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 87, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 88 to 96, inclusive, answered orally.

Fisheries Protection.

Seán Connick

Question:

97 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the EU Norway negotiations in relation to mackerel fishing to be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3699/10]

The Annual bi-lateral negotiations with Norway concluded late yesterday evening after a marathon session which commenced on Tuesday 19th January. Indeed this session follows three other such meetings — two in Bergen, Norway and one in Brussels — which were held in November and December last.

The EU/Norway agreement forms part of what are collectively known as the "Northern Agreements". These include another bilateral agreement between the EU and the Faroe Islands as well as a number of multi-lateral agreements on the management of certain fish stocks in which Ireland have an interest. These include: mackerel, blue whiting and Atlanto Scandian herring.

These consultations are an integral part of the EU fisheries landscape and, though each is a separate strand, they are inextricably linked. The consultations allow for appropriate management arrangements to be put in place for relevant stocks while still efficiently maximising fishing opportunities.

Negotiations with Norway are normally complex, and this year the complexity was exacerbated by the failure to reach agreement on Mackerel at Coastal States. A number of factors contributed to this. First, new control arrangements were introduced in August on foot of evidence of misreporting by Norwegian vessels as to where they caught their mackerel. In October, EU waters were closed to Norwegian vessels as they had reached their access limit as set out in the 2009 agreement, a fact hotly disputed by Norway. Added to the mix was the question of dealing with Iceland's olympic fishery, the independent mackerel TACs set by Norway and the Faroe Islands and the demand by the Faroes for additional quota. These issues meant that relations with Norway were strained more than usual, resulting in a long and drawn out negotiation process, which has thankfully concluded successfully.

Let me say that the detailed management arrangements for mackerel have normally been dealt with in the Coastal States forum. At a Coastal States meeting convened in Clonakilty in October, it was evident that both parties wanted to enter into a long-term arrangement on the management of that stock that would encompass issues such as reciprocal access, control, inter-annual quota flexibilities, etc. It was not possible to reach agreement at that meeting or at a subsequent 2nd round in Edinburgh. This was due mainly to a refusal by the Faroe Islands (which is a party to the negotiations) to negotiate unless they were guaranteed more quota.

Norway and the EU, as the largest share holders of the stock, wanted to progress the matter bi-laterally, particularly with a mind to having a unified stance when it comes to talks with Iceland in the Spring. This proved extremely difficult to achieve, due in no small part to sensitivities with regard to recent actions already mentioned.

However I am glad to relate that progress has been made and, with compromises from both sides, a separate comprehensive 10-year deal on mackerel arrangements has been achieved. This would commence in 2011, encompass all management issues, and will enable both our fleets have more efficient, stable and secure fishery into the future. It cements the relative sharing arrangement between the EU and Norway, which will remain constant after the Faroes and Iceland join a new Coastal States arrangement. It will also allow both parties to commence talks with the Faroe Islands and Iceland from a position of unified strength. Interim arrangements have been put in place for 2010.

It should be noted that the normal bi-lateral agreements between the EU and Norway, and indeed EU and the Faroes, allows for a transfer of fishing opportunities between the parties with the EU in particular gaining important access to fish Norwegian stocks, mainly Arctic Cod which is paid for by EU stocks of which certain pelagic species in particular, Blue Whiting and Horse Mackerel form a significant element of the balance offered to Norway. Ireland benefits little from the exchanges in terms of Arctic Cod or other access, and we contribute disproportionately in terms in terms of the pelagic stocks transferred to Norway. This has been a major bone of contention over many years.

This year Minister Killeen was successful in eliciting a statement from the European Commission at the December Fisheries Council where they undertook that:

“Bearing in mind that Member States benefit to a different degree from the exchange of fishing opportunities with Norway, the Commission shall endeavour to ensure that the costs and benefits for individual Member States of the annual arrangements with Norway should be as balanced as possible.”

I am glad to inform the house that when taking the Faroes and Norwegian transfers together, in 2010 Ireland will contribute approximately half the level of Horse Mackerel transferred in 2009 while the Blue Whiting contribution will be reduced slightly.

We have come a long way since the beginning of this process last October and I am happy that a balanced agreement has been arrived at in relation to the exchange of fishing opportunities for 2010, which takes account of the Commission statement at December Council and which will give immediate economic benefit for our pelagic fishermen in 2010.

Additionally securing a long term framework with Norway on the management of mackerel will provide much needed stability and security for our processors and fishermen into the future.

Bovine Diseases.

Damien English

Question:

98 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason agricultural laboratories are not available for bovine viral diarrhoea, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and Johne’s disease testing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3763/10]

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) virus and Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus are two viral agents that have been recognised as being endemic and causing disease in animals in Ireland for decades. Johne's disease is an infectious disease of cattle, sheep and goats associated with infections by a bacterium (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis). It causes wasting in all the above species and is associated with chronic diarrhea in cattle.

DAFF's Veterinary Laboratory Service has been at the forefront of developing and providing a diagnostic service and control measures for theses diseases in Ireland. A broad range of tests for these particular diseases is available at the Veterinary Laboratory Service. The Regional Veterinary Laboratory Service provides a post mortem diagnostic service for farm animals that have died for any reason including as a result of infections with BVD, IBR or as a result of Johne's disease.

Large numbers of samples from both live and dead animals are being tested annually in the Veterinary Laboratory Service. For instance, using various test methods, approximately 63,000 samples from animals were assayed for evidence of BVD infection last year. Similarly over 20,000 samples were tested for evidence of IBR infection and approximately 16,000 samples were tested for evidence of Johne's disease in 2009.

The performance of such tests is based on a variety of requests. These may range from differential diagnosis for exotic diseases, diagnostic purposes, to aid herd health schemes or to comply with Ireland's requirements to demonstrate that bulls entering AI stations are not carriers of IBR virus or BVD virus or infected with Johnes disease.

Statutory requirements for testing for exotic animal diseases will remain the highest priority for the DAFF Veterinary Laboratory Service. However due to the need to differentiate endemic or common diseases from exotic diseases, the cost of common diseases to the national herd and the need to reduce the incidence of such diseases in Ireland and promote Ireland the Food Island, DAFF laboratories provide a comprehensive range of diagnostic facilities for such diseases. Also, where possible, new tests are developed to facilitate more rapid accurate identification of disease causing agents.

It is continually necessary to review laboratory tests that are being provided on a routine basis in order to make best use of laboratory resources. A review of tests for viral agents took place at the end of 2009. In carrying out the review, the value of each test in terms of animal health, its relevance to diagnosis/disease control and efficient use of staff resources were assessed. Due to resource implications it was decided that a labour intensive test for BVD virus in pooled milk samples, which was newly developed at the Veterinary Laboratory Service, would not be offered on a routine basis. However in the event of disease investigation which warrants this particular testing system, arrangements for such testing can be made by contacting the local Regional Veterinary Laboratory and making prior arrangements to submit samples.

I am satisfied that a range of tests are available in the Veterinary Laboratory Service to accurately facilitate the diagnosis and control of BVD, IBR and Johne's disease in Irish cattle herds.

Pension Provisions.

Seán Barrett

Question:

99 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the discussions he has had with the Department of Social and Family Affairs regarding a change to State pension arrangements for farmers’ spouses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3734/10]

Issues relating to eligibility for pensions are a matter for the Minister for Social and Family Affairs. Following a review of certain pension claims, it was discovered that a number of individuals who had been in receipt of a pension did not satisfy the condition whereby they were required to have paid at least one year's self employment contributions before reaching age 66. As they did not satisfy this condition, the claims have been disallowed (from the date of pension award) and the customers notified.

My Department has no direct role in this matter.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Joe Costello

Question:

100 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will commence discussions on the new REP scheme to replace REP scheme four; and the details for same. [3860/10]

Ireland's amended Rural Development Programme, including a new agri-environment scheme, was presented to the EU Rural Development Management Committee in Brussels on 20 January. This followed detailed and protracted discussions with the Commission. The Committee agreed the programme and the Commission will now proceed to take a formal decision to approve it. This procedure is expected to take a number of weeks.

The new agri-environment scheme is focused on the priority areas of biodiversity, water management and climate change. It will offer a menu of measures addressing these priorities from which farmers may choose, provided they complement the environmental profile of the holding. Details on the operation of the new scheme are currently being finalised and I intend to launch the scheme once the formal Commission approval has been received.

Fisheries Protection.

Niall Blaney

Question:

101 Deputy Niall Blaney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the outcome of the December 2009 EU Fisheries’ Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3700/10]

The package of fish quotas and other conservation measures for 2010 were agreed at the December 2009 Fisheries Council after a marathon 36 hours of intensive negotiations. Tony Killeen T.D., Minister of State at this Department, represented Ireland at those negotiations. I welcome the agreement reached and I am satisfied that it provides a balanced and fair outcome for Irish fishermen.

The ongoing disagreement between the EU and Norway in respect of mackerel fishing overshadowed this year's meeting. It made the job of setting quotas for EU fishermen even more difficult than normal, and Minister Killeen had to fight to ensure that the lack of an EU-Norway agreement did not adversely impact on the Irish mackerel fleet.

There was a real danger that our fleet would be severely limited in terms of the amount of the mackerel it would be permitted to fish. However, Minister Killeen secured a provisional mackerel quota that allows our fleet to fish up to 65% of last year's quota level in the first months of this year, pending any final agreement being reached with Norway on 2010 fishing opportunities.

He also secured assurances from the Council that any new agreement with Norway will be fairer in balancing the benefits with the costs for Member States. Ireland has in the past been a net contributor to the agreement, providing more to the transfer of fishing quotas to Norway than it gained from access to fish stocks in Norwegian waters.

In respect of whitefish stocks, Minister Killeen fought the now annual action to ensure that the commitment of Ireland's hard pressed fishermen — the Hague Agreement — was fully honored by my European counterparts. This was particularly important this year as major reductions in the total allowed catch (TAC) of a number of key fish stocks were proposed by the EU Commission for 2010. Stocks of cod, haddock and prawns — amongst the most important to the whitefish fleet — were all in line for big reductions.

It was proposed, for instance, to reduce the prawn quota by up to 50%. Given that prawns are the most important stock for our whitefish fleet, this cut would have had severe consequences for our vessels. Minister Killeen argued instead that new management measures were needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of this stock. He successfully gathered support amongst his colleagues in the Council for a plan — originally proposed by the Federation of Irish Fishermen — to implement a seasonal closure off the southwest coast in the summer months when the stock is most vulnerable to over-fishing. On the basis of this plan, he was able to get the proposed cut in the prawn TAC reduced from 50% to 9%. This new arrangement delivers effective measures where conservation is required, while still providing a realistic prawn quota where science has shown the stock is healthy.

We achieved a similar result for the haddock fishery. There, the recommendation was for a 54% cut in the TAC. We accept a reduction in the catch of haddock off Ireland's northwest coast was necessary, but Minister Killeen effectively argued for a more balanced approach. This saw the scale of the TAC cut reduced to a more reasonable 25%, along with agreement on a new long-term management plan for the haddock stock. In addition, the harsh restrictions put in place last year on whitefish fishing off Donegal will be reviewed early this year with the aim of making changes as early as possible.

Although the Commission also proposed a 25% cut in the very important Celtic Sea cod TAC , Minister Killeen secured a rollover of the 2009 TAC to reflect recent catches. He successfully argued that we need new and better data on the state of this stock, as fishermen say it is in better shape than other cod stocks around the coast.

One of the brighter aspects of the agreement for Irish fishermen was in the TAC increase of 71% for the important Celtic Sea herring stock for 2010. This is effectively an Irish stock, as we receive the bulk of the quota, and it was nearing collapse two years ago. However, fishermen in the southwest, working together with the Marine Institute scientists, developed a long term plan for this stock. These fishermen had the courage to take the very difficult decisions required to rebuild the stock, and I am delighted that their efforts yielded such positive results. This is a fine example of how working together and taking strong action can pay dividends.

Organic Farming.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

102 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the recent re-opening of the organic farming scheme with a new requirement, farmers will be required to produce a five year business plan as part of their application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3548/10]

The submission of a detailed five year business plan by all new applicants is now required as part of the application process for the Organic Farming Scheme. The purpose of the Business Plan is to facilitate an assessment of the level of farming activity and sustainability of the business which is the subject of the application.

The Scheme conditions were amended as a result of a review of the Organic Farming Scheme, which was instigated by my Department in July 2009. This review considered how available funds could be used to best effect to deliver increased organic production and attain the 5% Government target, as set out in the Programme for Government.

I am satisfied that the new criteria will help to identify those applicants who were most likely to deliver increased organic output nationally, particularly in those areas where production is not meeting the demands of the home and export markets.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Joe Costello

Question:

103 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if farmers will be in a position to apply for new REP scheme before 1 March 2010. [3861/10]

Ireland's amended Rural Development Programme, including a new agri-environment scheme, was presented to the EU Rural Development Management Committee in Brussels on 20 January. This followed detailed and protracted discussions with the Commission. The Committee agreed the programme and the Commission will now proceed to take a formal decision to approve it. This procedure is expected to take a number of weeks.

The new agri-environment scheme is focused on the priority areas of biodiversity, water management and climate change. It will offer a menu of measures addressing these priorities from which farmers may choose, provided they complement the environmental profile of the holding. Details on the operation of the new scheme are currently being finalised and I intend to launch the scheme once the formal Commission approval has been received.

Lost at Sea Scheme.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

104 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if a person or organisation, other than him and his Department officials or persons directly involved with the drawing up of the terms and conditions of the scheme, had access to the conditions of the lost at sea scheme at any stage prior to the launch of the scheme in June 2001. [3887/10]

The Lost at Sea Scheme was a limited scheme introduced in June 2001, with a closing date of 31 December 2001, whose objective was to enable qualifying applicants, who were otherwise unable to do so for financial or related reasons, to continue a family tradition of sea-fishing.

It was a bounded, limited scheme under which replacement capacity (gross tonnes and kWatts) that would otherwise have had to be bought on the tonnage market, was provided free of charge to qualifying applicants who had lost a fishing vessel between 1980 and the establishment of the Fishing Boat Register in 1990, but who had been unable to replace it for verified financial reasons. The scheme was intended to assist families in introducing a replacement for the lost vessel which would be owned and skippered by the applicant or by an immediate relation of the applicant.

The terms of the scheme also specified further conditions relating to the use of the capacity once deemed eligible.

The scheme was promulgated by the (then) Department of the Marine and Natural Resources. This Department assumed responsibility for sea fisheries in October 2007.

There are records of contacts in relation to the scheme on the Departmental files. The files relate to the evolution of the scheme and indicate a range of contacts, meetings and correspondence going back to March 1999 to and from interested parties including public representatives, individual vessel owners, fishermen's representatives and Producer Organisations (POs), both at Departmental and Ministerial level.

The terms and conditions of the scheme would necessarily have reflected the views of all the stakeholders as well as public policy considerations and legal requirements at the time.

Tillage Sector.

Enda Kenny

Question:

105 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his forecast for tillage farmers in 2010, in particular the grain sector in light of losses incurred over previous years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3782/10]

Since Ireland is a deficit market for cereals, prices here are greatly affected by world prices and supplies. In 2007, increased demands for grain from the biofuels sector and the growing needs of new emerging markets like China and India drove up world grain market prices. In line with this rise in world prices, grain prices in Ireland increased to record levels during 2007 and growers here reacted by increasing the acreage sown. This resulted in a bumper harvest in 2008 with total grain production of almost 2.4 million tonnes, the second highest on record.

However, the bad weather in the autumn of 2008 affected sowing of winter crops and this, coupled with poor returns for growers, led to the area planted being reduced again and consequently a decreased 2009 harvest output of about 1.86 million tonnes, somewhat short of the long-term average of 2 million tonnes. Despite the significant drop in production, grain prices were also down — on average 30% lower than the 2008 level. This illustrates the fact that the grain price in Ireland is a function of developments on EU and world markets rather than a function of domestic supply and demand developments.

While it is too early to predict the level of plantings for 2010, preliminary indications from Teagasc are that the acreage of autumn sown crops in 2009 may be back a little on the previous year with a slight shift in favour of winter barley. In any event I am confident that this year will see some recovery in returns for growers due to very significant reductions in the main input costs and some increase in harvest prices, although clearly this still leaves the tillage sector some way to go to achieving acceptable margins.

Despite the current economic down turn across the world, the ever-increasing demand for grain within the biofuel industry and growing consumption patterns in developing countries is likely to continue over the coming years. While the various price spikes experienced in recent times are unlikely to be repeated in the short term, it is certainly possible that average world grain prices will grow over the next decade at a faster rate than over the previous one. In the wider sense at least there is cause for cautious optimism in the grain producing sector.

I am sure that these issues will be the subject of informed debate at tomorrow's National Tillage Conference organised by Teagasc on the theme ‘Maximising market opportunities in tillage'.

Food Labelling.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

106 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will raise the need for more comprehensive labelling legislation at an EU level on foot of the interagency group report on the pork dioxin contamination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3772/10]

The report of the Inter-Agency Review Group tasked with examining the dioxin contamination incident in Ireland in December 2008 made a number of recommendations in relation to labelling and traceability.

Firstly it concluded that the traceability system for Irish pigmeat fully complied with EU legislative requirements and was of the same standard as systems in other countries but recommended further consideration of the development of a improved product tracking systems for meat and meat products.

Specifically in relation to labelling it noted that under current EU food labelling legislation country of origin marking is required in cases where failure to provide such information would be likely to mislead the consumer to a material degree. The report emphasised the importance of food business operators complying with this legislation. It recommended that reports of breaches of the labelling regulations should continue to be followed up by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland which is charged with the enforcement of the legislation.

The Group also noted there were further instances of confusion of which products were Irish and that this is to a large extent reflected the complexity of secondary processing with commingling of product at home and abroad. The Review Group suggested that this situation could be improved by Food Business Operators ensuring that their labelling is as informative and accurate as possible.

As I have already indicated I will ensure that the various recommendations contained in the report insofar as the control agencies were concerned are pursued by the relevant authorities.

The EU Labelling Directive is at present under review and The Department of Health and Children will take account of the recommendation of the Review Group on Labelling in the context of the current review of the EU Food Labelling Directive.

Grant Payments.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

107 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of REP scheme four farmers who have been paid since he promised payments would commence from mid December 2009. [3857/10]

The first payments for the 2009 scheme year issued on 18 December 2009, and payments have continued to issue in the meantime. To date, 9,823 REPS 4 participants have been paid in full. A further 4,508 have received the first phase of 75% of their payments and are due to receive the balance shortly. Payments will issue this week to approximately 1,300 participants. My Department continues to process payments as a matter of priority with a view to completing all payments due as quickly as possible and, in this context, may be in contact directly with participants to resolve queries arising.

Crop Losses.

Alan Shatter

Question:

108 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has been involved in the compilation of an application to the EU Solidarity Fund for compensation for farmers and growers who have suffered losses due to recent extreme weather conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3850/10]

Mindful of the hardship and distress caused by the recent widespread flooding, on 27 November 2009 I announced the introduction of the Fodder Aid Scheme, targeted directly at those farmers who encountered damage to fodder in the affected areas. While I was very anxious that the funding reach the affected farmers as quickly as possible, it was essential that farmers demonstrate that their fodder was damaged and to what extent. To this end, therefore, it was necessary that each claim be verified by an on-the-spot inspection.

I had initially set the closing date for receipt of applications as 11 December, but subsequently extended it by one week. Immediately applications began to be received by my Department, the necessary inspections were begun, following which the applications were further processed for payment. I am pleased to say that payments commenced issuing on 18 December and, to date, payments worth €504,074 have issued to 237 applicants. Payments continue to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible.

I am aware that due to the recent severe frost conditions a proportion of the total national area of potatoes remained unharvested at the end of 2009. The very severe frost conditions have resulted in losses to potatoes and other crops. The extent of losses is difficult to quantify at this stage. It would be influenced by the nature of the crop, its location and the extent to which it was exposed.

I have received representations on behalf of growers in relation to the losses incurred and the matter is currently being considered by officials in my Department.

Fisheries Protection.

Michael Noonan

Question:

109 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of factory ships of international origin that have been brought to shore since the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority came into existence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3797/10]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

136 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will report on the introduction of the practice of weighing lorries carrying fish on Killybegs Pier, County Donegal in addition to weighing lorries at the local factory; the reason this practice has been introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3793/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 109 and 136 together.

These are matters for the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), an independent authority, which was established under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006 on January 1st 2007. The Act clearly provides that the Authority is independent in the exercise of its functions and as such I have no remit as to its work programme, operational activities or its strategic deployment of resources.

I have however, asked the SFPA to respond directly to the Deputies as soon as possible.

Bee Population.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

110 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there is a national strategy for the future of the bee population here. [3886/10]

The Department is aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy bee population due to the role of bees in producing honey, aiding pollination and promoting and maintaining Irish Biodiversity.

The Department currently has a number of initiatives in place to promote and facilitate development in the beekeeping sector in terms of grant aid, funding bee health research and in conserving the native Irish bee. We also provide funding to and have a close working relationship with FIBKA, the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations. In fact officials from my Department met with representatives of FIBKA this morning to discuss issues of mutual concern.

Afforestation Programme.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

111 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the percentage of the country covered by forestry; the targets for further forestry development; and the incentives available for same. [3667/10]

The percentage of land area currently under forestry is approximately 10.7%.

My Department promotes the planting of new forests through a range of attractive support measures — the Afforestation Grant Scheme, the Forest Environment Protection Scheme and the Native Woodland Scheme. These schemes provide 100% establishment grants and annual premiums for up to 20 years. In addition, my Department also provides supports towards the provision of forest infrastructure such as harvesting and management roads, along with grants to encourage forest owners to actively manage their forests and improve the quality of the final crop.

The increased allocation for forestry in the 2010 Budget will facilitate a higher level of planting, in the region of 7,000 hectares, in 2010, and is evidence of the Government's continued commitment to forestry.

European Council Meetings.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

112 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the outcome of the January 2010 Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting regarding the functioning of the European food supply chain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3696/10]

Ministers had a first discussion of a communication from the Commission that had been presented by Commissioner Fischer Boel at the December Agriculture Council meeting. That communication outlined a number of proposals to make the European food supply chain more transparent while promoting sustainable and market-based relationships. These proposals covered the promotion of sustainable and market-based relationships, mechanisms for increased transparency to encourage competition and improve resilience to price volatility and measures to increase the integration and competitiveness of the European food supply chain.

To guide the discussion, the Spanish Presidency prepared a series of questions for Ministers focusing on the areas of transparency and balance along the food chain, self-regulation, food price monitoring, territorial supply constraints and future initiatives at EU level.

In regard to market transparency and the balance within the food supply chain, the main concern was the need to achieve a greater balance along the chain between producers, processors and retailers. Solutions proposed included greater monitoring of prices and the establishment of codes of good practice. I supported the call for greater price transparency. I also took the opportunity to inform my Ministerial colleagues of the steps already taken by the Irish Government to implement a national Code of Practice for doing business in the Grocery Goods sector with a view to ensuring a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers.

As regards self-regulation, there were differing views between Ministers on the extent to which new EU regulatory frameworks were required. A number of Member States took the view that contractual relations and other arrangements to regulate the supply chain were a matter for private operators while others believed that a regulatory framework or guidelines at EU level would be beneficial. My own view, which I conveyed to Ministers, is that there is a need to monitor and audit unfair contractual practices with a view to ensuring compliance with competition law.

Ministers were agreed on the usefulness of price observatories although I pointed out that fluctuating currency conversion rates can complicate the picture, and this should be taken into account in whatever systems are put in place at EU level.

Ministers also made a series of suggestions concerning other possible measures to address the situation. These ranged from proposals to increase research and development, provide new economic incentives and investment opportunities to suggestions to review the operation of State aids and to strengthen the operation of producer groups.

For my part, I emphasised the need for careful and sensitive use of market management measures to help to maintain balance on the market when appropriate and the use of such mechanisms to assist in the provision of fair returns to producers. I said that the new CAP must also address increased market volatility and we needed effective mechanisms to manage this. I also said there was a need to look critically at EU competition law in so far as it can serve to militate against consolidation at producer level to achieve the scale necessary for optimum efficiency and international competitiveness.

The discussion at the most recent Council was a first discussion only of the dossier. Over the coming months, the report will be examined in greater detail by the Agriculture Council and the preparatory bodies.

Beef Industry.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

113 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will report on the operation of the new quality payment system at meat factories; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3779/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the price paid for beef is a matter for the meat industry and the farmers who supply cattle.

Beef carcasses are classified or graded in accordance with EU Regulations using the EUROP scale for conformation and a scale of 1 to 5 to indicate fat cover. Mechanical grading has facilitated the use of sub-classes within each main class for both conformation and fat cover in order to give a more precise grade for a beef carcass. Studies at Teagasc Grange have shown that the use of sub-classes to determine the price paid per kg of carcass is justified. The use of sub-classes when paying for cattle sends a clear message back to the farmer on the type of carcass required for the market.

The new quality payment system was introduced a number of weeks ago following intensive negotiations between Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the farmers representatives (IFA). The payment system makes use of sub-classes to determine the price paid, with the aim of rewarding farmers for producing the better quality and higher value carcasses.

Overall, the quality based payment system is a welcome development. It is now up to the industry to continue to operate the system in a fair and transparent manner in order to ensure that the system gains widespread acceptance among the farmers who supply cattle.

Departmental Funding.

John Deasy

Question:

114 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason unspent common agricultural policy funds being distributed to discussion groups is singularly aimed at the dairy sector; if he will distribute available funding to discussion groups in other sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3757/10]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

162 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason applications for support from unspent single farm payments funds are confined to the dairy sector. [3868/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 114 and 162 together.

Under the agreement reached in November 2008 on the Health Check of the CAP, I secured approval to use previously inaccessible unspent Single Payment Scheme funds to address, among other things, specific disadvantages affecting certain sectors in economically vulnerable or environmentally sensitive areas. Member States may also provide support to farmers for specific agricultural activities providing agri-environmental benefits.

Resulting from this agreement Ireland gained access to in the region of €25 million in additional funding for each of the next three years 2010, 2011 and 2012 for these targeted measures. In considering how these monies might be best spent my objective was to achieve the most effective and efficient outcome for Irish agriculture. With this in mind, and having consulted widely with all the relevant stakeholders including the farming organisations, and having regard to the provisions of the regulations, I decided to allocate the available funds as follows:

€18m each year for the next three years on a Grassland Scheme to support incomes in the sheep sector,

€6m each year for the next three years on a Dairy Efficiency Programme aimed at encouraging a significant improvement in efficiencies on dairy farms, and

€1m for each of the three years 2010, 2011 and 2012 to support high environmental value farming, with tourism spin-off, in the Burren, Co. Clare, continuing and mainstreaming the pilot scheme operated by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

In addition to this agreement I successfully negotiated the use of the national reserve element of these funds from 2009. I announced that approximately €7 million would be paid to hill sheep farmers as a once-off measure in the form of an Uplands Sheep Payment, benefiting approximately 12,500 hill sheep farmers. To date €5 million of this amount has been paid, and I expect the remaining €2 million to be paid shortly.

It should be clear, therefore, that unspent Single Payment Scheme funds are not confined to the dairy sector. However, in the dairy sector, my focus is also on achieving the maximum possible benefit from the expenditure of the funds. Discussion groups are already a well-established feature on the dairying landscape and have demonstrated their value in supporting the effective management of dairy enterprises. I want to encourage greater participation in such arrangements so that many more dairy farmers can benefit from the application of best practice in the running of their farms, and bring about the kind of cost efficiencies that will help them to deal with the significant challenges that exposure to global market realities brings. I believe the Dairy Efficiency Programme has the potential to facilitate great strides in this regard, and I would encourage all dairy farmers to consider getting involved.

Food Industry.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

115 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of Bord Bia’s export performance and prospects report, he is satisfied that the value of Irish food and drink exports will stabilise and improve in the future. [3881/10]

Irish food and drink exporters faced unprecedented challenges in 2009 due to a sustained decline in the value of sterling, the economic downturn and a sharp slowdown in global demand for major commodities.

Over recent months there are tentative indications that exports are beginning to stabilise as the global economy begins to show signs of returning to growth. Stronger volumes and better returns are in prospect for the key dairy and meat sectors, which between them represent 60% of total exports. Significant investments by prepared food companies to broaden market presence on the Continent are expected to increase exports over the coming years. Currency developments and consumer sentiment will remain critical.

