Police Officers.

MINURCAT has recently launched a campaign to combat gender-based violence in Chad. We will continue to monitor the situation and to do our utmost to contribute to protecting the vulnerable and to building a lasting peace in this troubled part of the world.

Decentralisation Programme.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

22 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Defence his plans for the location of each of the sections of Defence Forces headquarters; when his Department will move to its new offices in Newbridge, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42246/09]

The Government decision of December 2003 in relation to decentralisation provides for the transfer of the Department of Defence and of Defence Force Headquarters (DFHQ) to Newbridge, Co. Kildare and the Curragh, Co Kildare, respectively. My Department's Dublin-based civil servants, together with about 55 military personnel, will relocate to Newbridge. DFHQ will relocate to the Curragh. Construction and fitting-out of new accommodation at Station Road, Newbridge is being managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW). The building is under construction and is expected to be available for occupation early in the New Year.

Procurement of the new building for DFHQ is also being handled by OPW. A State owned site has been identified in the Curragh, planning permission has been granted and a short-list of tenderers has been drawn up. The question of proceeding to the next stage of the project (invitation of tenders) is dependent on the necessary funding for the project being available to the OPW. This will be decided as part of the on-going Estimates and budgetary process.

Army Equitation School.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

23 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Defence if a cost benefit analysis has been done in regard to the contribution made by the Army Equitation School to the promotion of tourism and the promotion of the Irish Horse Industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42180/09]

The mission of the Army Equitation School, as assigned to it on its establishment in 1926, is to promote the Irish horse abroad through participation in international competitions. The school has discharged this task with considerable distinction down through the years and, through its participation and numerous successes in equitation events at home and abroad, it has successfully promoted the qualities of the Irish horse. The core activities of the Army Equitation School include the successful participation in equestrian competitions on Irish bred horses and the support that the School provides to the National Sport Horse Industry.

The Army Equitation School provides a positive image of Ireland and the Defence Forces to the wider public. Army riders competing on Irish bred horses provide an instantly recognisable symbol of Ireland to the international community. While a cost benefit analysis on the contribution of the Army Equitation School has not been carried out, the role of the School is strongly supported by the industry through Sport Horse Ireland who have indicated that the prominence of the Equitation School riding Irish horses in competitions nationally and internationally, is a key marketing vehicle for breeders.

Irish Red Cross.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

24 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Defence his views on a report (details supplied) regarding the control of the Irish Red Cross. [42196/09]

Jack Wall

Question:

25 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Defence if the governance committee of the Irish Red Cross will report in November 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42172/09]

Joe Costello

Question:

34 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Defence the role and responsibilities of the Government nominees to the central council of the Irish Red Cross; if he is satisfied that they are effectively discharging those responsibilities; if he is satisfied that they are encouraged to play a full role in policy making for the Irish Red Cross; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42195/09]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

49 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Defence if the views and opinions of the staff of the Irish Red Cross were sought in relation to the internal governance reform review of the Irish Red Cross; if the views and opinions of all central council members and all other relevant stake holders were sought; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42194/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 24, 25, 34 and 49 together.

Although, I am aware of the magazine article to which the deputy refers I am restricted in the manner in which I may comment on its contents. As Minister for Defence, I have responsibility for enacting any legislation in respect of the Irish Red Cross Society. However, I have no function in the day-to-day administration of the Irish Red Cross and as such I do not get involved in the day-to-day running of its affairs.

The Irish Red Cross Society is an autonomous body, established by the Irish Red Cross Society Order 1939 pursuant to the Red Cross Act, 1938. The Order sets out the basis on which the Society shall be governed. The Society is an independent charitable organisation with full powers to manage and administer its affairs through its governing body, the Central Council. The role of Central Council is set out in the Rules of the Society. It is not a matter for me as Minister for Defence to set policy for the Society but rather the Society achieves its objectives under a number of guiding principles including those of impartiality and independence. The Government has an obligation under the Geneva Convention to discharge certain obligations to the Society including ensuring the independence of the Society.

Membership of the Central Council is by way of appointment by the Government or by election in accordance with the rules of the Society. The Central Council in turn elects an Executive Committee which normally meets ten times a year. The number of Government appointees is statutorily prescribed as being not less than one third of the total membership of the Central Council. The work experience of the Government appointees covers both the public and private sector and volunteer experience with the Society.

The issue of governance is being considered by a governance committee within the Society. That Committee is expected to report to the Central Council before the end of this month. The contents of the governance report will be the subject of interdepartmental and interagency discussion, involving the Departments of Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Defence and the Irish Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Thereafter, I will bring before Government any statutory changes deemed necessary.

I have received a letter from Mr. David Andrews who has informed me of his intention to retire as Chairman of the Central Council of the Irish Red Cross Society with effect from 31st December 2009. Mr Andrews has informed me that by his decision to retire, he wishes to convey an example of leadership to the Society having regard to proposed governance reform which includes the rotation of the post of Chairman. I believe that the high regard in which Mr Andrews is held both at home and abroad has been of enormous and enduring benefit to the Society. He brought vast knowledge and experience into his role of Chairman, as indeed have his predecessors.

I have also been informed that one member of the Executive Committee has resigned his position on the Committee due to his work commitments and that the Secretary General of the Society, a seconded civil servant, is to return to his parent Department. The Red Cross Act, 1944 provides that the President of Ireland shall, by virtue of her Office, be President of the Society. The Chairman of the Central Council is appointed by the President on the nomination of the Government. I will arrange for the Government to propose a suitable nomination to the President to replace Mr. Andrews.

Air Accident Investigations.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

26 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Defence if the cause of the tragic air accident in Cornamona, County Galway in which the two Air Corps pilots lost their lives has been established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42177/09]

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

33 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Defence if he has received any interim or preliminary reports into the tragic and fatal crash of an Air Corps airplane in County Galway on 12 October 2009; if the other Pilatus aircraft are being used for training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42168/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 33 together.

I would like to begin by expressing my sincere sympathy to the families and colleagues of Captain Derek Furniss and Cadet David Jevens who lost their lives in this tragic accident involving an Air Corps PC-9 in Cornamona, Co. Galway on the 12 October, 2009. The Preliminary Report into this fatal air accident was published by the Air Accident Investigation Unit, (AAIU) of the Department of Transport on the 17th November, 2009. This report is available to the public on the AAIU website.

The cause of the accident is not determined in this report. Only the facts as known by the Investigation at this early stage are set out. The Final Report, which will be completed within one year of the accident, will provide full analysis of the accident and address cause. Following the accident, the Air Corps grounded the remaining PC9s as a precaution. The remaining seven PC9 aircraft were cleared to return to flying status on 16th October, 2009 and they resumed their role as training aircraft on the 19th October, 2009.

Overseas Missions.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

27 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Defence the plans being put in place for the Air Corps to be ready to serve with aircraft in future overseas missions in view of the fact that overseas missions routinely lack helicopter support, for example, Liberia, Chad and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42224/09]

In the context of the production of the first White Paper on Defence (2000-2010), the issue of deploying the Air Corps assets on peace support operations was considered. It was decided that, given the resources of the Air Corps and the demands on their services at home, it would not be feasible for them to participate beyond the domestic environment. Individual members of the Air Corps will continue to be deployed on overseas peace support operations as they have been in the past.

The Department is currently in the process of drafting a second White Paper on Defence for the period 2011-2020. This will set out the contribution of the Air Corps, as well as the Army and the Naval Service, to Defence Provision. In relation to the existing helicopters available to the Air Corps, their primary mission is pilot training in the case of the EC135 and Army training support and domestic operations in relation to the AW139. In the absence of modifications to the aircraft to deal with environmental factors prevalent in Africa and flying in conflict zones, it would be not be possible to deploy these aircraft in a helicopter operational support role in Chad.

Defence Forces Properties.

Willie Penrose

Question:

28 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Defence if he has identified any property of the Defence Forces that is not fully and economically utilised by the defence sector in relation to the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42185/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, a programme of rationalising and disposing of property which is surplus to the requirements of the Defence Forces has been on-going for a number of years. In that regard the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programme noted that my Department has identified 33 properties for disposal.

Any properties to be disposed of will take account of the market conditions, so as to maximise the return to the Defence Forces and generate funding for reinvestment in Defence Forces equipment and infrastructure. Significant progress has been achieved over the past decade in re-equipping and developing Defence Forces capabilities, using the proceeds from the sales of surplus properties and we need to ensure that this progress is continued. Having regard to the investment needs of the Defence Forces and given the current economic circumstances, it is important that my Department realises the full commercial value of the properties being sold.

Naval Service Vessels.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

29 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Defence the assurances he will give the House of the Oireachtas in regard to the safety and effectiveness of the current naval vessels; if they are not to be replaced until they have completed at least 34 years of service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42183/09]

While Naval Service vessels have a nominal lifespan of around 30 years, three ships in the current flotilla will have completed at least 34 years of service before they are likely to be replaced — namely LE Emer commissioned in 1978, LE Aoife commissioned in 1979 and LE Aisling commissioned in 1980. Naval Service vessels are required to operate in the harsh and unforgiving waters of the North Atlantic. With regard to safety, there is a programme of continuous planned and preventative maintenance to ensure that all Naval Service vessels are kept in a seaworthy condition and the Naval Service will only send ships to sea in a seaworthy condition. The older ships are monitored through increased inspections and maintenance.

These inspections have recently resulted in extensive repairs being carried out to the L.E. Emer and the L.E. Aoife, with holes in the hull plating of both vessels being detected and repaired in the course of dry-docking. The cause of the damage is likely to be salt-water erosion and micro-biological contamination propagation. The Naval Service is currently in contact with laboratory test facilities to inspect steel samples. The additional cost of these repairs is estimated at €100,000 per vessel. No such problems have been detected with L.E. Aisling although further inspection and examination work is planned.

A vessel replacement strategy for the Naval Service is currently in progress and a tender competition for a ship replacement programme commenced in 2007. The competition sought tenders for the purchase of two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) and one Extended Patrol Vessel (EPV), with an option for up to two additional vessels. The process comprised two stages — Stage 1, a Request for Proposals and Stage 2, an Invitation to Tender.

During 2008, Stage 1 of the tender process was completed and tenders were received in response to Stage 2. Following tender evaluation, a preferred bidder has been selected and detailed and extensive contract negotiations are now close to conclusion. The decision to proceed with the final award of contract to purchase the OPVs will be subject to Government approval and agreement on funding. Subject to such approval, it is expected that the new vessels will be delivered for acceptance by the Naval Service on a phased basis from 2012. In relation to the larger EPV, Stage 1 of the competition has been completed. Stage 2 will not be initiated until the contract for the OPVs has been concluded. This strategy combined with a continuous process of refurbishment and repair will ensure that the operational capability of the Naval Service is maintained at a satisfactory level.

As Minister for Defence, the health and safety of all Defence Forces personnel and compliance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 are of utmost importance to me. The acquisition of modern new vessels will ensure that the Service will be fully equipped to carry out its day to day roles in enforcing the State's sovereign rights over our waters and our fisheries and meeting Ireland's obligations in the area of maritime safety and security and fisheries protection.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

30 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Defence if members of the Irish Army are in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance in order to maintain their families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42175/09]

Supplementary welfare allowance provides a basic weekly allowance to eligible people who have little or no income. People with low incomes may also qualify for a weekly supplement payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme to meet certain special needs. The circumstances surrounding an application for supplementary welfare allowance and the payment of the allowance is a private matter between the applicant and the Department of Social and Family Affairs. My Department would not be aware, therefore, if members of the Permanent Defence Forces are in receipt.

Hearing Impairment Claims.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

31 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence if all army deafness claims have been disposed of; the final number of claims processed; the total payments to claimants; the costs paid to claimant’s lawyers; the amount paid for departmental costs; the estimated cost of dealing with outstanding claims; and the steps taken to eliminate or minimise such claims for the future.. [42198/09]

A total of 16,807 hearing loss claims have been received from current and former members of the Defence Forces in respect of loss of hearing allegedly caused during their military service. 16,139 claims have been disposed of to date. €288.7 million has been paid in respect of hearing loss claims including plaintiffs' legal costs of €100.2 million. The plaintiffs' legal costs include the fees of the solicitors' firms as well as other costs such as Counsel fees, medical reports, etc.

The management of new and outstanding hearing loss claims was delegated to the State Claims Agency with effect from 1st September 2005. The State Claims Agency has disposed of 851 hearing loss claims and is currently managing a total of 417 active cases. My Department has paid €1.2m in plaintiff costs and €1.4m in agency legal and related costs to the State Claims Agency in respect of hearing loss claims. The State Claims Agency estimates the cost of dealing with the remaining currently active army hearing loss cases will be approximately €8m. Hearing loss claims received after July 2002 are generally being contested on the basis of Statute of Limitations.

In general, the Office of the Chief State Solicitor pays the costs of the State's legal team in relation to claims not delegated to the State Claims Agency. This includes Counsel fees, medical fees, fees for expert witnesses, State solicitors, stenographers, etc. These costs are charged to the Vote of the Chief State Solicitor's Office. The most recent information available from the Office of the Chief State Solicitor is that in the period 1998 to October 2009 by which time the vast majority of Army Hearing Loss cases has been finalised, it has paid a total of €18.2m in such fees. This included €11.6m for Counsel fees. During this period, the Department of Defence also directly paid €3.4m in other costs associated with the processing of hearing loss claims.

There is an ongoing programme of education for all military personnel in relation to hearing protection, and equipment is kept under review to ensue that the Defence Forces will always have up to date hearing protection equipment. The military authorities have issued state of the art hearing protection to all members of the Defence Forces, and all range supervising officers are required to ensure that personnel engaged in firing wear the appropriate protection. All other persons on the firing range are required to wear protection when within the noise danger area.

Army Operations.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

32 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Defence the number of call-outs of the explosive ordnance disposal team in regard to suspect devices or the removal of old ordnance to date in 2009 and for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42188/09]

The primary responsibility for the maintenance of law and order rests with an Garda Síochána. The Defence Forces, pursuant to their role of rendering aid to the civil power, assist the Gardaí as required. Requests for aid to the civil power are normally made by a member of an Garda Síochána not below the rank of Inspector. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team respond when a request is made by an Garda Síochána, to the relevant Brigade, for assistance in dealing with a suspect device or for the removal of old ordnance. The Defence Forces EOD Team is required to treat all devices as suspect until the EOD Officer confirms the nature of the device. The number of call outs responded to by the Defence Forces EOD teams from 2004 to 2009 is as follows:

Year

Total Number of Calls

Old Ordnance (included in total number)

2009

180 (To 15/11/09)

14

2008

180

29

2007

98

19

2006

101

21

2005

105

14

2004

110

24

Question No. 33 answered with Question No. 26.
Question No. 34 answered with Question No. 24.
Questions Nos. 35 and 36 answered with Question No. 17.

Courts of Inquiry.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

37 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Defence if the court of inquiry established to investigate the incident at Kilworth Camp, County Cork, when a young officer was seriously injured in a training incident in June 2009 has concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42176/09]

A Formation Accident Investigation Team (FAIT) was established by the General Officer Commanding the Southern Brigade to investigate the incident. A FAIT is normally established in such situations like this to examine the incident from a health and safety viewpoint. The purpose of the investigation is primarily preventative, to discover causation and collect statistical data in order that corrective action may be taken as soon as possible to prevent a recurrence.

Following completion of the initial report prepared by the team, all employment and safety instructions have been reviewed and amended as necessary. Planning is in place for the conduct of a seminar for all Defence Force instructors prior to bringing the weapon back into service. In accordance with Defence Forces Regulations, a Court of Inquiry was also established to investigate the incident. The report compiled by the Court of Inquiry was received by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Southern Brigade, earlier this week. The GOC will consider the report and forward the report, with any recommendations as necessary, to the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support).

Overseas Missions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

38 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the current and future deployment overseas locations for the Defence Forces; the extent to which his attention has been drawn to future requirements in this regard at EU and UN level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42333/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

144 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the number and location of overseas deployments in respect of the Army, Navy and Air Corps; the number pending; if all such deployments in the field are adequate in strength to be self sufficient in terms of security; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42483/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 38 and 144 together.

Ireland has offered, through the UN Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS), to provide up to 850 military personnel for overseas service at any one time. This figure equates to some 10% of Ireland's standing Army (excluding Reserves) and demonstrates Ireland's commitment to the cause of international peace. This is the maximum sustainable commitment that Ireland can make to overseas peacekeeping operations. Ireland is currently contributing 761 Defence Forces personnel to 12 different missions throughout the world. Full details of all personnel (including breakdown by services) currently serving overseas are listed in the tabular statement.

The main overseas missions, in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed, are the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) with 420 personnel, the NATO-led International Security presence (KFOR) in Kosovo with 237 personnel and the EU-led operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, ALTHEA, with 44 personnel. Other personnel are serving as monitors and observers with the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Staff are also deployed at the organisational headquarters of the EU, OSCE and NATO. Ireland is currently committed to MINURCAT until mid-March 2010, to KFOR until April 2010 and to Operation ALTHEA until December 2009.

The Defence Forces conduct a threat assessment on mission areas and all deployments meet the requirements of security and force protection for all personnel integrated into the overall mission requirement. The Defence Forces are self sufficient in large troop deployment missions in terms of force protection and security and are integrated into the overall force protection and security plans of all other missions. With regard to future deployments, Ireland receives requests, from time to time, in relation to participation in various missions and these are considered on a case-by-case basis. When considering any particular request, the existence of realistic objectives and a clear mandate, which has the potential to contribute to a political solution, consideration of how the mission relates to the priorities of Irish foreign policy and the degree of risk involved are amongst the factors considered.

Members of the Permanent Defence Force Serving Overseas as of 01 November 2009

Number

1.

UN Missions

(i)

UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) HQ

8

(ii)

UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation) — Israel, Syria and Lebanon

12

(iii)

MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara)

3

(iv)

MONUC (United Nations Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo)

3

(v)

UNOCI (United Nations Mission in Ivory Coast)

2

(vi)

MINURCAT (United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad) — HQ

13

MINURCAT (United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad) — 101st Inf Battalion

407

TOTAL

448

UN Mandated Missions

(vii)

EUFOR (EU-led Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina)

44

(viii)

EUNAVFOR (EU-led Operation Atalanta) OHQ - UK

1

(ix)

KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo) — HQ

20

KFOR (International Security Presence in Kosovo) 41st Inf Group

217

(x)

ISAF (International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan)

7

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING WITH UN MISSIONS

737

2.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

(i)

OSCE Mission to Bosnia & Herzegovina

2

(ii)

OSCE Mission in Belgrade — Serbia

1

(iii)

Staff Officer, Higher Level Planning Group, Vienna

1

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONNEL SERVING OSCE

4

3.

EU Military Staff

Brussels

7

4.

Nordic Battlegroup HQ Staff — Sweden

4

5.

Military Representatives/Advisers/Staff

(i)

Military Adviser, Permanent Mission to UN, New York

1

(ii)

Military Adviser, Irish Delegation to OSCE, Vienna

1

(iii)

Military Representative to EU (Brussels)

4

(iv)

Liaison Office of Ireland, NATO/PfP (Brussels)

2

(v)

Military Representative to NATO/PfP Co-ordination Cell/Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Mons. Belgium

1

TOTAL NUMBER OF DEFENCE FORCES PERSONNEL SERVING OVERSEAS

761

Breakdown Of Total Number By Service

Army

730

Air Corps

21

Naval Service

10

Total

761

Naval Service Vessels.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

39 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Defence if he has received approval from the Department of Finance to use the insurance payment of €3.8 million arising from the loss of Asgard II to fund a new vessel similar to Asgard but with a steel hull; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42182/09]

A decision on the question of funding the procurement of a replacement vessel for Asgard II will be made in the context of finalising the Estimates for my Department for 2010. That process is on going and it would not be appropriate for me to comment any further on the matter at this stage.

Overseas Missions.

Peter Kelly

Question:

40 Deputy Peter Kelly asked the Minister for Defence if he will ensure that Irish troops serving overseas, particularly those serving in Chad, will be able to receive parcels and presents from home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42166/09]

The Defence Forces do not operate a parcel post service to personnel serving on overseas missions. In most cases families and friends are able to use the existing postal service of An Post to send parcels to troops serving overseas. However, because of the remoteness of the location of Irish troops serving with the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), the sending of parcels through the normal post is discouraged as it is not supported by UN logistics systems and delivery cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, the Defence Forces are organising the delivery before Christmas of one parcel from each family to Irish personnel serving with MINURCAT. The service will be similar to the one provided to the Irish personnel who were serving with the EUFOR mission in Chad last Christmas.

Internet Security.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

41 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Defence if he is satisfied that Ireland is properly prepared to withstand an attempt at cyber warfare or terrorism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42189/09]

Cyber security, cyber crime and internet security represent challenges that are constantly evolving and require vigilance and appropriate responses. Cyber security is multi facetted. The nature of the threat and the potential impact also varies considerably depending on the approach and objective of those with malicious intent. In the first instance, each State agency, business and individual should take every precaution with regard to their security. Awareness of security, the risks and available safeguards, can be seen as the first line of defence for the security of information systems and networks. I am aware of considerable activity in this regard. My colleague the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has undertaken a number of awareness campaigns aimed at individuals, SMEs , the education sector, the public Sector and business.

In addition, Minister Ryan has recently commissioned a report on Ireland's current state of readiness should a cyber attack occur. The report will also contain a review of current international best practice on cyber security and the structures that should be developed to oversee the Government's response to cyber attacks. This report will address the following issues from a national perspective: Detection of cyber attacks Reaction to cyber attacks from Government, Government agencies and operators of critical IT infrastructure Development of structure to oversee planning and response to cyber attacks Development of structures to keep the public aware of threats and appropriate responses.

I understand that consultation with industry and across Government in underway and that the Strategy should be finalised by the end of the year.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 17.

Defence Forces Operations.

Peter Kelly

Question:

43 Deputy Peter Kelly asked the Minister for Defence the number of bank cash escort duties carried out by the Defence Forces in 2008 and to date in 2009; the payments received from the banks to cover these duties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42167/09]

The number of cash in transit escorts provided by the Defence Forces in 2008 was 2,210. The level of contributions by the Banks in respect of the costs incurred by the Defence Forces in the provision of Cash Escorts is subject to the agreement I concluded with the IBF and the member Banks in 2005. The banks are charged for their proportion of the total escorts provided i.e. approx. 78%. The remainder relates to post office escorts which are not subject to charge as they come under State expenditure. The total amount received from the Banks for 2008 was €7.45m.

The statistics compiled for the period January to August 2009 show that the number of escorts for that period was 1,429. Costs in respect of each 12 month period to end-December, are paid the following year, with payment for 2009 due on or before the 1st June 2010. This is to allow for the compilation of returns from the brigades and allocation of costs following the year-end.

Overseas Missions.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

44 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence the arrangements for helicopter support for our troops in Chad since they were first deployed in February 2008. [42197/09]

Contingents of the Permanent Defence Force served in Chad between February 2008 and March 2009 with the EU-led mission in Chad and the Central African Republic, EUFOR Tchad/RCA. During this period, helicopter support was provided by EUFOR aviation assets. In addition, two helicopters were contracted by my Department in June 2008 to provide both operational and logistical support to the Irish battalion serving with EUFOR. While there were some difficulties encountered with the initially deployed helicopters, which have been well documented, throughout the contract period the helicopters provided essential support to the Defence Forces contingent in cargo transport, mission resupply and standby emergency evacuation, reinforcement and casevac, which were the primary considerations in contracting the helicopters in the first place.

EUFOR's mandate expired on 14 March, 2009, and the operation was replaced by the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). Following the handover of the mission from EUFOR to MINURCAT, significant deficiencies were experienced in the UN helicopter support to the Irish contingent arising from both the lack of fuel and the operational and tasking arrangements for the UN helicopters then deployed in theatre. As a result, it was essential to retain the helicopters contracted for the Defence Forces contingent in Chad. A particular concern for the Defence Forces and the Department was the need to ensure available helicopter support to the Defence Forces contingent during the oncoming rainy season. The Defence Forces helicopter contract was extended on a month-by-month basis for six months. At that stage, the Chief of Staff stated that he was happy with the level of helicopter support then available from the UN for the Irish Defence Forces contingent in Chad and the contract for the Irish helicopters was terminated on 25 October, 2009.

There are currently two UN helicopters based in Goz Beida, providing helicopter support to the Irish contingent, which have also on occasion been used for MEDEVAC/CASEVAC operations. In addition there is also a dedicated MEDEVAC/CASEVAC helicopter located in Abeche on a 24/7 basis.

Commemorative Events.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

45 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Defence the progress made by the committee established to consider proposals for an appropriate commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising in 2016; the number of meetings held to date in 2009; when the committee last met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42187/09]

Consideration is continuing in each Government Department with regard to their respective contributions to a comprehensive programme for the Centenary of the Rising. I expect that a draft programme in this regard will be submitted to Government next year for their consideration and also circulated at that time to the Oireachtas Consultation Group. In the interim, certain specific refurbishment and conservation projects relating to the Independence years are being progressed by the Government Departments, the Office of Public Works and the national cultural institutions. Arrangements are being made for a meeting of the Oireachtas Consultation Group on 2nd December during which the progress on these projects during 2009 will be described and work on certain sites inspected.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 17.

Defence Forces Properties.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

47 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Defence if he plans to bring forward a detailed feasibility study in regard to the disposal of Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin and the re-location of personnel stationed there to other sites within the Defence Forces portfolio; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42184/09]

The Defence property portfolio is kept under ongoing review by my Department to ensure the most effective use of military resources having regard to the roles assigned by Government to the Defence Forces. This includes ongoing review of the organisation, structure and formation of the forces and the consequential requirement for military barracks and other properties. The funding realised from the disposal of surplus property together with pay savings has provided resources for the modernisation of the Defence Forces and has been invested in new infrastructure, equipment and training area development. Any further properties that are considered surplus to military requirements will continue to be disposed of and the funding invested to meet the current and future equipment and infrastructure needs of the Defence Forces.

