Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 13, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 14 to 98, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 99 to 105, inclusive, answered orally.

Job Creation.

Willie Penrose

Question:

106 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she will take to address the continuing high level of unemployment indicated by the live register figures; if she has plans to provide new training opportunities for persons who have lost their jobs and to encourage the creation of new employment opportunities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4822/10]

The Government is determined to tackle Ireland's unemployment levels and has introduced a range of measures to address the unemployment challenge by:

Firstly, supporting the creation of new jobs,

Secondly, protecting vulnerable jobs and,

Thirdly, supporting the unemployed back into employment through job search, training and work experience supports.

In terms of supporting the creation of new employment opportunities, the State development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, together with the County and City Enterprise Boards assist and promote enterprise development and employment growth in businesses.

Enterprise Ireland has prepared a recovery strategy to identify the actions that will be undertaken to help clients in 2010 and has refocused its efforts on strengthening and sustaining companies of strategic importance through a range of initiatives.

The Enterprise Stabilisation Fund is one such initiative introduced by Government with 148 projects with a value of €58 million approved for funding.

The Government is in the process of reviewing a new strategy for the future direction of FDI, which the IDA has developed and, subject to my approval, it will shortly be published. This strategy will identify the opportunities in the FDI markets, while stressing the importance of restoring our relative international competitiveness if we are to maximise FDI potential.

Despite the global turbulence 2009 was a good year for inward investments, with the IDA winning 125 investments and already in 2010 there have been 7 announcements with a potential to create at least 280 jobs in Dublin, Galway and Tullamore.

The County and City Enterprise Boards provide support for small businesses in the start-up and expansion phases. Job creation is an inherent consideration in the activities of the Boards. The Boards provide assistance through direct grant aid to businesses and a range of other important business supports designed to boost employment creation.

To protect vulnerable jobs and to prevent people being made redundant the Government introduced the Employment Subsidy Scheme last year. Between this year and last €135 million has been allocated to this Scheme and it is expected that this will either directly or indirectly protect 80,000 jobs.

To support the unemployed, the Government have almost doubled the capacity of the FÁS job search support services, to an annual National Employment Action Plan referral capacity of 147,000 persons. In addition, this year the total number of training and work experience activation places funded by my Department will be 147,000.

In Budget 2010 my Department received an additional €90 million to train the unemployed and this will enable my Department to train a further 16,500 people compared to last year. This provision is comprised of an additional 9,000 FAS training courses, the new Labour Market Activation Fund, which will provide at least 3,500 training places, and the 3,500 places to be delivered through the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. It also includes the 500 additional Community Places the Government will provide this year bringing the total Community Employment places to 23,300.

Finally, last year the Government introduced the Work Placement Programme to provide the unemployed with up to 9 months work experience. This programme aims to keep participants active and close to the labour market and will provide them with on-the-job training and valuable experience.

Industrial Development.

George Lee

Question:

107 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the efforts she is making to import new industries to County Donegal in view of the high unemployment figures there and in an effort to employ persons that have already lost their jobs or persons seeking employment for the first time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4993/10]

Dinny McGinley

Question:

156 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the efforts that are being made by her to import new industries to County Donegal in view of the high unemployment figures there in an effort to employ persons who have already lost their jobs or persons who are seeking employment for the first time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4875/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 156 together.

IDA Ireland is actively encouraging new investment in Donegal in knowledge-based industries. This is part of a focused strategy to replace the traditional clothing and textile industries that have been declining in the North West Region in recent years. During the last 5 years IDA-supported companies in Donegal have created over 663 new jobs.

There are presently 12 IDA Ireland-supported companies in Donegal, trading internationally and employing 1,683 Full Time and 128 Part Time people in Software Development, Systems Development and the Medical Technology industry. Donegal's industry base is transforming from the clothing and textile industry to high tech, high skill activity. Companies such as Pramerica and UnitedHealth, which have located in Donegal are continuously growing and recruiting.

The agency's emphasis is to build up an international and financial services cluster and is making strides in delivering on this, evidenced by the existing quality of the companies and the announcement of an expansion of 123 jobs by SITA INC. In addition IDA is actively promoting Donegal as a successful location for high-end manufacturing mainly to companies in the medical technologies sector. This is proving successful with projects from Medisize and Zeus Industrial Products Inc. who have opened a European Operations Centre for the production and distribution of precision medical tubing products.

Another primary focus for IDA in Donegal is the designated linked Gateway of Letterkenny/Derry and significant investment has also been undertaken in developing property solutions through the provision of a Business and Technology Park along with three advance buildings in Letterkenny.

This focus involves developing stronger economic links with Invest Northern Ireland, which includes initiatives like the North West Business & Technology Zone. This is aimed at promoting the linked Gateway of Letterkenny/Derry in line with the objectives of the NSS 2002 — 2020 and the NI Regional Development Strategy 2025.

The delivery of physical, social and economic infrastructure is key to securing inward investment and IDA Ireland continues to be engaged in identifying and prioritizing investment in these areas in association with local partners.

EI is also focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs setting up new High Potential Start-Up Companies, the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies and in enhancing the innovation capability of Ireland at a national and regional level through support of research in companies and third level institutions. Enterprise Ireland provides a range of supports for high potential start up companies including, financial supports, business and marketing advice, mentoring, product development etc. Eight HPSUs were created in Donegal since 2005. EI approved grant payments of some €5.3M in 2009 to companies. 14 Donegal companies have been approved for €2.2M under the Employment Subsidy Scheme with a further 5 companies being approved for €1.75m under the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund.

EU Directives.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

108 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding and timeframe for the transposition of the Services Directive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4835/10]

The Regulations to bring the Services Directive into law are well advanced but not yet ready for signature. My Department is working with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel with a view to completing the legislation as soon as possible. This will involve, mainly but not exclusively, ensuring that the provisions of the Directive are reflected in the transposing instrument.

The timeframe for the completion of the legislative work is difficult to say but it will take a number of months. The Services Directive affects almost every service — a small number are excluded from its scope — and affects almost every Department. Consequently, there will be considerable inter-departmental input into the process to ensure consistency between the transposing Regulations and other legislation covering services administered by a range of Departments.

The draft Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) will have to be updated and approved by the Government for publication when the Regulations have been completed and before they are signed into law.

The Directive is unusual in that the transposition process involves a great deal of administrative work as well as legal drafting. The work is detailed and technical. Among the administrative and technical features of the transposition process has been the creation of a point of single contact to allow service providers from this and other Member States to set up a business here. The point of single contact is now operational.

I am pleased to say that the administrative work, although not complete, has reached a point where the Directive can be applied administratively, to a considerable extent, ahead of the coming into force of the legislation. My Department will be advising the European Commission, the other Member States, other Departments and stakeholders in the next few days that the Directive is to all intents and purposes largely operational and that Ireland is broadly applying its provisions in advance of formal transposition.

Industrial Disputes.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

109 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the report of the inquiry into the dispute between a union (details supplied) and employers in the electrical contracting industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4831/10]

On 15 December 2009, the Tánaiste and I published the independent report into the industrial relations dispute between the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union and Employers in the electrical contracting industry that resulted in a nationwide strike in July, 2009. The report was commissioned under Section 38(2) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990.

The report focuses attention on the areas that can be usefully addressed to improve relationships between all the parties in the electrical contracting sector. It affords all stakeholders a timely opportunity for reflection on the best means of achieving a comprehensive integrated solution to all the issues raised in the context of the dispute.

The report sets out a series of recommendations that highlight the scope for

effecting improvements in the representative decision making structures dealing with industrial relations issues in the sector;

adapting the current sectoral collective agreement to the changing needs of the sector and the wider economy in the current environment; and

effecting improvements in the current system for achieving compliance with employment standards within the sector.

The main thrust of the recommendations in the report is directed to the stakeholders in the electrical contracting sector. There are also a number of areas in which the report has highlighted how the State's industrial relations agencies together with the public bodies responsible for the public procurement policy, can assist those involved in establishing better and more inclusive negotiating arrangements.

My Department had written to representatives of all stakeholders involved in the sector encouraging them to consult within their organisations on the conclusions and recommendations in the report and inviting them to participate on an Implementation Group comprising of representatives of those organisations who have accepted the conclusions and recommendations of the Report. A number of the stakeholder bodies have since requested additional time to consider the report and their responses are awaited.

Both the Tánaiste and I endorse the main conclusion of the report that the National Joint Industrial Council should be totally reformed through the introduction of new rules. I agree, moreover, that the establishment of the proposed Implementation Group would provide the best means of completing that task.

Community Employment Schemes.

Damien English

Question:

110 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will explore the possibility of developing a tourism driven walkway and cycleway on the old Letterkenny to Burtonport railway line, with a view to developing the project through a community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4967/10]

Community Employment is first and foremost an active labour market programme with the primary objective of progressing participants into the open labour market. It is specifically targeted at equipping the long-term unemployed, through identified worthwhile work and training, with the skills that will allow them to enter the labour force. While the programme is a valuable support to groups in the delivery of services, this is not the primary purpose of the scheme.

FÁS is the agency responsible for approving projects and welcomes all proposals from sponsors to carry out projects such as those mentioned by the Deputy.

Eligible projects are those which:

Respond to an identified community need;

Provide development for participants in areas involving heritage, arts, culture, tourism, sport and the environment;

Have the agreement of relevant trade unions;

Do not displace or replace existing jobs;

Offer valuable work experience for participants.

The FÁS Community Services Offices in Letterkenny or Gweedore would be in a position to explore the above-mentioned proposal identified by the Deputy.

Employment Subsidy Scheme.

Dan Neville

Question:

111 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the uptake of the employment subsidy scheme; if exceptions will be made to the regulations of this scheme in the second round regarding the support for part-time workers or persons working less than 35 hours per week; if there will be a third round of this scheme with amended criteria of qualification; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4986/10]

The Employment Subsidy Scheme (Temporary) is designed to support the maintenance of vulnerable jobs, help the economy retain its productive capacity and employers retain the labour, knowledge and skills of their workforce thereby supporting a faster return to sustainable growth.

The Scheme provides financial support to vulnerable but viable enterprises. As part of the Scheme, enterprises receive a subsidy of up to €9,100 for each subsidised job. In order to qualify for support, enterprises must commit to retaining a multiple of the number of jobs they receive subsidies for until the end of 2010.

To date there have been two calls under the Scheme. I launched the First Call of the Scheme on 6th August 2009. This Call was restricted to companies that were in the internationally traded services and manufacturing sectors and engaged in exporting. As a result of the First Call, 457 enterprises qualified for support and approximately 35,000 jobs are being directly and indirectly supported.

I launched the Second Call of the Scheme on 4th December. This Call was broader than the First call as it was open to companies from all sectors of the economy provided that they employed a minimum of 10 full time employees. The Second Call closed on 23rd December and a total of 2,590 applications were received. Enterprise Ireland, who are managing the Scheme are currently assessing these applications.

In order to qualify for support under the First Call of the Scheme subsidies could only be provided to enterprises whose employees were full time and working an average of 35 hours per weeks. However this was amended in the Second Call to allow enterprises apply for subsidies if they had placed some of their employees on reduced working hours in response to the economic downturn. The Second Call therefore contained two different subsidy levels, one for full time employees working an average of 35 or more hours per week and one for part time employees working an average of between 21 and 35 hours per week.

The full time subsidy in the Second Call is €9,100 per subsidised employee, which is the same as the subsidy from the First Call. The part time subsidy in the Second Call is €6,370 per subsidised employee.

Between the First and Second Calls the Government have allocated €135 million under the Employment Subsidy Scheme for the retention of vulnerable but viable employment. Consequently it is expected that between the Scheme's two Calls approximately 80,000 jobs will be either directly or indirectly supported.

There are no plans at this stage to have a third call of the Employment Subsidy Scheme.

Departmental Reports.

David Stanton

Question:

112 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the actions she has taken on foot of receiving the research report on acquired disability and employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4922/10]

This consultancy study entitled, Research Report on Acquired Disability and Employment, was commissioned by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment following discussions with its Consultative Forum on an employment strategy for people with disabilities, and completed in 2008.

Key findings in the study explore the incidence of disability acquired by people during their working life, leading to long-term absence from work, and the perceived barriers to retention in employment following such a disability.

A number of key recommendations in the report relate to achieving a reduction in the inflow of long term receipt of Invalidity Benefit, and reducing the stock of long term recipients of Invalidity Benefit. These are matters for consideration by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. A number of recommendations are also directed to employers with regard to increasing their responsibility and involvement in the retention and re-integration of employees. Other supporting recommendations are directed to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and State bodies including the Health and Safety Authority, the National Employment Rights Authority, FÁS, the National Disability Authority and the Equality Authority.

In so far as recommendations concern my Department, the matter of workplace health of all kinds is supported in a number of ways by the HSA. The HSA is working on extending its range of activities in this area and has planned this in its range of activities for 2010. It has an increasing focus on occupational health. In the general area of workplace health, including mental health, bullying and stress, the HSA has a Code of Practice on the Prevention of Workplace Bullying in place since 2006, and in its inspection programme monitors workplaces for policies on workplace bullying. The HSA plans to update its existing guidelines on workplace stress in 2010. The HSA also monitors workplaces in the financial sector for policies on stress.

In 2009 the HSA updated its Work Positive Audit Tool and in 2010 plans to do more work on it. It published an employer's guide to implementing inclusive health and safety practices for employees with disabilities in March, 2009.

Other actions on foot of the recommendations, that are of interest to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment are subject to on-going consideration, and will inform future policy in the context of the further advancement of a comprehensive strategy for people with disabilities. In this regard, NERA has indicated its readiness to co-operate in any initiative at the Department's behest, subject to resources, and its appropriateness to the NERA remit.

Work Permits.

Denis Naughten

Question:

113 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to review the green card rules; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4872/10]

Denis Naughten

Question:

159 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to review the issuing of work permits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4871/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 159 together.

In the first half of 2009 my Department completed a review of employment permit arrangements, the purpose of which was to ensure that such arrangements continued to be appropriate to the needs of our changing labour market. Following the outcome of consultations with the Social Partners and other interest groups, a number of changes were implemented for non-EEA nationals applying to enter the Irish labour market under the Work Permit and Green Card schemes from 1 June 2009, including provision for those employment permit holders who are made redundant. The arrangements included:

Firstly, the refusal of almost all Work Permits applications where the applicant foreign national is currently outside the State,

secondly, the removal of some categories from the Green Card list — these included construction and engineering categories,

thirdly, a 50% increase in fees at renewal stage for new first time employment permit applications from outside the EEA, and

fourthly, a strengthening of the Labour Market Needs Test for new first time Work Permit applications.

Currently employment permit holders constitute approximately 1.2% of the total labour force. The numbers of permit applications and consequent numbers of total employment permits issued, including both new and renewal permits, over the last year have been showing a consistent downward trend from 13,500 in 2008 to 7,900 in 2009.

Within this, new permits issued have also fallen from 8,500 in 2008 to 4,000 in 2009. Most new permits issued in 2009 were for non-EEA nationals already working in the State who wished to change jobs.

My Department will continue to keep employment permit arrangements under review to ensure they remain suitable and relevant to current labour market conditions. As before, the views of relevant stakeholders and interest groups will be taken into account in this ongoing review process.

Economic Competitiveness.

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

114 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on whether there should be a freeze on all Government charges as a first step in developing a competitiveness action plan followed by setting targets for reductions in public and private sector prices when scope exists for greater price competitiveness. [45168/09]

The Government's strategy to support businesses, improve competitiveness and sustain employment is aimed at a return to export-led growth. In order to move towards a lower cost environment, a number of issues are being tackled together. These include incomes policy, government controlled prices and costs, regulatory burden and the level of competition in our economy. The Government is acting in a concerted way and with urgency to address all of these areas.

At the moment, Ireland is undergoing a sharp price correction. Prices and rents are dropping. As measured by the HICP, Ireland's inflation rate during 2009 fell by an estimated 1.7%, compared with an increase of 0.3% in the eurozone as a whole. We have also seen a decline in unit labour costs, which has a direct effect on competitiveness. A further relative improvement in price levels is expected this year — again improving Ireland's competitive position.

In respect of local authority administered charges, the Central Statistics Office figures show that there has been no overall increase in water, refuse or other services over the past twelve months — there has actually been a marginal decline. It should also be noted that there has been no increase in planning fees in nearly a decade.

In addition, a number of local authorities are introducing reductions in commercial rates for this year, or leaving their rates unchanged. The Government have also stepped in to prohibit upward only rent reviews and is helping to drive down the cost of professional fees by imposing an 8% reduction for professional services to the public sector.

Energy costs have fallen over the past year. The drop in industrial energy prices in Ireland in the twelve-month period to June 2009 was the third largest in the EU. Elsewhere, 22 out of 27 EU countries experienced increases on industrial energy prices over the same period. In fact, the rate of decline in gas prices for industrial users fell by almost 16%, double the European average. A report by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) published on 24th January showed that gas prices are now 7 per cent to 10 per cent below the EU average in the two main consumption bands for business.

A key pillar of our Competitiveness agenda is the programme of Better Regulation initiatives being pursued across Government. The High Level Action Group on Better Regulation published its first report in August last year and had already identified more than €20 million of administrative cost savings for business. The Group has a strong work-programme for this year, and welcomes any concrete, workable ideas that can be used to reduce red tape costs for business.

The Government will continue to exert downward pressure on prices in all relevant areas and build on the significant progress made in the past year.

Community Employment Schemes.

Martin Ferris

Question:

115 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the consultations she has had with FÁS, community sector groups and unemployment groups prior to budget 2010 in view of her decision to cut the FÁS training allowances for community employment and jobs initiatives participants and to cut funding for training and materials in respect of those on CE programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4681/10]

My Department consulted with a wide range of bodies prior to 2010 Budget including FÁS, some unemployment groups and community groups.

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

Budget 2010 contained some changes to Community Employment Schemes however, the qualifying criteria and rules for participation remain unchanged.

A number of savings were identified, mainly in the area of training allowances that are linked to Social Welfare payments and certain FÁS Allowances that are provided in addition to the core training allowances. The FÁS allowance for CE and JI participants will be reduced from €24.40 and €48.80 per week to €20 and €40 per week respectively. In addition, new entrants to FÁS training programmes will only be paid an allowance if they had been entitled to Job Seekers Allowance or Job Seekers Benefit.

The funding in respect of training and materials for those on CE programmes will be reduced from €1,500 to €750 per head per annum.

These savings will allow for increased activation of the unemployed including an additional 500 CE places bringing the total number of places available to 23,300.

Question No. 116 answered with Question No. 104.

Redundancy Payments.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

117 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of redundancies notified to her Department in respect of each year from 2002 to 2009 and to date in 2010; the number of projected redundancies for 2010; the amount of money paid out in statutory redundancy payment in respect of each year from 2002 to 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4844/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

140 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of claims for redundancy payments waiting to be processed within her Department at the latest date for which figures are available; the average time taken to process a claim; the steps she is taking to speed up this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4845/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 140 together.

Table 1 below sets out the number of statutory redundancies for the years 2002 to 2009 and provisional figures up to 29 January, 2010. These figures reflect the number of employees who actually qualified for statutory redundancy lump sum payments. They do not reflect those who lost their jobs with less than two years service in employment. It is not possible to project the number of redundancies which will arise in 2010 as this will depend on a number of factors, including economic factors and the rate of recovery in the economy. However, the figures available for January 2010 suggest that the pattern, which became evident in 2009, of an average weekly intake of 1,500 new claims is unfortunately continuing.

Table 2 sets out the monies paid out of the Social Insurance Fund in respect of redundancy claims for the years 2002-2009 and up to 27 January, 2010. It is not possible to project the amount which will be paid out in 2010 as this will hinge on a number of variables including the number of claims received, the length of service of the claimants etc.

The latest figures available to the start of January 2010 indicate that the number of redundancy claims on hand and awaiting processing stands at 41,249. I should point out that my Department has, in 2009, processed 50,664 claims, up 70% on last year, and made corresponding payments totalling €336m which results in average weekly payments to the value of €6.5m being issued. In the period 2007-2009, the level of new claims lodged with my Department has increased cumulatively by 200%. This contrasts with the period 2005-2006 in which period the increase in new claims lodged was just 10%.

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation.

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is currently processing rebate applications submitted by post from May 2009 and those filed on-line from June 2009, so that the waiting time is approximately 8 to 9 months depending on the manner of filing the application. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees in instances where employers are unable to pay the statutory redundancy entitlements, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from July 2009.

I should point out that efforts have been made by the Tánaiste and myself to deliver more acceptable turnaround processing times for redundancy payments given the difficulties that this gives rise to for both individual employees and the business community.

Measures already taken include:

the reassignment of 26.7 additional staff (full time equivalents) from other areas of the Department to the Redundancy Payments area since early 2009 with ongoing review of trends and demands. The current number of staff serving in the Redundancy Payments Section in terms of full time equivalents is 52.5;

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

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

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

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

The Tánaiste and I are monitoring closely the impact of these changes against the continuing influx of redundancy claims and it is clear that additional measures are required to help reduce the backlog of claims which currently stands in excess of 40,000. The Department is currently actively engaged in efforts to secure up to 16 additional staff resources deployed to the area in the first quarter of 2010.

Table 1: Actual Statutory Redundancies for years 2002 to 2009 and up to 29 January 2010 Levels of redundancy claims lodged 2002-29 January 2010:

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010*

24,432

25,769

25,041

23,156

23,684

25,459

40,607

77,001

6,465

*Provisional figures.

Table 2: Expenditure on Statutory Redundancies for years 2002 to 2009 and up to 27 January, 2010

(€000)

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008*

2009*

2010*

53,978

88,933

152,162

149,172

166,483

183,328

193,711

336,404

22,411

*Provisional figures.

Unemployment Levels.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

118 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures she is taking to address the unemployment crisis in the mid-west region where unemployment is running at 13.8% which is 1% above the national rate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4930/10]

Last February I established the Mid West Region Task Force, to consider and make recommendations concerning the implications the economic downturn was having on the region. The rising unemployment rate in the region is one of the key issues the Task Force is examining. I have received the Task Force's Interim Report and last week I made a detailed Statement to the House on how the Government was responding to the Task Force's recommendations.

The key measure enacted is that a multi-agency response to the Dell-related job losses has been taking place at two levels. The first level focuses on providing information and support services to individuals facing unemployment. The second level includes the delivery of specific initiatives to indigenous sub-supply companies in the Mid-West to explore alternative markets, products and business opportunities.

These measures will now be continued and expanded up to September 2011 under a successful application, which I made last June under the EU's European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. This application has been approved at EU level and is already being put into effect. Under this application the EU will co-fund the delivery of a personalised package of occupational guidance, training, employment, entrepreneurship and educational measures for 2,400 redundant workers.

At a national level the Government has enacted several measures and substantially increased the resources to assisting the unemployed. For instance, we have almost doubled the job search support services of FÁS, to an annual referral capacity under the National Employment Action Plan, to 147,000 places. This year my Department will invest €781 million in the provision of training and work experience opportunities for the unemployed. This will deliver approximately 147,000 places, which is significantly higher than the 66,000 delivered in 2008.

To protect vulnerable employment, last year I introduced the Employment Subsidy Scheme. This Scheme provides subsidies to enterprises to retain their employees that may otherwise have been in danger of being made redundant. Between this year and last year, €135 million has been allocated to the Scheme and it is expected that this will either directly or indirectly support approximately 80,000 jobs.

In terms of job creation my Department's development agencies continue to seek to attract and support new projects in the Mid West region. As a result, 1,100 new jobs are now coming on stream in Limerick and Clare in eight projects approved by IDA and Shannon Development in 2008 and 2009. I have also asked the IDA in its new Strategy, to be published later this month, to make a renewed stronger effort in the regions, including the Mid-West.

The Government also announced as part of Budget 2010 a jobs stimulus measure entitled the Employer Jobs PRSI Incentive Scheme. Under this scheme employers who recruit people from the Live Register will receive a PRSI exemption for one year. I expect that this scheme in addition with the other measures I have mentioned will assist in tackling the current unemployment problem in the Mid West region.

Departmental Bodies.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

119 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her proposals for the rationalisation of bodies involved in the encouragement of enterprise here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4821/10]

As with all recommendations of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes relevant to my Department, I am examining the relevant recommendations and evaluating the potential impact on the provision of services to enterprise and on my efforts to protect and promote employment.

Since the recommendations impact on the responsibilities of several Government Departments, the views of those Departments need to be taken fully into account. In addition, as the objective of the Special Group was to secure Exchequer savings in the short term, it is essential that a realistic and fully informed assessment of all potential savings can be arrived at before any decision is taken towards rationalisation of the bodies concerned.

Community Employment Schemes.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

120 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to increase the number of places on community employment schemes during 2010 in view of the fact that there has been an increase in unemployment; her views on whether it would be in the interest of many, especially young men, if they were allowed to work on such schemes carrying out valuable work for communities rather than sitting at home or worse; her further views on the regulations regarding persons under 60 years and the limit of time for participants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4873/10]

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

Eligible persons under 55 years of age may be eligible for a maximum of 3 years overall participation on Community Employment (CE). Eligible persons of 55 or over may be eligible to a maximum of 6 years overall participation on CE. Persons in receipt of any of the 4 disability-linked Social Welfare payments may be eligible for 1 additional year's participation.

In Budget 2010 provision was made for an increase of 500 CE places bringing the total number of places available to 23,300 during 2010.

Food Industry.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

121 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the EU Commission proposal COM(2009)591 on the European food supply chain and marketing will provide for Irish and European action for rebalancing the food supply chain; if the proposed code of conduct in the grocery retail sector will be redundant if these proposals are implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4975/10]

My colleague the Minister for Agriculture is directly involved in the discussions regarding the various initiatives proposed in the Commission's Communication and I, and my officials, are working with his Department in developing Ireland's position regarding these proposals.

As the Deputy may be aware, the EU Commission's Communication of October 2009 on "A better functioning food supply chain in Europe" followed on from earlier initiatives by the Commission in relation to the significant fluctuations in the price of food in recent years, the differences in prices along the supply chain and the effects these fluctuations were having on the various parts of the supply chain and on consumers. The Communication sets out a number of possible policy initiatives to overcome the challenges faced by the European supply chain. These initiatives are essentially concerned with:

Promoting sustainable and market-based relationships between stakeholders in the food supply chain;

Increasing transparency along the chain to encourage competition and improve its resilience to price volatility;

Fostering the integration and competitiveness of the European food supply chain across Member States.

As regards the interaction between the initiatives proposed in the Commission's Communication and the commitment in the Renewed Programme for Government to introduce a Code of Practice in the Grocery Goods Sector, I do not see any conflict between these proposals. Whilst both indeed are concerned with the relationships between stakeholders in the food supply chain, the Communication fully recognises that sweeping generalisations cannot be made in relation to the state of relationships between stakeholders and that due cognisance must be taken of local market conditions. In the circumstances, therefore, I do not see that the introduction of a Code of Practice for the Grocery Goods Sector as proposed in the Programme for Government and the implementation of any proposals that may emanate from the discussions on the Commission's Communication as being mutually exclusive. It is the case that other Member States have introduced various measures to regulate the relationships between stakeholders in the food supply chain notwithstanding the publication of the Commission's Communication. It should also be appreciated that the discussions on the Communication are at a very early stage.

The importance of the food sector and food supply chain cannot be overstated, particularly in relation to a food exporting country like Ireland. I very much welcome the Commission's initiative in tackling the macro issues affecting the European supply chain. In terms of the domestic position, I am satisfied that the introduction of a Code of Practice will also help to tackle the issues affecting the grocery goods sector in this country. I am strongly of the view, therefore, that both these initiatives will help to increase transparency along the food supply chain and to promote sustainable and market based relationships between stakeholders, thereby, ensuring that the food sector can continue to prosper and deliver value right along the chain from the farm gate to the consumer.