The long-term outlook for the sector, with its high export orientation, is positive. Due to an expanding world population the world will need to produce over 40 % more food by 2030 and some 70 % more by 2050. The latest long term outlook by the FAO covering the period to 2018 suggests that prices for key products such as dairy and meat will remain above the levels seen in the decade to 2006.

The challenge for the industry to improve competitiveness while broadening export reach is formidable. Recognising this, Bord Bia has a series of initiatives in place aimed at enhancing the export performance of the sector. An example is Marketplace 2010 in February, which will host 290 international food and drink buyers from eighteen countries, as well as 85 Irish buyers, to meet with some 160 Irish companies in Dublin involving over 2,500 pre scheduled meetings.

Under Bord Bia's Marketing Fellowship programme, initiated in October 2009, 25 experienced graduates are currently working in 13 overseas export markets to help boost Irish food and drink exports and support some 113 Irish companies expand market reach.

These initiatives, combined with the track record of the Irish food and drink industry to show agility to change with market requirements, will ensure that the sector is well placed to grow the value of exports over the coming years and play an active role in a national drive to secure a sustainable economic renewal for the Irish economy.

Proposed Legislation.

Joe Carey

Question:

116 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the input his Department has had in the drafting of the proposed climate change Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3743/10]

Ireland is fully committed to playing its part in the efforts to tackle climate change. The EU climate change and renewable energy package aims to deliver the European Union's ambitious commitments to fight climate change and promote renewable energy up to 2020 and beyond.

My colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, has indicated that he is in the process of developing a National Climate Change Adaptation Framework and a new Climate Change Bill. The background to the Bill is set out in the Government framework document published last December. My Department was consulted on the drafting of the framework document and I expect ongoing consultation with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government as development of the Bill progresses through both the drafting and enactment stages. The planned Bill will provide a statutory framework for Ireland's long-term response to climate change. My priority will be to ensure that national policy on the future of the agriculture sector is taken into account.

Fur Farming.

Tom Hayes

Question:

117 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he anticipates compensation for fur farmers will be required if the programme for Government commitment to proceed with a gradual phasing out of fur farming is approved by the Houses of the Oireachtas in the animal health and welfare Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3775/10]

My officials are examining the legislative and other changes deemed necessary to implement the commitment in the revised Programme for Government to phase out fur farming over three years.

As many issues are still under consideration, it is not appropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Joan Burton

Question:

118 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has spent his full allocation of REP scheme funding of €369 million in 2009. [3858/10]

The original 2009 Vote allocation of €330 million which was provided for expenditure on REPS was increased to €369 million by way of Supplementary estimate on 8 December. The additional funding was sought principally to meet expected expenditure arising under REPS 4. However, not all REPS 4 applications cleared the stringent pre-payment administrative checks in time to be paid during 2009 and the final outturn for the year was €342 million.

Animal Identification Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

119 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he is taking to reverse the plans for the electronic tagging of sheep; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3677/10]

The introduction of EID for sheep was agreed at EU level in late 2003. At that time, it was agreed to defer the implementation date until January 2008. The Council of Agriculture Ministers revisited this issue in December 2007 when it was agreed that the deadline for the compulsory introduction of EID should be set for 31 December 2009, 6 years after the original decision was taken.

I have always expressed major concerns with the mandatory introduction of EID for a sheep sector that is clearly under pressure. My consistent view has been that the introduction of EID of sheep should only be on a voluntary basis and I most recently articulated this position to both the European Commission and fellow Ministers at the Agricultural Council of 20 November 2009. Regretfully, there is not sufficient support among other Member States and none from the European Commission for any further rollback in relation to the date for the mandatory introduction of EID or for a voluntary scheme.

The prevailing view at EU level is that Member States should proceed with implementation and other Member States have proceeded with implementation of EID on a mandatory basis. I, therefore, have no discretion as regards the date of implementation for electronic identification (EID) and there can be no question of deferring its introduction for a further period. In these circumstances, we now must proceed with the introduction of EID.

Over the period of debate at EU level, I have placed a strong emphasis in pressing our case for a voluntary scheme and in this regard I have secured major concessions in relation to EID in discussions with the European Commission. These concessions include a slaughter derogation which means that all lambs intended for slaughter and under 12 months old can now be exempted from EID. This will result in EID being largely confined to replacement breeding stock that are born after 31 December 2009. This means the vast majority of Irish sheep will be excluded from EID requirements, which will minimise costs for producers.

Furthermore, where lambs identified under the slaughter derogation are subsequently retained for breeding purposes they can then be tagged with an EID device at the second holding. This is a major breakthrough in facilitating existing trade practice in the sector and addresses concerns raised by Irish farming organisations that the new EID system would eliminate the sale of breeding sheep at marts, which would have an adverse effect on competitiveness in the industry.

My Department has circulated a technical document outlining the proposed changes to the National Sheep Identification System (NSIS II) to farm organisations and other stakeholders for comments. This is part of a consultative process, which has been ongoing for some time. The stakeholders have been asked to examine this document carefully and engage with my officials so that whatever revisions are made to the NSIS best suit Irish conditions and minimise the burden on farmers within the parameters of the new legislation. I would urge the various organisations to contribute specific input, at this stage, to the proposed scheme.

Fishing Industry Development.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

120 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of fishing boats registered; the estimated number employed on same; and the estimated number of onshore jobs in fish processing and related activities. [3668/10]

The Registrar General of Fishing Boats is charged with maintaining the Register of Fishing Boats and publishes a Register report of Irish vessels on the Department's website under Sea Fisheries/Irish Sea Fishing Fleet Register/Register Report. The total number of vessels on the Sea Fishing Boat Register as at 11/1/2010 was 2,094. The Register report is updated weekly .

In relation to the estimated numbers employed in the fishing fleet and in fish processing, relevant statistics were published in the EU Seafood Development Operational Programme 2007-2013. It stated that 4,987 were employed in the fishing fleet, of which 3,924 were full time and 1,063 were part time and 2,867 were employed in fish processing of which 2,205 were full time and 662 were engaged on a part-time/casual basis. 1,185 were employed including part time, in ancillary activities.

Common Agricultural Policy.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

121 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the possibility of retaining the single farm payment in the Common Agriculture Policy negotiations. [3866/10]

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

129 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on recent comments about the possibility of the introduction of a flat-rate single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3687/10]

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

130 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views regarding the future of the single farm payment after 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3686/10]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

166 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will defend the current single farm payment in ongoing Common Agricultural Policy negotiations. [3875/10]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

179 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the statements by the EU Commissioner designate regarding the new criteria for the distribution of direct aid to farmers and his ruling out basing single farm payment entitlements on EU direct payments received in previous years. [3874/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 121, 129, 130, 166 and 179 together.

Although formal negotiations have yet to commence on the future of the CAP, there is no doubt in my mind that the CAP of the future should contain a major element of income support in the form of a decoupled Single Payment regime, and this view is shared widely among my Ministerial colleagues. The shape and format of this premium is, however, the subject of much debate.

There is active debate about the credibility of the current historic payment model, based on average coupled payments received between 2000 and 2002, and the current differentiation of direct payment rates between and within Member States. In part this debate is about the distribution key for national envelopes, that provide the financing for the Single Payment, and in part it relates to the models used by individual Member States to allocate their national envelopes among individual farmers.

There is a view on the part of some Member States that the rates of payment should be equalised between Member States by applying an EU-wide flat rate. Some others believe that payments should continue to be differentiated according to historical uptake, land use, land quality, production costs and so on. A large number of potential payment models have been suggested in the formal and informal discussions to date.

As to my own position, I am opposed to an EU-wide flat rate payment and I continue to see significant advantages to the historic model. While this view is supported by some others, there is little doubt that the number of Member States that actively support the historic model is reducing. In this context, it is important that we look carefully at all the alternatives so that we can play a full part in the debate as it evolves. Some useful research has already been done on other payment systems, but this work will need to be extended and intensified with greater stakeholder involvement.

In this regard, I launched a public consultation process last July inviting interested stakeholders to let me have their views on what EU agriculture policies would serve Ireland and the EU best in the years to come. I was pleased with the number and quality of the submissions received. In continuation of stakeholder involvement, it is my intention to establish a consultative group to advise on the best policy options for Ireland in the forthcoming negotiations, including with reference to direct payment models.

Notwithstanding the comments made by the Agriculture Commissioner-designate Dacian Ciolos, in his address to the European Parliament, concrete proposals have yet to emerge on the shape of EU agriculture policy beyond 2013. It is very early days in these negotiations and I will be meeting with the new Commissioner well in advance of any proposals being tabled to outline among other things my position as regards the type of payment system that will best serve the interests of Irish farmers. I will also continue to keep in close contact with my colleagues in other Member States on these matters. My overarching view is that first and foremost we need a strong and adequately resourced CAP after 2013. This is a point I have pressed strongly in discussions to date and for which there is good support in the Agriculture Council.

Animal Welfare.

John Perry

Question:

122 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the action taken by his Department to ensure a co-ordinated approach to animal health and welfare legislation between here and in Northern Ireland during the preparation of the proposed animal health and welfare bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3805/10]

Mindful of the commitments to the development of an All-Island Animal Health and Welfare Strategy agreed under North South Ministerial Council arrangements, officials from both administrations are in ongoing contact on issues of mutual concern pertaining to animal health and welfare in both parts of the island including a co-ordinated approach to legislation appropriate to the area. Drafting of the Animal Health and Welfare Bill, which gives effect to commitments in the Programme for Government and the Renewed Programme for Government is ongoing in my Department and I intend to submit the proposed Heads of this Bill to the Government at an early date this year.

Food Industry.

Bernard Allen

Question:

123 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the consultations he has had with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding the proposed introduction of a statutory code for the retail sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3731/10]

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment consulted closely with my Department in preparing the consultation paper for the public consultation process that has now taken place. The next step will be to draft a code of practice and my Department will liaise closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on this.

The EU Commission has also issued a Communication on a better functioning food supply chain in Europe. As I said at the recent Council of Minister's meeting, I believe there is also a need to look critically at EU competition law (or its interpretation) in so far as it can serve to militate against consolidation at producer level to achieve the scale necessary for optimum efficiency and international competitiveness. There is a need also to audit unfair contractual practices with a view to ensuring compliance with competition law. I am very pleased that the Spanish Presidency had committed itself to progressing the whole issue of improving the functioning of the food chain. There is a need for considerable improvement so that all players, including producers and consumers, receive fair treatment.

Animal Diseases.

Ulick Burke

Question:

124 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the incidence of Johne’s disease as notified to his Department in 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3739/10]

Notification to my Department of a case of Johne's disease only takes place on the basis of a positive faecal culture. As this takes 42 days to grow there have been no instances identified as yet for 2010.

In total there were 471 culture tests completed by my Department for 2009. From these, there have been 99 positive tests sourced from 58 different herds including one positive goat herd. There are also 112 samples still pending from 2009.

Food Safety Standards.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

125 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the action he will take on foot of the report by the interagency group established to consider the pork dioxin contamination issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3766/10]

I established the inter-agency review of the dioxin contamination incident for the purpose inter alia of identifying any adjustments to official controls in the light of experiences gained from the incident. The report of the review concluded that once the incident was identified by my Department's residue monitoring programme it was handled well and all actions were proportionate and prompt.

Because of the speed and nature of the actions taken by the Irish public authorities and the industry, public confidence was restored quickly. The report also concluded that, in the management of the incident, the protection of consumer health was rightly the overriding priority. It did however point to weaknesses in the animal feed inspection system. My Department has already addressed these issues in the 2009 Animal feed Inspection programme whereby it

assigned a higher risk category to the drying of feed and to grain drying operators

placed greater emphasis on the checking of feed safety management plans, based on HACCP principles, which feed business operators are required to draw up and implement

reminded operators involved in the drying of grain and feed that only particular fuels (gas, diesel & kerosene) should be used for such drying.

The report makes it very clear that under EU Food and Feed Hygiene legislation the primary responsibility to produce safe feed and food rests with the feed and food business operators. It specifically points out that the feed business operators should have identified the risk associated with the direct drying process in his feed safety management system based on HACCP principle. In this context my Department has reminded feed business operators of their obligation, under the Feed Hygiene Regulations, to take all steps necessary to ensure the safety of the feed chain.

As I indicated when publishing the report I have undertaken to have all the recommendations by the Review Group pursued by the relevant authorities.

Fisheries Protection.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

126 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will consider including dogfish in allowable by-catch for gill netting fishermen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3789/10]

The proposed Council Regulation fixing for 2010 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Community waters and, for Community vessels, in waters where catch limitations are required states that in the case of Spurdog/Dogfish (Squalus acanthias) the following rules will apply; By-catches are permitted up to 10% of the 2009 quotas established in Annex Ia to Regulation (EC) No 43/2009 under the following conditions:

a maximum landing size of 100 cm (total length) shall be respected, and

the by-catches comprise less than 10% of the total weight of marine organisms on board the fishing vessel.

Catches not complying with these conditions or exceeding these quantities shall be promptly released unharmed to the extent practicable.

In effect this means that Irish vessel may catch up to a maximum of approximately 19 tonnes of spurdog/dogfish as a by catch in 2010. At the monthly Whitefish Meeting between officials of my Department and fishing industry representatives held on 22 January 2010, the Federation of Irish Fishermen proposed that for the month of February 2010 a by catch provision of 2% for this stock should be applicable to all vessels. This proposal has been accepted by Minster Killeen and will be implemented by way of Fisheries Management Notice later this week.

Live Exports.

Denis Naughten

Question:

127 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he is taking to develop the live cattle trade to Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3676/10]

The live export trade is an important component of our meat and livestock industry and provides a complement to the beef trade.

Overall live exports in 2009 increased by 94% on 2008 levels. In the same period, exports to the UK increased by 159%, with those to Great Britain increasing by 440% and those to other destinations by 74%.

While the purchasing policy of UK meat plants is a commercial decision for those plants, my Department and Bord Bia continue to work closely with the industry in monitoring and developing emerging opportunities for Irish livestock in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. This includes contact with processors and retailers in Britain to establish their interest in live Irish exports and cattle born in Ireland and finished in Britain.

Land Values.

Willie Penrose

Question:

128 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the fact that agricultural land values in Leinster and Connaught have fallen by more than 50 percent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3876/10]

A recent report by Independent global property consultants Knight Frank Ireland shows that farmland prices declined significantly countrywide, but the most significant decline was in the Dublin/Kildare/Wicklow region, where average prices dropped by 56.6%. The average price paid per acre in this premier region in 2009 was €10,920 down from the previous year's €25,210. The substantial decline was largely attributed to the fact that there were no recorded land sales in County Dublin in 2009. For the rest of the country prices were down an average of 43.3% from €17,081 in 2008 to €9,678 in 2009. Similarly, the results of a survey carried on behalf of the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute (IAVI) show that land values in Leinster and Connaught fell by 30%-45% last year, depending on size and the presence of entitlements, while Munster land values dropped by 20.5%-28%.

The decline in farmland prices over the last few years mirrors the general decline across property markets, a narrowing of the premium paid for land in the Leinster area, the removal of many non-farmer buyers/speculators from the market, as well as a difficulty in sourcing credit/finance.

Question Nos. 129 and 130 answered with Question No. 121.

Grocery Industry.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

131 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on a code of practice in the grocery sector here which will ensure that food producers here are paid an appropriate price for their produce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3697/10]

As signalled by the Tánaiste, the intention is to implement a national Code of Practice for doing business in the Grocery Goods sector with a view to ensuring a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers. The code will be initially on a voluntary basis.

The EU Commission has also issued a Communication on a better functioning food supply chain in Europe. As I said at the recent Council of Minister's meeting, I believe there is also a need to look critically at EU competition law (or its interpretation) in so far as it can serve to militate against consolidation at producer level to achieve the scale necessary for optimum efficiency and international competitiveness. There is a need also to audit unfair contractual practices with a view to ensuring compliance with competition law. I am very pleased that the Spanish Presidency had committed itself to progressing the whole issue of improving the functioning of the food chain. There is a need for considerable improvement so that all players, including producers and consumers, receive fair treatment.

Fishing Quota.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

132 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the final decision will be reached on mackerel quotas for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3748/10]

Seán Connick

Question:

135 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding the EU Norway negotiations in relation to mackerel fishing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3698/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 135 together.

A final decision on the mackerel quotas was predicated on the outcome of the EU Norway negotiations which concluded with an agreement yesterday evening. Indications are that a Commission non-paper will be presented shortly to the Council working group on Fisheries followed with a formal proposal to the same body soon after. The proposal will be adopted using "Written Procedure", which — allowing for legal and linguistic scrutiny and normal process — could be expected to take up to 3-4 weeks to be finalised.

Crop Losses.

Noel Coonan

Question:

133 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the assistance he will provide for potato growers adversely affected by recent weather conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3749/10]

I am aware that due to very wet conditions in November 2009 a proportion of the total national area of potatoes remained unharvested at the end of the year. Since Christmas Ireland has experienced very severe frost conditions which have resulted in losses to potatoes. The extent of losses is difficult to quantify at this stage. It would be influenced by location and the extent to which the potatoes were exposed.

I have received representations on behalf of growers in relation to the losses incurred and the matter is currently being considered by officials in my Department.

Beef Industry.

Michael Creed

Question:

134 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will introduce initiatives aimed at encouraging bull beef production; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3753/10]

My Department has no plans to introduce specific initiatives to encourage bull beef production over other systems of beef production.

It is a matter for the processing industry, in responding to market demands for bull beef, or any other specialised form of beef production, to provide a sufficient level of price incentive to such producers.

Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 132.
Question No. 136 answered with Question No. 109.

Crop Losses.

David Stanton

Question:

137 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent of the damage caused to potato crops as a result of the recent very cold weather; the impact of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3854/10]

I am aware that due to very wet conditions in November 2009 a proportion of the total national area of potatoes remained unharvested at the end of the year. Since Christmas Ireland has experienced very severe frost conditions which have resulted in losses to potatoes. The extent of losses is difficult to quantify at this stage. It would be influenced by location and the extent to which the potatoes were exposed.

I have received representations on behalf of growers in relation to the losses incurred and the matter is currently being considered by officials in my Department.

Rural Development.

Noel Treacy

Question:

138 Deputy Noel Treacy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the maximum number of participants that will be allowed to join the new agri-environment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3680/10]

The amended Rural Development Programme which included proposals for the new agri-environment scheme, was agreed by the EU's Rural Development Management Committee on 20 January and I hope to secure formal approval from the European Commission for the scheme in the next few weeks. The new scheme will focus on the priority objectives of biodiversity, climate change and water management. The scheme will be launched once formal Commission approval has been obtained. It will provide for a five year contractual period and the number of participants will depend on the level of interest among farmers, the number of applications received and, ultimately, the funding provided for my Department in the annual Estimates process.

Provision of Allotments.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

139 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will introduce a national policy on the promotion of allotments; if funding is available for the promotion of allotments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3853/10]

The Acquisition of Land (Allotments) Act 1926 enables local authorities to let allotments in urban areas to an individual for the specific purpose of cultivating vegetables mainly for consumption by that individual "or his family", if that local authority is satisfied that a demand exists. The Act comes entirely within the remit of the Minister for Environment and Local Government and I have no function in relation to it. However, I and my colleague Minister Sargent, who has had discussion with other Departments, do welcome initiatives by local authorities in this area.

Fishing Industry.

John O'Mahony

Question:

140 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the introduction of an ombudsman for fisheries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3804/10]

The Ombudsman's staff examine complaints concerning the administrative actions of all Government Departments including my own. Consequently, I do not see the necessity for a distinct Ombudsman for fisheries at this time.

Grant Payments.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

141 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of REP scheme four applicants that have to be paid on a county basis; if his attention has been drawn to the importance of these payments in view of the difficulties being experienced by some farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3547/10]

The first payments for the 2009 scheme year issued on 18 December 2009, and payments have continued to issue in the meantime. To date, 9,823 REPS 4 participants have been paid in full. A further 4,508 have received the first phase of 75% of their payments and are due to receive the balance shortly. Payments will issue this week to approximately 1,300 participants. My Department continues to process payments as a matter of priority with a view to completing all payments due as quickly as possible and, in this context, may be in contact directly with participants to resolve queries arising.

25/01/2010

County

REPS 4 applicants 2007 2008 and 2009

Payments for 2009 scheme year

Carlow

302

176

Cavan

1,099

462

Clare

1,332

1,002

Cork

3,216

1,015

Donegal

1,897

1,381

Dublin

51

18

Galway

2,753

1,279

Kerry

2,039

476

Kildare

374

267

Kilkenny

830

425

Laois

761

496

Leitrim

879

570

Limerick

1,345

738

Longford

680

410

Louth

217

88

Mayo

2,695

1,055

Meath

561

181

Monaghan

893

390

Offaly

704

287

Roscommon

1,395

871

Sligo

917

544

Tipperary Nth

855

534

Tipperary Sth

1,004

539

Waterford

671

133

Westmeath

709

400

Wexford

800

499

Wicklow

407

95

Totals

29,386

14,331

Common Agricultural Policy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

142 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his position, as conveyed to his EU colleagues, in the context of the common agricultural policy review and world trade talks; his position in such discussions; the countries within the European Union most closely aligned to this position; the countries opposed; the degree to which he will identify with, support and receive support from in this context; if he will ensure that Ireland’s position as a food producer and an exporter is not jeopardised having particular regard to the need for each country within the European Union to maximise its potential in economic terms with specific reference to the need for a coordinated economic recovery throughout Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3898/10]

My overarching view is that future EU agricultural policy must adhere closely to the original objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy as set out in the Treaty of Rome and reiterated in the Lisbon Treaty. It must contain elements that protect farmers' incomes and thus maintain family farming in Europe. It also needs to ensure security of food supply and the delivery of quality products to consumers at reasonable prices.

Essentially future EU agricultural policy must be based on the twin goals of competitiveness and sustainability; it must have sufficient resources to meet these goals and it must be simple to justify, understand and operate. These objectives apply equally whether the discussion concerns the future of the Common Agricultural Policy or the WTO Trade talks. They are points that I have pressed strongly in discussions to date with other Member States and in the Council and I am pleased that there is strong support for my views with my Ministerial colleagues.

By way of illustration of that support, last month a group of 22 Member States, including Ireland, agreed a common declaration regarding the future of agricultural policy within the EU. The declaration included the following collective commitment from the 22 Ministers, that “together we are convinced that agriculture is central to the core issues for our society: food, preservation of natural resources, job creation, public goods, the economic vitality of rural areas and more generally the rural development. Agriculture is a key asset for Europe and its political and economic development, notably in the context of the future EU 2020 strategy”. The declaration went on to affirm that “we must have resources for action commensurate with our ambitions”.

It is early days in the negotiations on the future of the CAP and it would be premature to predict a final outcome at this point. My aim in the negotiations is to ensure that we have a robust and properly funded CAP into the future that underpins Ireland's position as a food producer and exporter and that maximises our potential in economic terms.

It is essential therefore in my view that we maintain coherence between our policy decisions on the future of the CAP and the negotiating process in the WTO talks. We must ensure that we do not undermine the competitiveness and sustainability of European and Irish agriculture by decisions taken in the context of the WTO negotiations and we need to adopt a coherent and co-ordinated approach to both policy dossiers.

Dairy Sector.

John Cregan

Question:

143 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will pay out Ireland’s proportion of the €300 million EU dairy fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3689/10]

The EU dairy fund was part of a package of measures agreed at the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers last October. The Commission made available a fund of €300 million to support dairy farmers across the EU who were severely affected by the fall in prices. Each Member State's share was calculated based on their milk production in the 2008/2009 year within national quotas, and Ireland received €11.5 million. Member States must make the payments by the end of June 2010, and are required to notify the Commission of the method of allocation.

I have decided to allocate Ireland's share of the money on a flat-rate basis to dairy farmers active in the 2008/2009 year. I made this decision after consulting with the dairy organisations, and it is seen as a fair and reasonable mechanism for determining the allocation to each individual. The payment will be made to eligible farmers using the Single Payment system of my Department. In order to ensure that dairy farmers receive the support as soon as possible, producers will not be required to submit an application. Eligible cases will be identified on the Department's database and payment will issue to them accordingly. Arrangements are being made to facilitate this and payment will be made as soon as possible.

Food Security.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

144 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of his recent statement to the world food summit that one person in every six is now food insecure and that the current situation means the achievement of the millennium development goals on poverty and hunger face complete failure, he will state his long term solutions to remedy this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3552/10]

Currently 1 billion people in the world are food insecure. This is an ongoing tragedy, which was made worse by global food price rises in 2008. People need safe, nutritious, affordable food. Across the globe, countries need to sustainably increase agriculture production to improve food availability and most importantly locally resilient food systems must increase access for the poor and the vulnerable. There is full agreement that agricultural productivity must be increased and that greater resources must be directed towards smallholder farmers in developing countries, and in particular towards women farmers, on whom the greatest burden often falls.

There is an increasing awareness that food security cannot be taken for granted in a world where demand is rising rapidly. There have been increased demands on the agriculture sector to examine the growing pressure between food, feed and fuel in terms of production. As an export and market orientated industry with high standards of food safety and quality, Ireland has an important role to play in contributing to the international security of food supply.

Resolving hunger requires a global approach. Ireland has supported the development of a global partnership, which will see long-term sustained effort by both donors and recipient governments, and the UN agencies and other stakeholders on this matter. Ireland has taken a leading role in continuing to bring a global focus on hunger, and combating hunger is now a key component of Ireland's foreign policy and overseas aid programme.

The Government's 2006 White Paper on Irish Aid identified hunger and food security as fundamental elements of the global development challenge. A Hunger Task Force (HTF) report was launched in 2008 and its recommendations to focus on:

increasing smallholder agricultural productivity in Africa, rightly underlining that the vast majority of African smallholders are women

targeting under-nutrition (especially maternal and infant), and

taking governance/leadership action on tackling global hunger (including by making hunger a priority at both national and international levels and ensuring that donor and recipient governments fulfil their commitments to its eradication).

have been accepted by the Government.

A Special Envoy for Hunger has been appointed and an Inter-Departmental Hunger Task Team, which my Department is a member of, has been established. Combating hunger is an on-going task that will require sustained effort, but it is a task that this Government is fully committed too.

Sheep Sector.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

145 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the value of the new grassland sheep scheme over the period 2010-2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3685/10]

Bobby Aylward

Question:

168 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will announce the final details of the new grassland sheep scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3684/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 and 168 together.

I am mindful of the particular difficulties being experienced by the Irish sheep sector and I decided late last year on a two-fold approach to address the situation.

In the first instance, I decided to allocate approximately €7 million from the Single Payment National Reserve to 14,000 sheep farmers, these being the only funds to which I had access to in 2009. Subject to a maximum payable area of 15 hectares, this Aid was payable to farmers who declared their sheep under the 2007 and 2008 Sheep Census, declared Mountain Type Grazing under the 2009 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme and who were eligible for, and were in receipt of payment under, the 2009 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. Payments began on 9 December 2009 and, to date, payments worth in excess of €4.7 million have issued to in excess of 13,000 farmers.

Secondly, I decided to use €18 million of the €25 million in additional funding, for each of the years 2010, 2011 and 2012, to which we gained access following the agreement reached under the CAP Health Check, on a Grassland Scheme to support incomes in the sheep sector. The details of this Scheme are currently being finalised and I expect shortly to be in a position to make an announcement in this regard.

Road Repairs.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

146 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the instigation of a grant system to encourage landowners to drain water from public roads. [3883/10]

Repair works to drain water from public roads are the responsibility of the Local Authorities, who are under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

AgriFood Industry.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

147 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when will his Department’s 2020 strategy be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3693/10]

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

187 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress that has been made in the development of his 2020 strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3692/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 187 together.

For some months now, my Department has been working on the development of a new strategy for the period up to 2020 to ensure that the full potential of the agri-food and fishing sector is realised, as economic recovery proceeds. The preparatory work for this strategy is at an advanced stage as the Department in conjunction with relevant state bodies has completed a comprehensive series of papers on the main sectors. Consequently, I will be in a position to initiate, very shortly, a web based public consultation and submission process. The prepared papers will be used to provide an informed basis for discussion and to assist targeted submissions from interested parties.

I am anxious that the 2020 Strategy will maintain the impetus gained from the very successful Agri Vision 2015 Report and Action Plan. The new strategy, which I anticipate will be completed in the second half of 2010, will take full account of new global and market realities, where agriculture and food are central to the major global challenges of food security and climate change. The plan will focus on the critical issue of competitiveness and how best to maximise the opportunities arising from a growing international food and energy crops market.