The question concerning the future of Cathal Brugha Barracks, along with the issue of any further consolidation across the Defence Forces as a whole, will be among the issues to be considered in the context of the Estimates process having regard to the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes. Cathal Brugha Barracks is a very significant military installation with a wide range of facilities, accommodation and storage depots and would be costly to replace. This will need to be factored into our consideration, particularly in the current financial situation. Consideration will also need to be given to the operational requirements of the Defence Forces and where personnel would be relocated.

The recommendations in the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes and the decisions on all of the issues arising will be a matter for the Government in the context of the Estimates and budgetary process. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage pending the outcome of these deliberative processes.

Willie Penrose

Question:

48 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Defence if he will give details of the defence property portfolio; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42186/09]

The Defence property portfolio consists of a diverse range of facilities from conventional military barracks to forts, camps, dwelling houses and training lands. The principal assets are 23 permanently occupied barracks. The Department also owns 26 premises that are used by the Reserve Defence Forces. A further 51 properties are rented for use by the Reserve. The property portfolio also includes a total of 150 married quarters that are mainly located within the Curragh Camp. The policy is that these should be phased out in a managed and orderly way. The land included in the property portfolio amounts to approximately 20,000 acres, predominantly located at the Curragh, the Glen of Imaal and Kilworth Camp, and is used for military training. Details of all properties owned or rented by the Department are contained in the attached tabular statement.

The modernisation process in Defence identified that the dispersal of personnel over an extended number of locations is a major impediment to essential collective training and imposes increased and unnecessary overheads on the Defence Forces in terms of barrack management, administration, maintenance and security. The consolidation of the Defence Forces formations into a smaller number of locations is a key objective of the White Paper on Defence. The Department and the Defence Forces continually review Defence Forces requirements in relation to barracks, infrastructure and other military installations. A total of ten barracks have been closed over the past 10 years.

A comprehensive VFM review of military training lands and firing ranges is due to be concluded shortly. I understand that the consultants report will identify opportunities for further consolidation and rationalisation of training land requirements, while pointing to additional requirements in some areas. The report of the consultants will inform the future development of defence training lands and range infrastructure. As is the case in other areas of the defence portfolio, those lands that are surplus to requirements will be disposed of for the benefit of the Defence Forces.

Department of Defence — Property Portfolio

Permanently Occupied Posts

County

Location

Name

Acreage

Brigade

1

Cavan

Cavan Town

Dun Ui Neill

16.25

Western

2

Cork

Cork City

Collins

59.80

Southern

3

Cork

Haulbowline

Naval Base

84.00

Southern

4

Donegal

Ballyshannon

Finner Camp

840.00

Western

5

Dublin

Arbour Hill

St Bricins

3.00

Eastern

6

Dublin

Baldonnel

Casement Aerodrome

685.00

Eastern

7

Dublin

Blackhorse Ave

McKee Barracks

45.00

Eastern

8

Dublin

Rathmines

Cathal Brugha

46.00

Eastern

9

Galway

Renmore

Dun Ui Mhaoiliosa

74.00

Western

10

Kilkenny

Kilkenny City

Stephen’s Barracks

14.00

Southern

11

Kildare

Curragh

Ceannt Barracks

Curragh

12

Kildare

Curragh

Clarke Barracks

Curragh

13

Kildare

Curragh

Connolly Barracks

Curragh

14

Kildare

Curragh

McDermott Barracks

Curragh

15

Kildare

Curragh

McDonagh Barracks

Curragh

16

Kildare

Curragh

Pearse Barracks

Curragh

17

Kildare

Curragh

Plunkett Barracks

Curragh

18

Limerick

Limerick City

Sarsfield Barracks

14.80

Southern

19

Louth

Dundalk

Aiken Barracks

18.00

Eastern

20

Meath

Gormanston

Gormanston Camp

261.00

Eastern

21

Tipperary

Clonmel

Kickham Barracks

11.00

Southern

22

Westmeath

Athlone

Custume Barracks

13.00

Western

23

Westmeath

Mullingar

Columb Barracks

23.75

Western

Reserve Defence Force Premises — Owned

County

Location

Acreage

Brigade

1

Carlow

Mhuine Beag

0.44

Southern

2

Cork

Fermoy

13.50

Southern

3

Mallow

0.07

Southern

4

Skibbereen

0.50

Southern

5

Youghal

0.11

Southern

6

Donegal

Milford

0.50

Western

Mullins Donegal Town

Western

7

Galway

Ballinasloe

0.50

Western

8

Clifden

0.04

Western

9

Gort

0.20

Western

10

Loughrea

0.23

Western

11

Kerry

Killorglin

0.25

Southern

12

Listowel

0.22

Southern

13

Laois

Portlaoise

0.07

Southern

14

Leitrim

Manorhamilton

0.25

Western

15

Longford

Longford Town

Western

16

Louth

Drogheda

0.40

Eastern

17

Mayo

Westport

0.5

Western

18

Meath

Kells

0.25

Eastern

19

Navan

0.50

Eastern

20

Roscommon

Roscommon town

0.80

Western

21

Tipperary

Thurles

0.19

Southern

22

Tipperary

Templemore McCann Barracks (part)

0.39

Southern

23

Waterford

Dungarvan

0.10

Southern

24

Waterford City

Military Barracks

0.8

Southern

25

Wexford Town

Military Barracks

1.00

Southern

26

Wicklow

Murrough

0.23

Eastern

Reserve Defence Forces — Rented Property

County

Name

Location

F/T or P/T

Brigade

1

Carlow

Community Hall

Borris

P/T

Eastern

2

St. John’s community Centre

Hacketstown

P/T

Eastern

3

St. Patrick’s GAA

Tullow

P/T

Eastern

4

Clare

Community Centre

Doonaha

P/T

Southern

5

Community Centre

Milltown Malbay

P/T

Southern

6

Cork

Town Hall

Bandon

P/T

Southern

7

Parochial Hall

Bantry

P/T

Southern

8

Beara Sports Hall

Castletownbere

P/T

Southern

9

Community Hall

Charleville

P/T

Southern

10

Industrial Hall

Clonakilty

P/T

11

St. Patrick’s Hall

Dunmanway

P/T

Southern

12

Parish Hall

Kilworth

P/T

Southern

13

Millstreet GAA

Millstreet

P/T

Southern

14

Donegal

St. Finian’s Hall, Station Rd

Falcarragh

P/T

Western

15

Moville Road

Carndonagh

F/T

Western

16

Community Hall, Massinass

Creeslough

P/T

Western

17

Galway

Community Centre

Glenamaddy

P/T

Western

18

Headford College

Headford

P/T

Western

19

Parochial House

Carraroe

P/T

Western

20

Community Centre

Oughterard

P/T

Western

21

Kilkenny

Dunamaggin

P/T

Southern

22

Leitrim

Mayflower Ballroom

Glenfarne

P/T

Western

23

Community Hall

Carrawallen

P/T

24

Drumsna

F/T

25

Limerick

Community Hall

Abbeyfeale

P/T

Southern

26

Community Centre

Boher

P/T

Southern

27

Town Hall

Hospital

P/T

Southern

28

Community Centre

Pallaskenry

P/T

Southern

29

Community Centre

Rathkeale

P/T

Southern

30

Community Centre

Pallas Green

P/T

Southern

31

Parochial Hall

Kilmallock

P/T

Southern

32

Mayo

Community Centre

Roundfort Hollymount

P/T

Western

33

Town Hall

Claremorris

P/T

Western

34

Community Centre

Swinford

P/T

35

Bohernasup

Ballina

P/T

Western

36

Meath

Community Centre

Oldcastle

P/T

Eastern

37

Scoil Mhuire

Trim

P/T

Eastern

38

Monaghan

7 Main street

Carrickmacross

F/T

Eastern

39

Monaghan GAA

Monaghan Town

P/T

40

Offaly

St. Mary’s Hall

Ferbane

P/T

Eastern

41

Kilcruttin Business Park

Tullamore

F/T

Eastern

42

Sligo

Unit 12 B, Business Park

Cleveragh

F/T

Western

43

Community Centre

Tobercurry

P/T

Western

44

Tipperary

St. Patrick’s Hall

Ballymacarbry

P/T

Southern

45

Waterford

Community Hall

Villierstown

P/T

Southern

46

Wexford

St. Aidan’s Hall

Bunclody

P/T

Eastern

47

Community Hall

Cortnacuddy

P/T

Eastern

48

Community Hall

Cushinstown

P/T

Eastern

49

Scout Hall

Gorey

P/T

Eastern

50

Wicklow

Parochial Hall

Tinahely

P/T

Eastern

51

Community College

Arklow

P/T

Eastern

Training Facilities — Owned

County

Location

Name

Acreage

Brigade

1

Clare

Lahinch

Lahinch Camp

5.19

Southern

2

Cork

Bere Island

Bere Island

176.50

Southern

3

Kilworth

Kilworth

3352

Southern

4

Whitegate

Fort Davis

74.00

Southern

Kildare

Curragh

Curragh lands

4,780.00

Curragh

5

Kerry

Tralee

Ballymullen

15.00

Southern

6

Wicklow

Glen of Imaal

Coolmooney Camp

241.00

Curragh

7

Glen of Imaal

Artillery Range

6617

Curragh

8

Kilbride

Camp and Range

1,574.00

Eastern

Firing Ranges — Owned

County

Location

Name

Acreage

Brigade

1

Galway

Oranmore

534.0

Western

2

Louth

Dundalk

Red Barns

13.5

Eastern

3

Roscommon

Carna

283.0

Western

4

Cushla

139.0

Western

5

Tipperary

Kilcoran

13.5

Southern

6

Templemore

Barnane

10.0

Southern

7

Wicklow

Bray

Kilpeddar

98.0

Eastern

Other Property — Owned

County

Location

Name

Acreage

Brigade

1

Cork

Beal na mBlath

Collins Memorial Plot

0.01

Southern

2

Whitegate

Curtain’s Well

0.25

Southern

3

Dublin

Collins Barracks

Esplanade

0.5.0

Eastern

4

Islandbridge

Army Boat Club

1.00

Eastern

5

Kildare

Blackrath

Leased Out

35.50

Curragh

7

Roscommon

Boyle

Military Barracks

0.50

Western

8

Westmeath

Athlone

Garynafeala Lands

14.75

Western

9

Wicklow

Seskin

Range Warden’s Post

1.00

Curragh

Question No. 49 answered with Question No. 24.

Defence Forces Reserve.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

50 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Defence if the review of the Reserve Defence Force as part of the 2009 to 2011 phase of the Government’s value for money and policy review initiative has commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42181/09]

The Government's Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative is overseen by the Value for Money and Policy Review Central Steering Committee. Government Department's are required to submit review topics for inclusion in a rolling programme of Value for Money Reviews. The Department of Defence reviews approved by Government for inclusion in the 2009-2011 round of Value for Money and Policy Reviews are: A Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Force. A Value for Money Review of the Training of General Service Recruits.

Value for Money Reviews are conducted in line with guidelines issued by the Department of Finance. Generic terms of reference for such reviews are outlined in these guidelines. Value for Money Reviews within the Department of Defence are overseen by a Steering Committee and for the 2009-2011 round of Reviews, the Government has decided that an independent chairman will be appointed for each Steering Committee. A Chairman will be drawn from a panel, which has been established for this purpose. The Steering Committee will also comprise of senior managers from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces and will include representation from the Department of Finance.

The Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Force is the first review to be undertaken in the 2009-2011 round. Preliminary data gathering has commenced on this Review and a Steering Committee will be established in the coming weeks to oversee and manage the Review. It is anticipated that this review, together with the lessons learned from the Reserve Defence Force Review Implementation Plan, will assist in informing decisions regarding the future development of the Reserve Defence Force.

Registry of Friendly Societies.

John McGuinness

Question:

51 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, further to Parliamentary Question No 216 of 3 November, if she has concerns with the number of trade unions who have not submitted annual returns to the registrar of friendly societies for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008; the action being taken by the registrar of friendly societies to protect the members of the unions concerned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42496/09]

I set out below the statistics to which the Deputy is referring, for ease of reference.

Year

No. of Trade Unions Registered

Annual Returns Filed

2006

66

49

2007

65

47

2008

65

39

I should point out that the term trade unions in this context also comprises employer and trade associations, and not just the more commonly understood employee trade unions.

The number of trade unions who have submitted returns for 2006 and 2007 remained relatively static, with a decrease in 2008. It is the practice of the Registry of Friendly Societies to issue reminders to trade unions where returns have not been submitted on time, and a first such reminder issued in July of this year in respect of the 2008 return. A further reminder is scheduled to issue at the end of this month. On the basis of experience in previous years it is expected that a number of returns will be received over the coming months. Of the 18 trade unions which did not submit a return for 2007, 14 had not submitted a return for a number of years, and are probably moribund. On this basis, while there is some lack of compliance, in particular with the statutory deadline for submission of returns, it has not to date given cause for significant concern.

Financial Services Regulation.

Phil Hogan

Question:

52 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance the protection available to homeowners who have taken out sub-prime mortgages; his plans to make statutory the code on mortgage arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42371/09]

The Government took steps in October 2007, via an amendment to the Central Bank Act 1997, to provide for an appropriate system of authorisation and supervision of retail credit firms engaged in specialist or so-called sub-prime lending by the Financial Regulator. Such lenders were not previously subject to financial regulation in respect of lending activities. The primary purpose of this amendment was to extend to customers of these firms the benefit of the consumer protections provided for in the Financial Regulator's Consumer Protection Code. This regulatory regime has been in place since 1 February 2008 and is being implemented by the Financial Regulator. Consumer credit, including sub-prime lending, is also regulated in Ireland under the Consumer Credit Act 1995. The Act makes detailed provision for the form and content of loan agreements and for advertising of consumer credit.

Some non deposit-taking mortgage lenders are required to notify charges under Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act, 1995 (as amended) to the Financial Regulator for approval. However interest rates are excluded from this requirement. Also, legal fees tend to be imposed by 3rd parties and then passed on directly by the institution to the consumer. In general these do not require approval.

When approving fees, the Financial Regulator takes the following criteria into consideration:

promotion of fair competition;

commercial justification;

passing on any costs to customers; and

the effect on customers or a group of customers.

The Financial Regulator has a Code of Conduct for Mortgage Arrears, which came into effect in February 2009 and which applies to mortgage lending activities with consumers in respect of their principal private residence in the State. The Code is mandatory for all mortgage lenders registered with the Financial Regulator. Under the Code, where a borrower is in difficulty the lender will make every reasonable effort to agree an alternative repayment schedule and will not commence legal action for repossession until after six months from the time arrears first arise. I should also point out that people in serious debt or in danger of getting into serious debt can avail of the services of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). This is a national, free, confidential and independent service.

Public Service Contracts.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

53 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the reason, when State bodies are putting out tender documents for services, companies providing tenders are requested to provide evidence that they have completed three large public or private contracts in the past three years and the request for tender then states that at least one of these contracts must be a public contract; the way he proposes that new companies to the market will tender for such contracts when previous experience is necessary. [42365/09]

There is no standard requirement of the type described for companies to tender for public service contracts. A general requirement of this kind would be disproportionate. Contractors performing any public contract must have the necessary technical capacity and expertise. A satisfactory track record and successful completion of projects similar to the one being undertaken can be a valid method of providing evidence of expertise and ability. The general position is that criteria relating to the appropriate level of expertise must be proportionate and relevant to the needs of the particular contract. Current public procurement guidelines to contracting authorities require that they encourage new businesses to apply for smaller public contracts and establish a track record which can enable them to progress to competing for larger contracts.

Tax Collection.

Richard Bruton

Question:

54 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the interest rates charged on underpayments of tax or late payments; if he will consider modifying them at this time when bank credit for working capital is so constrained. [42379/09]

Interest charges are imposed by the Revenue Commissioners to compensate the Exchequer for the late payment of tax and to ensure that businesses that pay their tax debts in a timely manner are not put at a competitive disadvantage by those businesses that pay late. Notwithstanding the more difficult economic and financial environment for business, timely compliance with tax payment obligations is essential.

The statutory rates of interest charged by the Revenue Commissioners in relation to late payment of tax and underpayment of tax were reduced in the Finance Act 2009. The current daily rates of 0.0219% for most taxes and 0.0274% for fiduciary taxes give respective annualised equivalents of 8% and 10% approximately and took effect from 1 July 2009. My Department monitors these interest rates on an on-going basis and assesses their appropriateness having regard to prevailing interest rates and the need to support and maintain high levels of voluntary timely compliance. While the matter is reviewed as appropriate, I have no plans for a further revision at this time.

Richard Bruton

Question:

55 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the amount of income tax which was raised in the years 1982, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2002 and 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42381/09]

The Finance Accounts, which are the audited Financial Statements of the Exchequer, are published on an annual basis. Included in the accounts are Exchequer tax receipts by tax-head. Set out in the following table are Income Tax receipts in millions of euros for each of the years in question.

Income Tax Receipts

€m

1982

1,853

1987

3,445

1989

3,594

1992

4,334

1994

5,158

1997

6,625

2002

9,063

2007

13,572

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

56 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider correspondence (details supplied) in relation to a VAT refund issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42388/09]

The question of whether farmers are entitled to claim credit for, or a repayment of, VAT charged to them on the purchase of the Heatime, which allows for more accurate heat detection in cows, depends on whether or not the farmer is registered for VAT. Farmers who are registered for VAT are accountable persons for VAT in respect of all their taxable activities and would be entitled to claim input credit for VAT charged on goods and services used in their taxable activities. The purchase of the Heatime product would be covered by this entitlement.

In so far as farmers who are not registered for VAT are concerned, they are not in the normal course entitled to credit for, or repayment of, VAT incurred by them on their business inputs. The Value-Added Tax (Refund of Tax) (No 25) Order, 1993 does provide for refunds to unregistered farmers for tax borne on the "construction, extension, alteration or reconstruction of any building or structure which is designed for use solely or mainly for the purposes of a farming business".

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in November 2008, the VAT Interpretation Branch of Revenue considered a claim for refund under this order in respect of tax borne on a Heatime system. The matter was examined in detail, based on the information provided in support of the claim to Revenue and the detailed information available on the supplier's website. Based on this examination a decision was made that the Heatime system could not be considered "construction, extension, alteration or reconstruction of a building or structure" and consequently, does not come within the scope of the Order. I have been advised that there is no record of any refund having been made to an unregistered farmer since November 2008.

I understand that the Heatime system consists of three different components, a neck tag worn by each animal, a control box, and an ID unit, which reads the information from the tag as the animal passes. The control box and the ID unit are required to be attached to a wall or permanent structure and are connected to the electrical supply. Although two of the components are attached to a permanent structure the installation of these items could not be considered as the "alteration of a building or structure" and therefore VAT would not be refundable under the Order. A milking system or feeding system referred to in the correspondence supplied would only be refundable under the Refund Order if the nature and installation of the system were such that it involved the alteration or reconstruction of a building or structure.

Casino and Gaming Industry.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

57 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding casinos operating here; if they are outside or inside the jurisdiction of the law; if they are outside of the law, the reason the Revenue Commissioners are prepared to register them for VAT and income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42390/09]

With regard to the legal status of casinos, I have been informed by my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, that under Irish law, gaming is illegal, except where it is specifically permitted under the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, as amended. Certain gaming activities are prohibited, including what could be described as casino gaming, i.e. games where by reason of the nature of the game the chances of all players including the banker are not equal. It is by reference to this provision that casinos are not lawful in the State. The Report Regulating Gaming in Ireland reported that private members' clubs offering casino-gaming, do so on the basis of the provisions in the Gaming and Lotteries Acts that permit private gaming.

It is not appropriate to offer a legal opinion in this regard. It is, however, the responsibility of the Garda authorities to investigate breaches of the Gaming and Lotteries legislation, and to take whatever action is appropriate. The Garda authorities are aware of private members' clubs offering casino-like activities. These private clubs are visited by the Gardaí who are prepared to take appropriate action where irregularities are detected that would justify a prosecution under the Gaming & Lotteries Acts 1956-2003, including seeking the directions of the DPP.

The rise of private members' gaming clubs is one of the factors that prompted a fundamental rethink about our gambling legislation. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has initiated a wide-ranging review of gambling the objective of which is to provide Government with options for a new and comprehensive legal and organisational framework governing the gambling architecture in the State, including the regulation of places offering casino-like gaming and the regulation of remote gambling, e.g gambling over the internet. The Casino Gaming Control Section of the Department will be responsible for bringing forward proposals, including a draft Bill for a revised gambling code.

The Casino Gaming Control Section of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform is, as a consequence, consulting widely with stakeholders — statutory, NGO and the private sector — and with the community at large before bringing forward any proposals. The Department will, with the benefit of the consultation process and on the receipt of submissions, develop legislative proposals based on three important considerations which are the hallmark of most well-regulated gambling codes. These are:

that young people and the vulnerable are protected

that gambling should in all respects be fairly and openly conducted, and

that gambling is kept free of crime

Developing a revised gambling code that is capable of generating broad public support is a complex task. Notwithstanding that, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has instructed the Casino Gaming Control Section to make every effort to provide him with policy options for a new gambling architecture as soon as possible which will include proposals for a draft Bill on the subject. Ultimately, it will be for Government to agree the policy approach to be legislated for in this area.

In advance of the review of gambling, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform decided that private members' clubs at which gambling activities are carried on will have to comply with relevant anti-money laundering and terrorist financing legislation. On 28 July 2009, the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Bill 2009 was published which will transpose the 3rd EU Money Laundering Directive into Irish Law. The second stage of this Bill is being taken in the Dáil on Thursday, 19 November and it is expected that the Bill will be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas this session.

In so far as the taxation of casinos is concerned, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that casinos are treated the same as any other business entity. Depending on the legal nature of the person or entity carrying on a business of providing casino services or facilities, either income tax or corporation tax is chargeable on the taxable profits of the person or entity concerned. Individuals would also be liable to income levy in respect of their income from such a business. Any such business would also be legally obliged to PAYE and PRSI in respect of wages, salaries, etc paid to its employees.

As regards VAT, the EU VAT Directive 2006 permits Member States to limit the scope of the VAT exemption for betting, lotteries and other forms of gambling. Under Irish VAT law, the exemption for gambling is confined to licensed betting, betting on the Tote and lotteries. Accordingly, all gambling and gaming activities carried on in casinos in the State are regarded for VAT purposes as taxable activities, and the persons carrying on such activities must register and account for VAT in respect of those activities where their annual turnover from the activities exceeds a threshold of €37,500. The rate of VAT applicable is the standard rate of 21.5%.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

58 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that Anglo Irish Bank is functioning to service the needs of existing customers who are performing within their business and in respect of their loan repayments; if he is further satisfied that the approach being taken by the bank is sufficiently customer friendly and efficient to continue to develop the business of existing customers who require ongoing finance, not just to develop their business but to reduce their indebtedness to the bank; the level of money approved by the bank in the form of working capital in respect of the period from nationalisation to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42391/09]

As the Deputy may be aware, as a condition of EU State aid approval for the provision of €4bn in capital to Anglo Irish Bank, the bank is not permitted to engage in new lending except to existing customers for existing projects. Capital was provided to Anglo to protect the economy from the wider losses that would have occurred in the event of a failure of the bank, to protect the deposit base of the bank, and to prevent the bank becoming a systemic threat to the financial system.

The current position on new lending by Anglo enables the bank to lend to provide for the completion of existing projects and to allow existing customers to reduce their indebtedness, thereby protecting the bank's asset quality. Any change from this position will be a matter for consideration as part of the process of agreeing a restructuring plan for Anglo. The bank is operating within the parameters of the EU State aid decision and the terms of the subscription agreement for the capital provision, and I have no involvement in the day to day issues.

The specific figure for approvals of working capital by Anglo since nationalisation is commercially sensitive and can not be disclosed at this time. As with other financial institutions, detailed information on Anglo's financial position is published in the bank's annual and half-year accounts. Anglo is currently finalising a restructuring plan, which will examine all options for the future of the bank, and which will set out the future strategy for the bank. The restructuring plan will be submitted by the end of November to the European Commission for consideration and approval in line with EU State aid requirements.

Departmental Staff.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

59 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the level of expenses paid to the staff of the Revenue Commissioners in the past 12 months, in particular the level of moneys issued for overnight allowances; the average rate per head per night staying away from home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42392/09]

The payment of expenses to civil servants in respect of costs incurred in connection with their official duties, including officials in the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, is provided for in Circulars issued by my Department. The rates payable in respect of expenses incurred in Ireland were reduced with effect from 5 March 2009 in line with a Government decision and are set out in Circular 07/2009. The rates payable in respect of expenses incurred in foreign travel vary depending on the destination. The current rates are those set out in Circular 24/2009.

The Estimates voted by this House provided €4.262 million to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners for 2009 in respect of travel and subsistence expenses for an average staff complement of 6,500. I understand that the amount spent to 31 October 2009 is €2.815 million. The Deputy enquired specifically about expenditure in respect of overnight allowances. The current overnight rate in the State is €108.99 (Class A) and €107.69 (Class B). This covers accommodation costs and meals, etc over a 24-hour period. I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the €2.815 million includes an amount of €0.902 million incurred under the overnight rates. The Revenue Commissioners have explained that the €2.815 million also includes amounts in respect of travel, whether by public transport or by private car. It also includes expenses incurred in attending meetings in Brussels and at other destinations abroad.

The Deputy will appreciate that the nature of the work carried out by Revenue necessitates a significant amount of travel and work away from desks, in particular their compliance and enforcement roles. Examples include audits, which yielded €569 million in 2008 and operations and investigations involving the prevention and detection of the illegal importation of cigarettes in the course of which 213 million cigarettes have been seized to date this year.

