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 9, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 10 to 31, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 32 to 39, inclusive, answered orally.

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

40 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to develop services at Roscommon Hospital and at Portiuncula Hospital, County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45301/09]

The Government is committed to ensuring the delivery of the best quality health services possible in a safe, effective and efficient way. It is essential that we prioritise patient safety and quality and that we organise and manage services accordingly. The priority is to provide safe services as close as possible to where people live.

In the past, Roscommon County Hospital and Portiuncula Hospital operated independently. Advances in clinical care and ever-increasing levels of specialisation mean that this model of care faces important practical difficulties which must be addressed. The difficulties faced by Roscommon and Portiuncula in maintaining surgical services independently, and the need for closer co-operation between them, were highlighted by the former Comhairle na nOspidéal in March, 2006.

The best way of retaining and of developing services at Roscommon County and Portiuncula Hospitals is for these hospitals to work closely together and for both to co-ordinate their activities with University College Hospital, Galway.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) concluded a review of surgical and anaesthetic services at Roscommon County and Portiuncula Hospitals in mid-2008. In light of this review, the Executive is proceeding with the re-configuration of the surgical and anaesthetic departments of the two hospitals into a Joint Department of Surgery and Anaesthesia. As part of this plan a joint clinical director was appointed this year and joint consultant appointments are being progressed that involve sessional commitments at Roscommon County Hospital and at Portiuncula Hospital. In total, there will be five consultant surgeons serving the two hospitals. A new consultant surgeon post was recently filled. A replacement consultant surgeon post is in the process of being filled.

In addition, two consultant physicians with sessional commitments at Roscommon, Portiuncula and Galway University Hospital have been recruited and are expected take up their posts in the early part of 2010.

Prescription Charges.

Shane McEntee

Question:

41 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce a prescription charge for medical card holders; the level at which this charge will be set; the revenue expected to be raised from same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45633/09]

Jack Wall

Question:

42 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce a prescription charge for medical card holders; the way in which such a charge would be collected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45568/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

55 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce prescription charges for holders of medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45524/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

57 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce prescription charges for holders of medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45526/09]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

72 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce prescription charges for holders of medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45528/09]

Martin Ferris

Question:

97 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce prescription charges for holders of medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45530/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 41, 42, 55, 57, 72 and 97 together.

At the moment 1,461,207 people have medical cards. This has increased by 109,087 on last year.

The number of prescriptions issued under the GMS has increased from 12.79 million in 2004 to 15.648 million in 2008. The number of items dispensed under the GMS has also increased from 35 million items in 2004 to 48.21 million items in 2008. The number of items per prescription has increased from 2.74 items in 2004 to 3.08 items in 2008.

The ‘Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes' recommended that a co-payment of €5 be introduced for each prescription under the Medical Card and Long Term Illness Scheme. It estimated that a charge of €5 would raise €70 million in a full year.

Vaccination Programme.

Joe Costello

Question:

43 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce a cervical cancer vaccine scheme; if this issue has received consideration in the deliberations in advance of Budget 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45539/09]

I have made my position on a cervical cancer vaccination programme clear on many occasions in the past. I remain committed to the introduction of such a programme at the earliest possible opportunity having regard to clinical priorities and the effective use of available resources.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Alan Shatter

Question:

44 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children if the site for the proposed 60 bed psychiatric unit, for which planning permission was granted, does not impinge on the proposed site for the co-located hospital at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; if so, when she will proceed with the construction of the psychiatric unit at Beaumont Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45660/09]

The development of an acute psychiatric unit at Beaumont Hospital is included in the HSE Mental Health Capital Programme which is currently under consideration in the context of Budget 2010; it is proposed to fund the Programme from the proceeds of the sales of the old psychiatric hospitals. While the co-located hospital impinges on the original site identified for the unit, a new Development Control Plan for the Beaumont Campus has been prepared and an alternative location has been identified for the psychiatric unit. The brief for the proposed unit is being verified at present and the 3 recently appointed Executive Clinical Directors for Mental Health in the Dublin North East Region will be key contributors in this exercise. It is expected that the verification of the brief will be completed in the first quarter of 2010 and the detailed planning process will then commence.

Flood Relief.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

45 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children if additional resources have been made available to community welfare officers in Health Service Executive west to administer the humanitarian assistance scheme for persons devastated by flood damage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45631/09]

I am assured by the HSE that Community Welfare Service staff, throughout the country, have been providing huge support to families every day since the flooding occurred. Community Welfare Service staff continue to work tirelessly on the ground in locations where flooding took place. Additional clinics have been arranged and emergency financial and other assistance has been made available to households including emergency accommodation. The Humanitarian Assistance Scheme is being set up to provide means-tested financial support to people who have suffered damages to their homes. An initial sum of €10 million has been set aside by the Government for this purpose. The scheme is being administered by the Community Welfare Service of the Health Service Executive on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

The level of payment available under the aid scheme to any qualified individual will depend on the severity of the damage to that person's home and the extent of the loss experienced as well as household income and general family circumstances. HSE West in Galway and Galway County Council have begun to contact people whose homes have been affected by the flooding in the county to establish their needs e.g. furniture, clothing and medicine. People who are experiencing hardship due to the unprecedented flooding in County Galway in recent days are encouraged to phone their local Community Welfare Officer in their local Health Centre and an appointment will be arranged as quickly as possible. There is no need to wait to see a CWO at a public clinic.

The HSE in Galway has set up a Counselling Helpline to assist people who have been affected by the stress of the recent flooding in Co. Galway. This Helpline is staffed by psychology and social work professionals. In addition, a separate HSE Information Line, telephone number 1800 283 036, has been established to advise people on the practical services that are available to assist them following the flooding in their particular county.

Health Service Reviews.

Denis Naughten

Question:

46 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when the Prospectus review of critical care services will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45300/09]

In 2008 the HSE commissioned Prospectus Strategy Consultants to carry out a comprehensive review of adult critical care services. The brief was to consider the current provision of adult critical care services in the public health system and to provide advice on the appropriate model and configuration of critical care provision. It was also asked to advise on related matters such as appropriate governance arrangements, HR, work practice, clinical audit and training issues, as well as supporting provisions such as transport and infrastructure.

The Prospectus Team included four international advisors, together with two critical care experts nominated by the Intensive Care Society. Their work included site visits to each of 37 hospitals with Critical Care facilities, a 30-day survey and audit of critical care activity in each hospital, stakeholder consultation and a review of best international practice.

The HSE has recently received the final report and is examining it at present. This is a significant piece of work, which will inform decisions about the future provision and organisation of this key element of the acute hospital system. A date for publication of the report has not been decided as yet.

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 37.

Hospital Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

48 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the number of lives that could be saved and the improvement in the quality of life for large numbers of persons that would be achieved by the further development of stroke services including clot buster thrombolysis, acute rehabilitation and stroke units in acute hospitals; the plans in place for such developments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45564/09]

In September 2007, I established a National Cardiovascular and Stroke Policy Group to develop a new policy framework covering all aspects of cardiovascular health, including stroke. As part of its work the Group addressed issues raised by the Irish National Audit of Stroke Care 2008 including the organisation of stroke services, the development of stroke units, the provision of thrombolysis, as well as models for rehabilitation and discharge planning. The Report of the Policy Group is being finalised at present.

In parallel my Department and the Health Service Executive are developing an Implementation Plan. This will include a Stroke Programme. The aim of this programme will be to prevent stroke and to deliver high quality care to patients with stroke in order to reduce the number of deaths and the number of patients with severe disability.

Both of these reports will be brought to Government shortly with a view to publication.

Medical Inquiries.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

49 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress she has made in the establishment of an inquiry into the alleged abuse carried out by a doctor (details supplied) in the north east; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45557/09]

I met with the support group, Dignity 4 Patients, on 29 October 2009 to inform them of my decision, in consultation with the Cabinet and the Attorney General, to establish an independent review to examine whether further investigation into the case of Mr. Michael Shine would be of public benefit. I also made a commitment to the group to establishing a full statutory investigation should this review so recommend it.

The Terms of Reference for this review, which I announced on 29 October 2009, are as follows:

To examine and recommend to the Minister for Health and Children:

(a) Whether a further investigation into the procedures and practices operating at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda during the period 1964 to 1995 to protect patients from sexual abuse while undergoing treatment or care at the hospital and to deal with allegations of sexual abuse against Mr Michael Shine, would be likely to provide additional information or insights which would be of significant public benefit in helping to improve present best practice guidelines and policies (including the Children First Guidelines), which apply to the treatment of patients in hospital for the purpose of protecting such patients from being sexually abused.

(b) The examination and recommendation should have regard to:

1. The report of the Independent Review Group (1996);

2. Current guidelines and policy concerning the treatment of patients in hospital, including the Children First Guidelines and relevant rules of professional conduct and medical ethics;

3. The views of groups or individuals representing complainants including the group Dignity 4 Patients;

4. The need to avoid prejudicing ongoing civil or criminal proceedings or investigations.

I am satisfied that these terms of reference allow the review to give support groups, including Dignity 4 Patients, and of course all concerned groups and individuals, an opportunity to engage with the process, present their views, be heard in full and have those views taken into account in the outcome of the review.

I hope to be in a position to confirm who will be the independent person undertaking the review very shortly.

Family Support Services.

David Stanton

Question:

50 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 40 of 30 April 2009 if her attention has been drawn to whether the NUI Galway study of inappropriate care roles of young carers has been completed; her views on the way these young people could be better supported by this State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40674/09]

The report on the study of Children as Carers being undertaken by the Child and Family Research Centre at NUI, Galway has not yet been completed. A final draft is expected in early 2010.

Primary Care Services.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

51 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of contracts or leases that have been signed by the Health Service Executive with general practitioners in relation to primary care centres to date; the location of these centres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45611/09]

The HSE sought expressions of interest in December 2007 and in July 2008 for the provision of Primary Care Centres for Primary Care Teams. Negotiations with interested parties proceeded in respect of 163 locations. Letters of intent have issued in respect of approximately 80 of these locations. Of that number,

one centre has opened in Letterkenny

7 centres are due to open by the end of January 2010 at Kinnegad, Moate, Gorey, Waterford City, Carlow, Callan and Trim, and

a further 37 centres are scheduled to open during 2010.

The terms and conditions of the leasing arrangement stipulate that the HSE will only sign a lease with a landlord when GP involvement in providing services from the Primary Care Teams accommodated in the Centre has been agreed.

The HSE has indicated that negotiations may not be completed in all of the chosen locations due to planning issues, withdrawal of developers or banking or market conditions.

The HSE is also continuing to develop Primary Care Centres through its Exchequer funded Capital Programme with 7 such Centres opened in 2009 at Irishtown, Marks Lane and Dundrum in Dublin, at Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, at Inis Mór, and Clonbur, Co. Galway and at Westbury, Co. Clare. A Centre is due to open in Mallow in early 2010.

Medical Compensation Scheme.

Dan Neville

Question:

52 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the date the advisory group on no fault compensation for brain damaged infants was established; the reason the group has not been brought together since its last meeting scheduled for May 2008 was cancelled; when the group’s report will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45642/09]

An advisory group was established in 2001 to examine the feasibility of establishing a no fault scheme for infants who suffered cerebral damage at, or close to, the time of their birth.

The Group stopped meeting in early 2004 due to the dispute with hospital consultants on the introduction of the Clinical Indemnity Scheme. In 2006 I asked the chairman, Dr. Peter McKenna, to reconvene the group with a view to finishing its work and producing a report. The Group met on a regular basis until 2008 but has been unable to complete its report due to the pressure of other commitments in 2008 and 2009. However, members of the Group have continued to be in contact and work on the preparation of the report has continued. It is intended that a meeting of the Group will be convened in order to review progress in the New Year.

I will await the Group's report before giving further consideration to a wider no fault compensation scheme for the health services.

HIV Infection.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

53 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the increase in the number of persons who contracted HIV or AIDS here in 2009; if her attention has been drawn to the factors that have led to this increase; if any public awareness campaign is planned to ensure that people protect themselves against contracting HIV or AIDS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45556/09]

The figures for newly diagnosed HIV infections released last week refer to the first two quarters of 2009. Final figures for 2009 have yet to be compiled by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre of the HSE. The increase in the number of new diagnoses in recent years has arisen largely due to the increase in population over that time and the inward flow of immigrants from areas of high endemic HIV. Figures for 2008 and the increase in the first two quarters of 2009 also showed a particular increase in the number of diagnoses among men who have sex with men.

HIV prevention requires a multi-sectoral approach involving statutory and voluntary agencies as well as people living with HIV. This approach has been promoted through the National AIDS Strategy Committee. The implementation of Relationships and Sexuality Education in schools as part of the national curriculum is a basic component of the prevention strategy. The health and education sectors work in partnership with NGOs to support schools in the delivery of this curriculum in a manner that aims to meet the needs of young people, with more specifically designed programmes for young people most at risk. Ongoing investment is also made by the health sector in delivering safer sex messages to the broader youth population through direct advertising and marketing campaigns in places of entertainment etc. These campaigns have become a key part of the sexual health promotion infrastructure in Ireland and over the past 15 years have continued to reinforce the core message of condom use and early testing.

The National AIDS Strategy Committee's HIV and AIDSEducation and Prevention Plan 2008-2012 was launched last year to provide a roadmap for HIV and AIDS Education and Prevention. It presents six key areas for action among seven population groups at particular risk of HIV infection. The plan was developed by the Education and Prevention sub-committee of the National AIDS Strategy Committee and was informed by research conducted by NUI Galway and by the findings of the Irish Study of Sexual Health and Relationships.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

54 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons waiting more than one year for an outpatient appointment; the maximum waiting time for an outpatient appointment; her views on the recent Comptroller and Auditor General finding that there was no significant reduction in the national average waiting time for out-patient appointments and that some patients wait up to eight years for an appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45597/09]

There are approximately 3.2 million outpatient attendances a year at public hospital outpatient departments (OPDs). I am determined to improve access to OPD services, which represent one of the key points of access to the acute hospital system. This is reflected in the HSE's National Outpatient Department Service Improvement Programme, the principal aims of which are to:

Increase the number of new patients seen

Reduce waiting times for patients

Reduce the number of patients who do not attend for their scheduled appointments (DNAs) and

Ensure that all patients are seen within 30 minutes of their appointment time.

The programme is currently focusing on increasing new attendances, concentrating initially on the specialties of dermatology, orthopaedics and otolaryngology. Individual hospitals have identified and implemented initiatives to reduce waiting-times and to improve new attendance numbers, such as additional patient slots and clinics (including evening clinics); partial booking systems; centralised referral and booking systems; discharge policy initiatives; and reducing the frequency of return visits. Work is also being undertaken to validate waiting lists to ensure that they reflect only patients actually waiting to be seen.

The Service Improvement Programme includes work to enable comprehensive out-patient waiting list data for all hospitals to be collated and analysed on a standardised national basis. At present, however, the HSE is not in a position to provide the specific information sought by the Deputy.

The findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General in his 2008 Report were, I believe, reflective of the fact that, until recently, this significant area of acute hospital activity had not been the subject of an integrated national approach. The Comptroller's report acknowledged the work being undertaken under the HSE's Service Improvement Programme and the considerable advances already made in relation to the cataloguing of outpatient waiting lists and the reporting of waiting-times.

The HSE has indicated that there were almost 4,000 additional new attendances in dermatology, otolaryngology and orthopaedics in the period January to September 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, bringing the number of new attendances in these specialties for the period to over 128,000.

OPD performance is one of a number of acute hospital service priorities which, from 2010, will be the subject of a system of specific performance management arrangements in order to support the achievement of targets for access to services.

Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 41.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

56 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children if all patients in need of a colonoscopy are seen within her one month target waiting time; the number of patients waiting more than one month; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45590/09]

The HSE is required to report under Section 10(2) of the Health Act 2004 on compliance with a target of four weeks for urgent colonoscopies from date of referral.

An audit on referrals for urgent colonoscopy carried out by the HSE in October showed that 582 or 61.2% of all urgent cases were treated within the target time of one month. However, 328 or 34.7% were waiting between one and three months and 35 or 3.7% were waiting more than three months.

Figures provided by the HSE for 29 November last show that numbers waiting longer than the target time for urgent colonoscopy were down significantly to 151 or 18.4% of urgent referrals, of whom one patient is waiting longer than three months. The HSE has advised that action is being taken to bring the total number waiting longer than one month to zero by mid-December.

A performance indicator covering this issue will be included in the HSE's 2010 Service Plan, with formal monthly reporting on performance.

I understand that the HSE is separately compiling details of waiting times for routine colonoscopy examinations.

Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 41.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

58 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children when and if the recommendations of the Vaccine Damage Steering Group Report, published on 17 November 2009, have been accepted by her; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45654/09]

My Department is currently considering the recommendations of the Vaccine Damage Steering Group in detail.

Cancer Screening Programme.

James Bannon

Question:

59 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason she has not published the Health Information and Quality Authority Report, which was promised in September 2009, to identify the way a national programme of colorectal cancer screening could be delivered within existing resources; the date the national programme of colorectal screening will commence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45574/09]

Liz McManus

Question:

82 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made on the financing of the planned colorectal cancer screening programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45550/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 59 and 82 together.

Two reports about screening for colorectal cancer were published on 17 June. The first was a report by the National Cancer Screening Service Board on the development of a national colorectal cancer screening programme. The second was a Health Technology Assessment of a population based colorectal cancer screening programme in Ireland, carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

Both reports confirmed that a properly organised screening programme would have huge public health benefits and that population based colorectal cancer screening would be highly cost effective.

I requested HIQA to explore different ways of delivering a high quality colorectal cancer screening programme within existing cancer screening resources, based on the range of advice contained in the two expert reports. This report was provided to me towards the end of October.

I expect also that the HIQA report will be published shortly.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

60 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the development of a new central mental hospital is still a priority in view of the financial difficulties facing the State; if a decision has been made on the location of the new central mental hospital; when this decision will be announced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45615/09]

It has been ascertained that the site proposed for the development of a new Central Mental Hospital (CMH) at Thornton Hall, Co Dublin, is not large enough to accommodate an Intellectual Disability Forensic Mental Health Unit and a Child and Adolescent Forensic Mental Health, the need for which has been identified by the HSE. While the question of the relocation of the CMH to an alternative site is currently under consideration, the redevelopment of the hospital remains a priority for the Government.

Medical Training.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

61 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she will take to increase the number of general practitioner training places in 2010; the discussions the Health Service Executive have held with the Irish College of General Practitioners in relation to same; if additional resources will be made available for this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45607/09]

Phil Hogan

Question:

67 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the recent ESRI finding that some 350 general practitioners will retire between 2006 and 2010, 450 will retire between 2011 and 2015 and more than 500 will retire between 2016 and 2020; the action she will take to address this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45622/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 67 together.

I am aware of the potential shortage of General Practitioners (GPs) highlighted in the recent ESRI Report and the June 2009 FÁS Report.

There is currently one model of GP Training in Ireland, which is provided by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP). This is a four year model, with 2 years based in hospital rotations and 2 years on an approved GP training programme. At present, there are 120 GP training places per year.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has been working on an ongoing basis to address the deficit in the number of new general practitioners entering the Irish health service each year. This work, to date, has focused on a proposal to the ICGP to substantially increase the intake of GP trainees from July 2010 onwards. This proposed increase is being considered in the context of the re-organisation of GP training structures and resources to reflect the regional organisation of the HSE. This proposal is part of ongoing discussions between the Executive and the ICGP.

The HSE is also in discussion with the Irish College of General Practitioners to identify a mechanism of up-skilling long term locums or assistants who are not eligible for GMS contracts because they have not undertaken/passed the Membership of the Irish College of General Practitioners (MICGP) examination and have not obtained membership of the College through the award of a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Training (CSCT) from the Medical Council. An alternative model of training has been discussed to enable them to access the specialist register and thus become eligible to take on GMS posts.

Other measures to address the GP manpower issue include:

A list of GMS GP posts has been advertised centrally on the HSE Website.

A recruitment drive is being undertaken in the UK and EU countries to attract qualified GPs to Ireland.

The HSE is encouraging GP assistantships and partnerships in relation to upcoming retirements.

The HSE is issuing new GMS panels in regions urgently requiring additional GPs.

Some restrictions on entry to the GMS Scheme have been removed.

The retirement provisions for GPs holding contracts under the GMS and other schemes have been extended.

The HSE is continuing to develop Primary Care Teams and Primary Care Centres so that GPs applying for posts are attracted to high quality, well supported posts in suitable premises. To date, 145 Primary Care Teams have been established. These are centred on multidisciplinary team working, which reduces the need for GPs to carry out duties which are more appropriate for other team members and ensures that patient care is provided on a combined team-based approach.

I am confident that these measures will have a positive impact on any potential shortage in GP numbers. However, I will continue to liaise with the HSE, the training bodies and relevant organisations to ensure that appropriate measures are implemented to deal with any threat to the numbers of GPs.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

62 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the negative effect that recent changes to the CervicalCheck screening programme are having on women’s access to the service; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that these changes are at complete variance to the original purpose of the programme and only serve to control demand by limiting supply; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45588/09]

CervicalCheck commenced on 1 September 2008. Under the Programme women aged 25-44 will be screened every 3 years and women aged 45-60 will be screened every 5 years. For the first year CervicalCheck operated on an open access system of screening to ensure that the initial expected interest from women could be effectively accommodated. It was always intended that CervicalCheck would move to population-based organised screening in line with best international practice. Accordingly, on completion of its first year in operation in September 2009, the Programme changed to an organised call, re-call system of invitation. This change will ensure that an effective and efficient population approach to screening that maximises target population coverage is maintained.

CervicalCheck has proven very successful during its first year of operation with unprecedented numbers of women attending for screening. CervicalCheck has a national register of women aged 25 to 60. Over each screening round, all eligible women aged 25 to 60 will be invited for screening. The system will ensure that the delivery of population screening is spread evenly over the three to five year screening cycle.

The criteria for eligibility under the Programme are clearly set out on the CervicalCheck website. Any woman who has not had a smear test in the last three years can fast-track into the Programme simply by registering online, by completing and returning a form by Freepost, or by calling CervicalCheck on Freephone1800 45 45 55 to request an invitation. Currently the average waiting time for such an invitation is three weeks. Certain women are eligible for a free smear test without a CervicalCheck invitation letter. These include women aged over 60 who have never had a smear test and women of any age post colposcopy. CervicalCheck will process a woman's smear test without a letter of invitation, if it is the opinion of her smeartaker that she is at risk of not responding to a CervicalCheck invitation letter, or unlikely to avail of the fast track opt-in facility that is available to her.

Since the introduction of the call-recall system around 30,000 fast-track opt-in letters have been issued in addition to over 95,000 randomly generated invitation letters.

Health Service Regulation.

Joan Burton

Question:

63 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children when private medical facilities will be subject to regulation and inspection by the Health Information and Quality Authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45536/09]

The Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance, which I established as part of the Government's commitment to ensuring patient safety and quality in our health service, recommended a mandatory licensing system to cover both public and private healthcare providers. The Commission further recommended that the licensing system should be implemented on a phased basis, starting with acute hospitals and other facilities based on analysis of potential risk to patient safety. These recommendations were accepted by Government in January, 2009. In line with the recommendations, my Department is now developing legislative proposals for a mandatory licensing system to cover both public and private healthcare providers, based on explicit standards to be set by the Health Information and Quality Authority. I intend to bring such proposals to Government next year.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

64 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the discussions she has had and the progress that has been made in reducing the cost of drugs and increasing the use of generic products being prescribed; her plans to introduce reference pricing for prescription drugs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45532/09]

My Department and the HSE have implemented a number of reforms to reduce the cost of medicines.

Under the terms of the current agreements between the HSE and pharmaceutical manufacturers which govern the supply terms, conditions and prices of medicines supplied under the GMS and other community drug schemes, price cuts of 35% are applied to all off-patent proprietary products for which generic alternatives are available on the Irish market. A report published by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics in May 2009 estimated that approximately €250 million will be saved due to off-patent price cuts, up to September 2010, when the agreements come up for renewal.

Since September 2006 a larger basket of reference countries has been used for determining the prices of new products accepted for reimbursement under the State drugs schemes. The current agreements also permit price adjustments to reflect price changes in the reference countries.

This year I reduced the wholesale mark-up payable on medicines from 17.66% to 10% and reduced the retail mark-up payable under certain schemes from 50% to 20%. Savings from the measures have been estimated at €55 million for 2009 and €133 million on a full year basis.

My Department and the HSE support the increased use of generics where this is appropriate. All options for containing pharmaceutical expenditure, including generic substitution by pharmacists, the promotion of more cost-effective prescribing by GPs, and the greater use of quality prescribing indicators are under consideration. It is my intention to introduce a system of reference pricing combined with generic substitution. My Department and the HSE are examining options to progress this initiative, which has the best potential to promote the usage of cheaper generic or off-patent medicines and provide further savings from reductions in prices. I expect to see significant progress on this next year, including the identification and implementation of legislative and administrative changes needed to give it effect.

Health Insurance.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

65 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the introduction of the health insurance levy, the stated object of which was to keep the cost of health insurance down, has not been achieved, instead it has forced an increase in the cost of private health insurance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45649/09]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

91 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the increasing cost of health insurance; the factors contributing to this increase; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45552/09]

Liz McManus

Question:

93 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce a comprehensive Health Insurance Bill to replace the temporary legislation which provided for a levy to address the issue of risk equalisation; her plans to provide for a central fund to be used for this purpose and to provide for community rating; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45551/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 65, 91 and 93 together.

The health insurance levy is part of the interim scheme provided for under the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. This interim scheme consists of two distinct elements:

(i) age-related tax credit provided at source to private health insurers in respect of persons over the age of 50 who hold private health insurance policies. This aims to secure a health policy objective of achieving inter-generational solidarity in terms of assisting individuals to meet their health insurance costs on the basis of age, and

(ii) a levy charged on private health insurance companies for each insured person in order to fund the age related tax relief so that the scheme remains cost neutral to the Exchequer.

I would like to stress that the levy is placed on private health insurance providers for each insured individual, and not on individuals themselves. It is a matter for the insurers to decide whether or how much of the levy they pass on to their customers. Insurers with a disproportionate share of older people will be net beneficiaries. Insurers with mostly younger customers will also have some older customers and receive tax credits in respect of those customers also.

This interim scheme will be in place for a three year period commencing on 1 Jan 2009 and, for cashflow reasons, running into 2012. Officials in my Department along with the Health Insurance Authority are now working on a new scheme of risk equalisation to replace the interim scheme.

As Minister for Health and Children, I have no role to play in the setting of prices by any of the private health insurance providers. This is a commercial decision for the insurer concerned. Health insurance prices can be affected by a range of economic considerations including the costs of health care services and other costs and may also reflect the age profile of the customers in any insurer's customer base. The interim scheme is not designed to prohibit price changes, in either direction, and could not be designed to do so. Rather, the scheme's purpose is to counter commercial incentives for insurers to focus on younger age groups, and to underpin the principle of community rating, so that insured older persons are less likely to face higher increases and/or product segmentation due to their age.

The Government's clear policy objective is that health insurance should remain affordable to a large number of people, particularly to older and sicker people. To this end, community rating must be the cornerstone of the Irish health insurance market. The viability of the system relies on the effective operation of solidarity between different generations through which the young subsidise the healthcare costs of the elderly and are subsidised in their turn by the following generation. Health insurance should not be risk-rated for increasing age, medical status or claims history.

Sustaining community rating requires a legally and financially robust system of risk equalisation to ensure cross-subsidisation across the entire market, not just within each company's cohort of customers or among the holders of each health insurance contract. As I mentioned, work is now underway to replace the temporary levy and tax relief arrangement with such a robust system of risk equalisation.

Departmental Staff.

Willie Penrose

Question:

66 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to reduce the number of staff in her Department as proposed in the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programme Report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45554/09]

At the end of November 2009, there were 489.28 WTEs employed in my Department. This includes additional staffing (24.17WTE) that transferred into my Department during the year as a result of the transfer of youth affairs responsibilities from the Department of Education and Science, other functions from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and the dissolution of the National Council on Ageing and Older People and the Women's Health Council under the rationalisation of agencies programme. Even allowing for these increases, the overall number of people employed has fallen by 39.23 WTEs since January 2009.

Staffing levels in my Department over the coming years will be decided in consultation with the Department of Finance and taking account of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes. Account will also be taken of the outcome of the review of my Department under the Organisational Review Programme (ORP), which is being carried out under the aegis of the Department of the Taoiseach. The ORP Report on the review of my Department is expected shortly.

Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 61.

Health Service Staff.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

68 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children the way in which the proposed unpaid leave for public servants will operate within the health services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45553/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

88 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if agreement has been reached with health unions on flexibility of working hours within the health services on an extension of the basic working day and on redeployment of staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45547/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 88 together.

Discussions took place recently between officials of my Department and the HSE and unions representing health sector staff as part of the overall discussions with the Public Service Committee of the ICTU on adjustments to the public service pay bill. However, the Government decided on 4 December last that the overall proposals put forward by the Public Service Committee did not provide an acceptable alternative to pay cuts. According, the Government were unable to agree to the terms they had proposed and they are now proceeding to implement their plan to reduce the public service pay and pensions bill by €1.3bn next year compared with 2009.

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 38.

Vaccination Programme.

Willie Penrose

Question:

70 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children if the full rollout of the H1N1 vaccine will take up to eight months; the length of time the vaccine programme in schools will take; if she is satisfied that all possible measures are being taken to ensure that patients in hospitals do not contract the virus; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45555/09]

It is envisaged that the H1N1 Pandemic vaccination programme will continue into the first quarter of 2010 at least. The duration of the programme will be determined by the uptake rates within the targeted groups.

To date over 1.3 million doses of vaccine have been distributed to general practitioners, Mass Vaccination Clinics and Hospitals.

Those initially targeted by the HSE are those aged 6 months to under 65 years with medical conditions that place them at increased risk of developing influenza, healthcare workers, children aged 5 months to 18 years and those aged 65 years and over.

The School Vaccination Programme commenced on 30th November 2009 initially targeting larger schools. The School Vaccination Programme will continue into early 2010.

The Influenza Like Illness (ILI) rates have continued to fall over recent weeks now standing at 93.6 per 100,000. The numbers of confirmed H1N1 cases who were hospitalised and admitted to ICU are also decreasing.

Enhanced surveillance and infection control measures are in place to ensure that patients in hospital do not contract H1N1.

Medical Cards.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

71 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons in receipt of a medical card on 30 November 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45537/09]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

85 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons in receipt of a doctor only medical card on 30 November 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45538/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 71 and 85 together.

Details of the number of medical card holders and GP visit card holders are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The most recent figures provided to my Department by the HSE reflect the position as at 1st November 2009. These figures show that there were 1,461,207 medical card holders and 95,905 GP visit card holders on that date. Since the start of 2009, the number of persons with a medical card or GP visit card has increased by 109,087 and 10,359 respectively.

Question No. 72 answered with Question No. 41.

Medical Inquiries.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

73 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received a list of persons from an organisation (details supplied) who would have the necessary expertise to carry out an investigation into the practice of symphysiotomy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45558/09]

The Joint Committee of Health and Children also wrote to my Department recently on behalf of the Survivors of Symphysiotomy to request a review and I explained to the Committee that the position regarding a review remains unchanged.

The Committee has subsequently written to me with the names of four individuals supplied by Survivors of Symphysiotomy's legal advisors who they believe have the necessary expertise to report on this issue.

The Irish Human Rights Commission was requested some time ago by a patient advocacy group to conduct an Inquiry into matters relating to the practice of symphysiotomy in Ireland from the 1950s up to 1983. Having considered the matter in some detail the Commission decided against conducting such an Inquiry under the Human Rights Commission Act, 2000.

The Commission recommended that I review a previous decision not to establish an external review of the practice. Significant efforts had been made previously by the Department's Chief Medical Officer, via the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and through international contacts, to source a suitable reviewer. Progress was made in identifying and sourcing a suitable candidate who later became unavailable due to work commitments. However, the Survivors of Symphysiotomy, another patient support group, subsequently expressed reservations over the choice of reviewer. Thereafter it did not prove possible to source an independent expert. My Department remains in correspondence with the Commission in relation to the matter and will give priority consideration to the letter from the Joint Committee in that context.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Joan Burton

Question:

74 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children the proposed collocated hospitals that will go ahead with associated tax breaks; the tax implications for 2010; when construction will commence on each of the projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45535/09]

The Renewed Programme for Government re-affirms the Government's commitment to the current co-location programme.