EU Directives.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

122 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the draft consumer rights directive; if she is satisfied that the existing rights of consumers here, such as the right to reject, will be retained; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4832/10]

The proposal for a Consumer Rights Directive was published in October 2008 and brings together in updated and consolidated form four existing Directives on doorstep selling, distance sales, consumer sales and guarantees, and unfair contract terms. Unlike the Directives it is intended to replace, the proposal has been drafted on a full harmonisation basis and, if adopted on this basis, would preclude Member States from going beyond its protections in national legislation.

In the case of a complex proposal like the proposed Consumer Rights Directive, arriving at an overall assessment of its implications for consumer rights is not a straightforward matter. Some proposals, such as the proposed extension of the withdrawal period for distance and off-premises contracts from seven to fourteen days and the provision that risk would pass with delivery in consumer sales contracts, would enhance Irish consumer rights. Other provisions, such as those on unfair contract terms, broadly reflect the existing legal position here and would neither enhance nor diminish consumer rights.

Concerns about the proposal's impact for consumer rights in Ireland centre mainly on its provisions on consumer remedies for faulty goods and in particular, as the Deputy's question suggests, on their implications for what is known as the right to reject. By this is meant the right to return faulty goods, obtain a refund of the price, and, in so doing, to terminate the contract. This is a well-established feature of our sale of goods law and, though qualified by quite complex provisions on the acceptance and rejection of goods, is an important safeguard for consumers and one that materially strengthens their hand in dealing with recalcitrant traders.

Though the proposed Directive makes provision for a broadly similar right to rescind the contract where goods are faulty, this applies only where the primary remedies of repair or replacement are unlawful, impossible or disproportionate, or are not made available by the trader, or fail to remedy the defect within a reasonable time or without significant inconvenience to the consumer, or if the same defect recurs more than once within a short period of time. A fully harmonised provision along these lines would, if adopted, mean that the right to reject would be a remedy of second rather than first resort for faulty goods. Though consumers are satisfied in many cases with the repair or replacement of faulty goods, the relegation of the right to reject to the status of a secondary remedy would have, and would be seen to have, an adverse effect on Irish consumer rights.

The Sales Law Review Group, which I established in November 2008, in order, among other things, to assess the implications of the proposed Directive for Irish consumer rights and law, produced a comprehensive assessment of the proposal in a position paper published in July 2009. Though the Review Group acknowledged the positive elements in the proposal, it stated that the provisions on remedies for faulty goods and a related provision that would reduce the liability period for faulty goods under Irish law from six to two years presented ‘the greatest threat to the protections currently enjoyed by Irish consumers'. My Department has taken careful note of the points made by the Review Group and the Group's assessment has been of considerable benefit in informing our approach to the discussions on the proposed Directive.

I would like to assure the Deputy that my officials have expressed our concerns about the relevant aspects of the proposed Directive in clear and forthright terms. Those concerns were restated at political level in a policy debate on the proposed Directive at last December's Competitiveness Council.

It is important to recognise however that discussions on the proposed Directive have a considerable way to go at both official and Ministerial level. The European Parliament is also set to begin its detailed examination of the proposal in 2010. The European Commission is fully aware of our and other Member States' concerns about aspects of the proposal. In an address to the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee in March 2009, the then Consumer Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva, stated that the proposed Directive ‘does not force Member States to give up their general contract law remedies in the case of faulty goods, for example the right to reject faulty goods...' She acknowledged the ‘understandable and legitimate concerns about crucial issues' in Member States, including the provisions on remedies and the liability period for faulty goods. The Commissioner concluded by stating that she was ‘ready to work further on these questions' and that ‘it may be that certain consumer rights need to be reinforced'.

Community Employment Schemes.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

123 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will reverse her decisions to cut the FÁS allowance for community employment and job initiative participants and to cut funding for training and materials for those on CE programmes, at a time when unemployment is high and policy should be geared at prioritising training persons for employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4680/10]

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and FÁS has been reviewing options regarding Community Employment and Job Initiative on an ongoing basis for making better use of the resources available in order to achieve the best outcomes for the maximum number of clients.

In Budget 2010 a number of savings were identified, mainly in the area of training allowances that are linked to Social Welfare payments and certain FÁS Allowances that are provided in addition to the core training allowances. In addition funding in respect of training and materials for those on CE programmes was reduced. These savings will allow for increased activation of the unemployed including an additional 500 CE places bringing the total number of places available to 23,300.

Prompt Payments System.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

124 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the fact that a number of Government Departments are falling short of meeting the targets set by her that suppliers would be paid within 15 days of the receipt of an invoice; the steps she will take to ensure greater compliance with the target set; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4830/10]

On foot of the Government Decision of 19 May 2009 regarding the reduction of payment periods by Government Departments to 15 days, Departments are required to report quarterly to my Department on their performance in meeting this target. The first returns by Departments covered the period 15 June to 30 September 2009. The information supplied has been collated by my Department and published by me so that there is transparency in the overall performance across Departments.

These first returns show:

A total of 62,860 payments were made by Departments in the above period amounting to €1.92bn;

49,890 payments totalling approximately €1.76bn were paid within 15 days. These payments represent 80% of total payments made by Departments; in value terms 91% were paid within 15 days;

There was however, some variation between the performances of individual Departments, 5 Departments were paying in excess of 90% of invoices within 15 days, a further 7 Departments were paying in excess of 83% of invoices within 15 days, while the remaining three had paid almost 50% of their payments within 15 days;

9 Departments had paid between 98% and 100% of their invoices within 30 days a further 5 had paid between 93% and 96% of their invoices within 30 days, while the remaining Department had paid 87% of invoices within 30 days.

It is evident therefore, from the returns received, that, overall, Departments are playing their parts in assisting the cash flow of their suppliers, many of whom are Small and Medium Enterprises. The new procedures and processes introduced are having an impact in assisting Irish SMEs cash flow in the current difficult economic environment and this development must be welcomed.

It is the responsibility of each Department to meet its obligations under the terms of the Government Decision. Businesses that experience difficulties in receiving payment on foot of valid invoices within 15 days should contact the contracting Department to resolve their difficulties.

While the first set of returns shows that some Departments have not yet fully complied with their requirements, I would anticipate that subsequent returns should show an improvement in the situation. My Department will continue to collate future quarterly returns and I will continue to publish the information provided.

Employment Rights.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

125 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will make a statement on the preliminary report of the National Employment Rights Authority for 2009; and her views on whether the increase in the number of prosecutions taken against employers reflects a continuing high level of breaches of the law by some employers. [4852/10]

The role of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) is to secure greater compliance with employment rights legislation and I welcome the fact that this is being achieved with equal emphasis on awareness raising and inspection activity and, where necessary, by pursuing prosecutions. NERA's work is essential in assisting individual workers to obtain their statutory entitlements, and to ensure that employers operate on a level playing pitch whereby no competitive advantage can be gained by undercutting workers' legal entitlements in the area of pay and conditions.

In 2009, NERA's telephone information service dealt with some 150,000 callers representing an increase of almost 31% over 2008 levels. It is interesting that some 40% of these callers were employers which would indicate a need on the part also of employers for information which NERA is very happy to provide. During 2009, NERA also took on a significant function on behalf of my Department which is that of assuming the role of answering calls from employers and employees in relation to redundancy claims. This has enabled the staff of my Department to focus on prioritising the processing of Redundancy Payment claims. NERA's website continues to provide valuable information on employment law obligations and entitlements with over 1.5 million web page impressions being recorded in 2009. I am particularly pleased that the Authority participated in 35 events organised by trade unions, employer bodies and others in order to provide information and promote awareness of employment law.

NERA's information and awareness activities are supported by monitoring and enforcement of compliance with Employment legislation in the workplace. Some 8,800 employers were inspected by NERA in 2009 involving 22,445 discrete inspections across the range of employment legislation. NERA recovered some €2.5 million in unpaid wages in total in 2009 arising from breaches of certain employment rights legislation. This brings the total recovered by NERA since its establishment in 2007 to in excess of €8 million.

In terms of prosecutions, it is important to point out that the number of cases referred for prosecution, or the number of cases that result in legal proceedings are not, in themselves, primary indicators of compliance levels. This is because in the majority of cases employers co-operate in rectifying breaches of employment law brought to their attention by NERA inspectors. Hence, reliance on legal proceedings in such cases is not necessary. However, NERA reserves the right to initiate legal proceedings, generally as a last resort, in all cases and, in 2009, 87 cases were referred for the purposes of initiating legal proceedings. This represents a very small level — just over 3% — of the total number of cases involving breaches that were closed in 2009. A further 21 referrals related to requests by the Construction Industry Monitoring Agency for the initiation of proceedings against employers who failed to comply with Labour Court orders.

NERA currently employs two primary indicators of compliance in so far as its inspection activities are concerned namely: the ratio of compliant employers to inspection cases closed and the ratio of breaches detected to the total number of discrete inspections. In this regard, some 69% of the individual employer cases closed in 2009 and 81% of individual discrete inspections did not involve a breach of employment legislation. The comparable indicators of compliance for 2008 were 77% and 79% respectively.

The incidence of breaches detected in NERA inspections under individual pieces of employment legislation also provides a useful indication of the level of compliance. Based on inspections undertaken in 2009 and 2008 the compliance rates in this regard are as set out in the table. It is NERA's intention in 2010 to continue, through proactive education and awareness programmes underpinned by the use of focused and risk-based enforcement measures, to strive for enhanced compliance with employment law.

Legislation under which inspection undertaken

Compliance rate % 2009

Compliance rate % 2008

%

%

National Minimum Wage Act

93

91

Payment of Wages Act

87

85

Organisation of Working Time Act

53

55

REAs/EROs

38

33

Protection of Young Persons Act

99

97

Proposed Legislation.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

126 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when it is intended to publish the legislation to amend the Competition Acts 1991 to 2006 to uphold the right of certain freelance workers such as actors and musicians to engage in collective bargaining, which was promised as part of the review of the Towards 2016 agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4848/10]

In the Review of Towards 2016 the Government committed to introducing amending legislation to exclude voice-over actors, freelance journalists and session musicians from the provisions of Section 4 of the Competition Act 2002. This commitment takes into account, inter alia, that there would be negligible negative impacts on the economy or on the level of competition, and, having regard to the specific attributes and nature of the work involved, is subject to consistency with EU competition rules.

I intend to give effect to this commitment in the legislation being prepared in the context of a review of competition law generally, the proposed merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency and the Report of the Media Merger Advisory Group.

Work on the Heads of a Bill is at an advanced stage and I expect that the Bill will be published during 2010.

Job Initiative Programme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

127 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the introduction of additional social economy and job initiative schemes to help deal with the unemployment situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4843/10]

As stated in previous replies to the Deputy, responsibility for the Social Economy Programme transferred to the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs on 1 January 2006 and it has been re-named as the Community Services Programme. FÁS as an agency of my Department operates Job Initiative (JI).

The Job Initiative Programme (JI) was launched in July 1996 and provides full time employment for people who are 35 years of age or over, unemployed for 5 years or more, and in receipt of Social Welfare payments over that period.

The main purpose of the programme is to assist long-term unemployed people to prepare for work opportunities by providing participants with work experience, training and development opportunities. The programme is sponsored by voluntary organisations and public bodies involved in not-for-profit activities.

Following changes introduced on 10 November 2004 by Minister Micheál Martin no new entrants have been admitted on to the Job Initiative Schemes. However, contracts for existing participants are renewed and CE participants replace those who leave voluntarily.

This Government will continue to support the positive role of FÁS Employment Schemes in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. The operation of the Scheme is being kept under constant review in the context of the current difficult unemployment situation.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

128 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of personnel in her Department to whom the full public service pay cuts provided for by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009 will not apply by virtue of Circular 28/2009 issued by the Department of Finance on 22 December 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4825/10]

Circular 28/2009 issued by the Department of Finance on 22 December 2009 applies to all general civil service grades in my Department. In accordance with paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Circular, the reductions for the grades of Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary comprise a reduction in the salary scale and the termination of the scheme of performance-related awards previously payable to those grades which entailed an average payment of 10% of salary.

The salaries of 14 officers in my Department, i.e. 7 Assistant Secretaries and 7 other officials who are at a grade equivalent to that of Assistant Secretary have been adjusted in accordance with paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Circular.

Economic Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

129 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action she has taken or proposes to take to improve the industrial cost base here with particular reference to the need to restore competitiveness in the manufacturing, commercial and service sectors; the degree to which she has examined or proposes to address the costs deemed the most likely to impede our competitiveness at home and abroad; the degree to which she has identified the five most important factors now affecting this economy’s competitiveness; the extent to which she has made comparison with other competing economies within the EU and elsewhere with a view to addressing the issues that have emerged; the discussions she has had with various employment generating sectors in an effort to identify the most important issues; the recommendations emerging from any such discussions; when it is intended to implement corrective action; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4914/10]

Ireland has consistently been regarded amongst the most competitive economies in the world for supporting enterprise. Reports such as the ‘ IBM Global Location Trends Annual Report 2009’ that was published in October of last year ranked Ireland 1st for attracting FDI on a per capita basis. They listed our key strengths in services and R&D as the reason for topping the list. Similarly, the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business 2010’ ranks Ireland 7th out of 181 countries, unchanged from a year previously. Last week Ireland was ranked the third most globalised nation, according to an index published by Ernst & Young at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The index is measured by a country’s openness to trade, movement of capital, exchange of technology and ideas, labour movements and cultural integration. So, even though we face significant challenges, it is important to point to these enduring strengths. Ireland is still recognised as a prime location for enterprise to develop.

In Government, we are conscious that further improvement in Ireland's competitive position will foster economic growth. By maximising our resources, our job is to provide a suitable framework that will encourage enterprise development and opportunities. Energy costs have fallen over the past year. The drop in industrial energy prices in Ireland in the twelve-month period to June 2009 was the third largest in the EU. Elsewhere, 22 out of 27 EU countries experienced increases in industrial energy prices over the same period. In fact, the rate of decline in gas prices for industrial users fell by almost 16%, double the European average. A report by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) published on January 24th, showed that gas prices are now 7 per cent to 10 per cent below the EU average in the two main consumption bands for business.

In fact, prices across the economy have fallen substantially. The last Consumer Price Index data from the Central Statistics Office show that prices fell by 5 per cent in December 2009 compared to December 2008. A further reduction in prices is forecast for next year, meaning our competitive position in relation to our trading partners is improving.

Labour costs also constitute a substantial cost for businesses. CSO data show that earnings across the private sector have fallen. Public sector pay has also been reduced. In recognition of these trends, the latest European Commission forecasts for Unit Labour Costs show Ireland's competitiveness in this area is expected to improve considerably relative to the European average over the forecast period.

The National Competitiveness Council released its latest report on ‘Ireland's Competitiveness Challenge' last month. It identified a number of key areas that can boost Ireland's competitiveness, namely: labour market supports and activation, reducing business costs and investing in infrastructure. The Government are already taking action in all these areas.

For example €364 million has been allocated to training and integration supports for the unemployed. €114.5 million is available in 2010 for the Employment Subsidy Scheme, which already helped protect more than 43,000 jobs last year. As I've already illustrated, business costs in the form of labour and energy prices have fallen. Survey evidence also shows that companies are shopping around more to find the best deals to suit their needs. A survey from the mobile operator 3 found that almost two-thirds (64pc) of Irish businesses have switched their phone, internet or electricity supplier, with 62pc of those that switched achieving savings of over 10pc.

Infrastructure investment is a key pillar of the government's policy. The 2010 Budget includes a commitment of exchequer capital investment of over €39 billion for the period 2010-2016. Indeed, at 5% of Gross National Product, the 2010 allocation of €6.4 billion is proportionally very high in comparison to levels of capital investment across the EU.

Proposed Legislation.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

130 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when she will publish anti-victimisation legislation, designed to protect those workers who choose to join a trade union and which was promised by March 2009 under the review of Towards 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4846/10]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

143 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when it is intended to publish legislation to address employee representation at work which was promised by June 2009 under the review of Towards 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4847/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 143 together.

The Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009 (paras 9.1-9.3) provides for the establishment of a review process to consider the legal and other steps necessary to enable the employee representation mechanisms that had been established under previous agreements — and in legislation — to operate as they had been intended. The Agreement (para 9.4) also commits the Government to bringing forward legislative proposals to prohibit the victimisation of trade union members and to prohibit the incentivisation of persons not to be members of a trade union.

In furtherance to these commitments, two informal meetings took place late last year, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach and at which my Department; the Department of Finance; trade unions; and employers were represented. Position papers were prepared by the employer and trade union representatives on the issues which they saw as requiring to be addressed by any new legislation in this area.

While consideration is continuing within Government on proposals to address the issues involved, progress in bringing the work to a conclusion will have to take account of other priority legislative commitments to be delivered in the employment area, resource constraints within Departments, and the extent of agreement between the trade union and employer sides in this area.

Appointments to State Boards.

Joe McHugh

Question:

131 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the members of the new FÁS board; the number of the persons appointed that made an application; if she will submit their names for ratification to Dáil Éireann; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5002/10]

On 21 January 2010 I appointed a new Board of FÁS, drawing on a wide range of experience from both the private and public sector. Members of the Board are as follows:

Michael Dempsey, (Chair), Former Senior Director, Bristol Myers Squibb

Tony Dempsey, Former Principal, Enniscorthy Vocational College

Martin Hogan, Innovation Manager, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology

Sean Gallagher, Managing Director, Smart Homes Ltd

Sean O'Longain, Chief Executive Officer, Co Donegal VEC

Margaret Sweeney, Chief Executive Officer, Postbank Ireland Ltd

Emer Gilvarry, Managing Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran

Dr Brendan Murphy, President, Cork Institute of Technology

Annette Hughes, Director, DKM Economic Consultants

Of the eleven members of the Board, five made a formal application as part of the public call for expressions of interest.

Mr Dermot Curran, Assistant Secretary, was appointed to Board as the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment representative and Mr Paul O'Toole, as Director General of FÁS, is an ex-officio member of the board.

The Labour Services (Amendment) Act does not include a requirement for ratification of the Board by either House of the Oireachtas.

National Minimum Wage.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

132 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has received a report from the Labour Court in regard to a possible change in the national minimum wage; if not, when she expects to receive its report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4840/10]

I understand that in November 2008, ICTU requested the Labour Court to review the national minimum wage and to make a recommendation to me concerning its adjustment. The Court subsequently invited submissions on the issue. Various submissions were received, including from IBEC, ICTU and the Department of Finance. The Labour Court also held discussions with these parties.

Under the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000, the Labour Court is required, in the first instance, to have regard to the prospects for any general agreement that may be reached between employer and employee representatives on the appropriate national minimum hourly rate of pay. In this context, the Court is required to conclude that there is no prospect of a general agreement being reached between the parties.

It would be inappropriate for me to comment further while the matter is still under consideration by the Court.

Workplace Accidents.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

133 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will make a statement on the report of the Health and Safety Authority on workplace accidents during 2009; the steps she will take to ensure that the decrease in workplace accidents and deaths continue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4849/10]

The Health and Safety Authority has said that in 2009 there were 43 reported workplace fatalities, as compared to 57 in 2008, an almost 25% decrease in worker deaths over 2008 and the lowest number of reported workplace deaths in 20 years.

I have welcomed this positive trend, albeit with some reservations because behind each of these unfortunate fatalities there are 43 families who are mourning the loss of a family member in a workplace accident and I extend my sympathy to those families.

The year 2009 has seen not only the lowest number of workplace fatalities in absolute terms, but it is also very encouraging to see a downward trend when one considers that the workforce has significantly increased over the same 20 year period.

The high-risk sectors, Agriculture and Construction which had the highest numbers of fatalities, have shown the largest falls in recent years. In Construction, the number of fatalities was 10 in 2009, compared with — for example — 13 fatalities in 2006, 18 in 2007 and 15 in 2008. Agriculture fatalities were 21 in 2008 and 10 in 2009.

The main message in workplace safety is that many accidents are preventable but the basic procedures as regards workplace safety have often been ignored. Identifying risk, assessing it, and following up by putting in place a system to minimise that risk are the absolute minimum requirements in all workplaces. It comes down to the need for a culture of safety in workplaces and, in this regard, workplaces can ultimately only be made safe by those who control and work in them.

I have recently agreed a Programme of Work for the Health and Safety Authority for 2010 that will focus on seeking to maintain the gains that we have made in recent years. I hope to launch that Programme in the near future. The Priorities that I have agreed with the Authority for 2010 include:

A continuing focus on the highest risk areas of Agriculture and Construction

Occupational health

Manual handling

Slips, trips and falls

Work-related vehicle safety

Healthcare sector

Special Chemicals Inspection Programme

The Authority's role under the Chemicals Act 2008.

Other sectors that continue to be identified as hazardous or higher-risk will also continue to receive Authority attention in its inspection programme. Enforcement and prevention initiatives will continue to target the main causes of accidents and ill health in these sectors.

For 2010, my hope is that there will be an increase in awareness among workers in regard to safety in the workplace which together with the work of the Health and Safety Authority will lead to safer workplaces and even fewer injuries and fatalities.

Employment Support Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

134 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the timeline for the implementation of the new activation fund in terms of dates; the way proposals will be judged; if she will be issuing guidelines or terms of reference for groups hoping to make a proposal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4678/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

136 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a call for proposals for the activation fund will be issued; the person who will be charged with examining these proposals and allocating funds; if there will be representation of unemployment groups and the community sector on the awarding authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4677/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

151 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way the activation fund will be distributed in terms of geographic spread and equal regional allocation; if preference will be given to proposals that operate in blackspots of unemployment; if preference will be given to proposals that focus training and employment in local communities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4679/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134, 136 and 151 together.

The Labour Market Activation Fund announced in the Budget 2010 is intended to provide additional effective training and education opportunities to the unemployed. It will specifically target the low skilled and those suffering from structural unemployment in the manufacturing, construction and retail sectors, and will seek to prioritise young people and those over one year unemployed.

The Government have made €20 million available for the Labour Market Activation Fund in 2010 and it is expected that a call for expressions of interest will issue very shortly with subsequent successful proposals starting to come on stream as soon as possible when contracts are awarded. All sectors of the economy including the public, private and community and voluntary sectors will be able to submit their proposals, which will be processed through my Department.

Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 104.
Question No. 136 answered with Question No. 134.

Departmental Expenditure.

Willie Penrose

Question:

137 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will make a statement on her Department’s Estimate for 2010. [4823/10]

The 2010 Estimates which were published in parallel with the Budget on 9 December 2009 make provision for Gross Exchequer funding of €1,590,526 million for my Department this year. In addition, a sum of €426.431 million is being provided from the National Training Fund, giving my Department a total budget of €2,016,957 million for 2010.

Many programmes and agencies under my Department's remit are taking reductions on their 2009 Estimates in line with the need to improve efficiency in public spending. Overall, however, my Department's Estimate for 2010 represents a net increase of €70.7 million on the 2009 provision.

Additional funding is being made available, in particular, for targeted measures to support jobs and tackle unemployment. For example:

A sum of €114.5 million is being made available in 2010 for the Temporary Employment Subsidy Scheme. This represents an increase of €94 million on the 2009 provision.

An extra €20 million is being provided for a new Activation Fund, which will provide education and training opportunities for the unemployed.

An extra €14 million is being provided to complement support from the European Globalisation Fund, which assists redundant workers to get back into employment.

Other key areas which will be a focus for my Department's funding in 2010 include restoring competitiveness through enterprise support, and building Ireland's Smart Economy through investing in Science, Technology and Innovation.

Some technical refinements to my Department's Estimate for 2010 will be made in the Revised Estimates Volume which will be published later this month. Full details of my objectives for the use of my Department's 2010 allocation will be presented to the Select Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment in due course.

Departmental Reports.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

138 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made to date by the high level action group on green enterprise; when she expects to receive the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4841/10]

The High Level Action Group on Green Enterprise was launched on 21 May 2009 and the Group continued to meet until 21 September 2009. The group also held a number of consultation sessions with interested parties over the Summer. The Report was finalised in October 2009 and submitted to Government on 3 November 2009. I published the Report on 2 December 2009 and launched it together with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on that day.

Legislative Programme.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

139 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the work of the Company Law Review Group; the timeframe for the publication of legislation following the reports of this group; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4834/10]

In accordance with Section 70(1) of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001, the Company Law Review Group's (CLRG) Work Programme is assigned by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment every two years. I expect to receive the Report of the Group on its 2008-2009 Work Programme before the end of March. Following consideration by the Government the Report will be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

While there is no obligation on my part to legislate in respect of any recommendation from the CLRG, the main focus of the Group's work to date has been in relation to General Scheme of the Companies Consolidation and Reform Bill which was published in July 2007. The Government subsequently approved the drafting of a Bill along the lines of the General Scheme. The proposed Bill will consolidate all the existing Irish Companies Acts, dating from 1963 to 2009, as well as other regulations and common law provisions relating to the incorporation and operation of companies, into a single Act comprising more than 1,300 sections. Given its size and complexity it is envisaged that the Bill will not be published until October 2010 at the earliest.

Question No. 140 answered with Question No. 117.

Job Statistics.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

141 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs in the manufacturing sectors lost here in each of the past ten years to date in 2010 and deemed to have relocated to other economies; the reason for such relocation; the action she has taken to address the issues arising therefrom; the number of jobs created here through foreign direct investment in the same period; the extent to which she has studied the evidence arising; the action deemed appropriate in the circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4915/10]

The number of jobs lost in the manufacturing sector in each year from 1999 to 2008 is as follows:

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

17,352

16,542

24,667

24,539

21,360

17,878

15,609

15,718

16,870

21,388

The number of jobs created in the same period through foreign direct investment is as follows:

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

21,064

24,997

15,169

11,529

9,854

11,996

12,802

12,788

10,770

9,692

Data in respect of 2009 is being compiled and is expected to be available later this month.

There are no figures are available in respect of jobs relocated to other economies. There are many differing and complex factors that can influence a firm's decision to relocate and these are a reality of the modern globalised economic environment. Notwithstanding this, IDA Ireland has continued to attract and retain high value manufacturing investments from leading Global Corporations.

Job "churn" occurs in the internationally trading sector of the economy, in a number of ways and for a variety of reasons. Companies adjust their plant location and utilisation strategies to address matters such as accessing new markets, moving production nearer to customers, meeting firm or market specific customer relationship issues, accessing technology, in addition to business takeovers and consolidations. For much of the last decade, this churn has been positive for Ireland with companies replacing lower value activities with activities of higher value, resulting in better-paid, more highly skilled jobs.

This Government has been focusing on the actual priorities of businesses, such as energy and labour costs, together with the separate issue of credit availability. These are the main cost concerns of business. Where Government charges are an issue, we have maintained downward pressure, commercial rates being a case in point. In addition, I am satisfied that the policies and initiatives being pursued by the Industrial Development agencies and the CEBs will continue to bring about industrial development and employment opportunities for Ireland.

Community Employment Schemes.

Martin Ferris

Question:

142 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the location of the additional 500 community employment scheme places; if the additional 500 places will be allocated in blackspots of long-term unemployment; if they will be spread equally across the regions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4682/10]

The allocation of the 500 additional places is still being finalised.

Question No. 143 answered with Question No. 130.

Labour Inspectorate.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

144 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of labour inspectors employed by the National Employment Rights Authority; the number of labour inspectors available for assignment on normal duties; the number of labour inspectors in training following recruitment; the position regarding the recruitment campaign to increase the labour inspectorate to 90 inspectors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4851/10]

NERA currently has a team of 69 inspectors in place. Recruitment competitions have been held to bring the number of Inspectors from the original level of 31 Inspectors up to the level of 90 committed to under Towards 2016. 60 inspectors were assigned to NERA from these competitions. Some 22 Inspectors have left NERA over the past two years as a result of promotion or internal and external Departmental transfers and re-assignments. As a result, the total number of NERA Inspectors currently stands at 69.