Tax Code.

George Lee

Question:

60 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide confirmation that the allowance of a person (details supplied) is not taxable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42395/09]

The position is that the guardian's payment, whether contributory or non-contributory, is taxable. However, such a payment is not treated for tax purposes as income of the guardian but rather as income of the child in respect of whom it is paid. As regards the extent, if any, to which taxation actually arises in a given case, this depends on the nature and level of income of a child and the level of his or her tax credits for a tax year. For example, if a child has no income other than the guardian's payment, then the basic personal credits in force may, in most cases, be sufficient so as to ensure that there is no tax to be paid by that child in respect of the guardian's payment applicable to him or her.

In contrast, if a guardian's payment is payable in respect of a child and that child has other income such as rental income for example, then both the guardian's payment and the rental income would constitute the child's income for tax purposes. In this scenario, the child may, depending on the level of his or her total income, have a tax liability.

National Statistics.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

61 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Finance the number of PAYE workers in the Waterford tax district earning less than €10,000, earning between €10,001 and €20,000, earning between €20,001 and €30,000, earning between €30,001 and €40,000, earning between €40,001 and €50,000, earning between €50,001 and €60,000, earning between €60,001 and €70,000, earning between €70,001 and €80,000, earning between €80,001 and €90,000, earning between €90,001 and €100,000, earning between €100,001 and €125,000, earning between €125,001 and €150,000, earning between €150,001 and €175,000, earning between €175,001 and €200,000 and earning in excess of €200,000; the number of public sector workers in each of those income brackets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42401/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the latest relevant sector-based information available on employees taxed under the PAYE system is derived from income tax returns filed for the income tax year 2007 and represents about 96% of all returns expected at the time the data were compiled for analytical purposes. On this basis the numbers of PAYE and public sector employees in the Waterford tax district is set out as follows:

Income Tax Year 2007

All PAYE Employees (including public sector employees)

Public Sector Employees

Range of Gross Income

Total Number

Total Number

– €10,000

10,845

1,561

€10,001 – €20,000

10,372

2,036

€20,001 – €30,000

10,574

2,238

€30,001 – €40,000

6,896

2,138

€40,001 – €50,000

3,831

1,610

€50,001 – €60,000

2,377

934

€60,001 – €70,000

1,612

656

€70,001 – €80,000

1,031

460

€80,001 – €90,000

590

319

€90,001 – €100,000

395

205

€100,001 – €125,000

454

301

€125,001 – €150,000

148

124

€150,001 – €175,000

65

31

€175,001 – €200,000

17

10

Over €200,000

37

8

Totals

49,244

12,631

Notes: The sector identifier used on the tax records is based on the 4-digit NACE code (Rev. 1), which is an internationally recognised economic activity code system. The information provided in relation to public sector employees is based on activities which are classified in the NACE code system as Public Administration and Defence; compulsory Social Security, Education and Health and Social work but excluding the categories of Driving School Activities, Dental Practice Activities and Veterinary Activities as being more appropriate to the private sector. A married couple, which has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

The source of the information provided in relation to numbers and tax is the P35 end year returns filed by employers in respect of their employees but does not include the corresponding figures relating to PAYE taxpayers who are required to return an income tax return form 11 where non-PAYE income is greater than €3,174.

Tax Code.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

62 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Finance the reason the second home levy of €200 is non-tax deductible to members of an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42412/09]

Under the provisions of the Tax Acts, a person in receipt of rental income is assessed to income tax on the net amount of the rents received (i.e. the gross rents less allowable expenses incurred in earning those rents). In computing the net amount of the rents received, only those deductions that are specified in section 97(2) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 are allowable. The main deductible expenses are:

Any rent payable by the landlord in the case of a sub-lease;

The cost to the landlord of any goods provided or services rendered to a tenant;

The cost of maintenance, repairs, insurance and management of the property;

Interest on borrowed money used to purchase, improve or repair the property;

and Payment of local authority rates in the case of rateable properties used for commercial purposes.

As payment of the new local authority charge for residential properties is not included on the list of allowable deductions, it is not an allowable expense in computing taxable rental income.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco.

Joe McHugh

Question:

63 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the number of ships boarded and searched in the port of Sligo in the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and up to 31 October 2009 by Revenue and customs and excise; the quantities of illegal cigarettes found as a result of these searches; the number of visits made to street markets in counties Sligo and Leitrim in search of illegal cigarettes from 2005 to 31 October 2009; the number of full time customs and excise staff assigned solely to these duties in 2005 to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42415/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the risk posed by the smuggling of illegal tobacco products at Sligo Port and in the counties of Sligo/Leitrim is continuously assessed. The development of information and intelligence is critical to the detection of such activity, and enforcement action is selective and targeted, based on the analysis and evaluation of seizure trends, various risk indicators and specific intelligence, both national and international. A selection of vessels have been targeted by customs in Sligo Port for the years in question. This has involved profiling the movements and previous ports of call of arriving vessels, carrying out covert surveillance, identifying crew members, interviewing captains and other responsible ships officers, and undertaking search operations. However, it is not the policy of the Revenue Commissioners to publish details of such enforcement activities, as this could prejudice current or future operations.

I am further advised by the Revenue Commissioners that street markets in counties Sligo and Leitrim are covertly monitored on an almost weekly basis by enforcement officers seeking to identify the illegal sale of smuggled or counterfeit tobacco products. The same policy concerning the publication of details of such activity applies.

For the years in question, up to the present, there have been eight Revenue personnel based in Sligo and assigned to enforcement duties for both customs and excise. Their deployment takes account of available intelligence, identified trends and changing patterns of evasion. Their duties include the enforcement activities mentioned already, together with the prevention and detection of illegal drug smuggling at ports and airports, through the postal/courier services and along the coastline. They are also active in other anti-evasion activities. The level of staffing involved in enforcement is kept under review in the context of the Commissioners' overall staffing complement and Government policy on public service numbers.

Public Sector Staff.

Joe McHugh

Question:

64 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the number of full-time and part-time positions that remain vacant due to the public sector recruitment embargo; the pertinent public sector areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42416/09]

The monitoring and management of vacancies in any Public Service organisation employing Civil or Public Servants is a matter for the Government Department under whose aegis the organisation operates.

The moratorium applies to the filling of posts by recruitment and promotion and does not preclude in any way the reallocation or reorganisation of work or staff according to needs or, with my Department's approval, the filling of posts through redeployment from within the public service. It must also be remembered that changes in the services provided and in their delivery, in the allocation of work and in the use of information technology are taking place on an ongoing basis within Departments and agencies and can have a significant bearing on the allocation on of staff and responsibilities. Accordingly, vacancies in an organisation calculated solely on the basis of staff departures would not necessarily correspond with an actual need for staff at any particular time.

As regards the Department of Finance, the position is as follows. The total number of staff serving (whole-time equivalent) on 27 March 2009 (the date of issue of the Department of Finance letter advising Departments and Offices of the Moratorium on filling vacancies) was approximately 608.5. The number serving at 17 November 2009 was approximately 579.5. Prioritisation of resource allocation in my Department, including the management of vacancies, is carried out on an ongoing basis, taking account of the recommendations of the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes. The Department is currently engaged in a restructuring exercise as a consequence of a number of retirements, both under the incentivised scheme of early retirement (ISER) and normal retirements, along with other departures. This process is still ongoing.

Based on the latest information available to officials in my Department, the number of vacancies in each of the other Votes within the Finance Group is as follows:

Vote

Vacancies (whole time equivalents)

Comptroller & Auditor General

24.9

Public Appointments Service

13.1

State Laboratory

3

Office of the Ombudsman

14

Valuation Office

22

Revenue Commissioners

305

Information is not yet available in respect of the Office of Public Works, and I have arranged for the relevant information to be communicated directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Departmental Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

65 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff employed in each Government Department at the end of 2007, 2008 and at the end of October 2009 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42430/09]

The number of staff employed in each Government Department at the end of 2007, 2008 and at the end of October 2009 is set out in tabular form below.

Non Industrial Civil Servants

2007

2008

2009

Dec

Dec

Oct

Department

36,619.65

37,421.35

36,387.87

Agriculture, Fisheries & Food

4,294.08

4,203.94

3,938.34

Arts, Sport & Tourism

171.30

174.43

149.70

Attorney General

128.68

127.89

122.59

Central Statistics Office

825.08

846.97

802.75

Chief State Solicitor

236.63

244.93

233.93

Commission For Public Service Appointments

9.00

12.00

9.60

Communications Energy & Nat. Resources

320.46

288.41

278.12

Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs

273.82

272.56

264.66

Comptroller & Auditor General

139.90

153.90

158.80

Courts Service

1,112.76

1,098.01

1,043.60

Defence

398.64

402.04

380.61

Director Of Public Prosecutions

191.60

196.80

194.92

Education & Science Group

1,600.88

1,660.58

1,602.04

Enterprise Trade & Employment Group

1,046.48

1,103.24

1,032.31

Environment Heritage & Local Government

1,275.92

1,204.42

1,116.06

Finance

658.13

630.57

605.36

Foreign Affairs Group

1,558.70

1,543.95

1,592.00

Health & Children

603.56

514.10

507.67

Justice Group

4,689.54

5,288.56

5,078.81

National Gallery

54.50

59.00

56.00

Office Of Public Works

700.58

721.83

683.36

Oireachtas

464.70

440.71

434.72

Ombudsman

85.49

93.73

87.63

Presidents Establishment

22.23

21.30

21.30

Prisons

3,501.15

3,641.17

3,583.87

Public Appointments Service

150.83

146.36

121.76

Revenue Commissioners

6,660.77

6,658.66

6,314.68

Social & Family Affairs

4,486.89

4,610.44

4,955.86

State Laboratory

89.20

91.05

94.35

Taoiseach

243.08

232.86

212.70

Transport

468.04

578.71

553.34

Valuation Office

157.03

158.23

156.43

The numbers correspond to full-time equivalent staff serving in General Service, Professional and Technical grades in the Civil Service for the period specified.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

66 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff, in each Department, who have been approved for the incentivised scheme of early retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42433/09]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in tabular form below.

In summary, the information reported to my Department by mid-November indicates that some 818 civil servants have had their applications approved for the incentivised scheme for early retirement (ISER). These Civil Service numbers are based on returns from all Departments and Offices.

In the wider public service, some 167 public servants have had their applications approved for the incentivised scheme for early retirement (ISER). However, it should be noted that information is not expected from the local authorities until later in November. Also, processing of applications under the ISER has been suspended in the health sector as a result of a direction by IMPACT and some other health unions to their members not to co-operate with redeployment. As the closing date for the scheme was extended to 23 October, and the monitoring process is continuing, additional information is expected to become available in due course.

Department — Ministerial Vote Groups

Civil Servants

Public Servants

Agriculture, Fisheries & Food

51

23

Arts, Sports & Tourism

2

6

Communications, Energy & Natural Resources

7

Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs

10

7

Defence

11

1

Education & Science

17

29

Enterprise, Trade & Employment

31

74

Environment, Heritage & Local Government

39

3

Finance Group

389*

Foreign Affairs

16

Health & Children

25

20

Justice, Equality & Law Reform

106

Social & Family Affairs

75

Taoiseach

16

Transport

23

4

Total

818

167

*Of which 322 are from the Revenue Commissioners.

Tax Code.

James Reilly

Question:

67 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the details of the tax relief for nursing home expenses; the number of persons benefiting from tax relief for nursing home expenses; the number benefiting for each of the past ten years for which most recent information is available; the cost per annum for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42445/09]

The position is that income tax relief is available in respect of nursing home fees under the heading of health expenses, in accordance with section 469 of the Taxes Consolidated Act 1997. From 1 January 2007, relief is available for expenditure incurred on health expenses by an individual in respect of him/herself or on behalf of any other individual. For all years up to and including 2006, relief was only available for health expenses incurred in respect of him/herself, a relative or an individual aged 65 years (or over) or who is permanently incapacitated by reason of mental or physical infirmity. The relief is available at the individual's marginal rate of tax in respect of nursing home expenses. The nursing home must be entered on the Revenue approved list of hospitals which is available on the Revenue website at http://www.revenue.ie/

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that data on claims for tax relief for nursing home expenses are not captured in such a way as to provide a dedicated basis for compiling estimates of cost to the Exchequer and numbers availing of the relief. Claims for this relief are aggregated in Revenue records with other health expenses claims. Accordingly, the specific information requested is not readily available and could not be obtained without conducting a protracted investigation of the Revenue Commissioners' records. However, information on the cost to the Exchequer and the numbers of claimants availing of health expenses tax relief generally is available for the income tax years 1998 to 2006 inclusive, the most recent year for which final data is available.

James Reilly

Question:

68 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the details of the permanent health benefits scheme; the number of persons benefiting from this for each of the past ten years for which most recent information is available; the cost per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42446/09]

The position is that income tax relief for contributions paid to permanent health benefit schemes is allowable in accordance with section 471 of the Taxes Consolidated Act 1997.This section provides relief for premiums paid to a permanent health benefit schemeapproved by the Revenue Commissioners which provides for periodic payments to an individual in the event of loss or diminution of income due to ill health. The relief is confined to an amount not exceeding 10% of the individual’s total income for any tax year. Information on the cost to the Exchequer and the numbers of claimants availing of the relief in respect of the permanent health benefit schemes is available for the income tax years 1998 to 2006 inclusive, the most recent year for which final data is available. The relevant figures are shown in the following table:

Year Ended 5th April or 31st December as specified

Numbers of Claimants

Estimated Cost of Tax Relief

€m

05/04/1998

N/A

3.4

05/04/1999

63,000

3.5

05/04/2000

65,100

3.8

05/04/2001

64,900

3.7

31/12/2001

22,900

1.5

31/12/2002

20,000

1.7

31/12/2003

20,300

2.0

31/12/2004

21,300

2.5

31/12/2005

21,600

3.2

31/12/2006

23,000

3.1

Relief for Contributions to Permanent Health Benefit Schemes

Part of the cost of contributions to permanent health benefit schemes, and the associated numbers of claimants, is not identifiable as a result of the move to a "net pay" basis for contributions by PAYE taxpayers from 6 April, 2001.

The numbers availing represent income earners who were in a position to absorb at least some of the tax relief and thereby give rise to an Exchequer cost. They do not include the numbers of potential claimants whose entitlements to other tax relief's were sufficient to reduce their liability to tax to nil without reference to the specific relief. The numbers availing are rounded to the nearest hundred, as appropriate. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

James Reilly

Question:

69 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the details of the tax relief for long-term care introduced in 2001; the eligibility criteria for same; the number of persons that have benefited from the relief since its introduction; the cost per annum for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42447/09]

The position is that section 470A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for tax relief, similar to that currently available for medical insurance, in respect of premiums on qualifying insurance policies designed to provide cover, in whole or in part, for future care needs of individuals who are unable to perform at least two activities of daily living or are suffering from severe cognitive impairment. The tax relief is available at the standard rate and will be given under a relief at source system, that is, the subscriber will be able to deduct the relief from the gross premium due. The amount deducted will be refunded by the Revenue Commissioners to the insurer. Benefits payable under a qualifying policy will not be taxable. Qualifying policies, which must be approved by the Revenue Commissioners, may be taken out by an individual in relation to him/herself, his or her spouse and children, and other relatives. No claims have been submitted to the Revenue Commissioners for relief under this section.

James Reilly

Question:

70 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the details of the incapacitated child tax credit; the value of the tax credit; the number of persons that have benefited from the credit for each of the past ten years for which the most recent information is available; the cost per annum for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42448/09]

The position is that section 465 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for a tax credit of €3,660 for the tax year 2009 where the claimant has living with him or her any child who, at any time during the relevant tax year to which the claim refers—

(a) is under the age of 18 years and is permanently incapacitated by reason of mental or physical infirmity, or

(b) if over the age of 18 years at the commencement of the year, is permanently incapacitated by reason of mental or physical infirmity from maintaining himself or herself.

If the child is aged 21 or over, the incapacity must have arisen before the child became 21 or while the child was in receipt of full time instruction at any university, college, school or other educational establishment.

The tax credit can also be claimed in respect of—

a step-child;

a formally adopted child;

an informally adopted child or any child in respect of whom the claimant has custody,

who meets the criteria set out above and who is maintained at the claimant's own expense. Where more than one child is permanently incapacitated, a tax credit may be claimed in respect of each such child. Information on the cost to the Exchequer and the numbers of claimants availing of the incapacitated child tax credit relief is available for the income tax years 1998 to 2006 inclusive, the most recent year for which final data is available. The relevant figures are shown in the following table.

Incapacitated Child Tax Credit

Year Ended 5th April or 31st December as specified

Number of Claimants

Estimated Cost

€m

05/04/1998

N/A

3

05/04/1999

9,400

3

05/04/2000

9,600

4

05/04/2001

9,100

4

31/12/2001

8,800

3

31/12/2002

8,800

4

31/12/2003

9,000

5

31/12/2004

9,800

5

31/12/2005

10,400

10

31/12/2006

11,000

16

The numbers availing of the credit represent income earners who were in a position to absorb at least some of the incapacitated child tax credit and thereby give rise to an Exchequer cost. They do not include the numbers of potential claimants whose entitlements to other tax credits were sufficient to reduce their liability to tax to nil. The numbers availing are rounded to the nearest hundred and the costs are rounded to the nearest million, as appropriate. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

James Reilly

Question:

71 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the details of the allowance for employing a carer; the value of the allowance; the number of persons that have benefited from the allowance for each of the past ten years for which the most recent information is available; the cost per annum for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42449/09]

Section 467 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, provides for a tax deduction at an individual's highest rate of tax in respect of the costs incurred by that individual of employing another person (including a person whose services are provided by or through an agency) to take care of him/herself, a spouse or a relative who, throughout the relevant tax year, is totally incapacitated by reason of physical or mental infirmity. The maximum amount allowable for tax relief is €50,000 for 2006 and subsequent tax years (€30,000 for previous tax years) or, if lower, the actual amount expended in the relevant tax year in employing the person.

An important point to note about this tax relief is that the person incurring the cost of the care, employs the carer. The tax relief does not apply where the carer is in business on his/her own account as a self-employed person. Information on the cost to the Exchequer and the numbers of claimants availing of the relief for employing a carer is available for the income tax years 1998 to 2006 inclusive, the most recent year for which final data is available. The relevant figures are shown in the following table.

Employed person taking care of an incapacitated individual

Year ended 5 April or 31 December (as specified)

Numbers of Claimants

Estimated Cost of Tax Relief

€m

05/04/1998

N/A

0.4

05/04/1999

400

0.4

05/04/2000

400

0.5

05/04/2001

500

0.8

31/12/2001

500

0.4

31/12/2002

600

0.6

31/12/2003

1,000

0.9

31/12/2004

900

1.3

31/12/2005

700

1.8

31/12/2006

800

2.8

The numbers availing represent income earners who were in a position to absorb at least some of the tax relief and thereby give rise to an Exchequer cost. They do not include the numbers of potential claimants whose entitlements to other tax reliefs were sufficient to reduce their liability to tax to nil without reference to the specific relief. The numbers availing are rounded to the nearest hundred as appropriate. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

James Reilly

Question:

72 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the details of the dependent relative tax credit; the number of persons who have benefited from the credit for each of the past ten years for which the most recent information is available; the cost per annum for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42450/09]

The position is that section 466 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 enables an individual to claim the dependent relative tax credit, currently €80 for a tax year if, in that tax year, the claimant maintains at his/her own expense:

(a) a relative of the claimant or of the claimant's spouse, who is incapacitated by old age or infirmity from maintaining himself/herself; or

(b) the widowed father (or the widowed mother) of the claimant or of the claimants spouse, whether incapacitated or not, or

(c) a son or daughter of the claimant living with the claimant on whose services the claimant, by reason of old age or infirmity, has to depend.

Entitlement to this tax credit is conditional on the individual, in respect of whom the dependant relative tax credit is being claimed, not having total income from all sources for the relevant tax year in excess of a sum equal to thespecified amount. The specified amount means an amount which does not exceed by more than €280 the maximum contributory State pension to which an individual, not necessarily the dependent relative, would be entitled if s/he were over 80 years, had no dependants, lived alone and was ordinarily resident on an island.

Where two or more individuals jointly maintain a dependent relative, the tax credit is divided between such individuals in proportion to the amounts or value of their respective contributions towards the maintenance of that individual. Information on the cost to the Exchequer and the numbers of claimants availing of the dependent relative tax credit relief is available for the income tax years 1998 to 2006 inclusive, the most recent year for which final data is available. The relevant figures are shown in the following table.

Dependent Relative Tax Credit

Year Ended 5th April or 31st December as specified

Numbers of Claimants

Estimated Cost of Tax Credit

€m

05/04/1998

22,100

1.1

05/04/1999

21,000

1.1

05/04/2000

20,200

1.1

05/04/2001

17,800

1.2

31/12/2001

17,800

0.8

31/12/2002

16,600

1.1

31/12/2003

16,000

1.1

31/12/2004

15,700

1.05

31/12/2005

15,200

1.02

31/12/2006

15,500

1.4

The numbers availing of the credit represent income earners who were in a position to absorb at least some of the dependent relative tax credit and thereby give rise to an Exchequer cost. They do not include the numbers of potential claimants whose entitlements to other tax credits were sufficient to reduce their liability to tax to nil. The numbers availing are rounded to the nearest hundred, as appropriate. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

James Reilly

Question:

73 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the details of the blind person’s tax credit; the value of the credit; the number of persons that have benefited from the credit for each of the past ten years for which the most recent information is available; the cost per annum for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42451/09]

The position is that, under the provisions of section 468 of the Taxes Consolidated Act 1997, an individual is entitled to the blind person's tax credit for a tax year during which he or she is blind. An individual may also claim a similar tax credit in respect of his or her spouse where the spouse is blind and the couple is jointly assessed to income tax for the relevant tax year in respect of which the blind person's tax credit is due. The blind person's tax credit is currently €1,830 per annum. Where a husband and wife are both blind and are jointly assessed the tax credit is €3,660 per annum.

A "blind person" is a person whose central visual acuity does not exceed 6/60 in the better eye with correcting lenses, or whose central visual acuity exceeds 6/60 in the better eye or in both eyes but is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision that is such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees. Information on the cost to the Exchequer and the numbers of claimants availing of the blind person's tax credit is available for the income tax years 1998 to 2006 inclusive, the most recent year for which final data is available. The relevant figures are shown in the following table:

Blind Person's Tax Credit

Year Ended 5th April or 31st December as specified

Numbers of Claimants

Estimated Cost of Tax Credit

€m

05/04/1998

900

0.3

05/04/1999

1,000

0.5

05/04/2000

1,100

0.7

05/04/2001

1,000

0.8

31/12/2001

900

0.5

31/12/2002

850

0.7

31/12/2003

850

0.7

31/12/2004

800

0.7

31/12/2005

900

0.8

31/12/2006

900

1.2

The numbers availing of the credit represent income earners who were in a position to absorb at least some of the tax credit and thereby give rise to an Exchequer cost. They do not include the numbers of potential claimants whose entitlements to other tax credits were sufficient to reduce their liability to tax to nil. The numbers availing are rounded to the nearest fifty, as appropriate. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

James Reilly

Question:

74 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the details of the tax concessions for disabled drivers and disabled passengers; the number of persons that have benefited from the credit for each of the past ten years for which the most recent information is available; the cost per annum for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42452/09]

The tax concessions available under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme for a qualifying person are as follows.

For a disabled driver, the relief (from VRT and VAT) is a maximum of €9,525, with excise relief on up to 600 gallons (2728 litres) of fuel per annum.

For a disabled passenger the relief (from VRT and VAT) is a maximum of €15,875, with excise relief on up to 600 gallons (2728 litres) of fuel per annum.

Organisations looking after the disabled are entitled to a relief of €15,875 per vehicle and excise relief on up to 900 gallons (4092 litres) of fuel per annum.

Vehicles coming under the scheme are also exempt from annual road tax.

In the year of purchase of a car a claimant receives benefits relating to the purchase of the car, fuel relief and road tax, in other years the benefits received are in respect of fuel and road tax. The number of claims for VRT relief under the scheme, and the cost of the tax concessions (VRT, VAT and excise on fuel) for the past ten years, is set out in the following table. The cost of the exemption from annual road tax is not readily available but it is estimated to have been around €8 million in 2008, bringing the overall cost of the scheme in that year to around €76 million.

Details of the reliefs over the past 10 years.

Year

Number of claims for VRT relief on the purchase of vehicles(a)

Costs of VRT, VAT and relief from excise duty on fuel

€m

1999

2,615

22.0

2000

3,399

27.0

2001

3,420

30.5

2002

3,806

34.7

2003

3,720

36.0

2004

4,447

45.1

2005

4,773

49.5

2006

3,612

59.3

2007

6,127

64.4

2008

6,405

68.3

(a)It is estimated that the number of people in the scheme is around 2.1 times the annual number of VRT claimants.

Departmental Reports.

James Reilly

Question:

75 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance his view on the recommendations of the interdepartmental review group made in 2002 on tax concessions for disabled drivers and disabled passengers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42453/09]

A special interdepartmental review group reviewed the operation of the disabled drivers scheme. It examined the current benefits, the qualifying medical criteria, the Exchequer costs, relationship with other schemes and similar schemes in other countries. The report also made a number of recommendations, both immediate and long-term, referring respectively to the operation of the appeals process and options for the future development of the scheme. The group's report is published on my Department's website. Some 13,000 people benefited under the scheme in 2008 at an overall estimated cost of €76 million. Any changes would have to be considered in the context of the annual budget.