Preferred bidders have been selected for six co-located projects at Beaumont, Cork University, Limerick Regional, St. James's, Sligo and Waterford Regional Hospitals. Project agreements have been signed for the Beaumont, Cork, Limerick and St James's projects. Planning permission has been granted in respect of the first three projects. A planning application has been made for the St James's project.

Two further projects at Connolly and Tallaght Hospitals are at earlier stages of the procurement process.

The HSE has estimated that, from the start of building, the overall construction and commissioning period for the projects will be about 28 to 36 months.

The co-location programme is a complex public procurement process. It is a matter for each successful bidder to arrange its finance under the terms of the relevant Project Agreement. It is certainly the case that the funding environment has changed significantly and this has affected both the public and private sectors. The co-location initiative, like other major projects, has to deal with this situation. The HSE is continuing to work with the successful bidders to provide whatever assistance it can to help them advance the projects.

The Finance Act 2009 provides that the schemes of capital allowances for private hospitals and certain other health facilities will be terminated on 31 December 2009, subject to transitional arrangements for projects already in development. Where planning permission is required, the qualifying condition for a termination date beyond 31 December 2009 is that a valid application for full planning permission be submitted on or before that date and be acknowledged by the relevant planning authority. In such cases, the termination date in the case of qualifying hospitals is 31 December 2013.

Provided that a hospital project conforms to the requirements of these transitional arrangements, and otherwise satisfies the general requirements of the scheme of capital allowances, the tax relief will apply. This includes co-location projects should they wish to arrange their financing on the basis of the capital allowances scheme. The value of the tax relief in each case will depend on the level of qualifying capital expenditure incurred. No tax expenditure has been incurred so far and none will be incurred until construction is completed and services are opened.

Assisted Human Reproduction.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

75 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction; when she will publish legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45563/09]

My Department is developing proposals for an appropriate regulatory framework, including legislation, in respect of Assisted Human Reproduction. The work involves, among other things, examining the approaches to regulation in other jurisdictions and considering the ethical and legal issues that arise. It will also take into account any report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children in response to the referral to it in 2005 of the Report of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction and the forthcoming judgment of the Supreme Court in the RvR (frozen embryos) case.

The work that the Department of Health and Children is undertaking is intended to result in policy proposals for a legal framework for this area. This work involves exploring and examining areas such as:

legal parentage;

access to treatment services;

certain practices on gametes and in vitro embryos;

donations of sperm, ova and embryos;

arrangements for consent; and

many other areas that are impacted by this wide and complex area.

The development and use of Assisted Human Reproduction technologies raises legal, social and ethical issues that are complex and profound.

Medical Cards.

Mary Upton

Question:

76 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if opticians are entitled to charge full medical card holders for carrying out an eye test in respect of a driving licence application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45567/09]

The optometric schemes administered by the Health Service Executive operate to fulfil its obligations, under section 67 of the Health Act, 1970, to make ophthalmic treatment and optical appliances available to medical card holders. Under the schemes contracting optometrists have agreed to carry out all tests judged to be necessary to determine the patient's need for vision care. The eye test for a driving licence does not fall within these parameters.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

77 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if legal issues have arisen in relation to the property elements of the fair deal legislation in the context of carrying out assessments for ancillary State support; the way in which families can acquire information regarding such issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45543/09]

The Department is not aware of any legal issues having arisen in relation to financial assessments and the land and property elements of the scheme.

The Information Booklet on the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, A Fair Deal, clearly sets out how land and property are taken into account during the course of the financial assessment. Additional information is available in the Frequently Asked Questions document which can be found on the Fair Deal page of the Department's website.

In addition, individuals with further queries can contact their local HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, details of which are available in the Information Booklet, or the HSE Infoline on 1850 24 1850. It is also open to people to seek independent legal advice if they so wish.

Finally, the Deputy may wish to note that the Department's website contains a dedicated page on the new scheme (www.dohc.ie/issues/fair_deal/). Information is also available on the HSE's website at

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

Hospital Services.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

78 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the additional resources she will provide in 2010 for Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45527/09]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

84 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in co-operation between her Department, the Health Service Executive and the board of Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Dublin, to reduce the waiting time for heart operations at the hospital; when the proposed extra critical care beds will be in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45561/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 84 together.

The HSE have not yet been notified of their budget allocation for 2010. When the Government has agreed on the budget allocation for the HSE, it will then be a matter for the Health Service Executive to decide the allocations to individual agencies following on from the Government's budgetary decisions. Until such time as the HSE is notified of its budget, it is not is a position to say what resources will be provided to Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin for 2010.

Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin (OLCHC) is addressing the challenge of delivering a high quality service to its patients, while remaining within budget. The hospital is committed to providing the full level of services that it promised in its 2009 Service Plan.

OLCHC is the National Centre for Paediatric Cardiology & Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. The demand for paediatric cardiac surgery has increased due to increased birth rate and the success rates for children who then require further staged surgery. OLCHC is carrying out significantly more cardiac operations than 3 years ago. Clinical need or timing for surgery is determined by evidence based best medical practice and the optimal timing for surgery is decided by the multidisciplinary team at the weekly Joint Cardiac Conference at the hospital. In light of the issues attached to the Cardiac Programme, it has been protected from the theatre closures put in place by the hospital for breakeven purposes.

The HSE have worked with the Paediatric Critical Care Network (PCCN) to address the issue of the need for additional paediatric intensive care beds. A new build that will include the replacement of 13 paediatric intensive care beds and an additional 4 beds, providing a total of 17 beds, has been agreed as a new development at Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin. A Design Team has been appointed and work is well underway on this development. It is anticipated that the new development will be completed within an eighteen month programme and is therefore scheduled to be opened in 2011. Provision is also being considered for potential future expansion to provide 5 additional ICU beds, subject to approval. If this phase was to be implemented it would then bring the total number of ICU beds at OLCHC to 30.

On an interim basis to address the current waiting list for paediatric cardiac patients, the HSE are in discussions with OLCHC and an initiative will commence shortly in relation to this list. It is intended to manage the Cardiology waiting lists in the same way as the waiting lists for patients with scoliosis were managed with OLCHC earlier this year.

Health Service Expenditure.

Joe Costello

Question:

79 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the discussions she has had with the Health Service Executive on protecting frontline services while achieving the cuts in the budget that they are required to make for 2010; if the baseline levels of service and waiting time targets that have been agreed will not be breached; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45540/09]

The Deputy will be aware that the Government faces serious challenges in respect of public expenditure and has had to take difficult decisions in order to stabilise the public finances. The Government is committed to reducing the general government deficit as part of its strategy for economic recovery which will require a reduction in the level of public spending over the coming years. The HSE's estimate will be set in this context and the Executive will be required to operate within tight spending parameters, while meeting the objective of maintaining population health and access to services.

Following the Budget, the HSE will submit its National Service Plan 2010 for my approval under the Health Act 2004. The Plan will set out the type and volume of services to be provided by the Executive and once approved, will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas in line with Section 31(13) of the Act. The HSE will be required to operate within the limits of its Voted allocation in delivering at a minimum, the levels of service which are provided for in the Plan. During 2010, the HSE will provide me with detailed information related to service activity levels by way of monthly Performance Monitoring Reports against the Plan.

Infectious Diseases.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

80 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made to date in her efforts to eliminate hospital based infections such as MRSA and clostridium difficile; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45569/09]

Health Care Associated Infections (HCAIs) continue to be a challenge for healthcare systems worldwide. Ireland is not unique in this regard and tackling HCAIs here continues to be a priority for the government and for the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In March 2007, the HSE launched a National Infection Control Action Plan. An Infection Control Steering Group is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the plan. Over the period of the Plan the HSE aims to reduce HCAIs by 20%, MRSA infection by 30% and antibiotic consumption by 20%.

A National Surveillance system was established by the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) to collect data and provide information to monitor HCAIs in our health system. The number of MRSA bloodstream infections across the public and private hospital sector for the past three years are — 588 cases in 2006, 536 cases in 2007 and 435 cases in 2008. This shows a significant decrease of over 25% between 2006 and 2008. The data is collated on a quarterly basis and for the first six months of 2009 the number of MRSA bloodstream infections was 191, a reduction of over 20% from the first six months of 2008 when cases numbered 241.

Up until May 2008, Clostridiumdifficile was not a notifiable disease and, as a result, it was difficult to quantify the extent of infection in the healthcare system. Since May 2008, all cases are required to be notified to the relevant Department of Public Health. These are reported on a weekly basis and the number of cases reported nationally from May to December 2008 was 1,624 and from January to 14th November was 1,733. These figures which are within the range of 40 — 60 cases per week are consistent with the results of the last Prevalence Survey of HCAIs in acute hospitals in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales for 2006.

In order to introduce measures to aid in the reduction of antibiotic prescribing, education campaigns for healthcare staff and the general public around the prudent use of antibiotics commenced last year. The HSE launched a three week awareness campaign in November 2008 to highlight the importance of using antibiotics properly. This coincided with the first European Antibiotic Awareness Day. This year's Awareness Day on 18th November last built on last year's successful public education campaign. Data on antibiotic consumption collected by the HPSC shows a welcome decrease in antibiotic consumption in 2008 for the first time since 2000.

Earlier this year, new environmental guidelines to inform infection control policy in all new builds and refurbishments were published by the HSE.

HIQA, since its establishment in 2007, has also taken significant steps in this area. A core function of the Authority is to set standards on safety and quality of health services and to monitor enforcement of those standards in an open and transparent way. In 2007, HIQA developed National Hygiene Standards and commenced a programme of audit against these Standards. The Authority undertook a comprehensive inspection and review of hygiene in our acute public hospitals in 2007 and again in 2008. This included unannounced visits by inspection teams. The reports, which were published, represent a thorough assessment of how hygiene services are provided and managed in HSE-funded acute care hospitals. HIQA noted that the standard of front-line services which was already very high in 2007 had been maintained in 2008 and that corporate governance was significantly improved.

In May 2009, HIQA published its National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Health Care Associated Infections to provide an overall framework for health and social care providers to prevent or minimise the occurrence of HCAIs. These Standards include all key areas of importance in the control of HCAIs namely governance, hygiene, microbiological services, antimicrobial resistance and surveillance systems as well as relevant aspects of the design of facilities. Six months has been allowed for the development by the HSE of a self-assessment tool, gap analysis and implementation plan before HIQA commences its initial review. The HSE has already made significant progress on this work and is in consultation with HIQA on the implementation of the Standards.

I am satisfied that significant steps are being taken to reduce the rates of HCAIs generally and to treat them promptly when they occur.

Health Service Staff.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

81 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will implement the recommendations of the report of the Health Service Executive’s Diabetes Expert Advisory Group by providing 20 new podiatrist posts in view of information that 50% of lower limb amputations could be prevented by early intervention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45565/09]

The Expert Advisory Group established by the Health Service Executive (HSE) on diabetes published its report in 2008. Following publication, the Group actively engaged in assisting and directing the implementation of the report's recommendations. This has focused on the establishment of an integrated model of care for diabetes patients, on retinopathy and on how podiatry service can be developed to benefit people with diabetes.

The HSE is currently developing a programme for diabetes which will establish an integrated diabetic service between community and hospital. Its objective is to improve specific targets to reduce both acute and chronic complications. It will also include effective foot care to reduce severe infection and amputation in diabetes. The recommendations of the Expert Advisory group will be progressed within the context of the Diabetes programme.

Question No. 82 answered with Question No. 59.

Health Service Regulation.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

83 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce regulation and licensing for crisis pregnancy agencies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45562/09]

I assume that the Deputy's question is referring to agencies that seek to manipulate women by providing a ‘disingenuous' crisis pregnancy counselling and/or information service.

While there are no plans to consider a regulatory licensing system proposed by the Deputy, the approach adopted by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency on this issue is, among other things, to further raise the public profile of state-funded crisis pregnancy services. In this regard, the Agency is working on a wide range of actions that include:

A public awareness campaign which I launched in July 2009 entitled "Don't be manipulated" which highlights the existence of disingenuous agencies and promotes the availability of free, non-judgemental state-funded crisis pregnancy services;

continuous promotion through the "Positive Options" campaign of the availability of free, non-judgemental and confidential state-funded crisis pregnancy counselling services;

redevelopment of the "Positive Options" website to highlight the actions of disingenuous agencies and to give guidance on how to deal with same;

prominent advertising of "Positive Options" and consumer tips in the Golden Pages, including the regional directories, under "Pregnancy Testing and Counselling" and "Family Planning" sections. The use of a common logo for all state funded counselling services in current editions of the Directories;

funding of resources which provide clear objective information on the adoption process. The Agency provides information on adoption in manuals used in the training ofbona-fide crisis pregnancy counsellors;

expansion of crisis pregnancy counselling services nationally by over 50% since the Agency was established in 2001;

guidance for crisis pregnancy counselling services in responding to third party complaints they may receive about "disingenuous" counselling services;

standardised training and up-skilling for counsellors in state-funded crisis pregnancy counselling services.

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 78.
Question No. 85 answered with Question No. 71.

Nursing Home Charges.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

86 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if agreement has been reached with nursing home owners to ensure that they do not pass on the inspection fee to their clients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45544/09]

I understand the Deputy's question relates to the fees associated with the system of registering and inspecting nursing homes which commenced on 1 July, 2009. The Health Act, 2007 Act provides for the following fees:

Applications for registration or renewal of registration under Section 48. This section states that the applicant shall include with the application the prescribed application fee.

An annual fee payable by the registered provider under Section 99

A fee for variation or removal of any conditions of the registration under Section 52. A registered provider making an application under this section must include the fee with their application.

The fees therefore are payable by the registered provider, or to be included by the applicant when applying for registration.

I would point out that it is a matter for the registered provider to determine the price charged for services. However the Deputy may be aware that article 28 of the Health Act 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations 2009 states that

"(1) The registered provider shall agree a contract with the resident within one month of the admission of that resident to the designated centre.

(2) Such contract shall deal with the care and welfare of the resident in the designated centre and shall include details of the services to be provided for that resident and the fees to be charged."

Therefore, only those fees, including any agreed increases, set out in the contract should be charged by the registered provider to the resident.

The Deputy will be aware that the new Nursing Homes Support Scheme came into operation on the 27th October 2009. Under the scheme, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) negotiates prices for long-term residential care with private nursing home owners on behalf of the State. The NTPF has accepted that the fees associated with the registration and inspection of nursing homes could be included as part of the reasonable day to day running costs associated with the provision of long-term residential care services and therefore can factor into these negotiations.

Proposed Legislation.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

87 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children if legislation has been prepared to allow for the appropriate dissemination of soft information regarding people who may be a threat to children; when it is expected that such legislation will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45542/09]

The Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children (JCCAC) submitted an interim report to the Oireachtas on 11 September, 2009 which recommended that the Government establish a statutory scheme for Garda vetting, for the regulation of the collation, exchange and deployment of hard and soft information for the purpose of child protection. This legislation is a priority for the Government. The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, in conjunction with the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform, is currently preparing Draft Heads of a Bill for consideration by the Government.

At a cross departmental level, it has been agreed that a single statutory agency should have responsibility for the management of all information, hard and soft, on child abuse in this jurisdiction.

The Heads of Bill on Soft Information that will be presented to Government for approval will include a proposal that the Garda Vetting Unit, based in Thurles, will be put on a statutory basis and that this statutory body would have responsibility for the management of all soft and hard information. What is envisaged is an agency led by the Garda with the HSE and any other relevant body working alongside them, similar in structure to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) which has Garda, Revenue Commissioners and Social and Family Affairs co-located together under Garda leadership.

Question No. 88 answered with Question No. 68.

Hospital Services.

Martin Ferris

Question:

89 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to ensure the maintenance of acute services at Kerry General Hospital, Tralee, County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45531/09]

The Government is committed to ensuring delivery of the best quality health services possible, in an effective and efficient way. Ensuring patient safety is of paramount importance, so that people can have confidence in the services and that the best possible patient outcomes can be achieved.

The HSE commissioned Horwath Consulting Ireland, in association with Teamwork Management Services, to carry out a review of acute hospital services in the HSE South, based on the principle of securing sustainable and clinically safe acute hospital services. Professor John Higgins was appointed as Director of Reconfiguration of Acute Services, Cork and Kerry Region, in March 2009. The Teamwork report was launched publicly on 9 June 2009 and a Reconfiguration Forum was established to assist Professor Higgins and the HSE in the reconfiguration process.

The Teamwork report proposed a single health care system for Cork and Kerry, with a new regional governance structure for hospitals and community to encompass the relationship between the health care system and the third level educational sector — UCC and Cork and Tralee ITs. A key principle of the report is that, while no hospital in the region will close, all hospitals will fundamentally change the services delivered to their communities and how those services are delivered, as part of the region-wide delivery of health care.

Because of the specific demographic and geographic challenges in Kerry, the report recommended that Kerry General Hospital retain current acute services within the regional structure. In addition, the report of the Reconfiguration Subgroup on Emergency Services, published on 18 November, has recommended further development of Kerry General Hospital's twenty four hour emergency service, within a structured relationship with the regional emergency service network and including major trauma assistance from Cork University Hospital.

Professor Higgins and his team will continue to work with clinicians and management to develop a new plan for the delivery of services in Cork and Kerry. It is intended that the plan will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

Infectious Diseases.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

90 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the additional measures she has put in place to address the crisis situation in hospitals in the North East region, and the potential for similar situations in other regions, as a result of the recent outbreak of C Difficile in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, County Louth and at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, with consequent closure of wards and beds, cancellation of operations, procedures and appointments and a ban on visiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45525/09]

Health Care Associated Infections (HCAIs) continue to be a challenge for healthcare systems worldwide. Ireland is not unique in this regard and tackling HCAIs here, including Clostridiumdifficile, continues to be a priority for the government and for the HSE.

National Guidelines for the Surveillance, Management and Control of C.difficile-associated disease continue to be implemented on an ongoing basis in both Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady’s Hospitals so as to minimise the impact of any outbreak of the disease on patients, staff and the general public.

Emergency infection control procedures and practices were put in place as soon as the outbreak in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital was reported on the 28th of October. These included an Outbreak Committee, convened in accordance with the national guidelines; increased restrictions on the use of certain antibiotics, laxatives and other drugs in line with expert advice and three wards in the hospital were identified and used to implement stringent isolation and control measures. The above measures including decontamination of all clinical areas also took place in Our Lady's Hospital Navan after the announcement of the outbreak there on 13th November.

During the peak of the outbreak, certain services at both hospitals were suspended and urgent cases were referred to other hospitals in the region and to the three North Dublin Hospitals.

As the epidemiological curve related to the C.Difficile outbreak in both hospitals has tailed off these services have resumed since 2nd of December. However, the following temporary changes remain in place: until the refurbishment of the orthopaedic service at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is finalised in mid-late January 2010, hip fracture surgery for the over-65s will be carried out in Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan and no elective orthopaedic work will be carried out in Navan until hip fracture surgery resumes in Our Lady of Lourdes.

Additional hygiene protection measures taken during the outbreak at both hospitals remain in force, being cognisant of the H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) threat. Members of the public have been asked to only attend the Emergency Department at the Hospitals in the case of a genuine emergency and to contact their GP or out-of-hours services in the first instance. Visiting restrictions as per National Hospital Guidelines will remain in place in all hospitals in Louth and Meath in an effort to protect patients and staff and prevent further spread of infection.

I am satisfied that the C.difficile outbreak was managed appropriately. The potential for similar situations in other regions cannot be ruled out but I am satisfied that significant steps are being taken to reduce the rate of HCAIs generally and to treat them promptly when they occur.

Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 65.

Health Service Reform.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

92 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received an interim report from the group she has established on the financing of health services; if reform is envisaged to achieve more cost effective structures in the future and in the context of talks with trade unions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45545/09]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the Expert Group on Resource Allocation and Financing in the Health Sector which I established in April this year under the chairmanship of Professor Frances Ruane, Director, ESRI. This Expert Group has been asked to examine how the existing system of resource allocation within the Irish public health service can be improved to support better the aims of the health reform programme. I have asked this Group to recommend the best ways to achieve this within the level of resources available to health and, in the light of its work, to take a view on the most appropriate financing mechanism for the Irish health service. The Group has been asked to report to me and the Minister for Finance by April 2010 and has not been asked to make an interim report.

As part of its current deliberations the Expert Group sought submissions from the public and relevant interested groups/parties on the issues within its remit. Submissions from health sector unions were amongst the sixty one submissions received by the Group. I would expect the Group to take account of all aspects of the health reform programme including the type of changes in service delivery which informed the discussions last week with health service trade unions.

Question No. 93 answered with Question No. 65.

Youth Services.

David Stanton

Question:

94 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children her policy in relation to the development of youth services; the section of the Youth Work Act 2001 and the national youth work development plan which have been implemented to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45571/09]

Responsibility for Youth Affairs transferred from the Department of Education and Science to the Office of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs with effect from 1 January 2009. The integration of Youth Affairs Unit into my Office is providing continuity of service and operational experience as well as opening up greater opportunities for a more integrated, cohesive and effective approach to addressing the needs of children and young people.

This integration has given my Office the opportunity to take a more comprehensive strategic view of the full breadth of work with young people in Ireland. A review of the constituent units of my Office that will inform the development of strategic and coordinated polices for youth related services has commenced.

With regard to the Youth Work Act, 2001, Section 1 provides for sections of the Act to be commenced at different stages. Sections 2-7, 17 and 18 have been commenced to date.

The National Youth Work Advisory Committee has been reviewing the implementation of the Act. I will consider the Committee's recommendations in the context of the role of my Office, its policies and strategies, while having due regard to developments to date.

Work has also continued in 2009 in supporting the recommendations of the National Youth Work Development Plan including the areas of child protection, ongoing financial support for local youth clubs and groups, support for the North/South Education and Training Standards Committee for youth work and the finalisation of a Quality Standards Framework for the youth work sector.

Capital Projects.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

95 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children the new starts expected in the Capital Programme for her Department for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45541/09]

It is not envisaged at this point that there will be new capital projects undertaken directly by my Department in 2010.

In relation to the Health Service Executive, the capital infrastructure projects to be progressed in 2010 from within the overall capital funding envelope are currently being prioritised by the HSE, taking account of the NDP targets for division of capital investment between the Acute and Primary, Community & Continuing Care Programmes. When completed, the HSE Capital Plan will be submitted for my approval with the agreement of the Minister for Finance. Details on the projects being progressed, including new starts from 2010, will be available when the plan is approved.

A number of capital project proposals for agencies under the aegis of my Department are currently under consideration. Details will be available when approvals are in place.

The capital allocation within the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will continue to support its ongoing programme of capital investment in the area of child care and young people's facilities and services.

Medical Cards.

Mary Upton

Question:

96 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if general practitioners are allowed to charge for administering a blood test to patients with a full medical card; the circumstances in which a GP will charge for a service to a medical card holder; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45566/09]

Under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, either capitation or fee-per-item, the general practitioner (GP) undertakes to provide all proper and necessary treatment of a kind generally undertaken by a GP to these patients.

Accordingly, under these contracts a GP should not demand or accept any payment or consideration for services provided by him/her, including blood tests, where they are indicated as part of a recognised treatment of an ongoing medical condition of a patient.

I am aware that some GPs charge for the transport of patients' blood samples to the hospital as this is not covered under the GMS Scheme. However, the option of attending the public hospital directly for phlebotomy services is always available to GMS clients.

If the HSE is made aware of specific cases where GMS patients are being inappropriately charged by GP contractors, it will arrange to have such cases investigated as appropriate.

Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 41.

Health Service Staff.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

98 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if she expects targets for increased numbers of social workers to be reached in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45546/09]

The Implementation Plan for the recommendations of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was accepted by Government and published in July 2009. One of the key recommendations of the Implementation Plan is that an additional 270 additional social workers be recruited by the HSE between 2009 and 2011.

As part of the overall approved employment control ceiling for 2009, my Department has provided written confirmation to the HSE that the general moratorium on recruitment, promotion and the payment of acting up allowances does not apply to specific designated grades, including social worker grades. This moratorium exemption provides for vacancies in existing posts in these grades to continue to be filled. New social workers posts may also be created, up to a specified limit of 270, provided that the HSE is satisfied in each case that there is no scope to redeploy an equivalent post from the hospital sector to the primary and community care sector. This moratorium exemption provides for an increase in the number of such posts, in line with Government policy, in order to meet the requirements of integrated care delivery and primary care needs particularly in respect of children at risk, the elderly and those with disabilities.

A further key action of the Plan which is currently being implemented is the conversion of temporary social work posts to a permanent basis to address issues of continuity of care and staff retention within the child welfare and protection services. The need to recruit further additional social workers beyond this cohort will be considered in the light of progress made in delivering necessary reforms in the child welfare and protection service.

Hospital Services.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

99 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will intervene to prevent the removal of acute services from the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45529/09]

The Transformation Programme for the North East region has been informed by the 2006 Teamwork Report to the Health Service Executive (HSE) which demonstrated that the service configuration in the region was unsustainable. A series of focused and necessary service changes are being implemented across the region. This Programme is about the reshaping and integration of community and hospital services so individual members of the public will have access to better quality safe services, which they can have confidence in. The majority of that care can and should be provided locally including in the community or at home wherever practical.

A series of focused service changes are planned for the region. The Transformation Programme is reconfiguring services by moving acute and complex care from 5 hospital sites (Cavan, Monaghan, Drogheda, Dundalk and Navan) to 2 (Cavan for Cavan/Monaghan and Drogheda for Drogheda/Dundalk/Navan) and to ensure that services in the region are organised to optimise patient safety. Acute medical care transferred from Monaghan General Hospital to Cavan General Hospital on the 22nd July 2009 and the immediate focus of the Transformation Programme is now on the Louth Meath services.

The HSE has always given a clear commitment that as health services in the region are developed, existing services will remain in place until they are replaced with higher quality, safer or more appropriate services and this remains the case. The service improvements, which will take place in the coming months include:

A new Emergency Department (ED) at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital

A Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital

An enhanced ambulance service

A proposed date for the transfer of acute medical care from the Louth County Hospital has not yet been determined and will be subject to a number of services being in place, but will occur on a phased basis.

Finally, I must emphasise that the changes proposed by the HSE are fully supported by me for reasons of patient safety. The HSE will work with all stakeholders to bring about the improvements in a carefully planned way that puts patients first.

In that regard I met with Louth Hospital — Save Our Hospital Services Committee, with the HSE and emphasised these objectives. I understand the Clinical Directors and Senior management from HSE concerned will shortly meet with the forum set up by the Save Our Hospital Services Committee to reassure all concerned of the significant advantages that will accrue from this process and the care that is being taken in its implementation.

Health Service Staff.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

100 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the procedure in place to address the return to Canada of a person (details supplied) to maintain and develop the National Cancer Strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45549/09]

The current postholder was seconded to the HSE for a period of two years, which period expired in November 2009. He has agreed to remain in position for a number of months to facilitate the recruitment of a permanent replacement. Recruitment for the post in question is a matter for the HSE, and I understand that the process is underway and that the post will be advertised in the coming weeks.

Primary Care Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

101 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of primary care teams in place; the number of teams operating from a single premise; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45560/09]

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

Employment Statistics.

Richard Bruton

Question:

102 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach the details for the latest quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2007 of the persons, distinguishing male and female, aged 15 to 24 years, 25 to 29 years and 20 to 64 years, showing the number in work, in the labour force and unemployed; and the unemployment rate in each respective category; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45293/09]

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is the official source of estimates for the information requested.

The data requested by the Deputy are presented in the table below in respect of the first quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2009 which is the latest quarter available.

Quarterly National Household Survey, Quarter 1 2007

Age group

Number in Employment

Number in Labour Force

Unemployed

Participation Rate

Unemployment Rate

’000

’000

’000

%

%

Male

15-24 years

169.5

186.9

17.4

58.3

9.3

25-29 years

176.0

186.8

10.9

92.2

5.8

20-64 years

1,125.8

1,179.8

54.1

86.9

4.6

Female

15-24 years

144.5

154.9

10.5

49.4

6.8

25-29 years

154.7

162.0

7.2

81.7

4.5

20-64 years

851.2

884.6

33.5

66.5

3.8

Total

15-24 years

313.9

341.8

27.9

53.9

8.2

25-29 years

330.7

348.8

18.1

87.0

5.2

20-64 years

1,976.9

2,064.5

87.6

76.8

4.2

Quarterly National Household Survey, Quarter 2 2009

Age group

Number in Employment

Number in Labour Force

Unemployed

Participation Rate

Unemployment Rate

’000

’000

’000

%

%

Male

15-24 years

99.0

146.5

47.5

50.5

32.4

25-29 years

146.5

184.5

38.0

90.2

20.6

20-64 years

999.3

1,172.7

173.5

85.4

14.8

Female

15-24 years

112.9

139.5

26.6

47.5

19.1

25-29 years

153.2

167.5

14.3

80.2

8.5

20-64 years

855.6

923.8

68.2

67.1

7.4

Total

15-24 years

211.9

286.0

74.1

49.0

25.9

25-29 years

299.7

352.1

52.3

85.1

14.9

20-64 years

1,854.9

2,096.6

241.7

76.2

11.5

George Lee

Question:

103 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach if he will provide the most recently available data on the number of people in the labour force broken down by county; the number of persons aged under 25 years in the labour force broken down by gender in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45294/09]

The Census of Population 2006 provides the most recent available data on the number of people in the labour force broken down by county and the number of persons aged under 25 years in the labour force broken down by gender in each county. This information is contained in Table 1 below.

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is the official source of regular labour force estimates. It provides estimates at State and regional levels but does not provide data for counties or smaller areas. The requested data at NUTS 3 regional level from QNHS, Quarter 2 2009 are presented in Table 2.

Table 1: Persons in the labour force by age group, gender and County, Census 2006

County

Total population in labour force

Under 25 years in labour force

Males

Females

Total

Carlow

24,337

2,231

1,586

3,817

Dublin of which

629,001

48,859

44,398

93,257

Dublin City

274,310

22,893

21,616

44,509

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

92,836

5,157

4,876

10,033

Fingal

130,816

9,426

8,362

17,788

South Dublin

131,039

11,383

9,544

20,927

Kildare

97,719

7,632

6,152

13,784

Kilkenny

43,042

3,284

2,281

5,565

Laoighis

32,643

2,747

2,074

4,821

Longford

16,400

1,348

981

2,329

Louth

54,140

4,450

3,508

7,958

Meath

83,920

6,302

4,862

11,164

Offaly

34,134

3,003

2,204

5,207

Westmeath

38,649

3,174

2,387

5,561

Wexford

61,782

5,282

3,721

9,003

Wicklow

62,369

4,550

3,527

8,077

Clare

54,775

3,899

2,792

6,691

Cork of which

232,873

17,393

13,904

31,297

Cork City

55,296

5,280

4,847

10,127

Cork County

177,577

12,113

9,057

21,170

Kerry

66,576

4,812

3,508

8,320

Limerick of which

88,566

7,545

5,847

13,392

Limerick City

24,482

2,475

2,163

4,638

Limerick County

64,084

5,070

3,684

8,754

North Tipperary

31,733

2,519

1,663

4,182

South Tipperary

39,174

3,343

2,291

5,634

Waterford of which

51,424

4,032

2,994

7,026

Waterford City

22,176

2,016

1,623

3,639

Waterford County

29,248

2,016

1,371

3,387

Galway of which

114,403

9,132

7,040

16,172

Galway City

37,883

3,626

3,498

7,124

Galway County

76,520

5,506

3,542

9,048

Leitrim

13,781

1,055

647

1,702

Mayo

57,517

4,344

2,904

7,248

Roscommon

27,556

2,009

1,284

3,293

Sligo

29,545

2,165

1,592

3,757

Cavan

30,840

2,647

1,706

4,353

Donegal

65,092

5,729

3,917

9,646

Monaghan

27,507

2,442

1,522

3,964

State

2,109,498

165,928

131,292

297,220

Table 2: Persons in the labour force by gender, Q2 2009

In Labour Force ’000

Q2 2009

Male

Female

Total

Border

128.8

95.7

224.6

Midland

74.4

52.6

127.0

West

125.2

97.3

222.5

Dublin

341.5

284.8

626.3

Mid-East

151.8

112.9

264.7

Mid-West

102.7

77.5

180.2

South-East

136.3

102.3

238.6

South-West

178.0

141.1

319.1

State

1,238.9

964.2

2,203.1

Table 3: Persons aged 15-24 in the labour force by gender, Q2 2009

Q2 2009 Aged 15-24

In Labour Force ’000

Male

Female

Total

Border

16.9

13.2

30.1

Midland

9.2

7.8

17.0

West

14.6

15.5

30.1

Dublin

39.4

41.8

81.2

Mid-East

15.7

14.9

30.5

Mid-West

12.5

10.9

23.3

South-East

18.2

16.1

34.3

South-West

20.0

19.4

39.4

State

146.5

139.5

286.0

Data may be subject to future revision.