All new inspectors completed the NERA Inspection Services Introductory Training Programme and have undertaken further training, including on-the-job training with experienced inspectors. This involves working with experienced Inspectors in carrying out inspections and other associated enquiries at places of work with a view to determining compliance with different employment rights legislation. Sixty inspectors have completed the Introductory Training Programme to date. The knowledge and skills of NERA Inspectors are continuously being developed through the provision of targeted training programmes and on-the-job training. All of these Inspectors are currently available for normal duties.

The moratorium on recruitment and promotions in the Public Service introduced on the 27th March 2009 has made it very unlikely that NERA will be able to increase the number of inspectors for the foreseeable future.

Employment Rights.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

145 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the criteria that will be attached to the inability-to-pay provision for the hotel, catering and retail sectors in respect of the way companies will demonstrate if they are in financial trouble that prevents them from paying their staff the minimum wage; the provisions that are being put in place by her Department as part of this clause that will prevent the exploitation of this legislation by employers who do not want to pay their employees the minimum wage; the steps that are being planned by her to make provision for workers in the business affected whose wages will be cut; if there will be a cut-off point at which employers will have to pay their employees a set wage below which they cannot go; if the remainder of the wage will be met by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4684/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government intends to introduce an "inability to pay" provision that will be adapted to the specific context of Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) and Registered Employment Agreements (REAs) respectively. This will be effected through the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill 2009 which is currently receiving a Second Stage reading in the Dáil, having completed its passage through the Seanad. The specific amendment to the Bill is currently being finalised in anticipation of the Committee Stage reading of the Bill.

The precise details of the approach being taken are not settled. However, I can say with certainty that there will be no question of the State compensating anyone for adjustments to wages that may arise as a result.

I have committed to consult with the opposition spokesperson and the relevant social partners during the process.

Employment Support Services.

David Stanton

Question:

146 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the changes she has introduced following the publication of the review of wage subsidy scheme; the further action she will take regarding the recommendations of the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4923/10]

A consultancy review of the operation of the pilot phase of the Wage Subsidy Scheme, that was commissioned by my Department, recommended that the scheme be placed on a permanent footing subject to a number of reforms being made to enhance its future operation, and improve take-up by both employers and people with disabilities.

These reforms are being implemented on an on-going basis and comprise:

removing the two separate productivity levels for the scheme

introducing a training element to the scheme

allowing Wage Subsidy Scheme employees and employers to avail of support under the Supported Employment Programme

promoting increased awareness of the scheme

allowing temporary retention of the Medical Card for Wage Subsidy Scheme employees

streamlining the administration of the scheme.

Subject to these reforms being successful, consideration will be given to extending eligibility for the Wage Subsidy Scheme to employment under the Disability Allowance Disregard Scheme operated by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, subject to the need for limiting deadweight costs.

EU Directives.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

147 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of EU directives for which her Department has responsibility remaining to be implemented; the directives that are overdue; the number of reasoned opinions received from the EU Commission since 2002 regarding delays or non-implementation of such directives; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4850/10]

Joe Costello

Question:

175 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there are EU Directives which require to be transposed into primary or secondary legislation; the list of such directives; the date they were drafted by the Commission; when she intends to transpose them into domestic law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4712/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 175 together.

There are currently a total of 15 EU Directives due to be transposed by my Department up to 2012. The following table provides details of the current position in relation to each Directive currently awaiting transposition within my Department, the date of adoption of each Directive, whether transposition will be by way of Primary or Secondary legislation and the current deadline for transposition. In addition full details on the state of play of all current EU Directives due for transposition are maintained on the Department's website, www.entemp.ie.

My Department has received 26 Reasoned Opinions from the European Commission relating to Directives since 2002. All but one of the outstanding issues has been settled satisfactorily. The remaining issue concerns Directive 2006/43 which is currently overdue and awaiting transposition.

The transposition of EU Directives is an ongoing priority in my Department and is reported to the Management Board on a regular basis.

Directives as of 29 January 2010

Directives to be Transposed in 2008 (One)

Description of Directive

Date adopted

Primary/ Secondary Legislation

Deadline for Transposition

Current position

1. Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory audits of annual and consolidated accounts

17/05/2006

Secondary

29/6/2008 Section: Company Law Administration

Drafting regulations being finalised. Expected date of transposition 26 February 2010 Infringement: European Court of Justice proceedings (Case C-294/09) initiated by Commission on 26 June 2009. Infringement No. 2008/0552 OVERDUE

Directives to be Transposed in 2009 (Two)

Description of Directive

Date adopted

Primary/ Secondary Legislation

Deadline for Transposition

Current position

2. Directive 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market.

12/12/2006

Secondary

28/12/2009 Section: Internal Market

Work on the transposition of the Directive is continuing. On 9 March 2009, the Department published, on its website, a draft Regulatory Impact Analysis on the Directive. On 4th August 2009, the Department published a Consultation Document, also on its website, on the transposition of the Directive. The deadline for the receipt of comments on the Consultation Document (which will be published on the website) was 30 September 2009. The comments received from stakeholders were published on the Department’s website. Expected date of transposition end July 2010 OVERDUE

3. Directive 2009/3/EC on units of measurement

11/03/2009

Secondary

31/12/2009 Section: NSAI Liaison

Regulations being prepared Expected date of transposition February 2010 OVERDUE

Directives to be Transposed in 2010 (Four)

Description of Directive

Date adopted

Primary/ Secondary Legislation

Deadline for Transposition

Current position

4. Directive 2006/25/EC on the minimum Health and Safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to risks arising from physical agents (artificial optical radiation)

05/04/2006

Secondary

27/4/2010 Section: H.S.A. Liaison

Drafting request issued to AG’s Office

5. Directive 2009/121/EC naming a new textile Melamine

14/09/2009

Secondary

15/9/2010 Section: Competition and Consumer Policy

Drafting is in progress

6. Directive 2009/122/EC describing the method of analysis for “Melamine”

14/09/2009

Secondary

15/9/2010 Section: Competition and Consumer Policy

Drafting is in progress

7. Directive 2009/49/EC amendment regarding certain disclosure requirements for medium-sized companies and the obligation to draw up consolidated accounts

18/06/2009

Secondary

31/12/2010 Section: Company Law

Drafting has not yet commenced

Directives to be Transposed in 2011 (Seven)

Description of Directive

Date adopted

Primary/ Secondary Legislation

Deadline for Transposition

Current position

8. Directive 2009/48/EC on the safety of toys

18/06/2009

Secondary

20/01/2011 Section: NSAI Liaison

Drafting has not yet commenced

9. Directive 2008/122/EC on the protection of consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts.

14/01/2009

Secondary

23/02/2011 Section: Competition and Consumer Policy

Draft Regulations have been forwarded to the OPC for drafting.

10. Directive 2009/38/EC on a European Works Council

06/05/2009

Primary

05/06/2011 Section: Industrial Relations

Consultation with the Social Partners about to commence. Primary legislation will then be drafted and transposition is expected to be completed by the deadline.

11. Directive 2009/127 on machinery for pesticide application

21/10/2009

Secondary

15/06/2011 Section: NSAI Liaison

Drafting has not yet commenced

12. Directive 2009/43/EC on simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community

06/05/2009

Primary

30/06/2011 Section: Market Access Unit

Drafting has not yet commenced

13. Directive 2008/104/EC on temporary agency workers

19/11/2008

Primary

05/12/2011 Section: Employment Rights

Drafting has not yet commenced

14. Directive 2009/109/ECamendment on the reporting and documentation requirements in the case of mergers and divisions

16/09/2009

Secondary

30/06/2011 Section: Company Law

Drafting has not yet commenced

Directives to be Transposed in 2012 (One)

Description of Directive

Date Adopted

Primary/ Secondary Legislation

Deadline for Transposition

Current position

15. Directive 2008/46/EC amendment on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields)

23/04/2008

Secondary

27/4/2012 Section: H.S.A. Liaison

Transposition date delayed until 2012 as original Directive (2007/30/EC) is amended by Directive 2008/46/EC to take account of possible impact on MRI scanners

Proposed Legislation.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

148 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when she will publish the legislation promised (details supplied) to clamp down on crony capitalism, to restrict cross-directorships and to prevent one person fulfilling the dual role of chair and chief executive of a company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4836/10]

The remarks attributed to the Minister for Finance in the interview in question would, no doubt, have been made with the banking sector in particular in mind.

In relation to the banking sector, I would refer the Deputy to previous parliamentary question 44958/09 of 2nd December last in which the Minister for Finance, inter alia, refers to proposals aimed at developing new statutory rules for the governance of major financial institutions in the context of the planned reform of the regulatory structures for financial regulation.

In the area of company law that falls within my responsibility, the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is currently drafting the Company Law Consolidation and Reform Bill. It sets out the corporate duties of directors, company secretaries and auditors on a general basis across all sectors. The Bill will implement the recommendations of the Company Law Review Group in that the fiduciary duties owed by directors to the company will be stated in the new companies code.

At present company law does not prohibit cross-directorships, whereby a person is a director of more than one company at the same time. The general position is that a person may not be a director of more than 25 companies subject to certain specific exceptions. Directorships of public limited companies (plcs) are not included in the limit of 25. Any consideration of a change in this position for the general cohort of companies operating in Ireland would need to take account of the contribution that non-executive directors make by imparting their mix of expertise and the cross fertilisation of ideas from other areas of the business community.

The Companies Acts do not prevent a person fulfilling the dual role of chair and chief executive of a company. This would in my opinion be unworkable for smaller companies. However, the Combined Code of Corporate Governance which applies to companies whose securities are listed and traded on the Irish Stock Exchange does provide that the roles of chairman and chief executive should not be exercised by the same individual. The "comply or explain" principle, which is now enshrined in law under Statutory Instrument 450 of 2009, requires companies to meet the best practice guidelines or explain publicly why not.

The Government and I are committed to ensuring that our corporate governance regime for the corporate sector generally, accords with best international practice. We will take account of the lessons which emerge from current enquiries and reviews arising from recent developments and we will address, as appropriate, any concerns in this area including by way of legislation if necessary.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

149 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding legislation to provide for the amalgamation of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority; the time-line for the publication of this legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4833/10]

Work on the Heads of a Bill to provide for, inter alia, the merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency is at an advanced stage. I expect that the Bill will be published during 2010.

Departmental Expenditure.

Liz McManus

Question:

150 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the recommendations of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes in so far as they relate to her Department and agencies for which she has responsibility; the recommendations which have been accepted; the recommendations that have been rejected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4839/10]

The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes included recommendations for the rationalisation of some services provided by my Department's agencies, and for reductions in certain programme and staffing costs.

I have already accepted a number of these recommendations in whole or in part and the resultant financial savings have been incorporated in my Department's Estimate for 2010. Details of these savings are provided on the table below.

In addition to the savings outlined on the table, further savings will be realised in 2010 through the reduction in staff numbers and in pay levels across my Department and its agencies. The 2010 Estimate for my Department which was published on 9 December 2009 included an indicative provisional sum of €39.658 million to be applied to my Department's allocation in respect of adjustments to be made to public service pay.

My Department is currently finalising the precise extent of the pay savings in consultation with the Department of Finance and the necessary adjustments will be reflected in the Revised Estimates Volume which is due to be published later this month.

My Department is continuing to examine all of the proposals made by the Special Group in respect of my Department and its agencies to determine the scope for the implementation of further recommendations.

Some proposals, such as the rationalisation of agencies, may be quite complex to implement and may require legislative provision if they are to be achieved. There are also a number of recommendations in the report affecting my Department which will require cross-Departmental consideration.

However, my Department will examine these proposals and will also look at alternative ways of finding efficiencies which meet the general thrust of the Special Group report.

Recommendation in the Report of the Special Group

Saving in 2010

Comments

€m

Reduce IDA capital and administrative costs, including rationalisation of regional offices in Ireland and shared services

0.857

Administrative costs have been reduced by €857,000 for 2010. The question of rationalisation of offices requires further consideration.IDA’s Capital allocation for 2010 is directly related to its legal commitments. However, €10m was cut from the agency’s budget in 2009 on a once-off basis.

Enterprise Ireland — efficiency saving in administration.

3.024

Enterprise Ireland’s administrative budget has been reduced by €3.024m for 2010.

Cease funding FÁS Services to Business and Skillnets

6.000

Reduction of €6 million has been made in 2010 Estimates for FÁS’s Services to Business

Abolish FAS training allowances for participants who do not qualify for Jobseekers Benefit/Allowance

3.200

This recommendation is being implemented in 2010

Formally merge the functions of the Registrar of Friendly Societies and Companies Registration Office and secure additional efficiencies

0.146

The CRO and the RFS currently operate on a shared office basis. Legislative change is required to formally merge the bodies. The Department is currently reviewing the Industrial and Provident Societies (co-operatives) and Friendly Societies legislation. In the meantime, administrative efficiencies of €140,000 have been identified for 2010.

Savings in Corporate Services; reduction in Administrative Budget.

0.468

Non-Pay savings of €468,000 and substantial Pay savings in the Administrative Budget will be reflected in the Revised Estimates Volume.

TOTAL

13.695

Question No. 151 answered with Question No. 134.

Foreign Direct Investment.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

152 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the figures for foreign direct investment here for each of the years from 2002 to 2009; the proposals she has to encourage such investment in 2010 and future years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4820/10]

In the period 2002 to 2009, there were a total of 916 foreign investments won by IDA for this country. The number of investments in each of those years is shown in the following tabular statement.

International investment will continue to be a key driver of employment, exports and growth. Ireland's corporate tax rate of 12.5%, our multilingual skilled workforce and our strategic location to serve markets in Europe has served us well in attracting investors and will continue to do so. Many multinational companies are restructuring their global operations, leading to global rationalisation, making it particularly important to work to retain current investment, stimulate expansion, and secure new projects. We are working to develop the opportunities for Ireland to become a key European hub for the international funds industry. In this regard, I look forward to the proposed changes in the Finance Bill to strengthen Ireland's competitive edge.

We will continue to market Ireland as a location of choice for the newcomer and for existing investors. In September, I launched the IDA's new innovation focused overseas marketing campaign, designed to position Ireland as the pre-eminent location for companies who are seeking to invest in future innovation.

I am in the process of reviewing a new strategy for the future direction of FDI which IDA has developed, and subject to my approval, will shortly be published. This strategy will set out some specific initiatives which IDA will be undertaking to retain existing and secure new FDI. In addition, it will identify the opportunities in the FDI markets, while stressing the importance of restoring our relative international competitiveness if we are to maximise FDI potential.

During 2010, the IDA will continue its work to capitalise on our quality workforce, our creativity, our international attitude to business, attractive incentives for R&D and our favourable tax climate to attract multinationals to set up a base in Ireland as a launch pad for markets in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Despite the global turbulence 2009 was a good year for inward investments, with IDA winning 125 investments and already in 2010 there have been 7 announcements with a potential to create at least 280 jobs in Dublin, Galway and Tullamore.

Table showing the number of foreign investments won by IDA in each year 2002 to 2009

Year

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Number of investments

88

105

108

121

125

114

130

125

Grocery Industry.

Liz McManus

Question:

153 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will make a statement on her proposed code of conduct for the grocery sector. [4838/10]

The Renewed Programme for Government contains a specific commitment to "implement a Code of Practice for doing business in the Grocery Goods sector to develop a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers" and "to review progress of the Code and if necessary to put in place a mandatory code".

It is my intention to give effect to this commitment by including a specific provision in the legislation, currently being prepared by my Department to merge the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority, which will allow for the introduction of statutory Codes of Practice in areas such as the grocery goods sector. In the interim until the legislation is enacted, I intend to explore with all the relevant stakeholders the possibilities of agreeing a Voluntary Code which would respect the interests of all parties. It is my view that a Voluntary Code offers stakeholders the opportunity to develop a Code which is most appropriate to the dynamics of the grocery goods sector and which could also form the basis of any subsequent statutory Code.

The Government is strongly committed to ensuring that Ireland continues to have vibrant agri food and retail sectors, particularly given the importance of these sectors to the national economy. The Government considers it important, therefore, that there is balance in the relationship between the various players in the grocery goods sector. The introduction of a Code of Practice, as provided for in the Programme for Government, is intended to achieve such a balance taking into account the interests of all stakeholders in the grocery goods sector including the interests of the consumer and the need to ensure that there is no impediment to the passing-on of lower prices to consumers.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

154 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the savings that will accrue to her Department arising from the public service pay cuts applied by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009; the number of personnel whose pay has been cut; the average reduction in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4824/10]

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act, 2009, made provision for the reduction of the remuneration of certain persons in the public service. The pay reductions provided for in the Act have been applied across my Department and its agencies with effect from 1 January 2010.

The 2010 Estimate for my Department which was published on 9 December 2009 included an indicative provisional reduction of €39.658 million to be applied to my Department's allocation in respect of adjustments to be made to public service pay across my Department and its agencies.

My Department is currently finalising the precise extent of the savings in consultation with the Department of Finance and the necessary adjustments will be reflected in the Revised Estimates Volume which is due to be published later this month.

The reductions will apply to over 5,200 whole time equivalent staff members who were serving in my Department and its agencies at the beginning of the year. The level of reduction varies depending on the salary scale of each employee. The detailed rates of reduction are set out in the Department of Finance's Circular 28/2009, which is published on that Department's website, www.finance.gov.ie, under the section on Civil/Public Service Information.

A pay reduction of 15% has been applied to my own remuneration as Tanaiste, while a 10% reduction has been applied to the remuneration of the Ministers of State at my Department.

Departmental Agencies.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

155 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has met with the new board of FÁS; the occasions she has met with the new board; the details of these meetings; if she has scheduled meetings with the new board over the coming year on a regular basis to discuss their work; if she has given the new board of FÁS a work programme for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4683/10]

I recently appointed a new board of FÁS under the terms of the Labour Services (Amendment) Act 2009. The Board has not yet had its first meeting. I have however already met with the Chair of the Board and will meet with the full Board as required during the course of the year.

Question No. 156 answered with Question No. 107.

Proposed Legislation.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

157 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when she will publish the company law consolidation and reform Bill, as recommended by the company law reform group; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4853/10]

The CLRG published its General Scheme of the Companies Consolidation and Reform Bill in July 2007. The Government subsequently approved the drafting of a Bill along the lines of the General Scheme. The proposed Bill will consolidate the existing Irish Companies Acts, dating from 1963 to 2009, as well as other regulations and common law provisions relating to the incorporation and operation of companies, into a single Act comprising more than 1,300 sections. Given its size and complexity it is envisaged that the Bill will not be published until October 2010 at the earliest.

Enterprise Stabilisation Fund.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

158 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of companies that have applied to date in 2010 for assistance under the €100 million enterprise stabilisation fund; the number of applications accepted; the amount paid out to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4837/10]

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 5 applications have been received to date in 2010 of which 3 companies have been approved for funding under the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund.

To date, no monies for 2010 approvals have been paid out.

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 113.

Appointments to State Boards.

Joe Costello

Question:

160 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the criteria used in making the appointments to the board of FÁS, as announced by her on 22 January 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4829/10]

In selecting the new Board of FÁS,I drew on a wide range of experience from both the private and public sector. Members were chosen on the basis of relevant experience and competencies in areas such as the functions of FÁS, finance, corporate governance and public administration, as provided for in the Labour Services (Amendment) Act 2009.

Social Partnership Agreements.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

161 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach if the national wage agreement has any legal or other status to the extent that it applies to private sector employers and employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4452/10]

The national wage agreements which have been negotiated centrally between employers and trade unions under the framework of social partnership have been voluntary agreements, in line with Ireland's voluntarist tradition of industrial relations.

Accordingly, such agreements do not have a legally binding status — there is no legal obligation on individual employers and trade unions to implement their provisions. However, there would be an expectation that the constituent members of employer and trade union organisations would adhere to the relevant provisions. It is also the practice for the parties to brief the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court on the terms of their agreements to facilitate in the resolution of disputes regarding the application of the terms.

The position regarding the private sector pay provisions of the most recent national wage agreement, the Towards 2016 — Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009, is that, in November 2008, the Construction Industry Federation did not ratify the Agreement. Subsequently, IBEC sought to agree a suspension of the pay terms, having regard to the significant deterioration in the economy since the Agreement was reached. IBEC and ICTU held a series of informal discussions on the pay provisions of the Agreement late last year. Those discussions did not yield an agreed outcome, as a consequence of which, in December 2009, IBEC announced its decision to withdraw from participation in the pay terms of the Towards 2016 — Review and Transitional Agreement. However, IBEC has indicated that further discussions would be sought with ICTU on measures for the orderly conduct of industrial relations in the private sector.

Census of Population.

Finian McGrath

Question:

162 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach if it is possible to make further amendments to the 2011 census document (details supplied). [4615/10]

As I indicated in the House last week, the Government agreed in December last on the topics to be covered in the next census of population, in line with the advice of the Census Advisory Group. The Government also agreed that Census Day will be Sunday, 10 April 2011.

This followed comprehensive public consultation by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), and careful evaluation by the Census Advisory Group of the results of the Census Pilot Survey carried out in April 2009, including a specific focus on ensuring an appropriately balanced approach to the questions on disability-related issues. The final list of topics and the report of the Census Pilot Survey are available on the CSO website.

Successful delivery of the national census of population is a significant undertaking for which responsibility rests with the CSO, not least insofar as methodological issues are concerned. The carefully designed fieldwork that is necessary to test new questions means that it is not possible to consider amendments at this stage.

I am advised by the CSO that the content and layout of the census form have now been finalised. The contracted printer is scheduled to commence printing the 2 million English language household forms next month for delivery to the CSO warehouse between June and August 2010. Any disruption of these arrangements would compromise census preparations as well as giving rise to financial penalties.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

163 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach the value of the union subscriptions collected from payroll by his Department from civil servants in any given year; the breakdown of such by the union or staff association; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4704/10]

The information requested by the Deputy for 2009 is contained in the table below:

Union

Amount

Association of Assistant Secretaries and Higher Grades

1,581.92

AHCPS

17,389.29

PSEU

16,721.54

CPSU

16,793.35

IMPACT

5,435.20

Leo Varadkar

Question:

164 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach the number of days taken off for trade union leave in his Department by civil servants in 2007, 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4705/10]

The table below provides details of the number of days taken off for trade union leave by civil servants in my Department in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Year

Number of Days

2007

16.5

2008

15.5

2009

21.0

EU Directives.

Joe Costello

Question:

165 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Taoiseach if there are EU Directives which require to be transposed into primary or secondary legislation; the list of such directives; the date they were drafted by the Commission; when he intends to transpose them into domestic law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4719/10]

The Department of the Taoiseach has no EU Directives awaiting transposition.

Venture Capital Programmes.

Damien English

Question:

166 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to promote venture capitalism in the market here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5353/10]

I am fully aware that a dynamic and healthy venture capital market is a prerequisite for the growth and development of high potential start-up companies in Ireland. Enterprise Ireland provides financial support to high potential Irish companies. This financial support, based on an approved business plan, includes the areas of business feasibility study, product development and new company launch and development. Over the last 16 years Enterprise Ireland has focused on stimulating venture capital funds in order to promote the availability of this important source of funding for companies that would have difficulty raising capital through traditional sources of finance. It has undertaken initiatives that have led to the creation and development of a vibrant Irish-based VC industry.

To date, Enterprise Ireland has been involved in three Seed and Venture Capital Programmes as follows:

Seed and Venture Capital Programme 2007-2012.

Seed and Venture Capital Programme 2000-2006, under the National Development Plan.

The EU Seed and Venture Capital Measure 1994-1999, under the Operational Programme.

Enterprise Ireland support for venture capital funds has been undertaken through investment as a limited partner with other private investors on a pari passu basis. The management of these funds is in the hands of private sector VCs who take investment decisions on a fully commercial basis.

Under the EU Seed and Venture Capital Measure 1994-1999, 15 separate venture capital initiatives were established with €43.9m committed under this Programme. The first of these initiatives was launched in May 1996.

Under the 2000-2006 Programme, Enterprise Ireland committed €98m to continue development of the venture capital market for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ireland. This Programme committed capital to 15 funds.

The 2007-2012 Seed and Venture Capital Scheme was launched to promote the availability of funding for companies at both early and growth stages of development and to further develop the Seed and Venture Capital Industry in Ireland. Enterprise Ireland has committed to investing €175m under this programme. Out of the overall allocation of €175 million, Enterprise Ireland has to date committed investment to 10 funds. Of these, 8 funds, with a total size of €525 million, have commenced operations. Two further funds with a total size of €150 million remain under negotiation.

I understand from data published by the Irish Venture Capital Association in its publication ‘Venture Pulse 2009' that, in the first three quarters of 2009, approximately €220m was invested by syndicates of investors (including Enterprise Ireland) in Irish SMEs. Of the 61 investments made during that period, 57 were of a value of less than €10m representing a total of €120m of the overall funds invested. 23 of the 57 investments were in the range of €1.5m to €10m, totalling €94.7m.

Community Employment Schemes.

Michael Ring

Question:

167 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a person who is only signing for credits is entitled to go on a FÁS community employment scheme or a FÁS training course or if they must be in receipt of a social welfare payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4466/10]

Eligibility to participate on the Community Employment programme is linked to those in receipt of an Irish social welfare payment.

Those persons not meeting the criteria or who are signing for credits, or are receiving social welfare benefits from a different country, are not eligible to participate on Community Employment.

A person signing for credits may participate on a FÁS training course provided other eligibility criteria are met.

In addition, unemployed persons who are not in receipt of any social welfare payment may participate in the Work Placement Programme immediately.

Job Creation.

Phil Hogan

Question:

168 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs delivered by the Industrial Development Authority in counties Wicklow, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford over the past ten years. [4488/10]

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 annualized basis and is aggregated at county level.

The survey shows that in the 10-year period, 2000 to 2009, a total of 8,970 new jobs were created in IDA supported companies in Counties Wicklow, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford. A breakdown of this figure by year and by county is set out in the following tabular statement.

Table Showing the Number of New Jobs Created in IDA Supported Companies in Counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow in the 10-Year Period 2000 to 2009

County

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Total

Carlow

3

2

6

8

19

44

20

3

74

49

228

Kilkenny

36

82

105

2

66

95

15

93

1

0

495

Waterford

350

545

575

561

253

351

851

376

176

71

4,109

Wexford

125

72

164

134

333

71

98

67

91

8

1,163

Wicklow

383

390

357

814

246

374

140

190

53

28

2,975

Redundancy Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

169 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be awarded their statutory redundancy entitlement; when this application was lodged with her Department; and when same will be finalised. [4489/10]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation.

I can confirm that my Department received a statutory lump sum claim for the individual concerned on 24 July 2009 claiming inability to pay on behalf of the employer. This claim awaits processing. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees, such as in this instance, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from July 2009.

Given the unprecedented increase in Redundancy Payment claims lodged with my Department since late 2008 it has proved impossible to maintain the customer service targets that previously obtained. The scale of the challenge is evident from the statistics that show incoming redundancy claims with a cumulative figure for 2009 of 77,001. This figure exceeds the claims lodged for 2008 (40,607) by 90% and 2008 was, of itself, an exceptional year as compared with earlier years when claims received were of the order of 25,000.