Tax Code.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

76 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the revenue to the Exchequer that would be generated from a new 48% tax applied to income of more than €100,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42456/09]

It is assumed that the threshold for the proposed new tax band mentioned by the Deputy would not alter the existing standard rate band structure applying to single and widowed persons, to lone parents and married couples. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2010 incomes, of the introduction of a new 48% rate would be of the order of €375 million. (This amount represents an upward revision in the estimate given to a similar question, No. 265, on 3 November 2009). Given the current band structures, major issues would need to be resolved as to how in practice such a new rate could be integrated into the current system and how this would affect the relative position of different types of income earners. This figure is an estimate from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2007, adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2010. It is therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

77 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance if home mortgage holders are covered by the bank guarantee scheme of September 2008; if so, the number covered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42461/09]

As the Deputy will be aware the purpose of the bank guarantee scheme is to maintain, in the public interest, the stability of the financial system in the State by providing guarantees for deposits and other funding held by credit institutions operating in the State. In other words, money owed by the banks has been guaranteed. Home mortgages or other loans issued by the covered institutions to their customers are money owed to the banks and this has not been guaranteed.

Tax Code.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

78 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the retail volumes accommodated at the VAT rates 0%, 13.5% and 21.5%; if he will indicate specifically the volumes in regard to eat-in meals; his views on a reduction in the VAT rate in the eat-in meals sector which has been successfully introduced elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42465/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that statistical data is not available to provide a basis for estimating the precise information requested by the Deputy. However, with regard to the value of all goods and services liable to VAT, I would point out that goods and services at the zero rate of VAT account for approximately 10% of all goods and services subject to VAT, while around 39% of all goods and services subject to VAT are charged at the 13.5% reduced VAT rate. Finally the 21.5% standard VAT rate accounts for around 51% of all items subject to VAT.

The majority of basic foods sold by retailers are subject to the zero rate of VAT while most bakery products, excluding bread, operate at 13.5%. Confectionary and snacks are generally liable to VAT at the standard rate of 21.5%. Alcohol, soft drinks and bottled waters are liable to VAT at 21.5% in all circumstances. All hot take-away food is liable at 13.5% irrespective of the rate which would apply if it were supplied otherwise. Catered food, including the eat-in meal sector, operates at the reduced rate of 13.5%. While restaurant and catering services has only recently been specifically recognised as a service to which a reduced rate of VAT may apply under the EU VAT directive, Ireland has always applied the reduced rate to such services, because catering services were reduced rated in Ireland before 1991.

With regard to further reducing VAT in the eat-in meals sector, the Deputy will appreciate that it is the usual practice for the Minister for Finance not to speculate or comment in advance of the budget on what it will contain and I do not propose to deviate from that practice.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Frank Feighan

Question:

79 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance the number of cheques returned in banks (details supplied) from 1 April 2009 to 1 October 2009. [42470/09]

I do not have the information the Deputy requests. However, I have not received any reports that there is anything unusual regarding the volume of cheques being returned by the covered institutions, now or since the introduction of the bank guarantee scheme last year.

Consumer Price Index.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

80 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the basis for his statement on a programme (details supplied) on 13 November 2009 of the breakdown of the deflation rate among pensioners, unemployed people and so on; if he will publish the information available to him for each of these categories; the source of these figures; and the methodology used to calculate them. [42472/09]

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) produces a single Consumer Price Index (CPI), and does not produce a price index by head of household type or by household income. The CSO determines the Consumer Price Index (CPI) using average weights constructed with reference to the 2004-05 Household Budget Survey (HBS). Using generally recognised techniques, my Department has examined the impact of recent price falls on households by head of household type and income decile. My Department's analysis is based on these publicly available data and the CSO's latest CPI release. For various technical reasons, not least the changed pattern of expenditure since the last HBS, the results of this analysis are subject to qualifications. Nevertheless, this analysis suggests that average prices are falling for households in all income deciles and all household types (retired, unemployed, etc.). This work is ongoing and will be updated as more price data become available.

Notwithstanding my Departments analysis, it is a fact that the CPI fell by 6.6 per cent in the twelve months to October 2009. Some of this can be explained by the large falls in mortgage interest costs since this time last year. However, since the start of the summer the falls in prices have become more broadly based. In year-on-year terms, clothing and footwear prices are now down 13 per cent, food is down by 6 per cent and energy costs are down by about 11 per cent. So either way it is reasonable to state that all households are seeing their real incomes being somewhat protected by the falls in prices and that some sectors of the community are experiencing this to a different extent than others.

Tax Collection.

Richard Bruton

Question:

81 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the estimate for each tax category for year end 2009 and in 2010 which underpins the pre-budget tax forecast. [42510/09]

Richard Bruton

Question:

82 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the value of revenue expected to be raised in 2009 and in 2010 from income tax and from the new levy introduced in 2009. [42511/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 81 and 82 together.

The Supplementary Budget forecast total taxes in 2009 of €34.4 billion. With regards to Income Tax specifically, the Supplementary Budget forecast that €12.5 billion in Income Tax receipts would be collected in 2009, of which approximately €1.1 billion would come from the Income Levy. The Pre-Budget Outlook forecast that tax revenues will be in the region of €32 billion, around €2 billion below target, in 2009 and approximately €30.8 billion in 2010. At end-October, overall tax receipts were €1,074 million below target with the shortfall from Income Tax making up €625 million.

November is a key month for tax returns, in particular Income Tax, and, as usual, the November Exchequer Returns will be published on 2 December. The weakness in Income Tax is expected to continue in the final months of this year. The White Paper on Receipts and Expenditure will be published on 5 December and will set out the estimated end-year outturns for each tax-head as well as the White Paper tax forecasts for 2010 revenues on a pre-Budget basis. As is customary, Post-Budget tax forecasts for 2010 and later years will be published in Budget 2010.

Public Service Pay.

Richard Bruton

Question:

83 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the value of public service pay and of public service pensions in 2009 to 2012 which underpins the no policy change estimates; the average number employed; the value of the public service pension levy; and if this levy is included in appropriations-in-aid. [42512/09]

The table shows technical projections of the Public Service pay bill, for pay and pensions, from 2009 to 2012 underlying the figures contained in the Pre-Budget Outlook (PBO) published by the Department of Finance on 12 November.

2009

2010

2011

2012

€m

€m

€m

€m

Gross Pay & Pensions Bill

19,834

19,859

19,944

19,966

Net Pay & Pensions Bill

18,394

18,299

18,377

18,396

The pension-related deduction on public service remuneration is estimated to come to just over €900 million in 2009, and over €1 billion in a full year. The majority of this payment is collected as appropriations-in-aid across Votes. However, the pension-related deduction on public service remuneration from employees of Local Authorities accrues directly to Local Authorities and, as such, the Local Government Fund is reduced by the estimated amount of these receipts. Furthermore, a small amount is paid directly into the Central Fund of the Exchequer, which is collected from employees of the Central Bank, the Oireachtas and the National Treasury Management Agency.

Based on the information available to my Department, Public Service numbers were 282,827 at end-2008, excluding those working in the Local Authorities. As of end June, Public Service numbers are 282,115. The budget arithmetic for 2010 and subsequent years includes a savings figure of €300 million, reflecting numbers-related savings that are projected to arise from the Moratorium and other measures. It is not possible to be specific at this point as to precise average numbers employed across the Public Service in future years. The issue of the public service pay bill and public service numbers for future years will be dealt with in the forthcoming Budget.

Fiscal Policy.

Richard Bruton

Question:

84 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the number of taxpayers and their distribution across income categories in 2009 and 2010 which underpin his conclusions on the share of tax paid by taxpayers outlined in page 32 of pre-budget outlook. [42513/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is as follows in respect of the income tax years 2010.

Project Distribution of Income Earners for 2010

Tax year

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

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

%

Pre-Budget 2010

1,050,964

47.64

889,169

40.3

266,069

12.06

2,206,202

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.

Projected Contribution to Yield for 2010

Range of Gross Income

Numbers

% of Total Numbers

Amount of Projected Tax

% of Projected Total Tax

%

%

8000 or less

369,065

16.78

0

0.00

8,001 – 17,542

417,979

19.00

9,413,956

0.10

17,543 – 18,300

36,628

1.67

1,730,558

0.02

18,301 – 22,440

193,851

8.81

44,362,655

0.49

22,441 – 34,000

431,521

19.62

476,964,097

5.28

34000 – 40000

20,556

0.93

39,126,646

0.43

40,001 – 50,000

321,874

14.63

1,046,223,814

11.58

50,001 – 60,000

117,952

5.36

751,467,428

8.32

60,001 – 62,000

18,620

0.85

146,885,562

1.63

62,001 – 75,000

93,458

4.25

892,852,395

9.88

75,001 – 100,100

88,605

4.03

1,295,508,502

14.34

100,101 – 150,000

54,700

2.49

1,391,811,565

15.40

150,001 – 200,000

15,225

0.69

633,160,533

7.01

200,001 – 250,000

6,679

0.30

373,168,025

4.13

250,001 – 350,000

6,009

0.27

454,499,137

5.03

350,001 – 500,000

3,274

0.15

363,972,435

4.03

500,001 – 1,000,000

2,486

0.11

469,548,538

5.20

over 1,000,000

918

0.04

644,939,468

7.14

Overall Total

2,199,399

100.00

9,035,635,314

100.00

It should be noted that a typographical error occurred on page 32 of the Pre-Budget Outlook and should have read that estimates in relation to contribution to yield were for 2010 rather than 2009. This has been amended on the Department's website.

These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2007, adjusted as necessary to take account of data available at mid-year 2009 for income and employment trends for the year in question. This is therefore provisional and will 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.

Richard Bruton

Question:

85 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the projected interest payments on the public debt in 2010 to 2012 on the no policy change assumption and on the assumption of the annual adjustment proposed in the pre-budget outlook. [42514/09]

Table 6 of the Pre-Budget Outlook sets out the technical budgetary projections for the 2009-2010 period, based on the assumed €4 billion fiscal adjustment being achieved in 2010. On that basis the General Government deficit is stabilised at 12% of GDP and overall Central Fund expenditure of €7.4 billion is factored in. The bulk of this amount relates to debt interest costs, an estimate of around 16% of projected tax revenues was contained in the Pre-Budget Outlook for 2010. This is based on an assumed national debt of the order of €100 billion at end 2010.

Assuming further corrections in 2011 and 2012, as set out in Table 8 of the Pre-Budget Outlook, a technical scenario shows a General Government deficit of the order of 6% of GDP in 2012. If such a scenario materialises then it is likely that the national debt would be in the region of €30 billion higher than anticipated at end 2010. As a general ‘rule of thumb' the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) have advised that, based on technical estimates taking into account current debt dynamics, an extra €1 billion on the Exchequer Borrowing Requirement would add in the region of €60 million in debt servicing interest costs over a full year. As is usual, revised forecasts for debt servicing costs will be contained in the White Paper on Receipts and Expenditure which will be published on 5 December 2009, and in Budget 2010, which will be presented to the Dáil on 9 December.

Richard Bruton

Question:

86 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the nominal value of GNP and GDP in 2009 and 2012 implied by the pre-budget outlook and the assumptions therein. [42515/09]

In the Pre-Budget Outlook recently published by my Department GNP and GDP for 2009 is assumed to contract in real terms by 10½ per cent and 7½ per cent respectively. Predicated on the global economic recovery taking hold, positive real annual growth has been assumed from the second half of 2010 onwards. By 2012 real growth of 4 per cent in GNP terms and 4½ per cent in GDP terms has been assumed in the Pre-Budget Outlook. The nominal value of activity is expected to fall both this year and next before resuming an upward trajectory from 2011 onwards. The table below sets out the nominal values for GNP and GDP for 2009 and 2012. Taking account of the specific budgetary measures to be announced on Budget Day, revised medium term macroeconomic forecasts may be published.

€ million

GNP

GDP

2009

133,650

165,075

2012

144,325

181,850

Tax Collection.

Richard Bruton

Question:

87 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his estimate of the contribution of the housing sector to tax revenue in each year since 2000 to date in 2009. [42516/09]

Information in relation to taxes on housing is available in respect of value added tax on new housing and the maintenance and repair to all housing and in respect of stamp duty on residential and commercial property. More limited information is available in relation to Capital Gain Tax on residential and commercial property. The estimated yield are as follows:

VAT

Year

New housing

Housing repair and maintenance

Total

€m

€m

€m

2000

809

332

1,141

2001

927

382

1,309

2002

1,100

336

1,436

2003

1,541

332

1,873

2004

1,940

387

2,327

2005

2,405

436

2,841

2006

2,727

520

3,247

2007

2,487

566

3,053

2008

1,577

617

2,194

2009

549

469

1,018

Richard Bruton

Question:

88 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the amount of income receipts contributed by the top 5% of income taxpayers in each year since 2000 to date in 2009; and the percentage of total income tax receipts which it represents. [42517/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant historical information available relates to the income tax liability of the top 5% of income earners as derived from income tax returns filed for the income tax years 2000/01 to 2007, the latest year for which such information is available. On this basis the information requested by the Deputy is set out as follows:

Top 5% of Income Earners

Income Tax Year

Income Tax liability of top 5% of income earners

Percentage of total income tax liability from tax returns

€m

%

2000/01

3,089

39.5

2001

2,344

41.4

2002

3,272

42.0

2003

3,638

41.2

2004

4,148

41.2

2005

4,819

43.4

2006

5,440

45.4

2007

5,710

46.5

The figures in the table are based on details from tax returns on record at the time the data for each year were compiled for analytical purposes. This was generally based on coverage levels representing in or about 95% of all returns expected.

The 2001 income tax year was a short transitional tax "year" running from 6 April to 31 December 2001, which preceded the first full calendar tax year 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002. It should be noted that, as self-employed taxpayers were assessed to tax for the short "year" on 74% of the profits earned in a 12-month accounting period, the tax figure shown for 2001 in the table will not be directly comparable with those of earlier or later years. The tax liabilities of the top 5% of income earners are rounded to the nearest million as appropriate. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Richard Bruton

Question:

89 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the value of tax foregone in providing tax relief to pension contributions in each year since 2000 to date in 2009, distinguishing the relief against income tax, PRSI, health and other levies and corporation tax; and the number of persons receiving relief. [42518/09]

The following tables provide a breakdown of the estimated cost of tax and PRSI reliefs relating to private pension contributions for 2006 and 2007, the latest year for which the most up-to-date data is available. The 2007 figures represent an update of the relevant 2006 cost estimates set out in table 7.2 of the Green Paper on Pensions published in the Autumn of 2007. Figures have been rounded where appropriate. Corresponding estimates are also provided for 2005 to the extent that it has been possible to provide them on a consistent and comparable basis. As similar data sources would not be available for the years prior to 2005, it is not possible to provide costings on a similar basis for those years.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that sufficient data to enable estimates to be provided for the tax year 2008 are not yet available as the tax returns for that year, in which data on tax relief for contributions to personal pension plans (RACs and PRSAs) are available, are only now being made and processed. There is no data yet available to the Revenue Commissioners in relation to pension contributions in 2009.

2005

Estimate of the cost of tax reliefs on private pension contributions 2005.

Estimated costs

Numbers*

€ million

Employees’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

425

565,200

Employers’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

90

**296,500

Estimated cost of exemption of employers’ contributions from employee BIK

370

296,500

Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs)

358

121,200

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs)

42

32,900

*Numbers as included in P35 returns from employers to Revenue for 2005.

**Numbers of employees for whom employers are contributing to occupational pension funds as included in P35 returns to Revenue for 2005.

2006

Estimate of the cost of tax and PRSI reliefs on private pension contributions 2006.

Estimated costs

Numbers*

€ million

Employees’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

540

693,100

Employers’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

120

**363,100

Estimated cost of exemption of employers’ contributions from employee BIK

510

363,100

Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs)

435

125,900

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs)

55

45,200

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

220

Not available

*Numbers as included in P35 returns from employers to Revenue for 2006.

**Numbers of employees for whom employers are contributing to occupational pension funds as included in P35 returns to Revenue for 2006.

2007 (provisional)

Estimate of the cost of tax and PRSI reliefs on private pension contributions 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

Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs)

420

123,900

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs)

65

56,400

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

240

Not available

*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.

**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.

Health Service Staff.

Phil Hogan

Question:

90 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of the Health Service Executive posts of dedicated officer for elder abuse created as a response of her policy on elder abuse, Protecting our Future, that were the subject of mediation by a person (details supplied) under the terms of the final framework agreement agreed between the interim HSE and a trade union; the location; if records will be provided to verify this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42349/09]

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

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

91 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive’s service plan for 2010 includes the appointment of a consultant (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42356/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

92 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons waiting for an appointment (details supplied) in County Galway; the details for those placed on the urgent and non-urgent waiting list; and the average time spent on both waiting lists. [42357/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

93 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to set up a unit (details supplied) in County Mayo in view of the number of persons with arthritis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42358/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 91 to 93, inclusive, together.

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

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Michael McGrath

Question:

94 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an appeal under the health repayment scheme for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [42362/09]

The Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office is an independent office established to provide an appeals service to those who wish to appeal the decision of the Scheme Administrator under the Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006. The claimant lodged an Appeal Form with the Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office on 23 July 2007. An oral hearing with the independent Appeals Officer was arranged for the claimant on 1 November 2007. A second oral hearing was arranged on 19 June 2008. The appeal and oral hearings were supported by a substantial amount of documentation. The appeal continues to be investigated by the Appeals Officer. When the Appeals Officer has made a determination on this appeal he will write to the claimant and will provide the claimant with the reasons for the decision.

Hospital Services.

Shane McEntee

Question:

95 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the latest revenue income and expenditure for Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42368/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

96 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be renewed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [42376/09]

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

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

97 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 159 of 13 October 2009, the reason for the delay in the Health Service Executive responding to this query. [42394/09]

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

Michael Creed

Question:

98 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork had their medical card renewal application declined; if she will re-examine this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42398/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

99 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of permanent staff and temporary staff employed by the Health Service Executive at the end of 2007, end of 2008 and at the end of October 2009, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42426/09]

I wish to advise that the numbers (WTE excl. Career Breaks) of staff in the public health service at the end of 2007, end of 2008 and at the end of September 2009 (the latest data available), as recorded on the health service personnel census, are as follows:

31/12/2007

31/12/2008

30/09/2009

WTE Permanent

70,140

71,388

74,815

WTE Job-Sharing

3,485

3,123

2,785

WTE Temporary

16,197

14,084

12,076

WTE Locum

3,691

3,061

2,845

WTE Part-Time

12,587

14,393

12,703

WTE Sessional

822

470

146

WTE Training

4,582

4,508

4,819

Total WTE excl. Career Break

111,505

111,025

110,189

Note 2: Student nurses are included in the 2007 and 2008 employment ceilings on the basis of 3.5 students equating to 1 wholetime equivalent. The employment levels adjusted for this are 110,664 (Dec 07) and 111,001 (Dec 08).

Note 3: Data source — Health Service Personnel Census.

Note 4: October 2009 figures not yet available.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

100 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of social workers employed by the Health Service Executive at the end of 2007, end of 2008 and at the end of October 2009, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42427/09]

I wish to advise that the numbers (WTE excl. Career Breaks) of social workers employed by the Health Service Executive at the end of 2007, end of 2008 and at the end of September 2009, are as follows:

31/12/2007

31/12/2008

30/09/2009

Social Worker

1,048

1,062

1,065

Social Worker, Medical

141

140

140

Social Worker, (Non-professionally Qualified)

175

157

48

Social Worker, Principal

235

223

223

Social Worker, Psychiatric

33

32

32

Social Worker, Psychiatric Senior

1

3

2

Social Worker, Senior Medical

154

150

155

Social Worker, Team Leader

331

332

349

Social Work Practitioner, Senior

139

137

147

Total

2,256

2,236

2,161

Note 1: Data source — Health Service Personnel Census (October 2009 figures not yet available).

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

101 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of speech therapists employed by the Health Service Executive at the end of 2007, end of 2008 and at the end of October 2009, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42428/09]

I wish to advise that the numbers (WTE excl. Career Breaks) of speech therapists employed by the Health Service Executive at the end of 2007, end of 2008 and at the end of September 2009, are as follows:

31/12/2007

31/12/2008

30/09/2009

Speech and Language Therapist

248

242

240

Speech and Language Therapist, Clinical Specialist

12

12

13

Speech and Language Therapist Manager

62

62

59

Speech and Language Therapist Manager-in-charge III

6

11

10

Speech and Language Therapist, Senior

384

424

431

Speech and Language Therapy, Practice Tutor

1

1

2

Total

712

750

753

Note 1: Data source — Health Service Personnel Census (October 2009 figures not yet available).

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

102 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of public health nurses employed by the Health Service Executive at the end of 2007, end of 2008 and at the end of October 2009, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42429/09]

The number of Public Health Nurses (expressed in Whole Time Equivalent terms) employed by the HSE at the end of 2007, the end of 2008 and at the end of September 2009 (latest figures — data for October 2009 not yet available) were as follows:

Grade

31/12/2007

31/12/2008

30/09/2009

Director of Public Health Nursing

28.85

29.00

27.55

Director of Public Health Nursing, Assistant

164.63

178.82

168.17

Public Health Nurse

1,502.82

1,521.09

1,523.71

Public Health Nurse, Senior (Immunisation)

3.50

1.80

1.80

Public Health Nurse, Student

147.00

125.78

56.62

Total

1,846.80

1,856.49

1,777.85

Data source — Health Service Personnel Census.

Hospital Services.

James Reilly

Question:

103 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Dublin will expect to have a peg feed put in place at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42435/09]

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

Health Insurance.

James Reilly

Question:

104 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to replace the health insurance levy scheme with a risk equalisation scheme; the timeframe for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42454/09]

Following the Supreme Court Decision of July 2008 which found the Irish Risk Equalisation Scheme to beultra vires the Health Insurance Acts, I asked the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) to provide advice on how to support the operation of community rating in the interests of consumers in the changed circumstances. The HIA advised that the alternatives were either to reconstitute the Risk Equalisation Scheme in some form or to introduce some form of levy based or tax based loss compensation system.

I decided to introduce such an interim scheme and this was provided for under the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, covering the period 2009 to early 2012, when some payments will be made under the Act. The HIA has commenced work in relation to drafting a comprehensive risk equalisation / loss compensation system to replace these interim measures when they expire.

The HIA, the Department and I recognise the importance of putting this scheme in place to safeguard the principal of community rating, which is essential to the operation of the health insurance market in Ireland. In any community rated market, a comprehensive risk equalisation or loss compensation system is required in order for the market to operate in the best interests of all consumers. Without a risk equalisation or loss compensation system, insuring older or ill people will be loss making. As a result, insurers that cover a higher proportion of older people will be at a significant competitive disadvantage and insurers will seek to avoid insuring older people. It follows that, without risk equalisation or loss compensation, competition will not function properly and the market will operate counter to the interests of ill and older people. This is why it is the international norm for risk equalisation or loss compensation to apply in community rated markets.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

105 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 178 of 14 October 2009, when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [42457/09]

A reply to Parliamentary Question No. 178 of 14 October 2009 was issued to the Deputy from the Health Service Executive (HSE) on the 18 November 2009.

Children in Care.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

106 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 162 of 15 October 2009, when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [42458/09]

A reply to Parliamentary Question No. 162 of 15 October 2009 was issued to the Deputy from the Health Service Executive (HSE) on the 18 November 2009.

Hospital Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

107 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 27 and 28 of 17 September 2009, the position regarding Louth County Hospital; the reason this Deputy did not receive a response from the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42462/09]

I have received an undertaking from the HSE that a reply will issue to the Deputy within the next week.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

108 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has responded to a recent letter from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding Louth County Hospital. [42463/09]

I am considering the matter raised in the letter and will revert to Minister Gormley shortly.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

109 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will make a statement on the position regarding the outbreak of C. difficile at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, County Louth. [42464/09]

Achieving and maintaining the highest possible standards of hygiene in our hospitals and health care facilities generally is a priority for this government and for the Health Service Executive (HSE). Hygiene and infection control measures are key to the prevention of the spread of Health Care Associated Infection (HCAIs), including Clostridiumdifficile.

The HSE issued a statement on 28th October advising the public of an outbreak of C.difficile at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. Currently the hospital has 10 patients confirmed with C. difficile and 11 patients are symptomatic. As a precaution, if a patient dies who may have been exposed to or who had contracted C. diff, their death is notified to the Coroner, who is responsible for determining if C. difficile was the cause of and/or contributory factor to their death. Since 6th November in consultation with the Louth County Coroner the HSE’s Clinical Director has agreed that all deaths occurring at the hospital during the escalation phase of the outbreak will be notified to the Coroner as a matter of routine. Prior to 6th November two deaths involving C. difficile as a suspected contributory factor were notified to the Coroner and since 6th November, there have been a further four deaths in total at the hospital and they have all been notified to the Coroner. The HSE expects that a number of these cases will not be attributable to C. difficile.

I have been assured by the HSE that all appropriate infection control procedures and practices have been implemented at the Hospital. The Hospital's Outbreak Committee has been convened and is managing the outbreak. The Committee has in addition sourced specialists to assist with deep cleaning of affected wards and hospital equipment; specialist engineers have been drafted in to decontaminate most of the affected areas of the hospital and these measures will continue on an ongoing basis. Restrictions remain in place at the hospital and GP and ambulance services have been requested to refer adult patients with medical complaints to other appropriate hospitals.

Members of the public are asked to only attend the Emergency Departments at the hospital in the case of a genuine emergency and to contact their GP or out-of-hours service in the first instance. Visiting restrictions remain in place and where visitors are permitted they are being advised of the need for appropriate hygiene protocols including thorough hand washing. All elective admissions, including elective scopes have been cancelled until further notice. Measures have been put in place to deal with all Priority 1 endoscopy procedures i.e. urgent endoscopes for diagnostic to therapeutic purposes. Surgical services continue to be provided across the Louth Meath Hospital Group. Contingency arrangements are in place in Beaumont Hospital for Level 2 and Level 3 surgery (e.g. acute surgical or urgent elective).