Farm Waste Management.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

148 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the proportion of the total funding in respect of the farm waste management scheme that has been paid to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3683/10]

Thomas Byrne

Question:

161 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount of the second phase of the farm waste management scheme grants that have been paid; when the final phase will be paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3682/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos.148 and 161 together.

The first and second instalments of 40% under the farm waste management scheme have been paid or authorised for payment to all farmers who have been approved for payment under the scheme, to date. In the case of the second instalment of grant-aid paid to farmers under the scheme, this amounts to €239.6 million. The final instalment of 20% due to farmers under the scheme will be paid in early 2011.

In a small number of cases, grant payment has not yet been approved to applicants under the scheme (i) as applicants have either not yet submitted the necessary tax clearance documentation or have not provided the required documentary proof of payment of the contractors concerned, or (ii) due to technical issues having arisen in relation to the standard of the completed buildings.

Common Fisheries Policy.

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

149 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has approved Ireland’s submission to the EU Commission, regarding the reform of the common fisheries policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3703/10]

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

171 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when Ireland’s submission, regarding the reform of the common fisheries policy, will be submitted to the EU Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3702/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 and 171 together.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the fisheries policy of the European Union which was first put in place in 1983 and has been subject to reviews every ten years, the most recent in 2002 and the next is formally scheduled for 2012.

I welcome the Commissions Green Paper on the reform of the CFP and acknowledge the importance of the process we are embarking on, as it will culminate in the shaping of the strategic blueprint for the European fishing industry for the next decade.

On 21 April 2009 The European Commission published a Green Paper on the latest reform of the CFP in order to launch a consultation with member states and stakeholders and to initiate a broad public debate on the future CFP reform.

In May, the Minister of State, Deputy Killeen, appointed Dr. Noel Cawley to oversee consultations with Irish stakeholders on the reform of the CFP. Advertisements were placed in national and relevant fishing newspapers seeking submissions from interested parties for review by Dr. Cawley. Minister Killeen, Dr. Cawley and my Department have been involved in a series of consultations with various fishing organisations around the country over the last few months, in an effort to formulate Ireland's national position.

All of the submissions received by Dr. Noel Cawley have now been evaluated in order to compile a detailed and informed submission to the EU Commission. Dr. Cawley is currently in the process of finalising the wording of this document with Minister Killeen and aims to submit a final version to Minister Killeen for approval and onward transmission to the EU Commission within the next fortnight.

Dairy Sector.

Mary Upton

Question:

150 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the high level group on dairying; and his further views on whether a voluntary contract will stabilise milk prices. [3890/10]

Niall Collins

Question:

169 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress made by the high level group of representatives of EU member states, established to review the dairy sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3695/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 and 169 together.

The EU Commission set up the high level expert group on milk last October, following a special Council of Ministers meeting where we had a thorough discussion on the need for measures to manage the dairy market in the period up to and beyond quota abolition in 2015. The group is being chaired by the Commission's Director General of Agriculture, and is examining the type of arrangements that might be put in place. I welcome its establishment.

More specifically, the group will examine medium term and long term ways of stabilising dairy farmers' incomes and improving market transparency and it has been tasked with delivering a comprehensive report by June 2010. It will examine means through which contractual arrangements in the supply chain can contribute to the highest possible returns for producers. This would give them more bargaining power in the process and provide a buffer against extremes of market volatility such as those that are being experienced at present. The group will also examine existing market instruments and consider what other means, including a dairy futures market, could contribute to the objective of price stability in the longer term.

The work programme of the high level group has been divided into four discussion blocks. Block 1 deals with contractual relations, the bargaining power of producers and price transparency taking into account the experience of systems in place outside the EU. Block 2 examines the appropriateness of existing market instruments and the possibility of a futures market for dairy, again in the context of experiences in third countries. Block 3 covers information on markets and products (quality, health and labelling issues). Block 4 deals with innovation and research with a view to improving competitiveness.

There have been four meetings to date out of a total of about ten planned and these have focused on the block 1 issues. In addition to exchanges of views between member states, the group has heard presentations from representative organisations for producers, processors, distributors, retailers and consumers. It has also had exchanges with leading academics and with representatives from DG Competition and national competition authorities. In the last meeting the group heard presentations from four non-EU countries outlining their experiences of dairy market systems.

With regard to contractual relations, all member states are agreed on the benefits of contracts between producers and processors to underpin stability and certainty. However, there are marked differences between member states on the level of intervention required by the EU. Ireland, along with others, can accept a legal framework of guidelines at EU level but only if it is voluntary and flexible.

Grant Payments.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

151 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when all REP scheme four payments will be awarded; and if his attention has been drawn to the hardship endured by delays in payments. [3856/10]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. Payments issued in 2009 to those whose applications required no further examination following the administrative checks. However, queries arose on a significant number of applications, in the course of the administrative checks. My Department is continuing to process the applications to payment stage as a matter of priority with a view to payment as soon as possible and, in this context, will be in touch with the applicants where necessary, to resolve outstanding issues.

Common Agricultural Policy.

Margaret Conlon

Question:

152 Deputy Margaret Conlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the way in which greater simplification can be brought to the common agricultural policy in the context of the post-2013 negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3691/10]

I want to see simplification of measures and systems as a key plank in the CAP after 2013. I must be absolutely clear that this is about increased efficiency and does not involve any weakening of financial controls or reduced accountability. However, I believe there is too much bureaucracy and complexity in the CAP at present. Everyone, and most of all farmers, wants to see a CAP that is much more straightforward to understand and implement. This should be one of the drivers of our policy deliberations on the CAP after 2013. We need a simple EU agricultural policy — simple to justify to EU taxpayers, simple for farmers to understand and operate and simple for member states to implement and enforce.

I have been pressing the need for policy simplification for some time. I raised it at last month's Council of Ministers meeting and I was pleased with the level of support received from colleagues. I also want to see more in the way of technical simplification coming from Brussels. A good start was made last year when some 39 concrete suggestions from member states for simplification were brought to the Council's attention. I was satisfied with the positive and open response of the Commission to the suggestions, many of which either came from or were supported by Ireland and I will do my utmost to ensure that these initiatives continue.

Grant Payments.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

153 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of farmers paid for REPS 4 on a county basis. [3889/10]

The first payments for the 2009 scheme year issued on 18 December 2009, and payments have continued to issue in the meantime. To date, 9,823 REPS 4 participants have been paid in full. A further 4,508 have received the first phase of 75% of their payments and are due to receive the balance shortly. Payments will issue this week to approximately 1,300 participants. My Department continues to process payments as a matter of priority with a view to completing all payments due as quickly as possible and, in this context, may be in contact directly with participants to resolve queries arising

25/01/2010

County

REPS 4 applicants 2007 2008 and 2009

Payments for 2009 scheme year

Carlow

302

176

Cavan

1,099

462

Clare

1,332

1,002

Cork

3,216

1,015

Donegal

1,897

1,381

Dublin

51

18

Galway

2,753

1,279

Kerry

2,039

476

Kildare

374

267

Kilkenny

830

425

Laois

761

496

Leitrim

879

570

Limerick

1,345

738

Longford

680

410

Louth

217

88

Mayo

2,695

1,055

Meath

561

181

Monaghan

893

390

Offaly

704

287

Roscommon

1,395

871

Sligo

917

544

Tipperary Nth

855

534

Tipperary Sth

1,004

539

Waterford

671

133

Westmeath

709

400

Wexford

800

499

Wicklow

407

95

Totals

29,386

14,331

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

154 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if farmers will be eligible to apply for the EU Solidarity Fund; and if so, the number of applications received from farmers to date in 2010. [3880/10]

Mindful of the hardship and distress caused by the recent widespread flooding, on 27 November 2009 I announced the introduction of the Fodder Aid Scheme, targeted directly at those farmers who encountered damage to fodder in the affected areas. While I was very anxious that the funding reach the affected farmers as quickly as possible, it was essential that farmers demonstrate that their fodder was damaged and to what extent. To this end, therefore, it was necessary that each claim be verified by an on-the-spot inspection.

I had initially set the closing date for receipt of applications as 11 December, but subsequently extended it by one week. Immediately applications began to be received by my Department, the necessary inspections were begun, following which the applications were further processed for payment. I am pleased to say that payments commenced issuing on 18 December and, to date, payments worth €504,074 have issued to 237 applicants. Payments continue to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible.

I am aware that due to the recent severe frost conditions a proportion of the total national area of potatoes remained unharvested at the end of 2009. The very severe frost conditions have resulted in losses to potatoes and other crops. The extent of losses is difficult to quantify at this stage. It would be influenced by the nature of the crop, its location and the extent to which it was exposed.

I have received representations on behalf of growers in relation to the losses incurred and the matter is currently being considered by officials in my Department.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

155 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will extend the fodder aid scheme to losses associated with the recent very cold weather. [3865/10]

Mindful of the hardship and distress caused by the recent widespread flooding, on 27 November 2009 I announced the introduction of the fodder aid scheme, targeted directly at those farmers who encountered damage to fodder in the affected areas. While I was very anxious that the funding reach the affected farmers as quickly as possible, it was essential that farmers demonstrate that their fodder was damaged and to what extent. To this end, therefore, it was necessary that each claim be verified by an on-the-spot inspection.

I had initially set the closing date for receipt of applications as 11 December, but subsequently extended it by one week. Immediately applications began to be received by my Department, the necessary inspections were begun, following which the applications were further processed for payment. I am pleased to say that payments commenced issuing on 18 December and, to date, payments worth €504,074 have issued to 237 applicants. Payments continue to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible.

Agrifood Sector.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

156 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the impact he envisages that the new EU Commissioner Designate for Agriculture will have on the 5% land area target for organic agriculture by 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3553/10]

The 5% land area target is a national objective as part of the Programme for Government. I have taken various initiatives, and there are a number of measures in place, with a view to achieving this objective. The appointment of a new EU Commissioner for Agriculture will not impact directly on these initiatives. Nevertheless, I look forward to working closely with the new Commissioner on the future development of all aspects of the agrifood sector, including the organic sector.

Rural Development.

Johnny Brady

Question:

157 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will announce details of a new agri-environment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3678/10]

Ireland's amended rural development programme, including a new agri-environment scheme, was presented to the EU Rural Development Management Committee in Brussels on 20 January. This followed detailed and protracted discussions with the Commission. The committee agreed the programme and the Commission will now proceed to take a formal decision to approve it. This procedure is expected to take a number of weeks.

The new agri-environment scheme is focused on the priority areas of biodiversity, water management and climate change. It will offer a menu of measures addressing these priorities from which farmers may choose, provided they complement the environmental profile of the holding. Details on the operation of the new scheme are currently being finalised and I intend to launch the scheme once the formal Commission approval has been received.

Grant Payments.

Margaret Conlon

Question:

158 Deputy Margaret Conlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount paid to farmers under the fodder aid scheme announced in November 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3690/10]

Mindful of the hardship and distress caused by the recent widespread flooding, on 27 November 2009 I announced the introduction of the fodder aid scheme, targeted directly at those farmers who encountered damage to fodder in the affected areas. While I was very anxious that the funding reach the affected farmers as quickly as possible, it was essential that farmers demonstrate that their fodder was damaged and to what extent. To this end, therefore, it was necessary that each claim be verified by an on-the-spot inspection.

I had initially set the closing date for receipt of applications as 11 December, but subsequently extended it by one week. Immediately applications began to be received by my Department, the necessary inspections were begun, following which the applications were further processed for payment. I am pleased to say that payments commenced issuing on 18 December and, to date, payments worth €504,074 have issued to 237 applicants. Payments continue to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible.

Liz McManus

Question:

159 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the average grant available per acre for miscanthus growers. [3871/10]

My Department introduced a pilot bioenergy scheme in 2007 to grant aid the cultivation of miscanthus and willow crops to produce feedstock for use in the bioenergy market. The maximum grant available to miscanthus growers is €1,450 per hectare (€587.04/acre) up to a ceiling of 30 hectares per applicant. The average payment made to miscanthus growers under the scheme was €9,800. In addition to establishment grants, areas planted with miscanthus also qualify for the single farm payment.

Dairy Sector.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

160 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the outlook for the price of milk in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3888/10]

The international dairy industry continues to face serious challenges at present. Over the past couple of years we have witnessed extremes of volatility in dairy product prices on an unprecedented scale. Markets for dairy products remain fragile, primarily due to a collapse in demand caused by the global economic downturn. During 2007 dairy prices reached record high levels during the international commodity price boom. In 2008 world dairy markets returned to far lower levels and this continued into early 2009, before gradually improving later in the year. We have seen the effect of these international low level prices finding their way back through the milk chain to primary producers.

In recent months, there has been an improvement in prices on dairy markets and it is hoped that this will continue in 2010. However, it is not possible to predict exactly what milk price farmers can expect to get this year.

While the immediate outlook remains somewhat uncertain, it is important to remember that the medium term prospects for global dairy markets are good. Growth in wealth and population is forecast to stimulate strong levels of demand for dairy products and returns will improve to all parts of the sector. The Government is committed to ensuring that the Irish dairy sector reaches its full potential. One of the major challenges in the medium term will be to ensure that Irish farming and the agrifood sector is at the heart of an evolving high-value food market, which is focused on quality and innovation. This is at the core of Government strategy which sets out a series of actions to develop a competitive, innovative and consumer focused agri food sector.

Question No. 161 answered with Question No. 148.
Question No. 162 answered with Question No. 114.

Organic Farming.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

163 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans for farmers here in view of the continued growth in domestic demand for organic products and the scale of the €2.1 billion UK and €4.6 billion German markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3549/10]

The renewed programme for Government includes a commitment to meeting the growing demand for domestically produced organic produce by providing adequate resources and supports for the achievement of the target of 5% land area in organic production, with a focus on import substitution in areas where Ireland is under-producing at present. The organic farming scheme, which was reopened at the beginning of the year, will provide for payments to farmers and the capital schemes of grant aid provides support for both on-farm and off-farm investment. This commitment will encourage farmers whomight be considering the organic option for the first time to take it a step further and prepare to apply for support in 2010.

Following a review of the organic farming scheme during 2009, applicants will now be required to submit a business plan and, if they have not previously taken part in the organic supplementary measure in REPS, to undertake an approved training course. These changes in the scheme are designed to ensure that the farmers joining it are those who have most to offer to the growth of the organic sector so that it can meet the increasing demand from consumers for organic produce.

The grant schemes, which support investment by both producers and processors, have been successful since their launch in 2007. They were closed temporarily in mid-2009 because applications on hands at that point were enough to use up the funding provided for the year. These schemes were reopened at the beginning of this year.

My Department will continue to support initiatives such as national organic week and Irish participation in Biofach, the largest international showcase for the organic sector. Forás Orgánach, the body which I established to drive forward the development of the organic sector in Ireland, will continue to review and advise on issues as they arise.

Rural Development.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

164 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the investment schemes for conversion of poultry house, pig welfare, dairy hygiene and sheep fencing will be introduced. [3862/10]

The revised rural development programme setting out, inter alia, the details of the schemes referred to by the Deputy was approved by the EU Rural Development Management Committee at its meeting on 20 January 2010.

The revised programme must now be formally approved by the European Commission and this is expected by the end of February. The roll-out of the various investment schemes will be phased over the lifetime of the programme.

Grocery Industry.

Mary White

Question:

165 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the commitment in the revised programme for Government to implement a code of practice to develop a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers, it will be a mandatory code; the benefits it will accrue to primary producers and horticultural producers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3551/10]

As signalled by the Tánaiste, the intention is to implement a national code of practice for doing business in the grocery goods sector with a view to ensuring a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers. The code will be initially on a voluntary basis.

The EU Commission has also issued a communication on a better functioning food supply chain in Europe. As I said at the recent Council of Ministers meeting, I believe there is also a need to look critically at EU competition law (or its interpretation) in so far as it can serve to militate against consolidation at producer level to achieve the scale necessary for optimum efficiency and international competitiveness. There is a need also to audit unfair contractual practices with a view to ensuring compliance with competition law. I am very pleased that the Spanish Presidency had committed itself to progressing the whole issue of improving the functioning of the food chain. There is a need for considerable improvement so that all players, including producers and consumers, receive fair treatment.

Question No. 166 answered with Question No. 121.

Horticulture Sector.

David Stanton

Question:

167 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent of the damage caused to vegetable crops as a result of the recent cold weather; the impact of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3855/10]

Since Christmas Ireland has experienced very severe frost conditions which have resulted in losses to vegetable crops. The extent of losses is difficult to quantify at this stage. It would be influenced by the nature of the crop, its location and the extent to which it was exposed.

My Department has received representations on behalf of growers in relation to the losses incurred and the matter is currently being considered by officials in my Department.

Question No. 168 answered with Question No. 145.
Question No. 169 answered with Question No. 150.

Dairy Sector.

John Cregan

Question:

170 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will announce details of the €45 million investment support scheme aimed at helping young dairy farmers to adjust to expanding dairy opportunities and make their commercial operations more cost-effective; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3688/10]

Ireland's revised Rural Development Programme provides a number of new on farm investment schemes, including a new €45 million investment support scheme for young dairy farmers. These will be co-funded by the National Exchequer and from additional modulation arising from the CAP Health Check and from the European Economic Recovery Package.

The Programme was approved by the EU Rural Development Management Committee on 20 January 2010. It must now be formally approved by the European Commission, which is expected by the end of February. The roll-out of the various investment schemes will then be phased over the lifetime of the Programme.

Question No. 171 answered with Question No. 149.

Cattle Prices.

Willie Penrose

Question:

172 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the fact that cattle prices here are projected to fall this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3877/10]

As the Deputy is aware, cattle prices are a matter for the processing industry and the farmers who supply it. Cattle prices are influenced by a variety of factors and it is impossible to definitively forecast how all these factors will interact over a given period.

However, the key factors expected to influence the market environment for Irish beef in 2010 are the level of consumer demand and exchange rate developments. The outlook for the European beef market, according to Bord Bia, is that it will remain broadly stable in 2010, albeit with competitive pressures remaining.

In Ireland, some increase in cattle supplies at export meat plants is anticipated during 2010, given the fall in live exports in 2008. However, the strength of the weanling and store cattle trade in 2009 is expected to impact on finished cattle availability as the year progresses.

Rural Development.

Johnny Brady

Question:

173 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the maximum payment per participant under the new agri-environment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3679/10]

The amended Rural Development Programme which included proposals for the new agri-environment scheme, was agreed by the EU's Rural Development Management Committee on 20 January and I hope to secure formal approval from the European Commission for the scheme in the next few weeks. The new scheme will focus on the priority objectives of biodiversity, climate change and water management. The scheme will be launched once formal Commission approval has been obtained. It will provide for a five year contractual period for participants at a maximum payment of €5,000 per annum.

Grant Payments.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

174 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that adequate funding has been made available to those farmers who were badly affected by the recent adverse weather conditions. [3879/10]

Mindful of the hardship and distress caused by the recent widespread flooding, on 27 November 2009 I announced the introduction of the Fodder Aid Scheme, targeted directly at those farmers who encountered damage to fodder in the affected areas. While I was very anxious that the funding reach the affected farmers as quickly as possible, it was essential that farmers demonstrate that their fodder was damaged and to what extent. To this end, therefore, it was necessary that each claim be verified by an on-the-spot inspection. I had initially set the closing date for receipt of applications as 11 December, but subsequently extended it by one week. Immediately applications began to be received by my Department, the necessary inspections were begun, following which the applications were further processed for payment. I am pleased to say that payments commenced issuing on 18 December and, to date, payments worth €504,074 have issued to 237 applicants. Payments continue to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible. I am particularly pleased at the speed with which these payments have been made directly to the affected farmers.

Crop Losses.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

175 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if supports will be put in place for potato farmers following the poor yield brought about by the recent bad weather. [3867/10]

I am aware that due to very wet conditions in November 2009 a proportion of the total national area of potatoes remained unharvested at the end of the year. Since Christmas Ireland has experienced very severe frost conditions which have resulted in losses to potatoes. The extent of losses is difficult to quantify at this stage. It would be influenced by location and the extent to which the potatoes were exposed.

I have received representations on behalf of growers in relation to the losses incurred and the matter is currently being considered by officials in my Department.

Sheep Losses.

Mary Upton

Question:

176 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the heavy sheep losses in mountainous regions as a result of the cold weather; and if he will provide assistance. [3891/10]

I am aware that there have been some sheep lost due to the recent adverse weather conditions. This has also been brought to my attention by farmer representatives. However I have not been informed of any significant losses arising from the recent severe weather by individual farmers.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Joan Burton

Question:

177 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount of funding he will provide for the new REP scheme in 2010. [3859/10]

The proposed new agri-environmental scheme, which is part of the amended Rural Development Programme was agreed by the EU Rural Development Management Committee in Brussels on 20 January. The Commission will now proceed to take a formal decision to approve it. This procedure is expected to take a number of weeks. The new scheme will be focused on the priority areas of biodiversity, water management and climate change. It will offer a menu of measures addressing these priorities from which farmers may choose provided that they complement the environmental profile of the holding. Details on the operation of the new scheme are currently being finalised and I intend to launch the scheme once the formal Commission approval has been received. Funding for the scheme this year is provided within the overall allocation for the year of €330 million for REPS and related measures and expenditure will depend on the number of applications received, the numbers approved and the measures undertaken.

Farm Assist Scheme.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

178 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has a co-ordinating role with Department of Social and Family Affairs regarding farm assist. [3864/10]

The Farm Assist is directly a matter for the Minister for Social and Family Affairs. However, my Department keeps in regular contact with the Department of Social and Family Affairs regarding developments of relevance to both Departments.

Question No. 179 answered with Question No. 121.

Rural Development.

Noel Treacy

Question:

180 Deputy Noel Treacy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount of funding that will be available in 2010 for those participating in the new agri-environment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3681/10]

The proposed new agri-environmental scheme, which is part of the amended Rural Development Programme was agreed by the EU Rural Development Management Committee in Brussels on 20 January. The Commission will now proceed to take a formal decision to approve it. This procedure is expected to take a number of weeks. The new scheme will be focused on the priority areas of biodiversity, water management and climate change. It will offer a menu of measures addressing these priorities from which farmers may choose provided that they complement the environmental profile of the holding. Details on the operation of the new scheme are currently being finalised and I intend to launch the scheme once the formal Commission approval has been received. Funding for the scheme this year is provided within the overall allocation for the year of €330 million for REPS and related measures and expenditure will depend on the number of applications received, the numbers approved and the measures undertaken.

Common Fisheries Policy.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

181 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the timeframe for the completion of the common fisheries policy review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3885/10]

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the fisheries policy of the European Union which was first put in place in 1983 and has been subject to reviews every 10 years, the most recent was in 2002 and the next is formally scheduled for 2012.

On 21 April 2009 the European Commission published a Green Paper on the latest reform of the CFP in order to launch a consultation with Member States and stakeholders and to initiate a broad public debate on the future CFP reform.

I welcome the Commission's Green Paper and acknowledge the importance of the process we are embarking on, as it will culminate in the shaping of the strategic blueprint for the European fishing industry for the next decade.

Back in May, Minister Killeen appointed Dr. Noel Cawley to oversee consultations with Irish stakeholders on the reform of the CFP. Advertisements were placed in national and relevant fishing newspapers seeking submissions from interested parties for review by Dr. Cawley. Minister Killeen, Dr. Cawley and my Department have been involved in a series of consultations with various fishing organisations around the country over the last few months, in an effort to formulate Ireland's national position.

All of the submissions received by Dr. Noel Cawley have now been evaluated in order to compile a detailed and informed submission to the EU Commission. Dr. Cawley is currently in the process of finalising the wording of this document with Minister Killeen and aims to submit a final version to Minister Killeen for approval and onward transmission to the EU Commission within the next fortnight.

Under the planned EU timetable for the review, a summary of the consultation process will be published in 2010. It will be followed by a legislative proposal to the Council and the European Parliament to be adopted in 2011, with a view to its entering into force in 2012.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

182 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the agencies under his remit are working on scientific solutions to reducing methane emissions within the agricultural sector. [3884/10]

My Department continues to examine and advance understanding of various scientific solutions and abatement options in close liaison with Teagasc. There has been significant commitment of €15.5 million to climate change research projects since 2005 under the Research Stimulus Fund operated by my Department. This includes research into areas such as more efficient slurry application, increased use of clover, which would reduce nitrogen usage, methane reduction from enteric fermentation, non-inversion tillage and increasing the length of the grazing season.

I also announced last December that Ireland would participate in the initiative to establish a Global Alliance on research into the mitigation of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Ireland has consistently raised the urgent need to address the twin challenges of achieving food security and dealing effectively with climate change. World food production must be increased by 70% by 2050 (according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN) while at the same time there is also a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — reconciling these aims is a major challenge.

In Ireland, agriculture accounts for 26% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Without reducing production, experts say cost effective mitigation in the sector is limited to no more than 4%. Because of the relative importance of agriculture to Ireland, we are aware of the need for research into mitigation measures and look forward to working with the other participants in this global alliance which, to date, include Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, UK, US and Vietnam.

Equine Registration.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

183 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on submissions from a society (details supplied) in relation to the ownership of the stud book. [3873/10]

My Department is not in a position to comment on the submissions received to date from the Society in question.

Additional information requested from the Society, which was only received yesterday, has not yet been examined.

Milk Quota.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

184 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of new entrants into the dairy sector for the years 2008 to date in 2010. [3869/10]

There are two schemes operating in my Department through which new entrants to dairying might acquire a milk quota. These are the Milk Quota Trading Scheme and the Scheme for the Allocation of Milk Quota to New Entrants.

Since 1 April 2008 to date, a total of 100 new entrants have purchased quota through the Milk Quota Trading Scheme. Quota purchased under this scheme is allocated to the new entrants on 1 April in the year following the purchase and they then have 15 months from that date in which to commence production.

The Scheme for the Allocation of Milk Quota to New Entrants was introduced in the 2009/2010 milk quota year when a total of 72 applicants each received allocations of 200,000 litres of milk quota. These new entrants have until 1 April 2011 to commence production.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

185 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has a co-ordinating role with the Department of Social and Family Affairs regarding family income supplement. [3863/10]

The Family Income Supplement is directly a matter for the Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

Common Agricultural Policy.

Niall Collins

Question:

186 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the discussions that have taken place at EU level on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3694/10]

A first policy debate on CAP after 2013 took place at the Informal Agriculture Council in September 2008 under the French Presidency. The Czech Presidency continued the debate in the first months of last year, focusing, in particular, on the issue of direct payments to farmers. Following on from this, in the last six months of 2009, the Swedish Presidency concentrated its discussions on rural development issues. In addition to these discussions at Council, both I and my officials have engaged intensively with other Member States and the Commission bilaterally on the future of the CAP.

Notwithstanding these discussions, concrete proposals have yet to emerge on the shape of EU agriculture policy beyond 2013. The Commission is expected to bring forward a formal communication later this year on the future of the CAP, followed by legal proposals in mid 2011. A first round of formal negotiations will commence on the Communication, leading possibly to the agreement of Council Conclusions, while the more intense phase of formal negotiations will commence once the legal proposals are tabled.

My priority at present is to ensure that Ireland is at the centre of the informal negotiating process that is taking place in advance of the formal start of negotiations. It is at this stage in the informal negotiating period that the main policy options will be formulated in my view. It is important, therefore, that a single unified view is presented by Ireland that we want a robust agricultural policy in the future with resources commensurate with our ambitions.

My belief, which I have expressed at meetings of the Council and bilaterally to my Ministerial colleagues, is that we must maintain a strong agricultural production base in the European Union in the future to take account of the challenges ahead in meeting increased demands for food. We must also undertake food production and distribution in a manner that is competitive and sustainable in all its dimensions — economically, socially and environmentally.

There will be major challenges ahead from climate change, increased competition on world and EU markets, the international economic crisis and other factors. We must ensure that we have the capacity to cope with the challenges and fully exploit the opportunities as they emerge. To do so, our whole sector, from farm to fork, must be highly efficient and competitive. It must also be innovative, producing the products that changing consumer tastes demand, and it must be relentlessly focused on quality and safety.

To achieve the objectives I have outlined, there is a continuing need for an active and appropriately resourced European agricultural policy and I am pleased to report that there is strong support for my views as is evidenced by the tone and text of the declaration agreed by 22 Member States, including Ireland, in Paris last month.

Question No. 187 answered with Question No. 147.

Fisheries Protection.

Niall Blaney

Question:

188 Deputy Niall Blaney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding the restrictions on whitefish fishing off County Donegal, introduced at the December 2008 fisheries council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3701/10]

A variety of new rules restricting fishing vessels' days at sea in the Irish Sea and the waters to the northwest of Ireland and Scotland were introduced as part of the EU's revised Cod Recovery Plan in December 2008.