Data may be subject to sampling or other survey errors, which are greater in respect of smaller values or estimates of change.

Reference period Q1=Jan-Mar, Q2=Apr-Jun, Q3=Jul–Sep, Q4=Oct-Dec.

Source: Quarterly National Household Survey, Central Statistics Office.

Population Statistics.

George Lee

Question:

104 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the population of the portion of Dublin that is south of the River Liffey and the portion of Dublin that is north of the River Liffey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45295/09]

The Census of Population 2006 shows the population for Dublin as 1,187,176 on Census Night. The following table shows the breakdown for the population in North Dublin as 534,521 and South Dublin as 652,655.

Population of Dublin on Census Night 2006

Population

Dublin North and South

1,187,176

Dublin City North

294,529

Fingal

239,992

Total North Dublin

534,521

Dublin City South

211,682

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

194,038

Dublin South

246,935

Total South Dublin

652,655

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

105 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years; the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications. [45329/09]

Since 2004 the following numbers of staff received financial assistance for further or higher education under the Refund of Fees Scheme (as set out under the Department of Finance'sCircular 23/07 (Post Entry Education — Refund of Fees, Study Leave and Examination Leave):

Year

Number

2004-2005

20 staff

2005-2006

34 staff

2006-2007

25 staff

2007-2008

20 staff

2008-2009

21 staff

In some cases the courses taken were immediately relevant to the area in which staff were working at the time — e.g. courses in Finance, Accounting, Policy Studies, Personnel Practice, HR Management. The rest of the courses dealt with subjects relevant to a wide variety of roles in the civil service and to officers' personal development — e.g. Public Management, Law, Innovation Management, Governance, Business Studies, Social Science, Economics.

When staff re-assignments are made in my Department a number of factors are taken into account, including previous experience and skills and an assessment of suitability for particular jobs. Qualifications, regardless of whether they were obtained through the Refund of Fees Scheme, before employment in my Department commenced or otherwise, are also considered when assignments are made. In addition, regard is had to staff preferences and the need to develop staff while at the same time building up for the future the core competencies and skill set base for the Department as a whole.

Code of Practice.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

106 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach the State agencies under the aegis of his Department to which the new Code of Practice for the Governance of State bodies applies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45339/09]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

107 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if the boards of State agencies under the aegis of his Department which are required to implement the new Code of Practice for the Governance of State bodies that have formally adapted the code at a board meeting; if they have undertaken training to ensure proper implementation of the code; the monitoring procedures they have put in place to ensure proper compliance with the code; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45340/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 107 together.

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only Body under my Department to which the Code of Practice for the Governance of State bodies applies.

The NESDO is currently reviewing and updating its Policy and Procedures Guidelines, which contain, inter alia, the detailed governance instructions and guidelines for the office, in the light of both the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies and other legislative requirements that have been adopted since the document was last reviewed.

The revised document will include all monitoring arrangements required to ensure that the code is properly implemented by the NESDO. It is planned that the revised document will be submitted to the NESDO Board for formal adoption within the next few weeks.

Regulatory Forum.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

108 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if the date for the 2010 Annual Regulatory Forum, which is one of the commitments arising from the Government Statement on Economic Regulation, has been set; the persons who will be invited to the forum; the agenda and objectives of the forum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45341/09]

The recently published Government Statement on Economic Regulation indicates that the Annual Regulatory Forum will meet in the first quarter of each year commencing in 2010. The first meeting of the Forum is expected to take place in the week beginning 1 March.

The Forum will involve meetings between the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, the Ministers for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Finance, Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and Transport and key regulators whose work is central to Irish economic performance and such other regulators as deemed appropriate from time to time. It will offer an opportunity to communicate evolving Government priorities relating to the economy, competitiveness and competition issues in an integrated way across sectors.

An agenda for the first meeting of the Forum has yet to be finalised but is expected to reflect these key priorities and major developments and trends in the regulated sectors at EU and domestic level, as well as offering an opportunity to assess progress made on the full range of actions set out in the Government Statement. Attendance at the meeting will be determined on the basis of a finalised agenda but will include the economic regulators reporting to the Ministers mentioned above and senior officials from their respective Departments.

Proposed Legislation.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

109 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to introduce legislation to prevent employers in the public and private sectors from retaliating against employees who in the public interest disclose misconduct as per commitment in the revised programme for Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45338/09]

Since March 2006, Government policy has been to address the issues of whistleblower protection legislation on a sectoral basis, rather than adopt a "one size fits all" approach. Ministers in the course of preparation of Bills are required to include whistleblowing provisions, as appropriate, having regard to the nature, purpose and scope of the proposed legislation in question.

In recent years the Oireachtas has endorsed this approach by including whistleblowing provisions when passing a range of diverse legislation including the following: The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005; The Garda Síochána Act 2005; The Employment Permits Act 2006; The Health Act 2007; The Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007; The Consumer Protection Act 2007; The Chemicals Act 2008; The Charities Act 2009. Whistleblowing provisions have also been included in recently published Bills including: The Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008; The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2008; The Labour Services (Amendment) Bill 2009; The Employment Agency Regulation Bill 2009; The Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009.

The Government remains of the view that this sectoral response to afford protection to employees through the inclusion of appropriate whistleblowing provisions is the appropriate policy.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

110 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years; the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications. [45322/09]

A total of 167 payments were made to 116 staff in the years in question, in connection with their successful participation, in their own time, in approved courses of further education.. Details of the number of payments in each of the relevant years is shown in the table below. For approved courses of more than one years duration, staff may claim a refund (of fees paid) for each successfully completed year.

Year

No. of Staff

2005

35

2006

34

2007

31

2008

31

2009 to date

36

My Department provides financial assistance to staff pursuing such courses in accordance with the terms of Department of Finance Circular 23/07. Consequently, applications for financial assistance to pursue further or higher education are only accepted in respect of courses deemed by the Head of the Department/Office to be relevant to the Civil Service employment of the officer(s) concerned. Financial assistance is only granted where the discipline being pursued is relevant to the business needs of the Department. In most cases, staff who receive financial assistance to pursue such a course of studies are already working in an area for which the particular qualification is appropriate. Otherwise, where possible, they are subsequently assigned to an appropriate area.

Local Employment Service.

George Lee

Question:

111 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the process used to evaluate the Local Employment Services; the details of these evaluations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45344/09]

FÁS contracts with Partnership Companies (and one non Partnership organisation) for the delivery of the Local Employment Service (LES). The LES currently operates through a network of offices and outreach clinic locations in 24 designated disadvantaged areas (23 Partnership areas and Kildare County).

The services provided are delivered under contract and the evaluation process is based on the targets set out in the contract, in conjunction with the financial and operational procedures that underpin the delivery and administration of the service. Within the contract each of the client groups have a specific target in relation to placement into employment and progression into training. The following are the agreed outcomes against which the LESN are measured:

Placement

Into employment

Into Self Employment

Progression

On to a FÁS Employment Programme

On to a FÁS Training Programme

On to a Non FÁS Education/Training Programme

On to a (long term) Education programme

FÁS has provided the LESN with a Client Services System (CSS) which allows for the recording of client interactions and outcomes. These interactions are reviewed at regular meetings between FÁS regional management and the LES within their particular region. In addition, outcomes are formally reported to FÁS for consideration on a bi-monthly basis.

As at 4th December 2009 activity for the year to date can be summarised as follows:

A total of 28,079 new clients registered for services with the LESN.

2,905 clients have been placed into employment/self employment.

8,533 clients have progressed into training, education etc (as detailed above)

The total number of clients on Active Caseload with the LESN is 25,781.

Please note: Active Caseload refers to those clients who are actively working with a Mediator who is supporting them in the process of moving back into the open labour market.

Employment Support Services.

George Lee

Question:

112 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of the jobs club scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45345/09]

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

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

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

Year

Number

2006

6,417

2007

7,100

2008

8,814

I understand that the number of drop-ins would be approximately double these figures.

Departmental Agencies.

George Lee

Question:

113 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of the FÁS budget for 1997, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45349/09]

The FÁS budget for the years 1997, 2008 and 2009 is set out in the table below. The allocation from this Department for 2010 will be published in the book of estimates following this week's Budget.

FÁS Annual Budgets: 1997, 2008 & 2009

Year

Annual Budget Non-Capital

Capital Additions

€millions

€millions

2009

1,070.696

10.000

2008

1,061.500

25.107

1997

600.777

3.516

Sources

1. Annual Budget Non-Capital figures per FÁS Board reports.

2. Capital additions per published FÁS Annual Reports.

3. All figures in € Euro.

Human Rights Issues.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

114 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her Department is involved in representing Ireland in the European Union’s negotiations to sign a free trade agreement with Colombia; if she will instruct her officials to support the suspension of these negotiations in view of the high levels of human rights abuses in Colombia, specifically the unprecedented level of assassinations of trade unionists in that country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45355/09]

Ireland attaches importance to the work of trade unionists in Colombia, and condemns all acts or threats of violence against trade union organisations and individuals there.

Accordingly, Ireland regularly takes the opportunity to raise issues relating to human rights in Colombia, both bilaterally and in international bodies. In fact as recently as Friday 4th December my Department raised the issue with the Commission at the Trade Policy Meeting.

Negotiations for a free trade agreement are pursued in the context of an overall Association Agreement, which will govern all aspects of relations, including political dialogue and cooperation as well as trade, between the EU and Colombia. This Agreement is part of an EU strategy to support the Colombian Government as it tries to combat significant terrorist activity and to influence it in a manner that also results in greater respect for human rights. Ireland supports that strategy.

As the EU is a single customs union with a single trade policy, it is the European Commission that negotiates for all Member States in talks for trade agreements.

Enterprise Support Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

115 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the help that is available from her Department for a person planning to start their own business. [45372/09]

My Department does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses but provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards, Enterprise Ireland and FÁS, through whom assistance is delivered directly to businesses.

The remit of the 35 County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) is to provide support for small businesses with 10 employees or fewer (micro-enterprises) in the start-up and extension phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level.

Subject to certain eligibility criteria new and developing enterprises may qualify for financial support from the CEBs. In addition, the CEBs deliver a range of non-financial supports to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow. Priority is given to projects in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. It is considered inappropriate to support other areas such as retail enterprises, personal services (e.g. hairdressers, gardeners, etc), professional services (accountants, solicitors, etc), construction, as it is considered that these enterprises generally give rise to unacceptable deadweight (where projects would have proceeded anyway) and/or displacement (where the projects simply displace business from other players in the market) concerns.

In order to more fully explore the range of options that may be available to them the company are advised to contact their local CEB to discuss their business needs with the relevant staff of the Board. Contact details for individual CEBs can be found by accessing the following website: www.enterpriseboards.ie.

Job Creation.

Mary White

Question:

116 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on creating a jobs taskforces in all areas of high unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45435/09]

In the past, Task Forces have been used as part of the response to a sudden loss of large numbers of industrial jobs, often in one major employer. They are rarely used nowadays. In this regard the Mid-West task Force is an exception which was set up to respond to a situation where in addition to a large number of job losses at Dell in Limerick there were also very significant difficulties for a large number of sub-suppliers in the region, which incorporates several local authority areas.

In recent years, other structures are increasingly used as an alternative to Task Forces. This typically involves the County Development Board as a co-ordinating mechanism and includes representation from State agencies such as IDA, Enterprise Ireland, FÁS and the County Enterprise Boards, as well as any relevant Local Authority. Stakeholders at local level are also involved in this process. Such structures are now available in all regions on a permanent basis and are usually considered to be in a position to address issues at least as effectively as a temporary Task Force.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

117 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of FÁS course providers or subcontracted FÁS course providers in which evidence has been found that the exam results supplied to FÁS have been manipulated by such providers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45520/09]

The information in question is currently being collated. I will contact the Deputy as soon as it is completed.

Community Employment Schemes.

George Lee

Question:

118 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 2008; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45709/09]

George Lee

Question:

119 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 2007; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45710/09]

George Lee

Question:

120 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 2006; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45711/09]

George Lee

Question:

121 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 2005; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45712/09]

George Lee

Question:

122 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 2004; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45713/09]

George Lee

Question:

123 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 2003; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 2003; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45714/09]

George Lee

Question:

124 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 2002; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 2002; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45715/09]

George Lee

Question:

125 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 2001; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 2001; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45716/09]

George Lee

Question:

126 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 2000; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 2000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45717/09]

George Lee

Question:

127 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 1999; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 1999; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45718/09]

George Lee

Question:

128 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 1998; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 1998; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45719/09]

George Lee

Question:

129 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the community employment schemes that were available in 1997; the duration of each of these schemes; the number of persons that participated in each scheme in 1997; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45720/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 118 to 129, inclusive, together.

The detailed information requested by the Deputy will take some time to collate and will be provided at a later date.

Job Initiative.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

130 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons with disabilities who have been employed through the FÁS job initiative scheme in each of the past five years; the cost of running this scheme in each of the past five years; the cost of running this scheme in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45733/09]

The Job Initiative (JI) is a programme providing full-time employment for people who, at the time of application, were 35 years of age or over, unemployed for 5 years or more and in receipt of Unemployment Benefit, Unemployment Assistance or One Parent Family Payment over that period.

Following changes introduced Job Initiative by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, in November 2004, there is currently no recruitment onto the programme since that date, while existing participants have their annual contracts renewed until retirement age.

Analysis of the participants on JI for the last five years who were previously in receipt of a disability-linked Social Welfare payment (including current year to date figures) are set out below. The annual programme costs have also been included in the table:

Period

Participants (Disability only)

Annual Programme Costs (All participants)

€m

Year end 2005

13

37.549

Year end 2006

13

37.940

Year end 2007

13

40.065

Year end 2008

13

37.734*

November 2009

11

39.000**

*Per Draft Annual Accounts.

**Budget 2009.

In addition all FÁS services are open to people with disabilities. FÁS provides vocational training for the unemployed and new entrants to the labour market through specific skills training and traineeships. FÁS also provides training for those in employment through apprenticeships and in-company training.

People with disabilities may be supported while in employment by FÁS through the following programmes:

The Wage Subsidy Scheme, which was launched in September 2005, provides financial incentives to employers, outside the public sector, to employ people with disabilities who work more than 20 hours per week. The subsidies are structured under three strands and the employer can benefit from one, or all, simultaneously. Disabled employees who meet qualifying conditions are also able to avail of the Back to Work Allowance that is available through the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

The Supported Employment Programme is an open labour market initiative providing people with disabilities with supports to help them access the open labour market. It is implemented by sponsor organisations on behalf of FÁS who employ Job Coaches to provide a range of supports tailored to the individual needs of a jobseeker. The ultimate outcome is that the employee becomes independent of Job Coach support.

Under its funding for Disability Supports and Awareness services, FÁS also operates a series of private sector employment supports to assist people with disabilities to access and progress in employment. It also includes supports for employers. Programmes under this heading include: Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant; Job Interview/Personal Reader Grant; Employee Retention Grant; and Disability Awareness Training Grant. Further details on the above programmes and supports are available on the FÁS website www.fas.ie

Employment Support Services.

John Deasy

Question:

131 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of firms in Waterford City and county that have been approved for funding under the employment subsidy scheme; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs covered by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45752/09]

The objective of the Employment Subsidy Scheme (Temporary) is to provide an employment subsidy to vulnerable but viable enterprises in order to maintain as many jobs as possible within these enterprises. 9 companies were approved for funding under the Scheme in Waterford City & County. These 9 companies were approved funding of €2,374,100, for 261 employment subsidies. These companies committed to retaining 2,639 full time employees until the end of 2010.

Job Losses.

John Deasy

Question:

132 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of job losses in Waterford City and county in the past three years and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45753/09]

Unemployment is measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey or QNHS and published by the Central Statistics Office. It does not provide data on particular counties but only on Regions. Employment in the South East Region, which includes Waterford, has decreased by 10,400 while unemployment has increased by 23,000 in the period Quarter 2 2006 to Quarter 2 2009 (April-June).

South-East

In employment

Year-on Year change in Employment

Unemployed

Year-on Year change in Unemployment

2006

213.9

15.5

12.1

-1.6

2007

223.4

9.5

11.6

-0.5

2008

225.4

2

14.6

3

2009

203.5

-21.9

35.1

20.5

In relation to the numbers of jobs lost, there is no exact measure, however, the Department records the number of redundancies notified to them on a monthly basis. The following table sets out the number of redundancy notifications received for County Waterford for the years 2006 to date.

Redundancies

2006

2007

2008

2009

Total

Waterford

675

631

1,572

2,350

5,228

The Government are taking specific measures to ensure that job retention and job creation are maximised. Enterprise Ireland has prepared a new recovery strategy to assist its clients. This strategy refocuses Enterprise Ireland's efforts in strengthening and sustaining companies of strategic importance through a range of initiatives focused on the needs of their client base. Enterprise Ireland's supports to businesses include:

The Enterprise Stabilisation Fund. The fund supplies direct financial support to internationally trading enterprises that are investing in cost reduction or other measures to gain sales in overseas markets.

The Employment Subsidy Scheme has been introduced to support the maintenance of vulnerable jobs and prevent people from being made redundant in this challenging national and global economic environment.

As part of a sustained, co-ordinated, integrated approach to jobsearch, training, education and work placement supports, I have doubled the provision of training and work experience places managed by FÁS to over 130,000. I have also increased the referral capacity of FÁS Employment Services from the Department of Social and Family Affairs to 147,00 persons in 2009. The Government has therefore enacted a broad range of measures to support companies and individuals in these difficult economic times and we will continue to do so in the future.

Industrial Development.

John Deasy

Question:

133 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of site visits to County Waterford, Dungarvan and Waterford City that have taken place in the past two years and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45754/09]

I am informed by IDA Ireland that since 2007, a total of 28 visits have been made to Waterford City and County. While IDA Ireland can and does encourage clients to visit particular locations, the final decision on where to visit or locate is taken in all cases by the clients.

The following tabular statement gives the yearly breakdown of the visits.

Site Visits to Waterford City and County

Year

Number of Visits

2007

9

2008

12

2009 (to date)

7

Job Creation.

John Deasy

Question:

134 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created by agencies under her remit in Waterford city and county in the past three years and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45755/09]

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are supported by the Industrial Development agencies. Data is compiled on an annualised basis and is aggregated at overall county level. Figures for 2009 will not be available until early next year.

The figures relating to net jobs existing in CEB-supported micro-enterprises are gathered in a CEB Job Survey each year. As figures are compiled on an annual basis, figures in respect of 2009 will not be available until early in 2010. Net jobs in CEB-supported companies in 2006, 2007 and 2008 are set out in the following table. In the three-year period, 2006 to 2008, a total of 1,257 IDA Ireland supported jobs were created in Waterford City and County and a total of 1,339 jobs were created by Enterprise Ireland client companies.

The Industrial Development agencies together with the CEBs are keenly focused on supporting Irish and overseas enterprise with the ultimate goal of growth and the creation of sustainable employment.

Jobs Created in Waterford City & County

Agency

No. Jobs created in 2006

No. Jobs created in 2007

No. Jobs created in 2008

Total

IDA Ireland

711

370

176

1,257

Enterprise Ireland

409

763

167

1,339

Net Jobs Existing in CEB-supported companies

CEB

2006

2007

2008

Waterford City

866.5

832.0

809.5

Waterford County

636.0

665.5

587.5

Total

1,502.5

1.497.5

1,397.0

Industrial Development.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

135 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of foreign investors she has, through the Industrial Development Authority, brought on a county basis in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45762/09]

Since January 2009 there have been 47 new project announcements of IDA supported companies investing in this country. These projects have the potential to create at least 2666 jobs.

The following tabular statement lists the companies involved and their location.

Table showing location and name of companies that have invested in Ireland in 2009

Location

Company

Cork

Alps Electric

Cork

Trend Micro

Cork

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Cork

Pfizer Inc

Cork

Gilead Sciences

Cork

Boston Scientific Corporation

Cork

McAfee

Cork City

Big Fish Games, Inc

Dublin

Gala Inc

Dublin

Gerson Lehrman Group

Dublin

PayPal Europe Services Limited

Dublin

Helsinn Holding S.A.,

Dublin

Cerner Corporation

Dublin

Rottapharm

Dublin

Abbott Mature Products Management Ltd

Dublin

AMPAC- ISP

Dublin

SuccessFactors

Dublin

Harris Corporation

Dublin

BSB

Dublin

Everest

Dublin

Microsoft

Dublin

Butterfield Fulcrum

Dublin

Citi

Dublin

Colgate-Palmolive

Dublin

PayPal

Dublin

IBM

Dublin

Citrix Systems

Dublin

Sajan

Dublin

Facebook

Dublin

BNY Mellon

Dublin

Bentley Systems, Incorporated,

Dublin

Sophis Group

Dublin, Cork and Galway

IBM

Dundalk

CIRS

Dundalk

CDiscount

Dundalk

Kenexa

Galway

Boston Scientific

Galway

Lumension

Galway

HP Galway

Galway

Buy.com

Kildare

Hewlett Packard Ireland Ltd.

Letterkenny

SITA

Mayo

Vattenfall/Tonn Energy

Meath

Wetzel

Monaghan

Computershare (CGS)

Sligo

Equinoxe AIS

Tullamore

Isotron

Arthur Morgan

Question:

136 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 34 of 12 November 2009, the locations in County Donegal at which the three industrial development authorities hosted itinerary by foreign investors were held; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45763/09]

I have been informed by IDA Ireland that the 3 itineraries by potential investors mentioned in P.Q No. 34 of 12 November 2009 were to Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. While IDA Ireland can and does encourage clients to visit particular locations, the final decision on where to visit or locate is taken in all cases by the clients.

Industrial Relations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

137 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support a matter (details supplied). [45771/09]

The rights commissioners and the Labour Court act independently in carrying out their functions. Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act 1969 provides that a party to a dispute in relation to which a rights commissioners has made a recommendation may appeal to the Labour Court against the recommendation and the parties to the dispute shall be bound by the Court's decision. In 2008, a total of 131 cases were referred to the Court under Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act 1969, an increase of 27% over the previous year. I am satisfied that the current arrangements are appropriate and I have no plans to review this provision as proposed in the Deputy's question.

Employment Appeals.

Sean Fleming

Question:

138 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the Employment Appeals Tribunal are in a position to deal with excessive delays in dealing with employment appeals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45785/09]

The Employment Appeals Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial body under the aegis of my Department. Secretarial and administrative support is provided by Departmental staff. Additional administrative resources have been allocated to the Tribunal, both last year and this year, to help it process claims.

For claims outside of Dublin, I understand that, over the past three years, the average waiting period for claims to be heard was as follows—

Year

Weeks

2007

51 weeks

2008

31 weeks

2009

31 weeks (to end Nov 2009)

I also understand that the number of claims to the Tribunal up to November 2009, compared with the same period last year, has doubled. While this is placing considerable pressure on case processing timeframes, I am encouraged by the fact that so far this year there has been no major worsening of the average waiting times. I will be keeping the matter under review and will take further action if possible within the constraints which exist in relation to resources.

Redundancy Payments.

Tom Hayes

Question:

139 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when an application for payment of redundancy of social insurance fund will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45804/09]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy payments on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees and, statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can confirm that my Department received a statutory lump sum application for the individual concerned on the 7th April, 2009 claiming inability to pay on behalf of the employer.

In this case, as in all cases where the employer claims inability to pay the employee(s) statutory redundancy, the Department requires the employer to provide sufficient proof to substantiate the claim. This includes providing the latest set of audited accounts for the company as well as certification from the company's Accountant or Solicitor attesting to the fact that the employer has insufficient assets to pay the redundancy entitlements. Providing this documentation is submitted and is in order, the Department pays the employee(s) directly from the Social Insurance Fund.

If the supporting information required from the employer is not provided to my Department, the employee is advised by the Department to take a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) against the employer to seek a determination establishing the employee's right and entitlement to redundancy. That is the advice given by my Department in this case which I understand was acted upon by the individual who currently awaits a hearing of the EAT. If a positive determination is given by the EAT, this allows the Department to make payment to the employee concerned very soon thereafter.

I understand however that in relation to the area concerned in the case of this individual, there is currently a 42 week waiting period for hearings. Given this backlog of cases pending, it is estimated that a hearing in this case should take place in April 2010.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial body under the aegis of my Department. Secretarial and administrative support is provided by Departmental staff. I understand that the number of claims to the Tribunal up to November 2009, compared with the same period last year, has doubled. Additional administrative resources have been allocated to the Tribunal, both last year and this year, to help it process claims. I will be keeping the matter under review and will take further action if possible within the constraints which exist in relation to resources.

Departmental Guidelines.

John McGuinness

Question:

140 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, further to previous parliamentary questions regarding the control of unattended petrol dispensing outlets, she will refer to the response given by the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government to Parliamentary Question No. 387 of 10 November 2009 in which he confirms that her Department has recently developed draft guidelines regarding the control of such outlets; if, in view of this response, she will publish the guidelines to fire officers to clarify the situation for those operators who want to develop their business in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45818/09]

My Department does not licence petrol dispensing stations and accordingly I do not have detailed information about the extent to which they are operational but my understanding is that there are none in operation in the State at present. It is my further understanding that such stations could only operate by virtue of special conditions attached to a licence granted to a proposed operator. In order to operate, petrol stations are required to have a licence. Licences for privately-operated petrol stations are issued by Local (and Harbour) Authorities.

Because my Department does not issue licences for petrol dispensing outlets, it has not developed any guidelines relating to the control of petrol dispensing outlets attended or unattended. Moreover, I am advised that neither my Department nor the Health and Safety Authority has issued such guidelines under the Dangerous Substances Acts — the Acts do not provide for the issuance of guidelines.

Consideration of the potential impact of unattended petrol stations involves a variety of codes — not just occupational health and safety. Indeed, it is a moot point as to whether the Health and Safety Authority, whose remit is occupational health and safety would have a role in relation to enterprises which, by definition, do not have workers present. The other codes involved in an assessment of the impacts of unattended petrol stations would include fire services, planning, dangerous substances, the emission of Volatile Organic Compounds, general environmental impacts, etc.

As I indicated in an earlier response, a number of fire officers and members of the staff of the Health and Safety Authority did consider some of the issues relating to unattended petrol stations and the conditions that might be expected to apply to their operation. I am informed that the outcome of their deliberations was conveyed by the Health and Safety Authority to the National Directorate on Fire and Emergency Management of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Work Placement Programme.

John Deasy

Question:

141 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford City and county that have been approved for funding under the work placement programme; the amount of funding involved; the number of individual placements covered by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46002/09]

There is no funding involved under the Work Placement Programme as the participants retain their Social Welfare payments while on the programme.

To date, 60 individuals have applied for vacancies advertised under Work Placement Programme in Waterford City and County. These individuals have been screened for eligibility by FÁS. Out of the 60 applicants, 3 have already taken up positions with companies under the programme. Currently in Waterford City and County there are 22 vacancies available to be filled and to date 18 employers have advertised vacancies with FÁS.

Enterprise Stabilisation Fund

John Deasy

Question:

142 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford City and county that have been approved for funding under the enterprise stabilisation fund; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs created by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46003/09]

The Government approved an amount of €100m in total for the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund for the years 2009 and 2010. €50m has been included in the estimate of my Department for this purpose in 2009. Under the scheme, Enterprise Ireland may provide up to €500,000 to viable companies with robust business models that are facing difficulties as a result of the current economic environment.

To date, there have been 2 successful companies, employing 82 people, approved for funding under the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund from Waterford City and County, totalling €940,000.

Job Creation.

John Deasy

Question:

143 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford City and county that have been approved for funding under the growth fund in each of the past there years and to date in 2009; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs created by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46004/09]

John Deasy

Question:

144 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford City and county that have been approved for company expansion funding by Enterprise Ireland in each of the past three years and to date in 2009; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs created by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46005/09]

John Deasy

Question:

145 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford city and county that have been approved for funding by Enterprise Ireland in each of the past three years and to date in 2009 under its schemes for exploring new opportunities; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs created by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46006/09]

John Deasy

Question:

146 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford city and county that have been approved for funding by Enterprise Ireland in each of the past three years and to date in 2009 under its schemes for research and development; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs created by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46007/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 143 to 146, inclusive, together.

The Growth Fund, launched in 2008, is designed to assist SME clients of Enterprise Ireland to achieve greater competitiveness by improving their export potential. Activities that lead to a sustainable improvement in productivity within a company may be supported under this competitive fund. These include capital investment, technology acquisition, recruitment of key managers, consultancy to assist with the implementation of the proposal, management development and staff training. In 2008, Enterprise Ireland approved €799,394 support to 3 companies from Waterford. In 2009 to date, Enterprise Ireland approved €481,791 support to 2 companies from Waterford.

Funding for company expansion is designed to help with funding for companies' expansion plans — this includes capital, training and employment supports, the focus of which is to increase exports. Since the beginning of 2006, Enterprise Ireland has approved €750,290 support for 4 company expansion projects to 3 companies from Waterford. In 2006, Enterprise Ireland approved €310,527 to 1 company in Waterford, while in 2009 to date €439,763 was approved to 2 companies in Waterford.

Funding for exploring new opportunities is focused on investigating new ideas and markets as an essential aspect of business development. Enterprise Ireland provides financial assistance in a range of areas including towards: Feasibility study grants, Going Global (for Irish services companies), Commercialisation of Research and Development (CORD), Enterprise Platform Programme, GreenTech Support, EU 7th Framework Programme Support, Market Research, R & D Stimulation, Consultancy, Business Acceleration Programme (BAP), Graduate placements, Export Orientation Programme (EOP), Mentors, Trade fair participation, Supply Chain Management and eBusiness Management.

Since the beginning of 2006, Enterprise Ireland has approved a total of 89 companies for 143 projects under ‘Exploring New Opportunities' amounting to €2,615,689 in Waterford. In 2006, Enterprise Ireland approved €548,963 to 31 companies. In 2007, Enterprise Ireland approved €703,692 to 35 companies. In 2008, Enterprise Ireland approved €879,185 to 42 companies. In 2009 to date, Enterprise Ireland has approved €483,849 to 28 companies.

Driving in-company research and development and the innovative application of knowledge will be critical drivers for the future success of Irish enterprise. Since the beginning of 2006, Enterprise Ireland has approved a total of €2,614,360 for research and development funding to 14 Waterford companies. In 2006, Enterprise Ireland approved €1,034,502 to 3 companies. In 2007, Enterprise Ireland approved €97,360 to 1 company. In 2008, Enterprise Ireland approved €1,145,591 to 7 companies. To date in 2009, Enterprise Ireland has approved €336,907 to 3 companies.

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey records jobs gained and lost in companies supported by the Industrial Development Agencies. Data is compiled on an annualized basis and is aggregated at county level. Data in relation to 2009 will not be available until mid 2010. The number of jobs created in Enterprise Ireland supported companies in Waterford was 409, 763 and 167 in 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively.

John Deasy

Question:

147 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford city and county that have been approved for capital grants by the IDA Ireland in each of the past three years and to date in 2009; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs created by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46008/09]

John Deasy

Question:

148 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford city and county that have been approved for employment grants by the IDA Ireland in each of the past three years and to date in 2009; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs created by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46009/09]

John Deasy

Question:

149 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford city and county that have been approved for research and development capability grants by the IDA Ireland in each of the past three years and to date in 2009; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs created by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46010/09]

John Deasy

Question:

150 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in Waterford city and county that have been approved for training grants by the IDA Ireland in each of the past three years and to date in 2009; the amount of funding involved; the number of jobs created by this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46011/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 to 150, inclusive, together.