As the outbreak continues all of the above are being reviewed on a daily basis and all appropriate measures will be taken to ensure timely access to quality safe services in line with patient need.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

110 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a full medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42488/09]

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

Rail Network.

Joe McHugh

Question:

111 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport the expenditure on the Belfast to Cork rail line of the €39.64 million funding designated to his Department by the EU’s Ten-T transport agency in the period 2002 to date in 2009; if the figures will be broken down into two categories Dublin to Cork and Dublin to Belfast; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42434/09]

The DART Underground project is part of Ten-T Priority Project 26 (Railway/road axis Ireland/United Kingdom/continental Europe). This project will connect the northern (Belfast) and southern (Cork) rail lines, although only electric powered (DART) trains may use the tunnel.

The planning and design phase of this project is being part funded by the Ten-T Executive Agency of the European Commission. The agency is providing funding of €10 million for the project which is 50% of the €20 million for the studies and preparation phase of the project. This funding covers the design and development process, geotechnical investigations and various surveys and studies that include topographical surveys, condition surveys, archaeological surveys and utility surveys. Whilst approval was also given for studies to be undertaken on the removal of speed restrictions on the Dublin-Cork-Belfast corridor, these studies were carried out internally by Iarnród Éireann and no Ten-T funding was utilised by the company.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

112 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will release a person (details supplied) employed by his Department for filling of vacancies at the agriculture office in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42359/09]

I refer the Deputy to my response to his Parliamentary Question No. 201 of 18 November 2009.

Crime Prevention.

Richard Bruton

Question:

113 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the operation of informal purchase of gold is regulated to ensure that it is conducted by suitable persons and is not facilitating the disposal of property acquired illegally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42380/09]

An Garda Síochána enforce the provisions of the criminal law in respect of theft and robbery, including theft and robbery of jewellery and precious metals. If members of the public have suspicions that goods being sold or traded may have been stolen, the correct action is for these suspicions to be referred to An Garda Síochána for investigation. My Department has no function in relation to the regulation of legal transactions in gold.

Deportation Orders.

Enda Kenny

Question:

114 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for a deportation order against a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42407/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that no deportation order has been made in respect of the person in question. In fact, the person to whom he refers was recently granted permission to remain in the State, under Stamp 4 conditions, until 9 November, 2010, following representations received under section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999. By way of background, I should add that a proposal to deport letter issued to the person concerned on 18 August, 2009 after it came to light that she had not registered with the Garda National Immigration Bureau during her time in the State.

Garda Strength.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

115 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether an extension for three years would moderate the short-term impact of retirements at senior level in the Garda Síochána which are probably motivated by concerns about tax changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42423/09]

The general retirement age in An Garda Síochána was increased by three years to 60 years of age in 2006 and this retirement age is compatible with national and EU legislation. The retirement age for Assistant Commissioner rank was recently challenged in the High Court which found that the setting of that retirement age was objectively and reasonably justified and was compatible with the Directive. I have no plans to change the retirement age. Notwithstanding the increased level of retirements this year the increase in personnel in An Garda Síochána nationwide means that the strength of the force reached an all time high in 2009.

The Garda Commissioner, mindful of the general moratorium on public service appointments and of the need to make a strong case for any exceptions, will continue to carefully assess the capacity available to him at a senior level within An Garda Síochána. The Commissioner's approach has been to identify those posts which are especially important for operational policing. Earlier this year, on foot of such a submission from the Commissioner, I obtained, as an exceptional measure, the sanction of the Minister for Finance to the filling of a certain number of positions at senior management levels in the Force. I also intend to keep the recruitment position under review during the course of 2010 in consultation with the Garda Commissioner and my colleague the Minister for Finance.

Citizenship Applications.

Jack Wall

Question:

116 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a naturalisation application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42437/09]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in June 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 processing of the application is at an advanced stage and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in the near future.

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.

Control of Firearms.

Willie Penrose

Question:

117 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider an appropriate payment system for the gun licence, which has recently been brought into law, whereby pensioners who are the holders of valid licences would only have to pay one year in advance rather than the three years that is demanded under the legislation; if he will consider the scheme proposed in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42459/09]

Following consideration of the matter within my Department, including discussions at the Firearms Consultative Panel, it was agreed that the fee for a firearms certificate should be the same irrespective of the type of firearm, to reflect the cost of processing the application and to simplify the system. The new firearms certificate will last for three years and the fee was calculated with a view to maintaining existing revenue flows and with this in mind, after consultation with the Minister for Finance, it was set at €80. I should point out that, as part of the transition phase of the introduction of the three year licence, existing licence holders received extensions to their old licences on an uncharged for basis for an average period of six months.

The new system is more modern, more thorough and more efficient and, as the Deputy may be aware, the fee had not been increased since 1992. The three year licence was provided for in the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and it is not possible to put in place the payment arrangements envisaged by the Deputy.

Visa Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

118 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an extended visa will be granted from three months to either six or 12 months in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42489/09]

Based on the information provided by the Deputy, the visa office has no record of the person referred to. It is however open to all persons resident outside the State, and who are visa required to apply to their nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate for the appropriate visa. 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 when making a visa application is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (www.inis.gov.ie).

Road Traffic Offences.

Noel Ahern

Question:

119 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the confiscation of vehicles for tax and insurance purposes; the number of vehicles confiscated or taken by the gardaí for the full year in which the most recent figures are available; if confiscation will be conducted for tax disc or insurance purposes; if it is mandatory or at the discretion of gardaí; if the rule or custom of giving 14 days to show papers at a Garda station has been abolished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42525/09]

Section 41(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1994 as amended, provides for the making of regulations authorising the detention, removal and storage of vehicles and their subsequent release or disposal when used in a public place. A member of An Garda Síochána is authorised to detain a vehicle when he or she is of the opinion that the vehicle is being used without insurance, road tax or driving licence. Section 41(3) of the Act provides that a vehicle shall not be disposed of before the expiration of a period of six weeks from the date of its detention or two weeks after notice of the intended disposal has been given in the prescribed manner, whichever is longer.

Section 40 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 as amended, provides for the production by a person of his or her driving licence for inspection. If he or she does not have the licence with them, a demand may be made that they produce the licence at a Garda station of their choice within ten days. Failure or refusal to do so is an offence and, under section 18 of the Road Traffic Act 2006, offending motorists may be liable on summary conviction on the first offence to a fine not exceeding €1,000, on the second offence to a fine not exceeding €2,000 and on the third or subsequent offence within 12 consecutive months to a fine not exceeding €2,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding 3 months.

The number of vehicles detained by members of An Garda Síochána under the provisions of section 41 of the Road Traffic Act, as amended, for the year 2008 (the last full year for which figures are available) is 25,593. Statistics are not recorded in a manner to identify the specific offence of no driving licence, no tax or no insurance for which vehicles are detained and it would necessitate the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources to collate such statistics.

Security of Aid Workers.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

120 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps he proposes to take unilaterally or in association with his EU or UN colleagues to discourage and prevent kidnapping of aid workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42485/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

121 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his proposals to ensure, through the aegis of the EU or UN, improved security for aid workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42486/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 121 together.

The welcome release on 11 November of Fr Michael Sinnott after 32 days held captive by kidnappers on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines is yet another reminder of the commitment and sacrifice that aid workers and missionaries make in providing assistance to the most vulnerable across the developing world, particularly in conflict zones. The security of aid workers is a priority for the Government and for aid donors internationally. We maintain regular contact with our partners at EU level and in the UN on the complex issues involved. A recent independent report on the provision of aid in insecure environments found that attacks against humanitarian aid workers have increased sharply in recent years, with 122 aid workers killed, 76 injured and 62 kidnapped in 2008. Some 60 per cent of these incidents occurred in three areas: Sudan, Afghanistan and Somalia.

It is clear that there are no simple security solutions for humanitarian aid workers operating in difficult and unstable situations, often during or in the aftermath of serious conflict. There is no comprehensive, universally applicable international convention on the protection of personnel engaged in humanitarian assistance. During armed conflict, or military occupation, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other relief organisations benefit from the protections provided by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. The 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and its 2007 Optional Protocol prohibit attacks on UN or associated personnel, including those deployed by a humanitarian Non-governmental Organisation under an agreement with the UN. They require States to take all appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security. Some NGOs and their personnel are also protected by the terms of specific bilateral agreements between a donor country and the State in which they operate as part of a programme of official development aid.

The role of the United Nations is particularly important in relation to the security of aid workers in humanitarian emergencies and in other volatile situations. The UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) plays a pivotal role, overseeing security management, and often making available resources for the wider humanitarian community, including information, security officers and dedicated security radio channels. Many NGOs cooperate with the UN on security matters, exchanging information, agreeing security standards and coordinating emergency planning. Given its vital security management oversight and coordination function, as well as heightened security concerns amid increasing attacks against UN and other aid workers in both Afghanistan and Somalia I recently approved funding of €500,000 to UNDSS for its work in the two countries.

The safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of UN personnel is the subject of a recently agreed resolution which will be put before the UN General Assembly in New York in early December. The resolution condemns all violence against humanitarian workers and urges that States act to ensure that such acts of violence are fully investigated, and perpetrators brought to justice. Ireland participated actively in the negotiations and, along with EU colleagues, co-signed the resolution. The issue was also raised in a very recent statement to the UN Security Council by the Irish Ambassador to the UN in New York, Ms Anne Anderson.

In addition, Ireland is presently co-chairing the international Good Humanitarian Donorship group of 36 donors — including all EU 27 Member States and the European Commission — which works to promote best practice in humanitarian aid and adherence to an agreed set of humanitarian donorship principles. In this role, we will schedule a detailed consideration over the coming months of the complex range of issues involved in assisting the security and effective operation of humanitarian aid workers.

Domestically, the Government continues to work with development NGOs on issues of access and security for aid workers. In 2009, the Irish Aid Rapid Response Initiative sponsored the attendance of representatives of a number of NGOs, including Concern, Christian Aid, Goal and Trócaire, at field security training courses for humanitarian aid workers run by the Defence Forces. The Department of Foreign Affairs also supports the work of Comhlámh, the Irish Association for Development Workers, in protecting the interests of development workers and volunteers. In particular, Irish Aid funded the development of the Cómhlámh Code of Practice for organisations sending volunteers to developing countries, which commits organisations to ensuring the protection, safety and well being of the volunteers. The Code also highlights the need to ensure that volunteers are fully informed about health, safety and security issues relating to their assignment. More than 30 Irish volunteering organisations are involved in this important initiative. Irish Aid also provides funding for a counselling service organised by Cómhlámh for aid workers when they return to Ireland. The Government will continue to work closely with both our international partners and with development NGOs in Ireland to ensure that the security of aid workers is safeguarded to the maximum degree possible.

Debt Relief.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

122 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will support the five objectives of a campaign (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42424/09]

Ireland has played an important role internationally on the issue of alleviation of the debt burden on developing countries. The Government's policy strategy was prepared jointly by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Finance, and was launched in 2002. It supports the total cancellation of the debts of the world's poorest countries. A joint review of the strategy is currently being undertaken by the two Departments and I expect it will be completed within the coming months.

Ireland's bilateral assistance to the developing world has always been exclusively in the form of grants rather than loans. The Government has also provided very significant resources for initiatives to ease or cancel the debt burden. There are two main international instruments which address the problem of the debt burden, the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) and the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The MDRI came into effect on 1 July 2006, and provides for cancellation of eligible debt from the World Bank, the African Development bank and the International Monetary Fund for many of the world's poorest and most indebted countries. Ireland's share of the total cost of debt relief provided by the World Bank under MDRI is €58.64 million. The Government contributed this amount in full in 2006. Ireland has also contributed over €20 million to the HIPC initiative, which is implemented by the World Bank and the IMF, with the objective of reducing the debt burden of qualifying countries to sustainable levels.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is working closely with the Department of Finance on the details of an updated debt policy strategy, taking account of developments since 2002, and of the views of interested parties. These include the organisation referred to by the Deputy, which has made a detailed submission to both Departments.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

123 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the sports inclusion disability officer programme will continue to be funded through the dormant account stream of Pobal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42409/09]

Special funding of €2.5 million was allocated from the dormant accounts fund for the appointment of 20 Sports Inclusion Development Officers (SIDOs) in Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) in 2008. The SIDOs were appointed on two-year contracts to provide opportunities for persons with a disability to participate in sport and physical activity.

A network of 33 LSPs have been set up throughout the country by the Irish Sports Council (ISC) to coordinate and promote sport at local level especially amongst 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 LSPs by the ISC for programmes and initiatives aimed at increasing participation in recreational sport. The ISC has allocated €6 million to the LSPs in 2009. The continuation of the SIDO scheme from 2010 will be dependent on the outcome of the 2010 Estimates deliberations.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Frank Feighan

Question:

124 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position regarding the swimming pool project for Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon. [42471/09]

Under the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme, which is administered by my Department, grant aid to a maximum of €3.8 million is provided to Local Authorities towards the capital costs of new swimming pools or the refurbishment of existing pools, subject in both cases to the total grant not exceeding 80% of the eligible cost of the project or, in the case of projects located in disadvantaged areas, 90% of the eligible cost. Proposals must comply with the standards set out in the Department's "Procedures for the Planning, Approval and Financing of Swimming Pools and Technical Guidelines."

Under the Guidelines there are four principal stages in a swimming pool project following the submission of a feasibility study. These, in order of progress, are: Preliminary Report; Contract Documents; Tender and Construction. Grant-aid is allocated only when tenders have been approved for the project and is capped at the time of allocation. The Department and its technical advisors, the Office of Public Works, evaluate each stage and Local Authorities cannot proceed to the next stage of a project unless prior approval issues from the Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism. I am informed that Roscommon County Council is currently evaluating tenders for the production of the Preliminary Report.

Tourism Promotion.

Michael Ring

Question:

125 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his strategy to rebalance the east-west divide in tourism spend here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42410/09]

Under the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003, the individual actions and measures relating to tourism promotion and development at regional level are day-to-day functions of the State Tourism Agencies.

Firstly, I should point out that, based on 2008 figures, the regions outside of Dublin earn 70% of all Tourism revenue. In this regard, the domestic market is an increasingly important component of tourism business in Ireland, particularly in terms of seasonal and regional spread, accounting for 28% of overall visitor revenues in 2008. Statistics on the regional spread of tourism in 2008 also show that 94% of holiday nights by domestic tourists were spent outside the Dublin area, with 92% of domestic holiday expenditure being generated outside the capital. This offsets, to some extent, the relative strength of Dublin in the overseas visitors market where it accounted for almost 37% of visitor revenues in 2008. The strength of Dublin, and indeed other urban destinations in Ireland, can be attributed to the global trend for more short urban breaks. This has improved the seasonality of Irish tourism but has made achieving regional spread of growth more challenging.

That said, the fact that all regions and sectors are not benefiting to the same extent from our tourism industry continues to be a matter for attention from the Department and the State tourism agencies as tourism policy and programmes evolve. I am confident that the regional tourism development strategies for the period 2008-2010 that have been prepared by the Regional Tourism Development Boards and are currently being implemented are facilitating the tourism industry to maximise its contribution to the regions, and that the various region-specific initiatives managed by Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland will further help to address this situation.

Furthermore, an extensive range of marketing, product development, festival and sporting events, training and business supports have been rolled out by the Tourism State Agencies under the Tourism Services budget of the Department. For example, despite cutbacks in public expenditure, the Government has maintained the core overseas marketing spend in 2009 at over €47 million.

A major focus of Fáilte Ireland activity in 2009 is on continuing to expand the home market with in excess of €3 million being invested in a year-round marketing programme including television, radio, press and outdoor channels to promote awareness of, and interest in, taking a break during 2009. The two key drivers of this programme are ‘'Value' and ‘Convenience'. In September, Fáilte Ireland launched an enhanced Autumn domestic tourism marketing campaign with special offers and discounts. In addition, €4 million is being invested in supporting local and national festivals as a critical attraction within the home holiday campaign for 2009.

Community Development.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

126 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if funding for community development projects will continue at current levels including a centre (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42413/09]

I refer the Deputy to Question No. 104 answered on 17 November 2009.

Proposed Legislation.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

127 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when she will introduce legal recognition of the acquired gender of transsexuals as mentioned in the revised programme for Government; when she expects to publish the relevant legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42367/09]

In the revised Programme the Government accepts the need to provide legal recognition for transsexuals in their acquired gender. I will be moving to progress this matter in the immediate future. The means by which legal recognition will be effected may include legislation and in any event will require careful consideration and consultation.

Social Insurance.

Richard Bruton

Question:

128 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of employer PRSI which was raised in the years 1982, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2002 and 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42382/09]

Richard Bruton

Question:

129 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount of personal PRSI which was raised in the years 1982, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2002 and 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42383/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 and 129 together.

The buoyancy of social insurance receipts is contingent on a number of factors including the ease of access to insurability, the buoyancy in the labour market, the earnings of workers and the applicable rates of social insurance. The numbers of insured population of workers has grown consistently over the period referenced. In 1982 the number of workers insured totalled 1,152,890. By 2007, the figure rose to an insured population of 3,002,276. Self-employed contributors entered into compulsory insurance from 1988 and as such are considered to be encompassed in the reference to personal PRSI during the specified years.

The information requested by the Deputy is set out as follows in tabular form.

PRSI Receipts

Year

Employer PRSI

Employee PRSI

Self Employed PRSI

Total PRSI

€000

€000

€000

€000

1982*†

Not available

Not available

Not insurable

829,552

1987*†

Not available

Not available

Not insurable

1,194 894

1989*†

Not available

Not available

Not available

1,402 315

1992†

1,272,928

522,532

89,660

1,885,120

1994

1,425,863

597,779

115,415

2,139,057

1997†

1,739,553

571,821

157,941

2,469,315

2002

3,520,443

974,219

252,455

4,747,117

2007

5,762,011

1,539,147

420,852

7,722,010

†The figures quoted are the euro equivalent of contributions collected in Irish pounds.

*A breakdown between employer, employee and self-employed of PRSI contributions received is not published in the statutory accounts for the relevant years.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

130 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Dublin will be allowed continue on the back to education allowance in view of the fact they were asked to go on a course by her Department; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that they did not get a qualification from the short period that was spent on a third level course in UCD; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that if they had to revert to jobseeker’s allowance they would be receiving the exact same amount of money from her Department; if she will allow them to continue on the course due to the fact that it will give them a better opportunity to secure employment in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42400/09]

The case in question is currently being reviewed and the Department will be in contact with the person concerned and the Deputy as soon as possible.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

131 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision on appeal will be forthcoming for a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42436/09]

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

Departmental Staff.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

132 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding the staffing levels at four social welfare offices in Mallow, Cobh, Bantry and Carrigaline in County Cork; the number of positions that have become available in these offices but have not been filled due to the employment embargo, the waiting periods for social welfare applications in these offices; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42468/09]

Details of the number of staff assigned to each of the offices in question are shown in Table A of the tabular statement. The recruitment embargo has not impacted on the staffing of the offices in question. In relation to the Department's Carrigaline office, work is in train on the assignment of four permanent staff. However, temporary staff are in place pending the assignment of the permanent staff. Due to accommodation restrictions in Carrigaline, three of the temporary staff are based in the Department's Cork offices.

There are accommodation issues in the Department's Mallow office that are being addressed at present. The need for additional resources will be reviewed and the necessary assignments made when the accommodation issues are resolved. The average processing times for claims decided in October was 3.14 weeks for jobseekers benefit and 7.38 weeks for jobseekers allowance. This is the average nationally and there are fluctuations between offices. Details of the waiting times at the offices in question are set out in Table B in the following tabular statement.

Table A — staffing levels

Office

No. of staff

Bantry

9.6

Carrigaline

22.5

Cobh

5.5

Mallow

8.9

Table B — waiting times in weeks

Office

Jobseekers Benefit

Jobseekers Allowance

Bantry

1.80

8.60

Carrigaline

1.67

7.67

Cobh

0.82

1.95

Mallow

3.77

5.34

Employment Support Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

133 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the terms on which persons would retain their social welfare entitlements while taking up a graduate placement introduced in 2009; the other criteria which apply to this scheme; and if it extends to cover secondary benefits. [42506/09]

The Work Placement Programme is designed to offer unemployed people, including unemployed graduates, the opportunity to obtain quality work experience. It is administered by FÁS under the aegis of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. There are two streams under the programme. One is for unemployed graduates who have attained a full award at level 7 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications, the other stream is open to all other unemployed people. Up to now, the programme has been confined to people in receipt of jobseeker's allowance who have been unemployed for 6 months.

The Programme, when introduced, provided for a period of six months work placement. This is being revised with effect from the 1st December 2009 to provide 9 months work experience. People who graduated in 2009 will now be eligible to participate in the programme. People of working age, on schemes such as jobseekers' allowance, jobseekers' benefit, one-parent family payments and disability allowance will now be eligible to be included in the programme. The period for which participants have to be in receipt of a social welfare payment in order to be eligible to retain their social welfare entitlements, has been reduced from six months to three months.

Participants will retain their payments and secondary benefits in accordance with the conditions governing the relevant social welfare scheme. Participation in the Work Placement Programme will not alter the rate of payment and will not curtail or extend its duration. Unemployed people who are not receiving a social welfare payment will also be eligible to participate but they will not be entitled to a payment. To register an interest in the Work Placement Programme, a person should contact their local FÁS office.

Social Welfare Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

134 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the minimum payment from a social welfare income; the ceiling level of eligible rent, mortgage interest and house insurance; the maximum duration of payment in respect of new claims for supplement towards private rents or mortgage interest payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42508/09]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme provides for a weekly or monthly supplement to be paid in respect of rent or mortgage interest to any person in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs. The supplementary welfare allowance scheme is administered by the community welfare service of the Health Service Executive on behalf of the Department. The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support, to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source.

Similarly, mortgage interest supplement provides short-term income support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only. Rent and mortgage interest supplement is subject to a means test which is normally calculated to ensure that, after payment of rent or mortgage interest, an eligible person has income equal to the rate of basic supplementary welfare allowance appropriate to their family circumstances, less a minimum contribution, currently €24, which each recipient is required to pay from his or her own resources. In accordance with the statutory qualifying conditions, rent supplement is normally paid for the duration of the period for which entitlement exists.

Rent supplements are subject to a limit on the amount of rent that an applicant may incur. The objective is to ensure that rent supplement is not paid in respect of overly expensive accommodation having regard to the size of the household and market conditions. Maximum rent limits are prescribed in regulations and are time limited so that they can be adjusted in the light of rent levels generally. Rent limits were reviewed earlier this year. In testing the level at which basic accommodation can be secured, the Department was informed by analysis of a number of data sources including data published by the CSO on trends in the private rental market. Rent limits and payments to existing rent supplement recipients were reduced to reflect the downward trends in the private rental market. A copy of the current maximum rent limits is attached.

Mortgage interest is defined in Section 187 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended). In accordance with this provision, a mortgage interest supplement may be paid on the full amount of interest payable, where the loan has been taken out for the purchase, repair or essential improvement of the sole or main residence of a person or to pay off another loan used for that purpose.

In addition, under Article 10 of the Social Welfare (Consolidated Supplementary Allowance) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 412 of 2007), a supplement towards mortgage interest may be payable where the Executive is satisfied that the amount of mortgage interest payable by the claimant does not exceed such amount as it considers reasonable to meet his or her residential and other needs and where the Executive considers it is reasonable to award a supplement having regard to the amount of any arrears outstanding on the loan. When considering if the amount of mortgage interest is reasonable to meet residential need, regard would normally be had to the household composition of the claimant and to the appropriate maximum rent limits in operation in that geographical area.

In accordance with the statutory qualifying conditions, mortgage interest supplement is normally paid for the duration of the period for which entitlement exists. In exceptional circumstances, the Health Service Executive may award a supplement where the amount of mortgage interest payable by a person exceeds such amount as the Health Service Executive considers reasonable to meet his or her residential needs. Such an exceptional supplement is payable for a maximum of 12 months from the date of the claim.

Maximum Rent Levels from 1st June 2009

Single person in shared accommodation

Couple in shared accommodation

Single person

Couple with no children

Couple with 1 child or one-parent family with 1 child

Couple with 2 children or one-parent family with 2 children

Couple with 3 children or one-parent family with 3 children

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

(7)

(8)

Dublin

92

92

122

186

930

1,110

1,110

Wicklow

92

92

122

177

880

1,110

1,110

Kildare

92

92

112

166

880

1,110

1,110

Longford

66

66

94

112

131

144

158

Westmeath

66

66

94

112

131

149

163

Offaly

66

66

94

112

131

149

163

Laois

66

66

94

112

131

149

163

Limerick

66

66

103

122

140

158

172

Tipperary North

66

66

94

122

140

158

172

Tipperary South

76

76

108

122

140

158

158

Clare

66

66

94

122

140

158

172

Louth

66

66

108

122

149

158

186

Monaghan

66

66

85

113

131

140

172

Cavan

66

66

85

113

131

140

172

Meath

66

66

108

131

163

177

186

Donegal

66

66

85

112

131

138

158

Leitrim

66

66

85

112

131

138

153

Sligo

66

66

94

112

140

158

158

Wexford

76

76

108

122

140

158

158

Waterford

76

76

108

122

140

158

158

Carlow

76

76

108

122

140

158

158

Kilkenny

76

76

108

122

140

158

158

Kerry

71

71

94

143

143

171

183

Cork

71

71

108

143

163

177

189

Mayo

66

66

108

108

163

180

180

Galway

66

66

108

131

163

186

186

Roscommon

66

66

108

108

163

180

180

The values refer to weekly values except for the values in Column 6, Column 7 and Column 8 for Dublin Kildare and Wicklow which are monthly values.