The plan introduced a new system of effort management that sets effort ceilings (expressed in kilowatt-days) for groups of vessels or fleet segments. In addition to the restriction on the effort, there is also a restriction in relation to kilowatt capacity and the effect of this is to restrict the kw capacity of the vessels to be granted an authorisation in 2010 to the same level as the total kw capacity of those vessels that were active using the regulated gear and had an authorisation in 2006 or 2007.

The management of the fishing effort ceilings has been devolved to the national level. Member States have received annual allocations of fishing effort for the areas covered by the Plan, which include the Irish Sea (ICES area VIIa) and the waters to the northwest of Ireland and Scotland (ICES area VIa). The effort allocation levels were established by the EU Fisheries Council on the basis of an EU Commission proposal. They were calculated by averaging the fishing activity levels of each Member State in the areas during a reference period of 2004-2006 or 2005-2007 and then reducing that effort by 25% for 2009. A further reduction of effort by 25% is to be implemented in 2010. This methodology means there is now limited fishing effort available for all Community vessels, including Irish vessels, fishing in the designated areas.

Under the plan, each Member State was required to introduce a licensing regime to manage its effort allocations. Any vessel longer than 10 metres overall must have an authorisation from its Member State in order to operate in one of the designated areas using the fishing gears covered by the plan. Member States can decide on the method of allocating their national pools of fishing effort, which are broken down by fishing gear type. Following consultations with representatives of the Irish fishing industry, a pilot system of authorisations and allocations of fishing effort was introduced for the period from 1 February to 30 April 2009. Minister Killeen also established a Steering Group in February 2009 consisting of representatives of the Irish fishing industry, with input from the Marine Institute, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Department to advise on how the Pilot Scheme might be revised. Minister Killeen approved two further pilot schemes from 1 May 2009 – 31 October 2010 and from 1 November – 31 January 2010.

Following extensive consultations and meetings of the Steering Group since November 2009, I am pleased to confirm that a new pilot scheme for the period 1 February 2010 – 30 April 2010 has been agreed and approved by Minster Killeen.

I appreciate that the introduction of these new conservation measures are a challenge and present difficulties for fishermen. Bearing in mind the difficulties posed by this regulation, I can assure the house that Minister Killeen, the Department and its agencies will continue to provide support to the industry in relation to the practical implementation of these new measures. Minister Killeen regularly meets fishing industry representatives and fishermen and every effort is made to alleviate the impact of the Cod Recovery Plan in as far as practicable and within the legal framework that has been established.

Departmental Expenditure.

Liz McManus

Question:

189 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if it is proposed to increase funding to Animal Health Ireland for its multi-annual programme. [3870/10]

Animal Health Ireland (AHI) is a private company limited by guarantee and is not a public body under my control. My Department is committed to providing funding up to a maximum value of €0.5m per annum, for a period of 5 years, to AHI subject to matching contributions being provided by the industry.

Animal Feedstuffs.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

190 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the inter-agency review group report on the dioxin contamination incident here in December 2006; and if he is satisfied with the role of his Department during this crisis. [3878/10]

I established the inter-agency review of the dioxin contamination incident for the purpose inter alia of identifying any adjustments to official controls in the light of experiences gained from the incident. The report of the review concluded that once the incident was identified by my Department's residue monitoring programme it was handled well and all actions were proportionate and prompt.

Because of the speed and nature of the actions taken by the Irish public authorities and the industry, public confidence was restored quickly. The report also concluded that, in the management of the incident, the protection of consumer health was rightly the overriding priority. It did however point to weaknesses in the animal feed inspection system. My Department has already addressed these issues in the 2009 Animal feed Inspection programme whereby it assigned a higher risk category to the drying of feed and to grain drying operators placing greater emphasis on the checking of feed safety management plans, based on HACCP principles, which feed business operators are required to draw up and implement reminded operators involved in the drying of grain and feed that only particular fuels (gas, diesel & kerosene) should be used for such drying.

The report makes it very clear that under EU Food and Feed Hygiene legislation the primary responsibility to produce safe feed and food rests with the feed and food business operators. It specifically points out that the feed business operators should have identified the risk associated with the direct drying process in his feed safety management system based on HACCP principle. In this context my Department has reminded feed business operators of their obligation, under the Feed Hygiene Regulations, to take all steps necessary to ensure the safety of the feed chain.

As I indicated when publishing the report I have undertaken to have all the recommendations by the Review Group pursued by the relevant authorities.

Food Labelling.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

191 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which he directly or in conjunction with his EU colleagues will ensure rigorous enforcement of food traceability and quality standards throughout the European Union with particular reference to food imports and the need to ensure that traceability, labelling, hygiene, quality and husbandry standards for all imports are strictly in accordance with those applicable with the European Union without exception; if there is full co-operation to ensure that all products imported from third countries are not repossessed or relabelled to give a false impression of its origin or to undermine or underprice the quality and standards of products produced in Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3897/10]

In general, responsibility for enforcement of labelling legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) through its service contracts with my Department, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Health Services Executive, the Local Authorities and the National Consumer Agency.

My Department has responsibility for the operation of EU controls on imports of products of animal origin under its service contract and in compliance with harmonized Community rules on the hygiene of food and feed. These stipulate that food products of animal origin produced and traded from an EU source must be from approved food business establishments and be accompanied to destination by a commercial document or a health certificate signed by an official veterinarian of the competent authority of the Member State of origin.

In the case of importation from third countries food products of animal origin must have originated in a country that has been approved by the EU for trade in the animal product in question and from an approved establishment, be labelled as to origin and be appropriately transported. Approval for export to the EU is continuously assessed by the EU's Food & Veterinary Office (FVO). This takes into account whether the controls operated by a third country on the production and processing of products of animal origin can offer equivalent guarantees as to food safety to controls that are operating in the EU. At importation consignments must be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate in accordance with the models laid down by Community legislation.

Where there are risks to animal and public health, and in cases of animal disease outbreaks, the Community introduces safeguard measures banning or restricting imports until the risks have been removed.

My Department undertakes import controls in co-operation with Customs services.

Consignments from third countries must be landed at an EU approved Border Inspection Post (BIP) approved by the Food and Veterinary Office of the EU (FVO) for veterinary checks. Consignments of animal products remain under Customs control until the BIP has authorised entry into the EU.

Any imports failing to comply with these veterinary control checks may be detained for further examination. Where non-compliance is established they are returned to the exporting country or destroyed.

The scope of products of animal origin coming under these requirements are set out under Commission Decision No. 2007/275/EC11 Official Journal of the European Communities No. L116 of 4.5.2007 which also provides an exemption from border inspection in the case of certain composite and specified food products comprising processed low risk animal products and plant products. These products however must comply with public health requirements for their placing on the market.

The FVO monitors and inspects each Member State controls on Food Safety including the operation of BIPs to ensure the conditions for import and placing of animal products on to the market, as provided under the harmonized legislation, are being correctly applied.

Under Commission Regulation (EC) No 1580/2007, as amended, traders offering fresh fruit and vegetables for sale are responsible for ensuring the products meet minimum quality requirements and are correctly as well as clearly labelled including country of origin.

Under the EU's Hygiene of Food & Feed Regulations new harmonized import controls were introduced on 25 January on certain non-animal food products and animal feed ingredients coming from regions where risks to food safety have detected. These controls providing for pre-notification of import, inspection, sampling and analysis will be operated by the Health & Safety Executive and by my Department.

Under the current food labeling Directive 2003/13/EC the compulsory indication of the particulars of the place of origin or provenance is required where failure to give such might mislead the consumer to a material degree as to the true provenance of the foodstuff. Enforcement of this legislation is the responsibility of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

Food Imports.

Chris Andrews

Question:

192 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Taoiseach the value of goods imported here from the West Bank during the period 2006 to 2009; and the main types of food produce that were imported from this region. [4081/10]

Under EU legislation, Article 9 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1172/95 of 22/05/1995 lays down the rules regarding the compilation of statistics for the trading of goods by the Community and its Member States with non-member countries.

Under this regulation, it has been possible since 2001 to record the trade of goods with what the UN defines as the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, it is not possible to record trade in a manner that distinguishes between specific regions, such as the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

This being the case, imports into the Republic of Ireland from the Occupied Palestinian Territories were of marginal value (less than €25,000) in each of the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 and in the period January to October 2009. The trade statistics do not indicate any imports of foodstuffs from the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 2006, 2008 or 2009 but do indicate small imports of olive oil and fresh or chilled tomatoes in 2007.

Grant Payments.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

193 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if grants are available to unemployed persons seeking to set up businesses in the area of insulation and renewable energy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4173/10]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

202 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the grants available to unemployed persons seeking to set up businesses in the area of insulation and renewable energy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4176/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 193 and 202 together.

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 (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland, through whom assistance is delivered directly to businesses.

Subject to certain eligibility criteria new and developing micro-enterprises may qualify for financial support from the CEBs in the form of priming, expansion/development and feasibility/innovation grants. In addition, the CEBs deliver a range of non-financial supports to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow.

However, in order to more fully explore the range of options that may be available, potential entrepreneurs 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.

County Enterprise Boards.

Michael Ring

Question:

194 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason the chief executive officer of Mayo County Enterprise Board did not reply to correspondence (details supplied) sent to them. [3943/10]

It is my understanding that the correspondence from the Deputy to Mayo CEB was in connection with a grant application query. My Department does not have any role in day-to-day operational matters of Mayo CEB or in any related follow-up correspondence.

I am advised that Mayo CEB have confirmed that your correspondence was received on January 7th 2010 and duly responded to on January 21st 2010.

Departmental Agencies.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

195 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the location of the 12 companies in County Donegal that IDA Ireland supports; the number of jobs in each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4085/10]

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 county level. At present there are 1,683 employed in the 12 IDA client companies in County Donegal.

Enterprise Stabilisation Fund.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

196 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of applications that were received from County Donegal for support under the enterprise stabilisation fund in 2009; the location of these companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4086/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

198 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of applications that were received for support under the enterprise stabilisation fund in 2009 on a county basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4088/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 and 198 together.

The provision of grant assistance to individual companies is a matter for the development agency or body concerned, and not one in which I have any function.

However, I have been informed by Enterprise Ireland, that approximately €58m has been approved under the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund as at the 31st December 2009. Enterprise Ireland had received a total of 172 applications in 2009 of which 148 projects were approved for funding.

It would not be appropriate to disclose the exact locations of the grant-aided companies for reasons of commercial sensitivity. However, a break down of the successful 148 projects on a county by county basis is set out as follows in tabular format.

Approved Applications — Regional Breakdown

Approvals by County

Status

Carlow

3

Cavan

4

Clare

1

Cork

18

Donegal

7

Dublin

42

Galway

8

Kerry

3

Kildare

4

Kilkenny

1

Laois

2

Leitrim

1

Limerick

5

Longford

2

Louth

8

Mayo

7

Meath

4

Offaly

3

Roscommon

1

Sligo

4

Tipperary

4

Waterford

3

Westmeath

2

Wexford

4

Wicklow

7

Total

148

Employment Subsidy Scheme.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

197 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of applications that were received from County Donegal for support under the employment subsidy scheme in 2009; the location of these companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4087/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

199 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of applications that were received for support under the employment subsidy scheme on a county basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4089/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 and 199 together.

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. I launched the first call of the Scheme on the 6th August 2009.

Eligible enterprises had to submit an application by the 4th September 2009 to Enterprise Ireland who is administering the Scheme. 620 companies applied for the first call of the Scheme. The breakdown of these applicants by county is given in the following table. As can be seen from this table 35 applications were received from enterprises in County Donegal.

Last month, I launched a second call under the Scheme, with a closing date of 23rd December 2009. Enterprise Ireland are currently assessing the applications they received under this call and detailed information on these applications is currently unavailable.

Applicants for Employment Subsidy Scheme (Temporary) — First Call

County

Applicants

Carlow

12

Cavan

19

Clare

26

Cork

71

Donegal

35

Dublin

170

Galway

36

Kerry

11

Kildare

16

Kilkenny

6

Laois

6

Leitrim

7

Limerick

18

Longford

9

Louth

25

Mayo

8

Meath

21

Monaghan

18

Offaly

6

Roscommon

6

Sligo

8

Tipperary

15

Waterford

16

Westmeath

14

Wexford

18

Wicklow

23

Grand Total

620

Question No. 198 answered with Question No. 196.
Question No. 199 answered with Question No. 197.

Trade Relations.

Billy Timmins

Question:

200 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will respond to a query (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4099/10]

Over the last decade in particular, the Government has devoted considerable effort to developing enhanced links with Asia, and China in particular, in order to engage more productively with that region, in view of its growing economic power and the consequent opportunities for Ireland. The Asia Strategy was launched in 1999 and the second phase, from 2005, set key specific targets to be achieved. I am happy that most of these have been exceeded. During that 10-year period, merchandise exports to China rose from €119m in 1999 to €1.609bn in 2008 (final figures are not yet available for the full year 2009 but are likely to very similar). In addition, Services exports have grown from a negligible level in 1999 to €1.423bn in 2008. These achievements have reduced our trade deficit from €2.9bn some years ago to just €1.3bn in 2008. In fact when the data for Hong Kong, where we already have a surplus, is added, the deficit for greater China, is reduced further.

In addition to trade, the Asia Strategy has resulted in 103 Irish companies having established a presence in China, significant high-level visits between the two countries have been organised, tourism, educational and cultural links have been deepened and a range of other initiatives pursued.

My Department drives and chairs a Joint Economic Commission Agreement with China in which diverse issue are pursued with a view to promoting closer and deeper economic contacts. This is a very useful mechanism to advance a range of initiatives that can be mutually beneficial. The next formal session of this forum is due later this year.

Enterprise Ireland now has four offices in China to assist Irish companies developing exports there. The Department of Foreign Affairs have opened a Consulate in Shanghai, the main commercial centre, in addition to the existing embassy in Beijing. Outside of China, both Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs have expanded their network of offices and missions in the South–East Asian region over recent years. The most recent new Embassy established was in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2005. Also, Bord Bia have established an office in Shanghai to develop Irish food exports to the region.

In response to the Smart Economy Framework, my Department is both reviewing the achievements of the Asia Strategy, as well as working with the Development Agencies and other Departments to develop a new Strategy and Action Plan for Trade, Investment and Tourism. This will focus on high growth emerging markets such as China, as well as on our existing key trading partners. The aim is to bring further focus and coherence to Ireland's single-minded pursuit of our international economic and commercial interests. I am satisfied that the Government is fully engaged to seize the opportunities in these markets.

Job Losses.

Michael Noonan

Question:

201 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way in which persons who were made redundant by a company (details supplied) can avail of funds being provided by the EU Globalisation Fund; the activities and programmes she considers eligible for the receipt of payments from this fund; if, in respect of training programmes, there is a requirement that the programmes are new rather than existing programmes being provided by FÁS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4123/10]

I refer to the answer to Parliamentary Questions No. 189 and 192 of 19 January 2010. Details of all eligible guidance, training, educational and entrepreneurial measures available with the assistance of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for those workers made redundant at the DELL plant in Raheen, Co. Limerick and at ancillary enterprises since 8 January 2009 will be provided at the public information event being hosted at the South Court Hotel in Limerick on 11-12 February 2010 by the FAS EGF Coordination Unit. A number of complementary and innovative measures are included in addition to the range of current courses and programmes available across a wide range of service providers, both public and private.

Question No. 202 answered with Question No. 193.

Job Creation.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

203 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the grants and other assistance available to unemployed persons seeking to set up their own business; if situations exist in which they can continue to claim welfare and start a self employed enterprise for a defined period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4177/10]

My Department provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland, through whom assistance is delivered to businesses. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, new and developing micro-enterprises may qualify for financial support from the CEBs in the form of priming, expansion/development and feasibility/innovation grants. In addition, the CEBs deliver a range of non-financial supports to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow.

However, in order to more fully explore the range of options that may be available, potential entrepreneurs 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.

In addition to the CEB provision, FÁS offers a range of courses through daytime and evening/part-time provision for people who have an interest in establishing their own business. Some courses are exclusively aimed at business start-up and enterprise development training, while broader based courses contain elements or modules that are enterprise related. From a financial assistance perspective, the Department of Social and Family Affairs 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 1st 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.

Flood Relief.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

204 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Finance the details of the various flood alleviation measures that are taking place in County Waterford; the measures that will be included in phases one, two, three and four; the date when phase one of the works will be completed; the date when phases two,three and four will have their detailed designs completed; the length of time it will take to proceed to construction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3924/10]

All phases of the flood relief scheme are being implemented by the Waterford City Council with OPW funding and expertise. Phase 1 of the Waterford City Flood Alleviation Scheme consists of flood protection works (a) on the River Suir upstream of its confluence with John's River near Adelphi Quay, along the length of the South Quays to Rice's Bridge, and (b) on John's River from its confluence with the River Suir near Adelphi Quay, along its route through the Court House grounds to Hardy's Bridge, Catherine Street. The flood protection works include for the replacement of the existing railings along the south quays with a glass floodwall system and a combination of reinforced concrete walls and flood embankments on the John's River to Hardy's Bridge. These works under the Phase 1 Contract are expected to be completed in April, 2010.

Grattan Quay Works comprises the construction of a reinforced concrete floodwall along the quay from Rice's Bridge to the existing wall north of Grattan Quay. These works are now part of the Phase 1 contract and are expected to be completed by May 2010.

Phases 2 & 3 Advance Works contract consists of the construction of masonry faced reinforced concrete floodwalls and glass floodwalls along the southern bank of the John's River in Scotch & George's Quay and along the northern bank of the John's River in Waterside. The work under this contract is expected to be completed by May 2010.

Phases 2, 3 & 4 (The remaining phases under the Waterford City Flood Alleviation Scheme) consist of proposed flood protection works in the form of masonry faced reinforced concrete floodwalls and flood embankments on the southern bank of the River Suir south of its confluence with the John's River and on both banks of the John's River up to the Tramore Road.

The proposed works under these phases will be submitted for Part 10 Planning in February 2010 and it is hoped that the detailed design will be completed by Autumn 2010 (dependent on how long it takes to receive planning approval) with construction commencing in early 2011.

Pat Breen

Question:

205 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce flood prevention measures along the River Fergus and in the vicinity of the town of Ennis, County Clare, in order to prevent a repeat of the flooding which affected the town in November 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3956/10]

Following severe flooding on several occasions, a Flood Relief Scheme was approved for the town of Ennis. The scheme was divided into two parts — Upper Ennis (Phase 1) and Lower Ennis (Phase 2). Works on the Upper Ennis Scheme, which include Island Car Park, Mill Bridge, Wood Quay to Parnell Street, and Mill Road are substantially complete and are expected to be completed by the end of March 2010. Works on Ennis Lower (Phase 2) are currently at detailed design stage, and tender documents will issue shortly. It is envisaged that this phase will commence in late Summer 2010 with works being completed in late 2012.

In November 2009, OPW became aware of flooding in Ennis, which occurred in areas that were developed since the Flood Relief Scheme was designed. These include Fior Uisce and The Watery Road. The area around St Flannan's College also flooded. The Local Authority have agreed to gather and submit information in respect of these flood events to OPW and, subject to technical, economic and environmental factors, these areas will be considered for flood alleviation works.

Tax Code.

Jack Wall

Question:

206 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the liability for a sibling who inherits a family home; if there are circumstances in which such a tax would not apply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3967/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that for the purposes of Capital Acquisitions Tax (Gift and Inheritance Tax), the relationship between the person who provided the gift or inheritance (i.e., the disponer) and the person who received the gift or inheritance (i.e., the beneficiary), determines the maximum tax-free threshold — known as the "Group threshold" — below which gift or inheritance tax does not arise. There are, in all, three separate Group tax-free thresholds based on the relationship of the beneficiary to the disponer.

Group A: €414,799 — applies where the beneficiary is a child (including adopted child, step-child and certain foster children) or minor child of a deceased child of the disponer. Parents also fall within this threshold where they take an inheritance of an absolute interest from a child.

Group B: €41,418 — applies where the beneficiary is a brother, sister, a nephew, a niece or lineal ancestor or lineal descendant of the disponer.

Group C: €20,740 — applies in all other cases.

When calculating whether a beneficiary has received benefits in excess of his or her Group tax-free threshold, any other gifts and inheritances received by that beneficiary since 5 December 1991 from within the same Group are also taken into account. A sibling who takes an inheritance from their brother or sister falls into the Group B threshold above.

Apart from the tax-free Group thresholds available to a beneficiary, the Capital Acquisitions Tax code also exempts a gift or inheritance of a dwelling-house completely from gift or inheritance tax in certain circumstances. The main conditions attaching to the exemption are that the beneficiary of the dwelling -house must have resided in the dwelling-house for a minimum of three years prior to the gift or inheritance and must not have an interest in any other dwelling-house. In addition, the beneficiary must continue to occupy that dwelling-house as his or her only or main residence for a period of six years from the date of the gift or inheritance.

The exemption ensures that what may be the family home for many people will not be the subject of gift or inheritance tax when it is transferred. The dwelling-house exemption is available to any beneficiary who meets the conditions for the exemption irrespective of whether or not they are related to the disponer of the gift or inheritance and irrespective of the value of the dwelling-house being transferred.

Fiscal Policy.

Mary Wallace

Question:

207 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Finance the percentage savings, in view of public service reforms, that have been achieved by the public service recruitment moratorium in 2009; if 3% expected savings has been achieved; if the continuing moratorium is expected to provide the same level of savings over the next 12 months; his views on the suggestion from civil servants that a 40 hour week, providing all staff with the same 20 day holiday, might be worthy of consideration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4084/10]

Budget 2010 provided for a reduction of €1.48 billion in the public sector pay bill of which €1 billion related to pay rates and the remainder to the Public Sector Moratorium and other schemes including the Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement. This €1.48 billion represents 8.5% of the expected pay bill for 2009 as published in the Revised Estimates for the Public Services 2009. Further details on the public service pay bill for 2010 as well as the provisional outturn for 2009 will be available in the Revised Estimates for the Public Services 2010 which will be published next month. I note the proposal mentioned by the Deputy in relation to civil service working time and annual leave. The Government is open to considering all reasonable and practicable proposals that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of, and help transform the delivery of, public services.

Tax Code.

John Cregan

Question:

208 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Finance the way mortgage relief at source is applied; and the number of years a householder can claim this relief on their mortgage. [4091/10]

The position is that tax relief in respect of mortgage interest paid on a qualifying home loan, i.e. a loan used for the purchase, repair, development or improvement of an individual's principal private residence, is paid through the tax relief at source (TRS) system. The mortgage provider or lender gives the relief, which applies to first-time buyers and non-first time buyers, at source. The mortgage lender is reimbursed with an amount equivalent to the relief by the Revenue Commissioners who are responsible for the overall administration of the TRS system.

In my Supplementary Budget 2009, I announced that mortgage interest for first-time buyers and non-first time buyers was being limited to the first seven tax years for which an individual has entitlement to relief. In Budget 2010, I announced that I would be extending mortgage interest relief up to the end of 2017 for those whose entitlement to relief would end in 2010 or after. This means those who took out qualifying loans from 2004. Mortgage interest relief will be abolished completely by the end of 2017. Full details will be provided in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Financial Services Regulation.

Michael Noonan

Question:

209 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance if he has reached an agreement with the banks to allow persons to alter the terms of their mortgage to interest-only repayments for periods of 12 months; the way a person should proceed to avail of this agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4122/10]

There is no agreement in place or being discussed as the Deputy suggests. The Deputy will be familiar with the Financial Regulator's Code of Conduct on Mortgage arrears which applies to all regulated lenders on a statutory basis. This Code applies only to mortgage lending activities to consumers in respect of their principal private residence in Ireland. The main features of the Code are early recognition of problems, active management of problems, examination of alternative solutions and repossession as a last resort. In addressing an arrears problem, the lender may explore alternative repayment measures with the borrower which can include deferring payment of all or part of the amounts due, extending the term of the mortgage, or changing the type of mortgage for example to an interest only mortgage for a period of time.

The Code will ensure that mortgage lenders can only commence legal action for repossession at least six months from the time arrears first arise. The two recapitalised banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland, have each committed that they will not commence court proceedings for repossession of a principal private residence until after 12 months of arrears appearing, where the customer continues to cooperate reasonably and honestly with the bank. As a further measure, I have written to the Financial Regulator requesting that consideration be given to extending the moratorium on mortgage arrears from 6 months to 12 months for all mortgage lenders.

In addition, the Irish Bankers Federation, representing the mainstream lenders, published a Statement of Intent in November 2009 which provides further reassurance to homeowners who find themselves genuinely unable to maintain repayments on their principal private residence. This Statement of Intent provides that the goal of IBF mortgage lenders is to work with their customers who face genuine difficulties in order to find solutions that do not involve legal action. The basis for such solutions is for the customer to talk to their lender at the earliest opportunity so that a mutually acceptable arrangement can be agreed, implemented and reviewed thereafter on a six-monthly basis. Provided the customer maintains this arrangement, IBF mortgage lenders will not initiate any form of legal action against them in relation to their mortgage. The Statement of Intent has been agreed and supported by all IBF members and is a welcome development. It is also welcome that the IBF Oversight Committee on the implementation of the Statement of Intent will also include a representation from the Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

EU Funding.

Pat Breen

Question:

210 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance if he has made an application for emergency funding under the EU solidarity fund for persons affected by flooding here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4169/10]

My Department is currently working with the EU Commission on making an application for funding under the EU Solidarity Fund.

Tax Code.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when a tax refund will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who has submitted all relevant and requested information to the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4209/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person concerned has not to date submitted all relevant and requested information to enable a review of his tax liability to be carried out. Accordingly, it is not possible to complete a review of the taxpayer's liability.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

212 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when capital gains tax refund for the year ending 2008 will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4211/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a capital gains tax refund for the year ending 2008 issued to the person concerned on 14 January 2010.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

213 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of whole time equivalents serving in the Houses of the Oireachtas in the grades of Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General, Assistant Secretary General, Higher Principal Officer, Principal Officer, Higher Assistant Principal Officer, Assistant Principal Officer, Higher Executive Officer, Executive Officer, Staff Officer and Clerical Officer on 1 January 1998 and 1 January 2007, and the latest date for which figures are available in 2009 or 2010. [4241/10]

Section 12 of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Act 2003 gave the Commission the power to determine its staff requirements and to appoint staff members except for staff at or above the grade of Principal (Higher), for which the consent of the Minister for Finance is required. The figures available to my Department for Oireachtas staff in the named grades are as follows:

Grade

End December 1997

End December 2006

End December 2009

Secretary General

0.00

0.00

0.00

Assistant Secretary

0.00

1.00

1.00

Principal Officer

0.00

3.00

8.00

Principal Officer (Higher)

1.00

4.00

2.00

Assistant Principal

1.00

0.00

5.00

Assistant Principal (Higher)

0.00

2.00

1.00

Higher Executive Officer

8.00

7.00

2.00

Executive Officer

0.00

5.00

8.00

Staff Officer

5.00

5.00

3.00

Clerical Officer

49.50

72.00

73.20

Total

64.50

99.00

103.20

Food Safety.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

214 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which traceability standards are applied throughout the catering industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4207/10]

Responsibility for the enforcement of traceability legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and its official agents, which in the case of the catering industry is the Health Service Executive (HSE). Traceability of foodstuffs is covered by Article 18 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 on general food law which provides that food business operators (FBOs) should be able to identify from whom, and to whom, a product has been supplied. This requirement relies on the "one step back" — "one step forward" approach. The Regulation also requires that FBOs have systems and procedures in place that allow for this information to be made available to the competent authorities on request. Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 has been transposed into Irish Law by the European Communities (General Food Law) Regulations 2007 S.I. No. 747/2007. The inspection of catering premises is carried out by environmental health officers of the HSE and inspections would ordinarily examine the food safety management system and the traceability system in place in a food business.

Health Service Staff.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Meath can avail of early retirement or retire on ill-health grounds, if offered, without loss of benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4210/10]

The Minister for Finance introduced an Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement (ISER) across the public sector in 2009. Circular 8/2009 from my Department outlined that the purpose of the scheme was to facilitate a permanent, structural reduction in the numbers of staff employed in line with the 2009 Employment Control Framework for the Public Health Sector. The HSE informed my Department that the health service trade unions issued a directive instructing their members not to cooperate with redeployment and reassignment requests from management. This instruction from the unions which remains in place, severely restricts the ability of management to organise/restructure work practice and contravenes the qualification criteria for the scheme. As a result, the HSE suspended the scheme in June but continued to accept applications, up to the closing date of 23 October 2009.