The amount of capital grants, employment grants, research and development grants and training grants awarded by IDA Ireland to businesses in Waterford City and County from 2006 to date in 2009 are shown in the tabular statement.

In this period, a total of 25 businesses availed of such grants. The tabular statement gives the breakdown of the grants given to these businesses.

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey records jobs gained and lost in companies supported by the Industrial Development Agencies. Data is compiled on an annualized basis and is aggregated at county level. Data in relation to 2009 will not be available early 2010. In the period, 2006 to 2008, a total of 1403 jobs were created in IDA Ireland supported companies in Waterford. The tabular statement gives the yearly breakdown of this figure.

The Grant payment figures for companies in Waterford from 2006 to date in 2009

Year

Employment Grants

Capital Grants

R&D Grants

Training Grants

2006

1,127,264

2,928,958

574,445

2007

1,598,943

5,000,000

471,096

194,630

2008

4,499,255

202,721

37,614

2009 (to date)

432,200

35,367

59,767

Number of companies availing of IDA grant payments in Waterford from 2006 to date in 2009

Year

Employment Grants

Capital Grants

R&D Grants

Training Grants

2006

4

1

3

2007

2

1

1

1

2008

5

2

1

2009 (to date)

2

1

1

Number of new jobs created in Waterford from 2006 to 2008

Year

New Jobs Created

2006

851

2007

376

2008

176

Community Employment Schemes.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

151 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of places on community employment schemes in County Kerry for the years 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; if she plans to increase the number of places in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46025/09]

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

Any decision in relation to the number of places on the programme in 2010 will be taken in the light of the forthcoming budget.

The information sought by the Deputy is contained in the following table:

Year

Number of places

2007 (year end)

958

2008 (year end)

973

2009 (end November)

953

Flood Relief.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

152 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Finance the actions he intends to take in conjunction with all relevant Department’s to examine a management programme for the Shannon area minimise future flood risk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45292/09]

To facilitate planning for the management of future flood risk, OPW has embarked on a programme of Catchment Flood Risk Assessments since being assigned lead agency responsibilities in 2004, following the review of flood policy. These studies, which are required by the National Flood Policy and the EU Floods Directive, are designed to identify the areas at risk from flood events for a range of severities and to produce a prioritised plan of measures for dealing with areas where the risk is significant. The Shannon study is expected to commence in mid-2010.

Pending completion of the study for the Shannon Catchment, OPW, through the minor works scheme, will work with the relevant local authorities to identify areas that may benefit from interim localised mitigation measures.

Proposed Legislation.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

153 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce legislation to provide for a more open and transparent system for appointments to public bodies as per commitment in the revised programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45336/09]

The renewed programme for Government provides for the introduction, on a legislative basis, of a more open and transparent system for appointments to public bodies. The legislation will outline a procedure for the publication of all vacancies likely to occur, invite applications from the general public and from the responses create a panel of suitable persons for consideration of appointment. The legislation will also specify numbers of persons to be appointed by a Minister and will facilitate the appropriate Oireachtas Committees to make nominations to the panel.

Work on this issue is taking place in the context of implementing the recommendations contained in the report of the task force on the public service, transforming public services report. The task force made a series of recommendations in relation to State agencies, including the development of models of performance and governance frameworks.

Individual Ministers have already sponsored changes in their sectoral areas of responsibility. In this regard, the Deputy will be aware of the innovative measures for board appointments to public broadcasting corporations which were sponsored by Minister Ryan in the recently enactedBroadcasting Act. Developments in this area will help inform the legislative approach to be taken in relation to other public bodies.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

154 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance his plans to amend the provisions of the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants relating to the acceptance of outside appointments and of consultancy work following resignation or retirement as per commitment in the revised Programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45337/09]

The Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour provides that civil servants who hold positions which are designated positions for the purposes of the Ethics Acts shall not, within 12 months of resigning or retiring from the service:- (a) accept an offer of appointment from an employer outside the Civil Service or (b) accept an engagement in a particular consultancy project where the nature of such appointment or engagement could lead to a conflict of interest, without first obtaining approval from the appropriate authority.

In respect of staff below the grade of Assistant Secretary the appropriate authority is the Secretary General/Head of Office and in the case of staff at Assistant Secretary or above the appropriate authority is the Outside Appointments Board.

The terms of the renewed programme for Government provide for the extension of the above provisions to all public servants. I am taking steps to ensure that work on the extension of the Civil Service provisions is advanced in each sector. This work will include consultations with the appropriate stakeholders.

Tourism Industry.

Willie Penrose

Question:

155 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the reduction in visitors coming here over the past year, he will take steps to scrap the €10 tourist tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45475/09]

The Finance (No.2) Act 2008 confirmed the introduction of an air travel tax from 30 March 2009. However, I took account of concerns raised by the regional airports particularly those on the western seaboard. The lower rate of €2 applies to departures from any Irish airport where the destination is 300 km or less from Dublin airport. This means that all Irish departures to locations such as Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow are subject to the €2 rate.

Ireland is not unique in regard to applying a tax on air travel. Other countries within the EU apply similar taxes such as the UK and France, as do Australia and New Zealand. The rates for the Irish air travel tax are not unreasonable both for shorter and longer journeys, when compared to rates in other countries.

It should be recognised that tourists are only subject to the tax on their return journey. The additional €10 or €2 in the context of a much larger purchasing decision involving travel, hotel expenditures etc. should have only a limited effect on tourist numbers. The Government appreciates the airline industry continues to go through a difficult period. However, this difficult trading period arises primarily from weak world economic activity.

It should be noted that at present the decline in air travel is an international phenomenon and as a result aviation services are contracting on a global basis. In the case of Ireland the decline in passenger numbers through our airports are broadly in line with our international counterparts. This downward trend is evident for periods prior to the introduction of the air travel tax. Furthermore, passenger numbers for other modes of transport have also experienced broadly similar declines. This is not a desirable situation, but it is clear that the air travel tax is not the substantive cause for the decline in passenger numbers.

We currently face significant financial challenges and the air travel tax is an important revenue raising measure. The Government has tried to be as fair as possible in looking at areas for additional tax revenues. It is also worth noting that fuel used by commercial airlines is completely exempt from tax, so it's a sector that already has considerable preferential treatment.

Flood Relief.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

156 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the procedures regarding the removal of silt from a river bed to deepen the river; the licences that have to be obtained; the cost and duration of time to fulfil the requirements; the agencies to apply to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45517/09]

In its drainage operations, the Office of Public Works distinguishes between, on the one hand, the removal of silt and débris that has accumulated in a watercourse over time and, on the other hand, the deepening or deepening and widening of a watercourse below its original bed profile.

The former case, generally referred to as maintenance, is a duty of owners of property along the watercourse under common law, or, in some cases, may be the statutory duty, or within the discretionary powers, of a State body. Maintenance may be subject to certain planning and environmental legislative provisions. It is generally exempt from planning permission unless the activity is to be carried out in a site designated under legislation, e.g., the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, in which case the applicable legislation or EU Directives may introduce restrictions. Where maintenance is required by statue, a specified standard of maintenance is generally imposed.

Works involving altering the profile of a watercourse are subject to a variety of provisions under arterial drainage, planning and environmental legislation. Applicable legislation may include the Arterial Drainage Acts, where works are proposed by the Commissioners of Public Works, the Planning Acts, the National Monuments Acts and a wide variety of EU Directives. Many of these legislative instruments and directives are applied based on the scale of proposed works, the environmental sensitivity of the area in which works are proposed and the likely consequences of such works.

In relation to licensing of drainage activities, the competent authorities are generally the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Fisheries Boards under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Specific types of activity require a formal license, while, in others, there is a legislative obligation to consult, which includes obtaining agreement from the competent authority.

Compliance with the relevant body of legislation is normally integrated into the process of undertaking works. The cost and time involved in this element of the process varies significantly from case to case depending on the quality and amount of scientific data already available and whether detailed surveys and investigations are required. They can be quite significant at times.

Joe Carey

Question:

157 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to introduce a national early warning system for flood risk in co-ordination with local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45799/09]

I advised the Dáil on Tuesday 24 November and Wednesday 2 December that the OPW will shortly go to tender for consultants to carry out a strategic review to assess operational structures, costs and benefits of a National Flood Warning System.

The purpose of undertaking a strategic review of options for Flood Forecasting and Warning (FF&W) is to: (a) Examine the potential benefits that FF&W could achieve, (b) Identify and assess the options for the delivery of such a service in Ireland, and (c) To develop an appropriate and sustainable strategy for FF&W in Ireland. The review will be undertaken by suitably qualified and experienced consultants with the Office of Public Works funding the project and managing the review. A steering group, involving the relevant stakeholders, will participate in the review process.

Tax Code.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

158 Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that solid fuel suppliers that operate businesses here and in Northern Ireland have in place systems of evading the supervision of the VAT information exchange system, intrastat and mutual assistance requirements; his views on whether the new carbon tax will also be evaded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45821/09]

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

159 Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that traders that operate businesses here and in Northern Ireland have evolved systems to evade the requirements of the VAT information exchange system, intrastat and mutual assistance controls of the Revenue Commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45822/09]

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

160 Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the fact that there are no controls on the land frontier with Northern Ireland, he is satisfied that the collection of the carbon tax at point of entry to the State via that route will be possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45823/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158 to 160, inclusive, together.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that traders in any EU member state who sell goods at the zero rate of VAT to trade in another EU member state have legal obligations in relation to verifying the VAT numbers of the purchasers. This may be done through the EU Internet website to which they have free access. Otherwise, such traders leave themselves open to being held liable for the VAT on the goods if the number is invalid. Traders also have obligations in relation to justifying the application of the zero rate of VAT, that is, the goods must have left the state in question and are not simply re-sold in that state. Traders are also advised of their obligation to confirm that the purchaser of the goods is, in fact, the holder of the VAT registration number quoted at the time of supply. The purchaser of goods under these intra-Community transactions is then legally obliged to account for and pay over the VAT due on the goods at the rate of VAT applicable to the goods in the member date of that purchaser. Thus, for example, traders in the State who purchase goods from Northern Ireland traders must account for and pay over to the Revenue Commissioners the Irish VAT due on those goods.

The EU VAT directives provide that any VAT-registered trader who exports goods to a VAT-registered person in another Member State must complete a VIES Statement detailing all the VAT-registered customers in other member states to whom he/she has supplied goods in respect of which that customer is liable for payment of the VAT due. The VIES statements form the basis of tax compliance programmes in Member States. Council Directive 2008/8/EC (amending Directive 2006/112/EC) provides for the more frequent filing of VIES statements and provides that traders may submit statements on a quarterly or monthly. The increased frequency of filing of VIES statements will further counter instances of potential evasion of VAT.

In the case of cross-Border transactions between the UK and this State, checking the validity of VAT registration numbers, and indeed other tax compliance information, with their counterparts in Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in the UK, and in Northern Ireland in particular, is part of the checks carried out by Revenue officers during audits and assurance checks where risk or suspicions arise. These checks are carried out using the EU VAT Mutual Assistance Programme, which has been designed specifically to tackle cross-border VAT fraud. This programme allows for exchanges of information between EU member states in relation to VAT matters, and it also allows the presence of officials from one member state in another member state while inquiries are being carried out. These are VAT anti-fraud measures and Ireland plays a full role in the exchange of information with all other Member EU States, including the UK, with whom we have a very good working relationship.

Checks of the control procedures in place between the State and Northern Ireland form part of the work programmes of Revenue's Investigations and Prosecutions Division and the Revenue Regions. Revenue continues to liaise, as appropriate, with the competent authorities in Northern Ireland, under the EU Mutual Assistance programme. Revenue is currently engaged in a number of ongoing cross-border investigations involving the zero VAT rating of goods. If the Deputy has specific facts in relation to businesses evading VAT, whether in the area of cross border transactions or otherwise, the Revenue Commissioners would be grateful to receive such information. The Deputy can be assured that Revenue will assess and act on the information as appropriate.

Finally, in so far as a carbon tax is concerned, 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.

On considering the introduction of a new tax or indeed an increase in current taxes a wide variety of factors are taken into consideration including the impact on cross-border trade.

When new taxes are being introduced there are always practical issues in relation to implementation that require consideration. In that regard, as is normal practice, my officials in conjunction with the Office of Revenue Commissioners and other relevant Departments will, if the need arises engage with those sectors involved in the implementation of the carbon tax to minimise, in so far as it is reasonably possible, practical difficulties.

National Lottery Funding.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

161 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the amount that has been raised through the National Lottery in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; if the money raised was used specifically for community projects; and if not, the projects the money has funded. [45860/09]

The National Lottery surplus is allocated to a number of Government Departments in the context of the annual Estimates process. The copies of Appendix 1 of the Revised Estimates for the Public Services in each of the years 2007 to 2009, set out below, give a breakdown by Department of subheads which were part-funded by the surplus from the National Lottery.

The total outturn for all part-funded subheads in 2007 was €444m, of which €230m was funded from the National Lottery surplus. The total outturn for all part-funded subheads in 2008 was €472m, of which €265m was funded from the National Lottery surplus. The total allocation for all part funded subheads in 2009 is €419m, of which €275m is profiled to be surrendered from the National Lottery surplus.

Community projects are supported by the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs via its "Grants for Community and Voluntary Programmes" and "Local and Community Development Programmes" subheads, which are both part-funded by the surplus from the National Lottery. The level of expenditure under these two subheads was €101m in 2007 and €103m in 2008, of which €53m (2007) and €58m (2008) came from the National Lottery surplus. The Revised Estimates for Public Services for 2009 shows that the profile for the present year for these two subheads is a total expenditure of €90m, involving €58m of funding from the Lottery surplus.

Appendix 1: National Lottery Allocations

2005 Provisional Outturn

2006 Estimate

Vote/Subhead

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

6. Office of the Minister for Finance

L. — Payments to the Promoters of certain Charitable Lotteries

7,729

7,729

8,618

8,618

25. Environment, Heritage and Local Government

B.3 — Fund for Task Force on Special Housing Aid for the Elderly

11,024

11,024

12,141

12,141

B.4 — Communal Facilities in Voluntary Housing Schemes

2,066

2,066

1,977

1,977

E.2 — Grant for An Chomhairle Oidhreachta (Heritage Council)

1,891

4,863

6,754

1,699

4,313

6,012

Subtotal:—

1,891

17,953

19,844

1,699

18,431

20,130

26. Education and Science.

B.1 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Adult Education Organisations

782

782

701

701

B.9 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of youth and sport organisations and other expenditure in relation to youth activities

31,267

31,267

28,087

28,087

B.10 — Grants to Colleges providing courses in Irish

1,046

1,046

978

978

B.14 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organisations

234

234

218

218

Publications in Irish

64

64

Subtotal:—

33,393

33,393

29,984

29,984

27. Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

C. — Payments to Ciste na Gaeilge

3,016

3,016

2,781

2,781

K1. — Grants for Community and Voluntary Service.

29,552

29,552

30,033

30,033

Subtotal:—

32,568

32,568

32,814

32,814

Appendix 1: National Lottery Allocations —continued

2005 Provisional Outturn

2006 Estimate

Vote/Subhead

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

35. Arts, Sport and Tourism

C.1 — Grants for sporting bodies and the provision of sports and recreational facilities

52,395

52,395

45,858

45,858

C.4 — Irish Sports Council — General Assistance to Sports Organisations and other expenditure in relation to sports activities (Grant-in-Aid)

30,056

30,056

31,539

31,539

D.7 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon (Grant-in-Aid)

21,223

18,504

990

19,494

Subtotal:—

30,056

52,395

103,674

50,043

46,848

96,891

36. Defence

Y. — Coiste an Asgard (Grant-in-Aid)

1,036

1,036

606

608

39. Health and Children

B.2 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

3,434

3,434

3,085

3,084

40. Health Service Executive

B.11 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

6,476

6,476

5,818

5,813

C.2 — Building, Equipping and Furnishing of Health Facilities

2,343

2,343

2,053

2,053

Subtotal:—

6,476

2,343

8,819

5,818

2,053

7,871

Grand Total:—

116,583

210,497

132,667

67,333

200,000

Appendix 1: Expenditure Part-Funded by the National Lottery*

Vote/Subhead

2005 Provisional Outturn

2006 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

6. Office of the Minister for Finance

L. — Payments to the Promoters of certain Charitable Lotteries

7,730

7,730

8,618

8,618

25. Environment, Heritage and Local Government

B.3 — Task Force on Special Housing Aid for the Elderly

11,948

11,948

17,012

17,012

B.4 — Communal Facilities in Voluntary Housing Schemes

2,240

2,240

2,445

2,445

E.1 — Grant for An Chomhairle Oidhreachta (Heritage Council)

3,717

5,270

8,987

3,862

7,108

10,970

Subtotal:—

3,717

19,458

23,175

3,862

26,565

30,427

26. Education and Science.

B.1 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Adult Education Organisations

848

848

891

891

B.9 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Youth Organisations and other expenditure in relation to youth activities

33,885

33,885

36,728

36,728

B.10 — Grants to Colleges providing courses in Irish

1,134

1,134

1,175

1,175

B.14 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organisations

254

254

269

269

Publications in Irish

69

69

Subtotal:—

36,190

36,190

39,063

39,063

27. Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

C. — Payments to Ciste na Gaeilge

3,352

3,352

4,354

100

4,454

K.1 — Grants for Community and Voluntary Programmes

14,000

14,000

11,548

11,548

L.1 — Local and Community Development Programmes

70,396

70,396

74,381

74,381

Subtotal:—

87,748

87,748

90,283

100

90,383

Appendix 1: Expenditure Part-Funded by the National Lottery*— continued

Vote/Subhead

2005 Provisional Outturn

2006 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

35. Arts, Sport and Tourism

C.1 — Grants for sporting bodies and the provision of sports and recreational facilities

56,782

56,782

62,724

62,724

C.3 — Irish Sports Council (Grant-in-Aid)

34,425

34,425

40,914

40,914

D.7 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon (Grant-in-Aid)

62,645

3,588

66,233

68,640

3,670

72,310

97,070

60,370

157,440

109,554

66,394

175,948

36. Defence

Y. — Coiste an Asgard (Grant-in-Aid)

1,123

1,123

749

749

39. Health and Children

B.2 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

3,722

3,722

3,815

3,815

40. Health Service Executive

B.11 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

7,018

7,018

7,193

7,193

C.2 — Building, Equipping and Furnishing of Health Facilities

2,539

2,539

2,539

2,539

Subtotal:—

7,018

2,539

9,557

7,193

2,539

9,732

244,318

82,367

326,685

263,137

95,598

358,735

*The total expenditure of €326.685 million in 2005 was financed by €210.5 million from the National Lottery; the balance was funded by the Exchequer. In 2006, estimated total expenditure of €358.735 million will be financed by €200 million from the National Lottery and the balance by the Exchequer.

Appendix 1: Expenditure Part-Funded by the National Lottery*

Vote/Subhead

2006 Provisional Outturn

2007 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

6. Office of the Minister for Finance

L. — Payments to the Promoters of certain Charitable Lotteries

8,618

8,618

8,618

8,618

25. Environment, Heritage and Local Government

B.1.14 — Communal Facilities in Voluntary Co-Operative Housing Schemes

2,624

2,624

2,700

2,700

B.2.4 — Private Housing Grants

63,011

63,011

66,221

66,221

E.1 — Grant for An Chomhairle Oidhreachta (Heritage Council)

3,862

5,526

9,388

4,485

7,315

11,800

Subtotal:—

3,862

71,161

75,023

4,485

76,236

80,721

26. Education and Science.

B.1 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Adult Education Organisations

891

891

929

929

B.9 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Youth Organisations and other expenditure in relation to youth activities

36,693

36,693

42,617

42,617

B.10 — Grants to Colleges providing courses in Irish

1,228

1,228

1,256

1,256

B.14 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organisations

229

229

230

230

Subtotal:—

39,041

39,041

45,032

45,032

27. Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

C. — Payments to Ciste na Gaeilge

4,251

4,251

4,352

100

4,452

K.1 — Grants for Community and Voluntary Programmes

11,145

11,145

26,548

26,548

L.1 — Local and Community Development Programmes

71,972

71,972

81,500

81,500

Subtotal:—

87,368

87,368

112,400

100

112,500

Appendix 1: Expenditure Part-Funded by the National Lottery* —continued

Vote/Subhead

2006 Provisional Outturn

2007 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

35. Arts, Sport and Tourism

C.1 — Grants for sporting bodies and the provision of sports and recreational facilities

55,053

55,053

49,250

49,250

C.3 — Irish Sports Council (Grant-in-Aid)

40,914

40,914

54,025

54,025

D.7 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon (Grant-in-Aid)

71,140

11,170

82,310

75,000

5,000

80,000

Subtotal:—

112,054

66,223

178,277

129,025

54,250

183,275

36. Defence

Y. — Coiste an Asgard (Grant-in-Aid)

749

749

879

879

39. Health and Children

B.2 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

3,757

3,757

3,903

3,903

40. Health Service Executive

B.11 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

6,344

6,344

7,358

7,358

C.2 — Building, Equipping and Furnishing of Health Facilities

2,539

2,539

Subtotal:—

6,344

6,344

7,358

2,539

9,897

Total:—

261,793

137,384

399,177

311,700

133,125

444,825

*The total expenditure of €399,122 million in 2006 was financed by €200 million from the National Lottery; the remainder was funded by the Exchequer. In 2007, estimated total expenditure of €444.825 million will be financed by €205 million from the National Lottery and the remainder by the Exchequer

Aguisín 1: CAITEACHAS ARNA PHÁIRTMHAOINIÚ AG AN gCRANNCHUR NÁISIÚNTA*

Vóta/Fo-mhírcheann

2006 Caiteachas Sealadach

2007 Meastachán

Reatha

Caipitil

Iomlán

Reatha

Caipitil

Iomlán

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

6. Oifig an Aire Airgeadais

L. — Íocaíochtaí le Tionscnóirí Crannchur Carthanach Áirithe

8,618

8,618

8,618

8,618

25. Comhshaol, Oidhreacht agus Rialtas Áitiúil

B.1.14 — Saoráidí comhchoiteanna i Scéimeanna Tithíochta Deonacha agus Comharchumainn

2,624

2,624

2,700

2,700

B.2.4 — Deontais Tithíochta Príobháidí

63,011

63,011

66,221

66,221

E.1 — Deontas don Chomhairle Oidhreachta

3,862

5,526

9,388

4,485

7,315

11,800

Fo-Iomlán

3,862

71,161

75,023

4,485

76,236

80,721

26. Oideachas agus Eolaíocht

B.1 — Ciste Deontas-i-gCabhair le hAghaidh Costas Gineareálta Eagraíochtaí Oideachas Aosaigh

891

891

929

929

B.9 — Ciste Deontas-i-gCabhair le hAghaidh Costas Ginearealta Eagraíochtaí Óige agus Costas eile maidir le Gníomhaíochtaí Óige

36,693

36,693

42,617

42,617

B.10 — Deontais do Chóláistí a Thughann Cúrsaí i nGaeilge

1,228

1,228

1,256

1,256

B.14 — Ciste Deontas-i-gCabhair le hAghaidh Costas Gineareálta Eagraíochtaí, Culturtha Eolaíochta agus Oideachais

229

229

230

230

Fo-Iomlán

39,041

39,041

45,032

45,032

27. An Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta

C. — Íocaíocht le Ciste na Gaeilge

4,251

4,251

4,352

100

4,452

K1. — Deontais Phobail agus Cláir Dheonach

11,145

11,145

26,548

26,548

L1. — Cláir Forbartha Áitiúla agus Pobail

71,972

71,972

81,500

81,500

Fo-Iomlán

87,368

87,368

112,400

100

112,500

Aguisín 1: CAITEACHAS ARNA PHÁIRTMHAOINIÚ AG AN gCRANNCHUR NÁISIÚNTA*— ar leanúint

Vóta/Fo-mhírcheann

2006 Caiteachas Sealadach

2007 Meastachán

Reatha

Caipitil

Iomlán

Reatha

Caipitil

Iomlán

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

35. Ealaíona, Spórt agus Turasóireacht

C.1 — Deontais le hAghaidh Comhlachtaí Spóirt agus Soláthar Áiseanna Spóirt agus Caitheamh Aimsire

55,053

55,053

49,250

49,250

C.3 — Comhairle Spóirt na hÉireann (Deontas-i-gCabhair)

40,914

40,914

54,025

54,025

D.7 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon (Deontas-i-gCabhair)

71,140

11,170

82,310

75,000

5,000

80,000

Fo-Iomlán

112,054

66,223

178,277

129,025

54,250

183,275

36. Cosaint

Y. — Coiste an Asgard (Deontas-i-gCabhair)

749

749

879

879

39. Sláinte agus Leanaí

B.2 — Deontais do Ghníomhaireachtaí Sláinte agus d’eagraíochtaí eile cosúil leo

3,757

3,757

3,903

3,903

40. Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte

B.11 — Deontais do Ghníomhaireachtaí Sláinte agus d’eagraíochtaí eile cosúil leo

6,344

6,344

7,358

7,358

C.2 — Tógáil, Trealmhú agus Feistiú Saoráidí Sláinte

2,539

2,539

Fo-Iomlán

6,344

6,344

7,358

2,539

9,897

Iomlán:—

261,793

137,384

399,177

311,700

133,125

444,825

*In 2006 maoiníodh an caiteachas de €399.112 milliún le €200 milliún ón gCrannchur Náisiúnta; maoiníodh an t-iarmhéid as an Státchiste. In 2007, maoineofar an caiteachas measta iomlán de €444.825 milliún, €205 milliún ón gCrannchur Náisiúnta agus an t-iarmhéid as an Státchiste.

PROV OUTTURN 2006

REV 2007

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

V6 — DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE (NET)

88,565

7,938

96,503

88,424

9,076

97,500

L — PAYMENTS TO THE PROMOTERS OF CERTAIN CHARITABLE LOTTERIES

8,618

8,618

8,618

8,618

Total V6:—

8,618

0

8,618

8,618

0

8,618

V25 — ENVIRONMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (NET)

805,253

1,866,156

2,671,409

872,227

2,022,397

2,894,624

13. Sustainable Communities Fund

8,000

8,000

4. Private Housing Grants

63,011

63,011

66,221

66,221

Total V25:—

63,011

63,011

8,000

66,221

74,221

V26 — EDUCATION AND SCIENCE (NET)

6,999,106

648,161

7,647,267

7,662,731

722,600

8,385,331

B.1 — G-I-A FOR GEN EXP OF ADULT EDUCATION (NAT LOTTERY)

891

891

929

929

B.9 — G-I-A FOR GEN EXPS OF YOUTH ORGS (NAT LOTTERY)

36,693

36,693

42,617

42,617

B.10 — GRANTS TO COLLEGES — COURSES IN IRISH (NAT LOTTERY)

1,228

1,228

1,256

1,256

B.14 — G-I-A FOR GEN EXP OF SCIENTIFIC & EDUC ORGS (NAT LOTTERY)

229

229

230

230

Total V26:—

39,041

39,041

45,032

45,032

V27 — AN ROINN GNÓTHAÍ POBAIL, TUAITHE AGUS GAELTACHTA (NET)

276,549

134,702

411,251

342,000

133,000

475,000

C — ÍOCAÍOCHT LE CISTE NA GAEILGE (CRANNCHUR NÁISIÚNTA)

4,251

4,251

4,352

100

4,452

K.1 — GRANTS FOR COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY PROGRAMMES (MAINLY NATIONAL LOTTERY)

11,145

11,145

26,548

26,548

L.1 — LOCAL AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES (PART FUNDED BY NAT LOTT)

71,972

71,972

81,500

81,500

Total V27:—

87,368

87,368

112,400

100

112,500

PROV OUTTURN 2006

REV 2007

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

V35 — ARTS, SPORT AND TOURISM (NET)

363,656

163,729

527,385

397,470

251,805

649,275

C.1 — GRANTS FOR SPORTING BODIES (NAT LOTT)

55,053

55,053

49,250

49,250

C.3 — IRISH SPORTS COUNCIL ADMIN (PART FUNDED BY NAT LOTT(G-I-A)

40,914

40,914

54,025

54,025

D.7 — AN CHOMHAIRLE EALAÍON — PART NAT LOTT (GIA)

71,140

11,170

82,310

75,000

5,000

80,000

Total V35:—

112,054

66,223

178,277

129,025

54,250

183,275

V36 — DEFENCE (NET)

731,283

21,601

752,884

767,130

30,000

797,130

Y — COISTE AN ASGARD (GRANT-IN-AID) (NATIONAL LOTTERY)

749

749

879

879

Total V36:—

749

0

749

879

0

879

V39 — HEALTH AND CHILDREN (NET)

346,541

17,171

363,712

437,022

41,450

478,472

B.2 — GRANTS TO HEALTH AGENCIES & OTHER ORGS (NAT LOTTERY)

3,757

3,757

3,903

3,903

Total V39:—

3,757

0

3,757

3,903

0

3,903

Grand Total:—

257,931

129,234

387,165

315,215

123,110

438,325

V40 — HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE (NET)

9,580,944

450,146

10,935,459

538,950

B.11 — GRANT TO HEALTH AGENCIES (NAT LOTTERY)

6,344

6,344

7,358

7,358

C.2 — BUILDING AND EQUIPMENT (NAT LOTTERY)

2,539

2,539

Total V40:—

6,344

6,344

7,358

2,539

9,897

Appendix 1: NATIONAL LOTTERY ALLOCATIONS

Vote/Subhead

2005 Provisional Outturn

2006 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

6. Office of the Minister for Finance

L. — Payments to the Promoters of certain Charitable Lotteries

7,729

7,729

8,618

8,618

25. Environment, Heritage and Local Government

B.3 — Fund for Task Force on Special Housing Aid for the Elderly

11,024

11,024

12,141

12,141

B.4 — Communal Facilities in Voluntary Housing Schemes

2,066

2,066

1,977

1,977

E.2 — Grant for An Chomhairle Oidhreachta (Heritage Council)

1,891

4,863

6,754

1,699

4,313

6,012

Subtotal:—

1,891

17,953

19,844

1,699

18,431

20,130

26. Education and Science.

B.1 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Adult Education Organisations

782

782

701

701

B.9 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of youth and sport organisations and other expenditure in relation to youth activities

31,267

31,267

28,087

28,087

B.10 — Grants to Colleges providing courses in Irish

1,046

1,046

978

987

B.14 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organisations

234

234

218

218

Publications in Irish

64

64

Subtotal:—

33,393

33,393

29,984

29,984

27. Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

C. — Payments to Ciste na Gaeilge

3,016

3,016

2,781

2,781

K1. — Grants for Community and Voluntary Service

29,552

29,552

30,033

30,033

Subtotal:—

32,568

32,568

32,814

32,814

Appendix 1: NATIONAL LOTTERY ALLOCATIONS — continued

Vote/Subhead

2005 Provisional Outturn

2006 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

35. Arts, Sport and Tourism

C.1 — Grants for sporting bodies and the provision of sports and recreational facilities

52,395

52,395

45,858

45,858

C.4 — Irish Sports Council — General Assistance to Sports Organisations and other expenditure in relation to sports activities (Grant-in-Aid)

30,056

30,056

31,539

31,539

D.7 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon (Grant-in-Aid)

21,223

18,504

990

19,494

Subtotal:—

30,056

52,395

103,674

50,043

46,848

96,891

36. Defence

Y. — Coiste an Asgard (Grant-in-Aid)

1,036

1,036

606

608

39. Health and Children

B.2 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

3,434

3,434

3,085

3,084

40. Health Service Executive

B.11 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

6,476

6,476

5,818

5,813

C.2 — Building, Equipping and Furnishing of Health Facilities

2,343

2,343

2,053

2,053

8,819

Subtotal:—

6,476

2,343

8,819

5,818

2,053

7,871

Grand Total:—

116,583

2,343

210,497

132,667

67,333

200,000

Appendix 1: EXPENDITURE PART-FUNDED BY THE NATIONAL LOTTERY *

Vote/Subhead

2005 Provisional Outturn

2006 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

6. Office of the Minister for Finance

L. — Payments to the Promoters of certain Charitable Lotteries

7,730

7,730

8,618

8,618

25. Environment, Heritage and Local Government

B.3 — Task Force on Special Housing Aid for the Elderly

11,948

11,948

17,012

17,012

B.4 — Communal Facilities in Voluntary Housing Schemes

2,240

2,240

2,445

2,445

E.1 — Grant for An Chomhairle Oidhreachta (Heritage Council)

3,717

5,270

8,987

3,862

7,108

10,970

Subtotal:—

3,717

19,458

23,175

3,862

26,565

30,427

26. Education and Science.

B.1 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Adult Education Organisations

848

848

891

891

B.9 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Youth Organisations and other expenditure in relation to youth activities

33,885

33,885

36,728

36,728

B.10 — Grants to Colleges providing courses in Irish

1,134

1,134

1,175

1,175

B.14 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organisations

254

254

269

269

Publications in Irish

69

69

Subtotal:—

36,190

36,190

39,063

39,063

27. Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

C. — Payments to Ciste na Gaeilge

3,352

3,352

4,354

100

4,454

K.1 — Grants for Community and Voluntary Programmes

14,000

14,000

11,548

11,548

L.1 — Local and Community Development Programmes

70,396

70,396

74,381

74,381

Subtotal:—

87,748

87,748

90,283

100

90,383

Appendix 1: EXPENDITURE PART-FUNDED BY THE NATIONAL LOTTERY *— continued

Vote/Subhead

2005 Provisional Outturn

2006 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

35. Arts, Sport and Tourism

C.1 — Grants for sporting bodies and the provision of sports and recreational facilities

56,782

56,782

62,724

62,724

C.3 — Irish Sports Council (Grant-in-Aid)

34,425

34,425

40,914

40,914

D.7 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon (Grant-in-Aid)

62,645

3,588

66,233

68,640

3,670

72,310

97,070

60,370

157,440

109,554

66,394

175,948

36. Defence

Y. — Coiste an Asgard (Grant-in-Aid)

1,123

1,123

749

749

39. Health and Children

B.2 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

3,722

3,722

3,815

3,815

40. Health Service Executive

B.11 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

7,018

7,018

7,193

7,193

C.2 — Building, Equipping and Furnishing of Health Facilities

2,539

2,539

2,539

2,539

Subtotal:—

7,018

2,539

9,557

7,193

2,539

9,732

244,318

82,367

326,685

263,137

95,598

358,735

The total expenditure of €326.685 million in 2005 was financed by €210.5 million from the National Lottery; the balance was funded by the Exchequer. In 2006, estimated total expenditure of €358.735 million will be financed by €200 million from the National Lottery and the balance by the Exchequer.