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

The reassignment of 26.7 additional staff (full time equivalents) from other areas of the Department to the Redundancy Payments area since early 2009 with ongoing review of trends and demands. The current number of staff serving in the Redundancy Payments Section in terms of full time equivalents is 52.5;

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

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

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

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

The Tánaiste and I are monitoring closely the impact of these changes against the continuing influx of redundancy claims and it is clear that additional measures are required to help reduce the backlog of claims which currently stands in excess of 40,000. The Department is currently actively engaged in efforts to secure up to 16 additional staff resources deployed to the area in the first quarter of 2010.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

170 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, a person is a new entrant to a FÁS training course, will be able to receive an increase for a qualified adult payment and the part-time FÁS allowance that are available to persons on FÁS courses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4498/10]

FÁS provides a range of training courses to suit participants' individual needs and circumstances. New entrants to FÁS who are in receipt of allowances from the Department of Social and Family Affairs and undertaking a full-time training course retain the same level of allowances whilst pursuing their training. Those in receipt of social welfare payments undertaking part-time training (20 hours a week) receive a part-time training allowance only. However, participants who undertake evening or on-line courses rather than part-time day courses and are thus available for work retain their existing level of social welfare benefits.

Community Employment Schemes.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

171 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there are plans to split up three-year adult education FÁS courses into three one-year courses in order that students will have to re-apply for the new and reduced allowances in view of Budget 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4499/10]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to Community Employment Schemes.

There are no three year adult education courses on Community Employment (CE).

This Government will continue to support the positive role of CE in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. In this regard I am keeping the operation of the Scheme under constant review in the context of the current difficult unemployment situation.

Company Takeovers.

Richard Bruton

Question:

172 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has received an assessment from the development agencies and the company of a proposed take-over of another company (details supplied); the actions she will to secure a future employment in plants here. [4543/10]

Enterprise Ireland is in constant contact with the Ireland management team of the company that is the subject of the proposed takeover and continues to advise my Department on developments as they occur. Once the takeover is confirmed, and as soon as it is appropriate to do so, Enterprise Ireland plans to develop a strategy as regards working with the company and initiating discussions with the new owners.

I would like to assure the Deputy that I, together with Enterprise Ireland and the other relevant State agencies, will take all possible action to protect the existing jobs in the company.

Work Placement Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

173 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the take up rate under the work placement programme with a breakdown by graduate and non-graduate status. [4545/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

214 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will report on the implementation on the work programme for graduates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5384/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 173 and 214 together.

There are 2,000 places on the Work Placement Programme, 1,000 for graduates and 1,000 for non-graduates. As of 27th January 2010, there have been a total of 297 people who have commenced their work placement. Graduates account for 198 of those placements with non-graduates accounting for the remaining 99 placements. There are another 593 places currently available and I anticipate that the take-up rate will improve significantly this year.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

174 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of the additional 16,000 training places for the unemployed in 2010 as announced in Budget 2010; the types of courses on offer; the location of same; when they will take place; the persons who will run them; and the way persons may apply. [4547/10]

In Budget 2010 it was announced that my Department will deliver an additional 16,000 training places for the unemployed. The additional places are comprised of several measures, which are as follows.

9,000 additional places on FAS short training courses.

3,500 training places to be delivered as part of Ireland's applications under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. This EU fund provides support for the upskilling of redundant workers in the case of large-scale company closures.

At least 3,5000 training places to be delivered as part of the new Labour Market Activation Fund.

My Department will also deliver an additional 500 Community Employment places this year.

These additional training places will be delivered by a range of different providers and will come on stream during the course of the year.

Question No. 175 answered with Question No. 147.

Loan Guarantees.

Joan Burton

Question:

176 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has considered the introduction of a small and medium enterprise working capital guarantee scheme to ensure access to credit for viable businesses particularly those with fewer than ten staff and with most difficulty accessing credit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44871/09]

Work is under way within my Department on the examination of a possible scheme of loan guarantees for the SME sector. This is in line with one of the recommendations contained in the Mazars report on credit availability.

There are significant issues to consider and weigh up before any final decision can be made. For example, we need to be certain of the extent to which any scheme would assist SMEs, if a scheme would actually result in an increase in total lending and if the cost of borrowing by SMEs under such a Scheme would not prove prohibitive. A properly tailored and targeted scheme could prove successful in assisting viable companies secure credit that they might not otherwise get.

Enterprise Ireland and Forfas have carried out examinations of loan guarantee schemes in the UK and in some other countries. Forfas, together with the Department, is carrying out a further examination and on completion of this work, I will bring the results before the Government. We will need to ensure that any scheme developed directly assists businesses while at the same time safeguards the taxpayer.

Aviation Industry.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

177 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the initiatives she and the Department of Transport are taking to secure a successor aviation maintenance business at a company plant (details supplied) in Dublin Airport in relation to the development of the Dublin Aerospace proposal; if other measures are being taken to increase employment in the aviation maintenance and engineering sector; her views on the lessons for Irish aviation strategic policy for her Department in the relocation of services to Malta; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45880/09]

On September 2nd 2009, I announced the establishment of Dublin Aerospace Ltd, a new aviation maintenance provider supported by Government through Enterprise Ireland. Dublin Aerospace Ltd. aims to establish a best-in-class Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at Dublin Airport, servicing APUs, Landing Gear, Base Maintenance and Training. The company has commenced operations with 70 initial employees recruited. This number is anticipated to grow to 226 jobs.

The Garage business unit of SR Technics has been taken over by the M50 Truck and Van Centre who were successful in securing the airside vehicle maintenance contract from SR Technics. Aer Lingus have decided to undertake line maintenance operations previously contracted to SRT. A number of employees will transfer from SRT to the new line maintenance operation at Aer Lingus.

The Government, through IDA Ireland, is committed to continued marketing of Ireland as a location for companies interested in establishing aircraft maintenance and aviation engineering businesses. State agencies such as FÁS and Enterprise Ireland have made, and continue to make, the full range of their employment, training, guidance and advisory services available to workers made redundant at SR Technics.

While the decision of SR Technics to move operations from Ireland is regrettable, the relocation of companies, and with them jobs, is a reality of the modern global economic environment for a highly developed economy such as Ireland. This shift in the structure of international trade poses challenges to economic policy makers in all developed countries, not just Ireland. It must be remembered that Ireland also experiences the benefits resulting from globalisation as new markets and business opportunities open up for Irish companies.

Last October, my Department submitted a provisional application to the European Commission for co-financing support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) towards the cost of a personalized package of training, educational and entrepreneurial services to workers made redundant at SR Technics. The Commission has sought additional information in relation to the application which my Department is currently preparing.

Skill Shortages.

Liz McManus

Question:

178 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the plan in place to support PhD students following on from a report by the advisory council for science, technology and innovation that highlighted the importance of PhDs in the smart economy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3430/10]

Having regard to the significant increase in the number of PhD graduates in Ireland in recent years and the Government's objective to have more researchers in the enterprise sector, the Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (ACSTI) was requested to examine the skills that enterprise requires from 4th level Ireland, to review the role in enterprise that is filled by PhD graduates and to identify the barriers that reduce the attraction of graduates to enterprise. The Council published its report in December last.

The Council's report highlights the benefits that PhD graduates bring to firms and sheds much light on the role they can play as we strive to build Ireland's knowledge economy. The Council's recommendations form a strategy for the alignment of skills with enterprise needs. The report recommends that Ireland should continue to develop PhD qualifications and skills closely aligned with broader economic and social needs. Given the concentration of demand for advanced researcher skills in specific sectors, funding for structured PhD programmes should be broadly aligned with the sectors of the economy, both public and private, where there is evidence of demand, or expected demand.

The Council recommends that structured PhD programmes should impart both generic and discipline-specific skills in the education and training of PhD students. They also recommend that Higher Education Institutes should adopt systematic and formal consultation with employers in the development of such structured PhD programmes at discipline level within the institutions.

The Council recommends the introduction of an Industrial PhD model whereby an employee of enterprise earns their PhD based on research relevant to their company. The objectives of the programme would be to upskill researchers working in R&D active enterprise, to build know-how, knowledge dissemination and interaction between academic and research institutions and enterprises. The Council further recommends that, beginning with the PhD education and training period and continuing through to early postdoctoral research stage, there should be an integrated programme of support and training specifically targeted at PhD students to enable them to commercialise their research.

Capacity to produce graduates with advanced researcher skills will be critical in expanding the mandate of foreign multinationals already located here and attracting globally mobile R&D investment. Restoring competitiveness to indigenous enterprise requires the stimulation of R&D intensity and the adoption of appropriate technologies.

It is essential, therefore, that the Coucil recommendations are advanced as we continue to put in place the foundations of the smart economy. Responsibility for implementing the Council recommendations will fall to my Department, the Department of Education and Science and agencies that report to both Departments. To ensure that a co-ordinated approach is taken in this matter and that all stakeholders are mobilised for delivery, the recommendations are being taken forward via the implementation structures of the Government's Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013, with a view to their early and thorough implementation. This process will also have regard to any agreed initiatives emerging from the Innovation Task Force which might touch upon the same issues. That report is expected to be completed and published shortly.

Employment Strategy.

Joe McHugh

Question:

179 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her Department’s comprehensive employment strategy contains a dedicated strand to consider specific approaches for persons with mental health problems; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4742/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

180 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on establishing a mental health sub-group for the development of her Department’s comprehensive employment strategy; her further views on appointing persons with direct experience of mental health issues to this committee; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4743/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

181 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will implement all of the relevant recommendations in A Vision for Change; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4744/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 179 to 181, inclusive, together.

My Department has led on the advancement of an outline for a Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities in close consultation with other Government Departments and key stakeholder representatives on the Department's Consultative Forum. The aim of this strategy is to address the diversity of circumstances, needs and abilities of people with disabilities, and to work towards achieving the highest possible levels of employment for them.

To this end, my Department and the Department of Health and Children have established a Cross Sectoral Group on an employment strategy for people with disabilities. It includes representatives from the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Health and Children, and Social and Family Affairs, together with FÁS and the HSE. It aims to provide a mechanism for a cross-sectoral approach between Departments and agencies with responsibility for the delivery of the mainstreaming agenda in respect of increasing the employment prospects of people with disabilities.

The group will seek to progress a targeted action plan based on the commitments set out in the Departmental Sectoral Plans, including the further advancement of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy and the provision of a continuum of training and employment support services for all types of disability and impairment. The need for establishing any appropriate sub-groups in pursuance of this objective will be kept under review by the group.

The implementation of recommendations in A Vision for Change relevant to my Department is being progressed under the Department's Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act, 2005, and will be further advanced under the outline for a Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities under this Plan.

Product Labelling.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

182 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the issues surrounding labelling of products from illegal Israeli settlements; and her plans to address these issues. [4816/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

183 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the practice of shopping centres here renting floorspace to Israeli outlets selling Dead Sea products which are in fact products from illegal Israeli settlements; the action she will take regarding same. [4817/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 183 together.

The issue raised by the Deputy involves a number of different policy considerations. In so far as my own area of direct policy responsibility is concerned, the Consumer Protection Act 2007 includes specific provisions in relation to the provision of information to consumers in the course of commercial transactions. Specifically the Act provides that the provision of false information in relation to the geographical or commercial origin of a product and where that information would be likely to cause the average consumer to make a transactional decision that the average consumer would not otherwise make, such a practice is a misleading commercial practice. Traders who engage in misleading commercial practices commit an offence and are liable on conviction on indictment or on summary conviction, as the case may be, to the fines and penalties provided for under the Act. Evidence of traders engaging in misleading commercial practices should be brought to the attention of the National Consumer Agency, which is the body responsible for the enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act 2007.

Should the products referred to in the Deputy's questions relate to food products, there are Regulations governing the labeling of certain food products. These Regulations are enforced by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, which operates under the auspices of my colleague the Minister for Health and Children.

As regards issues relating to Israeli settlements, these issues essentially involve foreign policy considerations, which are the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Semi-State Bodies.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

184 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the responsibilities the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement has over semi-State companies including the national ports in the context of the Companies Act and good corporate governance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4818/10]

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement was established on 28 November 2001 under the provisions of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001 (No. 28 of 2001). The primary functions of the Director of Corporate Enforcement under the Act are to:

To enforce the Companies Acts;

To encourage compliance with the Companies Acts;

To investigate suspected offences under the Companies Acts.

These functions apply to all companies formed and registered under the Companies Acts and related legislation.

Aviation Industry.

Richard Bruton

Question:

185 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made to date in 2010 in finding opportunities to retain the skill base at a company (details supplied) in new or revived enterprises; when she will report the progress; and her views on the attitude of the European Commission to the projects involved. [4854/10]

On September 2nd 2009, I announced the establishment of Dublin Aerospace Ltd, a new aviation maintenance provider supported by Government through Enterprise Ireland. Dublin Aerospace Ltd. aims to establish a best-in-class Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at Dublin Airport, servicing APUs, Landing Gear, Base Maintenance and Training. The company has commenced operations with 70 initial employees recruited. This number is anticipated to grow to 226 jobs.

The Garage business unit of SR Technics has been taken over by the M50 Truck and Van Centre who were successful in securing the airside vehicle maintenance contract from SR Technics. Aer Lingus have decided to undertake line maintenance operations previously contracted to SRT. A number of employees will transfer from SRT to the new line maintenance operation at Aer lingus. These new arrangements operate within the parameters of EU Single Market and State Aid rules, and are not subject to specific consultation with the EU Commission.

While the decision of SR Technics to move operations from Ireland is regrettable, the relocation of companies, and with them jobs, is a reality of the modern global economic environment for a highly developed economy such as Ireland. This shift in the structure of international trade poses challenges to economic policy makers in all developed countries, not just Ireland. It must be remembered that Ireland also experiences the benefits resulting from globalisation as new markets and business opportunities open up for Irish companies.

The Government, through IDA Ireland, is committed to continued marketing of Ireland as a location for companies interested in establishing aircraft maintenance and aviation engineering businesses. State agencies such as FÁS and Enterprise Ireland have made, and continue to make, the full range of their employment, training, guidance and advisory services available to workers made redundant at SR Technics.

Last October, my Department submitted a provisional application to the European Commission for co-financing support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) towards the cost of a personalized package of training, educational and entrepreneurial services to workers made redundant at SR Technics. The Commission has sought additional information in relation to the application which my Department is currently preparing.

Redundancy Payments.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

186 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 205 of 26 January 2010, the number of cases in each of the past three years in which her Department acted in locus of an employer whose company was in liquidation or receivership; the number of redundancies represented in such cases in each of those years; the costs incurred by the Exchequer; the amounts recouped from the liquidator and receiver in each of these years; the amounts still outstanding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5053/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

187 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 205 of 26 January 2010, the number of cases in each of the past three years in which her Department sought evidence from an employer of their inability to pay the redundancy entitlements of the employees in cases where the employer did not formally wind up the company but went into informal insolvency; the number of redundancies represented in such cases in each of these years; the number of these employers who admitted liability for 40% of the total cost of the redundancy payments; the number of redundancies represented in such cases in each of these years; the number who did not admit liability; the number of redundancies represented in such cases in each of these years; the number of cases in which her Department pursued a company for payment of the 40% share; the amount recovered in each of these years; the amount still outstanding; and the costs to the Exchequer in these circumstances in each of these years. [5054/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 and 187 together.

I must advise the Deputy that the level of information requested in both questions is extremely detailed and would consume considerable resources within what is currently a very busy area of my Department to provide the information requested. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that the main focus of the Redundancy Payments Section currently is to dispatch redundancy payment claims to individuals and businesses as quickly as possible.

Under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 — 2007, the objective is to ensure that statutory redundancy payments, due to eligible employees on being made redundant, are made in accordance with the legislative provisions. The legislation places the onus, in the first instance, on the employer to discharge the obligation to pay redundancy entitlement to employees. In so doing, the employer is entitled, by virtue of pay related social contributions made to the State, to recover a 60% rebate on the amount paid out in redundancy payments to employees. In the years the Deputy has inquired into i.e. 2007, 2008 and 2009 redundancy rebate payments paid out to employers totalled €167.4m, €161.8m and, €247.9m respectively.

In the case of liquidations/receiverships and in cases of informal insolvency where the Department paid the redundancy lump sums directly to the employees, the amounts paid out of the Social Insurance Fund in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 amounted respectively to €14.6m, €29.8m and €85.5m. In these cases, the Department seeks to recover 40% of the amount paid out as this is the company's share of the liability of the employees' statutory payment. In cases where the employer simply refuses to pay a redundancy lump sum, the payment will be made from the fund and the Department then endeavors to recover the full 100% from the employer. Amounts paid in these cases amounted to €1.4m, €2.1m and €2.5m respectively for the years 2007 to 2009.

The Minister becomes a preferential creditor in a winding-up situation in recovering amounts paid from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) and this debt stands against a company for as long as it is live on the Companies Register at the Company Registration Office. The total amounts paid by the Department from the Social Insurance Fund in the relevant years are shown in the following Table 1.

In the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Department has been successful in recovering to the Social Insurance Fund amounts of €0.6m, €0.9m and, €3.6m respectively. The cumulative debt outstanding to the Social Insurance Fund for the years in question are €37.7m, €48.4m and €78.7m respectively. The numbers of redundancies that occurred during the period 2007-2009 were 25,459, 40,607 and 77,001.

The above information is included in table format for ease of reference in tables 2, 3 and 4.

Table 1: Redundancy Payments made from the Social Insurance Fund (€)

Category

2007

2008*

2009*

Rebate

167,390,542

161,774,389

247,891,733

Lump Sum

14,564,375

29,803,995

85,475,883

Lump sum 100%

1,373,117

2,133,003

2,494,209

Total

183,328,034

193,711,387

335,861,925

Table 2: Recoveries in Respect of Redundancy Payments (€)

Year

2007

617,695

2008*

934,655

2009*

3,589,802

Note the amounts recovered in each year relates to monies recovered for the current year and earlier years.

Table 3: Amounts Outstanding due to SIF in respect of Redundancy Payments

Year

2007

37,712,490.76

2008*

48,446,507.17

2009*

78,673,864.61

All figures are cumulative figures

Please note that figures for both 2008 and 2009 in tables 1, 2 and 3 are *provisional figures.

Table 4: Actual Statutory Redundancies lodged for years 2007 to 2009

2007

2008

2009

25,459

40,607

77,001

Work Placement Programme.

Billy Timmins

Question:

188 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding a course (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5057/10]

The Work Placement Programme is a joint labour market activation initiative between my Department and the Department of Social and Family Affairs. It provides the unemployed with the opportunity to secure work experience for up to nine months. Participation on the programme is voluntary and unpaid. Unemployed individuals participating on the programme are being kept close to the labour market and have the opportunity to gain on-the-job training and work experience. This Programme is designed to address an identified gap in policy provision for those unemployed people who need more experience to make them more attractive to employers. This will assist them in securing paid employment in the future.

While each placement is unpaid, participants who are in receipt of social welfare payments could retain these while on the programme, subject to the normal social welfare rules applying. However, as any payment to an individual on the programme is subject to the normal social welfare rules, individuals not in receipt of social welfare payments will therefore not be eligible for any payment. FÁS highlight this possibility to potential participants and as the programme is voluntary it is entirely up to the individual whether they wish to participate.

FÁS Training Courses.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

189 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the position of persons who are on a waiting list for training courses and are currently in receipt of jobseeker’s benefit or allowance but who may no longer be in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment when a place is offered and will not then receive a training allowance; her plans to rectify this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5062/10]

FÁS training allowances are generally aligned to a person's entitlement to supports for jobseekers and Department of Social and Family Affairs' rules. In consequence, where a trainee is entitled to a benefit from the Department of Social and Family Affairs at course commencement, he/she will receive a FÁS training allowance for the duration of the training course.

Company Takeovers.

Finian McGrath

Question:

190 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support a matter (details supplied). [5088/10]

Enterprise Ireland is in constant contact with the Ireland management team of the company that is the subject of the proposed takeover and continues to advise my Department on developments as they occur. Once the takeover is confirmed, and as soon as it is appropriate to do so, Enterprise Ireland plans to develop a strategy as regards working with the company and initiating discussions with the new owners.

I would like to assure the Deputy that I, together with Enterprise Ireland and the other relevant State agencies, will take all possible action to protect the existing jobs in the company.

Imports and Exports.

Billy Timmins

Question:

191 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the top 20 countries to whom goods and services are exported; the top 20 countries from whom goods and services are imported; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5118/10]

The following tables set out the top 20 destinations countries for Ireland's Merchandise and Services Exports and also the countries of origin of Merchandise and Services Imports, for 2008. Data for the full year 2009 is not yet available.

Destination of Merchandise Exports (Total €86,394m)2008

Country of origin of Merchandise Imports (Total €57,585m) 2008

Country

(€Million)

Country

(€Million)

USA

16,674

Great Britain

17,941

Great Britain

14,300

United States

6,763

Belgium

12,253

Germany

4,641

Germany

6,089

China

3,902

France

5,019

Netherlands

2,892

Spain

3,590

France

2,388

Netherlands

3,028

Italy

1,344

Italy

3,007

Belgium

1,321

Switzerland

2,561

Norway

1,306

Japan

1,708

Northern Ireland

1,261

China

1,609

Japan

1,145

Northern Ireland

1,565

Denmark

1,042

Malaysia

1,063

Spain

937

Sweden

873

Singapore

746

Poland

747

Taiwan

536

Australia

746

Switzerland

525

Hong Kong

715

South Korea

508

Singapore

556

Sweden

483

Mexico

541

Poland

439

Denmark

528

Turkey

412

Destination of Services Exports (Total €69,203m)2008

Country of origin of Services Imports (Total €74,574m) 2008

Country

€Million

Country

(€Million)

United Kingdom

15,311

United States

22,276

Germany

6,850

United Kingdom

11,377

USA

4,913

Netherlands

7,291

France

4,895

Luxembourg

3,975

Italy

4,514

France

3,443

Netherlands

2,930

Germany

3,069

Spain

2,166

Bermuda

2,327

Switzerland

1,637

Italy

2,303

Belgium

1,453

Spain

2,068

Sweden

1,426

Belgium

1,465

China

1,423

Switzerland

1,409

Russia

1,382

Portugal

568

Bermuda

1,102

Japan

468

Japan

1,066

China

395

Luxembourg

945

Sweden

394

Poland

887

Austria

352

Denmark

742

Australia

314

Norway

659

Poland

308

Portugal

649

Denmark

301

Australia

630

Canada

294

Training Programmes.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

192 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the training grants made available to former employees of a company (details supplied) who lost their jobs. [5124/10]

I understand that up to 15 former employees of SR Technics have received funding, through FÁS, totalling nearly €10,000 towards training under the Technical Employment Support Grant (TESG), over a period of six months following the redundancy announcement. FÁS has also provided funding to assist redundant apprentice aircraft mechanics who were employed by SR Technics to proceed with their apprenticeship. An off-the-job special training programme in the Dublin Institute of Technology commenced in April 2009 for 27 redundant apprentice aircraft mechanics. In addition to this, 23 redundant aircraft mechanics will commence phase 6 of their apprenticeship in the Dublin Institute of Technology on 22 February 2010.

In addition, last October, my Department submitted a provisional application to the European Commission seeking co-financing support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The application relates to the provision of a personalised package of training, educational and entrepreneurial supports to workers made redundant at SR Technics. The Commission has recently sought additional information in relation to the application which my Department is currently preparing. State agencies such as FÁS, Enterprise Ireland and local Vocational Education Committees have made, and continue to make, the full range of their employment, training, guidance and advisory services available to workers made redundant at SR Technics.

Industrial Relations.

Billy Timmins

Question:

193 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. [5133/10]

The administration of individual cases is a day-to-day matter for Enterprise Ireland as part of its responsibility under the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act 1998. I therefore, as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment do not have a role in the administration of individual cases.

Work Permits.

Denis Naughten

Question:

194 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of work permits (details supplied) issued monthly in 2008 and 2009 (details supplied) by sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5134/10]

I set out in the following table the figures as requested by the Deputy.