I understand from the employer that the individual concerned applied to retire under the ISER Scheme but that her application was refused by the employer. The employer also states that, while the individual initially appealed this decision, she then went on to withdraw her application under the Scheme. With regard to retirement on the grounds of ill health, I should like to assure the Deputy that, subject to certain conditions being met, retirement on the grounds of ill health is provided for under the superannuation scheme in her place of work. However, as of 26th January, the employer has informed me that, in the case of this individual, there is no record of an application having been made on these grounds.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Billy Timmins

Question:

216 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow who applied to the Health Service Executive in Naas, County Kildare for medical equipment; if this will be supplied; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4244/10]

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

Hospital Services.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

217 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the concerns being expressed that the transfer of cancer services from Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24 will leave other hospitals overwhelmed; his views on the need to ensure that proper resources are provided to deal with the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3904/10]

The Health Service Executive's National Cancer Control Programme successfully completed the transfer of all surgical and initial diagnostic breast cancer services from 33 hospitals to the eight designated cancer centres by the end of last year (2009). This was achieved in a seamless manner that was only possible through the significant planning and preparatory efforts of all the hospitals, medical, nursing and administrative personnel, working closely with the NCCP.

The transfers occurred in a phased manner and the NCCP consistently stated that no transfer would take place until it was satisfied that the necessary resources were in place to deliver a quality assured service to all patients.

This phased approach ensured that the NCCP satisfied itself that each transfer was carried out in a planned, coherent manner. In relation to the transfer of initial diagnostic and surgical services from Tallaght Hospital, the NCCP engaged in a comprehensive and detailed manner with Tallaght, St James's and St Vincent's Hospitals in advance of the transfer last year. That engagement explored and agreed the necessary resources that would be required for the two relevant designated cancer centres at St James's and St Vincent's. The NCCP was in a position to provide significant extra resources through the provision of funding, medical, nursing and support service appointments and the transfer of appropriate resources from Tallaght.

The NCCP was satisfied in advance that the appropriate services were in place and remains satisfied that both St Vincent's and St James's are providing quality assured services to all their patients.

The most recent statistics available regarding patient access demonstrate that both hospitals are exceeding independently established standards. The HIQA standards require all eight designated centres to see 95% of urgent patients within two weeks and to see 95% of non urgent patients within twelve weeks.

The most recent data available demonstrates that in relation to urgent cases, both St. Vincent's and St. James's Hospitals are now seeing 100% of patients within two weeks. In relation to non urgent, routine cases, St Vincent's is now seeing 100% of non urgent cases within twelve weeks and St James's is also exceeding the target as it is currently seeing 96% of patients within twelve weeks.

HSE Expenditure.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

218 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if a directive has been issued, or is proposed to be issued, to the Health Service Executive as to the way certain bodies assisted with funding under section 39 of the Health Act 2004 will differ from bodies assisted under section 38 in relation to budgeted salary and other cost reductions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3905/10]

The Government's decision to reduce its payroll costs in various ways — principally by reducing the salaries paid to public servants and reducing the numbers employed — was deliberately designed to protect existing levels of public services and to provide a more sustainable payroll cost base into the future.

I understand that the HSE issued an early warning notice to its grant aided voluntary agencies anticipating (incorrectly) that the pay reduction for public servants under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009 would automatically apply to the agencies. In fact, grant aided agencies (funded under Section 39 of the Health Act 2004) are not directly affected by the pay adjustments provided for under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009. Section 39 agencies are not public service bodies as defined in that Act and their employees are not public servants.

However, the grant funding of Section 39 Agencies is subject to the general efficiency savings for the health sector provided for in the Budget. Accordingly, it is entirely appropriate that Section 39 Agencies and other HSE funded voluntary providers take appropriate measures to ensure that they continue to provide the same level of service in 2010 as previously, notwithstanding the reductions in their funding. It is the responsibility of each individual employer to decide exactly what mix of actions should be taken to achieve this goal, to take appropriate legal and other advice, to consult and inform its employees/trade unions as necessary and to manage the HR and industrial relations implications of its decisions.

I further understand that the HSE is in the process of confirming this position to the bodies concerned on foot of clarification in the matter from my Department.

Budget 2010 requires the HSE to generate non-pay savings of €394m, €106m of which is to be met through economies. It is a matter for the HSE to determine how these non-pay savings are to be met, but it is likely that grant-funded agencies will bear some proportion of the savings.

Hospital Services.

Martin Ferris

Question:

219 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) will be given a date for an MRI scan. [3919/10]

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

Medical Cards.

Michael Creed

Question:

220 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will issue on an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3928/10]

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

Health Services.

Seán Power

Question:

221 Deputy Seán Power asked the Minister for Health and Children the support available to cancer patients in accessing treatment in view of the transport costs incurred; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3945/10]

The matter raised by the Deputy relates to the provision of healthcare services and accordingly, I have asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) to respond directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Accommodation.

Noel Coonan

Question:

222 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to relocate the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital, Limerick to the Dooradoyle site; the timeframe for same; if her attention has been drawn to the poor infrastructural situation at the hospital and health and safety issues at the establishment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3949/10]

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

Hospital Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

223 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive an appointment date for an operation at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3964/10]

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

Medical Cards.

John Perry

Question:

224 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; the reason for the delay in processing this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3965/10]

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

Health Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

225 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 171 of 21 October 2009, the reason correspondence (details supplied) has not been responded to by the audiology section of the hearing aid board. [3968/10]

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

Mental Health Services.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

226 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the establishment of a new children’s mental health coalition; if she will act on its recommendation that a national directory of children’s mental health services be set up providing information on the types of services available and the services each provides; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3984/10]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

227 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the establishment of a new children’s mental health coalition; if she will act on its recommendation that no child should be on a waiting list for mental health services for longer than six weeks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3985/10]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

228 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the establishment of a new children’s mental health coalition; if she will act on its recommendation that community mental health teams must be available nationally for children in need, that these teams should have a full complement of multidisciplinary staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3986/10]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

229 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the establishment of a new children’s mental health coalition; if she will act on its recommendation that there should be a national framework for mental health assessment of children in care, including monitoring that the necessary follow up services are delivered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3987/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 226 to 229, inclusive, together.

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

Medical Cards.

John McGuinness

Question:

230 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [4094/10]

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

National Drugs Strategy.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

231 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to address the legal loophole which allows so-called head shops to sell products with serious psychiatric side effects; her views on the need for urgent regulation in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4096/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

233 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children when the research advisory group on head shops was set up under the aegis of the national advisory committee on drugs; the number of members of this group; when the group will report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4128/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

234 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children when the research advisory group on head shops, set up under the aegis of the national advisory committee on drugs, will report; the length of time it will take her Department to bring in regulations once this report has been made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4129/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

235 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has plans to regulate the head shops that exist; if she will take action before the research advisory group on head shops, set up under the aegis of the national advisory committee on drugs, reports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4130/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 231 and 233 to 235, inclusive, together.

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

The list of scheduled substances is kept under ongoing review. For example, in 2006 psychotropic (‘magic') mushrooms were banned and their possession and sale is now illegal. On 31 March 2009, BZP was similarly subjected to legislative control measures and criminal sanctions.

In the light of the health risks associated with some of the products being sold in so-called ‘head shops', my Department is in the process of drafting regulations which will introduce controls, similar to those introduced recently in the UK, on a range of substances which are currently on sale in head shops. These regulations will make the possession and sale of these substances illegal and subject to criminal sanctions.

Some of the substances in question have legitimate uses — for example, in the production of plastics and industrial solvents. It will be necessary to assess the level of use of these substances by industry in Ireland and the implications for industry of placing these substances under the ambit of Misuse of Drugs legislation. In accordance with EU law, it will also be necessary to notify the Commission of any restrictions which may impact on legitimate industrial activities. It will be appreciated, therefore, that it is likely to be some months before the regulations can be implemented.

Minister of State John Curran, who has responsibility for co-ordinating the National Drugs Strategy, has identified head shops as an area of concern, and is currently considering the options available to more effectively control the activities of head shops.

A Research Advisory Group (RAG) has been established to identify possible options for the regulation of head shops. The RAG held its first meeting on 13 January 2010. It has representatives from the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, the Departments of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Health and Children, the Health Research Board, Revenue Custom's Service, the Forensic State Laboratory and other relevant stakeholders. The RAG will report incrementally until its work is complete.

Care of the Elderly.

Liz McManus

Question:

232 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the fact that a nursing home (details supplied) closed down almost a year ago and the commitment given that a review of the needs of older people in the area would be carried out, this review has being undertaken; when the review will be completed and the findings made known; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4118/10]

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

Questions Nos. 233 to 235, inclusive, answered with Question No. 231.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Pat Breen

Question:

236 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting time for financial assessments under the fair deal nursing scheme on county basis, as of the 8 January 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4171/10]

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

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

237 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4214/10]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

238 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4215/10]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

239 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will be updated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4216/10]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

240 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4217/10]

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

241 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications made under the fair deal nursing home support scheme since its commencement; the number of such applications which have been finalised; the length of time taken to process an application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4238/10]

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

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

242 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport the number of whole time equivalents serving in his Department and the Road Safety Authority in the grades of secretary general, deputy secretary general, assistant secretary general, higher principal officer, principal officer, higher assistant principal officer, assistant principal officer, higher executive officer, executive officer, staff officer and clerical officer on 1 January 2002. [4242/10]

As my Department and the Road Safety Authority were not established until 6 June 2002 and 13 September 2006 respectively, there are no figures available for 1 January 2002.

Road Network.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

243 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Transport if he has offered any additional assistance to South Dublin County Council to deal with road issues throughout Dublin south west following the recent weather conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4189/10]

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. The carrying out of works on these roads is a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of projects to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

When Exchequer 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. Holding back such an allocation would mean a reduction in the road grant allocations made to all local authorities at the beginning of each year.

The allocations made to local authorities are inclusive of a weather risk factor. Local authorities are expressly advised in the annual road grants circular letter that they should set aside contingency sums from their overall regional and local roads resources to finance necessary weather related works. The amount of money provided in the 2010 Estimates for funding regional and local roads is €411.177 million and this year's allocation will be based on that amount.

I have, however, asked local authorities to provide details of exceptional road related costs associated with the recent flooding and prolonged severe weather, which fall outside the normal financial provision for winter maintenance. I will announce the 2010 regional and local road grant allocations by mid February 2010 at the latest.

Asylum Applications.

Martin Ferris

Question:

244 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an asylum application (details supplied). [3926/10]

If an application for asylum has been made by the person concerned the Deputy will of course be aware that it is not the practice to comment on asylum applications that are pending.

Garda Investigations.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

245 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the re-opening of the investigation into the death of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3957/10]

Joe Behan

Question:

247 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he supports the re-investigation of the death of a person (details supplied); the progress there has been on this matter to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4110/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 245 and 247 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation into the death of the person referred to by the Deputies was the subject of an intensive review in 2004. I am further informed that the Garda Commissioner appointed the Assistant Commissioner, Northern Region, to examine the investigation file, which remains open and is under the supervision of the Assistant Commissioner. Liaison is being maintained with the family of the person referred to.

The Deputies will appreciate that, as the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Firearms Certificates.

John Deasy

Question:

246 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of legally held handguns that have been licensed since the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009. [3990/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which was commenced last August introduced changes to the procedures for the certification of firearms. The remaining sections of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 relating to firearms licensing were also commenced at that time and introduced the distinction between a Firearm Certificate and a Restricted Firearm Certificate.

It is important to realise that under the new legislation, arising from both statutes, which created the three year licence and placed additional requirements on applicants, that all applications for Firearm Certificates are regarded as new applications and not renewals. However, persons who already held certificates for handguns were entitled to apply for a new certificate under the stricter licensing regime. In addition, since 19 November 2008, handguns have been generally banned with exceptions for Olympic style target shooting.

The Garda Authorities have informed me that, since the introduction of the new licensing regime, there have been approximately 450 Firearm Certificates granted for handguns to date. This figure includes both unrestricted and restricted categories but I do not have a precise breakdown at this time. I am also informed that a similar number of applications were refused.

Question No. 247 answered with Question No. 245.

Commissions of Investigation.

Joe Behan

Question:

248 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for deciding not to make available to the public any further copies of the Murphy report; if his attention has been drawn to the continued strong public interest in acquiring printed copies of this report; if he will arrange for reprinting sufficient copies of the report to be available for purchase at the Government Publications Office; if he will also make copies of the report available to unemployed and senior citizens free of charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4111/10]

I am aware of the level of public interest in the report referred to by the Deputy. A total of 1,400 copies of the three volume report were printed and made available for purchase through the Government Publication Sales Office. Additional copies of the report are currently being printed and will shortly be available for purchase from the Government Publication Sales Office. The report can also be accessed on my Department's website (www.justice.ie) and that of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation (www.dacoi.ie).

Visa Applications.

Joe Costello

Question:

249 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a person (details supplied) was refused a visa to visit here when they had previously visited on a visa without problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4184/10]

The application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Consulate General, Chicago on 23 November 2009. The decision of the Visa Officer to refuse this application was taken on 12 January 2010. The applicant was informed in writing of the reasons for the refusal of this application.

Each application for a visa to enter the State is considered on its own merit and the relevant documentation which is submitted with each application. The granting or refusal of a visa in relation to one application from an individual does not automatically guarantee that subsequent applications will be similarly granted or refused.

It is open to the applicant to appeal this decision; however, to date, no appeal has been received. All appeals must be submitted within two months of the initial refusal decision, in this case before 12 March 2010. Comprehensive information relating to all aspects of the visa process, including the appeals process is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (www.inis.gov.ie).

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

250 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a residency status and the right to work without a work permit in the case of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4221/10]

In relation to the first named person, I understand that his leave to remain has recently been renewed until 12 December 2012. The position in relation to the second named person, who has applied for long term residency, is as set out in my response to Question No. 192 of 17 December 2009. While matters related to work permits are a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Environment, I understand that persons who have been working lawfully in the State and who have held an employment permit for five consecutive years, are not required to have a work permit to remain in employment. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform will give such persons immigration permission to reside in the State and to work without the need for an employment permit.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

251 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for asylum in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4222/10]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 18 April 2007. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was entitled to remain in the State until his application for asylum was decided. His asylum application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 14 August 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

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

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

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

252 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4223/10]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 676 of Wednesday, 16 September, 2009, and the written Reply to that Question. As stated in my last Reply, the person concerned has submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State which is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

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

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

253 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of whole time equivalents serving in his Department in the grades of secretary general, deputy secretary general, assistant secretary general, higher principal officer, principal officer, higher assistant principal officer, assistant principal officer, higher executive officer, executive officer, staff officer and clerical officer on 1 January 1998 and 1 January 2007 and the latest date for which figures are available 2009/2010. [4241/10]

The following table gives details of the number of staff in my Department in each of the grades concerned on 1 December 2002, 1 January 2007 and 1 January 2010. We have also included a number of Departmental and specialist grades. The figures include officers from other Government Departments serving in our missions abroad, most notably, Ireland's Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels. Since January 2009, there has been a net reduction of 54 in staffing levels in my Department. The information sought by the Deputy is not available for the period prior to the inauguration of the present electronic human resources management system in December 2002.

Grade

Number1 December 2002

Number1 January2007

Number1 January2010

Secretary General

1

1

1

Second Secretary General

4

4

2

Deputy Secretary General

5

4

5

Assistant Secretary General / Legal Adviser / Chief Medical Officer

47

47

43

Principal Development Specialist

3

3

4

Higher Principal Officer / Counsellor

6

7

24

Principal Officer / Counsellor

76

82

68

Senior Development Specialist

0

14

19

Accountants

0

5

4

Higher Assistant Principal Officer / First Secretary

24

13

16

Assistant Principal Officer / First Secretary / Assistant Legal Advisers / Translator

148

164

171

Development Specialist

3

24

28

Higher Executive Officer / Third Secretary / Administrative Officer / Librarian

158

166

169

Executive Officer

89

93

100

Staff Officer

36

34

42

Clerical Officer

400

441

460

Diplomatic Representation.

Billy Timmins

Question:

254 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will respond to a query (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4082/10]

The Government has built strong links with China, and last year celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations. China is a priority country under the Government's Asia Strategy, which was established in 1999 to develop closer economic and political relations with certain countries in the Asian region. Since the Asia Strategy was launched, there has been a significant increase in high-level political contacts, and an intense focus on economic interests and activities, including through a number of very successful trade delegations. In addition to our Embassy in Beijing, a new Consulate General was opened in Shanghai in 2000. Bilateral merchandise trade increased from €714 million in 1998, to €5.5 billion in 2008; while total trade in services in 2007 was €2.2 billion. Over 300 Irish companies now operate in China in a range of sectors, including education; electronics; engineering equipment; health care; financial services; and food and drink products.

My Department allocates special funding to our Embassies and Consulates under the Asia Strategy with a view to raising awareness of Ireland in the region. Activities funded have included awareness-raising visits and presentations within China by our Ambassador and Consul General, which have opened doors for Irish companies and semi state bodies; promotional programmes in sectors such as science and technology, tourism and education; and the Shanghai Internship Programme, which enables Chinese and Irish officials to learn about the political and administrative systems in each other's countries and develop important contacts for the future.

Our strong, friendly and mutually beneficial relations with China are characterised by a high level of inward and outward visits. The Taoiseach led an important trade mission to China in October 2008, while his predecessor led one in 2005. These were the two largest trade missions ever from Ireland. There have been several other significant official visits to China, including four Ministerial visits in the last two years. I myself plan to visit China later this year, and a high-level representative will also visit Expo 2010 in Shanghai, where Ireland will have a substantial pavilion.

Our relations extend beyond trade and there has been a strengthening of our interactions in the important human, sporting and cultural areas. We now have St. Patrick's Day festivals in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as Chinese New Year celebrations in Dublin.

There has also been a blossoming of contacts, exchanges and relationships in education, tourism, agriculture, and in new areas of cooperation such as financial services and the environment. Today, there are over 3,000 Chinese students in higher education in Ireland, and many more in English language schools. Increasingly, Irish students are choosing to study Chinese language and culture, and even to complete part of their studies in China.

As we come to the end of the second phase of the Asia Strategy, we are examining the most effective way to continue developing our relations with China, which has experienced spectacular economic growth and is now the world's third largest economy. I can assure the Deputy that these relations will continue to be a high priority for my Department and our diplomatic and consular missions in China into the future.

Security of the Elderly.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

255 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding allocated in 2009 under the community support for the elderly scheme in tabular form on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3971/10]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

256 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding allocated under the community support for the elderly scheme in 2009; the budget allocated for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3972/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 and 256 together.

As the Deputy is aware, the Scheme of Community Support for Older People (CSOP) is a demand-led initiative to help community groups address issues of isolation and the security fears of older people. Expenditure in each county is directly related to the number of applications received from community groups operating in support of older people. My Department does not set county allocations under the Scheme.

The following table shows the expenditure made in each county in 2009. Data in respect of each year 2004 to 2009 is available on my Department's website, as are the names of the community groups in receipt of grants

(http://www.pobail.ie/en/CommunityVoluntarySupports/CommunitySupportforOlderPeople/).

Expenditure on Scheme of Community Support for Older People

County

2004-2009

2009

Carlow

201,106

28,297

Cavan

236,445

36,440

Clare

474,549

61,877

Cork

1,625,299

252,782

Donegal

662,526

56,587

Dublin

4,336,711

495,293

Galway

1,112,628

131,943

Kerry

652,989

105,774

Kildare

378,355

40,930

Kilkenny

270,688

29,293

Laois

337,860

43,364

Leitrim

220,337

36,904

Limerick

715,618

113,799

Longford

100,112

26,780

Louth

459,226

56,742

Mayo

687,456

79,845

Meath

433,938

52,777

Monaghan

138,766

30,787

Offaly

326,364

22,703

Roscommon

237,910

57,431

Sligo

180,703

48,778

Tipperary

615,791

74,813

Waterford

352,327

43,481

Westmeath

612,832

56,678

Wexford

587,245

94,190

Wicklow

617,666

60,301

16,575,444

2,138,589

My Department continues to receive and process applications under the Scheme and, following a review of it in 2009, my hope is to announce revised arrangements for the CSOP in the coming weeks. The budget for the Scheme in 2010 will be decided following publication of the REV.

Rural Development.

Willie Penrose

Question:

257 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he will take to expand the rural social scheme, which has been important in helping to deal with the problems of rural isolation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4186/10]

There is currently provision for 2,600 participant places and 130 supervisor positions on the Rural Social Scheme.

While the Government has no immediate plans to expand the Scheme, I am determined to ensure that it continues to deliver valuable services for our rural communities and also provides meaningful work experience for the participants.

The value of the Scheme was very evident during the recent difficult weather conditions, when participants from around the country assisted many vulnerable and isolated people within their localities, in particular, the elderly.

Social Welfare Appeals.

James Bannon

Question:

258 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford who applied for same over three years ago and for which they have submitted all necessary documentation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4124/10]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that a claim for Disability Allowance by the person concerned was disallowed by the Deciding Officer on the grounds that means were not disclosed. The person concerned appealed the decision and an oral hearing of this case took place on 26 March 2009. In the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing, the Appeals Officer returned the case to the Social Welfare Inspector for further investigation regarding means.

I am also advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the Social Welfare Inspector currently dealing with the case is trying to establish financial details going back several years. The Chief Appeals Officer will write to the Deputy when the appeal has been determined.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

259 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons who availed of the services of the Money Advice and Budgetary Service in County Waterford in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3920/10]

The number of people in Waterford who have availed of the services of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service in 2009 is outlined in the table.

Year

Amount of people who availed of the services of MABS in Waterford

2009

1,135

An additional full-time money advisor was appointed in the Waterford City MABS on 19 October 2009. I am satisfied that the additional resources provided to MABS in County Waterford will assist them in meeting the demand for their services.

Pension Provisions.

Michael Creed

Question:

260 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to investigate the administrative mistake made in her Department and reported in a newspaper (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3929/10]

Spouses who are actively engaged in a commercial partnership, including the operation of a farm, as opposed to simply being the joint owners of a property, are treated as individual self-employed contributors. In these cases, both spouses are liable to pay PRSI (Class S) contributions in a timely manner.

On foot of a Programme for Government commitment an information leaflet, ‘Working with your spouse: how it affects your social welfare contributions and entitlements', has been developed between the Department of Social & Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners to set out the social welfare and tax implications of families co-working in a shared business. It was published on the 25th of June, 2008. The leaflet clarifies that spouses who operate in a commercial partnership may be brought into the social insurance system, subject to certain criteria. In this way, both spouses incur a liability to pay self-employed PRSI and build up entitlement towards a contributory state pension and other social welfare benefits. It is open to any person to apply for recognition of a commercial partnership.

The qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) require the applicant to: have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of 56 years; have at least 260 paid contribution weeks since entry into insurance; and satisfy the yearly average condition.

In addition, Section 110(1) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 provides that a self-employed contributor shall not be regarded as satisfying the qualifying conditions unless:

a. the person has paid self-employment contributions in respect of at least one contribution year before attaining pensionable age, and

b. all self-employment contributions payable by him or her have been paid.

This legislative provision has been on the statute books for over fifteen years and there has not been a change in policy in relation to the requirement to have paid at least one year's self employment contributions prior to reaching age 66 in order to qualify for a State Pension (Contributory).

It should be noted that while the publication of the leaflet ‘Working with your spouse: how it affects your social welfare contributions and entitlements' clarified existing procedures in relation to the recognition of commercial partnerships between husbands and wives for social insurance purposes, including retrospective payment of social insurance, it did not involve a change in existing policy or administration. In particular, the clarification of the position did not alter people's potential entitlements and all applicants for the state pension (contributory) must continue to satisfy the eligibility conditions as contained in legislation, and outlined above.

Approximately 1,000 people applied for recognition of a commercial partnership with their spouses. Of these, 579 cases have been decided on the basis of whether or not they qualify as a partnership. Some 508 of those were deemed to have a partnership in existence. Of these 268 have applied for a State Pension (Contributory). However, following a review of pension claims, it was found that in certain cases, the self-employment contributions were all paid after the persons concerned had passed their 66th birthday. They therefore had no entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory), and should not have been paid under this scheme. 85 claims for State Pension (Contributory) which were in payment have been disallowed and 16 customers have had their rates reduced. A further 46 customers failed to satisfy the qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) and accordingly their claims have been refused.

There are 121 additional applications for commercial partnerships currently being processed by Scope Section of the Department where the persons concerned have not paid any self employment contributions prior to reaching age 66. If a favourable partnership decision is reached the person(s) may incur a PRSI liability for the years in question. These customers will not satisfy the condition that they had paid self employment contributions prior to reaching age 66. Procedures are now in place whereby applicants will be given the option to reconsider their application for commercial partnership on the basis that the approval of a commercial partnership may result in a potential PRSI liability, which they are legally obliged to discharge, but due to the fact that they have not paid any self-employment contributions before reaching 66 years of age, they would not qualify for a pension.

The Department understands and apologises for the upset and distress caused to all persons concerned and regrets the administrative error involved.

Michael Creed

Question:

261 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of recipients of the contributory State pension, who qualified by means of the establishment of the existence of a farm partnership, who have been requested to refund their pension to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3933/10]

Michael Creed

Question:

262 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the monetary figure that is outstanding from recipients of the contributory State pension who were awarded payments having proven the existence of a farm partnership and reconciling their PRSI record despite passing the age of 66; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3936/10]

Michael Creed

Question:

265 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if her Department has stopped direct debit payments to recipients of the contributory State pension who qualified having established the existence of a farm partnership retrospectively having passed the age of 66; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3939/10]

I propose to take Questions Numbers 261, 262 and 265 together.

Spouses who are actively engaged in a commercial partnership, including the operation of a farm, as opposed to simply being the joint owners of a property, are treated as individual self-employed contributors. In these cases both spouses are liable to pay PRSI (Class S) contributions in a timely manner.

On foot of a Programme for Government commitment an information leaflet, ‘Working with your spouse: how it affects your social welfare contributions and entitlements', has been developed between the Department of Social & Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners to set out the social welfare and tax implications of families co-working in a shared business. It was published on the 25th of June, 2008. The leaflet clarifies that spouses who operate in a commercial partnership may be brought into the social insurance system, subject to certain criteria. In this way, both spouses incur a liability to pay self-employed PRSI and build up entitlement towards a contributory state pension and other social welfare benefits. It is open to any person to apply for recognition of a commercial partnership.

The qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) require the applicant to:

have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of 56 years;

have at least 260 paid contribution weeks since entry into insurance;

satisfy the yearly average condition.

In addition, Section 110(1) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 provides that a self-employed contributor shall not be regarded as satisfying the qualifying conditions unless:

(a) the person has paid self-employment contributions in respect of at least one contribution year before attaining pensionable age, and

(b) all self-employment contributions payable by him or her have been paid.

Section 110(1)(a) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005, has been on the statute books for over fifteen years and there has not been a change in policy in relation to the requirement to have paid at least one year's self employment contributions prior to reaching age 66, in order to qualify for a State Pension (Contributory).

Approximately 1,000 people applied for recognition of a commercial partnership with their spouses. Of these, 579 cases have been decided on the basis of whether or not they qualify as a partnership. Some 508 of those were deemed to have a partnership in existence. Of these 268 applied for a State Pension (Contributory).

However, following a review of pension claims, it was found that in certain cases, the self employment contributions were all paid after the persons concerned had passed their 66th birthday. They therefore had no an entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory), and should not have been paid under this scheme. 85 claims for State Pension (Contributory) which were in payment have been disallowed and 16 customers have had their rates reduced. A further 46 customers failed to satisfy the qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) and accordingly their claims have been refused.

The total amount of overpayments arising in these cases has not yet been determined. However, overpayments will be determined in the above cases and the customers will be notified and requested to repay the amounts involved. A Recovery Officer may reduce or cancel an overpayment based on the circumstances of an individual case, in line with the governing legislation.

There are 121 applications for commercial partnerships recognitions currently being processed by Scope Section of the Department where the persons concerned have not paid any self employment contributions prior to reaching age 66. If a favourable partnership decision is reached the person(s) may incur a PRSI liability for the years in question.

These customers will not satisfy the condition that they had paid self employment contributions prior to reaching age 66. Last week, the Department contacted each applicant and advised them of the position and to consider if they wish the Department to continue its investigation or to withdraw their application.