Appendix 1: EXPENDITURE PART-FUNDED BY THE NATIONAL LOTTERY*

Vote/Subhead

2006 Provisional Outturn

2007 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

6. Office of the Minister for Finance

L. — Payments to the Promoters of certain Charitable Lotteries

8,618

8,618

8,618

8,618

25. Environment, Heritage and Local Government

B.1.14 — Communal Facilities in Voluntary Co-Operative Housing Schemes

2,624

2,624

2,700

2,700

B.2.4 — Private Housing Grants

63,011

63,011

66,221

66,221

E.1 — Grant for An Chomhairle Oidhreachta (Heritage Council)

3,862

5,526

9,388

4,485

7,315

11,800

Subtotal:—

3,862

71,161

75,023

4,485

76,236

80,721

26. Education and Science.

B.1 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Adult Education Organisations

929

929

959

959

B.9 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Youth Organisations and other expenditure in relation to youth activities

42,617

42,617

43,733

43,733

B.10 — Grants to Colleges providing courses in Irish

1,178

1,178

1,256

1,256

B.14 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organisations

230

230

235

235

Subtotal:—

44,954

44,954

46,183

46,183

27. Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

C. — Payments to Ciste na Gaeilge

18,500

18,500

26,047

26,047

K.1 — Grants for Community and Voluntary Programmes

82,869

82,869

83,450

83,450

L.1 — Local and Community Development Programmes

4,058

214

4,272

4,365

1,000

5,365

Subtotal:—

105,427

214

105,641

113,862

1,000

114,862

Appendix 1: EXPENDITURE PART-FUNDED BY THE NATIONAL LOTTERY *— continued

Vote/Subhead

2006 Provisional Outturn

2007 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

35. Arts, Sport and Tourism

C.1 — Grants for sporting bodies and the provision of sports and recreational facilities

49,882

49,882

56,000

56,000

C.3 — Irish Sports Council (Grant-in-Aid)

54,025

54,025

57,631

57,631

D.7 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon (Grant-in-Aid)

77,000

6,000

83,000

77,102

5,000

82,102

Subtotal:—

131,025

55,882

186,907

134,733

61,000

195,733

36. Defence

Y. — Coiste an Asgard (Grant-in-Aid)

879

879

803

803

39. Health and Children

B.2 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

3,901

3,901

3,985

3,985

40. Health Service Executive

B.11 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

7,702

7,702

7,513

7,513

C.2 — Building, Equipping and Furnishing of Health Facilities

2,539

2,539

2,539

2,539

Subtotal:—

7,702

2,539

10,241

7,513

2,539

10,052

Total:—

306,368

129,796

436,164

320,182

140,775

460,957

*The total expenditure of €399,122 million in 2006 was financed by €200 million from the National Lottery; the remainder was funded by the Exchequer. In 2007, estimated total expenditure of €444.825 million will be financed by €205 million from the National Lottery and the remainder by the Exchequer.

PROV OUTTURN 2007

REV 2008

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

V6 — DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE (NET)

82,717

4,669

87,386

80,165

7,565

87,730

K — PAYMENTS TO THE PROMOTERS OF CERTAIN CHARITABLE LOTTERIES

8,618

8,618

8,618

8,618

Total V6:—

8,618

0

8,618

8,618

0

8,618

V25 — ENVIRONMENT, HERITAGE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (NET)

863,444

1,983,435

2,846,879

950,739

2,232,931

3,183,670

13. Sustainable Communities Fund

551

551

5,000

5,000

4. Private Housing Grants

67,342

67,342

69,221

69,221

Total V25:—

551

67,342

67,893

5,000

69,221

74,221

V26 — EDUCATION AND SCIENCE (NET)

7,666,427

811,152

8,477,579

8,246,852

806,600

9,053,452

B.1 — G-I-A FOR GEN EXP OF ADULT EDUCATION (NAT LOTTERY)

929

929

959

959

B.9 — G-I-A FOR GEN EXPS OF YOUTH ORGS (NAT LOTTERY)

42,617

42,617

43,733

43,733

B.10 — GRANTS TO COLLEGES — COURSES IN IRISH (NAT LOTTERY)

1,178

1,178

1,256

1,256

B.14 — G-I-A FOR GEN EXP OF SCIENTIFIC & EDUC ORGS (NAT LOTTERY)

230

230

235

235

Total V26:—

44,954

44,954

46,183

46,183

V27 — AN ROINN GNÓTHAÍ POBAIL, TUAITHE AGUS GAELTACHTA (NET)

331,431

119,605

451,036

372,594

136,000

508,594

B.1 — GRANTS FOR COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY PROGRAMMES (NAT LOTT)

18,500

18,500

26,047

26,047

B.3 — LOCAL AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES (NAT LOTT)

82,869

82,869

83,450

83,450

F.1 — CISTE NA GAEILGE (NAT LOTT)

4,058

214

4,272

4,365

1,000

5,365

Total V27:—

105,427

214

105,641

113,862

1,000

114,862

PROV OUTTURN 2007

REV 2008

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

V35 — ARTS, SPORT AND TOURISM (NET)

399,266

222,749

622,015

424,542

275,620

700,162

C.1 — GRANTS FOR SPORTING BODIES (NAT LOTT)

49,882

49,882

56,000

56,000

C.3 — IRISH SPORTS COUNCIL ADMIN (PART FUNDED BY NAT LOTT(G-I-A)

54,025

54,025

57,631

57,631

D.7 — AN CHOMHAIRLE EALAÍON — PART NAT LOTT (GIA)

77,000

6,000

83,000

77,102

5,000

82,102

Total V35:—

131,025

55,882

186,907

134,733

61,000

195,733

V36 — DEFENCE (NET)

766,411

26,653

793,064

845,011

30,100

875,111

Y — COISTE AN ASGARD (GRANT-IN-AID) (NATIONAL LOTTERY)

879

879

803

803

Total V36:—

879

0

879

803

0

803

V39 — HEALTH AND CHILDREN (NET)

403,435

30,839

434,274

508,832

20,450

529,282

B.2 — GRANTS TO HEALTH AGENCIES & OTHER ORGS (NAT LOTTERY)

3,901

3,901

3,985

3,985

Total V39:—

3,901

0

3,901

3,985

0

3,985

Grand Total:—

303,057

125,977

429,034

320,697

133,760

454,457

V40 — HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE (NET)

10,936,114

517,781

11,453,895

11,743,325

586,720

12,330,045

B.11 — GRANT TO HEALTH AGENCIES (NAT LOTTERY)

7,702

7,702

7,513

7,513

C.2 — BUILDING AND EQUIPMENT (NAT LOTTERY)

2,539

2,539

2,539

2,539

Total V40:—

7,702

2,539

10,241

7,513

2,539

10,052

Appendix 1: EXPENDITURE PART-FUNDED BY THE NATIONAL LOTTERY*

Vote/Subhead

2007 Provisional Outturn

2008 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

6. Office of the Minister for Finance

K. — Payments to the Promoters of certain Charitable Lotteries

8,618

8,618

8,618

8,618

25. Environment, Heritage and Local Government

B.1.14 — Communal Facilities in Voluntary Co-Operative Housing Schemes

1,922

1,922

3,000

3,000

B.2.4 — Private Housing Grants

67,342

67,342

69,221

69,221

G.1 — Grant for An Chomhairle Oidhreachta (Heritage Council)

4,485

9,051

13,536

5,529

7,874

13,403

Subtotal:—

4,485

78,315

82,800

5,529

80,095

85,624

26. Education and Science.

B.1 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Adult Education Organisations

929

929

959

959

B.9 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Youth Organisations and other expenditure in relation to youth activities

42,617

42,617

43,733

43,733

B.10 — Grants to Colleges providing courses in Irish

1,178

1,178

1,256

1,256

B.14 — Grant-in-aid Fund for general expenses of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organisations

230

230

235

235

Subtotal:—

44,954

44,954

46,183

46,183

27. Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

B.1 — Supports for Community and Voluntary Sector

18,500

18,500

26,047

26,047

B.3 — Local and Community Development Programmes

82,869

82,869

83,450

83,450

F.1 — Payments to Ciste na Gaeilge

4,058

214

4,272

4,365

1,000

5,365

Subtotal:—

105,427

214

105,641

113,862

1,000

114,862

Appendix 1: EXPENDITURE PART-FUNDED BY THE NATIONAL LOTTERY*— continued

Vote/Subhead

2007 Provisional Outturn

2008 Estimate

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

35. Arts, Sport and Tourism

C.1 — Grants for sporting bodies and the provision of sports and recreational facilities

49,882

49,882

56,000

56,000

C.3 — Irish Sports Council (Grant-in-Aid) .

54,025

54,025

57,631

57,631

D.7 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon (Grant-in-Aid)

77,000

6,000

83,000

77,102

5,000

82,102

Subtotal:—

131,025

55,882

186,907

134,733

61,000

195,733

36. Defence

Y. — Coiste an Asgard (Grant-in-Aid)

879

879

803

803

39. Health and Children

B.2 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

3,901

3,901

3,985

3,985

40. Health Service Executive

B.11 — Grants to Health Agencies and other similar organisations

7,702

7,702

7,513

7,513

C.2 — Building, Equipping and Furnishing of Health Facilities

2,539

2,539

2,539

2,539

Subtotal:—

7,702

2,539

10,241

7,513

2,539

10,052

Total:—

306,991

136,950

443,941

321,226

144,634

465,860

*The total expenditure of €443.941 million in 2007 was financed by €230 million from the National Lottery; the remainder was funded by the Exchequer. In 2008, estimated total expenditure of €465.860 million will be financed by €250 million from the National Lottery and the remainder by the Exchequer.

Aguisín 1: CAITEACHAS ARNA PHÁIRTMHAOINIÚ AG AN gCRANNCHUR NÁISIÚNTA*

Vóta/Fo-mhírcheann

2007 Caiteachas Sealadach

2008 Meastachán

Reatha

Caipitil

Iomlán

Reatha

Caipitil

Iomlán

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

6. Oifig an Aire Airgeadais

L. — Íocaíochtaí le Tionscnóirí Crannchur Carthanach Áirithe

8,618

8,618

8,618

8,618

25. Comhshaol, Oidhreacht agus Rialtas Áitiúil

B.1.14 — Saoráidí comhchoiteanna i Scéimeanna Tithíochta Deonacha agus Comharchumainn

1,922

1,922

3,000

3,000

B.2.4 — Deontais Tithíochta Príobháidí

67,342

67,342

69,221

69,221

G.1 — Deontas don Chomhairle Oidhreachta

4,485

9,051

13,536

5,529

7,874

13,403

Fo-Iomlán

4,485

78,315

82,800

5,529

80,095

85,624

26. Oideachas agus Eolaíocht

B.1 — Ciste Deontas-i-gCabhair le hAghaidh Costas Ginearálta Eagraíochtaí Oideachas Aosaigh

929

929

959

959

B.9 — Ciste Deontas-i-gCabhair le hAghaidh Costas Ginearálta Eagraíochtaí Óige agus Costas eile maidir le Gníomhaíochtaí don Óige

42,617

42,617

43,733

43,733

B.10 — Deontais do Chóláistí a Thughann Cúrsaí i nGaeilge

1,178

1,178

1,256

1,256

B.14 — Ciste Deontas-i-gCabhair le hAghaidh Costas Ginearálta Eagraíochtaí, Culturtha Eolaíochta agus Oideachais

230

230

235

235

Fo-Iomlán

44,954

44,954

46,183

46,183

27. An Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta

B.1 — Tacaí don Earnáil Phobail agus Dheonach

18,500

18,500

26,047

26,047

B.3 — Cláir Forbartha Áitiúla agus Pobail

82,869

82,869

83,450

83,450

F.1 — Íocaíocht le Ciste na Gaeilge

4,058

214

4,272

4,365

1,000

5,365

Fo-Iomlán

105,427

214

105,641

113,862

1,000

114,862

Aguisín 1: CAITEACHAS ARNA PHÁIRTMHAOINIÚ AG AN gCRANNCHUR NÁISIÚNTA*— ar leanainn

Vóta/Fo-mhírcheann

2007 Caiteachas Sealadach

2008 Meastachán

Reatha

Caipitil

Iomlán

Reatha

Caipitil

Iomlán

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

35. Ealaíona, Spórt agus Turasóireacht

C.1 — Deontais le hAghaidh Comhlachtaí Spóirt agus

Soláthar Áiseanna Spóirt agus Caitheamh Aimsire

49,882

49,882

56,000

56,000

C.3 — Comhairle Spóirt na hÉireann (Deontas-i-gCabhair)

54,025

54,025

57,631

57,631

D.7 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon (Deontas-i-gCabhair)

77,000

6,000

83,000

77,102

5,000

82,102

Fo-Iomlán

131,025

55,882

186,907

134,733

61,000

195,733

36. Cosaint

Y. — Coiste an Asgard (Deontas-i-gCabhair)

879

879

803

803

39. Sláinte agus Leanaí

B.2 — Deontais do Ghníomhaireachtaí Sláinte agus d’eagraíochtaí eile cosúil leo

3,901

3,901

3,985

3,985

40. Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte

B.11 — Deontais do Ghníomhaireachtaí Sláinte agus d’eagraíochtaí eile cosúil leo

7,702

7,702

7,513

7,513

C.2 — Tógáil, Trealmhú agus Feistiú Saoráidí Sláinte

2,539

2,539

2,539

2,539

Fo-Iomlán

7,702

2,539

10,241

7,513

2,539

10,052

Iomlán:—

306,991

136,950

443,941

321,226

144,634

465,860

*I 2007 maoiníodh an caiteachas de €443.941 milliún le €230 milliún ón gCrannchur Náisiúnta; maoiníodh an t-iarmhéid as an Státchiste. I 2008, maoineofar an caiteachas measta iomlán de €465.860 milliún, €250 milliún ón gCrannchur Náisiúnta agus an t-iarmhéid as an Státchiste.
*The total expenditure of €399,122 million in 2006 was financed by €200 million from the National Lottery; the remainder was funded by the Exchequer. In 2007, estimated total expenditure of €444.825 million will be financed by €205 million from the National Lottery and the remainder by the Exchequer.
*I 2005 maoiníodh an caiteachas de €326.685 milliún le €210.5 milliún ón gCrannchur Náisiúnta; maoiníodh an t-iarmhéid as an Státchiste. In 2006, maoineofar an caiteachas measta iomlán de €358.735 milliún, €200 milliún ón gCrannchur Náisiúnta agus an t-iarmhéid as an Státchiste.

Fiscal Policy.

Richard Bruton

Question:

162 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the estimate increased revenues from applying a 2% health levy on incomes between €230 and €500 per week; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45288/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the yield to the Exchequer from applying a 2% health levy on incomes between €230 and €500 is estimated at €195 million in 2010 and €270 million in a full year. The figures are estimates 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. They are therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

163 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the effect a carbon tax would have on the cost of a number of goods (details supplied), in absolute terms and in percentage terms; the revenue that would be collected; the cost of excluding farm diesel from the carbon tax; the cost of excluding solid fuels for home heating from the carbon tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45314/09]

Richard Bruton

Question:

165 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the revenue that would beraised by a carbon tax (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45356/09]

I propose to take Question Nos. 163 and 165 together.

The estimated impact of a carbon tax, inclusive of VAT, on the products referred to are set out in the table below. In addition the table includes the estimated full year revenues from a carbon tax at the rates requested, along with a cost of excluding certain products. It should be noted that it is assumed that those companies covered by the European Emissions Trading Scheme are exempted from the carbon tax.

Carbon Tax at

€15

€20

€25

€m

€m

€m

Estimated Yield

330

440

550

Est. cost to exclude farm diesel

12.5

16.5

20.5

Est cost to exclude solid fuels

21.0

28.0

35.0

€15 per tonne

€20 per tonne

€25 per tonne

Fuel Type

Unit

Price

Carbon tax + VAT

% price increase

Carbon tax + VAT

% price increase

Carbon tax + VAT

% price increase

Cents

Cents

Cents

Petrol

litre

1.189

4.2

3.5%

5.6

0.5%

7.0

5.9%

Auto-diesel

litre

1.099

4.9

4.4%

6.5

5.9%

8.1

7.4%

Marked Gas Oil

litre

0.540

4.9

8.7%

6.3

11.6%

7.8

14.5%

€20 per tonne

Fuel Type

Unit

Price

Carbon tax + VAT

% price increase

Petrol

litre

1.189

0.056

4.7%

Auto-diesel

litre

1.099

0.065

5.9%

Marked Gas Oil

k/litre

539.3

62.487

11.6%

€25 per tonne

Fuel Type

Unit

Price

Carbon tax + VAT

% price increase

Petrol

litre

1.189

0.0700

5.9%

Auto-diesel

litre

1.099

0.0810

7.4%

Marked Gas Oil

k/litre

539.3

78.1093

14.5%

€15 per tonne

Fuel Type

Unit

Price

Carbon tax per unit

Carbon tax + VAT

% price increase

Petrol

litre

1.189

0.034

0.042

3.5%

Auto-diesel

litre

1.099

0.040

0.049

4.4%

Marked Gas Oil

k/litre

539.3

41.291

46.866

8.7%

€20 per tonne

Fuel Type

Unit

Price

Carbon tax per unit

Carbon tax + VAT

% price increase

Petrol

litre

1.189

0.046

0.056

4.7%

Auto-diesel

litre

1.099

0.053

0.065

5.9%

Marked Gas Oil

k/litre

539.3

55.055

62.487

11.6%

€25 per tonne

Fuel Type

Unit

Price

Carbon tax per unit

Carbon tax + VAT

% price increase

Petrol

litre

1.189

0.0570

0.0700

5.9%

Auto-diesel

litre

1.099

0.0670

0.0810

7.4%

Marked Gas Oil

k/litre

539.300

68.8188

78.1093

14.5%

€15 per tonne

€20 per tonne

€25 per tonne

Fuel Type

Unit

Current Price

Carbon tax (VAT incl.)

% price increase

Carbon tax (VAT incl.)

% price increase

Carbon tax (VAT incl.)

% price increase

Cents

Cents

Cents

Petrol

litre

1.19

4.2

3.5%

5.6

4.7%

7.0

5.9%

Auto-diesel

litre

1.10

4.9

4.4%

6.5

5.9%

8.1

7.4%

Marked Gas Oil

litre

0.54

4.7

8.7%

6.3

11.6%

7.8

14.5%

Est. Yield

€330.0m

€440.0m

€550.0m

Est. cost of excluding farm diesel

€12.5m

€16.5m

€20.5m

Est. cost of excluding solid fuel

€21.0m

€28.0m

€35.0m

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

164 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years; the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications. [45324/09]

The number of staff in my Department who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five academic years is as follows: 2005/2006 — 39; 2006/2007 — 35; 2007/2008 — 20; 2008/2009 — 27. With regard to the current academic year, 2009/2010, a total of 33 staff are being supported to pursue academic courses.

The Department's Post-Entry Education Scheme is actively promoted and supported to ensure that staff have the necessary skills and expertise to enable the Department to meet its strategic business objectives and to encourage a continuous learning culture in the Department. Financial support is given to staff pursuing academic courses which reflect the particular skills and qualifications required primarily within the Department, including economics, policy analysis and finance.

Question No. 165 answered with Question No. 163.

Flood Relief.

Michael Noonan

Question:

166 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance the works planned by the Office of Public Works to prevent flooding at Castleconnell and Montpelier, County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45411/09]

Under a scheme introduced during the Summer, the Office of Public Works invited Local Authorities to apply for funding for localised minor flood mitigation works, subject to specific economic and environmental criteria. The OPW understands that an application will be made by Limerick County Council under this scheme for funding for works to address the flood problems at Castleconnell and Montpelier.

Michael Noonan

Question:

167 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance the works being carried out at Shannon Banks, Corbally, Limerick to prevent further flooding of the River Shannon; the estimated cost of these works; when construction will conclude; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45412/09]

The Office of Public Works constructed an embankment at Shannon Banks, Corbally, Co. Limerick as an emergency response measure, following consultation with an inter-agency group set up by Clare Council to co-ordinate the response to flooding in the region. The work was carried out by OPW's own workforce. Given the extreme urgency involved, the full cost of the works has not yet been established.

If it is decided by the Council that the embankment should remain in place for the longer term, some realignment of it away from residential property, and some landscaping and path restoration works, may be required. Tidal valves might also need to be installed to surface water outfalls. These works, if required, would be undertaken in 2010.

Michael Noonan

Question:

168 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance the works being planned by the Office of Public Works to prevent flooding at Westbury in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45413/09]

Following previous flooding at Westbury, County Limerick, an embankment and pump installation were constructed by the developers of the estate to protect it. The estate was not flooded during the recent heavy flooding in the Shannon area. The Office of Public Works understands that the estate has not yet been taken in charge by the Local Authority involved, Clare County Council. In the circumstances, OPW has no plans to carry out flood mitigation works at the estate at present. However, the OPW will continue to monitor the situation, in conjunction with the Council.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Richard Bruton

Question:

169 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he has requested a report from the board of Anglo Irish Bank into the alleged sale of a substantial property portfolio by the bank to a property company (details supplied) without a fair opportunity for others to bid, and on terms that leave the bank with considerable exposures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45445/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, Anglo Irish Bank is run on an arms length commercial basis. Consequently, decisions which relate to the normal business of the bank are a matter for the Board of Anglo, and the Board is responsible for making such decisions in the best commercial interests of the Bank.

The bank has advised me that the asset sale referred to by the Deputy is being considered in the best overall commercial interests of the bank, and that the process being followed in the transaction is appropriate to the structure of the bank's asset holding, which involves a number of parties. The bank has confirmed that its approach in considering the sale is in line with legal and regulatory requirements for such transactions.

As with all financial institutions, Anglo's dealings with its customers are subject to the normal provisions on client confidentiality, and it would therefore not be appropriate for me to comment in any greater detail on the client relationship referred to by the Deputy.

National Asset Management Agency.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

170 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance the policy he will implement regarding the management of derivative financial instruments to be taken on by the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45446/09]

In relation to the €77 billion loan portfolio projected to transfer to NAMA, the NTMA have indicated that the estimated total notional value of financial derivatives attached is €15 billion. These derivatives are typically interest rate swaps or equivalent instruments designed to hedge interest rate payments and the notional value refers to the underlying assets to which the derivatives are related — the details are set out in Table 3, page 9 of the draft NAMA Business Plan published in October. These derivatives are an integral part of the loan portfolio and are not additional to this amount.

The management of these financial derivative instruments is an operational matter for NAMA. I understand however, that it is anticipated that in most cases the management of these derivatives will be undertaken by the originating financial institutions as an integral part of the loan management process which will be overseen by NAMA.

Departmental Reports.

Michael Ring

Question:

171 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance the reason conflicting replies (details supplied) were given regarding an ecologist’s report; the further reason incorrect information was provided in the reply dated 3 November 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45511/09]

The reply to the Deputy's Question of 3 November coincided unexpectedly with the receipt by the Office of Public Works of the ecologist's report. The OPW were, therefore, in a position to submit the report to the National Parks and Wildlife Service sooner than had been anticipated in that reply.

Pension Provisions.

Richard Bruton

Question:

172 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the tax treatment of a personal retirement savings account pension contribution is less favourable than a standard pension contribution in respect of the application of certain levies; and his views on providing an amendment to offer a level playing field. [45687/09]

The position is that the income levy applies to all emoluments of an employment, including anything treated as a taxable benefit-in-kind. Income levy is applied to aggregate income before granting relief in respect of losses, capital allowances or pension contributions. In this regard an individual's personal contributions to a personal retirement savings account (PRSA), personal pension contribution, additional voluntary contribution or a retirement annuity contribution is disregarded for the purposes of determining the income levy that an individual must pay.

In addition, an employer contribution to a personal retirement savings account (PRSA) is chargeable to income tax in the hands of the employee as a benefit-in-kind under section 118 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. As the income levy treatment follows the income tax treatment, the employer's contribution to the personal retirement savings account will also be subject to the income levy.

Section 778 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, provides that an employer contribution made to an approved retirement benefit scheme or a statutory scheme is not treated as a benefit-in-kind for income tax purposes. Again, as the income levy treatment follows the income levy treatment, any employer's contribution to such schemes will not be subject to income levy.

I should point out that it is a longstanding practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment in advance of the Budget on any tax or expenditure matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Tax Collection.

Joe Costello

Question:

173 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the reason for the delay in refunding deposit interest retention tax in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45794/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the claims totalling €862.81 for Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) which were submitted by the person in question on the 20th and 25th of August 09 were refunded at the end of August. However, inadvertently, additional claims of €122.47, which were submitted on the 9th of September, were not dealt with. These claims have now been processed and refunds will issue shortly. The Revenue Commissioners wish to apologise for any inconvenience caused by this delay.

Tax Code.

Joe Carey

Question:

174 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance if he will he consider introducing a tax deductible scheme in respect of the installation of flood proof doors for business premises in towns and cities affected by the recent flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45856/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that expenditure on the provision of flood-proof doors for a business premises would be regarded as capital expenditure on the provision of a fixed asset and not as an expense incurred in the day-to-day running of a business. While many revenue-type (i.e. non-capital) expenses are generally deductible for tax purposes, capital expenses are only deductible in certain circumstances.

Capital expenses, known as capital allowances, are given, firstly, in respect of items that would be regarded as ‘plant or machinery' and secondly, in respect of expenditure incurred on a particular type of building. As a door would typically not be regarded as an item of plant or machinery but rather as part of a building, expenditure on the provision of a flood-proof door would only qualify for capital allowances if it formed part of a qualifying building. Not all buildings that are used for business purposes qualify for capital allowances. Some examples of the more common qualifying buildings are factories, hotels and crèches. However, capital allowances are not available in respect of expenditure on buildings such as shops, showrooms and offices. I have no plans at this time to change the current arrangements.

Tax Collection.

Joan Burton

Question:

175 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 127 of 1 December 2009, the total tax paid; the median tax paid; the mean tax paid and the standard deviation of tax paid for each quartile in the bracket over €100,000 for each of the sector categories. [45857/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recently completed historical data available on incomes is in respect of the income tax year 2007. On this basis the information requested in relation to income earners earning over €100,000 by reference to income quartiles is set out in the tables. To assemble the figures by income quartile, the total number of income earners with earnings over €100,000 on the income tax record for 2007 was broken down into 4 equal groups in each sector and distributed over 4 income ranges in ascending order of income. The figures for amount of tax, median tax, mean tax and the standard deviation were then established for each quartile group as appropriate.

Private Sector Employees

Numbers

Amount of Tax

Mean Tax

Median Tax

Standard Deviation

Quartile 1

7,879

190,760,134

24,211

22,557

5,092

Quartile 2

7,878

225,561,166

28,632

27,497

5,423

Quartile 3

7,880

284,727,035

36,133

35,969

6,634

Quartile 4

7,879

565,662,921

69,407

57,064

62,449

31,516

1,266,711,256

39,596

32,647

36,251

Public Sector Employees

Numbers

Amount of Tax

Mean Tax

Median Tax

Standard Deviation

Quartile 1

3,819

86,087,424

22,542

21,286

4,303

Quartile 2

3,820

98,109,490

25,683

24,776

4,102

Quartile 3

3,820

118,368,197

30.986

30,219

4,748

Quartile 4

3,819

176,791,487

46,293

42,168

27,252

15,278

479,356,598

31,376

28,575

16,833

Non-PAYE

Numbers

Amount of Tax

Mean Tax

Median Tax

Standard Deviation

Quartile 1

17,700

369,272,126

20,863

21,705

7,604

Quartile 2

17,700

501,563,123

28,337

29,783

10,017

Quartile 3

17,701

764,733,090

43,203

44,827

16,364

Quartile 4

17,699

2,376,641,828

134,281

91,851

259,506

70,800

4,012,210,167

56,670

34,133

137,888

A married couple that has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Tax Code.

Damien English

Question:

176 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance the consideration he has given to reducing the commercial rates applicable to private child care facilities in line with the commercial rates applicable to community child care facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46013/09]

I should point out that the Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Valuation Act, 2001 and that I, as Minister for finance, have no function in decisions in this regard.

The Valuation Act, 2001, which came into effect on 2 May, 2002, provides that all buildings used or developed for any purpose including constructions affixed thereto are rateable unless expressly exempt under Schedule 4 of the Act. Charitable organisations providing childcare facilities exclusively for charitable purposes and otherwise than for private profit are excluded from liability for commercial rates. However, the Act maintains the long-standing position that commercial facilities, including all private childcare facilities operating for profit such as play schools, pre-schools, crèches and Montessori schools, are liable for rates.

I have no plans to provide for special treatment of private childcare facilities under the Valuation Act which provides that all buildings used for commercial enterprises are valued in a fair and equitable manner.

Budgetary Submissions.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

177 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence from a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46042/09]

I have received a pre Budget submission from the organisation in question. It is policy to review all pre Budget submissions as part of the budgetary process. I would draw to the Deputy's attention 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.

Medical Cards.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

178 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a medical card has been withdrawn in respect of a person (details supplied). [45442/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

179 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the recently launched review of the Glen Early Language and Learning Project in Cork city; if she will make funding available to implement the recommendations of the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45500/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

180 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the extra staff she has in place to assist community welfare officers in processing the increased applications for mortgage interest supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45694/09]

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

Olwyn Enright

Question:

181 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the extra staff she has in place to assist community welfare officers in processing the increased applications for supplementary welfare allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45695/09]

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

Olwyn Enright

Question:

182 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the extra staff she has in place to assist community welfare officers in processing of applications for assistance by those affected by flooding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45696/09]

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

Health Service Allowances.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

183 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will receive a decision on their back to school allowance appeal. [45750/09]

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

Cancer Screening Programme.