Richard Bruton

Question:

135 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the person eligible to apply for rent supplement; and the procedure where a person who has an emergency housing need would avoid the application of the six month renting rule. [42509/09]

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from another source.

The 2009 Supplementary Budget introduced new arrangements for access to rent supplement. In order to qualify for a rent supplement, from the 27th July 2009, a person must have been residing in private rented accommodation or accommodation for homeless persons (or any combination of these) for a period of 183 days within the preceding 12 months of the date of claim for rent supplement. A person may also qualify for rent supplement where an assessment of housing need has been carried out within the 12 months preceding the date of claim and the person is deemed by the relevant local authority to be eligible for and in need of social housing support.

In all other cases, a person who wishes to apply for rent supplement is referred, in the first instance, for an assessment of eligibility for social housing support by the local housing authority in the area where claim to rent supplement is made (and the person intends to reside). Only when the person has been assessed as being eligible for and in need of social housing support, does the person become eligible for consideration for rent supplement. The aim of this restriction on entitlement to rent supplement and the new working arrangements is to ensure that the housing authorities remain the principal agents both for assessing housing needs and for meeting the long-term housing needs of persons.

Detailed guidelines on the operation of the restrictions on access to rent supplement were issued simultaneously by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government to community welfare staff and local housing authority staff respectively. The Guidelines which issued to local housing authorities advised that they should deal with those presenting with an immediate housing need, by way of social housing accommodation or, where none is available, emergency accommodation until such time as a housing needs assessment is completed.

Where emergency accommodation is deemed not appropriate by the relevant local authority, the authority can prioritise the housing needs assessment for this household so that rent support can be provided sooner, where applicable. These procedures, where operated by local housing authorities, should ensure that those with an urgent housing need have their needs met in the most appropriate manner.

Richard Bruton

Question:

136 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if persons, who are on a partial jobseeker’s allowance, are excluded from back to education allowance to participate in career changing college courses arranged with Higher Education Authority support under the labour market activation programme; her views on relaxing rules to allow such persons receive support while participating. [42520/09]

The back to education allowance is a second chance educational opportunities scheme for people on welfare payments who wish to participate in full time education and who would not otherwise be able to do so. In order to qualify for participation, an applicant must be in receipt of a relevant social welfare payment for 3 months if pursuing a second level course or 12 months if pursuing a third level course. The qualifying period for access to third level courses is reduced to 9 months for those who are participating in the National Employment Action Plan process or engaging with the Department's facilitator programme. People who are awarded statutory redundancy may access the scheme immediately, provided an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study.

The back to education allowance is paid at a standard weekly rate equivalent to the maximum rate of the relevant social welfare payment that qualifies the person to participate in the scheme. Consequently a person (a) that satisfies the qualifying period outlined above and is (b) on a reduced rate of jobseeker's allowance would have their rate increased if approved for the back to education allowance. The Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment, the Department of Education and Science and the Higher Education Authority have undertaken a joint initiative to provide 1,500 part-time undergraduate places and 1,000 part-time postgraduate places to people who are unemployed and on the live register for at least 6 months or have an entitlement to statutory redundancy.

A jobseeker who wishes to participate in a part-time course may do so under the Department's part-time education option (PTEO). Participants may continue to receive their existing social welfare entitlements provided they continue to satisfy all the existing terms and conditions of their jobseeker scheme. Participation on a part-time course does not attract any increase in the rate of payment or any extension of the payment period. There is no requirement to be unemployed for a certain length of time before commencing a part-time course of education. Approval to undertake a part-time course must be obtained in advance from the local social welfare office. The conditions of the back to education programme will continue to be monitored in the context of the objectives of the schemes and changes in the economic climate.

Defence Forces Reserve.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

137 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the strength of the Army Reserve including Navy and Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42476/09]

I am advised by the Military authorities that the strength of the Reserve Defence Force as at 31 October, 2009 was 6,853, comprising Army 6,560, and Naval Service 293. In the context of the Government Decision on the implementation of savings measures on public service numbers and the reduced budgetary provision available for 2009, all recruitment to the RDF was suspended earlier this year. Following a review and examination of RDF personnel numbers and budget, I was satisfied that there would be sufficient provision to allow for paid training for existing members of the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve this year. Accordingly, I approved the commencement of limited recruitment to fill vacancies which may arise due to existing Army Reserve or Naval Service Reserve members resigning or being discharged during 2009, in the normal manner. This is subject to the overall strength figure that existed at 1 January 2009 (7,671) not being exceeded. Progress on recruitment is being reviewed periodically.

Defence Forces Equipment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

138 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which the technology available to the Defence Forces here is kept up to date in line with best international practice and requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42477/09]

I am satisfied that each of the services, Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are fully equipped to meet the roles assigned to them by Government. Significant investment has taken place in recent years across all facets and elements of the Defence Forces. This investment has been assisted by pay savings arising from the reduction in the strength of the Permanent Defence Force in the context of the White Paper of 2000, which have been fully re-invested in the provision of equipment and infrastructure for the Defence Forces. The level of investment has ensured that Defence Forces personnel have the most modern and effective range of equipment and technology available, on a par with the best international practice and requirements, to carry our their day-to-day roles both at home and overseas and for training purposes.

Overseas Missions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

139 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if Irish troops due for deployment overseas are given adequate opportunity to train alongside their fellow peacekeepers prior to deployment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42478/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

140 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence his plans to maintain the strength of the Army, Navy and Air Corps; his further plans to improve, increase or enhance the scale and quality of training and the provision of equipment in line with standards throughout the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42479/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

145 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if he will give an assurance that the training and equipment standards of the Defence Forces will continue in line with best international standards and practices having particular regard for the likelihood of overseas deployment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42484/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 139, 140 and 145 together.

The Permanent Defence Force receives ongoing training to enable them to participate fully in UN, EU and other missions overseas. Troops selected for overseas service undergo a rigorous programme of training, designed to help them carry out their peacekeeping mission and to provide for their protection. Pre-deployment training is updated on an ongoing basis in the light of any changes in the threat assessment or mission requirements.

The Defence Forces are also involved in interoperability training and technical developments in co-ordination with UN and EU partners. For example, the Defence Forces took part in Exercise Illuminated Summer in Autumn 2007, as part of the main interoperability exercise, during Ireland's membership of the Nordic Battlegroup 2008. The Defence Forces have also participated in a range of desktop and command post exercises based on realistic peacekeeping scenarios. Defence Forces training is based on and updated in accordance with best practice international training standards.

Ireland, in common with other neutral EU Member States who are members of Partnership for Peace (PfP), participates in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) mechanism for planning in relation to peace support operations. The scope of Ireland's involvement in PARP is focused on enhancing interoperability so that Defence Forces personnel can operate efficiently and effectively in a multi-national environment.

Defence Forces personnel serving on all overseas missions are equipped with the most modern and effective equipment. This equipment enables troops to carry out the mission assigned, as well as providing the required protection specific to the mission. Ongoing threat assessments are carried out in mission areas and we continually review both personal equipment and force assets, to ensure that Defence Forces personnel are appropriately equipped to fulfil their roles. I am satisfied that Defence Forces personnel serving overseas receive, and will continue to receive, the necessary training and equipment to enable them to carry out their duties in a professional manner.

The White Paper on Defence of February 2000 sets out a figure of 10,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force comprising 930 for the Air Corps, 1,144 for the Naval Service and 8,426 for the Army. I am advised by the military authorities that on 31 October 2009, the most recent date for which figures are available, the actual total of the Permanent Defence Force was 10,013, comprising 807 Air Corps, 1,031 Naval Service and 8,175 Army personnel. In the context of the Government decision on the implementation of savings measures on public service numbers and the reduced budgetary provision available for 2009, all recruitment, promotions and appointments to acting positions were suspended.

My focus at this point in time is on ensuring that the Defence Forces retain operational capability. I am acutely aware of the impact of the moratorium on the Permanent Defence Force, particularly in light of the very high turnover rate that is part of any military organisation. I am in ongoing contact with my colleague, the Minister for Finance, regarding limited exceptions to the moratorium, which are targeted at maintaining the operational capability and command arrangements of the Permanent Defence Force. To date I have succeeded in achieving sanction to fill a number of key posts, including Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations), two Brigadier-General posts, Director of Military Prosecutions as well as achieving agreement to recruit 42 cadets for which the competition has recently been run. In addition, sanction was granted for 42 acting appointments for our mission to Chad and 20 for Kosovo.

I am advised that at this time the Defence Forces retain the capacity to undertake the tasks laid down by Government at home and overseas and the situation is being monitored on an ongoing basis.

Questions Nos. 141 to 143, inclusive, answered with Question No. 17.
Question No. 144 answered with Question No. 38.
Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 139.

Defence Forces Strength.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

146 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the total strength of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps in each of the past five years to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42522/09]

The strength of the Army for each of the past 5 years and as of 31 October, 2009 is set out in the tabular statement. This statement also provides figures for the Air Corps and the Naval Service for the same period.

The White Paper on Defence of February 2000 sets out a figure of 10,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force comprising 930 for the Air Corps, 1,144 for the Naval Service and 8,426 for the Army. I am advised by the military authorities that on 31 October 2009, the most recent date for which figures are available, the actual total of the Permanent Defence Force was 10,013 comprising 807 Air Corps, 1,031 Naval Service and 8,175 Army personnel. In the context of the Government decision on the implementation of savings measures on public service numbers and the reduced budgetary provision available for 2009, all recruitment, promotions and appointments to acting positions was suspended.

I am advised that at this time the Defence Forces retain the capacity to undertake the tasks laid down by Government at home and overseas and the situation is being monitored on an ongoing basis. My focus at this point in time is on ensuring that the Defence Forces retain operational capability. Planned expenditure levels for my Department will be considered as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2010. This will include consideration of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes.

End of Year Personnel Strength 2004-2008 and End Octobter 2009

Year

Army

Navy

Air Corps

Overall

OFFR

NCO

PTE

Total

OFFR

NCO

PTE

Total

OFFR

NCO

PTE

Total

OFFR

NCO

PTE

Total

2004

1,040

3,072

4,480

8,592

156

490

442

1,088

140

398

333

871

1336

3,960

5,255

10,551

2005

1,052

3,060

4,427

8,539

163

471

421

1,055

134

403

315

852

1,349

3,934

5,163

10,446

2006

1,060

3,030

4,442

8,532

164

506

412

1,082

136

383

346

865

1,360

3,919

5,200

10,479

2007

1,049

2,947

4,516

8,512

159

487

431

1,077

137

383

325

845

1,345

3,817

5,272

10,434

2008

1,071

2,970

4,466

8,507

160

495

415

1,070

147

380

305

832

1,378

3,845

5,186

10,409

Oct 2009

1,063

2,879

4,233

8,175

160

483

388

1,031

142

373

292

807

1,365

3,735

4,913

10,013

Social and Affordable Housing.

Phil Hogan

Question:

147 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of persons who have drawn down home choice loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42373/09]

Richard Bruton

Question:

157 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the volume of activity for home choice loan and the equity loan for each of the past four quarters for which data are available in each of the four Dublin local authorities. [42502/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 157 together.

The Home Choice Loan scheme is operated by four local authorities acting on a regional basis. Dublin City Council administers the scheme on behalf of the four Dublin authorities, as well as Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow County Councils. The table shows activity under the scheme in the region administered by Dublin City Council. The information is available on a regional basis only.

Dublin Region

2009

Applications

Declined

Approved

Q1

9

9

Q2

9

9

Q3

2

1

1

Q4

1

1

Total

21

20

1

While provision has been made in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 for the introduction of new, equity-based Affordable Dwelling purchase arrangements to replace existing affordable housing schemes, the scheme has not yet been commenced.

Control of Dogs.

Michael Creed

Question:

148 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he will introduce new regulations restricting the rights of persons to own dangerous breeds of dogs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42374/09]

The Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 place controls on the following ten breeds of dogs : American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Mastiff, Doberman Pinscher, English Bull Terrier, German Shepherd (Alsatian), Japanese Akita, Japanese Tosa, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and every type of dog commonly known as a Ban Dog (or Bandog).

The controls, which must be observed when the dog is in a public place, require that these dogs, or strains or crosses thereof, must be kept on a short lead by a person over 16 years of age who is capable of controlling them and that they be securely muzzled. Furthermore the Control of Dogs Act 1986 gives specific powers to the courts to order that a dog, which the court considers dangerous, must be kept under control or be destroyed. It is a matter for the Gardaí and the local authority to deal with enforcement of the regulations. I do not propose to introduce new regulations at this time.

Radon Gas.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

149 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the average cost of each radon detector unit as supplied by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42396/09]

The cost of each radon measurement kit for sale from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) is €56. Measurement kits are also available from private service providers at a range of similar costs. I would strongly encourage householders living in High Radon Areas to have their homes tested for radon. If the level is high it is important that the appropriate remediation measures are put in place to bring radon concentrations down to safe levels. Information on High Radon Areas and appropriate remediation measures for homes with high levels of radon is available on the website of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (www.rpii.ie).

Departmental Agencies.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

150 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the annual operating budget for the Radiological Protection Institute for 2009; the projected budget for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42397/09]

The total operating budget for the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) for 2009 is €5.485 million of which €3.945 million is Exchequer funded and €1.540 million is estimated earned fees for services. Pending publication of 2010 estimates, it is not possible to provide the RPII projected budget for 2010 at this time.

Architectural Heritage.

Chris Andrews

Question:

151 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will make a recommendation to the Dublin City Council planning authority to include the Poolbeg chimneys in Dublin 4 in its record of protected structures. [42404/09]

Chris Andrews

Question:

152 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will undertake a national inventory of architectural heritage survey for Dublin. [42405/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.

Delivery of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) project is well advanced with a substantial body of survey work published and accessible on the Buildings of Ireland website at www.buildingsoflireland.ie. Substantive work is underway on 6 surveys around the country. The initial scoping of the NIAH survey for Dublin City has commenced. The survey will represent a significant undertaking and considerable further planning is required. In the interim, Dublin City Council maintains a Record of Protected Structures and has continued to add structures to it. Generally, it is not the practice to issue Ministerial recommendations to planning authorities in advance of the completion of the relevant NIAH survey.

Local Authority Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

153 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of permanent staff and temporary staff employed by each local authority at the end of June 2008, end of September 2008, end of June 2009, and the end of September 2009, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42425/09]

The numbers of permanent and temporary staff employed by each local authority at the end of June 2008, end of September 2008, end of June 2009, and the end of September 2009, as supplied to my Department by each Local Authority, expressed as whole time equivalents, are shown in the attached table. Under the terms of the Government's decision on implementation of savings in public service, no public service post, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade. This decision is effective from 31 March 2009. My Department has, accordingly, written to all local authorities requesting their compliance.

The Department of Finance has recently approved a delegated sanction to my Department for implementation of the general moratorium on the filling of public sector posts in the Local Authority Sector, on the condition that the overall staffing levels in the local authority sector are to be reduced significantly by the end of 2010 in adherence with the Government's Policy on Staffing and Numbers in the Public Sector.

Under the new arrangements which issued to the local authority sector on 20 August 2009, Local Authorities are expected, where vacancies arise, to consider options for reorganisation and reallocation of work to meet requirements. Any exceptions to this principle, which will arise in very limited circumstances, require sanction from my Department.

Permanent

Temporary

Local Authority

June 08

Sept. 08

June 09

Sept. 09

June 08

Sept. 08

June 09

Sept. 09

Cork City

1,422

1,422

1,410

1,408

108

106

54

41

Dublin City

6,577

6,759

6,573

6,538

749

212

146

131

Galway City

428

415

415

418

136

136

78

69

Limerick City

544

518

519

516

55

49

31

19

Waterford City

395

386

379

375

96

91

72

56

Carlow

320

320

306

301

66

41

28

25

Cavan

452

467

434

441

40

22

16

20

Clare

768

773

745

749

141

146

114

97

Cork

2,416

2,418

2,360

2,335

548

428

119

89

Donegal

980

987

989

980

364

299

154

83

Dun Laoghaire

1,198

1,200

1,139

1,145

199

87

94

70

Fingal

1,535

1,528

1,478

1,464

161

100

51

47

Galway

880

875

864

850

291

206

157

107

Kerry

1,156

1,163

1,172

1,167

267

227

123

90

Kildare

900

908

920

917

328

200

71

56

Kilkenny

560

559

562

550

147

99

45

34

Laois

381

385

412

386

61

65

26

24

Leitrim

311

313

308

299

55

47

15

12

Limerick

760

760

729

722

103

57

33

30

Longford

338

351

324

311

54

51

31

26

Louth

696

711

694

691

67

35

19

15

Mayo

1,090

1,096

1,138

1,131

137

136

170

145

Meath

630

634

645

652

223

168

109

77

Monaghan

434

436

432

428

47

33

18

14

Offaly

444

457

462

459

95

46

27

27

Roscommon

525

529

525

520

58

60

53

36

Sligo

526

528

513

511

90

71

47

32

South Dublin

1,278

1,288

1,257

1,246

203

192

181

169

Tipperary North

554

476

497

48 1

155

123

101

42

Tipperary South

676

676

673

664

45

43

13

9

Waterford

529

529

531

530

77

75

65

40

Westmeath

480

482

472

472

119

85

43

35

Wexford

787

791

790

775

123

102

56

53

Wicklow

762

755

759

750

160

186

117

144

Nuclear Plants.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

154 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the level of engagement his Department and other relevant State agencies have had with the British authorities concerning the British Government’s plans to develop seven new nuclear power stations; if he is satisfied the proposed facilities conform with international safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42473/09]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 276 of 18 November 2009, which outlines the current position on this matter.

Town Boundaries.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

155 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the proposals by Midleton Town Council, County Cork, to make alterations to the town’s boundary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42500/09]

Midleton Town Council applied for a boundary alteration in 2006. The extent of the change to the boundary sought by the Town Council was opposed by Cork County Council. My Department wrote to Midleton Town Council in December 2007 stating that I considered it inappropriate to proceed with the application for a number of reasons, including the lack of agreement between town and county, the passage of time since the initiation of the proposal, and the ongoing process of local government reform. The forthcoming White Paper on Local Government, which I will shortly bring to Government, will address a broad suite of local government issues, including in relation to boundary alterations.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Richard Bruton

Question:

156 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the terms and conditions governing home choice loan, shared ownership schemes, equity loans and standard mortgages from the local authorities; and the mortgages charge, the mortgages protection charge, the rental charge per €100,000 capital value of the house and the percentage variable or fixed rates on which they are based. [42501/09]

I have arranged for details of the eligibility criteria for the Home Choice Loan Scheme, Affordable Housing, Shared Ownership and Local Authority house purchase loans to be sent directly to the Deputy. It should be noted that while provision was made in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 for the replacement of existing affordable housing schemes with a single, equity based Affordable Dwelling Purchase Scheme, this has not yet been commenced.

Under the local authority mortgage protection scheme, an annual premium of 0.56% applies to the capital outstanding. This scheme was recently enhanced to provide cover for the rental portion of shared ownership. This is charged at an annual premium of 0 .334% of the capital outstanding.

Under the shared ownership scheme houses are acquired by a local authority and leased to the shared owner, who purchases at least 40% of the value of the house and rents the remaining equity from the local authority. The shared owner must purchase full ownership outright within 30 years. For transactions commenced on or after 1 January 2003, the annual rent is calculated at 4.3% of the value of the local authority equity and, thereafter, is increased by a fixed 4.5% on 1 July each year. For transactions entered into between 1 May 1998 up to 31 December 2002, rent is calculated at 4½% (5% before 1 May 1998) of the value of the local authority share updated on 1 July each year by reference to the most recently published CPI.

Home Choice loans are available at a standard variable rate only. This is currently 3.35%. Local authority house purchase loans are available at either variable or five year fixed rates. The current variable rate is 2.25% while the five year fixed rate is 4.4%.

In terms of other fees, the administration and processing of applications under the various affordable housing schemes is a matter for individual local authorities, and one in which my Department has no direct function. Accordingly, my Department does not have detailed information on the range of fees applied by individual authorities in providing access to prospective purchasers of affordable housing.

Question No. 157 answered with Question No. 147.

Richard Bruton

Question:

158 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of new social housing units constructed; the number of new rental accommodation scheme tenancies entered into in each of the past four quarters for which data is available in each of the Dublin local authorities. [42503/09]

Information in relation to activity under the range of housing programmes, including construction, for 2008 and Quarter 1 of 2009 is set out in my Department's annual and quarterly Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas library and on my Department's website, www.environ.ie. Information in relation to Quarter 2 of 2009 will be published shortly in the 2009 Quarter 2 Housing Statistics Bulletin.

Information in relation to the number of households accommodated under the Rental Accommodation Scheme in the past 4 quarters is set out in the following table.

Number of households transferred to the Rental Accommodation Scheme during the past four quarters:

Oct-Dec 2008

Jan-Mar 2009

Apr-Jun 2009

Jul-Sept 2009

Total

Dublin City

134

88

98

119

439

Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown

22

8

26

25

81

Fingal

42

14

38

22

116

South Dublin

73

93

77

72

315

Total

271

203

239

238

951

In addition to the above households being transferred to RAS accommodation, a further 757 rent supplement households have been accommodated by the local authorities in other social housing accommodation. This information is set in the following table.

Number of new rent supplement transfers to other social housing options during the Quarters shown as follows:

Oct-Dec 2008

Jan-Mar 2009

Apr-Jun 2009

Jul-Sept 2009

Total

Dublin City

70

53

48

38

209

Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown

14

26

70

50

160

Fingal

17

10

49

43

119

South Dublin

89

26

60

94

269

Total

190

115

227

225

757

Housing Grants.

Richard Bruton

Question:

159 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of local authorities that are continuing to accept applications under the housing aid, mobility aids and housing adaption disability schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42504/09]

Allocations totalling €79.562 million for 2009 were notified to local authorities under the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for Older People and People with a Disability, the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme and the older Disabled Persons and Essential Repairs Grant Schemes on 7 May 2009. Having regard to the continued priority which the Government attaches to these schemes and following an evaluation of the ongoing level of demand for grants, the level of expenditure to date and the capacity of local authorities to process and approve additional applications in the current year, I approved a supplementary allocation of approximately €12.5 million to some 26 local authorities on 12 October, 2009.

The detailed administration of the grant schemes, including the assessment and approval of applications and the payment of grants to individual applicants, is the responsibility of the relevant local authority. It is a matter for each local authority to decide on the specific level of funding to be directed towards each of the individual schemes, from within the allocation notified to them by my Department, and to manage the operation of the schemes in their areas from within their allocation. While my Department has not been formally advised of any local authorities having discontinued the schemes in their areas, they are very heavily subscribed and available funding has been heavily committed in many areas.

Television Licence Fee.

Tom Sheahan

Question:

160 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on whether it is equitable and fair that members of an organisation (details supplied) have to pay a television licence fee of €160 for every unit whereas a 100 bed hotel has to pay only one television licence; if he will rescind this charge in order that members of this organisation and Bord Fáilte approved pay for one television licence in line with their competitors in the hotel sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42411/09]

Currently every premises in Ireland that has a television must have a television licence and no commercial television licence system operates. Section 144 of the Broadcasting Act, 2009 provides for the introduction of regulations in relation to different classes of licences in respect of different classes of premises e.g. commercial premises. The future development of any regulations in this area will take the matters raised by the Deputy into account.

Pension Provisions.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

161 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, further to Parliamentary Question 404 of 10 November 2009, the approximate date for the resolution to the discussions on RTÉ pensions; the reason it is inappropriate to answer questions on specific aspects or clauses by elected Members; if he will support the employees in having the reckonable service back-dated. [42377/09]

As I stated in my reply to the Deputy's previous question on this issue, approval of any RTÉ superannuation pension scheme is required under Section 91 of the Broadcasting Act 2009. A scheme submitted to me under this section shall, if approved of by me with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, be carried out by RTÉ in accordance with its terms.

As a matter of general principle, details of ongoing discussions in relation to the approval of superannuation pension schemes are not made public. This is a long-standing practice which has worked well in relation to approving pension schemes and it is not proposed to change it. My Department is continuing to engage, as a matter of priority, with the Department of Finance and RTÉ in respect of those aspects of the scheme and every effort is being made by the three parties to ensure an early resolution of the issues. The matter of reckonable service in respect of this scheme is a matter for RTÉ.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

162 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their REPS 4 payment. [42361/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007– 2013 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications, including plan checks, to be completed before the first 2009 payments issue. Processing of applications, including the application from the person named, has commenced to facilitate the release of payments at the earliest possible date.

Phil Hogan

Question:

163 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42417/09]

An application under the 2009 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 12 May 2009. This application was the subject of a ground eligibility, animal identification and registration inspection, which is now completed. The application has accordingly processed to completion and payment under the Single Payment Scheme will issue shortly, directly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Pat Breen

Question:

164 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare did not receive payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42440/09]

In order to receive payment under the 2009 Single Payment Scheme, a valid application form must have been submitted to my Department by 15 May 2009 — the deadline for receipt of applications under the Scheme, as provided for in the governing EU Regulations. My Department has no record of receiving a 2009 Single Payment Scheme application from the person named. When the person named contacted my Department he was informed to this effect and also advised that if the application had been forwarded to the Department before the deadline that a copy of the application together with proof of postage should be forwarded to the Single Payment Unit.

While a 2009 Single Payment Scheme application form was subsequently received on 23 October from the person named, no evidence of proof of postage of the original application form was provided. In the absence of such evidence, a letter issued to the person named advising that no payment could be made under the 2009 Scheme and advising him of his right to appeal this decision. The person named was also reminded of the need to provide proof of postage as earlier advised. To date the required proof of postage has not been received by my Department.

Veterinary Offices.