The Department understands and apologises for the upset and distress caused to all persons concerned and regrets the administrative error involved.

Michael Creed

Question:

263 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she has received legal advice regarding her decision to seek refunds on contributory State payments to farm spouses that claimed the pension retrospectively having passed the age of 66; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3937/10]

Spouses who are actively engaged in a commercial partnership, including the operation of a farm, as opposed to simply being the joint owners of a property, are treated as individual self-employed contributors. In these cases, both spouses are liable to pay PRSI (Class S) contributions in a timely manner.

On foot of a Programme for Government commitment an information leaflet, ‘Working with your spouse: how it affects your social welfare contributions and entitlements', has been developed between the Department of Social & Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners to set out the social welfare and tax implications of families co-working in a shared business. It was published on the 25th of June, 2008. The leaflet clarifies that spouses who operate in a commercial partnership may be brought into the social insurance system, subject to certain criteria. In this way, both spouses incur a liability to pay self-employed PRSI and build up entitlement towards a contributory state pension and other social welfare benefits. It is open to any person to apply for recognition of a commercial partnership.

Approximately 1,000 people applied for recognition of a commercial partnership with their spouses. Of these, 579 cases have been decided on the basis of whether or not they qualify as a partnership. Some 508 of those were deemed to have a partnership in existence. Of these 268 have applied for a State Pension (Contributory).

However, following a review of pension claims, it was found that in certain cases the self employment contributions were all paid after the persons concerned passed their 66 birthday. They therefore had no entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory), and should not have been paid under this scheme. 85 claims for State Pension (Contributory) which were in payment have been disallowed and 16 customers have had their rates reduced. A further 46 customers failed to satisfy the qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) and accordingly their claims have been refused.

The total amount of overpayments arising in these cases has not yet been determined. However, overpayments will be determined in these cases. The persons concerned will be notified and requested to repay the amount involved. However a Recovery Officer may reduce or cancel an overpayment based on the circumstances of an individual case, in line with governing legislation.

The qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) as set out in the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 require the applicant to:

have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of 56 years;

have at least 260 paid contribution weeks since entry into insurance;

satisfy the yearly average condition.

In addition, Section 110(1) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 provides that a self-employed contributor shall not be regarded as satisfying the qualifying conditions unless:

(a) the person has paid self-employment contributions in respect of at least one contribution year before attaining pensionable age, and

(b) all self-employment contributions payable by him or her have been paid.

It is open to any person to apply for recognition of a commercial partnership. However, to be eligible for State Pension, the legislation stipulates that at least 52 self-employment contributions must be paid by a person before they reach 66 years of age. Contributions paid by a pension applicant's spouse do not satisfy this condition.

This legislative provision has been on the statute books for over fifteen years and therefore, there has not been a change in policy in relation to the requirement to have paid self employment contribution prior to reaching age 66 in order to qualify for a State Pension (Contributory).

It should be noted that while the publication of the leaflet ‘Working with your spouse: how it affects your social welfare contributions and entitlements' clarified existing procedures in relation to the recognition of commercial partnerships between husbands and wives for social insurance purposes, including retrospective payment of social insurance, it did not involve a change in existing policy or administration. In particular, the clarification of the position did not alter people's potential entitlements and all applicants for the state pension (contributory) must continue to satisfy the eligibility conditions as contained in legislation, and outlined above.

The Department understands and apologises for the upset and distress caused to all persons concerned and regrets the administrative error involved.

Michael Creed

Question:

264 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if her Department has threatened to deduct payments from the spouses of those from whom her Department has requested the refund of their contributory State pension, based on the fact the pension was awarded retrospectively due to the applicant having passed the age of 66 at the time of application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3938/10]

Spouses who are actively engaged in a commercial partnership, including the operation of a farm, as opposed to simply being the joint owners of a property, are treated as individual self-employed contributors. In these cases both spouses are liable to pay PRSI (Class S) contributions in a timely manner.

The qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) require the applicant to:

have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of 56 years;

have at least 260 paid contribution weeks since entry into insurance;

satisfy the yearly average condition.

In addition, Section 110(1) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 provides that a self-employed contributor shall not be regarded as satisfying the qualifying conditions unless:

(a) the person has paid self-employment contributions in respect of at least one contribution year before attaining pensionable age, and

(b) all self-employment contributions payable by him or her have been paid.

Section 110(1)(a) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005, has been on the statute books for over fifteen years and there has not been a change in policy in relation to the requirement to have paid at least one year's self employment contributions prior to reaching age 66, in order to qualify for a State Pension (Contributory).

Approximately 1,000 people applied for recognition of a commercial partnership with their spouses. Of these, 579 cases have been decided on the basis of whether or not they qualify as a partnership. Some 508 of those were deemed to have a partnership in existence. Of these 268 have applied for a State Pension (Contributory). However, following a review of pension claims, it was found that, in certain cases, the self employment contributions were all paid after the persons concerned had passed their 66th birthday. They therefore had no entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory), and should not have been paid under this scheme. 85 claims for State Pension (Contributory) which were in payment have been disallowed and 16 customers have had their rates reduced. A further 46 customers failed to satisfy the qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) and accordingly their claims have been refused.

The total amount of overpayments arising in these cases has not yet been determined.

However, overpayments will be determined in the above cases and the customers will be notified and requested to repay the amounts involved. A Recovery Officer may reduce or cancel an overpayment based on the circumstances of an individual case, in line with governing legislation.

The responsibility for repayment of any overpayments arising from these reviews is a matter for the individual customers concerned.

The Department understands and apologises for the upset and distress caused to all persons concerned and regrets the administrative error involved.

Question No. 265 answered with Question No. 261.

Michael Creed

Question:

266 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be entitled to a contributory State pension on reaching 66 years on the basis of the existence of a farm partnership and the payment of appropriate PRSI contributions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3951/10]

Spouses who are actively engaged in a commercial partnership, including the operation of a farm, as opposed to simply being the joint owners of a property, are treated as individual self-employed contributors and are thus liable to social insurance contributions. In these cases, both spouses are liable to pay PRSI (Class S) contributions in a timely manner.

On foot of a Programme for Government commitment an information leaflet, ‘Working with your spouse: how it affects your social welfare contributions and entitlements', has been developed between the Department of Social & Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners to set out the social welfare and tax implications of families co-working in a shared business. It was published on the 25th of June, 2008. The leaflet clarifies that spouses who operate in a commercial partnership may be brought into the social insurance system, subject to certain criteria. In this way, both spouses incur a liability to pay self-employed PRSI and build up entitlement towards a contributory state pension and other social welfare benefits. It is open to any person to apply for recognition of a commercial partnership.

The qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) require the applicant to:

have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of 56 years;

have at least 260 paid contribution weeks since entry into insurance;

satisfy the yearly average condition.

In addition, Section 110(1) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 provides that a self-employed contributor shall not be regarded as satisfying the qualifying conditions unless:

(a) the person has paid self-employment contributions in respect of at least one contribution year before attaining pensionable age, and

(b) all self-employment contributions payable by him or her have been paid.

Section 110(1)(a) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005, has been on the statute books for over fifteen years and there has not been a change in policy in relation to the requirement to have paid at least one year's self employment contributions prior to reaching age 66, in order to qualify for a State Pension (Contributory).

It should be noted that while the publication of the leaflet ‘Working with your spouse: how it affects your social welfare contributions and entitlements’ clarified existing procedures in relation to the recognition of commercial partnerships between husbands and wives for social insurance purposes, including retrospective payment of social insurance, it did not involve a change in existing policy or administration. In particular, the clarification of the position did not alter people’s potential entitlements and all applicants for the state pension (contributory) must continue to satisfy the eligibility conditions as contained in legislation, and outlined above.

An application for the recognition of a commercial partnership between the person concerned and their spouse is currently under examination in the Department. The person concerned will be advised of the outcome of this investigation in due course.

I have arranged for a copy of this person's PRSI contribution record and a ‘Work it out' guide, which explains how the State Pension (Contributory) is calculated, to be issued to her home address, to assist her in assessing her pension entitlement.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

267 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the projected savings from the decision to ask all child benefit and one parent family payment claimants who live here but work in Northern Ireland to apply for child benefit and the child tax credit in Northern Ireland; the projected cost of the administration of applications for top-up payments from such parents; if she will give assurances that applications for top-up payments due to such parents are processed before Irish child benefit is cut off or reduced; the location where affected parents may obtain further information on these changes; the telephone number for direct queries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3955/10]

There have been no recent changes to the manner in which Child Benefit and One Parent Family claims are processed. Cases such as those described are processed in compliance with Article 73 of EU Regulation 1408/71, and are not intended to yield savings.

Under Article 73 of EU Regulation 1408/71, where a parent is employed in one Member State, but resident in another, the Member State in which the employment takes place is the competent authority for payment of family benefits. If the total amount of those benefits is less than the entitlement would have been in the State in which the customer resides, then that customer is paid a supplement equal to the difference by the State of residence. One Parent Family Payment was designated to be a family benefit by means of Regulation (EC) No 647/2005 (the 2003 Miscellaneous Amendment Regulation), which came into force on 5 May 2005. Hence the supplement is calculated as follows:

ROI benefits (Child Benefit + One Parent Family + any other family benefit), less the UK benefits (Child Benefit + Child Tax Credit) = supplement payable.

The procedure in place for such cases is as follows:

When notification is received in Child Benefit section advising that there is employment in the United Kingdom, a letter is sent to the customer advising her of the EU Regulations and that:

The United Kingdom is the competent State for payment of family benefits

This Department may be competent to pay a supplement

Child Benefit will be paid for the month following the date of letter and will then be suspended

She should forward her Child Tax Credit award notice so that her supplement entitlement can be established.

Contact details for both the United Kingdom Child Benefit office and the Child Tax Credit office are included in the letter, as are contact details for DSFA Child Benefit.

Child Benefit remains in payment for an average of 6 weeks after receiving notification. This allows the customer time to lodge a claim for Child Benefit in the United Kingdom.

When the Child Tax credit award notice is received from the customer, the supplement entitlement is calculated. At that point, One Parent Family Payment is suspended in favour of the supplement payment. A letter issues to the Customer advising her of the position. The supplement payment is issued to the customer from the Child Benefit office every 3 months.

While there are currently a total of approximately 800 supplements in payment to customers, only three of these are in payment to lone parents (i.e. people previously in receipt of One Parent Family Payment) who are employed in Northern Ireland.

Civil Registration.

Michael Creed

Question:

268 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her views on amending the Civil Registration Act 2004 to facilitate the registration of deaths of Irish citizens who died abroad; the reason it is disallowed in the legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3970/10]

The provisions and procedures governing the registration of deaths in Ireland are contained in Part 5 of the Civil Registration Act, 2004.

Where a death occurs in the State it is the duty of a qualified informant (normally a relative of the deceased) to attend at a registrar's office and register the death on foot of a certificate of cause of death supplied by a registered medical practitioner.

Where a death is referred to a coroner, the death is registered by a registrar on foot of a coroner's certificate. In general, only deaths which occur within the State are registerable. Exceptions apply under the provisions of section 39 of the Act, concerning;

deaths of members of the Garda Síochána or the Permanent Defence Force or of the spouse or specified members of the family of such a member outside the State while the member is serving outside the State as such member,

deaths of persons on board an Irish aircraft or an Irish ship,

deaths of Irish citizens on board a foreign ship or a foreign aircraft travelling to or from a port, or an airport, as the case may be, in the State.

Where the death of an Irish citizen domiciled in the State occurs abroad, the death may be registered here if there was not at the time of the death a system of registration of deaths in the place where the death occurred, or such a system that applied to such a death, or it is not possible to obtain copies of or extracts from civil records of the death.

Where an Irish citizen dies abroad and the death is registered by the civil authorities of the place where the death occurred, a certified copy of the death registration, translated, if necessary, is sufficient for all legal and administrative purposes here and there is no necessity for the event to be entered in the register of deaths in the State. Accordingly, it is not proposed to make any changes to the existing provisions at this time.

Pension Provisions.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

269 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will be made on a contributory pension application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4093/10]

The person concerned was awarded, a (‘Pre-1953') State Pension (Contributory) in July 2005, with effect from May 2000, under the Bilateral Agreement on Social Security between Ireland and the United States of America.

In 2009, a request was received by the person concerned for a review of their pension, based on the recognition of a commercial partnership between the person concerned and their spouse.

The qualifying conditions for State Pension (Contributory) require the applicant to:

have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of 56 years

have at least 260 paid contribution weeks since entry into insurance

satisfy the yearly average condition.

In addition, Section 110(1) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 provides that a self-employed contributor shall not be regarded as satisfying the qualifying conditions unless:

(a) the person has paid self-employment contributions in respect of at least one contribution year before attaining pensionable age,

(b) all self-employment contributions payable by him or her have been paid.

Section 110(1)(a) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005, has been on the statute books for over fifteen years and there has not been a change in policy in relation to the requirement to have paid at least one year's self employment contributions prior to reaching age 66, in order to qualify for a State Pension (Contributory).

According to the records of the Department, the self-employment contributions were all paid by the person concerned after their 66th birthday. The person concerned does not therefore satisfy the condition at (a) above and has no entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory) based on her self-employment contributions. The person concerned has been notified of this decision on the 25th January 2010. However her existing State Pension (Contributory ‘Pre-1953') payment rate has not been affected by this decision and will continue to be paid at the regular weekly amount. No overpayment has been incurred.

It should be noted that while the publication of the leaflet ‘Working with your spouse: how it affects your social welfare contributions and entitlements’ clarified existing procedures in relation to the recognition of commercial partnerships between husbands and wives for social insurance purposes, including retrospective payment of social insurance, it did not involve a change in existing policy or administration. In particular, the clarification of the position did not alter people’s potential entitlements and all applicants for the state pension (contributory) must continue to satisfy the eligibility conditions as contained in legislation, and outlined above.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Jack Wall

Question:

270 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is in receipt of their full entitlement to a rent supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4117/10]

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.

The Executive has advised that the person concerned is in receipt of her correct entitlement to rent supplement. The Executive has further advised that if the circumstances of the person concerned have changed then she should contact the community welfare officer at her local health centre.

Social Welfare Appeals.

John Deasy

Question:

271 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she is satisfied with the fact that even though the number of appeal decisions made by an appeals officer following an oral hearing has not increased much over the past five years, the length of time awaiting an oral hearing and the result has increased to an unacceptable level; the way this situation has developed over the past five years with no major increase in hearings by an increase in the number of appeals officers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4120/10]

Figures for the last 5 years are set out below.

Year

Appeals received

Appeals determined by AO’s

No of oral hearings

Overall average processing time**

2009

25,963

10,027

5,914

16 wks

2008

17,833

9,423

5,599

15 wks

2007

14,070

8,738

5,538

14 wks

2006

13,800

9,100

5,901

14 wks

2005

13,797

8,484

5,645

13 wks

**Allowance is made in the average processing times shown above for the 25% most protracted cases.

As can be seen, the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 increased by 46% in 2009 when compared to 2008 and by 85% when compared to 2007.

To deal with this increased workload, two additional Appeals Officers were appointed during 2009. However, the Chief Appeals Officer and 5 experienced Appeals Officers retired during 2009. Although their positions have now been filled, these retirements, when coupled with the serious increase in appeals received, have impacted on the processing of appeals. Because of the quasi-judicial nature and complexity of the work there can be a relatively long lead-in time before Appeals Officers become fully competent to deal with the full range of cases coming to the Office.

Nonetheless, the number of appeals determined by Appeals Officers in 2009 increased from 9,423 in 2008 to 10,027. The number of oral hearings during the same period also increased from 5,599 to 5914.

In relation to processing times, I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals office that these averages relate to all appeals disposed of. Given the logistics involved in organising oral hearings, including allowing sufficient advance notice to the appellant, it is estimated that the average time to finalise an appeal is increased by about 11 weeks when an oral hearing is involved.

In relation to the issue of decisions, I am advised that, following consideration of all the facts presented at an oral hearing, a decision is issued to the appellant within 4 weeks of the hearing in the vast majority of cases.

The matter of assigning additional Appeals Officers is kept under constant review but any consideration of extra assignments must be taken in the context of overall government policy on civil service numbers.

Also, as I advised in answers to previous questions, the Chief Appeals Officer is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

John Deasy

Question:

272 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of cancellations of oral appeal hearings in 2009; the number of these cancellations that were rescheduled; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4121/10]

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the cancellation of oral hearings usually occurs when appellants request a cancellation or fail to show up for their hearings. In either event, it is usual to reschedule the hearing where the appellant indicates that they will be in a position to attend on a different date. Where an appellant indicates they do not wish to attend a hearing or repeatedly fails to attend a scheduled hearing, the Appeals Officer will decide the case on the basis of the information available to him.

In rare cases, hearings may be cancelled by the Social Welfare Appeals Office due to the unavailability of witnesses or other unexpected or unforeseen causes. The information requested by the Deputy with regard to the numbers of cases cancelled and re-scheduled during 2009 is not readily available and the assembly and collation of such information would take time and, of necessity, divert resources away from the processing of appeals which is the top priority of the Office.

Michael Ring

Question:

273 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding an appeal on jobseeker’s benefit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [4187/10]

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

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

274 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when mortgage support will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4212/10]

The position remains as advised in Parliamentary Question No. 262 which I answered for the Deputy on 17 December 2009. The Executive has advised that it has no record of an application for mortgage interest supplement from the person concerned. It is open to the person concerned to make an application for mortgage interest supplement to the community welfare officer in her area if she wishes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

275 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when rent allowance will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4219/10]

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.

The Executive has advised that there is no record of an application for rent supplement from the person concerned. If the person concerned wishes to make an application for rent supplement he should contact the community welfare officer at his local health centre.

Pension Provisions.

Michael Ring

Question:

276 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Defence if he will increase the pension rank of former members of a unit to take into account a 2007 claim for payment which was awarded and backdated for five years; the amount such a pension increase would cost annually; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3950/10]

I understand that the claim processed under the C&A scheme in 2007 referred to payments for substitution. These payments are not pensionable in the case of the former personnel in question.

Overseas Missions.

Finian McGrath

Question:

277 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence if the Irish Army will be used to assist the earthquake victims in Haiti. [4131/10]

The question of Defence Forces participation in overseas missions is kept under regular review. Requests for Defence Forces participation in new missions are considered on a case by case basis within the context of the United Nations Stand-by Arrangement System (UNSAS) and this would be the case with any such request for Defence Forces assistance to the Haiti mission.

Currently the United Nations (UN) has a significant presence on the ground, which includes approximately 7,000 military and 2,000 police personnel serving with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which was established in 2004. The UN is currently in the process of augmenting the military element of this mission with a short-term deployment (90 days) of an additional 2,000 military personnel. Countries currently contributing military personnel to the MINUSTAH mission are primarily drawn from South America, Canada and Asia. Obviously those countries already deployed on the ground are best positioned to provide additional support to the UN in Haiti and our current understanding is that those countries currently deployed plan to increase and augment their forces to meet the UN requirements.

As you will appreciate, the Defence Forces do not have a presence currently in theatre. As such, while they can deploy relatively quickly, there would be a significant effort involved in deploying a substantive contingent on the ground with the necessary accommodation, logistics, resupply and support. Having regard to these considerations and given the short-term requirement for these additional forces to stabilise and maintain security, I do not believe that the deployment of any substantive Defence Forces contingent would represent the best use of our resources at this point in time. That said, I would be disposed to considering positively the deployment of a small number of specialist logistics or engineering personnel of the Defence Forces who could have the potential to add significant value to the force on the ground, should this be identified as a requirement.

A three-person Irish Aid technical assessment team, which includes an officer of the Defence Forces, returned to Ireland earlier this week after conducting a week-long mission in Haiti. I understand that the team will report to the Minister for Foreign Affairs later this week, following which a decision will be taken on the appropriate measures Ireland should make to assist with the relief effort in Haiti. The question of what contribution the Defence Forces might make to the reconstruction and relief effort in Haiti will be considered further in the context of that report.

Local Authority Charges.

Michael Creed

Question:

278 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will review the cost of water metering on farm families that use water from public water supplies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3931/10]

The Government's Water Pricing Policy requires local authorities to recover the costs of providing water services from all non domestic users of these services. Cost recovery is without profit, with charges based on actual metered consumption. Typically, local authorities also recover the capital cost of the meter through an annualised meter charge.

As many farms involve a combination of domestic and non domestic use, a domestic allowance is currently provided by the local authority where appropriate.

Foreshore Licences.

Pat Breen

Question:

279 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 1068 of 6 October 2009, when a foreshore licence will issue in respect of a project (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3960/10]

Following the enactment of the Foreshore and Dumping at Sea (Amendment) Act 2009, my Department assumed responsibility on 15 January 2010 for a range of foreshore functions including all foreshore energy-related developments (including oil, gas, wind, wave and tidal energy).

The foreshore application made by Clare County Council in respect of the project referred to is at an advanced stage of consideration. My Department is awaiting confirmation that the valuation notified to the Council on 23 October 2009 is acceptable. Specific conditions for inclusion in the draft foreshore licence were also issued to the applicant for its agreement on 25 January 2010 and a response from the Council is awaited.

Farm Waste Management.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

280 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his policy on the disposal of hedge clippings from agricultural holdings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3900/10]

The primary responsibility for the management of any waste, including costs for removal or disposal, lies with the holder of the waste, i.e. the natural or legal person in possession of the waste, or the producer of the waste. The Waste Management Acts 1996-2009 impose a general duty of care on holders of waste. A person may not hold, transport, recover or dispose of waste in a manner that causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution.

Under the Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009, a holder of waste shall not dispose of it by burning. An exception is provided in Regulation 5 of these Regulations for certain types of waste, such as tree trimmings, leaves or brush generated by agricultural practices, where burning is permitted provided it is done as a final measure following the application, where practicable, of the following waste hierarchy:

i. waste arisings are reduced in accordance with best agricultural practice,

ii. waste is reused,

iii. waste is recycled through shredding and use as compost or wood chippings,

iv. waste is salvaged for use as fuel.

Where none of the non-combustion disposal options are practicable or economically viable the waste may be disposed of by burning subject to certain conditions being fulfilled:

i. the person carrying out the disposal must take all reasonable measures to limit the overall nuisance or possibilities for endangering human health or causing environmental pollution or damage to adjoining hedgerows or habitats,

ii. no accelerants may be used when undertaking the disposal activity, and

iii. the person carrying out the disposal must notify the local authority concerned in advance of the intention to dispose by burning.

Flood Relief.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

281 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 295 of 17 December 2009, when he expects to receive a report on the effects of the recent flooding from the local authority; if he will be making this report available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3921/10]

The Department expects to receive a report shortly from Waterford County Council and I will have a copy sent to the Deputy when received.

Planning Issues.

Richard Bruton

Question:

282 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether there should be restrictions on the right of persons to apply for retention when the practice is repeated or designed deliberately to frustrate planning conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3948/10]

I propose to remove, through the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009, the possibility of retention permission for unauthorised development which would otherwise have been subject to environmental impact assessment, other than in exceptional circumstances. There are no proposals to remove the retention provision in its entirety from the planning process; retention permission provides a mechanism for regularising development that is not contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of an area.

An application for retention permission is required to be assessed by a planning authority in the same way as any other application, that is, the planning authority is required to consider the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, having regard to the provisions of the development plan, any submissions or observations received, relevant Ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by my Department. There is also provision for appeal to An Bord Pleanála in the normal way in the case of a decision by a planning authority to grant retention permission. The fact that an application to retain unauthorised development is made, does not preclude a planning authority from taking a prosecution in respect of an unauthorised development.

The planning regulations also provide that the fee payable to a planning authority for an application for retention permission is a multiple of that for a "normal" planning application. I will be reviewing the retention permission fees following enactment of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

283 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a sewerage scheme (details supplied) in County Donegal; the stage the project is at; when work will commence on this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3974/10]

The Gweedore Sewerage Scheme was included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009. The planning phase of this scheme has progressed during this period and my Department is currently awaiting additional information from Donegal County Council in order to complete its examination of the most recent Design Review Report received.

Local authorities were asked in July 2009 to submit an assessment of needs for water and sewerage services to my Department by 23 October 2009. My Department is currently considering these assessments, which form a key input to the development of the 2010 to 2012 Water Services Investment Programme. In conducting their assessments, local authorities were asked to prioritise schemes and contracts for progression over the coming years based on key environmental and economic criteria. I expect to publish the Water Services Investment Programme 2010 to 2012 early this year.

Fire Stations.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

284 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to provide a new fire station at a location (details supplied) in County Donegal; the stage the project is at; if there is co-funding available from another Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3975/10]

The provision of a fire service in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of premises is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under section 10 of the Fire Services Act 1981. My Department's role is one of supporting and assisting local authorities in delivering fire services through the provision of funding under the fire service capital programme and through setting of general policy.

Further investment in the fire service in Donegal will be considered under future capital programmes and will have regard to the fire authority's priorities, the spread of existing facilities, and the totality of demands from other fire authorities for available funding. I understand that funding from the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs is not currently available for this project.

Social and Affordable Housing.

John Deasy

Question:

285 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount spent through his Department on the purchase of private residential properties for use as social housing in each of the past ten years; the number of such properties purchased by each local authority area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3988/10]

John Deasy

Question:

286 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount spent through his Department on the construction of social housing in each of the past ten years; the number of such houses constructed by each local authority area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3989/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 285 and 286 together.

Since 2000, very significant levels of investment have been made available under the Social Housing Investment Programme. Since then, over €11.5 billion has been provided for the construction or acquisition of units by local authorities and approved housing bodies. Information is not available on the breakdown of expenditure between new build construction and acquisition of private housing units.

Activity under the range of housing programmes, including the number of social housing units constructed or acquired by each local authority, and the number of units provided by approved housing bodies under the voluntary and cooperative housing programmes in each of the past ten years, is set out in my Department's annual and quarterly Housing Statistics Bulletins. Copies of the Bulletins are available in the Oireachtas library and on my Department's website, www.environ.ie.

John Perry

Question:

287 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if a person (details supplied) in County Sligo, who is in a shared ownership option with Sligo County Council, will be allowed to sell their house at current market value; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4101/10]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 949 of 3 November 2009. Any person occupying a house under the shared ownership scheme can sell their house at any time provided they have bought out the local authority's share and have acquired full ownership of the dwelling.

Local Authority Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

288 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are a number of local authorities that do not have a heritage officer, in particular, north Tipperary, which has just lost their heritage officer due to early retirement; the action he proposes to take to address the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4102/10]

Since 1999, the Heritage Council, under the aegis of my Department, has developed a partnership programme with local authorities to facilitate the employment of heritage officers. Local authorities that participate in the programme are eligible for financial assistance from the Heritage Council towards the cost of employing a heritage officer.

There are currently twenty-seven local authorities with heritage officers in the programme. Twenty-eight heritage officers is the maximum number that have participated in the programme.

The heritage officer post in North Tipperary County Council has been vacant since the end of November 2009, when the officer who worked in the post for nine years retired.

The employment of heritage officers is a matter in the first instance for each local authority. Under the arrangements for the implementation of the general moratorium on the filling of public service posts which my Department issued to local authorities in August 2009, local authorities are expected to consider options for reorganisation and reallocation of work to meet requirements, where vacancies arise. Any exceptions to this principle, which will arise in very limited circumstances, require sanction from my Department. To date, no sanction requests have been made to my Department in respect of heritage officers.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

James Bannon

Question:

289 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide an additional €100,000 funding to a sewerage scheme (details supplied) in County Longford, to allow an extension of the sewerage scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4125/10]

The Ardagh, Aughnacliffe and Ballinalee Sewerage Schemes were included in the Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009. I understand that the Ballinalee Sewerage Collection Network is currently under construction. There are no proposals with my Department to extend the scope of the scheme.

Local authorities were asked in July 2009 to submit an assessment of needs for water and sewerage services to my Department by 23 October 2009. My Department is currently considering these assessments, which form a key input to the development of the 2010 to 2012 Water Services Investment Programme. In conducting their assessments, local authorities were asked to prioritise schemes and contracts for progression over the coming years based on key environmental and economic criteria. I expect to publish the Water Services Investment Programme 2010 to 2012 early this year.

Turbary Rights.

James Bannon

Question:

290 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to facilitate turf cutters on the 32 raised designated bogs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4126/10]

The ten year derogation that allowed the continuation of turf-cutting on 32 Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation notified for designation in 1999 has now expired. In the coming weeks I expect to receive a report from the Working Group on the Cessation of Turf Cutting in Designated Areas including recommendations for managing the cessation. I will conclude my consideration of these recommendations as rapidly as possible.