James Reilly

Question:

184 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the negative impact recent changes to the CervicalCheck screening programme are having on women’s access to the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45900/09]

The Deputy may be referring to CervicalCheck's move on 1 September 2009 to a call-recall system of invitation to screening. This move is in line with best international practice. It will ensure that an effective and efficient approach to cervical screening is maintained and that the essential target uptake of 80 per cent is achieved. In particular, the call-recall system allows CervicalCheck to target women in low-uptake cohorts for participation in screening.

In addition to the call-recall system, there is a fast-track opt-in facility for any woman aged 25 to 60 who has not had a smear test in three years or more. Such women can opt-in online, by phone or by post. Over 30,000 letters of invitation have been issued in response to opt-in requests since September. The current waiting time for such an invitation is three weeks. There are additional exemptions to invitation-only screening, including women over the age of 60 who have never had a smear test and women (regardless of age) undergoing colposcopy treatment follow-up. Women who have already availed of a CervicalCheck smear test are now part of an appropriate and organised screening cycle and will be automatically advised by the Programme when their next smear test is due.

Medical Cards.

Michael Ring

Question:

185 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be renewed by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45290/09]

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

Michael Ring

Question:

186 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their updated medical card in view of the fact that they submitted their renewal form and documents by registered post to the Health Service Executive more than a year ago. [45308/09]

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

Health Services.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

187 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if those who are in receipt of carer’s allowance will receive the vaccination against swine flu as a priority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45312/09]

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

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

188 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years; the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications. [45326/09]

One hundred and two of the Department's staff received financial assistance towards academic courses over the past five years. Staff assignments in the Department take account of all relevant factors, of which academic or other qualifications form only one part. Other relevant considerations include previous experience, the need to broaden experience, particular aptitudes, and the demands arising at any given time across the Department.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Billy Timmins

Question:

189 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the cap on cost per patient in the new fair deal scheme for long term residents who have means assessed against them in relation to a hospital (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45332/09]

The cost of long-term nursing home care in Baltinglass District Hospital is €1,640 per week and this, therefore, is the cap on the cost per patient under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Individuals who receive State support under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme will contribute up to 80% of their assessable income and 5% of the value of any assets in excess of the asset disregard per annum towards their long-term nursing home care costs. The asset disregard is €36,000 for an individual and €72,000 for a couple. The HSE will pay the balance of the cost of care.

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

A person's principal residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the first 3 years of their time in care. This is known as the 15% or ‘three year' cap. It means that a person will pay the 5% contribution based on their principal residence for a maximum of three years regardless of the time they spend in nursing home care. After 3 years, even if a person is still getting long-term nursing home care, they will not pay any further contribution based on the principal residence. This ‘three year' cap applies regardless of whether a person chooses to opt for the loan or not. In the case of a couple, where one partner remains in the home while the other enters a nursing home, the contribution based on assets is 2.5% per annum and the contribution based on the principal residence is capped at 7.5%.

The scheme also encompasses the following important safeguards:

Nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care.

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

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

The first €36,000 of the applicant's assets, or €72,000 in the case of a couple, will not be counted at all in the financial assessment.

If there is a partner or certain dependants living in the principal residence, the repayment of contributions may be further deferred for their lifetime.

Mental Health Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

190 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the circumstances in which a person who lives in the catchment area of one mental health service can apply for and receive service from a different area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45333/09]

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

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Joe Costello

Question:

191 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children when she was informed of irregularities in the activities of a mediation agency (details supplied) which represents couples seeking to adopt Vietnamese children; when she requested the Adoption Board to investigate the mediation agency; the reason she did not request an external body or the Gardaí to conduct the investigation; when she expects the investigation to be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45346/09]

The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs became aware of concerns around aspects of the operation of the mediation agency in question upon receipt of the ‘draft Final Report' of the ‘Assessment of the Adoption System in Vietnam' by International Social Service (ISS) in mid August this year. The Adoption Board were contacted immediately upon receipt of the draft report. The Adoption Board's role in registering adoption societies, including the mediation agency in question, make it the appropriate body to consider the issues raised. The matters under consideration in relation to the agency, along with the wider issue of adoptions from Vietnam are currently being considered in the context of the ISS, and the earlier MoLISA, reports.

Joe Costello

Question:

192 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if she intends to negotiate a new bilateral agreement with Vietnam; the position regarding the future of inter-country adoptions and couples here who are at various stages of inter-country adoption; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45347/09]

The Adoption Bill, 2009, is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The new legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future intercountry adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Bill 2009 when enacted. The issue of transitional measures for prospective parents who are at a definable stage in the adoption process when the Bill is enacted and who wish to continue to adopt a child from a non-Hague, non-bilateral country, is being examined. Prospective adoptive parents have waited a long time and it is my intention to be as flexible as possible in relation to applicants.

I recently received the UNICEF report ‘Adoption from Vietnam: Problems and Challenges’ carried out by the International Social Service (ISS). I discussed the findings of the report yesterday with a number of groups representing persons wishing to adopt from Vietnam. I indicated that the report will be considered by Government and that a decision will be made in the near future with regard to future adoptions from Vietnam.

Joe Costello

Question:

193 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the agreements between Ireland and other countries for the purpose of inter-country adoptions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45348/09]

There are currently no bilateral agreements in place between Ireland and other countries for the purpose of intercountry adoptions.

The Adoption Bill, 2009, is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The new legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future intercountry adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Bill 2009 when enacted. The Bill commenced its second stage process in Dáil Éireann on the 18th November.

Medical Cards.

Joe Costello

Question:

194 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 who applied for renewal of their medical card in August 2009 and has not been awarded a medical card; if an interim card will be provided in view of the length of time since the application was made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45350/09]

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

Joe Costello

Question:

195 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for renewal of the medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45357/09]

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

Youth Services.

Mary Upton

Question:

196 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on support for Arts for Young People; her further views on the value of the various programmes for the development of children and young people; the role her Department will play in ensuring that appropriate levels of funding will continue to support programmes and projects in the arts for young people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45358/09]

The arts have a valuable role to play in the lives of young people as a means of expression in the development of the individual. To support the engagement of young people in the arts in Ireland, the Youth Affairs Unit of my Office grant-aids a number of initiatives including the National Youth Arts Programme (NYAP) which it co-funds with the Arts Council and which is delivered by the National Youth Council of Ireland. In 2009, the Youth Affairs Unit provided €69,278 to core work of the Programme. A further one-off grant of €10,000 was also provided in 2009 to the NYAP towards the cost of running an Artist in Residency Programme.

In addition, the Youth Affairs Unit provides annual grant-in-aid to the National Association for Youth Drama (NAYD) and the Young Irish Film Makers (YIFM) under its Youth Service Grant Scheme. The NAYD is the development organisation for youth theatre and youth drama in Ireland which supports youth drama in practice. An amount of €131,702 was provided to the organisation in 2009. With regard to the YIFM, €75,600 was provided in 2009 to help it provide access to, and participation in, film making for young people. With regard to funding for 2010, this will be considered in light of the finances available to the Youth Affairs Unit.

Medical Cards.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

197 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when an appeal will be decided regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if consideration will be given on the grounds of medical necessity and compassion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45373/09]

The demand for medical card appeals has increased significantly during this year. In order to deal with this increased demand, the HSE is committing additional resources to this service. From 24th November 2009 all Appeals Offices will be answering calls from the public during specified times and these will be advertised through the HSE website. In relation to this specific case, this has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

198 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be called for an MRI; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a person has to wait in excess of 12 months for an MRI scan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45378/09]

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

199 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is the case that persons who apply for the fair deal scheme who are not in a nursing home will only qualify from the date of the decision rather than the date of application; the assistance that is available to pay for their nursing home care in the interim; the system in place to ensure that there is no undue delay in processing the applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45389/09]

The HSE's Guidelines on the Standardised Implementation of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, which have been approved by the Minister for Health and Children, state that, subject to overall resources, new entrants to nursing homes will have their financial support paid either from the date that the application was made or from date of admission to the nursing home, whichever is the later. It is not, therefore, the case that applicants will only qualify from date of determination.

It is acknowledged that, in the initial months following the introduction of the scheme, the HSE will have to deal with a huge volume of applications from both existing residents and new entrants. However, this should not impact negatively on existing residents due to the safeguards provided within the primary legislation. The legislation provides that applicants to the scheme who were in nursing home care on the date the scheme commenced (27th October 2009) shall have their State support backdated to that date. New entrants shall have their support paid in accordance with the HSE's Guidelines, as outlined above.

The HSE has indicated that the expected timelines for processing applications under the new Nursing Homes Support Scheme and making a determination regarding financial support will vary according to individual circumstances and complexities. However, on average, the following timelines are estimated (assuming that the submitted application is fully and correctly completed): Straightforward State Support Application, 1-2 weeks; Straightforward Nursing Home Loan Application, 3-4 weeks.

Hospital Staff.

Tom Hayes

Question:

200 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the staffing levels for St. Michael’s unit in Clonmel, County Tipperary; the number of doctors’ and nurses’ posts approved for this unit; if all these posts are currently filled; the services provided in this unit; if these services will be retained and expanded; the number of patients that are dealt with as inpatients and outpatients in this unit; her future plans for this unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45402/09]

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

Burial Grounds.

Bernard Allen

Question:

201 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will establish the location of the burial grounds of patients in a former hospital (details supplied) in County Cork particularly those patients who had no relatives to bury them; and if there are records of the burial places. [45424/09]

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

202 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 will have to wait a substantial period for an operation; and in view of the circumstances, if this person will avail of the National Treatment Purchase Fund. [45432/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. The National Treatment Purchase Fund arranges treatment for patients who have been on a surgical waiting list for more than three months. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Health Service Allowances.

James Bannon

Question:

203 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a child (details supplied) in County Longford has had their domiciliary allowance withdrawn; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45443/09]

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

Nursing Home Support Scheme.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

204 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if the income and assets of a person wishing to avail of the nursing homes support scheme are taken into account when calculating their contribution to care; if assets that include land and property are taken into consideration; the rules governing contributions based on property assets, where a principal residence has been signed over to other family members. [45460/09]

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

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

A person's principal residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the first 3 years of their time in care. This is known as the 15% or ‘three year' cap. It means that a person will pay the 5% contribution based on their principal residence for a maximum of three years regardless of the time they spend in nursing home care. After 3 years, even if a person is still getting long-term nursing home care, they will not pay any further contribution based on the principal residence. This ‘three year' cap applies regardless of whether a person chooses to opt for the loan or not.

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

The scheme also encompasses the following important safeguards:

Nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care.

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

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

The first €36,000 of the applicant's assets, or €72,000 in the case of a couple, will not be counted at all in the financial assessment.

If there is a partner or certain dependants living in the principal residence, the repayment of contributions may be further deferred for their lifetime.

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

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

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

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

Medical Cards.

Michael Ring

Question:

205 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the outcome of an appeal for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [45462/09]

The demand for medical card appeals has increased significantly during this year. In order to deal with this increased demand, the HSE is committing additional resources to this service. From 24th November 2009 all Appeals Offices will be answering calls from the public during specified times and these will be advertised through the HSE website. In relation to this specific case, this has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

206 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application for an over 70 years medical card in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45488/09]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

John O'Mahony

Question:

207 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children when a patient (details supplied) in County Roscommon will have surgery. [45507/09]

The management of waiting lists generally is a matter for the HSE and the individual hospitals concerned. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the Executive for direct reply.

Sean Fleming

Question:

208 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly will be approved for an operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45514/09]

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

John McGuinness

Question:

209 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in arranging an appointment at Waterford Regional Hospital in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will expedite a response. [45515/09]

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

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

210 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she has taken to clarify the situation of adoption from Vietnam. [40670/09]

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

I recently received the UNICEF report ‘Adoption from Vietnam: Problems and Challenges’ carried out by the International Social Service (ISS). I discussed the findings of the report yesterday with a number of groups representing persons wishing to adopt from Vietnam. I indicated that the report will be considered by Government and that a decision will be made in the near future with regard to future adoptions from Vietnam.

Health Services.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

211 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for an alternative use of a children’s facility (details supplied) in Dublin 20 built in 2000 at a cost of €30 million and condemned to closure by the Health Service Executive. [40672/09]

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

Denis Naughten

Question:

212 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the additional supports given to community welfare officers to deal with the increased demand for access to support; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40637/09]

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

Nursing Home Subventions.

Jack Wall

Question:

213 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a fair deal application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45679/09]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

214 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason an applicant seeking funding under the fair deal nursing payment and who is successful is not paid retrospectively from the date of application but only from the date of the care needs assessment finalisation for which there is no timeframe; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45680/09]

The legislation provides that applicants to the scheme who were in nursing home care on the date the scheme commenced (27th October 2009) shall have their State support backdated to that date. The HSE's Guidelines on the Standardised Implementation of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme state that, subject to overall resources, people who enter nursing homes after the commencement of the scheme will have their financial support paid either from the date that the application was made or from date of admission to the nursing home, whichever is thelater.

Health Service Allowances.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if travel costs will be recouped in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45688/09]

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

Health Service Staff.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

216 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the finalised incentivised retirement scheme as it applies to staff in the Health Service Executive and specifically to staff in voluntary hospitals; the eligibility criteria for the scheme; and if there are any restrictions to the scheme. [45692/09]

In his Supplementary Budget Statement of 7 April 2009, the Minister for Finance announced that he would make available three schemes to reduce the number of public sector employees in the wider public sector , one of which was theIncentivised Scheme for Early Retirement. My Department issued a circular (8/2009) on 15 May 2009 to HSE and voluntary hospitals to give effect to this measure.

The scheme did not apply to grades exempted from the moratorium on recruitment and promotions under the 2009 Employment Control Framework for the Public Health Sector, in order to meet the requirements of integrated health care delivery and, in particular, to address needs in the community in respect of care of the elderly and people with disabilities.

Members of all other grades who meet the eligibility criteria had access to this scheme provided the grades/staff groups concerned cooperate with the requirements in relation to redeployment, mobility, skill mix and flexibility which are outlined in the employment control framework: this is designed to allow individuals to avail of this scheme while still protecting services. Because staff who avail of the scheme will not be replaced (save in very exceptional cases), employers must pay particular attention, when considering applications, to the scope that exists within the organisation for reorganising and restructuring work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. Staff cooperation and flexibility in that regard was essential.

My Department was informed that the health service trade unions issued a directive instructing their members not to cooperate with redeployment and reassignment requests from management. The unions have stated their opposition to the moratorium on recruitment and promotions as set out in 2009 Employment Control Framework for the Public Health Sector, referred to above. This instruction from the unions severely restricts the ability of management to organise/restructure work practice and contravenes the qualification criteria for these schemes. As a result, the HSE suspended all three schemes in June but continued to accept applications, up to the closing date of 23 October 2009.

Hospital Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

217 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24 will receive surgery. [45699/09]

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

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

218 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that around 10,000 persons will have a stroke here in 2009, over 2,000 will die and thousands will be left disabled; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that a significant proportion of this death and disability is avoidable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45700/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

219 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that one in three acute hospitals has a stroke unit and that if all hospitals had a stroke unit up to 500 lives a year could be saved; the steps she will take in 2009 to increase the number of stroke units; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45701/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

220 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason fewer than 3% of stroke patients received the life saving clot buster treatment, thrombolysis, in the 12 months to April in 2009; the further reason that almost half of our acute hospitals cannot provide this treatment at all or only during office hours or on an intermittent basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45702/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

221 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received the stroke manifesto from an organisation (details supplied); and the way she and the Health Service Executive will respond to the 16 points; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45703/09]

Paul Connaughton

Question:

235 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the elements of the soon to be published cardiovascular health policy and the stroke manifesto from an organisation (details supplied) which recommendations she will be implementing in 2010 to improve the quality of stroke services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45844/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 to 221, inclusive, and 235 together.

In September 2007, I established a Cardiovascular Health Policy Group to draw up a new policy framework for the development of all aspects of cardiovascular health, including stroke. The Group considered the findings of the Irish National Audit of Stroke Care 2008 and examined many issues similar to those in the stroke manifesto. The Report will address the organisation of stroke services, including stroke units, the provision of thrombolysis, as well as models for rehabilitation and discharge planning. The Report is being finalised and it is intended that it will be accompanied by an implementation plan. Both these reports will be brought to Government shortly with a view to publication.

Health Services.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

222 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the proposed primary care health centre for a location (details supplied) in County Donegal; the stage the project is at; when it is expected that approval will be given to seek planning permission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45726/09]

John McGuinness

Question:

230 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made regarding the funding and provision of a primary health care centre for Thomastown, County Kilkenny; the number of parties that have expressed an interest; the timeframe involved for a decision; if the funding will be ring fenced for the project through 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45816/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 and 230 together.

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

223 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that children here with impaired hearing are facing delays of six months in receiving essential new moulds for hearing aids; if she will account for the fact that the waiting time for these moulds, which must be changed periodically as the child grows, has gone from approximately six weeks to six months; if she will intervene with the Health Service Executive to rectify this delay which means that the education and development of children with impaired hearing is being jeopardised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45737/09]

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

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

224 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the case of persons (details supplied) in County Cork who are unemployed and were refused a once off payment of €100 from the Health Service Executive south for the purchase of necessary items; if she will have this decision on appeal reviewed; and if her attention has been drawn to the fact that when they initially applied through their community welfare officer when they were advised that they would be approved. [45765/09]

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

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

225 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of paediatric and adult ophthalmology procedures that have been cancelled at the Cork University Hospital due to the redesignation of theatre four at the hospital; the number of procedures that have been transferred; the hospitals to which they were transferred; the location at which ophthalmology procedures are being carried out; when will a new theatre be commissioned at the hospital to accommodate patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45768/09]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

226 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [45774/09]

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

Departmental Expenditure.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

227 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the details on the Health Service Executive (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45780/09]

The pay expenditure, for the public health service, for 2008 and year to date September 2009, is as follows:

Pay Expenditure

2008

Year to date — September 2009

Management/Administration Total

888,947,741

684,301,451

Medical/Dental Total

1,158,339,443

924,053,038

Nursing Total

2,500,654,072

1,923,492,482

Paramedical Total

866,327,240

672,089,162

Support Services Total

1,259,051,395

959,569,613

Maint./Technical Total

90,000,667

64,443,272

Superannuation Total

514,067,193

451,901,941

Pay Total

7,277,387,753

5,679,850,959

Notes: (i) Source: CRS System, Finance Directorate of the HSE. (ii) CRS data do not include data for a number of Disability agencies.

As the remaining requested information is a matter for the Health Service Executive, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

228 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who did not qualify for a full or general practitioner only medical card on grounds of income in the period immediately prior to 2007 but were granted a card on medical or other grounds; the number of persons who applied for renewal of those cards in 2007 and 2008 and were refused; the number of persons initially refused who were granted a medical card on appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45788/09]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

229 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who did not qualify for a full or general practitioner only medical card on grounds of income who were subsequently granted a medical card on medical or other grounds in 2007 and 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45790/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 228 and 229 together.

Details of the number of medical cards and GP visit cards are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The figures are provided on a net basis, showing the balance after new cards have been issued and other cards, as appropriate, have been deleted from the Executive's database, e.g. following a review of a person's circumstances. As the information sought by the Deputy is not provided to my Department as a matter of routine, my Department has asked the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address these matters and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 230 answered with Question No. 222.

Health Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

231 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in issuing a response as promised in Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 13 October 2009. [45820/09]

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

Paul Connaughton

Question:

232 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to instruct the Health Service Executive to remove the age cut off points in access to health care services which result in inequities in older people’s access to services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45833/09]

Services for Older People provided by the Health Service Executive are targeted at those over 65 years of age. However, the Executive has flexibility to administer such services as appropriate in certain cases for those approaching this cohort. The continuation of existing services, such as Acute Hospital, Disability Services or Mental Health provision, for those approaching the Older Person's programme, is a matter for the HSE taking account of issues such as eligibility, individual needs, professional opinion, and service options. The Deputy will appreciate that the health service has, by its nature, to be administered along broad operational lines. Every effort is made to meet the needs of the individual from the appropriate service source.

In relation to eligibility legislation, there is currently no provision within the current eligibility framework (with the exception of Child Health Services under Section 66 of the Health Act 1970 which provides for a health examination and treatment services for children of primary school going age) which seeks to differentiate between different care groups on the basis of age. Eligibility for health services in Ireland is subject only to being ordinarily resident in the State. There are two categories of eligibility for public health services. These are Category I (Medical Card holders) and Category II (the remainder of the population). To qualify for Category I eligibility a person is required to undergo a means test. The remainder of the population will have Category II eligibility subject only to the ordinary residence criterion. Accordingly, there are no plans to instruct the HSE as proposed by the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

233 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application for an over 70 years medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the application was submitted on 14 July 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45835/09]

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

ARC Cancer Support Centre.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

234 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the services a centre (details supplied) in Dublin 8 is providing; the catchment area for this centre; the age group it caters for; the illnesses being treated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45842/09]

ARC Cancer Support Centre is a registered charity which offers free professional support to men and women affected by cancer and those who care for them, irrespective of where they are being treated or where they live. The support is holistic and complements primary medical treatment with education and psychological care.

The first ARC Centre was set up in Eccles Street in 1993 and I officially opened ARC House in South Circular Road on 23 November. The HSE provided significant funding towards the development of the new premises in South Circular Road.

Question No. 235 answered with Question No. 218.

Mental Health Services.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

236 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the criteria for certain areas to have access to mental health services; the breakdown of services available to areas that meet the criteria for such services; the options available to a person who needs to access a mental health service but finds there is no such service in their area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45848/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

237 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the reason there is a delay in dealing with this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45858/09]

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

Health Services.

Damien English

Question:

238 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a commitment to maintain funding for an organisation (details supplied) in County Meath through her Department and the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46012/09]

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

Damien English

Question:

239 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if the dentistry clinic in Trim, County Meath, will open in view of the fact that two dentists have been appointed recently and a third will be in place shortly; if the school screening programme will recommence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46015/09]

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

Autism Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

240 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will put in place an enhanced degree of quality and scale of support services for children with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficiency disorder and ADHD or similar problems with a view to offering their parents the quality and scale of support equal to and available in the best locations throughout the European Union; if she has identified areas of particular need in this regard; if she has received communication from parents outlining such requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46028/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

244 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there appears to be an increasing number of children with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, ADD or similar conditions; the extent of research undertaken which might identify the causes; if her further attention has been drawn to the anxiety of parents regarding same; if research has been undertaken in other jurisdictions which may be beneficial here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46032/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 244 together.

The Department of Health and Children does not collect information on children identified with Autism and Asperger's on a national or international basis. Information pertaining to diagnosis is specifically excluded from the National Intellectual Disability Database as the database is not designed as a medical epidemiological tool. Accordingly the database does not record the incidence of Autism or any other disability.

In 2004, the Department of Health and Children, through the Health Research Board, approved expenditure of €5 million on autism research to help improve international understanding of the genetic causes of autism. This €5 million is the Irish contribution to a new major international research initiative called the Autism Genome Project which will receive a total investment of €12 million from a variety of international organisations over three years. The other co-funders in the international consortium include Autism Speaks (US), the British Medical Research Council (MRC), Southwest Autism Research and Resource Centre (SARRC), and the Hilibrand Foundation. This unique combination of international, public and private partners funding a consortium of clinicians and scientists is a new and welcome departure in the field of autism research. The Health Research Board has informed my Department that this funding was awarded as follows:

€2.8 million: Professor Michael Gill, Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College, Dublin

€2.2 million: Professor Andrew Green, Director National Centre for Medical Genetics, Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin (affiliated to UCD).

This figure represents the largest tranche of funding to be awarded by any of the four funders within the international consortium. The Irish researchers are at the forefront in unravelling the genetic determinants of autism and related disorders. They are using novel state of the art genetic sequencing technology to analyse DNA samples taken from autistic patients to identify candidate genetic markers for autism. They will collaborate with their international colleagues to then link these genetic markers with clinical outcomes. This unique international research effort will greatly improve not only our understanding of the causes of autism, but its diagnosis and treatment.

With regard to the remaining matters raised by the Deputy, these relate to the management and delivery of health and personal services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act, 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

241 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical procedures for which patients were referred to locations outside this jurisdiction in each of the past five years to date; if such services were available here at the same time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46029/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

242 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which it is intended to bring the standards at all hospitals here up to centre of excellence levels; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46030/09]

A fundamental part of Government policy for hospital services is the delivery of high standards of patient care, ensuring that patient safety is paramount and that the best possible patient outcomes are achieved. The Deputy will be aware that the HSE has commissioned a number of reviews in relation to how acute hospital services should be organised in particular regions. These reviews have highlighted the need for changes to be made in the provision and organisation of acute hospital services in the regions concerned. The programme also involves developing smaller hospitals to provide a much greater proportion of less complex care, underlining the fact that smaller hospitals can be reconfigured to provide important services in their local communities. Working to ensure patient safety and the best possible outcomes for patients is essential to the delivery of services at every hospital, whatever the range or complexity of services provided at that hospital.

An important step forward in implementing Government policy on safety and quality of health services was the establishment of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in 2007. A core function of HIQA is to set standards on safety and quality of health services and to monitor enforcement of those standards in an open and transparent way. HIQA has already developed national quality standards in areas such as Symptomatic Breast Disease Standards, National Hygiene Standards and National Standards for Infection Prevention and Control. HIQA has also commenced work on the development of National Quality Standards for acute hospitals in the public sector. As part of the implementation of the Report of the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance, approved by Government in January 2009, my Department is now developing legislative proposals for a mandatory licensing system to cover both public and private hospitals, based on the standards being prepared by HIQA.

Cancer Incidence.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

243 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if research has been undertaken by her Department or the Health Service Executive regarding the most commonly occurring forms of cancer recorded in each of the past ten years to date; the trends that have emerged in particular areas or regions; the degree to which a particular causes or causes have been identified; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46031/09]

The Deputy may be referring to An Atlas of Cancer in Ireland 1994 to 2003 which was published last week by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland. The Report can be found on the Registry's website www.ncri.ie. It provides detailed geographical information on the distribution of all the common cancers in Ireland. It also examines the role of a range of risk factors, including smoking, diet, poverty and environment, in determining the geographical variations found.

For most cancers, the Report found that there is significant geographical variation in risk based on residence and that the variations are, in the main, different for different cancers. Most cancers showed a relationship (either positive or negative) to area deprivation scores. More densely populated areas consistently had a higher risk of cancer than those that were sparsely populated. The risk of almost all cancers analysed was higher in areas with the highest proportion of elderly people living on their own. The report concludes that, by reducing exposure to risk factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, obesity, diet and sexual behaviour, cancer incidence in Ireland and the disparities described in this report could be greatly reduced.

The Registry was set up in 1991 by statute and is wholly funded by the Department of Health and Children. The overall direction of the Registry is the responsibility of the National Cancer Registry Board. The Registry has been collecting comprehensive cancer information for the whole population of the Republic of Ireland since 1994. The information it collects is used in research into the causes of cancer, in education and information programmes, and in the planning of a national cancer strategy to deliver the best cancer care to the whole population.

Question No. 244 answered with Question No. 240.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

245 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the school medical examinations carried out in all schools at primary and secondary level on an annual basis; the trends that have been identified in terms of specific conditions; the most prevalent of these; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46033/09]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

246 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to upgrade the network of health services here; the degree to which she expects to extend the range or services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46034/09]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to health centres and not services. As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

247 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of long, medium and short-stay beds available at any time; the average bed occupancy; the number of spare beds available to meet emergencies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46035/09]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

248 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when extra beds will be provided at Maynooth Community Hospital, County Kildare, to meet the increasing demand in the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46036/09]

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

Hospital Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

249 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the future proposals for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin; if her attention has been drawn to the views regarding the pivotal nature of the hospital in the context of paediatrics in the future; if her further attention has been drawn to the volume of professional opinion regarding same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46037/09]

Services at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, National Children's Hospital Tallaght and the Children's University Hospital Temple Street will transfer to the new National Paediatric Hospital. Pending completion of the project, the HSE will continue to finance the provision and development of services at each of the transferring hospitals.

The way to provide the best possible paediatric tertiary care most effectively involves the creation of one single national paediatric hospital, alongside a major teaching hospital, bringing together all the medical and nursing expertise for complex conditions. The concept of bringing together all three present services is widely accepted.

The Children's Health First Report commissioned by the Health Service Executive indicated that the population and projected demands in this country can support only one world class tertiary paediatric hospital. It recommended that the hospital should be in Dublin and should, ideally, be located with a leading adult academic hospital in order to optimize the outcomes for children. Following detailed consideration, it was decided that the most appropriate location for the new National Paediatric Hospital is at the Mater Hospital.

I am aware that concerns have been expressed in the past by some members of staff and families of patients and others who currently access Our Lady's Children's Hospital and the National Children's Hospital at Tallaght. However, I welcome the recent decision by the Hospital to participate fully in the development of the project and to nominate representatives to the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.

The development of the National Paediatric Hospital is a priority project for the Government. The project is proceeding as planned and is being overseen by the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board which was established in May, 2007. The HSE is working closely with the Board in progressing the project, which is scheduled for completion and commissioning in 2014.

The real challenge in paediatrics is to maximise the efficient use of all our healthcare capacity both in Dublin and across the country. Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght paediatric services need to be increasingly working in a co-ordinated, shared and efficient fashion to prepare for the eventual coming together of the three institutions into one national paediatric hospital. The HSE is actively pursuing ways in which services across the three hospitals can best be co-ordinated, to avoid unnecessary duplication and to achieve savings that can be put back into patient care.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

250 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the future of St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46038/09]

Radiotherapy services will transfer from St. Luke's to St James's Hospital and Beaumont Hospital as part of the implementation of the National Plan for Radiation Oncology. The decision is based on expert advice and is designed to ensure that radiation oncology is integrated with all other aspects of cancer care, including surgery and medical oncology. This is in line with best international practice. The Board of St. Luke's Hospital and its Executive Management Team are fully committed to supporting the Government's decision in relation to the development of radiation oncology and a Transition Team has been established to oversee developments.

No decisions have yet been taken in relation to the future use of the site and facilities at St. Luke's. However, I am anxious to ensure that these resources are utilised in the best interest of the health services. I understand that the Friends of St. Luke's are preparing a report on possible future uses of the site and facilities and I hope to receive a copy of this report shortly.

It is important to note that the complete transfer of services from St. Luke's Hospital to new facilities at St. James's Hospital and Beaumont Hospital is not due to take place for a number of years. A partial transfer will occur in the last quarter of 2010. In the meantime, additional linear accelerators were commissioned at St. Luke's last year in order to provide much needed interim capacity pending the roll out of the National Plan for Radiation Oncology.

Hospital Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

251 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical, surgical or other beds available throughout the health services in the public and the private sectors; the number in each sector now and five years ago; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46039/09]

The national average number of acute hospital beds available in public hospitals in 2007, the latest year for which verified data has been compiled by the HSE, was 13,688. This includes both in patient beds and day places. The national average number of acute hospital beds available in public hospitals in 2002 was 12,497. This shows an increase over the five year period of over 1100. No detailed breakdown of medical and surgical beds is available.

While neither the Minister for Health and Children nor the HSE has responsibility for the operation and management of private hospitals, from recent enquiries made by my Department of the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation (IBEC) I understand that in private hospitals which are members of IBEC there are currently approximately 2,300 inpatient beds and 450 day beds.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

252 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of hospital beds available throughout the winter months of 2009 particularly during peak periods in respect of colds, flus or other unforeseen illnesses in the private and the public hospital sectors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46040/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

253 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if the income eligibility for a medical card will be maintained to ensure those in receipt of a carer’s allowance retain their entitlement to a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46043/09]

As the Deputy is aware under the HSE guidelines, carer's allowance is considered as non-assessable income in the context of the medical card assessment process. There are currently no plans to amend the list of non-assessable income sources for medical card assessment.