John McGuinness

Question:

165 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the district veterinary office will be retained in Carlow in view of the fact it is essential for the three exporting companies located in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42494/09]

On 15 July 2009, the Government approved my plan for a reorganisation of my Department's Local Office Network. The plan involves reducing, from 57 to 16, the number of offices from which the Department will operate District Veterinary, Forestry and Agricultural Environment and Structures support services in the future. The sudden and significant decline in the public finances since 2008 has required all of us to examine our expenditure to identify possible savings and the Deputy will be aware that major changes on the programme side of the Department have been implemented in recent months. When fully implemented this reorganisation will deliver very significant annual savings of some €30 million, mainly in staff costs.

Improvements in business processes, information technology and communications will allow the Department to provide to our clients, such services as those referred to earlier, from the 16 enhanced offices set out in the plan. As part of the process, the Carlow District Veterinary Office including the Agricultural Environment and Structures Office and the Forest Service Office will be vacated and all services will be provided for the counties Carlow and Wexford from a regional centre in Enniscorthy.

My Department currently approves three slaughtering establishments in Co. Carlow under the European Communities (Food and Feed Hygiene) Regulations. The Department's Veterinary Public Health Inspection Service maintains a permanent supervisory presence at each of these establishments during slaughtering activities. The supervising officials are based at each of the slaughtering establishments. The Veterinary Public Health Inspection Service does not have any officials based at the Carlow District Veterinary Office.

Knackery Industry.

John McGuinness

Question:

166 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason for the delay in granting a licence for the slaughtering of horses to a company (details supplied) in County Carlow on foot of an application lodged in February 2008; if he will expedite a response. [42495/09]

My Department currently approves this establishment under the European Communities (Food and Feed Hygiene) Regulations for the slaughter of bovine, ovine and porcine species. The Department maintains a veterinary presence at the establishment during all slaughtering activity, as well as providing a continuing supervisory presence to ensure ongoing compliance with the regulations. Since receipt of the application for approval for equine slaughter, the Department has worked closely with management of this establishment in order to ensure that the appropriate structural and operational requirements are met at the establishment for the approval of equine slaughter.

A number of other issues have arisen in relation to the existing approvals that have required urgent attention by the establishment, and officials of my Department have met with management on a number of occasions in order to have these issues addressed. The most recent such meeting took place on 5 November last and arising from this meeting it has been agreed that an approval inspection in relation to the application for equine slaughter will be carried out at the establishment by my Department's veterinary officials on 26 November 2009.

Compensation Schemes.

John Deasy

Question:

167 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the fact that not all county councils are paying compensation to bee-keepers who have to destroy their hives as a result of being infected by American foul brood disease; if he will amend the Bee Pest Prevention (Amendment) Regulations 1978 to ensure that a standard compensation scheme is available nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42497/09]

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is responsible for notifying the Local Authority of any outbreak of American foul brood disease. Under the Bee Pest Prevention (Amendment) Regulations 1978 it is the responsibility of the individual Local Authority to compensate bee-keepers affected.

Literacy Levels.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

168 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the recommendation (details supplied) of the National Economic and Social Forum that a national literacy policy framework should be developed to ensure there are adequate links between national and local efforts to improve literacy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42348/09]

Promoting literacy and numeracy skills is already a core element of the ongoing work of schools. National assessments of achievement in reading literacy and mathematics are conducted at two points in primary education, second class and sixth class, at approximately five-year intervals. These assessments are conducted on behalf of my Department by the Educational Research Centre and the reports of the assessments are published.

Promoting proficiency in literacy and numeracy is also a core objective of a range of measures under the DEIS Action Plan. From the beginning of 2007, standardised testing in English Reading and Mathematics has been implemented on an annual basis for all pupils at two stages of the primary cycle. This work is complemented by a separate programme of national monitoring so that national trends in different categories of school can be tracked over time. Schools in the DEIS programme have already been sampled by the Educational Research Centre for this purpose, the sample of English medium schools has been undertaken this year, and Irish medium schools will be sampled in 2010.

Given the central role of assessment in guiding students' learning, Guidelines on Assessment developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment were published in October 2007 and issued to all teachers to assist schools in developing and implementing a policy on assessment practice in classrooms. The Council has also developed standardised templates for reporting to parents on children's learning. Literacy and numeracy also form a key element of second chance education and training programmes for those with low levels of skill. New awards in this area have been developed at Levels 1 and 2 in the national qualifications framework.

Having regard to the above, I will consider the recommendation to develop a separate National Literacy Policy Framework in the light of the outcomes of the review of the implementation of DEIS measures and of the assessment programmes currently underway.

Educational Disadvantage.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

169 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the critique that the DEIS programme fails to target social disadvantage in many areas that do not qualify for the scheme due to the fact that they contain a substantial number of students who are not from disadvantaged backgrounds; his further views on the contention that many students are therefore continuing to struggle in education due to the fact that they happen not to live in some of the most disadvantaged areas here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42350/09]

The majority of schools include among their pupils, children with disadvantaged backgrounds. In general most schools address the individual needs of these children without recourse to additional targeted resources and supports. Evidence has shown however that disadvantage associated with poverty and social exclusion assumes a multiplier effect where the levels are highly concentrated in schools.

DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the action plan for educational inclusion, provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and an integrated School Support Programme (SSP). As a result of the identification and review processes, 881 schools have been included in the School Support Programme (SSP) under DEIS. These comprise 679 primary schools (urban and rural) and 202 second-level schools. The plan commenced in 2006 and is being rolled out on a phased basis over the period to 2010.

DEIS provides various supports for both primary and post primary schools. These include:

reduced pupil teacher ratio in primary schools in urban areas with most disadvantage.

allocation of administrative principal on lower figures than generally apply in primary schools in urban areas.

additional capitation funding based on level of disadvantage. — additional funding for schools books.

access to School Meals Programme

access to numeracy/literacy supports and measures at primary level.

access to Home School Community Liaison services.

access to School Completion Programme.

enhanced guidance counselling provision at post primary level.

access to planning supports.

provision for school library and librarian support at second level — access to Junior Certificate School Programme and Leaving Certificate Applied

access to range of professional development supports.

The renewed programme for Government reinforces my commitment to support children in DEIS schools. In particular the renewed commitment to the Junior Certificate Schools programme and the Leaving Certificate Applied will ensure that children attending the most disadvantaged Post Primary schools will continue to benefit from enhanced curricular relevance and choice as well as access to specific literacy and numeracy measures.

The Deputy will be aware of my commitment to ensuring that all pupils, including those with special educational needs, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs preferably in school settings through the primary and post-primary school network. There has been unprecedented investment in providing supports for pupils with special needs in recent years. Excluding Special needs assistants there are now about 9,000 adults in our schools working solely with pupils with special learning needs. This includes over 8,000 resource and learning support teachers in our schools compared with just 2,000 in 1998. Over 1,000 other teachers support pupils in our special schools. I intend to build on the progress that has been achieved in recent years which has seen a huge increase in resources for special needs.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

170 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the critique that there may be an incentive within the DEIS programme to not succeed at tackling inequality and disadvantage due to the fact that if a school is successful at implementing the DEIS programme, it will be deemed no longer necessary to give DEIS funds to that school; if he has given consideration to striking a balance between targeting funds to those in need and ensuring that success in the DEIS programme does not mean it ends financial support for these schools when the pilot phase of the process ends in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42351/09]

DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), is my Department's action plan for educational inclusion, and provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and an integrated School Support Programme (SSP). The process of identifying schools for participation in DEIS, was managed by the Educational Research Centre (ERC) on behalf of my Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the Inspectorate. Some 881 schools have been included under the DEIS action plan. These comprise 679 primary schools and 202 second-level schools. DEIS schools account for approximately 22% of schools in the State.

The ERC's overall approach was guided by the definition of educational disadvantage set out in the Education Act (1998), as: ". . . the impediments to education arising from social or economic disadvantage which prevent students from deriving appropriate benefit from education in schools". In the primary sector, the identification process was based on a survey carried out by the ERC in May 2005, from which a response rate of more than 97% was achieved. The analysis of the survey returns from primary schools by the ERC identified the socio-economic variables that collectively best predict achievement, and these variables were then used to identify schools for participation in the School Support Programme. The variables involved were:

unemployment;

local authority accommodation;

lone parenthood;

Travellers;

large families (5 or more children);

pupils eligible for free books.

In the case of second-level schools, the Department supplied the ERC with centrally-held data from the Post-Primary Pupils and State Examinations Commission databases. Based on an analysis of these data, the variables used to determine eligibility for inclusion in the School Support Programme were as follows:

Medical card data for Junior Certificate candidates (including Junior Certificate School Programme candidates) 2002, 2003, 2004

Junior Certificate retention rates by school for the 1995, 1996 and 1997 school entry cohorts

Junior Certificate exam results aggregated to school level (expressed as an OPS

"Overall Performance Scale" — score). This was based on each student's performance in the seven subjects in which s/he performed best aggregated to school level for the 2002 and 2003 examination cohorts

Leaving Certificate retention rates by school for the 1995, 1996 and 1997 school entry cohorts.

The identification process was in line with international best practice and had regard to and employed the existing and most appropriate data sources available.

A review mechanism was put in place in 2006 to address the concerns of schools that did not qualify for inclusion in DEIS but regarded themselves as having a level of disadvantage which was of a scale sufficient to warrant their inclusion in the programme. The review process operated under the direction of an independent person, charged with ensuring that all relevant identification procedures were properly followed in the case of schools applying for a review.

During the course of the review the Department again looked at the case of schools which had expressed concerns that their exclusion from DEIS was as a consequence of their relatively successful educational outcomes. Post primary schools which had been included in pre-existing schemes but which were not included in DEIS were reexamined and as a result of this the Department has satisfied itself that in all cases the failure of the schools to be included in DEIS were on socioeconomic grounds and that the schools' performance played no part in their exclusion.

Nonetheless, I accept that there is a perception shared by a number of Post Primary schools that successful outcomes influenced their exclusion from DEIS and I can assure the Deputy that following the next review of DEIS, schools which successfully use supports to achieve better outcomes for their pupils will continue to be included in DEIS provided the levels of disadvantage of their pupil cohorts continue to justify such supports.

It is recognised that the majority of schools in Ireland may include among their pupils children with disadvantaged backgrounds. In general most schools are equipped to support the individual needs of children with disadvantaged backgrounds without recourse to supplementary targeted resources. However, evidence has shown that when disadvantage levels are found in significant concentrations that schools will require additional supports to supplement their efforts to address the educational needs of all their pupils.

The main focus of the Social Inclusion measures in my Department will be to retain resources in DEIS schools. There is a need to focus targeted resources on the schools in most need and this approach is in line with the broad thrust of the recommendations of the Comptroller and Auditor General which are set out in his report on Primary Disadvantage of 2006, which recommended that my Department should focus its educational disadvantage measures on those schools serving the most disadvantaged communities.

Schools Building Projects.

Seán Connick

Question:

171 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Education and Science when an application was received by his Department from a school (details supplied) in County Wexford to build a new school; the stage of this application; when a final decision will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42354/09]

A major capital project at the school to which the Deputy refers is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. The application was received in March 2000 and has been assigned a priority band rating of 2.1. The Deputy will be aware that I met with a deputation from the school in May of this year. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction is dependent on the prioritisation of competing demands on the funding available under the Department's capital budget. The proposed building project will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme for 2010 and subsequent years. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the delivery of the project at this time.

Higher Education Grants.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

172 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for refusal of an application for a third level maintenance grant by a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if this person is entitled to appeal the decision. [42363/09]

The decision on eligibility for student grants is a matter for the relevant assessing authority — i.e. the Local Authority or VEC. These bodies do not refer individual applications to my Department except, in exceptional cases, where, for example, advice or instruction regarding a particular clause in the relevant scheme is required. If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a maintenance grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to the relevant local authority or VEC.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by the assessing authority, and remains of the view that the body has not interpreted the schemes correctly in her/his case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to my Department. No appeal has been received by my Department to date from the candidate referred to by the Deputy.

Schools Building Projects.

Pat Breen

Question:

173 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review the status of a project (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42369/09]

As the Deputy is aware, the school to which he refers has made an application to my Department for Major Capital funding for an extension including ancillary accommodation. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a Band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, are now available on my Department's website atwww.education.ie.

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

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time. In the meantime, the school was recently approved for funding for the provision of additional accommodation for one Mainstream Classroom. The Department has recently received correspondence from the school regarding the project and will be in contact with the school authorities shortly in this regard.

Computerisation Programme.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

174 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science if an application has been made by a school (details supplied) for additional information and communications technology equipment; if the application has been successful; when a decision will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42370/09]

The Deputy will be aware that on Monday 16 November 2009 I announced grants for Information and Communications Technology equipment for schools. As a first step, €22 million in grants will issue to primary schools before the end of this year, and schools will be asked to give priority to ensuring that there is a teaching computer and digital projector in every classroom. The school in question here will receive funding under this grants package.

Vocational Education Committees.

Niall Collins

Question:

175 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will define a voluntary organisation and a community organisation; the criteria used in deciding this in relation to section 7 of the Vocational Education (Amendment) Act 2001 which has been given effect by the composition of vocational education committee regulations 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42406/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Vocational Education (Amendment) Act 2001 does not define either a voluntary organisation or a community organisation. It is a matter for each council to decide which persons are representative of such bodies, as set out in paragraph 26.1 of my Department's Circular Letter 58/2009 — Arrangements for the Appointment and Election of VEC Members. A copy of the circular letter was provided to each County and City Manager on 7 October 2009. A copy is as follows for the Deputy's information.

CGO — Airgeadas agus Pearsanra Riaracháin

VEC Financial and Administrative Personnel

An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

Cor na Madadh

Cornamaddy

Baile Átha Luain

Athlone

Co. na hIarmhí

Co. Westmeath

Chief Executive Officer

of the Vocational Education Committee

named in the address.

30 September 2009

Circular Letter No. 0058/2009

Arrangements for the Appointment and Election of VEC Members

Dear Chief Executive Officer,

The purpose of this Circular Letter is to provide an outline of the arrangements provided for in the SI 924 Composition of Vocational Education Committee Regulations 2004 and to provide clarification in relation to certain issues of general application. The Circular Letter will be made available on the Department's website (www.education.ie).

This document should be read in conjunction with SI 924, which provides a breakdown in detail of all aspects of the election process.

1. Election of Members representing Eligible Parents and Eligible staff to VECs

1.1 The 2001 Act provides for the appointment of members to a VEC as a result of election by the relevant Local Authorities, parents of students, who are under 18 years of age and VEC staff.

1.2 In addition, the 2001 Act provides for the appointment of 4 members by the Local Authorities, following a process of consultation with relevant interests, as outlined in paragraph 26 of this circular.

1.3 The 2001 Act also provides that both sexes shall be represented on a VEC in such proportions as are specified in the Regulations and also provides for the establishment of separate male and female panels of candidates.

2. Returning Officer

2.1 For purposes of conducting elections in accordance with Section 7 of the Act, the Minister will appoint a Returning Officer in each VEC. Returning Officers may appoint one or more persons to act as Deputy Returning Officers and may delegate to any such Deputy any of the functions of the Returning Officer that may be specified in the appointment. The Returning Officer may revoke such an appointment, at any time.

2.2 The Returning Officer for purposes of elections in each VEC will be the Chief Executive Officer for that VEC.

2.3 The expenses of the Returning Officer will be a matter for the VEC. Such reasonable expenses will be taken into account by the Department for purposes of the VEC's modified scheme.

2.4 Pursuant to Section 7 of the 2001 Act, a Returning Officer is responsible for the conduct of the elections and his or her decisions on all matters arising are final.

3. Electoral Process Calendar

3.1 A calendar of dates for purposes of the conduct of elections is, at Appendix 1 to this Circular Letter.

4. Members elected by Parents

4.1 Two (2) VEC members, male and female, shall be elected by parents of any student who has not reached the age of 18 years on 30th September 2009, and who is registered as a student at recognised schools or centres for education (see 6 below) established or maintained by the VEC, shall be entitled to vote and seek election.

4.2 A parent is as defined in Section 2 of the Education Act 1998 i.e. "parent" includes a foster parent, a guardian appointed under the Guardianship of Children Acts, 1964 to 1997, or other person acting in loco parentis who has a child in his or her care subject to any statutory power or order of a court and, in the case of a child who has been adopted under the Adoption Acts, 1952 to 1998, or, where the child has been adopted outside the State, means the adopter or adopters or the surviving adopter.

4.3 A student is as defined in Section 2 of the Education Act 1998 i.e. "student" in relation to a school, means a person enrolled at the school and in relation to a centre for education means a person registered as a student in that centre.

4.4 A nominee, who need not be a parent, may be placed on a panel of candidates provided their nomination paper has been signed by not less than 5 parents of students registered in accordance with paragraph 4.1 above.

4.5 In accordance with the 2001 VE Act, separate male and female panels of candidates shall be established.

5. Members elected by VEC Staff

5.1 Pursuant to Section 7 of the 2001 Act, two (2) VEC members, one (1) male and one (1) female, shall be elected by eligible VEC staff members. An "eligible staff member" is a person who, on the 30th September 2009, is employed as a member of staff by the VEC and whose remuneration in respect of that employment is paid by the VEC.

5.2 For clarification purposes, an eligible staff member applies to:

(a) Staff who are on a contract of service on 30th September 2009. Such categories of staff would include permanent, wholetime and pro-rata part time staff.

(b) Staff who do not have a contract of service on 30th September 2009, but who gave service on that date and for which service remuneration is payable. Such categories of staff would include hourly paid part-time staff.

5.3 A nominee, who need not be a staff member, may be placed on a panel of candidates provided their nomination paper has been signed by not less than 5 staff members registered in accordance with paragraph 5.1 above.

5.4 In accordance with the Act, separate male and female panels of candidates shall be established.

6. Recognised schools and Centres for Education

Recognised schools and designated Centres for Education established or maintained by the VEC are as defined in Section 2 of the Education Act, 1998.

In that regard, The Minister for Education and Science, in exercise of the power conferred on him under section 10(4) of the Education Act 1998 (No. 51 of 1998), has designated the places specified in appendix 2 to this Circular Letter to be Centres for Education for the purposes of the election of staff and parent representatives to the VECs.

7. Electoral Rolls

7.1 Provisional electoral constituency rolls comprising of eligible staff member electors and eligible parent member electors, with addresses, shall be prepared for purposes of the staff members and parent member elections.

7.2 Each eligible elector (parent and staff) should be assigned a number when entered on the appropriate roll.

7.3 The provisional electoral rolls should be made available in VEC Schools and Centres for Education, as the Returning Officer considers appropriate, by Friday 9th October 2009 (Schedule 1 of SI 924 refers).

7.4 In addition, a notice should be displayed in each VEC school and centre for education, as the Returning Officer considers appropriate, to the effect that any eligible staff member and any eligible parent member who wishes to take part in the forthcoming election and whose name is not included on the provisional electoral roll, should apply in writing to the returning officer to have his or her name entered on the electoral roll. Amendments to the rolls should be made in the prescribed forms (Schedule 1 of SI 924 refers) up to 12 noon on Wednesday 14th October 2009.

7.5 Final registers of parent and staff electors to be made available by the Returning Officer on Thursday 15th October 2009.

7.6 An elector may vote only in respect of the candidates nominated in the constituency in which the elector is entered on the Electoral Roll.

8. Publication of Notice of Elections

Notice of the elections should be posted in each VEC school and Centre for Education, as the Returning Officer considers appropriate. This notice should make available to electors details of the electoral process (see Appendices 1 and 3 to this Circular Letter).

9. Notice to Eligible Parents and Eligible Staff

Letters should also be made available to eligible parents and eligible staff, see draft outlined at Appendix 4 to this Circular Letter.

10. General provisions regarding agents.

10.1 Each nominee for the election may appoint one or more agents and the name of a person so appointed shall be notified to the Returning Officer in writing by the nominee not less than 5 days before the th October 2009, on which the ruling on the validity of nomination papers shall take place i.e. 15th October 2009.

10.2 An agent whose appointment is notified in writing to a Returning Officer under paragraph (1) may be present on behalf of the nominee at the ruling on nominations, the sealing of the ballot box or ballot boxes and the counting of votes for the election.

10.3 An agent shall, if so required, produce the written consent of the nominee to his or her appointment as their agent for inspection by the Returning Officer or by any person authorised to act on behalf of a Returning Officer.

11. Nomination of Candidates

The following eligibility criteria apply:

11.1 A person shall not be nominated as a candidate for election or have his or her nomination withdrawn, without his or her written consent.

11.2 Each candidate must be nominated by means of a separate nomination form (schedules 2 and 3 of SI 924 refer).

11.3 Each candidate's nomination paper must be signed by not less than 5 eligible electors, whose names are entered on the electoral roll for the constituency for which the candidate is nominated and who have not signed the nomination paper of another nominee.

11.4 The nomination form for each of the parent and staff elections must be completed by the nominee and nominators in the presence of the Returning Officer. The nominee and nominators must produce suitable identification i.e. driving licence etc. The period determined for receipt of nomination papers is, as follows:

Monday 19th October 2009: 2pm to 9pm.

Tuesday 20th October 2009: 10am to 12 noon.

11.5 Candidates may withdraw nominations, in writing, before 12 noon, Friday 23rd October 2009.

11.6 A nominee shall not be entitled to have his or her name entered on a ballot paper for more than one VEC.

11.7 Each completed nomination form for the Parent and staff elections should be recorded by date and time and assigned a unique number, as appropriate, when submitted. This number will determine the order of receipt of nominations.

12. Ruling on validity of each nomination paper

12.1 The Returning Officer will rule on the validity of each nomination paper in the following period:

Tuesday, 20th October 2009: 2pm to 4pm.

12.2 A nominee and the nominee's agent, if any, shall be entitled to be present at the ruling on the validity of nominations and no other person shall be entitled to attend except with the permission of the Returning Officer.

12.3 Each nomination paper ruled on as valid shall be endorsed sequentially with a unique number by the returning officer and this number shall determine the order of receipt of valid nominations.

12.4 Nominations may be deemed invalid where the Returning Officer determines that the nomination form has not been filled properly in accordance with the rules and procedures e.g. where a nomination has been signed by less than 5 electors.

12.5 A nominee may before 12 noon, Friday 23rd October 2009 withdraw his or her nomination, by giving to the returning officer a written notice of withdrawal, signed by the nominee.

12.6 Final listing of candidates will be made available on the 26th October 2009.

12.7 The ruling of the Returning Officer to be final in all cases.

13. Publication of Nominations

13.1 A listing of candidates should as soon as practicable after ruling on the validity of nomination papers and not later than 26th October 2009, be brought to the attention of electors in each VEC school and centre for education and by other means as the Returning Officer considers appropriate, including school and VEC websites.

13.2 The notice should be made available for each electoral constituency and should contain the name and address of each candidate validly nominated, and the names of the electors who nominated each candidate for the constituency for which the candidate is nominated.

14. Election of Members

14.1 Where in any VEC the number of duly nominated candidates exceeds the number of members to be elected for each constituency and panel, a poll shall be taken by the returning officer.

15. Date of Poll

15.1 In the event of a poll, the poll shall be undertaken between 9am and 9pm on 6th November 2009.

16. Polling Stations

16.1 Polling stations will be located in VEC schools

16.2 Where a school polling station is not within reasonable distance, a polling station may be located in a centre for education, where there are student enrolments of at least 50 students, who have not reached the age of 18 years on 30th September 2009.

17. Polling Cards

17.1 The Returning Officer shall as soon as practicable after the final date for confirmation of nominations in respect of each poll, but not later than 26th October 2009, send by post to every elector at his or her address, or as the returning officer considers appropriate, a polling card to include details such as the polling date, the elector's polling centre and polling number.

17.2. The Returning Officer shall prepare a statement in respect of each constituency electoral poll showing the total number of polling cards sent to electors under paragraph (1) in respect of each electoral constituency.

18. Ballot Papers

18.1 The returning officer shall prepare ballot papers for each constituency of electors in which a poll is to be taken (schedule 4 of SI 924 refers) setting out the names of the candidates alphabetically in the order of their surnames.

19.The official mark.

19.1. Every ballot paper shall be marked with an official mark which shall be either embossed or perforated so as to be visible on both sides of the paper.

19.2 The Returning Officer shall ensure that the official mark is kept secret prior to the issue of the ballot papers.

20. Ballot box.

20.1 The Returning Officer shall provide a ballot box or ballot boxes for the reception of the ballot papers returned by the electors.

20.2 Electors must produce suitable identification i.e. driving licence etc

20.3 Every ballot box referred to in paragraph (1) shall be sealed by the Returning Officer at the time fixed for the opening of the poll.

20.4 The returning officer shall after 9pm on polling day seal the ballot box or ballot boxes so that no further papers can be inserted and shall make provision for the safe custody of the box or boxes.

21. Time and place for counting of votes

21.1 The counting of votes shall commence at 9am on Saturday, 7th November 2009.

21.2 Each Returning Officer shall take due precautions for the security of the ballot papers and other documents relating to the polls in any intervening period.

21.3 The Returning Officer shall appoint a place at which the votes will be counted and shall give each candidate notice of the time and place at which he or she will proceed to open the ballot boxes.

21.4 For administrative reasons, it is advised that where possible the Centre used for purposes of the Local Authority election count should be utilised.

22. Attendance at the opening of the ballot box or ballot boxes and the counting of votes.

22.1 At the opening of the ballot box or ballot boxes and the counting of votes, no person other than candidates, the Returning Officer,the Returning Officer's assistants and the candidates' nominated agents may be present, except with the permission of the Returning Officer.

22.2 The Returning Officer shall give those presentall such reasonable facilities for observing the proceedings at the opening of the ballot box or ballot boxes and the counting of votes and all information in that respect consistent with the orderly conduct of the proceedings and the performance of the Returning Officer's duties and functions.