Employment Permits Issued Monthly by Sector for 2008 and 2009

Year

New

Renewals

Total Issued

Refused

Withdrawn

2008

8,521

5,000

13,521

2,225

339

Jan

1,042

1,069

2,111

245

45

Agriculture & Fisheries

34

56

90

7

1

Catering

111

273

384

76

14

Domestic

16

35

51

3

2

Education

32

47

79

4

1

Entertainment

9

3

12

1

0

Industry

132

64

196

20

3

Medical & Nursing

289

192

481

48

9

Service Industry

415

395

810

86

14

Sport

4

4

8

0

1

Feb

740

796

1,536

197

46

Agriculture & Fisheries

25

65

90

8

2

Catering

94

197

291

56

12

Domestic

9

20

29

1

2

Education

20

14

34

5

1

Entertainment

1

5

6

1

0

Industry

107

50

157

24

2

Medical & Nursing

171

120

291

23

7

Service Industry

309

321

630

78

19

Sport

4

4

8

1

1

Mar

590

488

1,078

188

25

Agriculture & Fisheries

9

31

40

7

1

Catering

64

124

188

47

6

Domestic

11

21

32

4

0

Education

13

13

26

7

0

Entertainment

0

1

1

0

0

Industry

69

43

112

19

2

Medical & Nursing

158

87

245

33

4

Service Industry

255

166

421

68

12

Sport

11

2

13

3

0

Apr

720

430

1,150

206

26

Agriculture & Fisheries

35

40

75

4

1

Catering

92

108

200

71

0

Domestic

14

12

26

4

1

Education

23

22

45

2

0

Entertainment

3

3

6

1

0

Industry

65

32

97

8

1

Medical & Nursing

178

67

245

30

3

Service Industry

304

141

445

85

20

Sport

6

5

11

1

0

May

675

380

1,055

221

33

Agriculture & Fisheries

21

25

46

13

0

Catering

89

71

160

56

2

Domestic

13

8

21

6

2

Education

11

9

20

2

3

Entertainment

4

0

4

0

0

Industry

60

22

82

21

8

Medical & Nursing

151

92

243

29

4

Service Industry

324

151

475

94

14

Sport

2

2

4

0

0

Jun

729

320

1,049

230

19

Agriculture & Fisheries

16

16

32

8

1

Catering

113

59

172

82

6

Domestic

7

6

13

5

1

Education

19

3

22

4

1

Entertainment

1

1

2

0

0

Exchange Agreements

5

0

5

0

0

Industry

77

21

98

24

2

Medical & Nursing

197

88

285

31

2

Service Industry

279

123

402

72

6

Sport

15

3

18

4

0

Jul

918

262

1,180

197

36

Agriculture & Fisheries

63

9

72

5

1

Catering

90

47

137

46

4

Domestic

10

4

14

3

0

Education

15

5

20

8

1

Entertainment

10

2

12

5

0

Exchange Agreements

4

0

4

0

0

Industry

72

11

83

15

2

Medical & Nursing

321

79

400

37

12

Service Industry

319

102

421

78

16

Sport

14

3

17

0

0

Aug

663

285

948

158

13

Agriculture & Fisheries

19

14

33

12

0

Catering

87

60

147

41

2

Domestic

9

5

14

1

1

Education

22

4

26

5

0

Entertainment

1

3

4

3

0

Industry

84

19

103

17

0

Medical & Nursing

157

75

232

28

0

Service Industry

265

105

370

49

10

Sport

19

0

19

2

0

Sep

619

281

900

168

17

Agriculture & Fisheries

26

22

48

12

0

Catering

73

52

125

59

6

Domestic

5

6

11

0

0

Education

16

7

23

4

0

Entertainment

7

1

8

0

0

Exchange Agreements

1

0

1

0

0

Industry

64

22

86

11

0

Medical & Nursing

118

56

174

23

2

Service Industry

277

114

391

58

9

Sport

32

1

33

1

0

Oct

659

248

907

172

36

Agriculture & Fisheries

31

17

48

9

2

Catering

81

46

127

42

8

Domestic

4

1

5

4

0

Education

11

6

17

6

2

Entertainment

2

0

2

1

1

Industry

120

18

138

13

1

Medical & Nursing

134

57

191

35

8

Service Industry

258

103

361

59

13

Sport

18

0

18

3

1

Nov

657

245

902

152

27

Agriculture & Fisheries

11

12

23

5

2

Catering

76

45

121

49

1

Domestic

10

8

18

8

0

Education

13

9

22

4

0

Entertainment

2

1

3

2

0

Exchange Agreements

2

0

2

0

0

Industry

112

14

126

19

3

Medical & Nursing

127

60

187

20

6

Service Industry

286

95

381

45

14

Sport

18

1

19

0

1

Dec

509

196

705

91

16

Agriculture & Fisheries

10

7

17

9

0

Catering

38

28

66

14

8

Domestic

7

2

9

1

0

Education

16

5

21

4

0

Entertainment

3

2

5

1

0

Industry

76

17

93

11

1

Medical & Nursing

125

61

186

27

2

Service Industry

224

74

298

22

5

Sport

10

0

10

2

0

2009

4,000

3,924

7,924

1,872

442

Jan

550

227

777

156

18

Agriculture & Fisheries

11

7

18

10

1

Catering

59

33

92

39

2

Domestic

9

4

13

2

1

Education

13

6

19

5

0

Entertainment

7

0

7

1

0

Industry

55

7

62

19

1

Medical & Nursing

200

68

268

20

6

Service Industry

190

100

290

60

7

Sport

6

2

8

0

0

Feb

468

337

805

129

21

Agriculture & Fisheries

5

11

16

11

0

Catering

63

69

132

24

10

Domestic

7

5

12

1

1

Education

11

9

20

4

1

Entertainment

2

0

2

1

0

Industry

68

26

94

16

2

Medical & Nursing

106

94

200

22

3

Service Industry

200

120

320

49

4

Sport

6

3

9

1

0

Mar

407

285

692

131

9

Agriculture & Fisheries

14

4

18

6

4

Catering

25

64

89

32

1

Domestic

6

1

7

1

0

Education

4

12

16

3

0

Entertainment

6

3

9

10

0

Industry

54

28

82

11

1

Medical & Nursing

113

65

178

24

1

Service Industry

179

107

286

43

2

Sport

6

1

7

1

0

Apr

256

256

512

95

12

Agriculture & Fisheries

11

19

30

4

1

Catering

26

50

76

33

1

Domestic

5

7

12

1

0

Education

1

6

7

4

0

Entertainment

4

0

4

1

0

Industry

35

19

54

7

1

Medical & Nursing

49

63

112

13

3

Service Industry

119

92

211

31

6

Sport

6

0

6

1

0

May

321

292

613

83

10

Agriculture & Fisheries

4

17

21

2

0

Catering

34

74

108

31

2

Domestic

15

11

26

2

0

Education

4

2

6

0

0

Entertainment

0

1

1

0

0

Industry

66

27

93

6

1

Medical & Nursing

51

62

113

16

5

Service Industry

141

98

239

25

2

Sport

6

0

6

1

0

Jun

238

265

503

56

19

Agriculture & Fisheries

6

23

29

0

2

Catering

18

64

82

8

4

Domestic

5

4

9

2

0

Education

8

7

15

0

0

Entertainment

3

1

4

0

0

Exchange Agreements

3

0

3

0

0

Industry

34

20

54

9

2

Medical & Nursing

78

54

132

13

4

Service Industry

83

90

173

24

7

Sport

0

2

2

0

0

Jul

309

296

605

63

26

Agriculture & Fisheries

5

22

27

2

1

Catering

22

66

88

26

5

Domestic

2

4

6

0

1

Education

7

7

14

4

0

Entertainment

1

1

2

0

0

Industry

18

20

38

5

0

Medical & Nursing

147

69

216

8

4

Service Industry

104

103

207

17

15

Sport

3

4

7

1

0

Aug

344

425

769

55

17

Agriculture & Fisheries

15

21

36

7

0

Catering

42

103

145

12

6

Domestic

7

16

23

1

0

Education

12

9

21

2

0

Entertainment

1

4

5

0

0

Industry

41

27

68

4

3

Medical & Nursing

132

80

212

7

4

Service Industry

90

163

253

20

4

Sport

4

2

6

2

0

Sep

268

390

658

333

43

Agriculture & Fisheries

7

18

25

34

2

Catering

48

73

121

99

15

Domestic

4

14

18

9

0

Education

6

12

18

6

1

Entertainment

1

0

1

0

0

Exchange Agreements

1

0

1

0

0

Industry

35

30

65

22

3

Medical & Nursing

58

108

166

29

9

Service Industry

99

133

232

133

11

Sport

9

2

11

1

2

Oct

289

405

694

407

64

Agriculture & Fisheries

10

27

37

51

6

Catering

45

73

118

136

20

Domestic

2

5

7

7

2

Education

7

18

25

6

0

Entertainment

0

1

1

1

0

Industry

25

23

48

24

4

Medical & Nursing

78

111

189

35

9

Service Industry

114

145

259

147

22

Sport

8

2

10

0

1

Nov

279

418

697

268

179

Agriculture & Fisheries

14

24

38

34

3

Catering

47

64

111

87

26

Domestic

3

12

15

6

2

Education

6

3

9

3

1

Entertainment

0

0

0

1

0

Industry

39

36

75

24

3

Medical & Nursing

63

98

161

29

4

Service Industry

106

178

284

81

140

Sport

1

3

4

3

0

Dec

271

328

599

96

24

Agriculture & Fisheries

11

9

20

5

2

Catering

42

73

115

32

7

Domestic

2

11

13

0

1

Education

3

9

12

2

2

Entertainment

4

0

4

0

0

Industry

27

20

47

13

1

Medical & Nursing

73

96

169

4

3

Service Industry

105

107

212

40

8

Sport

4

3

7

0

0

Redundancy Payments.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

195 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding redundancy payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [5164/10]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation.

I can confirm that my Department received a statutory lump sum claim for the individual concerned on 26 June 2009 claiming inability to pay on behalf of the employer and this claim is currently being examined. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees, such as in this instance, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from July 2009.

While my Department's examination of this claim is not yet complete, I expect that the Department will be in contact with the individual shortly.

Job Creation.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

196 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created by the Industrial Development Authority in north County Tipperary during the years 2004 to 2009 broken down by year. [5271/10]

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 annualized basis and is aggregated at county level. It is therefore not possible to provide information for individual locations throughout the country. The survey shows that in the six-year period, 2004 to 2009 inclusive, there were a total of 1653 new jobs created in IDA supported companies in County Tipperary. Details of the number of new jobs created in each of those years are set out in the following tabular statement.

Table showing the number of new jobs created in IDA supported companies in County Tipperary

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Total

181

94

238

613

275

252

1,653

Máire Hoctor

Question:

197 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the level of financial support provided to Industrial Development Authority related companies in north Tipperary during the years 2004 to 2009 broken down by year. [5272/10]

I have been informed by IDA that in the period 2004 to 2009, a total of €13,063,004. was paid in grant support to IDA client companies in County Tipperary.

Details of the amount paid in each year is set out in the following tabular statement. In the time available it has not been possible to provide this information in respect of north Tipperary only. Once the information comes to hand, I will arrange to have it forwarded to the Deputy.

Table showing the financial support paid to IDA supported companies in County Tipperary in each of the years 2004 to 2009

Year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Amount

€2,007,590

€0

€2,617,599

€4,278,944

€2,727,287

€1,431,584

Máire Hoctor

Question:

198 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created by Enterprise Ireland in north Tipperary during the years 2004 to 2009 broken down by year. [5273/10]

Máire Hoctor

Question:

199 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the level of financial support provided to Enterprise Ireland supported jobs in north Tipperary during the years 2004 to 2009 broken down by year. [5274/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 198 and 199 together.

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are clients of the industrial development agencies. Information is collected on an annualised basis and is aggregated at county level.

I am informed by Enterprise Ireland (EI) that an amount of €5,997,767 was paid in grant aid to its client companies in north Tipperary in the six-year period 2004 to 2009. A breakdown is shown in the following tabular statement.

The numbers of new jobs created by EI supported companies in north Tipperary in each year of the six-year period 2004 — 2009 are shown in the following tabular statement.

EI Funding to client companies in North Tipperary

Year

Total Payments

2004

97,554

2005

620,915

2006

257,721

2007

124,962

2008

1,825,235

2009

3,071,380

Total

5,997,767

Table showing the number of jobs in Enterprise Ireland supported companies in north Tipperary over the six year period 2004-2009

North Tipperary

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Full Time jobs in existence

2,954

2,938

2,982

3,157

2,583

2,201

Jobs created

181

195

205

286

84

9

Source: Forfás Employment Survey 2009.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

200 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons in north Tipperary who availed of FÁS services in the years 2004 to 2009 broken down by year. [5275/10]

The information requested is being collated and will be communicated to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Departmental Bodies.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

201 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cost of operating the National Employment Rights Authority in 2009. [5283/10]

The cost of operating the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) in 2009 was €7.94 million. The pay related aspects of running the office amounted to €6.55 million and, non-pay elements represented a cost of €1.39 million.

Job Creation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

202 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she has taken or proposes to take to encourage job retention and job creation with particular reference to the need to create the climate for investment and the creation of jobs. [5285/10]

Enterprise Ireland has in place a structured response model where closures and downsizings of multinational companies (MNCs) and larger indigenous companies take place. The agreed response model is a speedy, effective and relatively positive outcome to closures and downsizings, leading to new business start-ups supported by EI or the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs). This model gives State agencies a pivotal role in supporting the recovery of the economy. In 2010, Enterprise Ireland will focus on sustaining companies that will, as the year progresses, lead to these companies preparing for growth. Enterprise Ireland will place a strong focus on four key areas to achieve this as follows:

maintaining and winning new sales;

driving lean and competitiveness;

promoting innovation, commercialisation, and R&D and

developing new start up companies and fostering entrepreneurship

Business growth, job creation and job retention are inherent considerations in the activities of the CEBs. The boards provide financial and non-financial assistance including priming grants, expansion/development grants and feasibility/innovation study grants. In addition, a wide range of business advice such as programmes covering business management, mentoring, e-commerce, enterprise education, and women in business networks are also available. In 2010, the CEBs will continue to assist micro-enterprises throughout the country through the provision of a range of other important business supports such as mentoring, business training and business advice designed to help stimulate indigenous enterprise creation and to boost employment creation and retention.

IDA Ireland continues to market Ireland as a location of choice for the newcomer and for existing investors. Last September, I launched IDA's new innovation-focused overseas marketing campaign, designed to position Ireland as the pre-eminent location for companies who are seeking to invest in future innovation. I am in the process of reviewing a new strategy for the future direction of FDI which IDA has developed. This strategy will set out some specific initiatives which IDA will undertake to retain existing and secure new FDI. In addition, it will identify the opportunities in the FDI markets, while stressing the importance of restoring our relative international competitiveness if we are to maximise FDI potential.

Cost Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

203 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason that newspapers here are available on the shelves in other jurisdictions at a considerably lower price; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5286/10]

The issue of price differentials between this jurisdiction and elsewhere and particularly with our neighbouring jurisdiction in Northern Ireland and the UK has been a matter of concern for some time. The House will be aware that I have been engaging with all the elements in the retail sector to bring greater clarity as to the reasons for the differential in prices. My Department and its agencies have undertaken a series of actions within the last 12 to 18 months aimed at ensuring that there is the greatest degree of transparency possible as to the reasons for the north south price differentials. These actions included National Consumer Agency Price Comparison Surveys; the Forfás Report on the Cost of Running Retail Operations in Ireland; and the Competition Authority Study on the Retail-Related Import and Distribution Sector.

As regards comparisons in relation to the price of newspapers, it is important to point out that VAT at the rate of 13.5% is imposed on the sale of newspapers in Ireland, whereas other jurisdictions, such as the UK, do not impose VAT in respect of newspapers.

In terms of general price comparisons, the Consumer Price Index as published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for December 2009 shows that consumer prices in Ireland continue to fall. Consumer prices were on average 5% lower in December 2009 as compared with prices in December 2008. In so far as the UK is concerned, the Retail Prices Index (RPI) for December 2009 as published by the UK Office for National Statistics shows that consumer prices are actually increasing and that prices increased by 2.4% in December 2009 as compared with prices in December 2008. At the European level, the EU Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, which is accepted as the most appropriate measure for community wide price comparisons, shows that in the year to November 2009 there was a fall of 2.8% in prices in Ireland as compared with an increase in prices of 1% (provisional) throughout the EU as a whole.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

204 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which she has engaged with the retail sector with a view to achieving some degree of equilibrium with adjoining jurisdictions; if she will address the issue of products produced here being freely available on shelves in other jurisdictions at a vastly reduced price; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5287/10]

The issue of price differentials between this jurisdiction and elsewhere and particularly with our neighbouring jurisdiction in Northern Ireland and the UK has been a matter of concern for some time. The House will be aware that I have been engaging with all the elements in the retail sector to bring greater clarity as to the reasons for the differential in prices. My Department and its agencies have undertaken a series of actions within the last 12 to 18 months aimed at ensuring that there is the greatest degree of transparency possible as to the reasons for the north south price differentials. These actions included National Consumer Agency Price Comparison Surveys; the Forfás Report on the Cost of Running Retail Operations in Ireland; and the Competition Authority Study on the Retail-Related Import and Distribution Sector.

In terms of general price comparisons, the Consumer Price Index as published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for December 2009 shows that consumer prices in Ireland continue to fall. Consumer prices were on average 5% lower in December 2009 as compared with prices in December 2008. Insofar as the UK is concerned, the Retail Prices Index (RPI) for December 2009 as published by the UK Office for National Statistics shows that consumer prices are actually increasing and that prices increased by 2.4% in December 2009 as compared with prices in December 2008. At the European level, the EU Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, which is accepted as the most appropriate measure for community wide price comparisons, shows that in the year to November 2009 there was a fall of 2.8% in prices in Ireland as compared with an increase in prices of 1% (provisional) throughout the EU as a whole.

The above returns show that prices are falling more rapidly in Ireland than in Northern Ireland, the UK and in the EU as a whole. Whilst this overall narrowing in the differential in prices is very much to be welcomed and clearly will benefit consumers, there remain some areas where the differential in prices continues to be high. The Government is determined to continue to pursue this issue so as to ensure that Irish consumers receive and can expect to receive a fair deal in the goods and services that they buy.

Imports and Exports.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

205 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which imports under various headings have fluctuated throughout the past five years and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5288/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

206 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the trend in respect of exports under the various headings throughout each of the past five years and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5289/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 205 and 206 together.

Merchandise Trade statistics, by category, are available up to October 2009 and Services Trade statistics, by category, are only available up to end-2008, from the Central Statistics Office. The following data therefore sets out trends for the most significant export and import categories for the five full years of 2004-2008 and, in the case of Merchandise Trade, also for January-October 2009 with data for January-October 2008 for comparison.

Ireland's export performance in recent times has been admirable. In the period 2004-2008, annual growth in total Irish exports has averaged 5.5%. For the first nine months of 2009 there has been a reduction of only 0.6%, a remarkable performance when compared to our EU partners. The latest merchandise figures released by Eurostat (the EU Statistics body) last month, show that Ireland has the smallest rate of decline in merchandise exports in the EU for the period January-October 2009 as compared to January-October 2008; that most EU countries showed a decline of least –20%; and that after Germany, with a merchandise trade surplus of €105bn, Ireland has the second highest surplus in absolute terms at €33bn. Many of the larger Member States are showing very substantial deficits, including the United Kingdom, France and Spain.

Merchandise Exports

Value (€ m) / year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Jan.-Oct. 2008

Jan.-Oct. 2009

Organic Chemicals (mainly for pharmaceutical sector)

14,651

17,757

17,059

19,641

17,816

14,881

16,171

Medical & Pharmaceutical Products

15,155

14,537

14,247

14,749

16,750

13,698

16,461

Computers

13,383

13,980

14,063

12,577

9,329

7,645

5,601

Essential Oils, Perfume Materials; Toilet & Cleansing Preps

4,762

5,217

5,328

5,318

5,455

4,625

4,662

Electronic Components & integrated circuits

5,528

4,911

5,133

4,795

4,793

4,079

2,839

Pacemakers, cds, dvds & other digital media

4,873

5,053

4,937

5,025

4,764

3,917

4,010

Chemical Materials & Products

2,300

2,322

2,431

2,664

3,516

3,092

2,898

Medical Devices

3,796

2,703

2,308

2,109

2,806

2,257

2,499

Meat & Meat Preps.

2,054

2,176

2,392

2,383

2,390

1,994

1,785

Shannon Free Airport Trade & Unclassified Trade

2,874

2,671

2,144

1,888

1,965

1,624

2,139

Merchandise Imports

Value (€ m) / year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Jan.-Oct. 2008

Jan.-Oct. 2009

Computers

7,855

9,195

10,452

9,277

6,749

5,728

3,165

Petroleum, petroleum products & related materials

2,255

3,315

3,842

4,479

4,913

4,308

2,619

Road Vehicles

3,292

3,797

4,102

4,575

3,228

2,810

675

Electronic Components & integrated circuits

4,721

4,353

3,809

3,294

2,887

2,388

1,926

Medical & Pharmaceutical Products

1,970

1,995

2,235

2,397

2,867

2,331

2,346

Pacemakers, cds, dvds & other digital media

3,035

3,202

3,084

3,041

2,753

2,238

1,956

Shannon Free Airport Trade & Unclassified Trade

1,308

1,254

1,080

2,398

2,513

2,108

1,946

Aircraft and Parts (not including engines)

1,539

2,036

1,452

2,605

2,299

2,215

3,516

Telecommunications & Sound Equipment

1,678

2,026

2,129

1,978

1,762

1,430

1,023

Organic chemicals (mainly for pharmaceutical sector)

2,209

2,117

2,084

1,947

1,749

1,488

1,386

Services Exports

Value (€ m) / year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Computer services

15,100

15,755

18,298

21,726

23,284

Merchanting

2,480

4,018

5,301

8,816

9,817

Insurance

7,821

6,909

8,738

8,799

8,582

Financial services

4,267

4,850

6,214

7,440

6,850

Operational leasing

2,110

4,076

5,439

5,803

5,483

Tourism and travel

3,536

3,863

4,258

4,426

4,279

Services Imports

Value (€ m) / year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Royalties/Licences

15,169

15,482

17,534

18,621

22,549

Other trade related services

7,559

7,609

8,391

9,642

9,904

Tourism and travel

4,184

4,898

5,446

6,300

7,055

Advertising and market research

6,289

*

*

6,474

6,976

Insurance

6,039

5,976

7,239

7,133

6,517

Other

3,348

3,564

3,634

4,139

4,906

*Suppressed by CSO for confidentiality reasons.

Job Creation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

207 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created in the service sectors throughout Ireland in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; the number of jobs last in the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5290/10]

The Industrial Development Agency employment figures are compiled annually in the Forfás Annual Employment Survey, the most up to date of which details employment figures up until 2008. The 2009 employment figures are currently being compiled and are due to be published at the end of February 2010. Details of the agency employment figures are set out in the following tabular statement.

Statistical information in relation to County and City Enterprise Boards is collated annually. My Department does not collect or retain information on the number of specific job losses in County and City Enterprise Board assisted companies nor is such information retained on a sectoral basis. However the cumulative figures for the jobs existing in County and City Enterprise Board assisted companies is set out in the following tabular statement for the five years to end 2008. Figures in respect of 2009 are currently being collated and should be available in early February 2010.

The Government through the state development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland together with the County and City Enterprise Boards and Shannon Development, are committed to promoting Ireland as a location of choice for job creation and enterprise development.

Industrial Development Agency Employment Figures

Year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Services — Full time jobs created

10,972

11,221

12,515

13,279

11,018

Services — Part time/temp jobs created

4,849

3,764

3,427

3,896

3,996

Services — Total jobs created

15,821

14,985

15,942

17,175

15,014

Services — Job losses full time jobs

-8,720

-8,381

-6,540

-8,396

-8,243

Services — Job losses part time/ temp jobs

-3,603

-4,162

-3,022

-3,883

-4,299

Services — Total job losses

-12,323

-12,543

-9,562

-12,279

-12,542

County and City Enterprise Boards

end 2004

end 2005

end 2006

end 2007

end 2008

Number of jobs existing in CEB-supported companies

28,296

30,234

32,279

34,545.5

33,811

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

208 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of manufacturing jobs created here in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; the number of jobs lost in the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5291/10]

The Industrial Development Agency employment figures are compiled annually in the Forfás Annual Employment Survey, the most up to date of which details employment figures up until 2008. The 2009 employment figures are currently being compiled and are due to be published at the end of February 2010. Details of the agency employment figures are set out in the following tabular statement.

Statistical information in relation to County and City Enterprise Boards is collated annually. My Department does not collect or retain information on the number of specific job losses in County and City Enterprise Board assisted companies nor is such information retained on a sectoral basis. However the cumulative figures for the jobs existing in County and City Enterprise Board assisted companies is set out in the following tabular statement for the five years to end 2008. Figures in respect of 2009 are currently being collated and should be available in early February 2010.

The Government through the state development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland together with the County and City Enterprise Boards and Shannon Development, are committed to marketing Ireland as a location of choice for investment, enterprise development and employment creation.

Industrial Development Agency Employment Figures

Year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Manufacturing — Full time jobs created

14,120

16,614

16,324

14,188

10,363

Manufacturing — Part time/temp jobs created

6,582

6,835

6,444

5,187

4,497

Manufacturing — Total jobs created

20,702

23,449

22,768

19,375

14,860

Manufacturing — Job losses full time jobs

-17,878

-15,609

-15,718

-16,870

-21,838

Manufacturing — Job losses part time/temp jobs

-5,598

-6,339

-6,841

-6,076

-7,905

Manufacturing — Total job losses

-23,476

-21,948

-22,559

-22,946

-29,743

County and City Enterprise Boards

end 2004

end 2005

end 2006

end 2007

end 2008

Number of jobs existing in CEB-supported companies

28,296

30,234

32,279

34,545.5

33,811

Cost Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

209 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the discussions she has had with the business sector with a view to achieving some degree of equilibrium in respect of business costs throughout Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5292/10]

I am in regular contact with business leaders and representative groups around the country and also receive ongoing advice from my Department and the heads of the enterprise development agencies that report to my Department. These discussions assist in framing the Government's response to all aspects of the current economic situation.

Prices across the economy have fallen substantially. The last Consumer Price Index data from the Central Statistics Office show that prices fell by 5 per cent in December 2009 compared to December 2008. A further reduction in prices is forecast for next year, meaning our cost competitiveness position in relation to our trading partners is improving.

Job Losses.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

210 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs lost throughout the country in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; the number of new jobs created in the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5293/10]

According to the most recent QNHS, Quarter 3 2009, employment has dropped by 71,500 and unemployment has increased by 184,200 in the past 5 years.

QNHS Q3

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Employment

1,993,900

2,071,900

2,149,800

2,107,100

1,922,400

Unemployment

95,600

102,600

103,300

159,400

279,800

Source CSO Quarterly National Household Survey Quarter 3.

The following table sets out the number of full-time jobs created by enterprise agency assisted firms only (IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development), for the years 2004 to 2008. The 2009 employment figures are currently being compiled and are due to be published at the end of February 2010.

Job Gains (Full Time Jobs)

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

All Sectors

25,092

27,835

28,839

27,467

21,381

Job Gains (Part Time/ Temp Jobs)

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

All Sectors

11,431

10,599

9,871

9,083

8,493

Job Gains (All Jobs)

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

All Sectors

36,523

38,434

38,710

36,550

29,874

There is no exact measure of the number of jobs lost, however, the Department records the number of redundancies notified to them on a monthly basis. In the past 5 years there have been 189,907 redundancies reported. The following table sets out the number of redundancy notifications received on a monthly basis for the 2005 to 2009.

Actual Redundancies for 2005-2009

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Total

State

23,156

23,684

25,459

40,607

77,001

189,907

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs lost throughout County Kildare in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; the number of new jobs created in the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5294/10]

According to the most recent QNHS, Quarter 3 2009, employment in the Mid-East region, which includes Kildare has increased by 6,400 and unemployment has increased by 22,800 in the past five years.

QNHS Q3-Mid East

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Employment

228,300

238,600

257,200

250,000

234,700

Unemployment

9,100

8,800

10,500

15,400

31,900

Source: CSO Quarterly National Household Survey Quarter 3.

The following table sets out the number of full-time jobs created in Co. Kildare in enterprise agency assisted firms only (IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development), for the years 2004 to 2008. The 2009 employment figures are currently being compiled and are due to be published at the end of February 2010.

Kildare Agency Assisted Employment Creation

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Job Gains (Full Time)

1,233

1,028

916

670

353

Job Gains (Other)

422

521

192

122

142

Job Gains (All)

1,655

1,549

1,108

792

495

There is no exact measure of the number of jobs lost, however, the Department records the number of redundancies notified to them on a monthly basis. In the past 5 years there have been 7,883 redundancies reported for Co. Kildare. The following table sets out the number of redundancy notifications received on a monthly basis for the 2005 to 2009.

Actual Redundancies for Co. Kildare 2005-2009

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Total

Kildare

745

796

1,147

1,904

3,291

7,883

Small Business Initiatives.

Richard Bruton

Question:

212 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the need for State sponsored initiatives to help small business access credit; the initiatives in other countries being monitored by her Department and their potential here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5304/10]

Richard Bruton

Question:

213 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has examined an initiative (details supplied) and its relevance here. [5305/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212 and 213 together as they both relate to State sponsored initiatives to help small business access credit.

In supporting small and medium enterprises, the Government's focus has been on actions to sustain a positive business environment, including the proper functioning of the banking system, allied with specific targeted supports for SMEs through my Department's enterprise development agencies. Access to finance and bank credit for SMEs have been a major concern.

My Department and I have held regular meetings with the representative bodies of the SME sector and other stakeholders in relation to issues impacting on the sector. I established the Roundtable on Access to Bank Credit and subsequently the Credit Supply Clearing Group with a dedicated e-mail contact point on my Department's website, to specifically deal with access to bank credit issues.

The Government has focused on creating a fit for purpose banking system and taken actions to sustain the banks and facilitate the flow of credit to the wider economy. The Bank Guarantee Scheme, the Banks' Recapitalisation Scheme, the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and the passing of the NAMA Act were all aimed at this. The NAMA Act has been further strengthened by the Government amendment providing the Minister for Finance with a power to issue guidelines, to the participating institutions in the NAMA process, on lending practices and procedures to improve the flow of credit to small and medium-sized enterprises and, if necessary, to other sectors. My colleague the Minister for Finance has already announced the establishment of the new Credit Review System which will examine the credit policies and practices of the banks, particularly for SMEs. This new system will inform Government as to what further action might be necessary to secure the flow of credit to Irish enterprise and, through publication of the analysis from the review process, help ensure that the performance of the banks participating in NAMA is obvious to all.

Under the Recapitalisation Scheme, additional measures were introduced to support SMEs including a commitment to increase lending capacity to SMEs by 10%; the establishment of a €100m environmental and clean energy innovation fund by each bank; the contribution of a further €15m by each bank to new or existing seed capital funds; the introduction of the banks' Code of Conduct on Business Lending to SMEs, and the undertaking of two Independent Reviews of Bank Lending by Mazars published last July and last December, respectively.