Hospital Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

254 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which Tallaght, Blanchardstown and Naas Hospitals are fully developed in accordance with their respective original development plans; if the full spectrum has been delivered in all cases; if the full requirement in terms of theatres, x-ray and pathology services has been provided and if they are fully functioning; if the full complement of medical, surgical, nursing or other specific staff is available and continues to be available in each case; the aspects of the anticipated facilities or those originally provided that have downsized, been postponed or shelved and the reason therefor; if the requisite funding will continue to be made available to ensure the continuity of the full range and scale of services; if she will give an assurance that the health service reviews undertaken by her Department over the past ten years will not in any way negatively affect the hospitals in question and the scale and quality of services to the population in their respective catchment areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46045/09]

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

Flood Relief.

Pat Breen

Question:

255 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide emergency funding to restore county roads which have been damaged as a result of the recent flooding in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45380/09]

Pat Breen

Question:

256 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide emergency funding to repair county roads in County Clare which have been damaged as a result of the recent flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45381/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 and 256 together.

As regards flooding of roads, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is a statutory function of each road authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993, to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection of works to be funded from these grants is also a matter for the local authority.

When road grants for regional and local roads are allocated each year, my Department does not hold back a reserve allocation at central level to deal with weather contingencies. Such an arrangement would mean a reduction across all local authorities in the road grant allocations made to them at the beginning of each year. The allocations made to local authorities are inclusive of a weather risk factor. Local authorities are expressly advised that they should set aside contingency sums from their overall regional and local roads resources to finance necessary weather related works. That stipulation is contained clearly in the circular letter which is sent to each local authority with the yearly road grant allocations.

My Department would also be prepared to consider, sympathetically, any request from local authorities to adjust their multi-annual restoration programmes, or revise their specific grant applications, in order to facilitate works now required as a result of the recent exceptional flooding.

Local authorities are still assessing the extent of flood damage in their regions, and, I expect that it will take some time before all the authorities concerned can quantify the damage sustained to their regional and local road networks and cost the repairs.

The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot, at this time, indicate what funding might be either needed or available to address damage caused to the regional and local road network by recent flooding. My officials are keeping in contact with local authorities affected by flooding. The current difficulties being faced by those authorities are being monitored and will be taken into account in the 2010 regional and local road grant allocations, to the extent that resources will allow.

Public Transport.

Seán Barrett

Question:

257 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding an application for licensing of a bus service (details supplied) between Dalkey and Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45302/09]

As I advised the Deputy in my previous reply of 16th June 2009, my Department made an offer in January 2009 for the grant of a licence in respect of the bus service to which the Deputy refers, which seeks to operate between Dalkey and Dublin Airport. That service is known as "The Patton Flyer". That offer did not include certain of the stops sought by the applicants in respect of their proposed service, as these stops were already being served by a previously licensed bus service being operated by Aircoach that connects the locations in question with Dublin Airport.

The Patton Flyer operators lodged an appeal in February 2009 against the terms of the offer made by my Department and also sought to add additional stops to the proposed service. The appeal was considered and a licence offer was made in May 2009, which again excluded those stops which conflicted with the licensed Aircoach service. The Patton Flyer operators wrote to the Department on 19 June 2009 rejecting the licence offer.

Notwithstanding the fact that the operators of the Patton Flyer service have rejected an offer for the grant of a licence, they continue to operate an unlicensed service. The Patton Flyer service is not licensed, Dublin Airport Authority have been made aware of this as have the Gardaí Síochána.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

258 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Transport the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years and the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications. [45330/09]

The following table details the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years:

Academic Year beginning

Number of staff

2005

29

2006

44

2007

31

2008

32

2009

20

Third level education is supported by the Department on the basis that the qualification being pursued will enable the officers concerned to make a more effective contribution to the work of the Department. The Department has a mobility policy for administrative grades, which means that staff are required to undertake a variety of assignments over the course of their career and decisions on support for third level education take account of that policy.

Search and Rescue Service.

John Deasy

Question:

259 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport his plans to reorganise or reconfigure the air sea rescue service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45405/09]

The Irish Coast Guard, a Division of my Department, has contracted a civilian Search and Rescue helicopter service, based in Dublin, Shannon, Waterford and Sligo. These helicopters are available on a 24 hour 365 day basis for emergency response on any part of the coastline. The Irish Coast Guard is presently in a tender process to renew the current helicopter contract, which will expire in 2010. There are no plans at present to re-organise or re-configure the current Search and Rescue helicopter service, pending the outcome of the tender process.

The Coast Guard also manages and operates 3 co-ordination/communication centres at Dublin, Malin Head and Valentia. These centres are being developed. Dublin will be completed mid 2010, and it is intended to commence refurbishment of one of the other centres later next year. The Coast Guard also manages local volunteer rescue units, providing coastal search and cliff rescue. It is planned to rationalise these units over time.

EU Directives.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

260 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if EU Directive 1371/2007 on rail passenger rights was transposed into law by 3 December 2009 as required; if he sought derogations from this directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45436/09]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

261 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 303 of 6 May 2009, if he has decided which body will be responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of the regulation 1371/2007 here as per article 30 of the regulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45437/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 260 and 261 together.

The EC Regulation 1371/2007 on rail passengers' rights and obligations entered into force on 3 December 2009 and has direct effect. Articles 9, 11, 12, 19, 20(1) and 26 of the Regulation, now apply to all rail passenger services throughout the Community including all Irish Rail passenger services. Domestic rail services, have, under S.I. No. 473 of 2009 of 1 December 2009, been exempted from the application of the other Articles of the Regulation pending the conclusion of discussions with Irish Rail regarding their application to the inter-city rail passenger services. The designation of an appropriate enforcement authority is being considered in the context of the arrangements to be put in place relating to penalties, which will be notified to the Commission before 3 June 2010.

Departmental Bodies.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

262 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport when he will establish an advisory consumer panel under the aegis of the National Transport Authority as per the commitment in the Government Statement on Economic Governance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45438/09]

The National Transport Authority was established on 1st December 2009. The legislation setting up the Authority does provide for an Advisory Council.

Representatives of various interests may be invited by the Minister to nominate candidates for membership of the Advisory Council, including the interests of business and of transport users. The Advisory Council will be established in due course.

Code of Practice.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

263 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the State Agencies under the aegis of his Department to which the new code of practice for the governance of State bodies applies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45439/09]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

264 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if all the boards of State agencies under the aegis of his Department which are required to implement the new code of practice for the governance of State bodies have formally adopted the code at a board meeting; if they have undertaken training to ensure proper implementation of the code; if they have put in place monitoring procedures to ensure proper compliance with the code; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45440/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 263 and 264 together.

All agencies under the aegis of my Department are required to implement the new Code of Practice. The Department has brought the new Code to the attention of all such Bodies.

The Code requires an annual report from the Chairpersons of each of the bodies and this report must confirm that the bodies have adopted the Code. The revised Code was published in May 2009 and the Chairpersons will submit their first annual report under the new Code early in 2010. The Department will monitor the reports to ensure they confirm that the Code has been adopted.

When making appointments to boards the companies are advised that they should ensure that appropriate training in Corporate Governance is provided. The Chairpersons have been requested to confirm that arrangements currently in place in their respective organisations are in compliance with Department of Finance instructions. In addition, the Chairpersons have been advised that, as part of my Department's ongoing corporate governance relationship with their organisations, they will be expected to give similar confirmation annually.

Marine Safety.

Joe McHugh

Question:

265 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport when equipment at Malin Head Coastguard Station, County Donegal, will be upgraded; his views on whether the upgrading of equipment at the Dublin coastguard radio, Leeson Lane is almost completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45721/09]

Refurbishment works are ongoing in the Leeson Lane building, and subject to the availability of the accommodation, the installation of the new equipment will commence in mid/late February 2010. The testing of the installed Integrated Communications System and the training for Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre staff will commence early May 2010. The dual operation of the new and old equipment in the Dublin will last for at least a four-week period, after which the new system is expected to go live early in the second half of 2010.

The Factory Acceptance Test on the equipment for Malin and Valentia Marine Rescue Sub co-ordination Centres was completed in November, and delivery of this equipment to Coast Guard Stores is expected by year end. New voice traffic recording systems have already been installed in both Malin and Valentia as part of the overall new Integrated Communications System. The adaptation of the buildings in Malin and Valentia to take the new configuration is awaiting Office of Public Works surveys and building schedule. It is anticipated that work will commence on one of the Centres in late 2010 and on the other building in 2011, subject to funding.

Appointments to State Boards.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

266 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport his nominees to State and semi-State bodies since June 2007; the qualification of each successful nominee; the income for each nominee from each board; the number of vacancies vacant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45853/09]

The tables below list the Nominees to State Bodies under the aegis of my Department, the incomes of the Nominees and the current board vacancies.

I am confident that all of the Directors whom I have nominated, and appointed with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to the boards have the necessary skills, competencies and experience to enable the boards meet the challenges facing the transport sector at this time.

The Commission for Taxi Regulation (CTR) does not have a Board; however, there is an Advisory Council to the CTR. Under the Taxi Regulation Act, 2003 the Minister appoints all members, including the Chairperson. There are currently no vacancies on the Advisory Council.

Nominees to State Boards.

Name of body

Nominee

Fee

Railway Procurement Agency

Ciaran Mac Samhrain (Worker Director)

12,600

Córas Iompair Éireann

Mick Cullen (Worker Director)

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

Willie McDermott (Worker Director)

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

Bill McCamley (Worker Director)

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

John Moloney (Worker Director)

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

Mary Canniffe

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

Paul Kiely

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

Graham Lightfoot

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

Neil Ormond

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

Yvonne Scannell

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

Seamus Sheerin

15,750

Córas Iompair Éireann

Dermot Killen

15,750

Bus Átha Cliath

Arnold O’Byrne

12,600

Bus Átha Cliath

Mary Mooney

12,600

Bus Átha Cliath

Gráinne Ahern

12,600

Bus Átha Cliath

Nuala Maher

12,600

Bus Éireann

John Griffin

12,600

Iarnród Éireann

Dearbhalla Smyth

12,600

Iarnród Éireann

Michael Giblin

12,600

Iarnród Éireann

Cliff Perry

12,600

Iarnród Éireann

Philip Gaffney

12,600

National Roads Authority

Peter Malone

12,600

National Roads Authority

Eddie Breen

Nil

National Roads Authority

Fred Barry

Nil

National Roads Authority

Eugene Moore

8,100

National Roads Authority

Clifford Kelly

8,100

National Roads Authority

Jenny Kent

8,100

National Roads Authority

Raymond Potterton

8,100

National Roads Authority

Professor Frank Convery

8,100

National Roads Authority

Colm Lonergan

8,100

National Roads Authority

Eric Fleming

8,100

National Roads Authority

Dr. Margaret O’Mahoney

8,100

National Roads Authority

Ann Butler

8,100

Irish Aviation Authority

Claire O’Donoghue

12,600

Irish Aviation Authority

Peter G. Ledbetter

12,600

Irish Aviation Authority

Rosheen McGuckian

12,600

Irish Aviation Authority

Pat Dalton

12,600

Irish Aviation Authority

Lorraine Burke

12,600

Medical Bureau of Road Safety

Declan Hayes

Nil

Marine Casualty Investigation Board

John G. O’Donnell

7,618

Marine Casualty Investigation Board

Thomas R. Power

5,079

Marine Casualty Investigation Board

Sinead Brett

5,079

Dublin Airport Authority

Mary McCabe

15,750

Dublin Airport Authority

Peter Barrett

15,750

Dublin Airport Authority

David Dilger (Chairman)

31,500

Dublin Airport Authority

Barry Nevin

15,750

Dublin Airport Authority

Michael Lenane

15,750

Dublin Airport Authority

Thomas Guilfoyle

15,750

Dublin Airport Authority

Michael Hodgekinson

15,750

Dublin Airport Authority

Bill Cullen

15,750

Dublin Airport Authority

Marie O’Connor

15,750

Dublin Airport Authority

Gerry Walsh

0.00

Dublin Airport Authority

Gerard Collins

15,750

Dublin Airport Authority

Brian O’Connell

0.00

Cork Airport Authority

Pat Keohane

0.00

Cork Airport Authority

Gerry Walsh (Chairman)

21,600

Cork Airport Authority

Dick Lehane

12,600

Cork Airport Authority

Oliver Cussen

0.00

Cork Airport Authority

Don Cullinane

12,600

Cork Airport Authority

Humphrey Murphy

12,600

Cork Airport Authority

Annette McNamara

12,600

Shannon Airport Authority

Ray Gray

0.00

Shannon Airport Authority

Olivia Loughnane

12,600

Shannon Airport Authority

Brian O’Connell (Chairman)

21,600

Shannon Airport Authority

Patrick Blaney

0.00

Shannon Airport Authority

Mary Fitzgerald

12,600

Shannon Airport Authority

Vincent Cunnane

12,600

Shannon Airport Authority

Mark Nolan

12,600

Ports

Cork

Dermot O’Mahony

21,600

Cork

Alan Coleman

12,600

Cork

Dominic Daly

12,600

Cork

PW Fenton

12,600

Cork

Finbarr Buckley

12,600

Drogheda

Michael Coyle

6,300

Drogheda

Willie Lennon

6,300

Drogheda

David Prior

6,300

Drogheda

Martin Farrelly

6,300

Drogheda

Dr Nino Binns

6,300

Dublin

Jerry Kiersey

12,600

Dublin

Tom Hussey

12,600

Dublin

Pat Magner

12,600

Dublin

Cathy Byrce

12,600

Dublin

Brian Kerr

12,600

Dún Laoghaire

Sean Costello

21,600

Dún Laoghaire

Gerry Nagle

12,600

Dún Laoghaire

Victor Boylan

12,600

Dún Laoghaire

Eithne Scott Lennon

12,600

Dún Laoghaire

Betty Coffey

12,600

Dún Laoghaire

Patrick Cowhey

12,600

Dun Laoghaire

Don McManus

12,600

Shannon Foynes

Kay Mc Guinness

12,600

Shannon Foynes

Rita McInerney

8,100

Shannon Foynes

Edmund Jennings

8,100

Shannon Foynes

Michael Adams

8,100

Shannon Foynes

John Carr

8,100

Shannon Foynes

Dick Sadlier

8,100

Waterford

Michael Flynn

12,600

Waterford

Fiona Ormond

8,100

Waterford

Derek Donnelly

8,100

Waterford

Noreen McDonnell

8,100

Waterford

Patrick Murphy

8,100

Waterford

Derek Madigan

8,100

Waterford

Maurice Lonergan

8,100

Galway

Paul Carey

9,450

Galway

Mairead Cosgrave

6,300

Galway

Ollie Crowe

6,300

Galway

Tom McElwain

6,300

Galway

Marie Cleary

6,300

Galway

John Mc Namara

6,300

Galway

Robert Molloy

6,300

New Ross

Mark Minihan

3,825

New Ross

Joan Murphy

1,575

New Ross

Tom Clarkin

1,575

New Ross

Rosie Kehoe

1,575

New Ross

Martin Murphy

1,575

Dundalk

Pearse O’Hanrahan

3,825

Dundalk

Jim Cousins

1,575

Dundalk

Niall Kehoe

1,575

Dundalk

Frances Rocks

1,575

Dundalk

Leo McCauley

1,575

Dundalk

Seamus Belton

1,575

Dundalk

Michael McCabe

1,575

Dundalk

Rosemary Farrell

1,575

Wicklow

Fachtna Whittle

3,825

Wicklow

Brendan Newsome

1,575

Wicklow

Roy Conway

1,575

Wicklow

Ray Tumulty

1,575

Wicklow

Stephen Kearon

1,575

Wicklow

Ken Lauder

1,575

Wicklow

Charlie Byrne

1,575

Wicklow

Kitt Dunne

1,575

Harbours

Arklow

Paddy Mordaunt

Arklow

Irene Sweeney

Baltimore & Skibbereen

Joe Carroll

Baltimore & Skibbereen

Vincent O’Driscoll

Baltimore & Skibbereen

Michael Harte

Baltimore & Skibbereen

Dermot Sheehy

Baltimore & Skibbereen

Con Minehane

Bantry

Laetitia M Baker

Bantry

Vivian O’Callaghan

Bantry

Kathleen Tessyman

Kinsale

Michael Frawley

Kinsale

Pat Guilfoyle

Kinsale

Tony Lane

Tralee & Fenit

Denis Doolan

Tralee & Fenit

Norma Foley

Tralee & Fenit

Mike Moriarty

Wexford

Billy Morris

Wexford

Sean Gleeson

Wexford

Michael Dempsey

Vacancies on State boards

Name of Body

Vacancies

Cork Airport Authority

2

Shannon Airport Authority

2

Bus Átha Cliath

2

Bus Éireann

1

Railway Procurement Agency

2

Dublin Port Company

1

New Ross Port Company

1

Garda Vetting Services.

Mary Upton

Question:

267 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons who are working or volunteering with sports organisations who have been vetted as suitable to hold such positions, in particular where they have responsibility for children; the number of persons who have been vetted by the various sports organisations who receive State funding in 2008 and to date in 2009; the number of persons who have been found unsuitable following the vetting process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45496/09]

Mary Upton

Question:

276 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons working or volunteering with sports organisations that have been vetted as suitable to hold such positions, in particular when they have responsibility for children; the number of persons that have benefited in 2008 and to date in 2009; the number of persons that have been considered unsuitable following the vetting process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45497/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 267 and 276 together.

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) conducts Garda vetting in respect of individual vetting subjects on behalf of organisations which are registered with the GCVU and discloses details of all prosecutions, successful or not, pending or completed, and/or convictions as recorded in respect of an individual vetting subject to the registered organisation which submits the vetting application.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the total number of vetting applications received at the GCVU from registered sports organisations in 2008 was 3,090 and in 2009, to date, is 12,697.

The GCVU does not make decisions as to the suitability of individual persons to be employed in either remunerated or voluntary positions in organisations registered with the GCVU. The responsibility for decision-making in this regard rests solely with the registered organisation. The Garda authorities are not, therefore, in a position to advise in respect of the number of persons deemed suitable or otherwise for engagement by the registered sports organisations.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

268 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a person (details supplied) has not received their garda clearance to enable them to start work in community employment. [45749/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a vetting application was received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit in respect of the person to whom the Deputy refers and a response was returned to the registered organisation involved on 3 December 2009.

Residency Permits.

Jack Wall

Question:

269 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a person (details supplied) was the holder of a Garda National Immigration Bureau card for 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45309/09]

I have been informed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) that the person referred to by the Deputy registered with them on 10 January 2007 and was granted permission to remain in the State until 10 January 2008.

This person's current permission to remain in the State is due to expire on 19 January 2010. Upon the expiration of this permission, the person referred to by the Deputy should contact his local Immigration Officer to be granted the appropriate permission to remain in the State.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

270 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years; the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45327/09]

During the period in question 245 individuals received financial assistance under the Department's refund of educational fees scheme. This figure does not include a number of agencies who have separate training budgets.

All applications under the refund scheme are considered with reference to the relevance/significance of the course to the applicant's role and to the work of the Department. Where possible, staff with particular skills/qualifications are assigned to positions which maximise the use of their qualifications for the benefit of the Department and the individual concerned. It should be noted that the vast majority of courses undertaken by staff would fall into the categories of either public administration or legal studies. Such courses would have relevance across the Department.

Immigration Procedures.

Martin Ferris

Question:

271 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons of the United States that have been refused entry here to date in 2009. [45353/09]

I have been informed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau that the number of American citizens who have been refused entry to Ireland between 01 January 2009 and 30 November 2009 is one hundred and fifty five (155).

Asylum Support Services.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

272 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way in which persons who have come here and are seeking regularisation of their status are allocated to various hostels for the duration of this assessment; the approach that is being taken in terms of seeking to keep families, or couples, in the same hostel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45398/09]

In respect of asylum seekers, the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is the agency responsible for providing accommodation.

The RIA currently operates 54 accommodation centres across 21 counties. Of these, 17 centres are designated for single persons only, while the remaining 34 provide accommodation solely for families, or are mixed use centres housing both families and single persons in separate units.

I am informed that it is the RIA's policy, wherever possible or practicable, to ensure that all the members of the family of an applicant are housed together.

Garda Reserve.

John Deasy

Question:

273 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will examine the possibility of allowing retired members of An Garda Síochána retain a level of rank within the Garda Reserve to allow for a continuing role for these retirees within the force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45403/09]

Section 15(3) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides that a member of the Garda Reserve has, while on duty, the same powers, immunities, privileges and duties as a person appointed to the rank of Garda. This reflects the functions of the Reserve and I have no proposals to amend section 15(3) of the 2005 Act.

John Deasy

Question:

274 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda Reserve members serving in Waterford city and county in 2007 and 2008; the number of Garda Reserve members currently serving in Waterford City and county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45404/09]

The number of members of the Garda Reserve serving in the Waterford Division on the 31st October 2007, 2008 and 2009 was as set out hereunder:

Year

Number

2007

8

2008

10

2009

11

Court Procedures.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

275 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to change the way in which jurors are summonsed in view of the unreliability of the electoral register; if he has received complaints from families of deceased persons who have been summonsed for jury duty; and if he will investigate ways to update the register, in association with the General Register’s Office, in a bid to avoid further distress. [45466/09]

Under the provisions of the Court Service Act 1998 responsibility for the administration of the courts system, including the management of jury selection, was transferred from this Department to the Courts Service. As the Deputy is aware, issues pertaining to the electoral register are a matter for the Minister for the Environment.

The Deputy may wish to note that a number of amendments were brought forward to the Juries Act 1976 in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008. Moreover, the Law Reform Commission, as part of their Third Programme of Law Reform, is conducting a more general review of the law relating to juries. The Commission will consult with all interested parties in the course of their review.

Question No. 276 answered with Question No. 267.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

277 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will rescind the decision to deport in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45689/09]

I refer the Deputy to the Reply given to his Parliamentary Question No. 164 on Tuesday 14 October 2008. The status of the persons concerned remains largely as set out in that Reply. However, in the interim, an application for Subsidiary Protection was made on behalf of the second named person by her legal representative and lodged under cover letter dated 23 March 2009. In response to this application, a letter issued on 9 June 2009 advising that the person concerned was not automatically entitled to apply for Subsidiary Protection. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the applicant was advised that she could seek the exercise of Ministerial discretion pursuant to Regulation 4 (2) of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 by making further representations identifying any new facts or circumstances which demonstrated a change of position from that at the time the Deportation Order was made on 5 August 2004. Representations were received on 23 July 2009 and are currently being considered.

The persons concerned have continued to meet their presentation requirements with the Gardaí. The first named person is due to present himself again at Anglesea Street Garda Station, County Cork on 14 December 2009. The second named person is due to present herself again at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) on 6 January 2010.

The enforcement of the Deportation Orders remains an operational matter for the GNIB.

Public Order Offences.

Finian McGrath

Question:

278 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [45772/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the location referred to is in the Clontarf Sub-District, with certain locations bordering on Fitzgibbon Street District. Local Garda management is aware of a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour in the area.

A member of the local Community Policing Unit is allocated to this area. An active Neighbourhood Watch Scheme is in place, and Gardaí are in regular contact with residents.

The area is subject to regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit, the Garda Mountain Bike Unit and the District Detective and Drug Units, supplemented as required by the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel. Persons and vehicles are regularly stopped and searched in the area, and persons have been interviewed and cautioned in relation to incidents in the area.

Current policing plans in the area are designed to address issues of crime and public order offences, including the prevention of public order offences, the prevention of crime including crimes of violence against persons and property and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of quality of life of residents. This strategy is central to the delivery of the policing service to the area in question.

EU Directives.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

279 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received a reasoned opinion from the EU Commission regarding the implementation of the Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC; if he will provide a copy of this letter if one exists and the reply issued by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45782/09]

Requirements under Council Directive 2000/78/EC were already largely provided for in the code of law under our Employment Equality Acts and Equal Status Acts. The Equality Act 2004 gave effect to outstanding matters.

In the course of 2008 Ireland, among a number of other Member States, received a reasoned opinion on the Directive from the European Commission. The issues, six in number, were technical only. Certain of the issues have been resolved. The State continues to be in dialogue with the Commission on remaining issues, which are common to a number of Member States. The consultations to date are confidential to the parties concerned.

National Disability Authority.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

280 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the information that has been communicated to him by the National Disability Authority regarding work it may have carried out making direct payments to persons with disabilities to ensure value for money and quality services and opportunities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45859/09]

The National Disability Authority (NDA) has not issued any advice to me on the issue of replacing direct provision with direct payments from the relevant Departments to people with disabilities. In its strategic plan for 2010 to 2012 the NDA has outlined a programme of work it intends to do in relation to community and independent living, and the issue of direct payments will be considered as part of that work programme. In preparation, NDA held an informal round table on 7th July this year with key stakeholders to inform its future programme of work in this area.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

281 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years; and the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications. [45325/09]

The number of staff that received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five academic years is as follows:

Year

Number

2005-2006

51

2006-2007

51

2007-2008

61

2008-2009

29

2009-2010

32

This involves a total of 135 individual staff members pursuing a course during the period in question. Qualifications acquired by officers are one of the criteria used in assigning them to a post within the Department. There are a number of qualifications e.g. the Institute of Public Administration courses in Public Management which are relevant across a range of positions within the Department.

Child Abuse.

Finian McGrath

Question:

282 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will summon a person (details supplied) to his Department as a mark of disapproval at the failure to respond to the commission of inquiry into child abuse. [45385/09]

Alan Shatter

Question:

285 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the communications received by him prior to the publication of the Murphy commission report on clerical child abuse regarding the refusal and failure of the papal nuncio and the Vatican to cooperate with the Murphy commission; the initiatives taken by him of his predecessor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45499/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 282 and 285 together.

The Papal Nuncio called to Iveagh House at my request this morning to discuss the report of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation and the cooperation of the Nuncio and the Holy See with the Commission.

Neither I, nor my predecessor, received any communication prior to the publication of the Commission's report regarding a refusal or failure of the Nuncio or the Vatican to cooperate with the Murphy Commission.

The only correspondence my Department received in relation to the Commission prior to the publication of its report related to a diplomatic note dated 1 March 2007 addressed to our Embassy to the Holy See from the Vatican Secretariat of State. This note referred to an inquiry addressed to a department of the Roman Curia by Commission, which the Secretariat of State understood to be a body established under the authority of the Government of Ireland through the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The note asked that the Embassy remind the appropriate authorities that such requests should be addressed to the Holy See through proper diplomatic channels, in accordance with international laws and customs.

This diplomatic note was passed by my Department to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, which in turn forwarded it to the Commission.

Later in March 2007, the Vatican authorities approached our Ambassador to the Holy See, reminding the Embassy of the note of 1 March and enquiring whether it would be possible for the Embassy to indicate to the Commission, through the appropriate authority in Dublin, that the Holy See had responded through diplomatic channels to their communication so as to avoid any impression on the part of the Commission's part that its correspondence had been ignored. Following confirmation from Dublin that a copy of the Vatican's diplomatic note had been passed to the Commission, the Embassy sent a diplomatic note to the Secretariat of State on 26 April 2007 confirming this fact.

In the meantime, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform wrote to the Chairperson of the Commission informing her that the Vatican had sought confirmation that the Commission had received its diplomatic note.

Emigrant Support Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

283 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding undocumented Irish in America; the progress made; and the action taken to date by him. [45422/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

284 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the meetings that have taken place in the past six months regarding an agreement to assist the undocumented Irish in America; and the outcome of these meetings. [45423/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 283 and 284 together.

Finding a solution for our undocumented citizens in the US continues to be a high priority of this Government. We are also committed to developing our bilateral migration arrangements with the United States, through the establishment of a reciprocal two year renewable visa scheme known as the E3 visa.

In discussions with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, during her visit to Ireland in October, I stressed that the Government was continuing to pursue a three pronged strategy to address migratory flows between Ireland and the US. This strategy involves seeking a solution for the undocumented Irish, the establishment of an E3 visa and the continued expansion of the working holiday programme, which was concluded last year. In response to these issues, Secretary of State Clinton indicated that immigration reform may be addressed in early 2010, following the passage of healthcare legislation.

On my visit to Washington and New York on 14-17 October, I held extensive discussions on the prospect for progress on immigration reform with significant number of key Democrats and Republicans in Congress. These included the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Bob Casey, Senator Paul Kirk, the Chair of the House Sub Committee on Immigration, Zoe Lofgren and the members of the House of Representatives Friends of Ireland Group.

There was considerable support expressed at these meetings for efforts to find a solution for the undocumented and for the E3 visa initiative. I received some indications that a comprehensive immigration bill which would address the concerns of the undocumented could be introduced in Congress in Spring 2010, but I was also advised that such a timetable could be influenced by ongoing debate on health care reform and the fact that 2010 will be an election year in the US.

In New York, I also had a very useful meeting with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, who continue to lobby for the undocumented Irish, with the assistance of former Congressman Bruce Morrison. During my visit, I was pleased to announce a further grant of $50,000 to ILIR. This brings to $285,000, the total amount of funding allocated by the Government to ILIR since 2006.

In addition to these recent contacts, a Congressional Delegation, led by Congressman Richard Neal, Chair of the Friends of Ireland, visited Ireland from 27 June to 5 July this year. During this visit, I hosted the delegation for a dinner in Cork and they also met with the Tánaiste and the Ceann Comhairle in Dublin. Comprehensive immigration reform and the importance of finding a solution for the undocumented Irish featured strongly during our discussions.

Question No. 285 answered with Question No. 282.

Official Engagements.

Mary Upton

Question:

286 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress that has been made on the conference that was held at Farmleigh, Dublin to discuss the economic future here; the cost of this conference; the ideas or innovations that emerged from this conference that have been enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45668/09]

The Global Irish Economic Forum was convened by the Government with two broad objectives: to explore how the Irish at home and abroad and those with a strong interest in Ireland could work together and contribute to our overall efforts at economic recovery; and to examine ways in which Ireland and its global community could develop a more strategic relationship with each other, particularly in the economic sector. The forum was marked by huge enthusiasm among the participants, who widely regarded the event as a very significant success. The discussions held on a range of mainly economic issues over the weekend were marked by expressions of considerable optimism about the future of Ireland, despite the present economic difficulties. The Government has moved quickly to take forward the work begun at Farmleigh . At its meeting on 13 October, the Government considered a comprehensive report prepared by my Department and the Irish Management Institute. The full report, which contains a detailed list of the main themes and specific proposals to emerge, is available onwww.dfa.ie and www.globalirishforum.ie. The Government has also established a new interdepartmental committee, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Taoiseach, to consider the proposals and monitor progress across Departments. The committee has already begun its work and will report to the Government early in the new year. The post-forum process will complement the work already under way across many of the areas discussed at Farmleigh, including through the Innovation Task Force and the implementation of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy.

One outcome of particular significance is the emergence of an invaluable network of highly successful business figures across the globe who now feel that they have a stake in delivering renewed economic growth in Ireland. My Department is actively working towards the establishment of a new global Irish network made up of those invited to Farmleigh and other leading business figures in our global community. This network will give greater strategic focus to our economic and cultural promotional work abroad. One of the main themes to emerge from the attendees was the importance of Irish culture to the image of this country abroad and in particular. I was therefore pleased to announce on 7 December that funding of €2.3 million is being provided by my Department for a new landmark Irish Arts Centre in New York as a key outcome of the forum. Other ideas which are being actively progressed include: the establishment of an Irish innovation centre in Silicon Valley; the Gateway Ireland portal, which would serve as a key on-line focus for promoting Ireland abroad and engaging with our global community; and expanded educational exchange and scholarship programmes to increase engagement with younger generations. I am aware that a number of other Departments are also taking forward initiatives suggested at Farmleigh. I am similarly encouraged by the fact that significant work has already been undertaken by participants themselves on a number of projects that are more suitably advanced by the private sector. In planning the forum, overall costs were kept to a minimum. Participants paid for their own air fares and travel costs and the accommodation provided by the Department was deliberately chosen at hotels close to the venue and at a very competitive price. Current figures indicate that the costs incurred come to approximately €326,000. I believe the forum represents real value for money: it marked a new level of engagement with the most successful members of our diaspora and provided an invaluable opportunity for the Government, opposition and Irish business leaders to exchange ideas and build relationships with a large number of leading CEOs from key markets.

Free Trade Agreements.