Local Authority Housing.

James Bannon

Question:

291 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of persons on local authority housing lists in counties Longford and Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4127/10]

The number of households on a local authority's waiting list continuously fluctuates as households on the list are allocated housing and new households apply for housing support. My Department does not hold information on waiting lists.

A statutory assessment of housing need is carried out every three years by all housing authorities in accordance with the terms of the Housing Act 1988. The last assessment took place in 2008. Further information regarding the assessments is available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie.

Building Regulations.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

292 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that inadequate pipework installations routinely happened in the past and are continuing to happen in the absence of any regulations regarding same; if he will review the situation with a view to setting up an enforceable standard within a short period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4174/10]

I refer to the reply by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to Questions Nos. 295 and 301 on today's Order Paper which deals with grant assistance for heating control systems available through Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI).

Part L — Conservation of Fuel and Energy — of the Building Regulations addresses energy efficiency in dwellings. The current requirement in this regard includes the provision and commissioning of energy efficient space and water heating systems with efficient heat sources and effective controls. This requirement applies to space heating and hot water systems in new dwellings and to the replacement of such systems in existing dwellings undergoing material alterations. Technical Guidance Document L further addresses the construction quality and commissioning of services. A further publication Heating and Domestic Hot Water Systems for dwellings — Achieving compliance with Part L 2008, produced jointly by my Department and SEI, covers conventional means of providing space heating and domestic hot water for dwellings in Ireland.

Part D of the Building Regulations deals with Materials and Workmanship. It stipulates that all works are to be carried out with proper materials and in a workmanlike manner. It defines proper materials as those materials which are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions in which they are to be used. This includes materials which:—

bear a CE Marking in accordance with the EU Construction Products Directive; or

comply with an appropriate harmonised standard, a European Technical approval or a national technical specification; or

comply with an appropriate Irish Standard or Irish Agreement Board Certificate or with an alternative national technical specification of another State which provides an equivalent level of safety and suitability.

Building Regulations were first introduced in 1992 and have been, and continue to be, subject to review and improvement in the light of technical progress and developments generally within the construction industry. The Building Regulations requirement applying today would not, of course, have been in force at the time of construction of a considerable proportion of the current national housing stock.

I understand that the National Standards Authority of Ireland, which is under the remit of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, set up an Expert Group to examine the area of heating and plumbing in December 2006. On foot of this, work has advanced on a Standard Recommendation for Heating and Plumbing, ‘SR50, Code of Practice for Domestic Plumbing and Heating — Design, Implementation, Commissioning & Maintenance'. A public consultation on this Code of Practice is due to take place shortly. The Code of Practice will cover all types of domestic heating and hot and cold water services. It is also expected that a registration/certification system will be set up for installers of heating and plumbing systems.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

293 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if an analysis has been carried out on the reason so many pipes leading into homes froze or cracked during the recent cold spell; if statistics exist regarding the percentage of damaged pipes that froze due to inadequate insulation, even though regulations provide for mandatory insulation of such pipework; if there are plans to provide funding to local authorities for retrofitting such pipes with insulation in view of the fact that it might save money in areas where large amounts of water were lost as a result of related issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4175/10]

Standard construction contracts provide for the laying of local authority water mains at depths that provide for sufficient natural insulation cover. However, the movement of earth that can arise following a thaw from a prolonged cold weather spell can, and did, lead to burst mains.

There is a need to sustain our efforts in the provision of water services infrastructure and, in particular, the replacement and rehabilitation of older or damaged mains. A greater focus on such works will be a key priority of the Water Services Investment Programme 2010 — 2012, which I expect to publish early this year.

As to insulation standards for service pipes and other cold water services to homes, as stated in reply to Question Number 19 of 21 January 2010, my Department's policy guidance in relation to Taking in Charge of Residential Estates requires planning authorities to adopt construction standards for residential developments that are acceptable to the planning authority for taking in charge and long-term maintenance and states that it should be a condition of planning permission that such standards be adhered to.

The guidance also states that the construction standards adopted by planning authorities should at a minimum comply with those set out in my Department's Recommendations for Site Development Works for Housing Areas, which recommend standards for the diameter of pipes and the amount of cover, and make other relevant recommendations including a recommendation that watermain pipe size and layout should be designed in consultation with the local authority.

Technical Guidance Document G of the Building Regulations (Hygiene) provides that, in regard to bathrooms and kitchens in dwellings, the cisterns, service pipe and fittings and any associated cold water pipes should be adequately protected against damage by frost.

My Department's Taking in Charge Guidance also states that it is necessary for the planning authority to satisfy itself, when the developer of a residential estate has ceased construction or notified the planning authority that construction is complete, or after the planning permission has expired, that the development is properly completed in line with the planning permission and, where it is not properly completed, to take early and effective enforcement action.

Where an estate has yet to be taken in charge, the repair of a burst water main is a matter for the developer.

There are no statistics in relation to the number of water pipes that burst due to lack of insulation. I have no plans to provide funding for the retrofitting of such insulation.

Local Authority Funding.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

294 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will ensure that South Dublin County Council has support to deal effectively with issues relating to the aftermath of the recent weather conditions; the assistance that will be available to the council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4191/10]

General-Purpose Grants from the Local Government Fund are the contribution that my Department makes to local authorities to meet the gap between the cost to them of providing a reasonable level of day-to-day services and the income they obtain from other sources. A total of €24,289,702 in General-Purpose Grants has been allocated to South Dublin County Council from the Local Government Fund in 2010, a reduction of 1.6% on the amount allocated in 2009.

The Local Government Fund is also providing significant funding to local authorities for the improvement and maintenance of local and regional roads. The allocation of local and regional road grants to individual local authorities is a matter for the Minister for Transport.

Local authorities now have access to an additional revenue stream, the €200 non-principal private residence (NPPR) charge. The total raised by South Dublin County Council from this charge in 2009 was some €2m. This charge is being collected and the income retained by local authorities.

In Budget 2010 the Government announced a reduction in pay rates across the public service. This will result in payroll savings accruing to the local government sector in 2010. Local authorities, including South Dublin County Council, are to retain 65% of the payroll savings to be realised in their authority in 2010.

It is a matter for each local authority to prioritise its spending, within the resources available to it, across the range of services it provides. Equally, local authorities must ensure full value for money for the resources invested, and seek the maximum efficiency across their operations. I am satisfied that the level of funding provided to South Dublin County Council for 2010 makes a significant contribution towards enabling it to deal with the aftermath of the recent weather conditions and continuing to provide a reasonable level of service to the public.

Building Regulations.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

295 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many households are not benefiting from upgrades to their heating control systems grant aided by Sustainable Energy Ireland due to inadequate pipework fittings in their homes in terms of width and pressure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4174/10]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

301 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many households are not benefiting from upgrades to their heating control systems grant aided by Sustainable Energy Ireland due to inadequate pipework fittings in their homes, leading to less than optimum heating of radiators; if he will have this issue assessed and convey any findings to the SEI with a view to providing grants for retrofitting or at least proactive advice regarding upgrades of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4172/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 295 and 301 together.

I refer to the response given today by the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government to Question No.29 which addresses the question of building regulations in relation to domestic heating and hot water systems.

All works carried out under the Home Energy Saving (HES) Scheme are underpinned by a comprehensive Technical Specification and Code of Practice for contractors, drawn up by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), which ensure that works undertaken represent best value for both the homeowner and the Exchequer. In the case of heating system upgrades, the specification includes prescribed plumbing qualifications of registered contractors, defined standards for materials to be used and similarly defined best practice standards required for installation.

There is a highly diverse range of building types and build quality in the Irish residential building stock. Building Regulations were first introduced in 1992 and have been, and continue to be subject to review and improvement in the light of technical progress and developments generally within the construction industry. The standards that apply today would not have been in force for a considerable proportion of the existing housing stock. The HES scheme was designed to cater for the broadest possible range of build types. There are therefore a variety of reasons why existing domestic heating systems based on radiator distribution may result in less than optimum performance over their lifetime, including system layout and sizing, as well as more common factors such as pipe corrosion, which leads to sludge build-up.

The baseline performance level of any heating system will be improved by the installation of more sophisticated controls. In this regard, if a radiator system was struggling to adequately heat radiators prior to the installation of any heating controls, it will still struggle afterwards, but the level of control will be greater. The system's efficiency will also improve as a result of the installation of control measures, start and stop times will be controlled more accurately and room thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) will ensure the system can be shut off when preset temperatures have been reached.

I am advised by SEI that the appropriate upgrading of pipe work systems, where they are inadequate, outdated or under-performing, will improve the level of comfort and efficiency of a home. I understand that the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), which is under the remit of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, set up an Expert Group to examine the area of heating and plumbing in December 2006. On foot of this, work has advanced on a Standard Recommendation for Heating and Plumbing — SR50 (Code of Practice for Domestic Plumbing and Heating — Design, Implementation, Commissioning & Maintenance). A public consultation on this Code of Practice is due to take place shortly. I understand that the Code of Practice will cover all types of domestic heating and hot and cold water services. It is also expected that a registration/certification system will be set up for installers of heating and plumbing systems.

I have asked SEI to consider how the adequacy of pipe work might be further addressed in future revisions of the Technical Specification for the HES scheme, having regard to developments on the NSAI Code of Practice and any revisions to building regulations.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

296 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent of bio-fuel production in train throughout the country; the degree to which adequate processing and marketing facilities are in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4204/10]

The production of biofuel in Ireland has been incentivised to date under the Mineral Oil Tax Relief Schemes, which have resulted in 18 projects being awarded excise relief on specified volumes of biofuel they produce. There have been at least five biofuels plants constructed or redeveloped on foot of excise relief granted under the schemes. A number of others are either at an advanced stage of planning, or have received planning permission.

Prior to the introduction of the Excise Relief schemes in 2005, market penetration of biofuels in Ireland was almost non-existent. While a figure for market penetration for 2009 is not yet available, it is expected to be in excess of 2%. The steady growth in indigenous biofuel production is reflected in the fact that it represents over 50% of biofuel production to date.

The schemes were designed as an interim measure to increase the level of biofuels in the fuel mix and to encourage the development of an indigenous biofuels industry in advance of the introduction of the National Biofuel Obligation this year, which will underpin the development of the Irish biofuels market.

The National Obligation will also integrate the EU Commission's guidelines on Sustainability Criteria as soon as these are finalised. The trading of certificates under the Scheme, will also act as an incentive for Irish producers. For each litre of biofuel sold in the market a certificate will be issued by the National Oil Reserves Agency as the Administrator of the scheme. Certificates will also be subject to verification by sellers to demonstrate that they meet the sustainability criteria. Biofuel obligation certificates may be traded among registered operators which will enable small indigenous producers, in particular, to enter the market and develop their businesses.

Under the Obligation fuel suppliers will be compelled to include 4% biofuels in their overall annual fuel sales. The National Obligation will incentivise and enable the sustainable growth of the Irish biofuels market and support indigenous biofuel producers and ensure that they are given every opportunity to ramp up sustainable indigenous production of biofuels. The EU sustainability criteria will also provide some competitive advantage by ensuring that non-EU imports meet strict environmental guidelines.

Energy Conservation.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

297 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of households that participated in the warmer homes scheme during 2009 on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3922/10]

To date, energy efficiency improvements in nearly 40,000 homes have been made under the Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS) and the ESB's associated Home Insulation Scheme which operates according to WHS specification. Some €20 million was provided for the scheme in 2009, which included €5 million provided by ESB and BGE. Structural improvements were made to over 19,000 homes in 2009. This represents a very significant up-scaling of the scheme and underlines the Government's commitment to improving energy affordability across the country.

The WHS provides energy efficiency improvements to homes in, or at risk of, fuel poverty and is primarily delivered by community based organisations (CBOs) of which 22 have, to date, been approved to provide this service. The CBOs work in partnership with their local network of poverty and community support organisations including public health nurses, MABS and the St. Vincent De Paul Society to identify and address vulnerable homes. Private contractors were also engaged in 2009 to address the increasing demand for the scheme. Through these mechanisms the Warmer Homes Scheme was delivered to 16,240 homes in 2009. A further 2,886 homes received the ESB's Home Insulation Scheme. For the first time since the WHS was introduced, 2009 saw homes in all 26 counties receiving measures under the scheme, or according to its specifications. Some of the delivery mechanisms in various counties are still in their infancy and a further significant up-scaling of output is targeted in 2010. The table below shows the county by county breakdown for 2009.

Counties

Total No. of Low Income Homes to receive EE upgrades from SEI & ESB in 2009

Carlow

521

Cavan

415

Clare

110

Cork

3,022

Donegal

573

Dublin

2,320

Galway

759

Kerry

808

Kildare

906

Kilkenny

829

Laois

387

Leitrim

218

Limerick

453

Longford

199

Louth

1,627

Mayo

384

Meath

851

Monaghan

373

Offaly

544

Roscommon

431

Sligo

47

Tipperary

203

Waterford

1,443

Westmeath

466

Wexford

595

Wicklow

642

Total

19,126

Gas Cylinders.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

298 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the price regulations in place for bottled gas cylinders; and if prices of these cylinders are to decrease in line with price reductions in household gas bills. [3942/10]

The transportation and supply of domestic gas cylinders which contain liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is not licensed under the Energy Acts and neither my Department nor the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has any role in the regulation of LPG transportation or supply.

While the regulation of Bord Gáis Éireann natural gas tariffs is the responsibility of the CER, which is statutorily independent in the performance of its functions, the Commission has no function in regard to the setting of the retail price of LPG, which is a by-product of oil. The Irish oil industry is fully privatised, liberalised and deregulated. Accordingly, there is no price control on petroleum products in Ireland and my Department does not have details of retail prices charged in respect of LPG.

Telecommunications Services.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

299 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reasons a parish (details supplied) in County Galway has almost no broadband facilities; if such facilities will be made available; if it is possible to boost the signal in a nearby parish; if such a signal will cover this parish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4113/10]

Ireland's telecommunications market is fully liberalised and broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, satellite and fibre.

I understand that mobile, fixed wireless and satellite broadband is available in the general area of Clonfert, County Galway.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

300 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason an application for broadband facilities by a person (details supplied) in County Galway has been unsuccessful; the reason for the delay; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the applicant has been informed by a company that it could take another two and half years for this to happen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4114/10]

Ireland's telecommunications market is fully liberalised and broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e. over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, satellite and fibre.

The issue raised is an operational one for the company concerned. I have no statutory function in relation to this matter.

Question No. 301 answered with Question No. 295.

EU Funding.

Michael Creed

Question:

302 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has been involved in the compilation of an application to the EU Solidarity Fund in respect of compensation for farmers and growers who have suffered losses due to recent weather conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4248/10]

Mindful of the hardship and distress caused by the recent widespread flooding, on 27 November 2009 I announced the introduction of the Fodder Aid Scheme, targeted directly at those farmers who encountered damage to fodder in the affected areas. While I was very anxious that the funding reach the affected farmers as quickly as possible, it was essential that farmers demonstrate that their fodder was damaged and to what extent. To this end, therefore, it was necessary that each claim be verified by an on-the-spot inspection.

I had initially set the closing date for receipt of applications as 11 December, but subsequently extended it by one week. Immediately applications began to be received by my Department, the necessary inspections were begun, following which the applications were further processed for payment. I am pleased to say that payments commenced issuing on 18 December and, to date, payments worth €504,074 have issued to 237 applicants. Payments continue to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible.

I am aware that due to the recent severe frost conditions a proportion of the total national area of potatoes remained unharvested at the end of 2009. The very severe frost conditions have resulted in losses to potatoes and other crops. The extent of losses is difficult to quantify at this stage. It would be influenced by the nature of the crop, its location and the extent to which it was exposed. I have received representations on behalf of growers in relation to the losses incurred and the matter is currently being considered by officials in my Department.

Poultry Industry.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

303 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will publish the results of the poultry meat analyses carried out in November 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3902/10]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to analyses conducted during 2009 in relation to the gas flushing of imported poultry meat.

Following receipt of the final elements of the results of these tests my Department has been in discussion with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland about the matter. The FSAI have organised a Forum, to be held on 2 February, for all interested stakeholders and invitations have issued.

In this context, the FSAI circulated best practice guidelines to retailers on the setting of use-by dates for poultry taken from opened gas-flushed packs during 2009.

Grant Payments.

John O'Mahony

Question:

304 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their payment under REPS 4; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3906/10]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. Payments have issued to those whose applications required no further examination following the administrative checks. However queries arose on a significant number of applications, including that of the person named, in the course of the administrative checks. My Department is continuing to process applications with a view to payment as soon as possible and, in this context, will be in touch with the applicants where necessary, to resolve outstanding issues.

Direct Payment Schemes.

Dan Neville

Question:

305 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [3907/10]

An application under the 2008 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 10 May 2008. The application was randomly selected for field inspection, at which it was found that the land declared had been over claimed by in excess of 50%, the penalty for which is that no payment issues for the year in question and an administrative fine amounting to the value of the Single Payment on the number of hectares over-declared being offset against payments due to the applicant during the course of the three calendar years following the year in which the determination was made, as provided for under the governing EU rules of the Scheme — Commission Regulation 796/2004 (Articles 49/50/51/53). The person named was advised of the position and of his right of appeal the decision to the Agricultural Appeals Office. An appeal was lodged and the person named had an oral hearing on 3 November 2009. In a decision dated 19 November 2009, the Agricultural Appeals Office upheld the decision of the Department. The person named was advised of his right to appeal the decision of that Office to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Proposed Legislation.

Michael Creed

Question:

306 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will oppose the introduction of climate change legislation here which would increase costs to farmers and restrict opportunities for farm expansion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3930/10]

To assist the Government in identifying the most appropriate means of achieving Ireland's greenhouse gas emission target, the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security is examining the emissions reduction potential of the non-trading sector and will report to Government on the optimum alternatives to achieve this goal. In tandem, my colleague, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government is developing a national climate change adaptation framework strategy and a new climate change bill, which will include specific provisions on climate change adaptation. My Department was consulted on the drafting of the framework document and I expect ongoing consultation with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government as development of the Bill progresses through both the drafting and enactment stages. The planned Bill will provide a statutory framework for Ireland's long-term response to climate change. My priority will be to ensure that national policy on the future of the agriculture sector is taken into account.

Road Network.

Michael Creed

Question:

307 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will seek the repair of rural roads which have become impassable and have prevented farm families from tending to livestock and accessing services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3932/10]

Repair works to rural roads are the responsibility of the Local Authorities, who are under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Michael Creed

Question:

308 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will expedite a REPS 4 application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3954/10]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. Payments have issued to those whose applications required no further examination following the administrative checks. However queries arose on a significant number of applications, including that of the person named, in the course of the administrative checks. My Department is continuing to process applications with a view to payment as soon as possible and, in this context, will be in touch with the applicants where necessary, to resolve outstanding issues.

Pat Breen

Question:

309 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his proposals for a new REP scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3959/10]

Ireland's amended Rural Development Programme, including a new agri-environment scheme, was presented to the EU Rural Development Management Committee in Brussels on 20 January. This followed detailed and protracted discussions with the Commission. The Committee agreed the programme and the Commission will now proceed to take a formal decision to approve it. This procedure is expected to take a number of weeks. The new agri-environment scheme is focused on the priority areas of biodiversity, water management and climate change. It will offer a menu of measures addressing these priorities from which farmers may choose, provided they complement the environmental profile of the holding. Details on the operation of the new scheme are currently being finalised and I intend to launch the scheme once the formal Commission approval has been received.

Grant Payments.

John Perry

Question:

310 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a payment under REPS 4 will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3961/10]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. Payments have issued to those whose applications required no further examination following the administrative checks. However queries arose on a significant number of applications, including that of the person named, in the course of the administrative checks. My Department is continuing to process applications with a view to payment as soon as possible and, in this context, will be in touch with the applicants where necessary, to resolve outstanding issues.

Direct Payment Schemes.

Pat Breen

Question:

311 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when an application will be reviewed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3962/10]

The closing date for receipt of applications under the 2009 Single Payment Scheme was 15 May 2009. When the person named contacted my Department, he was informed that my Department had no record of receiving a 2009 Single Payment Scheme application from him. The person named was advised to submit a copy of the application form, together with proof of postage to my Department, showing the application was posted in sufficient time to reach my Department before the advertised closing date, as provided for under the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

While a 2009 Single Payment Scheme application form was subsequently received on 23 October from the person named, no evidence of proof of postage of the original application form was provided. In the absence of such evidence, the person named was advised, by letter dated 22 December 2009, that the application could not be accepted. However, the person named was also advised that, in the absence of the proof of postage, a sworn affidavit is also acceptable. To date there has been no reply from the person named.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

312 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when guidelines will issue on the way applications to REP scheme plans that cannot be progressed due to the biodiversity check coming under query, may be progressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3963/10]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. Payments have issued to applicants whose applications cleared the administrative checks. However, queries arose on a significant number of applications in the course of the administrative checks, including queries relating to biodiversity issues. The Department is continuing to process such applications with a view to payment as soon as possible. In cases where outstanding issues can not be resolved by further review and detailed examination, the applications will be returned to the applicant requesting that an amended plan be submitted. Payment will issue without delay on receipt of the amended plans.

Grant Payments.

Pat Breen

Question:

313 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to Question No. 391 of 8 December 2009, when an application will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3978/10]

All applications received up to the closing date for the scheme of 30 October 2009, including the application from the person named, are being examined in my Department at present. I intend to make an early decision on all of the applications received and the person named will be notified once the decision has been made on his application.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

314 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when an installation grant payment will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4092/10]

Only fully completed applications made under the young farmers' installation scheme and received by my Department up to and including 14 October 2008 are being processed.

Michael Creed

Question:

315 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment in respect of their REP scheme 4 application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4107/10]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. Payments have issued to those whose applications required no further examination following the administrative checks. However, queries arose on a significant number of applications, including that of the person named, in the course of the administrative checks. My Department is continuing to process applications with a view to payment as soon as possible and, in this context, will be in touch with the applicants, where necessary, to resolve outstanding issues.

Michael Creed

Question:

316 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment in respect of their REP scheme four application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4108/10]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. Payments have issued to those whose applications required no further examination following the administrative checks. However, queries arose on a significant number of applications, including that of the person named, in the course of the administrative checks. My Department is continuing to process applications with a view to payment as soon as possible and, in this context, will be in touch with the applicants, where necessary, to resolve outstanding issues.

Michael Creed

Question:

317 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be awarded their 2008 REP scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4112/10]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–13 and is subject to EU regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. Payments have issued to those whose applications required no further examination following the administrative checks. However, queries arose on a significant number of applications, including that of the person named, in the course of the administrative checks. My Department is continuing to process applications with a view to payment as soon as possible and, in this context, will be in touch with the applicants, where necessary, to resolve outstanding issues.

Billy Timmins

Question:

318 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if same will be awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4182/10]

Payment will issue to the person named within the next 15 days.

Agricultural Exports.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

319 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount in value and volume of beef, lamb, pigmeat and dairy produce exported in each of the past five years to date in 2010; the markets that have grown in this period; the markets that have shown a reduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4192/10]

Beef exports and outlook

The market performance of meat and dairy products is a function of supply and demand, and has of course been affected by the global economic downturn, exchange rates and other factors.

In relation to beef, despite the current difficult economic climate, Irish beef exports were relatively resilient in holding their position in European markets and over 200,000 tonnes of beef were destined for the higher value standard and premium retail and premium foodservice markets. More than 70 retailers across Europe now stock Irish beef, a position which is unequalled by any other beef exporting nation.

Exports to the UK fell in 2009 by an estimated 6% to 245,000 tonnes with trade valued at €660 million. Progress continues to be made in developing the market position of Irish beef, particularly in the multiple retail and higher value foodservice market segments.

The outlook for 2010 will hinge on an uplift in consumer demand and exchange rate developments. Lower availability of supplies in Continental Europe coupled with lower availability from South American importers should strengthen the demand for Irish cattle. Little change is anticipated in UK prime beef supplies. With regard to Irish supplies, an increase during 2010 is to be expected as a result of the fall in live exports during 2008. However, the strength of the weanling and store cattle trade in 2009 is expected to impact on finished cattle availability as the year progresses.

Irish beef exports 2005-2009

Year

Volume (tonnes)

Value

€bn

2005

489,000

1.3

2006

520,000

1.5

2007

523,000

1.6

2008

483,000

1.6

2009 (e)

461,000

1.4

Lamb exports and outlook

In relation to sheepmeat, France accounts for approximately half of all Irish sheepmeat exports. Over the past 5 years the breakdown of exports shows the impact of a concerted effort by An Bord Bia and the meat industry to reduce dependency on the French market and grow exports in higher value markets across Northern Europe such as Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden. Exports to the UK have also been growing in volume and value. However results for 2009 show how trade with this market struggled due to adverse currency fluctuations and the impact of the economic downturn on consumer demand. The latter also negatively affected trade in all main markets including the domestic market. On a more positive note, exports to the Mediterranean markets for 2009 showed a significant strengthening as a result of the contraction of domestic flocks in Spain, Portugal and Italy.

Tighter EU lamb supplies are anticipated in 2010 with both the UK and Spain predicting reduced production levels. This fall in supplies of lamb from key players across Europe in 2010 should help provide a reasonable market environment for Irish lamb, though this is contingent on the normal market factors, including currency fluctuations and general economic conditions.

Irish Lamb exports 2005-2009

Year

Volume (tonnes)

Value

€m

2005

61,000

189

2006

57,900

180

2007

56,200

174

2008

47,800

161

2009*(e)

40,500

166

Pigmeat exports and outlook

Depressed global consumer demand affected Irish pigment exports during 2009, with lower exports to both EU and non-EU markets. The UK remains the principal for Irish exports with the value of trade estimated at €215 m last year.

The EU Continental trade for 2009 accounted for an estimated 34,000 tonnes, valued at €51 million. Trade to Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands were at normal levels for most of the year. In terms of International markets, most countries that placed suspensions on Irish pigmeat have been lifted with the exception of China with progress expected to be made towards lifting suspensions in early 2010.

Exports of pigmeat to International markets are estimated to have reached almost 10,000 tonnes in 2009 with trade worth €24 million. The principal markets were the United States and Japan. Trade to Japan was adversely affected by a lower import requirement in response to slow market demand with shipments expected to stand at 1,500 tonnes for the year.

The return into production of herds destocked following the product recall in late 2008 is expected to boost pig supplies by 5,000 head per week by March 2010. On an annual basis this is expected to boost finished pig supplies by around 10%. Import requirements for Japan and South Korea are set to rise this coming year. This combined with a slight decline in European Pig supplies, should create a stronger global demand for Irish pigmeat.

Irish pigmeat exports 2005-2009

Year

Volume (tonnes)

Value

€m

2005

129,000

329

2006

139,000

378

2007

142,000

370

2008

138,000

340

2009

127,000

290

Dairy exports and outlook

Irish dairy products are exported to other EU Member States and to over 100 countries worldwide. The amount of exports to any particular destination varies in accordance with changes in the supply/demand dynamics in particular regions of the world and in respect of the various dairy products involved. In overall terms in 2008, the UK represented the largest single share of dairy export sales with 32%, the rest of the EU accounted for 48%, while North America and Africa accounted for 6% and 7% respectively. As international demand changes there will be an increasing emphasis on consumer food markets, particularly in the EU, US and high growth emerging economies, together with strategically expanding marketing and distribution capability worldwide.

The table below shows the figures for total Irish exports of Dairy Products, Caseins and Ingredients from 2004 to 2008.

Dairy Products, Caseins and Ingredients Exports

Year

€000

Tonnes

2004

1,845,199

791,596

2005

1,997,051

832,058

2006

2,197,441

908,792

2007

2,609,797

979,075

2008

2,664,855

917,780

Food Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

320 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent of new markets established for Irish beef, lamb, pigmeat and dairy products in 2009; the markets lost, if any, in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4193/10]

Irish beef exports in recent years have been targeted at the high value UK and Continental EU markets, with these markets accounting for over 99% of exports in 2008 and 2009. Exports of Irish beef are estimated to have fallen by 8% in 2009, whereas exports of live cattle increased by 93%. Last year, access to new markets for Irish beef was secured in Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, and for beef offals in South Africa.

The international trading climate for Irish pigmeat exports remained difficult during 2009, with exports declining in value by some 15%, partly caused by the Sterling differential. Following the disruption to trade caused as a result of the pork recall in 2008, export markets were recovered in the UK, Continental Europe, Japan and America. Yesterday the Russian authorities announced that the market for Irish pork would reopen with effect from 1 February. This leaves the Chinese market as the only one remaining closed but discussions are ongoing in attempts to have this market re-opened as soon as possible.