In the context of access to finance, Irish Banks have drawn down European Investment Bank (EIB) funding for loans for SMEs. In 2009, the EIB made €300m available to Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks and Ulster Bank for onward lending to SMEs carrying out investment projects. This was additional to €50m previously made available to Bank of Scotland Ireland through its UK parent. My colleague, Billy Kelleher, Minister for Trade and Commerce, met with representatives of these four banks to discuss progress on the take up of these funds. The banks have confirmed that significant approvals have already been made to clients in respect of these funds and the funds should be substantially committed by the first quarter of 2010. The banks are actively promoting their availability through their business managers and other contacts.

Within my own Department, the enterprise development agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, FÁS and the County and City Enterprise Boards continue to assist enterprises through their grant and advisory schemes. Significant allocations were made in my Department's Estimates for 2009 and 2010 to sustain the work of the development agencies. The Enterprise Stablisation Fund and the Employment Subsidy Scheme were specifically introduced in 2009 to assist enterprises.

Government has also introduced formal arrangements to reduce the payment period by central Government Departments to their business suppliers from 30 to 15 calendar days. This commitment has effect on all valid invoices received on and from 15 June 2009 and is helping cash flow difficulties for enterprises.

SMEs are central to our economic development and the range of measures and supports in place will continue to help the sector adapt to the current economic climate. The services provided by the enterprise development agencies are kept under review and will be adjusted to respond to the current economic situation. Agencies would review their activities in light of international developments and best practice and I am prepared to consider any proposals for further supports for the SME sector.

In relation to the initiative referred to by the Deputy, many of the supports outlined are already being addressed or provided through our various enterprise support agencies in Ireland.

Last week, I confirmed that work is underway within my Department on the examination of a possible scheme of loan guarantees for the SME sector. This is in line with one of the recommendations contained in the Mazars report on credit availability. Enterprise Ireland and Forfás have carried out examinations of loan guarantee schemes in the UK and in some other countries. Forfás, together with the Department, is carrying out a further examination and on completion of this work, I will bring the results before the Government. As with any initiative, we will need to ensure that any scheme developed directly assists businesses while at the same time safeguards the taxpayer.

Question No. 214 answered with Question No. 173.

EU Directives.

Joe Costello

Question:

215 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance when he will transpose the EU floods directive into law; the reason he has decided to transpose it by way of statutory instrument without recourse to the normal parliamentary process for primary legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4591/10]

Directive 2007/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Assessment and Management of Flood Risk is primarily concerned with the assessment and management of flood risks, with the aim of reducing adverse consequences for human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity associated with floods in the European Community.

There is a strong degree of alignment between the recommendations of the report of the flood policy review group of 2004 and the requirements of the EU floods directive. The outputs from the flood mapping and flood risk assessment and management studies programme, which commenced on foot of the national flood policy, adopted by Government in 2004, will also satisfy the requirements of the floods directive. Accordingly, the process of implementing the flood risk assessment programmes under national policy is taking place in conjunction with the transposition of the floods directive into Irish law.

The Statutory Instrument to transpose the directive is being examined by the Attorney General and I expect it to be transposed in the next few weeks.

Public Service Contracts.

Joe McHugh

Question:

216 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if, in the interests of value for money for the taxpayer, he will alter the prequalification criteria for tendering for public projects in view of the fact that existing criteria favour larger companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4688/10]

The establishment of a list of competent firms interested in tendering for a particular project is an essential part of a prequalification procedure. For transparency purposes, it is a requirement that the number of firms being short listed should be stated in the contract notice published on eTenders or, in the case of projects above the EU threshold, in the Official Journal of the European Union. The prequalification criteria in EU Directive 2004/18/EC and SI No. 329 of 2006 and the underlying principles in the EU Treaty are there to give confidence to businesses who express an interest in a particular procurement opportunity that they will be treated equally and fairly.

There are two parts to prequalification. The first deals with minimum standards which a contracting authority must set out in a suitability questionnaire applicable in particular situations. Minimum standards can vary from project to project depending on size, nature and complexity. The overriding objective for all contracting authorities, when establishing minimum standards, is to adhere to the underlying principles in the EU Treaty of non-discrimination, proportionality, fairness and transparency. I should say that the establishment of minimum standards is a matter for the relevant contracting authorities to determine as they are nearest to the activity and therefore best placed to decide what is appropriate in particular situations. The minimum standards for suitability criteria in use by various Government Departments, Offices and Agencies, and which are in the public domain at present are published on my Department's construction website www.constructionprocurement.gov.ie

The second part of prequalification is qualitative selection. This is used to assess firms that pass the minimum standards so that those with the best marks go forward to a tender list up to the maximum number stated in the contract notice.

I am conscious of the pressures facing SMEs and I have asked my Department to develop national guidelines for minimum standards for suitability criteria for construction-consultants and works contractors. However, I should say that, even with these guidelines in place, local input by contracting authorities will continue to be required in particular situations. When the work of developing national guidelines is complete, they will be published on the Department's construction website.

Motor Vehicle Registration.

Mary White

Question:

217 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Finance his plans to amend the format of vehicle registration plates, and in particular of replacing year of registration with the CO2 emissions band of a car; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5032/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there are no plans to amend the existing format of vehicle registration plates.

The registration-numbering format under the existing system has a number of very important advantages. Firstly, it provides a fast and efficient method of vehicle identification for the State agencies involved in the management of the national vehicle fleet, namely, An Garda Síochána, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Road Safety Authority and the Revenue Commissioners, and indeed for members of the public. Secondly, it allows buyers of used vehicles to ascertain, at a glance, both the year and county of registration of a vehicle.

The levels of CO2 emissions for vehicles are available from vehicle manufacturers’ brochures/websites and on the Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) website: www.sei.ie.

Motor Industry.

Tom Hayes

Question:

218 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a family car; and if a family will qualify for the car scrappage scheme where one spouse has owned the car for more than five years and has the car in their name but where this car is insured under the name of the other spouse, and where insurance companies have not historically required or needed the ownership of the car to be changed in order to change the named driver in the past. [5034/10]

The draft legislation as outlined on the Revenue Commissioners website (and reproduced below); shows that the scheme contains a number of conditions which must be fully complied with in order to qualify for the scrappage allowance. The car being scrapped:

must be registered in the State in the name of the registered owner of the new car for at least 18 months previous to the date of scrappage;

must be ten years old or more from the date of first registration;

must be scrapped on or after 10 December 2009;

must be scrapped within 60 days of the date of the new car being registered, or have been scrapped within 60 days immediately before the date of the new car being registered;

must have a valid NCT test certificate, or one that has expired no more than 90 days immediately before the date of scrappage or documentation to indicate that it has been presented for and failed an NCT roadworthiness test in the previous six months;

must have been insured for use on the road in the name of the registered owner for at least 12 months in the 18 months immediately prior to the date of scrappage.

The Deputy will appreciate that with any legislation, there is the possibility for what are commonly referred to as ‘hard cases'. However, as with any legislatively-based scheme, the letter of the law must be implemented. Should an exception be made in one case, it would be difficult to justify the full implementation of the rules in other cases.

The scheme was designed in this way to provide simplicity of interpretation, clarity of eligibility, and absolute consistency of implementation of the scheme by insisting that the same name must appear as the owner of the scrapped car, the policy of insurance issued in respect of the scrapped car and the registration documents for the new car.

Liquor Licensing.

George Lee

Question:

219 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance the person whom a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16 should contact in order to renew the wine licence for their business; if he will post them out any documentation that is required in order to do this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5367/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that all Excise Licence Licensees should apply to the Revenue Commissioners' National Excise Licence Office in order to renew their Excise Licence. This office deals with the application and renewal procedure for customers requiring an Excise Duty Licence.

The contact details are as follows: Revenue Commissioners, National Excise Licence Office, Government Offices, The Glen, Waterford. Telephone: 1890 500 400 Email: exciselicences@revenue.ie

Local Authority Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

220 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he has received any correspondence from FÁS or from a council (detail supplied) seeking an exemption from the public service recruitment embargo in order to allow the local authority in question to recruit staff to supervise FÁS work placement and training programmes; if such a request has been received; his views on same; if not, when he will issue a response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4455/10]

There is no record of any correspondence from FÁS or from the Council mentioned by the Deputy having been received in my office in recent times with regard to the recruitment of staff to supervise FÁS work placement and training programmes.

As the Deputy is aware there is a moratorium in force in relation to recruitment and promotion in the public service. While I have authority from the Government to grant exceptions in respect of the filling of particular posts, this arises only in very exceptional circumstances and only when all other options (such as the reassignment of responsibilities or redeployment) have been exhausted. In the first instance, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government oversees the implementation of the moratorium in the local authority sector.

Departmental Expenditure.

Joan Burton

Question:

221 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance when he will publish the monthly tax and expenditure profiles for 2010. [4460/10]

Monthly profiles of tax revenue and debt servicing expenditure will be published with the end-January Exchequer Returns.

The monthly expenditure profiles will be based on the allocations published in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2010, and will be published shortly thereafter.

Tax Code.

David Stanton

Question:

222 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider refunding VAT to farmers who construct alternative energy generators such as wind turbines on their property in order to provide electricity for farming operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4504/10]

Farmers who are registered for VAT are accountable persons for VAT in respect of all their taxable activities, whether those activities consist solely of farming or both farming and other activities such as the generation of electricity for provision to the national grid. As accountable persons for VAT, they would be entitled to claim input credit for VAT charged on the installation of an alternative energy generator, such as a wind turbine, for use in their taxable activities.

In so far as farmers who are not registered for VAT are concerned, they are not in the normal course entitled to credit for, or repayment of, VAT incurred by them on their business inputs. The Value-Added Tax (Refund of Tax) (No 25) Order, 1993 provides for refunds to unregistered farmers for tax borne on the “construction, extension, alteration or reconstruction of any building or structure which is designed for use solely or mainly for the purposes of a farming business”. However, while the installation of an alternative energy generator may be the construction of a structure, such a structure is not “designed for use solely or mainly for the purposes of a farming business”. It is designed rather to generate electricity for wherever required. Consequently, the installation of alternative energy generators does not come within the scope of the VAT refund order.

National Asset Management Agency Staff.

David Stanton

Question:

223 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons employed directly by the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4505/10]

The NAMA Act 2009 provides that NAMA staff members will be assigned to it from the NTMA. I am advised by NAMA that the NTMA currently has assigned ten staff to NAMA.

The NAMA draft business plan published in October 2009 set out details on the proposed staffing in NAMA and its different operational units.

National Aquatic Centre.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

224 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance if the Valuation Office will stand over the valuation of the lease of the National Aquatic Centre which was prepared on the 25 October 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4527/10]

The Valuation Office is the State property valuation agency, headed by the Commissioner of Valuation. The office provides statutory valuations under the provisions of the Valuation Act 2001. It also provides a valuation consultancy service to Government Departments and public bodies.

The Valuation Office provided a valuation for VAT purposes on the National Aquatic Centre dated 25 October 2002 on foot of a request from the public body concerned.

The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties and I, as Minister for Finance, have no function in decisions in this regard.

Flood Relief.

John McGuinness

Question:

225 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a report submitted by Kilkenny County Council in relation to the works required to prevent future flooding of Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny; the time it will take to consider this report; if he will expedite a response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4536/10]

The Commissioners of Public Works have completed their examination of the flood risk management study, submitted by Kilkenny County Council in relation to Graiguenamanagh and other locations in County Kilkenny. They are currently in the process of arranging a meeting with the local authority with a view to identifying flood relief measures, which might be undertaken to alleviate the flooding problem in this area.

Departmental Properties.

Denis Naughten

Question:

226 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if he will list the unoccupied dwelling houses owned by the Office of Public Works in the Dublin region; the value of any such properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4557/10]

The information sought by the Deputy is currently being compiled by the Office of Public Works and will be forwarded directly to him shortly.

Public Sector Pay.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

227 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the regulations he has made on foot of his powers under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009; if so, the details of such regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4574/10]

Section 10 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009 provides that the Minister for Finance can by Order bring the Act into operation on day or days appointed by the Minister. I brought the Act into operation on 21 December 2009 by Statutory Instrument No. 590 of 2009. No other regulations have been made by me under the Act.

For the information of the Deputy, the exercise of my powers under section 6 of the Act does not require the making of regulations.

Tax Code.

Jack Wall

Question:

228 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) is due a tax rebate for 2009 in view of the fact that they are being taxed as a single person and in fact the person is married; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4581/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a PAYE Balancing Statement P21 for the year 2009 together with any refund due will issue to the person concerned shortly.

Site Management.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

229 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works has established a working group to develop an approach to the management of the Haulbowline site in County Cork; if so, the progress it has made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4610/10]

On foot of Government Decision S11603K, the Office of Public Works is in the process of establishing a working group to develop a structured and coherent approach to the further management and development of the site. Draft terms of reference have been produced and are currently being circulated. The working group will be convened upon receipt of feedback.

Meanwhile, Cork County Council will continue to discharge site management responsibilities on an agency basis, in accordance with the Government decision.

Pension Provisions.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

230 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if, under SI 4 of 2010, the pension scheme of companies (details supplied) will be considered participating pension schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4672/10]

Section 22 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009 provides for a Pensions Insolvency Payment Scheme (PIPS) for the making of payments to or in respect of the relevant pensioners of participating pension schemes.

I have recently signed the statutory instrument giving effect to PIPS from 1 February 2010 for a pilot period of three years. From that date, it is open to any pension scheme that meets the criteria to apply to participate. The principal qualifying conditions for PIPS are that the sponsoring employer must be insolvent (in accordance with the definition used in the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984) and the defined benefit pension scheme must be winding up in deficit.

Details of the application procedure and other guidance is being made available on my Department's website www.finance.gov.ie.

Redundancy Payments.

Jack Wall

Question:

231 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who will take voluntary redundancy; the tax liability that will apply to them; their entitlement to social welfare benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4690/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that generally speaking, all payments made by employers to employees are regarded as "Pay" for tax purposes. Lump sum payments on a redundancy or a retirement, however, qualify for special tax treatment — they may be exempt from tax or may qualify for some relief from tax.

The person concerned should submit a completed tax return for the relevant year which should include details of the lump sum payment to the Revenue Commissioners, East and South East Region, PAYE Mail Centre, P.O. Box 1, Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford.

EU Directives.

Joe Costello

Question:

232 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if there are EU directives which require to be transposed into primary or secondary legislation; the list of such directives; the date they were drafted by the Commission; when he intends to transpose them into domestic law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4714/10]

There are currently three directives awaiting transposition into primary or secondary legislation under my Department's responsibility which have exceeded their transposition deadline. In the case of two of these the transposition timeline was late last year and it is expected that they will be transposed by means of Statutory Instrument shortly. The third outstanding directive has a January 2010 transposition date and will be brought into effect in the 2010 Finance Bill. A further four directives are due for transposition before the end of this year and three others are due in 2011. There is one directive with a transposition deadline of 2012. Details of these directives are set out in the following table. My Department is working to ensure the comprehensive transposition of these directives.

EU Directives to be transposed by the Department of Finance Directives overdue for transposition

Directive Number

Date of Adoption Transposition Deadline

Expected Transposition Date

Likely Method of Transposition

2007/60/EC Directive 2007/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on the assessment and management of flood risks

23/10/200726/11/2009

A draft SI to transpose this directive into secondary legislation is nearing completion and will be signed within the next month.

Statutory Instrument

2007/66/EC Directive 2007/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2007 amending Council Directives 89/665/EEC and 92/13/EEC with regard to improving the effectiveness of review procedures concerning the award of public contracts

11/12/2007 20/12/2009

It is anticipated that the Regulations will come into force shortly once the necessary Statutory Instrument is signed.

Statutory Instrument

2008/118/EC Council Directive 2008/118/EC of 16 December 2008 concerning the general arrangements for excise duty and repealing Directive 92/12/EEC

16/12/2008 01/01/2010

March 2010

Finance Bill

Directives due to be transposed by end 2010

Directive Number

Date of Adoption Transposition Deadline

Expected Transposition Date

Likely Method of Transposition

2009/44/EC Directive 2009/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 amending Directive 98/26/EC on settlement finality in payment and securities settlement systems and Directive 2002/47/EC on financial collateral arrangements as regards linked systems and credit claims (Text with EEA relevance)

06/05/2009 30/12/2010

By transposition deadline

Statutory Instrument

Directive 2008/48/EC Directive 2008/48/EC establishes a harmonised legal framework for the provision of credit in the EU. It replaces Directive 87/102/EEC which laid down minimum rules for consumer credit agreements within the EU.

22/05/2008 10/06/2010

By transposition deadline

Statutory Instrument

Directive 2009/83/EC Commission Directive 2009/83/EC of 27 July 2009 amending certain Annexes to Directive 2006/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards technical provisions concerning risk management (Text with EEA relevance)

27/07/2009 31/10/2010

By transposition deadline

Statutory Instrument

2009/111/EC Directive 2009/111/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 amending Directives 2006/48/EC, 2006/49/EC and 2007/64/EC as regards banks affiliated to central institutions, certain own funds items, large exposures, supervisory arrangements, and crisis management (Text with EEA relevance)

16/12/2008 31/12/2010

By transposition deadline

Statutory Instrument

Directives due to be transposed in 2011 and 2012

Directive Number

Date of Adoption Transposition Deadline

Expected Transposition Date

Likely Method of Transposition

Directive 2009/110/EC Directive 2009/110/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on the taking up, pursuit and prudential supervision of the business of electronic money institutions amending Directives 2005/60/EC and 2006/48/EC and repealing Directive 2000/46/EC

16/12/2009 30/04/2011

By transposition deadline

Statutory Instrument

Directive 2009/69/EC Council Directive 2009/69/EC of 25 June 2009 amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards tax evasion linked to imports

25/06/2009 01/01/2011

March 2010

Finance Bill

Directive 2009/162/EC Council Directive 2009/162/EU of 22 December 2009 amending various provisions of directive 2006.112/EC on the common system of value added tax. This is a technical Directive.

22/12/2009 01/01/2011

By Transposition deadline

Statuary Instrument (Ministerial Regulations under the European Communities Act

Directive 2009/138/EC Directive 2009/138/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the taking-up and pursuit of the business of Insurance and Reinsurance (Solvency II) (Text with EEA relevance)

25/11/2009 31/12/2012

By transposition deadline

Statutory Instrument

Social Insurance.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

233 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the reason for the delay in dealing with a complaint in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11; and if this person’s PRSI liability is fully calculated and a decision reached. [4722/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, in this case, there is a PRSI and tax liability outstanding for the year 2006.

I understand that the person in question wrote to the Revenue Commissioners on 30 October 2009 requesting clarification regarding the tax and PRSI paid. The Revenue Commissioners replied on the December 2009 confirming the amount of tax that was repaid to their spouse and clarified the position regarding the PRSI.

A Revenue official will make contact with the person to explain the liability in detail.

Tax Code.

Joe McHugh

Question:

234 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the reason a 9% carbon tax is being imposed on agricultural diesel, while a 4% carbon tax is being imposed on road diesel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4726/10]

I announced in the budget that a carbon tax at a rate of €15 per tonne is being introduced on fossil fuels. The tax was applied to petrol and auto-diesel with effect from midnight, 9 December 2009; and will apply from 1 May 2010 to kerosene, marked gas oil (also known as 'green diesel' or 'agricultural diesel'), liquid petroleum gas (LPG), fuel oil and natural gas. The application of the tax to coal and commercial peat is subject to a Commencement Order.

The carbon tax will result in an increase of approximately 4 cents per litre (excluding VAT) on agricultural diesel, broadly the same as that for regular diesel. However, the carbon tax has a higher percentage price impact on marked gas oil including agricultural diesel because the excise rate on it is considerably lower than that applying to regular diesel.

Motor Vehicle Registration.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

235 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the regulations that apply to an EU citizen that is domiciled outside Ireland and their car is registered and taxed outside Ireland but who spends a number of months here each year; if that person has obligations regarding the registration and use of that car here; the rules that apply to an Irish citizen in similar circumstances that spends part of the year in another EU country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4745/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that vehicles imported permanently into the State must register for VRT purposes within seven days of arrival. This rule applies equally to vehicles imported by EU and non-EU persons.

However, section 135(a) of the Finance Act 1992 permits an EU or other foreign registered vehicle, which is temporarily brought into the State by a person established outside the State, to be exempted from the requirement to register for VRT purposes for a period normally not exceeding 12 months from the date upon which the vehicle concerned is brought into the State. While the vehicle is in the State under the provisions of such temporary exemption, it may not be driven by a State resident.

Statutory Instrument No.60 of 1993 (Temporary Exemption from Registration of Vehicles Regulations) prescribes the criteria for eligibility for exemption from the registration requirement in respect of vehicles temporarily brought into the State.

At present, there is no requirement for vehicles imported under the temporary exemption provisions to be presented to the Revenue Commissioners in order to avail of the relief. However, section 64 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2008 provides for the introduction of temporary registration, without the payment of VRT, of vehicles temporarily brought into the State for a period greater than 42 days. This section has yet to be commenced, but it is envisaged that it will come into operation later this year.

Documents relating to ownership, registration or vehicle transit into the State must be kept with the vehicle when it is in use in the State. Where the vehicle fails to meet the conditions for temporary exemption, it must be either permanently removed from the State or presented for registration.

The temporary exemption rules are in accordance with Article 39 of the EC Treaty, which provides for the free movement of EU citizens within member states. The Deputy may wish to note that a reciprocal arrangement is in place for residents of Ireland who bring cars temporarily to other member states. However, other member states may have different arrangements and/or periods of eligibility, ranging from the minimum requirement of normal residence of 185 days in a particular year to the more generous interpretation of "a period not exceeding 12 months" allowed in this State.

An Irish citizen wishing to spend part of the year in another member state should ensure familiarity with the temporary exemption regulations in force in that particular member state before bringing a vehicle into that state on a temporary basis.

Public Sector Pay.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

236 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to any group or class of public servants where it may be appropriate to utilise his powers under section 6 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009; if so, the cases examined; his response in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4758/10]

Finian McGrath

Question:

250 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [5095/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

254 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if he will exercise his powers under section 8 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, to exempt research staff at third level institutions from deductions under section 2 of that Act, having regard to the particular aspects and conditions of their employment that materially distinguish them from other employees in the public sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5137/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236, 250 and 254 together.

Section 6 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009 provides that, in certain limited circumstances, the Minister for Finance may by direction exempt or vary the application of the pay reductions provided for in the Act to public servants or groups of public servants.

Directions have been made by me under section 6 concerning the reduction of salary for the assistant secretary and deputy secretary grades in the Civil Service, and for certain public service grades related to the assistant secretary and deputy secretary grades. In the case of assistant secretary, deputy secretary and related public service grades, I decided that the pay reductions should comprise both a reduction in the salary scale and the termination of the scheme of performance-related pay previously applicable to the grades which entailed an average payment of 10% of salary. Representations were made to me in respect of the assistant secretary and deputy secretary grades by the Association of Assistant Secretaries and Higher Grades. The numbers of public servants covered by the directions is about 655.

I have also directed that an exemption from the pay reductions in the legislation should apply where those reductions would reduce the pay rate of public servants to at or below the statutory minimum wage. The direction will apply only to a small number of very atypical employments in the public service, normally linked to employment as part of intellectual disability support programmes. This direction was made after my colleague Minister of State, Deputy Martin Mansergh, brought the issue to my attention.

Representations from a number of Deputies have been made in relation to the application of the pay reductions to contract researchers. The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act, 2009 makes provision for the reduction in the pay rates of all persons employed by public service bodies with effect from 1 January 2010. As universities come within the definition in the Act of public service bodies, contract researchers employed by such universities are subject to the pay reductions provided for under the legislation, regardless of the source of funding for that employment. I have no proposals to exempt persons in that position from the pay reductions.

In addition, the Department of Health and Children has drawn my attention to outstanding awards arising from Report No 42 of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in respect of certain HSE grades, which were not implemented prior to the enactment of the pay reduction legislation. No determination has been made in that case.

Banking Sector Investigations.

Richard Bruton

Question:

237 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if civil servants will be freed from the prohibition on commenting on public policy at the proposed banking inquiry and the subsequent Oireachtas hearings; and if the secrecy surrounding Cabinet confidentiality will be waived. [4765/10]

The Government has agreed a framework for a comprehensive investigation into the causes of the systemic failures in the Irish banking sector which will take place in two stages. The first stage of the investigation will consist of the preparation of two separate preliminary reports; one from the Governor of the Central Bank and a second from Mr Klaus Regling, a recognised international expert. The governor will examine and report on the performance of the functions of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator, and Mr. Regling will be asked to conduct a preliminary investigation into the crisis in the Irish banking system and to inform the future management and regulation of the sector.

The second stage of the investigation will be the establishment of a statutory Commission of Investigation, which will be chaired by a recognised expert of high standing and reputation. It is envisaged its remit will be to examine and report on the causes of the systemic failures in the Irish banking sector which culminated in the need for the State guarantee, the recapitalisation programme, the nationalisation and rescue recapitalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency in order to preserve financial stability.

Of course, the terms of reference will not be set until we have the benefit of the preliminary reports from the Governor of the Central Bank and from Mr. Regling and the views of the Oireachtas in relation to them. In examining these issues, the Commission of Investigation will have the powers available to it under the relevant legislation, which the Deputy is aware are substantial.

Under Article 28.4.3 of the Constitution, the confidentiality of discussions at meetings of the Government must be respected in all circumstances save for the limited exemptions provided for in the Article.

The framework agreed by the Government for the investigation will allow the causes of the systemic failures in the Irish banking sector to be identified and provide a basis for the work of the Commission of Investigation.

Flood Relief.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

238 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the continuous flooding at a location (details supplied) in County Donegal; the steps he is taking address the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4791/10]

The Office of Public Works has recently written to all local authorities inviting prioritised applications for minor flood mitigation works or studies to address localised flooding problems in their administrative areas, subject to specific criteria. It would be open to Donegal County Council to apply for funding for mitigation works in the location referred to under this scheme.

Tax Code.

Frank Feighan

Question:

239 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance if a one off housing development which was subject to a rezoning decision is subject to the new rate of capital gains tax introduced in the National Asset Management Agency Act, 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4792/10]

The windfall tax rate of 80%, which was introduced under the National Asset Management Agency Act, applies to the portion of any profit or gain made on the disposal of land which is attributable to a rezoning, where both the rezoning and the disposal of land giving rise to the windfall occur after 30 October 2009. A rezoning for windfall tax purposes is defined as a change from a non-development land use — agricultural, amenity, open space or recreational use — to a development land use — residential, commercial or industrial use — or a mixture of such uses, or a change of development land use.

It is not clear from the Deputy's question whether he has a particular development in mind or when the land in question was rezoned. If no change of zoning was required, or if the land was rezoned before 30 October 2009, the windfall rate will not apply. However, the rate will apply if the land has been rezoned after that date.

There are two situations where such rezoned land may be disposed of without attracting the 80% tax rate:

1. Where the land is sold to an authority possessing compulsory purchasing powers solely because of the exercise by that authority of its compulsory purchase powers or where such an authority has given formal notice that it will exercise those powers.

2. Where the land is sold by a 75% subsidiary company of the National Asset Management Agency.

The 80% tax rate will only apply to the part of the profits or gains that is attributable to the rezoning decision. The balance of the profit or gain will continue to be taxed at the normal income tax, corporation tax or capital gains tax rates, as appropriate.

Richard Bruton

Question:

240 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the eligibility for mortgage interest relief in respect of a person who traded up their house in 2007, having purchased as a first time buyer in 2003, to continue to receive mortgage interest relief in the seven year period after 2007. [4856/10]

Based on the information provided there would be an entitlement to mortgage interest relief from 2003, including entitlement on the new mortgage taken out when the person traded up to a new property in 2007. Having received mortgage interest relief for seven tax years from 2003 to 2009 at the first-time buyer rate, the person is now entitled to receive mortgage interest relief on the new property at the non-first time buyer rate of 15% per annum, on interest paid up to a maximum of €3,000, for a single person.