Michael Creed

Question:

287 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has conveyed to the EU Commissioner on Trade his views on EU negotiations for a free trade agreement with Columbia; his approach to these negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45744/09]

EU relations with Colombia are conducted in the framework of regional relations between the EU and the Andean Community comprising Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. In 2007, negotiations aimed at concluding a comprehensive Association Agreement between the EU and the Andean Community were formally launched. This agreement will cover all facets of relations between the EU and these countries, including political dialogue, co-operation and trade. In addition, a multiparty free trade agreement is being negotiated between the EU and two member states of the Andean Community — Colombia and Peru — within the overall framework of the Association Agreement. The negotiations are being carried out by the Commission on the basis of a mandate from the Council. The negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia is part of an EU strategy to support and encourage the Colombian Government as it tries to restore the authority of the State after decades of violent civil conflict. By engaging with Colombia in this way, the EU strongly believes it can influence the Government in a manner that also results in greater respect for human rights. Ireland fully supports that strategy. We recognise that the promotion of peace and stability in Colombia requires a comprehensive, multi-strand strategy which tackles simultaneously the various social and economic elements underlying the conflict. Our approach and that of the European Union is to engage with the Colombian Government as it emerges from decades of terrorism and to influence that process in a manner that strengthens the Government's commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

I am aware of and share the deep concern that has been expressed about the way trade union activists, human rights defenders and journalists have been treated in Colombia. Ireland, along with its EU partners, monitors the human rights situation in Colombia and raises issues including such human rights abuses with the Colombian Government through the ongoing EU-Colombia dialogue on human rights and in regular contacts at political level. Last month, during a visit to Colombia to present credentials, Ireland's ambassador to Mexico raised these issues at meetings with the Colombian Minister for Foreign Affairs and with senior officials in the Foreign Ministry. The ambassador emphasised the importance that Ireland attaches to the protection of human rights defenders and trade unions leaders and explained the considerable attention that their plight has attracted in Ireland. The Foreign Minister confirmed that this is a priority issue for Colombia and that every effort was being made to address the position in the context of a difficult security situation. In the course of his visit the Ambassador also met representatives of Irish NGOs to hear at first hand about their concerns about human rights and their views on the negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement. Along with other EU partners, Ireland will continue to input to the European Commission negotiators to ensure a balanced outcome to the negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, one which gives due prominence to the protection of human rights. In addition, I will be in contact with the EU Trade Commissioner to underline our interest in an effective human rights clause being included in the agreement.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

288 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years; the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications. [45317/09]

Since the 2004-05 academic year, financial assistance has been provided by means of full or partial refund of fees to 45 members of staff, including staff of the National Museum of Ireland and the National Library of Ireland, which were part of the Department until they were established as separate legal entities in May 2005. Course fees that were fully or partially refunded can be broadly divided into the following categories — courses on subjects related specifically to the area of work of the staff member such as management training, accounting, health and safety, IT and Irish courses to assist in providing a service through Irish, as well as specific courses undertaken by staff in specialised areas of the National Museum, National Library and the National Archives; courses on subjects relevant to the work of the Department but with a wider application across the Civil Service such as Policy Analysis and Corporate Governance; and courses aimed at self-development, including interview skills. Refunds were approved in accordance with the Department's policy on training and development. Academic qualifications are one of the many factors that are taken into consideration when assigning staff to specific duties within the Department.

Tax Code.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

289 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to the impact of the second home tax on businesses operating holiday cottages; the implications for tourism and jobs in this sector; if his further attention has been drawn to comments (details supplied) that this tax would be deductible as a normal business expense and that this now appears not to be the case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45416/09]

Given that the charge was only introduced this year with a final payment date of 30 September 2009, subsequently extended to 31 October 2009, it is too early to be able to assess the impact of the charge, if any, on the self-catering sector. Statistics are not yet available to measure the performance of the sector in 2009. Indications in Fáilte Ireland's tourism barometer survey in September suggest, however, that the sector is performing slightly better than other types of accommodation in what is proving to be a very difficult year for the tourism industry as a whole. The issue of deductibility for tax is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Finance.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Mary Upton

Question:

290 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will reopen the local authority swimming pool programme in order to provide funding for the refurbishment of a pool (details supplied) in Dublin 12; if he will prioritise this request in view of the fact that this area has suffered from a lack of investment and the closure of a vital service such as this will be another blow to the local community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45493/09]

The current round of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme provides grant aid to a maximum of €3.8 million to Local Authorities towards the capital cost of new swimming pools or the refurbishment of existing pools. The current round of the programme closed to applicants on 31 July 2000. Under this programme, 45 pools have been opened throughout the country with a further 12 pools at various stages of development. In the administrative area of Dublin City Council, new pools have been opened in Finglas, Ballyfermot, St. Michael's House, Ballymun and work is under way on a new pool in Rathmines. The issue of the launch of a new round of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme will be dealt with as part of the Estimates discussion for 2010. When a new round of the programme is launched, it will be open to all local authorities, including Dublin City Council on behalf of Crumlin Swimming Pool, to submit an application under the terms that will apply.

Sports Capital Programme.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

291 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if a club (details supplied) in County Louth are entitled to draw down unclaimed payments that were awarded to the club under the sports capital grants programme 2004; if so, the conditions under which the moneys may be drawn down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45789/09]

The grantee in question was provisionally allocated €150,000 under the Sports Capital Programme 2004. The grantee subsequently informed the Department in a letter dated 12 October 2005 that it could not draw down the grant due to the proposed relocation of the grantee's playing facilities to a new site and that it intended to reapply for funding under a future round of the Programme. Accordingly, the 2004 allocation is not available to be drawn down by the grantee. While the club in question made a further application under the 2008 Programme, the application did not comply with the terms and conditions of the Programme as the club did not have adequate title to the proposed facility at the time of application. It is open to the club to apply to the Department for funding under any future round the Sports Capital Programme if it has a suitable project.

Arts Funding.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

292 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his plans to invest in the Europeana project, in order to ensure the continued access to Irish works for all Irish and European citizens thereby adding momentum to Europeana’s efforts to secure the rights of millions of important European works in a public forum. [45819/09]

My Department has undertaken to support the Europeana project over three years with a financial contribution of €30,000. The national cultural institutions under my aegis will seek to present through this website a wide variety of cultural images from their national collections. Questions of copyright or intellectual property are not a matter for my Department.

Departmental Agencies.

Noel O'Flynn

Question:

293 Deputy Noel O’Flynn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the sanctioned overdraft and borrowing facility and indebtedness for each agency and semi-State body, commercial and non-commercial, for the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 in tabular form; the amount and number of occasions that the sanctioned approved facility was breached for individuals, companies and group structures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45852/09]

In respect of each of the associated bodies of the Department which has or had sanctioned overdraft, borrowing or other debt facilities in the period 2005 to 2008, inclusive, the requested information is as set out in tabular form below. No such facilities exist or existed in respect of the other associated bodies of the Department.

Item

Year 2005

Year 2006

Year 2007

Year 2008

Bord na gCon1

Overdraft, Borrowing or Other Debt Facility

€12,500,000

€12,500,000

€12,500,000

€12,500,000

Number of Breaches

0

0

0

0

Amount of Breach

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Fáilte Ireland2

Overdraft, Borrowing or Other Debt Facility

€0

€652

€625,140

€485,808

Number of Breaches

0

0

0

0

Amount of Breach

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Horse Racing Ireland3

Overdraft, Borrowing or Other Debt Facility

€40,000,000

€40,000,000

€40,000,000

€40,000,000

Number of Breaches

0

0

0

0

Amount of Breach

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)4

Overdraft, Borrowing or Other Debt Facility

€20,000

€20,000

€20,000

€20,000

Number of Breaches

0

0

0

0

Amount of Breach

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

1 The figures provided in respect of Bord na gCon relate to a borrowings limit.

2 Fáilte Ireland does not have sanctioned overdraft, borrowing or other debt facilities. The figures provided relate both to the five Regional Tourism Authorities which merged with Fáilte Ireland on 1 July 2006 and to Dublin Tourism which became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fáilte Ireland in April 2007. The 2006 figure relates to a payment made to pay off loans and overdrafts. The 2007 and 2008 figures relate to mortgages on property purchased by Dublin Tourism which Fáilte Ireland proposes to pay off by the end of 2009.

3 The figures provided in respect of Horse Racing Ireland relate to a borrowings limit.

4 The figures provided in respect of IMMA relate to a sanctioned overdraft facility which is in place but has never been availed of.

Irish Horseracing Industry.

Noel O'Flynn

Question:

294 Deputy Noel O’Flynn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if Bord na gCon and Horse Racing Ireland have furnished him with abstracts of their accounts in respect of the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008; the dates on which theses were received; if he has laid these before the Houses of the Oireachtas; the dates in each case; the reason in the event of an exclusion from this requirement being granted to either body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45854/09]

The information as required by the Deputy is laid out in the following table:

2005

2005

2006

2006

2007

2007

2008

2008

Date received in Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism

Date laid before the Houses

Date received in Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism

Date laid before the Houses

Date received in Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism

Date laid before the Houses

Date received in Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism

Date laid before the Houses

Horse Racing Ireland

July ’06

Aug ’06

July ’07

Dec ’07

Dec ’08

May ’09

Oct ’09

Dec ’09

Bord na gCon

Mar ’07

June ’08

Aug ’07

Dec ’07

Jan ’09

Dec ’09

Nov 09

In progress

Departmental Agencies.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

295 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of State boards, agencies, regulators or other bodies under his remit; the cost of these bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46022/09]

The Department currently has 15 associated bodies under its remit, as set out below with their cost (total provisional outturn 2008). Further details are set out in the Revised Estimates for Public Services, 2009 and in the Annual Report of the Department for 2008, copies of which may be accessed on the relevant websites.

Associated Body

Total Provisional Outturn 2008

€000

Arts Council

81,620

Bord na gCon

15,257

Chester Beatty Library

3,459

Crawford Art Gallery Cork

1,988

Fáilte Ireland

82,594

Horse Racing Ireland

61,029

Irish Film Board

23,189

Irish Museum of Modern Art

8,241

Irish Sports Council

57,182

National Concert Hall

3,894

National Gallery of Ireland

12,455

National Library of Ireland

11,875

National Museum of Ireland

19,017

National Sports Campus Development Authority

6,503

Tourism Ireland

19,954

Total

408,257

Tourism Employment.

Noel O'Flynn

Question:

296 Deputy Noel O’Flynn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his plans to encourage the training of persons for the hotel, catering and hospitality industry to include training for employed persons in their place of employment; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the numbers of unemployed persons on courses (details supplied) are being reduced; if his attention has been drawn to plans to reduce further in-house training courses for the unemployed; the State agency responsible for training jobless persons who wish to gain employment in the hotel, catering and hospitality industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46044/09]

In accordance with the provisions of section 8(1) of the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003, it is a day-to-day function for Fáilte Ireland "to encourage, promote and support the recruitment, training, and education and development, of persons for the purposes of employment in connection with the tourism industry in the State." Details of Fáilte Ireland's training activities are accordingly a matter primarily for determination by the Authority itself.

Volunteering Sector.

David Stanton

Question:

297 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if a volunteers’ charter or volunteers’ code of practice has been developed; the roles and responsibilities of both volunteers and the organisations who use the services of volunteers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45786/09]

My Department funds a network of 21 Volunteer Centres nationally. It also funds Volunteer Centres Ireland (VCI), the umbrella body responsible for developing best practice within the network. VCI and its member centres encourage all community and voluntary organisations that work with volunteers to have in place a suitable volunteer policy. The development of a volunteer policy is an integral part of the management training currently provided by Volunteer Centres to organisations engaging volunteers. There are a number of charters on volunteering available within the community and voluntary sector. One such charter is the "Charter for Effective Volunteering", developed by Volunteering Ireland, which is widely used in the sector. It is important that each individual community and voluntary organisation adapts a charter to suit the particular needs of its organisation and its overall context.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

298 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years; the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications. [45319/09]

There follows a breakdown of the number of staff in my Department who received financial assistance between 2005 to 2009, inclusive, to pursue courses in further and higher education:

Year

Number of staff who received financial assistance

2009

7

2008

8

2007

13

2006

20

2005

35

The assistance provided was in respect of courses and training relevant and appropriate to the current roles and responsibilities of the staff in question and was in accordance with the Department's Performance Management and Development System. Therefore, the need to reassign any of these staff to duties appropriate to their new qualification has not arisen. The drop in numbers doing third level courses from 2005 to 2009 can be attributed to the changes in staff numbers within this Department and to the decentralisation of the Department.

Security of the Elderly.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

299 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding he has made available under the community support scheme in the Cork Area in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45335/09]

I understand the Deputy's question relates to the Scheme of Community Support for Older People. This Schemeis administered and funded by my Department with the services delivered locally by community and voluntary groups. It currently provides grants support to these organisations to fund the once-off installation costs of socially monitored alarms, small items of physical security and in the case of qualifying older people living on our offshore islands, interior emergency lighting. The socially monitored alarm system remains the property of the organisation that receives the grant aid.

Since 2004 to the end of October 2009, 133 organisations in the County Cork, including Cork City, have received grant support of roughly €1.44m under the Scheme. Details of all payments made to beneficiary groups under the Scheme are published monthly on a county basis on my Department's website at www.pobail.ie.

Departmental Subsidies.

Michael Ring

Question:

300 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the subsidy provided by his Department is solely for the islanders or if it includes companies (details supplied) carrying out work on the Aran Islands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45417/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

301 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if a company (details supplied) is only obliged to carry out modifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45418/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

302 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a company (details supplied) is creating a monopoly by setting up another company using State assets. [45419/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 300 to 302, inclusive, together.

As stated previously by me in the House, the procurement of services for the islands referred to by the Deputy is carried out by my Department in accordance with relevant EU and national directives and guidelines, having regard in particular to the following specific obligations:

equal treatment of tenderers;

transparency in the tender procedure;

proportionality in decision;

mutual recognition of bidders from different Member States; and

non-discrimination.

As the selection process for each competition is by way of public tenders open to all competitors, the question of creating a monopoly through the provision of these services does not arise. As the exact nature of the monopoly to which the Deputy refers is not clear, I will be happy to investigate the matter further if the Deputy wishes to provide me with further details.

With regard to the modifications referred to by the Deputy, I am advised that the works required will be completed as soon as possible, having regard to ensuring that there is minimal disruption to service users. My Department will continue to seek completion of the works at the earliest possible date.

The subsidy provided to the company concerned is designed both to guarantee the provision of services which would not otherwise be economical to provide and to reduce costs for island communities.

Community Development.

Mary White

Question:

303 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs her views on extending the provision of the scheme of community support for older people to persons under 65 years with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45433/09]

Mary White

Question:

304 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the efforts being made to disseminate information on the provision of socially-monitored alarms through community groups and services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45434/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 303 and 304 together.

My Department carried out a comprehensive review of the Scheme of Community Support for Older People over the past number of months. I am currently considering the recommendations made to me by the Review Team. These recommendations include the matters raised by the Deputy in respect of extension of the Programme and the need to improve coverage and awareness of the Scheme. The Scheme is currently focused on the security needs of older people and it is not envisaged that this would be extended to people with disabilities or other health related concerns where support would, I believe, more appropriately be addressed by the Health Service Executive. I have already informed the House of my intention to bring in revised arrangement for the Scheme in early 2010 and these will include the matter of improved information for local organisations.

I have re-opened the existing Scheme until such time as revised arrangements are in place.

Jack Wall

Question:

305 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the implications that funding will have on a group (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45492/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question Number 210 of 26 November 2009.

State Bodies.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

306 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of State boards, agencies, regulators or other bodies under his remit; the cost of these bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46024/09]

The number of relevant bodies funded from my Department's Vote Group is 7. The following table lists the bodies in question, as well as the relevant funding allocations for 2009 as set out in the Revised Estimates Volume.

Bodies funded from Vote Group of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs 2009

Bodies

REV allocation 2009

€m

Western Development Commission

2.246

Údarás na Gaeltachta*

11.8

Dormant Accounts Board**

1.786

Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests

0.446

An Coimisinéir Teanga

0.96

Waterways Ireland***

36.5

An Foras Teanga, comprising:

Foras na Gaeilge***

15.84

Ulster-Scots Agency***

0.99

*Allocation for Údarás na Gaeltachta — Administration.

**Allocation for Dormant Accounts — Administration.

***Funding also provided by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Northern Ireland.

Calafoirt agus Céanna.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

307 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil iarratas ar dheontas ina Roinn le haghaidh obair dheisiúcháin ar ché (sonraí tugtha), cén uair a rinneadh an t-iarratas, an bhfuil meastachán faighte don obair, an gceadófar an deontas. [46048/09]

Cheadaigh mo Roinn deontas €240,185 do Chomhairle Chontae Dhún na nGall i Márta 2008 le comhairleoirí innealtóireachta a cheapadh chun doiciméid chonartha a ullmhú don ché atá luaite ag an Teachta.

Tá an obair seo curtha i gcrích ag an gComhairle Chontae faoin am seo agus tá iarratas ar cheadúnas imeall trá déanta i leith na forbartha. Ach an ceadúnas seo a bheith faighte, déanfar an cheist maidir le maoiniú a cheadú don togra a mheas i gcomhthéacs an tsoláthair iomláin a bheidh ar fáil do mo Roinn le caitheamh ar fhorbairt oileán i gcoitinne, ag tógáil san áireamh na tosaíochtaí agus na héilimh éagsúla a bheidh gá freastal orthu.

Humanitarian Assistance Scheme.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

308 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the actions he intends to take in conjunction with all other relevant Departments to alleviate the hardship caused by flooding on the Shannon area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45291/09]

The Government recognises the devastation suffered by people in many areas of the country as a result of the recent floods.

Community Welfare Service staff throughout the country have been providing huge support to families every day since this flooding occurred. They have already provided emergency financial and other assistance to households affected by the flooding to cover items such as clothing, food, bedding, heating, hire of dehumidifiers and emergency accommodation needs. Community Welfare Officers have made over 1,000 initial emergency payments to people in areas impacted by flooding; the average payments being made at this stage are €350. Officers will continue to make these payments as long as there is a requirement to do so.

In addition to this, a Humanitarian Assistance Scheme has been set up to provide means-tested financial support to people who have suffered damages to their homes. An initial sum of €10million has been set aside by the Government for this purpose.

As the flood waters abate and people assess the full extent of the damage to their homes, qualified households can claim for essential household items such as carpets, flooring, furniture and white goods. Assistance is available for structural repairs to homes not covered by household insurance. Costs of medical treatment and supplies may also be considered in determining assistance where medical cover is not already in place i.e. private health insurance or medical card.

The level of payment available under the aid scheme to any qualified individual will depend on the severity of the damage to that person's home and the extent of the loss experienced as well as household income and general family circumstances.

The scheme provides hardship alleviation as opposed to full compensation. As on previous occasions, commercial or business losses are not covered by the scheme nor are losses which are covered by household insurance. Humanitarian assistance is not an alternative to insurance in cases where household insurance was available on a reasonable basis. However, where insurance cover is not available because of previous flooding claims, a person may claim humanitarian assistance. Assistance does not cover damage to private rented accommodation or local authority accommodation, though humanitarian assistance may be considered in the case of a tenant's personal belongings.

Applications under the scheme are being means tested to ensure that available assistance is prioritised for those who are most vulnerable.

In addition to the means test, other factors will also be considered by the Community Welfare Service in assessing individual applications, including:

Whether the applicant is or was homeless as a result of the flooding.

Age profile of family members i.e. babies, young children or elderly persons.

Availability of support from the wider family; and

The special needs that people may have as a result of illness or disability.

People seeking assistance should contact their local Community Welfare Office. Further information and applications forms in relation to the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme are available from the Community Welfare Service in the affected areas and from the Department's website (www.welfare.ie ) and the HSE's website (www.hse.ie).

The Department and the Community Welfare Service of the HSE are both working with the Emergency Response Coordination Committee and the various statutory and other agencies working in this area, to ensure that the humanitarian assistance scheme will go towards alleviating the hardship which many hundreds of families have had to endure.

Private Rented Accommodation.

Brian Hayes

Question:

309 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will give an undertaking that the Health Services Executive will engage with home owners who can demonstrate that they have not received rental payment from tenants, when such rental payments were to be paid directly to the home owner’s account and where this may not have occurred; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45397/09]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes rent supplement, is administered on behalf of the department by the Community Welfare Service of the Health Service Executive (HSE). The purpose of rent supplement 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.

Under the relevant legislative provisions, the Department's relationship is with the tenant; the tenant makes the application for rent supplement and payment is made to the tenant. Rent supplement is specifically for the benefit of tenants to assist them with their accommodation needs.

Legislation does however provide for the making of a rent supplement payment to another person on behalf of the recipient, at the tenant's request and with the consent of the HSE. Almost 20,000 (21%) rent supplement payments are made to a person other than the rent supplemented tenant, for example to a relative, a landlord or landlord's agent.

It is open to the landlord to bring to the attention of the HSE any instance where a tenant is receiving rent supplement but is not paying their rent. Where a Community Welfare Officer becomes aware that a person receiving rent supplement is not using that supplement to meet housing costs, payment of the supplement is suspended and the matter investigated. Any overpayment of rent supplement incurred in circumstances of this kind may be recoverable from the tenant.

Where a landlord has a grievance in relation to the non-payment of rent by a tenant, s/he may apply to the Private Residential Tenancies Board to have the dispute resolved through the board's dispute resolution process.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Michael Ring

Question:

310 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the outcome of an appeal for mortgage interest supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [45463/09]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes mortgage interest supplement, is administered on behalf of the department by the Community Welfare Service of the Health Service Executive.

The Executive has advised that the person concerned has been awarded a mortgage interest supplement from the date of application in June 2009. She applied for an exceptional needs payment in respect of mortgage payments from January to June 2009. The Executive refused an exceptional needs payment as there were no arrears outstanding on the mortgage at the time of the application.

An Appeals Officer of the Executive has advised that it has received an appeal from the person concerned but no decision has been made on the appeal to date. The person concerned will be contacted when the decision has been made on her appeal.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

311 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the criteria for the back to education allowance second level option; the meaning of particular courses not to be a progression in educational qualifications; the courses which fall under this category; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45727/09]

The back to education allowance (BTEA) is a second chance educational opportunities scheme designed to encourage and facilitate people on certain social welfare payments to improve their skills and qualifications and, thereby, their prospects of returning to the active work force. It is paid at a standard weekly rate equivalent to the maximum rate of the relevant social welfare payment that qualifies the applicant for participation in the scheme. It essentially replaces their existing social welfare income and, in addition, an annual €500 cost of education allowance is payable. Also, participants may continue to receive any secondary benefits to which they have been entitled.

The second level option of the back to education allowance covers full-time second level courses of study at a recognised second level institute of education. Non-progression does not refer to specific course categories. To qualify for the back to education, an applicant must be progressing in education by reference to the national framework of qualifications. An applicant who wishes to pursue a course leading to a qualification at an equivalent or lower level than the qualification already held is not eligible for the back to education allowance.

However, this condition can be waived in certain circumstances. Factors taken into account would include the length of time since obtaining the first qualification, efforts to get employment with the qualification already held and periods of unemployment since obtaining first qualification. The main consideration in such cases is that the proposed further qualification will substantially enhance the person's employment prospects.

In order to qualify for participation in the second level option, an applicant must be in receipt of a relevant social welfare payment for 3 months immediately prior to commencing the course. In the case of illness benefit, the qualifying period is two years. Periods spent on other relevant social welfare payments can count towards the two year qualifying period provided that at least 50% of the period was spent on illness benefit. People who are awarded statutory redundancy can access the scheme immediately, provided an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study.

An applicant must be at least 21 years of age prior to commencing an approved course of study. However, recipients of illness and disability related payments can qualify at 18 years of age, as can lone parents and recipients of jobseekers' payments who have been out of formal education for at least 2 years.

The back to education allowance has an important role to play in enhancing the employability skills of jobseekers. The conditionality of the scheme will continue to be monitored in the context of the objectives of the scheme and changes in the economic climate.

Humanitarian Assistance Scheme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

312 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will support a matter (details supplied). [45773/09]

John Cregan

Question:

335 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if, in the interest of fairness, she will consider carrying out an assessment of the cost of flood damage to the victims of the flood damage in Newcastle West, County Limerick on 31 July and 1 August 2008 above the assistance paid through the community welfare officers emergency funding to persons whose homes were damaged and who were relocated to alternative accommodation; if additional financial losses are identified and substantiated, that these persons would be compensated by way of the recently announced humanitarian assistance fund, in the same manner as the victims of the most recent flooding here are expected to be rightly compensated and as the residents of the East Wall area of Dublin, following a flooding episode in 2002; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45807/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 312 and 335 together.

The Government recognises the devastation suffered by people in many areas of the country as a result of the recent floods. In view of the scale of the current floods the Government has set up a Humanitarian Assistance Scheme to provide means-tested financial support to people who have suffered damages to their homes from the current flooding. An initial sum of €10 million has been set aside by the Government for this purpose.

The scheme will provide hardship alleviation as opposed to full compensation. As on previous occasions, commercial or business losses will not be covered by the scheme n or will losses which are covered by household insurance. Neither will it cover damage to private rented accommodation or local authority accommodation, though humanitarian assistance may be considered in the case of a tenant's personal belongings. Applications under the scheme will be means tested to ensure that available assistance will be prioritised for those who are most vulnerable.

The humanitarian assistance scheme offers emergency payments for clothing, food, bedding, heating, hire of dehumidifiers and emergency accommodation needs, replacement of essential household items such as carpets, flooring, furniture and white goods and assistance for structural repairs to homes.

The objective is to address the hardship being experienced in the areas currently affected, because of the widespread impact of the floods in so many areas of the country, it was not the Government's intention to re-open earlier cases of flooding and I do not consider that it would be appropriate to do so.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

313 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be awarded the one parent family allowance. [45310/09]

The person concerned has been awarded a one- parent family allowance payment at the weekly rate of €222.80 with effect from 1 October, 2009. Her first payment and any arrears due will issue shortly. Under Social Welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by Deciding Officers and Appeals Officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Social Insurance.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

314 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to maintain PRSI contributions and pension contributions for those in receipt of carers allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45313/09]

The social welfare pension rights of those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties are protected by the homemaker's scheme which was introduced in and took effect from 1994. The scheme allows up to 20 years spent caring for children or incapacitated adults to be disregarded when a person's social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes. However, the scheme will not of itself qualify a person for a pension as the standard qualifying conditions must be satisfied. These require a person to enter insurance 10 years before pension age, pay a minimum of 260 contributions at the correct rate, and achieve a yearly average of at least 10 contributions on their record from the time they enter insurance until they reach pension age. The requirement for paid contributions will increase from 260 to 520 from 2012.

There is also a number of other ways in which pension entitlements can be protected. People who qualify for payments such as carer's allowance or carer's benefit, subject to certain conditions, may qualify for credited contributions for the period they are receiving the payment. From June 2006, the number of hours a person can engage in employment, self employment, education or training outside the home and still be eligible for carer's allowance, carer's benefit and the respite care grant was increased from 10 to 15 hours per week. This means that where a carer remains in employment he or she will continue to pay the appropriate social insurance contribution. Also, any person, including a carer, may pay voluntary contributions once they satisfy certain qualifying conditions.

The operation of the homemaker's scheme was reviewed in the context of the Green Paper on Pensions, with particular regard being paid to the operative date of the scheme and the use of credits for pension purposes rather than the current system of disregards. Any changes to the scheme will be addressed as part of the national pensions framework which will be published in the near future.

Departmental Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

315 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of staff who received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education in each of the past five years; the number of such staff who were subsequently re-assigned to duties appropriate to their new qualifications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45328/09]

The number of staff in my Department who have received financial assistance to pursue courses in further or higher education or support to participate in post graduate educational courses in the years 2004 to 2009 inclusive is 852 people. The breakdown of this figure is as follows:

Bodies funded from Vote Group of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs 2009

Year

Staff

2003/2004

214 staff

2004/2005

168 staff

2005/2006

149 staff

2006/2007

106 staff

2007/2008

112 staff

2008/2009

97 staff

One of the conditions for receiving financial assistance is that courses must be relevant to the work and policies of the Department. Staff are deployed to fill vacancies as they arise and consideration is given to matching their skills and qualifications to the requirements of the job. Furthermore staff are given the opportunity to move between jobs in order to broaden their knowledge and to enhance their experience in the Department.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Michael Ring

Question:

316 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when an illness benefit appeal will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo.. [45370/09]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The person concerned will be notified when arrangements for the examination have been completed. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Enterprise Support Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

317 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the help that is available from her Department for a person planning to start their own business. [45371/09]

The Department operates two schemes to assist people on social welfare who wish to become self-employed; namely the Short Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA) and the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA). The short term enterprise allowance, introduced from 1 May 2009, provides immediate access to support where people who have lost their jobs and qualify for Jobseekers' Benefit wish to set up a business. Payment under the scheme is at the same rate and for the same duration as their entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit.

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is designed to provide a monetary incentive for people who are dependant on social welfare payments to develop a business while allowing them to retain a reducing proportion of their qualifying social welfare payment, plus secondary benefits, over two years; 100% in year 1 and 75% in year 2. In the case of jobseekers, the qualifying period required for access to the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is 12 months, provided a person has an underlying entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance. Under both schemes, those taking up self-employment must first have their self-employment project approved as viable and sustainable. In partnership areas this will be done by the partnership company. In non-partnership areas it will be done by the Department's local facilitator. Approval normally involves an interview with the applicant to assess the viability of the proposed project, to provide advice on funding or on "Start Your Own Business" courses and other relevant aspects.

The Department provides further support to people who qualify for the short-term enterprise allowance (STEA) or the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance through the technical assistance and training scheme (TATS) under which a participant may qualify for a grant up to a maximum of €1,000 towards certain business start-up expenses. These include training (in areas such as book-keeping/accounts, preparation of business plans, marketing, literacy and computer training) and the purchase of small items of equipment. It is administered through the Department's facilitator network based in social welfare local offices. Part of the facilitator service is the provision of detailed information on the supports available from the Department to people who are planning to start their own business.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

318 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans regarding the quarterly certification of all children who continue to reside here; if the cost of implementing this certification has been estimated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45395/09]

The Child Benefit scheme has, in recent years, experienced significant expansion in the volume of claims received, the rates of payment and the diversity of the customer base. The annual cost in 2008 was approx. €2.46 billion and the payment issues now for children of some 190 nationalities living in Ireland. Against this background, the control policy for the child benefit scheme has been reviewed to ensure that controls against fraud and abuse of the scheme continue to be effective and relevant. As a result of the review, enhanced and updated control measures have been devised. These include the issue, on a quarterly basis, of certificates to selected groups of customers for completion and return to the Department to confirm that they continue to satisfy the conditions for receipt of Child Benefit. In the case of non-Irish national recipients who are resident in Ireland with their children, certification that the children continue to reside here is required — the proof of such residence can be provided via details of the school or college their child attends or, if the child is not of school-going age, details of the doctor or crèche they attend. This information is used to verify that the children are resident in Ireland, and for no other purpose.

In the case of EU nationals who are working in Ireland but who have qualified children living in another EU state, certification by their employer of continuing employment is requested. This review process has initially focused on higher-risk categories of customer and will be expanded to include other customer groups in the future. Customers selected for the reviews have to date been selected largely from non-Irish nationals in receipt of Child Benefit, both those with children resident in Ireland and those working here whose children are resident outside of Ireland.

In 2008 a total of 87,850 reviews were completed. In 2009 a total of 178,410 residency reviews and 70,772 employment reviews have been undertaken. The cost is an estimated €1 per transaction — including a postage-paid envelope for the customer's reply. Savings in 2008 arising from the issue of the certificates were just under €27m. In 2009 to date, savings are €56m and are expected to be in the region of €60m by the end of the year. The Joint Committee on Social & Family Affairs Welfare Fraud report in September 2009 welcomed the introduction of the revised and more frequent residency and employment certification and was encouraged by the savings made so far as a result of these changes.

Social Insurance.

Joan Burton

Question:

319 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the annual cost of the PRSI allowance for each of the past five years; and the amount of revenue that would be raised in 2010 if the PRSI allowance was abolished. [45421/09]