23. Conduct of the counting of votes

23.1 A Returning Officer shall for each poll cause the ballot papers to be scrutinised for the purpose of discovering any papers liable to be determined by the Returning Officer as invalid and shall, in accordance with directions, ascertain and record the number of votes given to each candidate.

23.2 In counting the votes for each poll the Returning Officer shall credit the candidates at the election with votes in accordance with directions.

23.3 Candidates or their agents shall not handle ballot papers during the counting of votes.

23.4 Schedule 5 to SI 924 sets out in detail the rules relating to the counting of votes.

24. Return of persons elected.

24.1 The Returning Officer shall, as soon as practicable, give to every candidate elected written notice of his or her election and shall furnish the relevant local authority, as appropriate, and the Vocational Education Committee with a list of the candidates certified by the returning officer to have been duly elected for each electoral constituency and panel.

25. Powers of Returning Officer.

25.1 Any question arising with regard to the eligibility of an elector or candidate, the validity of a nomination or ballot paper, or otherwise in connection with the election, shall be determined by the returning officer.

25.2 All voting papers received by the returning officer shall be retained by him or her for not less than 12 months after the completion of the election.

26. Election of 4 members by Local Authority Members

26.1 The 2001 Act provides for the appointment by the local authority of 4 members, 2 male and 2 female, after consultation with the persons elected by the local authorities, parents and members of staff of the committee from among persons nominated by such bodies as, in the opinion of the council concerned, are representative of:

(i) Students;

(ii) Trustees of community colleges maintained by the VEC;

(iii) Members of staff of the VEC other than members of staff belonging to the same class of member of staff as either of the staff elected;

(iv) Voluntary organisations, community organisations, Irish language interests or

(v) Persons carrying on in places within the VEC area concerned, trades, professions or commercial or industrial activities.

26.2 The appointment of members to the VEC pursuant to paragraph 26.1 shall take place following the holding of a meeting of the relevant local authority convened by that local authority with the persons elected to the VEC by the local authority, parents and staff, and notified in writing to all persons entitled to attend.

26.3 A notification under paragraph 26.2 shall be issued at least 7 days in advance of the holding of such meeting and will contain the names of those persons nominated for appointment and the names of the bodies who nominated them.

27. Election of Members by Local Authority

27.1 Pursuant to Section 7 of the 2001 Act, the gender balance of the members elected to VECs by local authorities will reflect the gender balance of the aggregate membership of the combined local authorities concerned.

28. Circulation

28.1 This Circular Letter should be circulated in the normal way.

29. Queries

29.1 Any queries regarding the implementation of this Circular Letter should be addressed to the undersigned or

Áine Cusack. (Tel: 090 6484232, Aine_Cusack@education.gov.ie).

Matthew Ryan

Principal Officer.

September 2009

Appendix 1

Calendar of dates — Election of Staff representatives to VECs

Date

Saturday, 7th November

Counting of votes (9am-)

Friday 6th November

Casting of votes (9am to 9pm)

Monday 26th October

List of candidates available

Friday 23rd October

Candidates may withdraw up to 12 noon

Tuesday 20th October: 2pm to 4pm

Ruling on Nominations

Monday 19th October: 2pm to 9 pm. Tuesday 20th October: 10am to 12 noon

Receipt of Nominations

Thursday 15th October

Final register of electors available

Wednesday 14th October

Amendments to register of electors to be submitted by 12 noon.

Friday 9th October

Draft register of electors available

Wednesday 30th September

Staff employed by VEC on this date entitled to vote in election.

Calendar of dates — Election of Parent representatives to VECs

Date

Saturday, 7th November

Counting of votes (9am- )

Friday 6th November

Casting of votes (9am to 9pm)

Monday 26th October

List of candidates available

Friday 23rd October

Candidates may withdraw up to 12 noon

Tuesday 20th October: 2pm to 4pm

Ruling on Nominations

Monday 19th October: 10am to 9 pm. Tuesday 20th October: 10am to 12 noon

Receipt of Nominations

Thursday 15th October

Final register of electors available

Wednesday 14th October

Amendments to register of electors to be submitted by 12 noon.

Friday 9th October

Draft register of electors available

Wednesday 30th September

Parents (as defined in Education Act, 1998) of students who on this date have not reached 18 years and are registered at recognised schools or centres for education established and maintained by the VEC, are entitled to vote in election

Appendix 2

Listing of Centres for Education, established and maintained by the VEC 2009

St.Catherine’s Training Centre, Kernanstown Industrial Estate, Co. Carlow.

St. Joseph’s Training Centre, Gort Road Industrial Estate, Ennis, Co. Clare.

St. Finbarr’s Training Centre, Archville Industrial Estate, Brocklesby Street, Blackpool, Co. Cork.

Our Lady’s Traveller Training & Education Centre (STTC), IDA Industrial Estate, Lower Quartertown, Mallow, Co Cork

Centre for Education, St Fiachra’s Training Centre, Kilmacrennan Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

St. Joseph’s Training Centre, Barry Road, Finglas, Dublin 11.

Cara Park Training Centre, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin 17.

St. Oliver’s Training Centre, Cloverhill Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22.

St. Basil’s Training Centre, Greenhill’s Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24.

Sandy Road Training Centre, Sandy Road, Galway.

Madonna House Training Centre, Ballinasloe College of Further Education, Sarsfield Road, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.

Ballygar Adult Training Centre, Town Hall, Ballygar, Co. Galway.

St. Brendan’s Training Centre, Abbey Street, Loughrea, Co. Galway.

St. Benin’s Training Centre, Weir Road, Tuam, Co. Galway.

St. Anne’s Senior Education Centre, Unit 3, IDA Industrial Estate, Ballyspillane,Killarney, Co. Kerry.

North Kerry Programme, An Tochar Adult Education Centre, Causeway, Co. Kerry.

St. Canice’s Training Centre, Kea-Lew Business Park, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

St. Joseph’s Training Centre, Dublin Road, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.

Fealeside Training Centre, Mountmahon Industrial Estate, Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick.

Riverside Training Centre, Industrial Estate, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick.

St. Mel’s Training Centre, Battery Road, Co. Longford.

Tara Education Centre, Continuing Education Centre, Chapel Street, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

St. Catherine’s Training Centre, Convent of Mercy, Ballina, Co. Mayo.

St Catherine’s Training Centre, Parish Centre, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo.

St Catherine’s Training Centre, 30 Tooraree, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo.

St Catherine’s Training Centre, Kilboyne, Ballinrobe Road, Castlebar, Co Mayo.

Navan Travellers Training Centre, Adult Education Centre, Abbey Road, Navan, Co Meath

Tullamore Traveller Education Centre, O’Carroll Street, Tullamore, Co Offaly

Roscommon Education and Development Centre, Lisnamult, Co Roscommon.

Senior Traveller Training Centre, C/O Youthreach, Old Dublin Road, Roscrea, Co Tipperary.

St Anthony’s Traveller Training Centre, Northgate St., Athlone, Co Westmeath.

Shannon Bank Training Centre, Unit 1, Deepark Commercial Centre, Clonown Road, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Mullingar Senior Training & Education Centre, O’Growney Drive, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

Ross Youth Training Centre, Education and Training Centre, Butlersland Industrial Estate, Butlersland, New Ross, Co. Wexford.

St. Kieran’s Senior Traveller Education Centre, Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Senior Traveller Training Centre, The Murrough Education Centre, Wicklow Town, Co Wicklow.

Youthreach Centre, Tullow Road, Carlow

Youthreach Centre, Community Centre, Lower Main Street, Kingscourt, Cavan.

Youthreach Centre, Market Street, Cootehill, Cavan.

Youthreach Centre, Moynehall, Ballinagh Road, Cavan.

Youthreach Centre, Unit D.6, Smithstown Industrial Estate, Shannon, Co. Clare.

Youthreach Centre, West Clare Resource Centre, Ballard Road, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare.

Youthreach Adult Learning Centre, Cooraclare Road, Kilrush, Co. Clare.

Youthreach, Ballyminogue, Scariff, Co. Clare.

Youthreach, Teach Barra, Dean Street, Cork City.

Youthreach Adult Education Centre, Clonroad Business Park, Clonroad, Ennis, Co Clare.

Youthreach, c/o The Glen Resource Centre, The Glen, Cork City.

Youthreach, C/o Terence McSweeney C.C., Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork City.

Youthreach, St. Francis Training Centre, 16 Fr. Matthew Street, Cork City.

Youthreach Centre, Ringmahon House, Mahon, Cork City.

Youthreach, Ballyellis, Mallow, Co. Cork.

Youthreach, Youthreach Centre, College Road, Fermoy, Co. Cork.

Youthreach, Unit 4-5, Great Island Business Park, Inishmore, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

East Cork Further Ed &Youthreach, Colaiste Eoin, Golf Links Road, Youghal, Co.Cork.

Youthreach, YMCA STEPS Programme, Unit 32b, Level 3, Ballincollig Shopping Centre, Ballincollig, Co. Cork.

Bandon Youthreach, Station Road, Bandon, Co. Cork.

Bantry Youthreach, Lahadane, Bantry, Co. Cork.

Macroom Youthreach, Mill Street Road, Macroom, Co. Cork.

Youthreach, Adult Education & Training Centre, Gort a Choirce, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Youthreach, St Fiahra’s Training Centre, Kilmacrennan Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Youthreach Adult Education & Training Centre, College St., Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal.

Youthreach, Adult Education & Training Centre, Shore Road, Buncrana, Co. Donegal.

Youthreach, VEC Youthreach Centre, The Diamond, Lifford, Co. Donegal.

Bonnybrook Youthreach, Bunratty Drive, Coolock, Dublin 17.

Pleasant Street Youthreach, CDVEC Training Centre, 16 Pleasants Street, Dublin 8.

North Great George’s St Youthreach, 20 North Great Georges Street, Dublin 1.

Crumlin Youthreach, Armagh Road, Crumlin, Dublin 12.

Sherrard St. Youthreach, 7 Upper Sherrard Street, Dublin 1.

Cabra Youthreach, Ratoath Road, Dublin 7.

Youthreach, Brace Centre, Main Street, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.

Youthreach, North Street, Swords, Co. Dublin.

Youthreach, 142 Harmonstown Road, Artane, Dublin 5.

Youthreach, 49 Rossmore Avenue, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10.

Youthreach Transition Centre, 10-10a Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

Ballymun Youthreach, Shangan Road, Dublin 9.

Youthreach Centre, Old Vocational School Monastery Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22.

Youthreach, Youth Support & Training Unit, Unit 5, Oakfield Industrial Estate, Clondalkin, Dublin 22.

Youthreach, Sacred Heart National School, Killinarden, Tallaght, Dublin 24.

Youthreach Centre, The Bridge Project, 125 Parnell Street, Dublin 1.

Youthreach Convent Lane, Rush, Co. Dublin.

Youthreach, Pathways Project, City of Dublin VEC, 1a Parnell Street, Dublin 1.

Youthreach, Mountain View House, Meadow Park Avenue, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.

Youthreach, c/o L.I.F.E Centre, Esker Hill, Lucan, Co. Dublin.

Youthreach, St Joseph’s, Pearse Road, Sallynoggin, Co Dublin.

Youthreach, Main Street, Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

Youthreach, Unit 22A, First Floor, Liosban Business Park, Tuam Road, Galway.

Youthreach, c/o Connemara West, Letterfrack Education Centre, Letterfrack, Co. Galway.

Youthreach Centre, Cullen’s Yard, Main Street, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.

Teagmháil na nÓg (Youthreach), Tir an Fhia, Leitir Móir, Conamara, Co.na Gaillimhe.

Youthreach Centre, Abbey Street, Portumna, Co Galway.

Youthreach, Erin House, Airglooney, Ballygaddy Road, Tuam, Co. Galway.

Tralee Youthreach, Leaving Centre Applied, KDYS, Denny Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Tralee Youthreach, Transforum Alley, KDYS Centre, Denny Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Listowel Youthreach, The Point, KDYS Youth Centre, Upper Church Street, Listowel, Co. Kerry.

Killarney Youthreach, KDYS Youth Centre, Fair Hill, Killarney, Co. Kerry.

Kerry Education Centre, The Lodge, Killorglin Adult Learning Centre, Market Street, Killorglin, Co. Kerry.

Youthreach Centre, Mill Lane, Leixlip, Co. Kildare.

Youthreach, Old Model School, 2 Model Court, Athy, Co. Kildare.

Youthreach Centre, Jigginstown, Naas, Co Kildare.

Youthreach Centre, Desart Hall, New Street, Co. Kilkenny.

Laois Youthreach, The Old Vocational School, Harbour Street, Mountmellick, Co. Laois.

Youthreach Centre, Limerick Adult Education Centre, M.T.I. O’Connell Avenue, Limerick.

Youthreach Centre, LYS, Glentworth Street, Limerick.

Northside Youthreach Centre, Unit 12, Watch House Cross, Moyross, Limerick.

Youthreach, Shanagolden Education Resource Centre, Shanagolden, Co.Limerick.

Youthreach Resource Centre, Main Street, Hospital, Co. Limerick.

Youthreach Centre, Upper Main Street, Ballymahon, Co. Longford.

Youthreach Centre, Main Street, Granard, Co. Longford.

Youthreach Centre, Continuing Education Centre, Chapel Street, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Youthreach Centre, King Street, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Youthreach Centre, Old Vocational School, Neale Road, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo.

Youthreach, Further Education Centre, Cathederal Road, Ballina, Co.Mayo.

Youthreach Centre, Colaiste Raifteiri, Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo.

Youthreach Foundation Centre, Co. Meath VEC, Abbey Road, Navan, Co. Meath.

Youthreach, Progression Centre, Hi — Way Café, Brews Hill, Navan, Co. Meath.

Youthreach, Progression Centre, 29 Trimgate Street, Navan, Co. Meath.

Ashbourne Youthreach, Unit 140, Ashbourne Industrial Estate, Ashbourne, Co. Meath.

Kells Youthreach, Scouts Hall, O’Growney Terrance, Kells, Co. Meath.

Trim Youthreach, Old Vocational School, New Haggard Road, Trim, Co Meath.

Laytown/Bettystown Youthreach, Dunmara, The Square, Bettystown, Co Meath.

Youthreach, VEC Training Centre, IDA Industrial Estate, Knocknacorry, Co. Monaghan.

Youthreach, Mahon Training Centre, Moraghy, Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan.

Youthreach, Holy Family Hall, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan

Youthreach, C/o Outdoor Education Centre, Roscrea Road, Birr, Co Offaly

Youthreach Centre, St. Mary’s Road, Edenderry, Co. Offaly.

Youthreach Centre, Church Street, Clara, Co. Offaly.

Youthreach Centre, Old Vocational School, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon.

Roscommon Youthreach Centre, Racecourse Road, Roscommon.

Youthreach Centre, Unit 10, Cleveragh Centre, Sligo.

Youthreach Centre, Roscrea Education Centre, Old Dublin Road, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary.

Youthreach Progression Project, Ceim Eile, St. Sheelan’s College, Templemore, Co.Tipperary.

Youthreach Centre, Adult & Education Centre, Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary.

Youthreach Centre, 66 O’Connell Street, Waterford City, Co. Waterford.

Youthreach — Subla, Unit 42, Tycor Business Park, Waterford City.

Youthreach Centre Unit 2, Seapoint Business Park, Riverstown, Tramore, Co Waterford

Youthreach Centre, Ring Na Sillogue, Dungarven, Co. Waterford.

Youthreach Centre, The Courtyard, Main Street, Delvin, Co. Westmeath.

Youthreach Centre, Keelogue Institute, Barntown, Co. Wexford.

Youthreach Centre, Education and Training Centre, 8 Castle Street, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.

Youthreach Centre, Education and Training Centre, Butlersland Industrial Estate, Butlersland, New Ross, Co. Wexford.

Youthreach Centre, Sunbeam House, Vevay Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Youthreach Centre, 1 A Wexford Road, Arklow, Co. Wicklow.

Youthreach Centre, Further Education Centre, Enterprise Centre, The Murrough, Wicklow Town, Co. Wicklow.

West Wicklow Youthreach, Further Education Centre, Baltinglass Road, Blessington, Co Wicklow

Appendix 3

In addition to the notice of election, the returning officer may take whatever steps he or she considers necessary to make the following information available to electors:

(a) the eligibility requirements for candidates;

(b) the electoral constituencies;

(c) the number of candidates who may be elected to each VEC for each constituency in which a poll is to be taken;

(d) the place at which nomination papers may be obtained and delivered;

(e) the period during which the returning officer will attend to receive and rule on the validity of nomination papers,

In the event that the number of candidates is greater than the number of members to be elected to the VEC

(f) give notice of the taking of the poll, the date thereof, the place and times for the counting of votes and any other particulars that he or she considers appropriate, and

(g) cause to be published a notice to this effect in schools and centres of education maintained by the vocational education committee, and any other place that the returning officer considers appropriate,including school and VEC websites.

(h) any other information which a returning officer may deem necessary for the conduct of the election.

Appendix 4

Letter to Parents: Guideline only: subject to amendment by local VEC management where applicable.

September, 2009.

To: All the Parents and Guardians of Students in VEC schools and Centres for Education, who are under the age of 18 years on 30th September 2009.

Dear Parent/Guardian,

I wish to bring to your attention that the Vocational Education (Amendment) Act 2001 provides for arrangements for the composition of Vocational Education Committees to include representation for VEC staff, including teachers and for Parents, who on 30th September 2009 have students under the age of 18 years who are attending a VEC school, community college or VEC centre for education.

As you are aware, parents have long argued for the principle of recognition to be extended to the VEC sector. The Act gives a statutory voice to parents and presents 2057an opportunity for parents and guardians to participate in the election of members to VECs.

For purposes of conducting the elections, the Minister has appointed the undersigned as Returning Officer. I am charged with the responsibility of ensuring the completion of a valid election process for the selection of parent's representatives on the new vocational education committee for Co. _______ from amongst the valid electors of the parent constituency. The new Committee will serve for the period 2009-2014.

Election of two Parent Representatives to Co. ______ VEC

The Vocational Education (Amendment) Act 2001 provides for the election to the vocational education committee of two (2) Members, one male and one female, elected by parents of students who on the 30th September 2009 have not reached the age of 18 years and who are registered as students at VEC recognised schools or centres for education.

Separate male and female panels of candidates will be established.

Eligible Parents

A parent is as defined in Section 2 of the Education Act 1998 i.e. "parent" includes a foster parent, a guardian appointed under the Guardianship of Children Acts, 1964 to 1997, or other person acting in loco parentis who has a child in his or her care subject to any statutory power or order of a court and, in the case of a child who has been adopted under the Adoption Acts, 1952 to 1998, or, where the child has been adopted outside the State, means the adopter or adopters or the surviving adopter.

All eligible parents are entitled to vote and to stand for election.

Electoral Roll

Aprovisional electoral roll of eligible parents is being compiled and will be available for inspection from 11:00am Friday, 9th October 2009 until 12 noon on Wednesday, 14th October 2009 at (name of school/ Centre for Education). If your name is not on the provisional electoral roll and you believe you are eligible for inclusion you must apply to the Returning Officer at (name and address of VEC) on the prescribed application form which is available from the (name) school / centre. The closing date for the receipt of applications is 12 noon on Wednesday, 14th October 2009. The Returning Officer shall examine all such applications to establish the eligibility of the applicants and if found to be eligible the name of the parent will be included on the provisional electoral roll. The final register of parent electors will be available at each designated school from Thursday 15th October 2009.

Nomination of Candidates

Should you wish to be nominated as a candidate you must complete the prescribed nomination form entitled "Nomination Paper for Election of Parents Representatives as Members to ______ Vocational Education Committees” (copy may be obtained from your school/ centre of education.

The nomination form must be signed by five (5) eligible parent electors whose names are entered on the parent electoral roll 2057for the constituency for which the candidate is nominated. Electors may only sign the nomination papers for one candidate.

The nomination form for each of the Parent and Staff elections must be completed by the nominee and the 5 nominators, in person, in the presence of the Returning Officer (or his/her nominated agent) at __________ VEC during the following periods:

Monday, 19th October 2009 2 pm to 9pm

Tuesday 20th October 2009 10am to 12am.

You may be required to satisfy the returning officer or his / her elected agent of the identity of the nominators.

No nominations will be accepted after 12 noon, Tuesday 20th October 2009.

Each nominee and the nominees' election agent, if any, will be entitled to attend by prior arrangement with the Returning Officer in the period from 2pm to 4pm, Tuesday 20th October 2009 while the validity of the nomination paper is being ruled on by the Returning Officer.

A candidate may withdraw his / her nomination up to 12 noon on Friday, 23rd October 2009 by giving to the returning officer, a written notice of withdrawal which must be signed by the candidate.

A full list of candidates will be displayed at the school / centre from Monday, 26th October 2009.

Where the number of duly nominated candidates exceeds the number of members to be elected for each constituency and panel, a poll shall be taken by the returning officer.

Date of Poll:

Polling Stations: Polling stations will be located in VEC schools

Polling Cards: Polling cards will be supplied to you by post, which will provide you with details such as polling dates and centres prior to the Polling Date.

Counting of Ballot Papers: The ballot paper count will take place on the 7th November 2009 (commencing at 9am). The candidate via the PR process receiving the most votes on the male and the female panel will be deemed elected to the VEC. Any Parent or Guardian is welcome to attend the count.

Any queries may be addressed to the VEC Office (Tel

Yours sincerely

School Staffing.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

176 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science on the number of primary teachers, in non fee paying primary schools at the end of September 2007, end of September 2008, and end of September 2009 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42431/09]

The previously published public sector number for full-time teachers in primary schools was 29,720 in September, 2007 and 31,134 in September, 2008. The corresponding number for September, 2009 is 31,642 and is inclusive of part-time teachers in primary schools that have been put on the Department payroll with effect from 1 September, 2009.

School Enrolments.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

177 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the numbers of children attending non fee paying primary schools at the end of September 2007, end of September 2008 and at the end of September 2009 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42432/09]

There were 486,444 pupils in national schools (including special schools) at the end of September 2007 and 498,914 at the end of September 2008. Enrolment numbers for the current school year are being compiled by my Department at present.

Higher Education Grants.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

178 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will consider revising the rules governing the eligibility for higher education maintenance grants and third level registration fees for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42441/09]

As the decision on eligibility for a higher education grant is a matter for the relevant local authority or VEC to determine it will be necessary for the candidate referred to by the Deputy to contact her assessing authority directly to have her eligibility assessed. These bodies do not refer individual applications to my Department except, in exceptional cases, where, for example, advice or instruction regarding a particular clause in the relevant scheme is required.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a maintenance grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to the relevant Local Authority or VEC. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by the assessing authority, and remains of the view that the body has not interpreted the schemes correctly in her/his case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to my Department. The Minister has no plans to depart from the principle of progression in determining eligibility under the schemes.

School Transport.

Michael Ring

Question:

179 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review a decision not to allow a school transport service to drop a child (details supplied) in County Mayo at an after school facility. [42442/09]

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department, is responsible for the establishment and timetabling of school transport services. I have already informed the Deputy that the specialised nature of transport services for children with special needs includes both a home pick up and drop off which are designed to provide a safe and comfortable level of transport for children. Any change to these standard arrangements would have national implications. The Deputy will understand, therefore, that I do not propose to intervene in any individual cases.

Departmental Expenditure.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

180 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science if the proposed €100 million school technology investment funding will be drawn from his Department’s capital funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42467/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, I am making available €22 million in ICT grants for primary schools this year. I already had €9 million in my capital allocation for ICT. I am adding €13 million from the school building programme allocation this year to give a total allocation of €22 million. This €13 million represents about 2% of the overall allocation for school buildings this year. I have achieved significant savings on the schools capital programme this year, with tenders yielding a reduction of up to 30% compared to prices at the height of the construction boom.

Last year I was not in a position to provide grants for ICT equipment as the €10 million capital allocation for ICT was put towards the cost of the primary school building programme. The total amount of funding to be made available for ICT equipment next year is being considered as part of the overall Capital allocation that is to be agreed by Government.

Schools Building Projects.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

181 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will order that a school (details supplied) in County Dublin will be given priority for rebuilding; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the school has waited several years for a new school building; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that recently a burst pipe in the attic flooded one of the classrooms and as a result, children in one class can no longer attend school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42475/09]

A major capital project at the school to which the Deputy refers is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction is dependent on the prioritisation of competing demands on the funding available under the Department's capital budget. The proposed building project will be considered in the context of my Department's Multi-Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme for 2010 and subsequent years. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the delivery of the project at this time.

With regard to the issue of flooding in one of the classrooms, an official from my Department has been in contact with the principal who confirmed that one classroom was damaged resulting in the children normally occupying this classroom being asked to remain off school for one day. The children returned to school the next day and are currently being accommodated elsewhere in the school. He confirmed that the damaged classroom would be available for use again in a matter of days. The principal was also advised that if works were necessary arising from this incident he should apply to my Department for emergency works funding.

Departmental Properties.

John McGuinness

Question:

182 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans regarding the use of a site (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if he will allow the buildings or site to be used for community use; if so, the locations to which submissions should be sent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42493/09]

I wish to advise the Deputy that no decision has yet been made on the future use of the property in question. Any decision in the first instance will have to be taken in the context of considering its future educational use. Submissions should be made by any interested parties to the Site Acquisition and Property Management Section of my Department.

Schools Building Projects.

John Perry

Question:

183 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of a new national school project regarding a school (details supplied) in County Sligo; if he will give assurances that the necessary funding will be awarded for this project; if he will make contact with the board of management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42499/09]

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

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

I met with a deputation from this school in November 2008 and discussed with them the status of their project. In February 2009, I announced 25 projects to proceed into architectural planning. Unfortunately, in light of the availability of funding and the urgency of need attaching to other projects, it was not possible to include this project in that announcement. The progression of all large scale projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's Multi-Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.