The entitlement to relief in this instance was due to end in 2013. However, in Budget 2010, I announced that I would be extending mortgage interest relief up to the end of 2017, at the appropriate rate, for those whose entitlement to relief was due to end in 2010 or after. This means those who took out qualifying loans from 2004. Full details of the measures giving effect to this announcement will be provided in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Noel Ahern

Question:

241 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the date from which the reduced VAT rate of 21% applies; if it is in order for a utility company (details supplied) to issue invoices dated January 2010 at the old rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4888/10]

The reduction in the standard rate of VAT from 21.5% to 21% applies with effect from 1 January 2010. In the case of continuous supplies of telecommunications services, electricity or gas, for which a bill is issued at least every three months, the rate of VAT that should be charged is the rate in force at the date of issue of the bill. In all other cases of services to private individuals, the correct rate is the rate in force at the time of supply of the services.

The Revenue Commissioners have published a comprehensive information note about the application of the decrease in the standard rate of VAT, which is available on their website – www.revenue.ie/en/tax/vat/leaflets/vat-rate-change.html.

Finally, I would add that Revenue are making enquiries in relation to the question of the issue of invoices at an incorrect rate by the company mentioned by the Deputy.

Public Sector Pay.

Noel Ahern

Question:

242 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding civil servants and recent changes in pay and conditions; the reason job sharing staff have taken cuts in wages greater than specified in the Budget in view of the fact that this is seen as discriminatory against mainly women workers; his views on whether the cuts should be as specified for the individual rather than related to the full pay scale; if those on job sharing can seek additional hours or go back full time or is there a restriction on this; the reason payments under the pension levy have increased in 2010 while salaries have dropped. [4890/10]

The pay reductions provided for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009, apply to the instruments setting rates of pay. It is a well established principle that the pay of job or work sharers and those on atypical work patterns is calculated by reference to the whole time equivalent pay rate for the grade or post in question. The reduced pay rates are, therefore, calculated in this way which is consistent with the legislation governing the conditions of employment of part-time workers. Accordingly, the reduction in the rate of pay for full time and job sharing public servants is the same and any change in this relationship would create an inequity in the rate of pay for those doing similar work. The option of those currently work sharing to increase their hours or return to full-time duties will be dictated by the service needs and resources of the public service body where those public servants are employed.

The Pension Related Deduction (PRD) commenced in 2009 during which the PRD was in effect for 10 months. In 2010 the application of this deduction over 12 months results in a slightly higher PRD being deducted with effect from 1 January. However, this increase will be offset to some extent as earnings of public servants will reduce due to the application of reduced rates of pay in 2010.

Freedom of Information.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

243 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the concern of the Ombudsman that the Irish Red Cross is excluded from the scope of the Freedom of Information Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4921/10]

The Irish Red Cross is a voluntary and autonomous body and having regard to its international character and the work it does it is not considered appropriate that FOI should apply to it.

Urban Renewal Schemes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

244 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the number of cities, towns, villages or other locations in urban or rural areas awarded Section 23, urban or environmental renewal or other special designated status or incentives in each of the past 10 years to date in 2010; the degree to which all such projects or proposals have been completed in accordance with requirements; the full extent of the cost in terms of tax foregone or otherwise in each case; the degree to which all such incentives were availed of in accordance with the regulations in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5010/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the cost to the Exchequer of each of the property based tax reliefs is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers and corporation tax returns filed by companies for the years 2004 to 2007, the latest year that this information is available. These are set out in the following Table:

Costs to the Exchequer of each Property based Tax reliefs

Scheme

2004

2005

2006

2007

€m

€m

€m

€m

Urban Renewal

57.4

137.3

140.5

109.3

Town Renewal

17.2

27.3

38.7

34.6

Seaside Renewal

10.1

7.3

6.4

8.0

Rural Renewal

16.1

24.7

38.0

48.5

Multi-storey car parks

3.6

26.2

16.6

9.6

Living over the Shop

1.1

1.3

2.7

3.0

Enterprise Areas

2.8

3.2

3.0

2.8

Park & Ride

0.1

2.7

2.8

1.4

Holiday Cottages

3.1

6.1

9.5

12.4

Hotels

37.7

67.0

106.6

118.0

Nursing Homes

7.0

12.4

14.7

18.3

Housing for the Elderly/Infirm

0.1

0.9

1.4

2.6

Hostels

0.15

0.82

0.72

Guest Houses

0.06

0.08

0.02

Convalescent Homes

0.2

0.2

1.7

0.5

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

1.9

3.2

10.6

12.0

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.8

Buildings used for childcare purposes

3.9

5.4

6.0

9.8

Psychiatric Hospitals

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.1

Mental Health Centres

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Student Accommodation

83.8

58.0

64.3

42.0

Total

246.1

383.4

464.4

435.4

I am also informed by the Revenue Commissioners that for the tax year 2003 and earlier years claims for tax incentive schemes on property were aggregated in tax returns with other claims and could not be distinguished from other reliefs claimed. Accordingly, the specific information on costs for 2003 and earlier years is not available. I am advised by Revenue that they are not yet in a position to provide data for 2008 and subsequent years in respect of tax costs of property incentives, as all tax returns filed for that year have not been processed.

As regards the mid-Shannon scheme which commenced in June 2008, complete data will not be available until all of the relevant tax returns for 2009 are filed and processed.

I have also set out below Section 23 property schemes indicating the county and qualifying areas/towns (Appendices 1 to 5), including the Rural Renewal Scheme, Town Renewal Scheme, Living over the Shop Scheme, Seaside Resort Scheme and Designated Islands, and the Integrated Area Urban Renewal Scheme. In the limited time available it has not been possible to provide the Deputy with any further material.

Appendix 1: Rural Renewal Scheme — Qualifying Areas

County

Area — District Electoral Divisions

Cavan

Arvagh, Springfield, Killashandra, Milltown, Carrafin, Grilly, Kilconny, Belturbet Urban, Ardue, Carn, Bilberry, Diamond, Doogary, Lissanover, Ballymagauran, Ballyconnell, Bawnboy, Templeport, Benbrack, Pedara Vohers, Tircahan, Swanlinbar, Kinawley, Derrynananta, Dunmakeever, Dowra, Derrylahan, Tuam, Killinagh, Eskey, Teebane, Scrabby, Loughdawan, Bruce Hall, Drumcarban, Corr, Crossdoney, and Killykeen.

Leitrim

The administrative county of Leitrim.

Longford

The administrative county of Longford.

Roscommon

Ballintober, Castleheen, Carrowduff, Kilbride North, Lissonuffy, Killavackan, Termonbarry, Roosky, Kilglass North, Kilglass South, Bumlin, Cloonfinlough, Killurkin (in Roscommon Rural District), Strokestown, Annaghmore, Tulsk, Coolougher, Ballinlough, Kiltullagh, Cloonflower, Artagh South, Artagh North, Ballaghaderreen, Edmondstown, Loughglinn, Buckhill, Fairymount, Castlereagh, Frenchpark, Bellengare, Castleplunket, Baslick, Breedoge, Altnagowlan, Lough Allen, Ballyfarnan, Keadue, Aghafin, Ballyformoyle, Crossna, Kilbryan, Boyle Rural, Boyle Urban, Tivannagh, Rushfield, Tumna North, Tumna South, Killurkin (in Boyle No. 1 Rural District), Oakport, Rockingham, Danesfort, Cloonteem, Kilmore, Elia, Ballygarden, Aughrim East, Aughrim West, Creeve (in Boyle No. 1 Rural District), Creeve (in Roscommon Rural District), Elphin, Rossmore, Cloonyquinn, Ogulla, Mantua, Lisgarve, Kilmacumsy, Kilcolgan, Estersnow, Croghan, Killummod, Cregga, Cloonygormican, Kilbride South, Kilgefin, Cloontuskert, Drumdaff, and Kilteevan.

Sligo

Ballintogher East, Ballynakill, Lisconny, Drumfin, Ballymote, Cloonoghill, Leitrim, Tobercurry, Kilturra, Cuilmore, Kilfree, Coolavin, Killaraght, Templevanny, Aghanagh, Kilmactranny, Ballynashee, Shancough, Drumcolumb, Riverstown, Lakeview, Bricklieve, Drumrat, Toomour, Kilshalvy, Killdoon, Streamstown, Cartron, Coolaney, Owenmore, Temple, Annagh, Carrickbannagher, Collooney, and Ballintogher West.

Appendix 2: Town Renewal Scheme — Designated Towns

County

Towns

Carlow

Hacketstown, Muinbheag, Tinnahinch/Graiguenamanagh, Tullow

Cavan

Bailieborough, Ballyjamesduff, Cavan, Cootehill

Clare

Ennistymon, Milltown Malbay, Kilrush, Scarriff, Sixmilebridge,

Cork

Bantry, Charelville (Rathluirc), Cloyne, Doberaile, Fermoy, Kanturk, Skibbereen,

Donegal

Ardara, Ballybofey- Stranolar, Ballyshannon, Moville, Ramelton,

Galway

Ballygar, Clifden, Headford, Loughrea, Portumna

Kerry

Caherciveen, Castleisland, Killorglin, Listowel

Kildare

Castledermot, Kilcock, Kilcullen, Monasterevan, Rathangan

Kilkenny

Callan, Castlecomer, Pilltown, Thomastown, Urlingford

Laois

Mountmellick, Mountrath, Portarlington, Rathdowney

Limerick

Abbeyfeale, Castleconnell, Croom, Kilmallock, Rathkeale

Lough

Ardee, Carlingford, Castlebellingham, Dubleer

Mayo

Ballinrobe, Belmullet, Claremorris, Foxford, Newport

Meath

Duleek, Kells, Oldcasrle, Trim

Monaghan

Ballybay, Castleblayney, Clones

Offaly

Banagher, Clara, Edenderry, Ferbane,

Roscommon

Roscommon

Sligo

Bellaghy-Charlestown, Rosses Point

Tipperary N.R.

Borrisokane, Littleton, Nenagh, Templemore

Tipperary S.R.

Cahir, Cashel, Fethard, Killenaule

Waterford

Cappoquin, Kilmacthomas, Portlaw, Tallow

Westmeath

Castlepollard, Kilbeggan, Moate

Wexford

Bunclody, Ferns, Gorey, Taghmon

Wicklow

Baltinglass, Carnew, Dunlavin, Tinahely

Appendix 3: Living Over the Shop Scheme

Year

County

Designated Areas

2004

Cork

Qualifying Streets

2004

Dublin

Qualifying Streets

2004

Galway

Qualifying Streets

2004

Limerick

Qualifying Streets

2004

Waterford

Qualifying Streets

2007

Cork

Qualifying Streets

2007

Dublin

Qualifying Streets

2007

Galway

Qualifying Streets

2007

Limerick

Qualifying Streets

2007

Waterford

Qualifying Streets

Appendix 4: Seaside Resort Scheme — Designated Resorts

County

Resort (note)

Clare

Kilkee, Lahinch

Cork

Clonakilty, Youghal

Donegal

Bundoran

Galway

Salthill

Kerry

Ballybunion

Louth

Clogherhead

Mayo

Achill, Westport

Meath

Bettystown, Laytown, Mosney

Sligo

Enniscrone

Waterford

Tramore

Wezford

Courttown

Wicklow

Arklow

Note: Schedule 8 to the Taxes Consolidated Act 1997 specifies the qualifying areas of the resorts.

Designated Islands

County

Island

Cork

Bere, Clear, Dursey, Hare, Long, Sherkin, Whiddy

Donegal

Arranmore, Inishbofin, Inishfree, Tory

Galway

Inishbofin, Inisheer, Inishmaan, Inishmore

Limerick

Foynes

Mayo

Claggan, Clare, Inishbiggle, Inishcottle, Inishlyre, Inishturk

Sligo

Coney

Appendix 5: Integrated Area Urban Renewal Scheme — Areas Designated

City/County

Area/Town

Cork

Blackpool/Shandon, City Docks Area

Dublin

Ballymun, HARP, Inchicore/Kilmainham, Liberties/Coombe, North East Inner City, Millenium/ O’Connell Street

Galway

3 Suburban Local Authority Estates

Limerick

1 Large Central Area

Waterford

Periphery of commercial centre

Carlow

Carlow

Clare

Shannon

Cork

Bandon, Cobh, Mallow (N), passage West (S)/Glenbrook

Donegal

Buncrana

Dublin

Dun Laoghaire, Balbriggan, North West Blanchardstown, North Clondalkin, Tallaght

Galway

Tuam

Kerry

Tralee

Kildare

Athy, Kildare

Kilkenny

Kilkenny

Laois

Portlaoise

Limerick

Newcastlewest

Longford

Longford

Louth

Drogheda, Dundalk

Mayo

Ballina

Meath

Navan

Monaghan

Monaghan

Offaly

Birr, Tullamore, Clara

Sligo

Sligo

Tipperary

Roscrea, Thurles, Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary

Waterford

Dungarvan

Wexford

Athlone, Mullingar

Wicklow

Arklow, Wicklow

Public Sector Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

245 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce another incentivised scheme for early retirement or a three year career break option for public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5045/10]

As the Deputy will be aware the Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement and the Special Civil Service Incentive Career Break Scheme were introduced as once-off measures that were included in the Supplementary Budget on 7 April 2009. Following implementation these measures were extended to staff in different areas in the public service. There is no current proposal to extend either of the schemes.

Tax Code.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

246 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a copy of a recent report (details supplied) on the implications of the €10 air travel tax; his views on the conclusions of the report which has estimated revenue losses of €482 million, up to 3,000 job losses and a 1.2 million reduction in departing passengers in the aviation industry here in a full year of the operation of the €10 departure tax as compared to a tax take of just €116 million to the Exchequer; if these figures reflect cost benefit analysis carried out by his Department and the Department of Transport; if he will publish the cost benefit analysis of the tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45864/09]

I have received a report commissioned jointly by Aer Lingus, Ryanair and Cityjet from Amsterdam Aviation Economics in relation to the air travel tax. The report and the analysis therein, including those assumptions made by the authors, continue to be examined by my officials.

However, I understand the report makes a number of important assumptions, and the data on which they are based, are omitted from the report. It would be useful if that data and indeed the underlying analysis were to be made available.

It should be acknowledged that the key reason why we have fewer people travelling through our airports is that domestic circumstances are influencing travel patterns and this situation is broadly being reflected on an international basis.

Mary Upton

Question:

247 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance the changes which have been made to the artists’ tax exemption in Budget 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47394/09]

No changes were made to the artists' exemption scheme in Budget 2010. However, the exempt income of artists is one of the specified reliefs which are subject to the restriction of reliefs measure. I announced significant changes in the Budget to the operation of the restriction from the 2010 tax year.

The adjusted income level at which the restriction will now come into operation was reduced from €250,000 to €125,000 and the level at which the full restriction will apply was also reduced from €500,000 to €400,000. In addition, the effective rate of income tax payable by those subject to the full restriction was increased from 20% to 30%. This income tax liability will be in addition to PRSI, the health levy and the income levy. These changes will affect, inter alia, artists with exempt income, where their adjusted incomes exceed the relevant thresholds by limiting the amount of income that can be exempted from income tax in a particular tax year. Full details of the proposed changes will be included in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Parking Regulations.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

248 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the parking space at work levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2468/10]

My Department has recently completed the consultation process in respect of the introduction of the parking levy. My officials have now been directed to prepare the necessary documentation for its introduction on a pilot basis, in the Dublin city centre area. I will then determine the date from which it will commence.

Flood Relief.

Pat Breen

Question:

249 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance if funding will be provided for a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5091/10]

In November 2009, OPW became aware of flooding in Ennis, which had occurred in areas that were developed since the River Fergus (Ennis) Certified Drainage Scheme was designed. These include Fior Uisce and The Watery Road. The Local Authority have agreed to gather and submit information to OPW in respect of these flood events, and, subject to technical, economic and environmental factors, these areas will be considered for flood alleviation works.

Question No. 250 answered with Question No. 236.

Noel Coonan

Question:

251 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide capital funding for proposed flood relief works at a location (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when works will commence; the timeframe for completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5117/10]

Survey work for the River Mall (Templemore) Drainage Scheme is currently underway. Following completion of this work, OPW will be in a position to submit the proposed Scheme to the Minister for Finance for formal confirmation, which will allow the proposed funding for the Scheme to be allocated. Construction works could begin soon after confirmation. It is hoped that this will be before the end of the year. It is too early at this stage to state the duration of works, as the programme of works is not yet finalised.

Mortgage Arrears.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

252 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the initiatives he will put in place in 2010 to provide assistance to homeowners struggling with negative equity and unrealistic mortgage repayments to stay in their houses. [2331/10]

Home repossession should be and generally is the last resort for the lender. The preferred method of dealing with cases of arrears should be early intervention and engagement.

In the revised Programme for Government we have stated that we will be:

Introducing new measures to protect families having difficulties with their home mortgage payments;

Examining ways of expanding the existing options available for dealing with debt situations;

Examining ways of expanding existing state sponsored mortgage-support measures.

The commitments contained in the revised Programme for Government span the broad area of personal debt management and its legislative framework. As several relate to the responsibilities of several Government Departments, they will require close collaboration in the period ahead. In this regard, on foot of a Government decision, an interdepartmental working group has been established to look into possible options to assist mortgage-holders in arrears.

This Group will in time report back to me with recommendations for implementing commitments made in the revised Programme for Government. The Group's terms of reference include consulting with various external expert groups as well as examining options for improving state supports for home owners with mortgage arrears including schemes in operation in the USA and UK. These schemes are designed to address particular problems for particular groups of home owners and include options for refinancing mortgages, modifying the terms of existing loans, shared equity and purchase of mortgages for the purposes of renting back to the home owner.

Other matters to be considered by the Group will include the recommendations coming from the review of the Department of Social and Family Affairs Mortgage Interest Supplement Scheme when it is completed and any proposals that may emerge for improving the service provided by MABS.

The Law Reform Commission's (LRC) Consultation Paper on Personal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement has made an important contribution to policy formulation in this whole area. On foot of this publication an interdepartmental working group has been established to carefully examine the recommendations of the LRC, with a view to making speedy progress.

In relation to the position of mortgage holders generally, the Irish Bankers Federation published a Statement of Intent on 10 November 2009 which provides further reassurance to homeowners who find themselves genuinely unable to maintain mortgage repayments on their principal private residence. 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 include representation from the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

This co-operative approach follows on from the IBF and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) Operational Protocol on consumer debt, which was put into effect in September 2009. The Operational Protocol will enable MABS and the IBF to continue to work together effectively when dealing with debt problems of personal debtors who approach the MABS Service for assistance.

It should be noted that there are already other important arrangements in place to assist consumers who have fallen into arrears or are in danger of falling into arrears.

The Government provides support for payment of mortgages under the Mortgage Interest Supplement Scheme. This scheme is administered by the Community Welfare Service on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. It provides assistance where the mortgage relates to a person's principal private residence. Furthermore, people in difficulties with debt or in danger of getting into difficulties can avail of the services of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). This is a national, free, confidential and independent service.

The Financial Regulator's Consumer Protection Code sets out requirements that a regulated entity must contact the consumer as soon as it becomes aware that a mortgage account is in arrears and that it must have in place a procedure for handling accounts in arrears.

The Financial Regulator also has in place a Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears. This Code applies to mortgage lending activities to consumers in respect of their principal private residence in the State and is mandatory for all mortgage lenders registered with the Financial Regulator. Under the code where a borrower is in difficulty the lender has to make every reasonable effort to agree an alternative repayment schedule and the lender has to give consideration, on a case-by-case basis, to alternatives such as deferral of payments, extending the term of the mortgage, changing the type of mortgage, or capitalising arrears and interest. Obviously cases will arise where the arrears persist despite newly agreed changes in repayment schedules. The Code provides that where such situations persist, the lender may reserve the right to enforce the mortgage agreement. However, it must wait at least six months from the time arrears first arise before applying to the courts to commence enforcement of any legal action on repossession of a borrower's primary residence. In the case of A.I.B. and Bank of Ireland, they must wait at least 12 months from the time arrears first arise.

Legislative Programme.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

253 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance when he will publish the legislation to establish the Central Bank of Ireland Commission; if he will open a consultation period in relation to the draft bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5132/10]

As I informed the House previously, I intend to initiate legislation to reform the institutional structures for financial regulation early this year and in this regard I will bring proposals to Government shortly in relation to the Bill to which the Deputy refers. It will then be a matter for the Government to decide on referring the Scheme of a Bill to the Office of the Attorney General for drafting and the eventual date of publication. I can assure the Deputy that appropriate consultations with stakeholders will be followed in relation to the policy matters to be addressed in the Bill.

Question No. 254 answered with Question No. 236.

Proposed Legislation.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

255 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance his plans regarding the drafting of legislation to be included in the Finance Act 2010, which will oblige public bodies to charge VAT on certain services; if water charges will incur VAT at 13.5% or at 21%; if he will consider exempting schools, which have paid metered water charges since 1 January 2010, from having to pay VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5140/10]

The forthcoming Finance Bill, which is published this coming Thursday 4 February 2010, includes provision to make public bodies subject to VAT in accordance with the European Court of Justice ruling against Ireland of 16 July 2009 in Case C-554/07. In summary, the VAT Act is being amended to provide that public bodies, including local authorities, are made subject to VAT where they engage in activities (a) other than in their capacity as a public authority (e.g. regulatory functions); (b) in the case of their capacity as a public authority when their treatment as non-taxable could lead to a distortion of competition; and (c) as outlined in Annex I of the EU VAT Directive, unless otherwise exempted, and unless the activity is carried out on such a small scale as to be negligible.

Services that will become liable to VAT include such services as waste collection, landfill and recycling services; off-street parking; toll roads; the operation of leisure facilities; rent from certain lettings of commercial property; and the supply of staff and data. It should be noted that such services are already subject to VAT if provided by a private operator. Such services would be subject to the standard or reduced VAT rate as appropriate.

However, other services operated by public authorities are not being made subject to VAT by the Finance Bill provision, as they are otherwise exempted. In that context, for example, the supply of water, education, health and passenger transport services are not being made subject to VAT as they are otherwise exempted from VAT. Examples of the types of activities by public bodies where a charge applies which will remain outside the scope of VAT, include parking fines, fees for passports, driving licences etc, development levies, casual trading licences and certificates of compliance. These are purely regulatory functions.

Charges for water services will continue to be exempt from VAT under a derogation of the VAT Directive which allows Member States to continue to exempt such transactions where they were exempt on 1 January 1978. As Irish VAT law exempted the supply of water by local authorities on 1 January 1978 we are in a position to continue to exempt such services.

Eurozone Membership.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

256 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if his Department has carried out any contingency studies or cost benefit analysis on any possible future suspension of Ireland’s euro membership in view of the ongoing difficulties for indigenous exports presented by the strong euro; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5157/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

257 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if the recent cuts in wages and benefits, the rise in unemployment in domestic industry and the thousands of households in negative equity have prompted his Department to conduct a review of all aspects of Ireland’s membership of the Eurozone in the short to medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5158/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 256 and 257 together.

In the recent Lisbon Treaty referendum the Irish people reaffirmed our place at the heart of Europe. The Treaty sets out the conditions necessary for participation in the euro area, and therefore Ireland's membership of the Eurozone is not in question.

Furthermore, our membership of the European Union and the Eurozone in particular has played a vital role in our response to the current financial crisis. Thanks to the protection of being in a large monetary union, Ireland's currency has not been vulnerable to investor sentiment, as was the case in the early 1990s. Irish financial institutions have also been able to access the European Central Bank's substantial liquidity facilities. The benefits arising from membership of the Eurozone are; lower transaction costs, elimination of exchange rate risk with other euro area countries, as well as lower interest rates and increased price transparency and competition. The importance of these benefits are illustrated by the desire of many of those countries still outside the euro area to join.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

258 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he has examined recent proposals from economists for a dual currency system, including the euro, for the Eurozone states which have suffered severe economic shocks in the past two years and which reportedly need transitional monetary policy arrangements to fairly restructure their economies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5159/10]

I am aware of the proposals which have been made by some economists recently.

As a member of the eurozone Ireland has benefited greatly over the last decade or so from being part of a large currency area. That said, there is no doubt that membership does mean adjusting to severe economic shocks must be done through improvements to our competitiveness and productivity. Clearly this involves internal adjustment through reducing prices and other costs as well as by enhancing productivity in the economy. I am encouraged that these required adjustments appear to be underway and I expect that we will see the benefits of an improvement in our unit labour cost.

Economic Forecasts.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

259 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance his latest forecast on the timeframe for Ireland to emerge from this recession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5160/10]

In my Budget speech last December, I outlined my Department's expectation that economic growth would be positive by the second half of this year. Developments since then are consistent with this.

Furthermore, I note that the Central Bank, in its quarterly bulletin published last week, is also expecting positive annual growth by the second half of the year.

So while there is more to be done, we are clearly on the right path.

Income Data.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

260 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Minister for Finance the number of people in north Tipperary earning between €0 and €25,000 per annum, €25,000 and €50,000, €50,000 and €75,000; €75,000 and €100,000; and those earning over €100,000 per annum. [5279/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a breakdown of income data can generally be provided on a geographical basis on the basis of "bailiwick", which is the jurisdiction or boundaries within which Revenue Sheriffs, County Registrars or their officers operate. However, while separate breakdowns for "city" and "county" can be provided in the case of counties Dublin and Cork, the bailiwick indicator otherwise equates geographically with each "county". Accordingly, it is not possible to provide the information requested confined to North Tipperary.

Flood Relief.

Phil Hogan

Question:

261 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance when food relief works will be carried out at a location (details supplied) in County Kilkenny in view of recent bad flooding. [5299/10]

The Commissioners of Public Works have completed an examination of a Flood Risk Management Study submitted by the Local Authority in relation to the possibility of providing flood alleviation works for Graiguenamanagh in Co. Kilkenny. They are currently in the process of arranging a meeting with the Local Authority with a view to identifying flood relief measures, which might be undertaken to alleviate the flooding problem in this area.

Phil Hogan

Question:

262 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance when approval will be sanctioned to proceed to contract for flood relief works at a location (details supplied) in County Carlow. [5300/10]

Preliminary proposals for a major flood relief scheme for Tullow were prepared by the Office of Public Works. However, subsequent developments in relation to a property in the town that was a central focus of the proposals eroded the economic justification for the scheme to the extent that it was not considered viable.

Following recent contact between OPW and Carlow County Council officials, the Council has this month submitted an application for funding for minor flood mitigation works at Tullow that the Council propose to carry out this year. This application will be considered by the OPW in conjunction with all other applications submitted by Carlow County Council and other Local Authorities.

Consumer Credit.

Richard Bruton

Question:

263 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the collection of data on consumer credit and the use of that information for credit rating requires a fresh legislative framework to ensure fair competition between providers, to ensure consistent and fair methods of registering data, to evaluate the correct limits of data protection, to decide the public interest issue in the expanding use of this information as a passport for consumers in getting best value in financial services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5302/10]

As the Deputy is aware, consumer credit including hire purchase and consumer hire, together with money lending and home loans, are governed by the Consumer Credit Act 1995. This legislation sets out important consumer protection measures, including the form and content of the credit agreements in respect of those types of loans. The Consumer Protection Code requires that before providing a product or service to a consumer a regulated credit institution must gather and record sufficient information from the consumer to enable it to provide a recommendation on a product or service appropriate to that consumer.

The Irish Credit Bureau (ICB) is an independent, commercial organisation which provides credit history information to its members and helps credit institutions to be better informed when making decisions on the provision of credit. I, as Minister for Finance, have no role in determining its operations or the scope of its activities. However, my officials have been in consultation with relevant stakeholders in relation to the kind of issues highlighted in the Deputy's question and will report to me on how best practice can be achieved in relation to credit history collection. I will then consider the options available to ensure a competitive market and fair practices in consumer credit can be maintained.