The French market again accounted for more than 50% of Irish sheepmeat exports in 2009. The UK, Northern European and Mediterranean countries accounted for the balance. 2009 saw an increase in shipments of light lamb to Mediterranean countries.

Irish dairy products are exported to other EU Member States and to over 100 countries worldwide. The amount of exports to any particular destination varies in accordance with changes in the supply/demand dynamics in particular regions of the world and in respect of the various dairy products involved. In overall terms, Ireland's dairy exports amounted to €2.2 billion in 2008. The UK represented the largest single share of export sales with 32%. The rest of the EU accounted for 48%, while North America and Africa accounted for 6% and 7% respectively. As international demand changes there will be an increasing emphasis on consumer food markets, particularly in the EU, US and high growth emerging economies, together with strategically expanding marketing and distribution capability worldwide.

Dairy product output from Ireland and the EU is of course constrained by the limits placed on milk output by the EU milk quota regime. The CAP Health Agreement raised these limits with a 1% increase in Member States' quotas from 1 April 2009, together with an adjustment to the butterfat calculation which will deliver the equivalent of a further 2% increase in quotas in the 2009/2010 quota year. These increases will provide Irish dairy farmers and processors with further opportunities to respond to global demand and to increase production and capture new market share.

My Department continues to work actively with Bord Bia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the industry, to identify and develop other potential markets.

Sugar Beet Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

321 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the degree to which all those previously involved in sugar beet growing for sugar production purposes have been compensated following the closure of sugar production here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4194/10]

The total package negotiated in the context of the 2006 reform of the EU sugar regime, as modified in 2007, was worth about €353m to Ireland. All elements of the package have now been implemented.

The first element of the package was the compensation for the reduction in the minimum price of beet. This has been incorporated in the Single Payment with effect from 2006, with an estimated value of €123m to Irish beet growers over seven years.

The second element was the EU restructuring aid which, at the outset, was worth €145m to Ireland but an amending EU regulation in 2007 had the effect of increasing this to €186m. Three parties benefited from this aid: the sugar processor, the former sugar beet growers and the specialized beet machinery contractors. All of this restructuring aid has now been paid in full. The first instalment of €58m was paid to the beneficiaries in June 2007 with further payments of €87m in February 2008 and €41m in June 2008.

The third and final element of the package was the diversification aid worth almost €44m to the former beet growers. It was paid in two equal instalments in September 2007 and March 2008.

Food Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

322 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans for the development and expansion of the fruit and vegetable industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4195/10]

My Department has contributed significantly to the support of the horticulture industry through its grant aid scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector under the National Development plan 2007-2013. The scheme assists capital investment on farms to promote the specialisation and diversification of on- farm activities, improve the quality of products and facilitate environmentally friendly practices and improve working conditions on farms. The scheme has made an immense contribution to the growth and development of the horticulture sector across all areas- protected crops, field vegetables, nursery crops, mushrooms, soft fruit, apples and beekeeping.

Under the first two rounds of the scheme a total of €8m was paid out to 220 producers supporting investment of €20m. This year I am providing a further grant package of €4m which will fund projects to the investment value of some €10m. Indeed under the previous scheme 2000-2006 grant aid amounting to €18.5m was paid to 656 producers which supported investment of €53m.

Further aid for the horticulture sector is also available under the Capital Investment Scheme for the Marketing and Processing of Agricultural Products and in addition producers can also benefit from EU aid under the Producer Organisation (PO) Scheme.

Deer Farming.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

323 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent of deer farming here in comparison with other EU member states; the way the price paid to the producer compares with those charged to the consumer throughout the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4196/10]

The number of deer slaughtered at plants approved by the Department during the period 2002 to 2009 is as set out in the following table. It should be noted that there is also a cross-border trade in deer with Northern Ireland which is not reflected in these figures. According to the 2000 Census of Agriculture conducted by the CSO, there were 12,055 head of farmed deer on Irish farms in June 2000. There is no EU-wide system in place for the collection of data on deer prices and slaughterings so it is not possible to say how well developed the sector is in Ireland as compared with other member states. Venison remains very much a niche product within the Irish meat sector and it is fair to say that it falls into this category across the EU and, as a result, there are little or no data readily available on the sector.

Year

Deer slaughterings at approved plants

2002

1759

2003

1,278

2004

1,079

2005

957

2006

1,875

2007

1,443

2008

1,325

2009

1,247

Sugar Beet Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

324 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which sugar beet production continues in each of the EU member states including Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4197/10]

The 2006-2009 scheme for the restructuring of the European sugar industry, which was implemented as part of the reform of the EU sugar regime, resulted in the EU sugar quota being reduced by 5.2 million tonnes to 13.3 million tonnes. EU sugar production is now concentrated in 18 Member States (as opposed to 23 before the reform) which enjoy favourable agronomic conditions. They are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom. Over 75% of production is accounted for by 7 of these Member States, namely (in order of size of quota) France, Germany, Poland, UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. In Ireland, the growing of beet for sugar processing ceased with the ending of the sugar industry in 2006 but a quantity of beet continues to be grown for fodder purposes.

Food Prices.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

325 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which the prices paid to the producer and charged to the consumer here compare with the prices for milk and dairy products paid to producers and charged to consumers throughout each of the EU member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4198/10]

Dairy farmers' incomes are comprised of the market price paid for milk and direct income support from the EU. Market forces have a major influence on the price paid to farmers for milk. World market prices determine the returns received by dairy processors and these in turn are reflected in the price paid to farmers. In essence, farm gate prices normally reflect the returns from international markets of dairy product sales. Ireland's peripheral geographic location and highly seasonal grass based production curve have resulted in a dairy production profile heavily based on storable product. Those commodity products, such as butter and milk powders, are low margin products and this is reflected in the milk price.

My Department does not compile data on consumer prices paid for milk across the EU. The following table shows the producer milk prices (in € per 100kg) for the 27 EU member states in October 2009.

EU Country

Milk Price October 2009 €/100kgs

Cyprus

50.78

Finland

40.50

Greece

36.69

Netherlands

30.12

Italy

30.09

France

29.30

Luxembourg

28.25

Ireland

28.21

Austria

28.15

Spain

27.90

Portugal

27.60

Sweden

27.26

Belgium

26.85

EU 27 average

26.76

United Kingdom

25.91

Denmark

25.83

Bulgaria

24.92

Slovenia

24.69

Czech Republic

23.24

Slovakia

23.24

Poland

23.18

Germany

23.10

Hungary

23.00

Estonia

20.77

Lithuania

19.89

Romania

19.05

Latvia

18.31

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

326 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the way in which the prices paid to the producer here for beef, lamb, pig meat and poultry, compare with those in each of the other EU member states; the way the prices charged to the consumer here for the same product compare with those of other EU member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4199/10]

The price paid to meat producers is a function of supply and demand, which has of course been influenced by the global economic downturn, exchange rates and other factors. My Department does not compile data on consumer prices across Europe.

In relation to beef, officially recorded factory prices for R3 grade steer prices in 2009 averaged 287 cents per kilo liveweight. In 2007 and 2008 this price averaged 276 and 317 cents per kilogram respectively. So while the average steer price last year fell by 9% for the year, this still represented a net gain of 4% over the 2007 figure.

The main reason for these price decreases was slow market demand for beef, as reduced consumer spending had some effect on overall volumes, particularly at food service level.

Given the fact that 90% of our beef is exported, producer prices reflect returns available on our main export markets. It is understood from Bord Bia that average retail beef prices in Ireland are to the lower average end of prices in Europe.

Last year, average lamb prices were up one per cent on 2008 at €3.75/kg dw excl. VAT, which is mainly due to the stronger prices for lamb between the November to December period.

Year to date Irish lamb prices are running 10% below average EU 25 prices. As Ireland exports two thirds of its production, producer prices are more exposed to international market forces than most of our sheep producing neighbours.

Lamb remains the most expensive of the proteins, and any increase in producer prices is dependent on an economic uplift, although the continued contraction in supplies across Europe should help strengthen the producer price this coming year.

The average producer prices received for pigs in Ireland, at 117.5 c/kg dw excl. VAT, are currently running at 90% of the EU average.

European broiler prices started the year reasonably well before dipping below 2008 levels from February and remained lower for the rest of the year. European broiler prices are estimated to have fallen by 6% in 2009, while reported broiler prices in Ireland show a more stable situation. The drop in feed prices also helped broiler producers.

Laboratory Testing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

327 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which the full scale of intended or expected laboratory facilities at Backweston, Celbridge, County Kildare has been achieved to date; if this now means that all laboratory testing previously referred overseas can take place within this jurisdiction; the exceptions to this, if any; the degree to which the facilities here are fully staffed in accordance with the normal staffing requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4200/10]

The vast majority of the buildings of my Department's Laboratories, at Backweston are completely operational and functioning as intended. Amelioration works on some areas of the laboratories are required prior to their coming on stream. These are expected to be completed during 2010.

As indicated in responses to Parliamentary Questions, the Irish multi-annual national control plan (MANCP) details the official controls of foodstuffs. My Department, in conjunction with, the Department of Health and Children and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) have the primary responsibility for planning and implementing this programme. The range of tests required to implement the MANCP is extensive, diverse and highly specialised and at this point some of the analytical needs are still being met by referrals to overseas laboratories. While some tests in the animal and plant health areas are also being referred to laboratories abroad it is envisaged that the need for such referrals will diminish in the future, as the Laboratories continue to introduce new analytical methods and technologies with the objective of meeting a higher proportion of our needs and thus minimising our dependency on external laboratories.

Demands on laboratory resources are however, expected to further increase due to the introduction of new EU legislation and its associated analytical requirements and staff resources will continue to be reviewed in this context.

Food Labelling.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

328 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that the enforcement of food labelling is sufficiently stringent to protect the integrity of the food production sector here and throughout the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4201/10]

The Minister for Health & Children has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation. Responsibility for the enforcement of this legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (F.S.A.I.). This is done through service contracts with other relevant agencies, including the Health Service Executive, the Local Authority Veterinary Service and my Department.

I am not aware of any issues in relation to enforcement of current food labelling legislation. As I have indicated previously a number of matters in relation to origin labelling and substantial transformation are of concern and have been brought to the attention of the Department of Health and Children in the context of the review at EU level of the General Labelling Directive.

Food Safety Standards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

329 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which food imports here or to other EU member states are subjected to regular or spot checking to ensure compliance with national or EU standards; the number of breaches of such regulations in the of the past five years to date in 2010; the action taken, if any; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4202/10]

My Department in co-operation with Customs service monitors and operates animal and public health controls at EU approved Border Inspection Posts (BIP) on all direct imports into Ireland of products of animal origin coming from non-EU (or third) countries. Controls are also carried out on postal parcels and passenger baggage coming from third countries.

EU rules stipulate that food products of animal origin traded from an EU source must be from approved food business establishments and be accompanied to destination by a commercial document or a health certificate signed by an official veterinarian of the competent authority of the Member State of origin. To be eligible for import from third countries products must be sourced from countries the EU regards as operating controls on production and processing that give equivalent guarantees to those in the EU. They must be accompanied with the appropriate EU model health certification provided by the competent authorities of the country of origin. Following prior notification to the BIP of import all consignments must be presented for veterinary examination which will include documentary, identity and physical checks in accordance with EU requirements. The EU Food & Veterinary Office (FVO) monitors and inspects each Member State's controls on Food Safety including the operation of BIPs to ensure the conditions for import and placing of animal products onto the market, as provided under the harmonised legislation, are being correctly applied.

Any imports failing to comply with these veterinary control checks may be detained for further examination. Where non-compliance is established they may be returned to the exporting country or destroyed at the importers cost.

BIP controls on consignments of products of animal origin directly imported into Ireland for human consumption over the past 5 years are as follows:

Year

Total Number of import Consignments examined

Number Rejected

Returned to country of origin

Destroyed

2009*

966

7

7

2008

1,337

23

11

12

2007

1,573

19

15

4

2006

1,105

6

5

1

2005

648

5

5

0

*information available to 30 September 2009.

All Member States are required to carry out controls on imports from third countries along the same lines as those operating in Ireland.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

330 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the areas of land under the various forms of bio-fuel production; the extent to which trends are monitored on an ongoing basis with particular reference to the need for viability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4203/10]

Less than 0.2% of the agricultural land in Ireland is under non-food crops made up of oilseeds, miscanthus, willow and small quantities of wheat and oats used for energy purposes. A table details the areas sown since 2005 in hectares.

Year

Willow

Miscanthus

Oilseed rape

Hemp & switch grass

Total Hectares

2005

13

2,577

2,590

2006

67

122

4,267

4,456

2007

65

630

7,959

90

8,744

2008

127

780

3,087

137

4,131

2009

170

740

2,300

100

3,310

As the table shows, production has concentrated on the cultivation of oilseeds, willow and miscanthus. Oilseed rape is traditionally grown in Ireland as a break crop in a one-in-four year rotation. Oilseeds are used in pure plant oil and biodiesel production or for use in the food and animal feed markets. High yields are required to make the crop economically viable in Ireland. Willow and miscanthus crops produce pellet and wood chip materials to generate heat and power in the domestic and commercial sectors. Yields vary according to crop management and environmental factors specific to any one particular site.

My Department continues to monitor trends in energy crop production. We are currently reviewing the operation of the Bioenergy Scheme, which grant aided the cultivation of willow and miscanthus crops on a pilot basis over the period 2007 to 2009. In general, the viability of non-food crops can only be sustained in the long-term if they generate profitable returns for farmers and if sustainable end use markets are developed.

Farm Waste Management.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

331 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the range of incentives available to the agri-sector for pollution control here; the way this compares with the best and worst in other EU member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4205/10]

Grant-aid was provided by my Department in regard to various investments in relation to agricultural pollution control by the Farm Waste Management Scheme which, under the revised version of the Scheme introduced in 2006, provided a standard grant-rate of 60 per cent (70 per cent in the four Zone C counties) for the construction of animal housing, slurry storage facilities and related items. In addition, a grant was available at a rate of 40 per cent for specialized on-farm equipment with specific environmental advantages such as decanter centrifuge systems, dry feeding systems for pigs and specialized slurry spreading tankers.

Total expenditure under the Scheme to date, since its introduction in 2001, is €1.098 billion and, when the final instalment of grant-aid payable under the Scheme is paid early next year, expenditure under the Scheme will exceed €1.2 billion. I am satisfied that the range of grants available under the Scheme bore favourable comparison with those made available in other Member States, particularly within the context of ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Nitrates Directive.

Food Security.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

332 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which he has, at EU level, established the principle of self-sufficiency or food security within the EU; the degree to which this concept has been established and accepted throughout the Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4206/10]

"Food Security" is a concept that traditionally refers to the lack of access to food in developing countries due to poverty. People in poverty in developing countries are unable to buy or grow sufficient food. People are food insecure when they do not have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Because of European social welfare systems, which provide financial support to those in need, this concept, which refers to developing countries, is not so relevant.

However, a central issue for Europe is the overall security of food supply for Europe and indeed globally. There is an increasing awareness that the security of the global food supply cannot be taken for granted in a world where demand is rising rapidly, and where this is expected to require a 70% increase in global food supply by 2050. There have been increased demands on the agriculture sector to examine the growing pressure between food, feed and fuel in terms of production.

Ireland was among the first Member States to draw attention to this concern in ongoing discussions on the WTO, the CAP Health Check and the more recent debates on agriculture and climate change. The declaration of 22 Member States in Paris last month illustrates the extent to which this concept has been accepted within the EU. That declaration includes the commitment that “we want a policy that assures the supply of food that is at the same time safe, healthy, balanced, of high quality and accessible to all. Europe must be able to respond to the needs of 500 million consumers and contribute to the world’s food balance.”

As an export and market orientated industry with high standards of food safety and quality, Ireland has an important role to play in contributing to the international security of food supply for the millions beyond this island. There is tremendous potential for Ireland to act as a major food producer and exporter, but only if we have positioned ourselves to competitively increase our levels and range of production.

Farm Household Incomes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

333 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he has taken or proposes to take to ensure that incomes to the farming sector are stabilised having regard to the need to withstand the pressure from the large supermarket chains from forcing producers here out of business and in turn be replaced by food imports from locations with an undesirable history in husbandry, hygiene and traceability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4208/10]

All foodstuffs imported into Ireland are highly regulated and must meet minimum standards established in accordance with EU food safety and traceability regulations.

The increasing concentration of retail power in the hands of a few large supermarket chains is an international phenomenon which has fundamentally changed the balance of market negotiating power in the food chain. I have emphasised at EU and national level the necessity for a reasonable balance between granting price reductions to consumers and giving a fair return to suppliers and producers to ensure fair play in trading conditions and sustainability of food supply within the EU.

At national level the Tánaiste intends to implement a national Code of Practice for doing business in the Grocery Goods sector with a view to ensuring a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers. The code will be initially on a voluntary basis.

The EU Commission has also issued a Communication on a better functioning food supply chain in Europe. As I said at the recent Council of Minister's meeting, I believe there is also a need to look critically at EU competition law (or its interpretation) in so far as it can serve to militate against consolidation at producer level to achieve the scale necessary for optimum efficiency and international competitiveness. There is a need also to audit unfair contractual practices with a view to ensuring compliance with competition law. I am very pleased that the Spanish Presidency had committed itself to progressing the whole issue of improving the functioning of the food chain. There is a need for considerable improvement so that all players, including producers and consumers, receive fair treatment.

Alternative Farm Enterprises.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

334 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the degree to which he has attempted directly or in conjunction with his EU colleagues to utilise set aside lands for alternative production purposes; the degree to which this has been successful here and throughout the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4224/10]

Part of the outcome of the CAP Health Check negotiations was the decision to abolish the compulsory set aside of tillage land, effective from the 2009 Scheme, thereby doing away with the complex management rules attached to it. I warmly welcomed the decision at the time, one of a number of changes introduced as part of the simplification process. Previously, agreement had been reached in Brussels on the introduction of a 0% compulsory set aside requirement for 2008.

Under the 2007 Single Payment Scheme, in excess of 28,000 hectares had been declared as set aside. Under the rules of that Scheme, land was set aside for the period 15 January to 31 August and, during this time, it was forbidden to use such land for any agricultural production, although during the period 1 September to year-end the land could be used for silage production or grazing. The abolition of the set aside requirement allows farmers the potential to alter their output to respond to market signals, which was particularly welcome in light of widespread cereal shortages in recent years.

Food Industry.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

335 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the €9.5 million allocated in budget 2010 to support the food industry to enhance the competitiveness of the industry will be made available; the way in which this money will be spent; his plans for this money; the way in which he expects this allocation to enhance the competitiveness of the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4243/10]

The €9.5 million provided in the 2010 Budget will be provided in the 2010 Revised Estimates and comprises €7 million to support a range of measures geared to improving the competitiveness of the food industry, which will be operated by Enterprise Ireland, and €2.5 million to support Bord Bia marketing initiatives.

Schools Building Projects.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

336 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress made on the tender for the construction programme in respect of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3901/10]

The project for the school referred to by the Deputy has been announced to progress to tender and construction. Stage 2(a) for the project was approved in late December and the Design team have been authorised to progress to stage 2(b) of architectural planning. Stage 2(b), which involves application for planning permission, fire certificate etc. and the preparation of tender documents, is the immediate precursor stage to tender and construction.

School Transport.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

337 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Science if the value for money on the school transport scheme report, due to be completed at the end of 2009, has been published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3903/10]

As the Deputy is aware, School Transport was approved by Government as a topic for inclusion as part of the 2009-2011 round of Value for Money Reviews. This review is looking at the original objectives of the scheme, whether these objectives remain valid today, the extent to which the objectives are being achieved, and whether there are possibilities for economies or efficiencies that would improve the value for money of the scheme. In this context, the review is also looking at fundamental issues such as eligibility criteria and catchment boundaries, with a view to achieving efficiencies and value for money in the Scheme. The report of Value for Money Review of the School Transport Scheme is currently being finalised.

Higher Education Grants.

Jack Wall

Question:

338 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding an appeal against a decision to disallow an application for a third level grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3913/10]

On 16 September 2009 a reply issued to the candidate referred to by the Deputy in respect of his appeal.

Noel Grealish

Question:

339 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Science the breakdown of the amount of money allocated by him in 2007, 2008 and 2009 to each local authority and vocational education committee in each county for the processing of third level maintenance grants, including mature students grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3918/10]

The breakdown of money paid to each local authority and vocational education committee by my Department in respect of grants to eligible students in each county for 2007, 2008 and 2009 is set out in the following table. Staffing costs associated with the processing of grants are met by local authorities and vocational education committees within their overall resources and a breakdown of these in each case is not readily available.

Funding provided to awarding bodies for maintenance grants paid to eligible students

2007

2008

2009

VEC

TOTAL

VEC

Total

VEC

Total

Co. Carlow VEC

2,202,988.33

Co. Carlow PLC

2,211,101.97

Carlow

3,016,251.37

Co. Cavan VEC

2,909,643.41

Co. Cavan PLC

3,227,056.31

Cavan VEC

3,425,754.07

Co. Clare VEC

1,328,475.82

Co. Clare PLC

2,013,554.07

Clare

3,008,844.52

Co. Cork VEC

1,279,847.34

Co. Cork PLC

1,514,116.08

City Cork

4,809,259.54

City of Cork VEC

6,247,197.92

City of Cork PLC

6,475,269.75

Co. Cork VEC

3,493,899.53

Co. Donegal VEC

4,136,890.14

Co. Donegal PLC

4,111,568.47

Donegal

4,458,593.93

Dublin City VEC

6,857,306.79

City of Dublin PLC

7,089,195.16

Dublin City VEC

8,884,478.54

Co. Dublin VEC

1,588,075.87

Co. Dublin PLC

1,939,992.94

Dublin County

2,166,021.50

Dún Laoghaire

1,573,708.60

Dún Laoghaire PLC

2,147,844.33

Dunlaoghaire

2,245,443.39

City of Galway VEC

2,265,097.16

City of Galway PLC

2,910,184.50

Galway City

3,241,718.01

Co. Galway VEC

2,523,904.71

Co. Galway PLC

2,981,094.95

Galway County

2,909,016.52

Co. Kerry VEC

3,497,493.77

Co. Kerry PLC

4,404,365.56

Kerry VEC

5,039,974.79

Co. Kildare VEC

1,198,862.32

Co. Kildare PLC

686,702.42

Kildare VEC

923,389.87

Co. Kilkenny VEC

1,876,972.95

Co. Kilkenny PLC

1,724,769.35

Kilkenny VEC

2,117,039.86

Co. Laois VEC

975,046.37

Co. Laois PLC

1,248,748.40

Laois

1,443,659.90

Co. Leitrim VEC

659,971.74

Co. Leitrim PLC

741,144.33

Leitrim VEC

911,913.01

City of Limerick VEC

2,018,009.22

City of Limerick PLC

2,374,242.14

Limerick City

3,022,867.52

Co Limerick VEC

1,785,383.11

Co. Limerick PLC

1,771,792.26

Limerick VEC

1,888,087.90

Co. Longford VEC

1,033,600.64

Co. Longford PLC

1,074,903.76

Longford

1,292,351.25

Co. Louth VEC

1,831,613.71

Co. Louth PLC

2,017,843.83

Louth

2,912,675.00

Co. Mayo VEC

3,210,992.94

Co. Mayo PLC

3,189,179.85

Mayo

3,489,380.69

Co. Meath VEC

1,077,354.43

Co. Meath PLC

1,345,517.56

Meath

1,642,388.16

Co. Monaghan VEC

1,301,236.80

Co. Monaghan PLC

1,418,295.11

Monaghan

1,759,431.39

Co. Offaly VEC

1,064,395.07

Co. Offaly PLC

1,058,971.68

Offaly

1,186,556.46

Co. Roscommon VEC

914,086.32

Co. Roscommon PLC

1,026,720.23

Roscommon VEC

1,209,692.78

Co. Sligo VEC

1,991,414.26

Co. Sligo PLC

2,076,166.00

Sligo VEC

2,977,183.18

Co. Tipp NR VEC

2,125,642.93

Co. Tipperary NR PLC

2,516,108.74

Tipperary NR

3,240,289.09

Co. Tipp SR VEC

1,759,137.17

Co. Tipperary SR PLC

1,531,975.93

Tipperary SR

1,858,477.88

Co. Waterford PLC

1,359,319.22

Co. Waterford PLC

1,021,429.04

Waterford City

2,410,632.51

City of Waterford PLC

1,371,387.98

City of Waterford PLC

1,818,617.94

Waterford County

1,119,096.47

Co. Westmeath VEC

1,309,523.61

Co. Westmeath PLC

1,475,160.56

Westmeath VEC

2,144,444.68

Co. Wexford VEC

2,267,312.71

Co. Wexford PLC

2,519,193.73

Wexford VEC

3,436,365.30

Co. Wicklow PLC

1,610,169.78

Co. Wicklow PLC

2,369,244.96

Wicklow VEC

2,292,029.25

Total

69,152,063.14

Total

76,032,071.91

Total

89,977,207.86

H.E.G 2007

HEG 2008

HEG 2009

County Council

Total

Local Authority

Total

Local Authority

Total

Carlow Co. Council

1,364,232.56

Carlow Co. Co.

1,547,235.23

Carlow Co. Co.

2,041,601.95

Cavan Co. Council

2,267,810.13

Cavan Co Co

2,094,561.91

Cavan Co Co

2,336,945.23

Clare Co. Council

4,986,633.34

Clare Co. Co.

4,894,715.28

Clare Co. Co.

6,111,891.40

Cork City Council

4,384,351.23

Cork City Council

5,088,715.74

Cork City Council

5,320,958.70

Cork Co. Council

10,135,858.81

Cork Co. Co.

10,540,303.77

Cork Co. Co.

12,644,751.16

Donegal Co. Council

5,814,548.73

Donegal Co. Co.

6,320,567.64

Donegal Co. Co.

7,295,537.58

Dublin City Council

11,472,290.67

Dublin City Council

14,788,659.75

Dublin City Council

18,285,468.96

Dún/Rath Co. Council

4,121,901.46

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

3,801,862.75

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

3,271,028.41

South Dublin Council

3,441,429.28

South Dublin Co. Co.

3,874,163.58

South Dublin Co. Co.

4,626,513.02

Fingal Co. Council

3,635,979.06

Fingal Co. Co.

2,931,628.78

Fingal Co. Co.

4,456,233.09

Galway Co.Council

12,638,032.88

Galway Co. Co.

12,090,634.21

Galway Co. Co.

15,301,521.92

Kerry Co. Council

5,512,082.98

Kerry Co. Co.

6,185,082.58

Kerry Co. Co.

7,241,179.32

Kildare Co. Council

3,840,011.07

Kildare Co. Co.

5,138,300.20

Kildare Co. Co.

6,190,907.00

Kilkenny Co. Council

3,374,974.77

Kilkenny Co Co

3,510,155.94

Kilkenny Co Co

3,697,456.37

Laois Co. Council

2,030,648.58

Laois Co. Co.

2,401,254.54

Laois Co. Co.

2,548,127.60

Leitrim Co. Council

1,400,679.96

Leitrim Co. Co.

1,441,885.57

Leitrim Co. Co.

1,801,788.03

Limerick Co. Council

3,769,459.71

Limerick Co. Co.

4,069,994.09

Limerick Co. Co.

4,133,989.04

Limerick City Council

1,590,426.35

Limerick City Council

1,595,296.89

Limerick City Council

2,540,513.82

Longford Co. Council

1,322,828.07

Longford Co. Co.

1,552,543.62

Longford Co. Co.

1,602,425.84

Louth Co. Council

3,059,235.64

Louth Co. Co.

3,502,179.97

Louth Co. Co.

2,999,321.89

Mayo Co. Council

6,659,405.75

Mayo Co Co

7,218,719.20

Mayo Co Co

7,940,587.40

Meath Co. Council

2,992,380.06

Meath Co. Co.

3,399,208.74

Meath Co. Co.

3,109,611.40

Monaghan Co. Council

2,672,422.97

Monaghan Co. Co.

2,450,035.74

Monaghan Co. Co.

2,765,044.03

Offaly Co. Council

1,874,650.16

Offaly Co. Co.

2,272,822.81

Offaly Co. Co.

1,875,461.31

Roscommon Co.Council

2,477,957.88

Roscommon Co Co

2,954,440.71

Roscommon Co Co

3,155,517.47

Sligo Co. Council

2,151,018.46

Sli