EU Funding.

Richard Bruton

Question:

264 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the range of European Union programmes for providing credit to small and medium enterprises and the number of these from which Ireland has drawn down funding, and the value of funding drawn down by small business here during 2009 on each programme; and if he is satisfied with the mechanism here for accessing these funds and if he is considering mechanisms outside the banking system for accessing such moneys. [5303/10]

The decision of any eligible Irish undertaking, including financial institutions, to make an application under any particular EU scheme would be a commercial matter for the institution involved. Applications are between the undertaking involved and the relevant EU institution providing support. The Irish Authorities would not necessarily be made aware of individual applications made to EU support schemes which allow for direct applications. I am aware of two European programmes in operation from which Irish banks avail of funding; EIB loans for SMEs and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme operated by the European Investment Fund. Four banks operating in Ireland have access to the EIB facility: Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank have access to €100 million each and Bank of Scotland Ireland has access to €50 million. It is important to emphasise that the EIB makes funding available for onlending to SMEs as part of its mandate to assist the development of the SME sector. As a result, commercial banks that borrow from the facility are required to ensure that the money is onlent to SMEs for investment and expansion of their activities. It follows that there are significant constraints on lending from the EIB scheme. Borrowing for short-term working capital is generally not eligible, although a permanent increase in working capital required to develop an expanding SME would qualify. Loans for cash flow or the refinancing of other debt and generally for the takeover of other businesses would not qualify.

The Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme 2007-2013 (CIP) contains a financial instrument, the SME Guarantee Facility that aims to improve the financial environment for SMEs by facilitating their access to debt and equity finance, through financial intermediaries. The SME Guarantee Facility is operated by the European Investment Fund (EIF) on behalf of the European Commission. Irish financial intermediaries are free to make contact directly with the EIF concerning participation in the facility. I understand that some have done so. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has informed the Irish Bankers' Federation of the facility, the operation and the scope of the arrangement and has made itself available to any bank interested in pursuing the possibility of securing funding under the SME guarantee in terms of facilitating contacts with relevant officials in the European Investment Fund and/or the European Commission, for further advice and assistance. The distribution of drawdowns across institutions is of commercial sensitivity but indications are that substantial amounts of lending under the facility have been approved across a wide range of sectors. While participation by the financial institutions in any EU programme is a commercial decision for the institution concerned, I would urge financial institutions and SMEs to make use of EU funding opportunities where appropriate.

Tax Clearance Certificates.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

265 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Finance if he will arrange to have a C2 clearance tax certificate issued to a person (detail supplied) in County Carlow. [5375/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the C2 Tax Clearance Certificate is available for collection at the Kilkenny Revenue District Office and the person concerned has been advised of this.

Flood Relief.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

266 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce supports for home owners who will be refused home insurance as a result of November 2009 flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5377/10]

The question of considering the introduction of such supports does not arise at this time. It will be necessary in the first instance, in consultation with the insurance industry, to determine the extent to which the issue of the withdrawal of coverage gives rise to the difficulty highlighted in the Deputy's question. While the recent flooding in November 2009 may to lead to a situation where some people are refused home insurance cover, I am satisfied from discussions that my Department has had with the insurance industry that many such people will retain coverage albeit with a higher premium or higher level of excess to reflect the increased risk. As the Deputy may be aware a key element of the Government's response to this issue will be on flood preventative measures. While much will depend on the seriousness of the underlying flooding problem in the different localities, and how quickly these can be addressed, it is unlikely that there is a 'one size fits all' answer to this issue. In this regard the Government has allocated €50 million for flood risk management activities for 2010, which is administered by the Office of Public Works. This increased allocation will allow OPW to extend the number of Capital Works schemes already underway throughout the country. The OPW has also undertaken a rigorous collection of data and information since the November 2009 floods and has already met with several local authorities to review the recent flood events and identify actions required. This may well lead to further areas where works can be undertaken by OPW, in addition to the major schemes already under construction in Clonmel, County Tipperary; Mallow and Fermoy, County Cork; Ennis, County Clare; Mornington, County Meath; and the River Dodder in Dublin, as well as schemes at various stages of development which include Enniscorthy, County Wexford; Templemore, County Tipperary; and Bray and Arklow, County Wicklow.

Youth Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

267 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if consideration will be given in 2010 to an application for funding in 2009 by an organisation (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [4485/10]

An application was received on behalf of the Youth Project referred to by the Deputy, to be considered for funding in 2008 under the Special Projects for Youth Scheme. Due to the large number of applications received and the limited funding available it was not possible to provide the funding requested. In light of budgetary constraints, the emphasis on the 2009 Youth Affairs budget was on supporting existing youth programmes and services for young people including those with fewer opportunities. Similarly in 2010, the focus is on consolidating and maintaining, insofar as possible, the level of existing programmes and services for young people. In that context, my office will not be in a position to consider any new applications for admission to its schemes in 2010.

Child Care Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

268 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support an organisation (details supplied). [4495/10]

I have responsibility for the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) which was introduced in January 2008 and provides support funding to community based not for profit childcare providers to enable them to charge reduced childcare fees to disadvantaged and low income working parents, and for the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which came into effect in January of this year. I understand that the service referred to by the Deputy is participating in both of these schemes and, in 2009, it received CCSS funding of €55,768. I understand that preliminary payments for 2010 have been made to the service, amounting to €13,942 in the case of the CCSS and €3,870 in the case of the ECCE scheme. Services participating in the CCSS and ECCE scheme were required to submit a 2010 return to my Office by 29 January 2010. These returns are now being processed and, when completed, the final amounts payable to participating services will be determined and further payments will be made as appropriate. I am not aware of any other funding amount due to be paid by my Office to the service in question.

Drug Seizures.

Joe Costello

Question:

269 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Director of Public Prosecutions has determined if the Garda can prosecute seizures of prescribed drugs which are sold on the streets; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4588/10]

The Director of Public Prosecutions is independent in the performance of his duties. I can only comment in relation to my responsibilities under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. Certain prescription medicines have been declared controlled drugs in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 — for example, products containing morphine, methadone, flunitrazepam and possession of these products, in contravention of the Act, is an offence. Under the Misuse of Drugs (Exemption) Order 1988, it is not an offence for a person to possess prescription medicines containing certain benzodiazepines. At the time of making of this Order, no international controls were in place on the possession of benzodiazepines. Some countries have moved to make it an offence to possess benzodiazepines. The position in Ireland is under review.

Adoption Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

270 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a query (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5121/10]

The Adoption Bill 2009, is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The new legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future intercountry adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Bill 2009 when enacted. The current policy position, as set out in the Adoption Bill 2009, is that for an adoption to be registered under the Bill it must be effected in a contracting State to the Hague Convention or in a country with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement. For non-Hague countries only those adoptions effected prior to the commencement of the new law can be registered on the Register of Inter-Country Adoptions to be established under the Bill. I announced on 26 January my intention to bring forward at Committee Stage an amendment to the Adoption Bill 2009 that will enable prospective adoptive parents to proceed with an adoption from a non-Hague or non-bilateral country, if prior to the establishment date, they have been issued with a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to adopt. The proposed amendment requires that the Adoption Authority (to be set up under the Act) would be satisfied that the particular adoption meets all the standards of the Hague Convention.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

George Lee

Question:

271 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties that a person (details supplied) is facing due to their need for a special bed; the length of time that they will be on a waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4470/10]

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

Traveller Community.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

272 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the services available specifically to members of the Travelling community; if she will ensure that the budgets for these services will be maintained; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4476/10]

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

Medical Cards.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

273 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical cards in each local health office for each month between January and December 2009. [4487/10]

The Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card and GP visit card benefits. It collates medical card and GP visit card data by Local Health Office, age and gender. Therefore, my Department has asked the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

274 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [4494/10]

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

Preschool Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

275 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will make an exception to the age criteria and allow in respect of a child (details supplied) in Dublin 9 to avail of the free preschool year under the early childhood care and education scheme. [4497/10]

I have responsibility for the implementation of the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which commenced earlier this year. As the Deputy is aware, the scheme is open to children aged between 3 years and 3 months and 4 years and 6 months at 1 September each year. The most generous interpretation possible is being applied to this age range so that all children aged more than 3 years and 2 months and all children aged less than 4 years and 7 months (i.e. born on or between 2 February and 30 June in the relevant year) will qualify. This means that children born between 2 February 2006 and 30 June 2007 will qualify for the free pre-school year in September 2010 and children born between 2 February 2007 and 30 June 2008 will qualify for the free pre-school provision in September 2011. I understand that the child referred to by the Deputy will not be eligible to avail of the free pre-school provision in September 2010 but will be eligible in September 2011. While the majority of children commence school between the age of 4 years and 6 months and 5 years and 6 months, it is accepted that some parents choose to send their children to primary school at an earlier age and the ECCE scheme allows for children to attend the pre-school year and still commence primary school when they are just over 4 years and 2 months of age. However, the objective of the scheme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to all children in the key developmental year before they commence primary school, with appropriate age related activities and programmes being provided to children within a particular age cohort. Targeting the pre-school year at a particular age cohort is clearly fundamental to the scheme and it is necessary, therefore, to set minimum and maximum limits to the age range within which children will participate in the scheme each year. I am satisfied that the age range set for the scheme achieves a reasonable balance between supporting the provision of age related programmes and activities and providing flexibility to parents and their children and there are no plans to review the position at this stage.

Medical Cards.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

276 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a medical card application has not been expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4503/10]

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

Michael Ring

Question:

277 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [4506/10]

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

278 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical procedures that were carried out abroad each year for the past five years under the patient treatment fund; if such services were unavailable at hospitals here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4523/10]

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) was established to tackle the issue of excessive waiting times for hospital treatment for public patients. The Fund has been very successful in fulfilling this remit and has arranged treatment for almost 175,000 patients to date. On average, public patients now wait 3 months for their operations, down from between two and five years before the NTPF was established. The NTPF does not normally send patients for treatment outside Ireland. This was done some years ago, when there was insufficient capacity in some specialties in the private system in Ireland. That capacity now exists here. The Fund arranges, where convenient, for patients living in Border counties to be treated in private facilities in Northern Ireland.

Year

Numbers treated abroad

UK

NI

USA

2005

209

544

16

2006

140

624

13

2007

82

766

2008

2

708

2009

Nil

1,024

Hospital Staff.

John McGuinness

Question:

279 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the consultant at Waterford Regional Hospital has not informed a person (details supplied) in County Carlow that they have retired and are no longer dealing with their case; the reason they have not been informed by the hospital; if their case, which is urgent, will be referred to another consultant for immediate consideration; if the operation required will be arranged without the person being placed on a waiting list for months or longer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4535/10]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances.

John McGuinness

Question:

280 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the financial support her Department will provide to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny to purchase special hearing aids that would restore 70% of their hearing; the course of action that is open to this person; the financial assistance that is available in view of the fact that they have a limited income from social welfare and employment of two days per week. [4537/10]

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

National Drugs Strategy.

Mary Wallace

Question:

281 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she is taking to deal with the ongoing concerns regarding head shops and the sale of products which have been described as legal highs and party drugs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4556/10]

Mary White

Question:

323 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to address the sale of psychotropic drugs in head shops and to regulate such shops; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5031/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 281 and 323 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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

282 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if the contract for the construction and fit-out of new units at a hospital (details supplied) for persons with intellectual disabilities has been completed; if not, the reason for the delay; the projected opening date for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4578/10]

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

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

283 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if home help will not be reduced in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [4584/10]

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

Legal Fees.

John O'Mahony

Question:

284 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 479 and 480 of 16 September 2009, the reason figures were not given for the Mayo and Roscommon Health Service Executive areas; when this information will be supplied; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4587/10]

As the Deputy's question concerns matters pertaining to the Health Service Executive, I have forwarded it to the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Vaccination Programme.

Billy Timmins

Question:

285 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4590/10]

I have always accepted the consensus view of the relevant expert bodies that the introduction of a universal high uptake vaccination programme in young girls, in conjunction with population based cervical screening, could significantly reduce overall cervical cancer incidence. The issue was not, therefore, whether the case for a cervical cancer vaccination programme was accepted by myself and the Government — because it always was — but how to place such a programme in order of clinical priorities for the allocation of scarce resources available for public health services and for the cancer programme in particular.

Recently I requested the HSE to initiate a tendering process for the procurement of a HPV vaccine with a view to commencing a HPV vaccination programme for all girls in first year in secondary school and until this process was completed I was not in a position to say if or when I would introduce this programme. This tendering process for the vaccine is now complete. We can now purchase the vaccine at a price much lower than we expected to pay in 2008 and at a price much closer to what is being paid in other countries. In these circumstances, the programme can now be delivered from the extra resources committed in this year's budget to the overall Cancer Programme.

The HSE is committed to starting this campaign during the current school year. This will involve the free vaccination of up to 30,000 girls mainly in school settings and an announcement of the details of the full programme involved will be made by the HSE in the near future. The programme will continue with vaccine being offered to all girls in first year in secondary school each year but it is not proposed to extend the vaccination programme to other classes at present.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Joe Costello

Question:

286 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding inter-country adoption between Ireland and Vietnam; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4592/10]

In the process of re-negotiating the bilateral agreement on inter-country adoption with Vietnam serious issues came to light in relation to the Vietnamese adoption process. The issues were contained in the report on inter-country adoption commissioned by UNICEF and the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice and carried out by International Social Services (ISS). An earlier report published last August by the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) was also considered in this regard. The UNICEF/ISS report, which was accepted by the Vietnamese Government, "proposes that Vietnam suspends inter-country adoptions for the necessary period during the year 2010 that will enable it to ensure optimal implementation of the Hague Convention and to prepare for the entry into force of the new law on adoption in 2011". The Report also raises serious questions regarding adoption practices in Vietnam, including as follows:

(a) inter-country adoptions from Vietnam are essentially influenced by foreign demand, i.e. the availability of children who are "adoptable" abroad corresponds more to the existence of foreign prospective adopters than to the actual needs of "abandoned" and orphaned children;

(b) the circumstances under which babies become "adoptable" are invariably unclear and disturbing;

(c) the inter-country adoption system is grounded in a remarkably unhealthy relationship between the mediating agencies and specific residential facilities; and

(d) Governments and central authorities of "receiving countries" collectively at least, and individually in many instances have not effectively committed themselves to applying the basic principles of the Hague Convention or the recommendations of the treaty's practical operation, in their dealings with Vietnam.

Having considered the contents of the two reports the Government decided, on 13th of January, to suspend indefinitely negotiations on a new bilateral inter-country adoption agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. As a result of this decision, all inter-country adoptions from Vietnam will be suspended until such time as the Adoption Bill 2009 has been enacted and both Ireland and Vietnam have ratified the provisions of the Hague Convention.

Health Service Staff.

John O'Mahony

Question:

287 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and cost of employment of agency staff by the Health Service Executive in the Health Service Executive Dublin mid-Leinster region, Health Service Executive Dublin north east, Health Service Executive south and Health Service Executive west, each year for the past three years' broken down by medical and dental, nursing, allied health professionals, management and administration, non-nursing support staff, care assistants and all others in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4593/10]

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

Hospital Services.

Joe McHugh

Question:

288 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will preview her efficiency plans for service plans at St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin; if these plans will result in a contraction of services provided at the hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4617/10]

Under the National Plan for Radiation Oncology (NPRO), there will be a network of four radiotherapy centres and two satellite centres by 2014. The four main centres will be located at Beaumont, St. James's, Cork and Galway plus two satellite centres — Limerick and Waterford. It is intended that services at the existing facility in St Luke's in Dublin will have transferred in full to Beaumont and St James's by the end of 2014. This decision is based on expert advice and is designed to ensure that radiation oncology is integrated with all other aspects of cancer care, including surgery and medical oncology. This is in line with best international practice.

The Board of St. Luke's Hospital and its Executive Management Team are fully committed to supporting the Government's decision in relation to the development of radiation oncology and a Transition Team has been established to oversee developments.

Phase 1 of the NPRO involves the construction of new facilities at St. James's Hospital and Beaumont Hospital and is currently underway and on target for completion by the end of this year. The first stage of the transfer of services from St Luke's to these hospitals will take place in mid 2010, with some staff and resources transferring from St Luke's. St Luke's will continue to provide radiation oncology services for the period up to the completion of the NPRO in 2014. During this period St Luke's will, together with the new facilities, form a Radiation Oncology Network for Dublin and the East. To facilitate the operation of the Network, St. Luke's will be incorporated into the HSE from July this year.

These developments will ensure increased radiation oncology capacity in the Dublin and Eastern region from the end of this year. Additional linear accelerators were also provided at St. Luke's in 2008 in order to provide sufficient capacity in the interim before completion of the NPRO in 2014.

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

289 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has an entitlement to new glasses. [4673/10]

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

Mental Health Services.

James Reilly

Question:

290 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on the site for the relocation of the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, Dublin; the timeframe for the proposed construction of a new central mental hospital; the location of the new hospital and the number of staff that will be employed in the proposed new hospital; the number of patients proposed for the facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4692/10]

It has been ascertained that the site proposed for the development of a new Central Mental Hospital (CMH) at Thornton Hall, Co Dublin, is not large enough to accommodate an Intellectual Disability Forensic Mental Health Unit and a Child and Adolescent Forensic Mental Health, the need for which has been identified by the HSE.

The question of the relocation of the CMH to an alternative site is currently under consideration by, and remains a priority for, the Government.

Hospital Services.

Jimmy Devins

Question:

291 Deputy Jimmy Devins asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients in counties Sligo and Leitrim treated for foot ulcerations which did not require a full or partial amputation in 2007 and 2008; and the number of these patients who had diabetes mellitus. [4701/10]

Jimmy Devins

Question:

292 Deputy Jimmy Devins asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients under 65 years in counties Sligo and Leitrim treated for foot ulcerations who did not require a full or partial lower limb amputation in 2007 and 2008; and the number of those patients who had diabetes mellitus. [4702/10]

Jimmy Devins

Question:

293 Deputy Jimmy Devins asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of full or partial lower limb amputations carried out on patients residing in counties Sligo and Leitrim in 2007 and 2008; and the number of those patients who had diabetes mellitus. [4703/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 291 to 293, inclusive, together.

The information requested is contained in the table below.

Hospital Inpatient Enquiry: Foot Ulcerations, Lower Limb Amputations and Diabetes

Area of Residence

Leitrim

Sligo

National Total

2007

2008

2007

2008

2007

2008

Number of admissions with a diagnosis of foot ulcerations and without a full or partial lower limb amputation

22

36

62

68

3,826

3,777

—Number of these patients with a diagnosis of diabetes

8

14

25

23

1,361

1,298

Number of admissions aged under 65 with a diagnosis of foot ulcerations and without a full or partial lower limb amputation

5

7

14

16

1,100

987

—Number of these patients with a diagnosis of diabetes

11

412

421

Number of full or partial lower limb amputations

9

8

11

703

667

—Number of these patients with a diagnosis of diabetes

5

7

334

338

Source: Hospital Inpatient Enquiry.

Note: Data refer to discharges from publicly funded acute hospitals. Private hospitals are not included.

Note: For reasons of patient confidentiality it is standard policy not to report cells of less than 5 cases. These cells have been marked with ‘—'.

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

EU Directives.

Joe Costello

Question:

294 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if there are EU Directives which are required to be transposed into primary or secondary legislation; the list of such directives; the date they were drafted by the Commission; when she intends to transpose them into domestic law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4716/10]

There are a number of EU Directives requiring transposition by my Department as follows:

Name

Date of Directive

Expected transposition date

Directive 2008/112/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 amending Council Directives 76/768/EEC, 88/378/EEC, 1999/13/EC and Directives 2000/53/EC, 2002/96/EC and 2004/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council in order to adapt them to Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures

16/12/08

Expected to be transposed by the due date of 1 April, 2010

Directive 2009/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April, 2009 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States on extraction solvents used in the production of foodstuffs and food ingredients

23/04/09

Expected to be transposed by mid-March, 2010

Commission Directive 2009/129/EC of 9 October 2009 amending Council Directive 76/768/EEC concerning cosmetic products for the purposes of adapting Annex III thereto to technical progress

09/10/09

Expected to be transposed by the due date of 15/04/10

Commission Directive 2009/130/EC of 12 October 2009 amending Council Directive 76/768/EEC, concerning cosmetic products, for the purpose of adapting Annex III thereto to technical progress

12/10/09

Expected to be transposed by the due date of 15/04/10

Commission Directive 2009/134/EC of 28 October 2009 amending Council Directive 76/768/EEC concerning cosmetic products for the purposes of adapting Annex III thereto to technical progress

28/10/09

Expected to be transposed by the due date of 01/05/10

Commission Directive 2009/159/EU of 16 December 2009 amending, for the purpose of adaptation to technical progress, Annex III to Council Directive 76/768/EEC concerning cosmetic products

16/12/09

Expected to be transposed by mid-April, 2010

Commission Directive 2009/163/EU of 22 December 2009 amending Directive 94/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs with regard to neotame

22/12/09

Expected to be transposed by the due date of 12/10/10

Commission Directive 2009/164/EU of 22 December 2009 amending, for the purpose of adaptation to technical progress, Annexes II and III to Council Directive 76/768/EEC concerning cosmetic products

22/12/09

Expected to be transposed by the due date of 15/08/10

Medical Cards.

Michael Creed

Question:

295 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason persons (details supplied) have had their medical cards withdrawn; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4728/10]

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

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

296 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will get their home help; if this home help provision will commence immediately. [4731/10]

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

Medical Cards.

Michael Ring

Question:

297 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will be renewed for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [4732/10]

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

Hospital Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

298 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in County Mayo will be given an appointment in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Dublin 12. [4737/10]

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

Medical Cards.

Michael Creed

Question:

299 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made 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. [4754/10]

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

Hospital Services.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

300 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients residing in counties Kerry and Limerick treated for foot ulcerations who did not require a full or partial lower limb amputation in 2007 and 2008; the number of those patients who had diabetes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4766/10]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

301 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients under 65 years residing in counties Kerry and Limerick treated for foot ulcerations who did require a full or partial lower limb amputation in 2007 and 2008; the number of those patients that had diabetes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4767/10]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

302 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of full or partial lower limb amputations carried out on patients residing in counties Kerry and Limerick in 2007 and 2008; the number of those patients that had diabetes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4768/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 300 to 302, inclusive, together.

The information requested is contained in the table below.

Hospital Inpatient Enquiry: Foot Ulcerations, Lower Limb Amputations and Diabetes

Area of Residence

Kerry

Limerick

National Total

2007

2008

2007

2008

2007

2008

Number of admissions with a diagnosis of foot ulcerations and without a full or partial lower limb amputation

135

108

167

151

3,826

3,777

—Number of these patients with a diagnosis of diabetes

48

53

51

73

1,361

1,298

Number of admissions aged under 65 with a diagnosis of foot ulcerations and without a full or partial lower limb amputation

29

36

37

32

1,100

987

—Number of these patients with a diagnosis of diabetes

12

22

16

19

412

421

Number of full or partial lower limb amputations

45

23

36

42

703

667

—Number of these patients with a diagnosis of diabetes

19

5

19

24

334

338

Source: Hospital Inpatient Enquiry.

Note: Data refer to discharges from publicly funded acute hospitals. Private hospitals are not included.

Note: For reasons of patient confidentiality it is standard policy not to report cells of less than 5 cases. These cells have been marked with‘ — '.

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

Housing Grants.

Finian McGrath

Question:

303 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [4770/10]

I am not aware of a scheme of financial assistance in the health services to cover the full cost of housing adaptations.

Medical Cards.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

304 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting time for the processing of a medical card application in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4780/10]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

305 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting time for an application for a medical card since the centralisation of the process in August 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4781/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 304 and 305 together.

As the Information sought by the Deputy is not provided by the Health Service Executive to my Department as a matter of routine, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Child Abuse.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

306 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans that are in place to make guidelines and procedures issued by her Department regarding suspected child abuse legally binding; if there are procedures in place for the health boards and the Health Service Executive to properly record all cases of child abuse, both clerical and non-clerical; and if she will clarify the extent of the HSE’s obligations to notify the alleged perpetrator. [4783/10]

Children First, the National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children were published in 1999. These guidelines are intended to assist people in identifying and reporting child abuse. The guidelines highlight the roles and responsibilities of the HSE and An Garda Síochána, which are the two agencies with statutory responsibility for child protection. They also offer guidance to agencies and voluntary organisations that have contact with or provide services to children.

In line with the commitment in the Ryan Commission Implementation Plan the Children First guidelines have been revised and are available on the web-site of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. I will formally launch the revised guidelines in the near future.

The Ryan Commission Implementation Plan also contains a commitment to the drafting of legislation which will provide that all staff working with children employed by the State and in agencies in receipt of funding from the Exchequer will have: a duty to comply with the Children First National Guidelines; a duty to share relevant information in the best interests of the child; a duty to cooperate with other relevant services in the best interests of the child.

The revised Children First Guidelines contains guidance and best practice in relation to recording-keeping in respect of child welfare and protection concerns, including the use of the Child Protection Notification System (CPNS). The CPNS is a HSE record of every child about whom there is an ongoing child protection concern. The guidelines also set out guidance for the HSE in relation to informing and consulting with parents/carers of a child in the course of the assessment of a child welfare and protection concern. In addition the guidelines offer guidance to the HSE in respect of any obligation to notify the alleged perpetrator if contact is being made with that person’s employer or head of organisation in respect of the allegation.

Medical Cards.

Michael Ring

Question:

307 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card application will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo in view of the fact that all requested information has been submitted. [4790/10]

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

Health Service Staff.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

308 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the situation which exists in a special needs school in County Kilkenny, whereby no full-time physiotherapist, speech therapist or occupational therapist services are available to approximately 70 children who are in need of such services on a weekly basis; when the full-time personnel will be made available to the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4794/10]

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

Mary Upton

Question:

309 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if a non-Catholic chaplain may be appointed to a hospital (details supplied) in Dublin 8; if so, if the chaplain will be paid by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4810/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. With regard to the specific appointment of a hospital chaplain to an individual hospital, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

310 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will intervene and ensure that home help is not reduced in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [4861/10]

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

Michael McGrath

Question:

311 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if a child (details supplied) in County Cork will be sanctioned for a third year in a special speech and language class at a school in County Cork. [4868/10]

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

Special Educational Needs.

Michael McGrath

Question:

312 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if a child (details supplied) in County Cork will be accommodated in a special speech and language class at a school in County Cork, in line with the recommendation of a psychological assessment. [4869/10]

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

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

313 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if medication will be made available to a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4870/10]

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

Mary Upton

Question:

314 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the supports that will be put in place in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin who is in nursing home care since October 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4876/10]

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

Assisted Human Reproduction.

Noel Ahern

Question:

315 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the recent court decision on human embryos; her plans to bring forward legislation in this area; if preparation of same has commenced and when it might be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4886/10]

The Supreme Court recently decided in the RvR (frozen embryos) case that the frozen embryos at issue in the case do not have the constitutional protection of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution. It is my intention to bring forward proposals to Government later this year with a view to drafting legislation to govern the area of Assisted Human Reproduction and related practices. The work involved in developing these proposals will examine and consider — among other things — the issues arising from the frozen embryos Supreme Court judgment.

Mental Health Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

316 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received a copy of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition Manifesto; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4913/10]

The provision of mental health services is a matter for the HSE. The question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Niall Collins

Question:

317 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a nursing home support scheme application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5005/10]

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

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

318 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if and when a medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5015/10]

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

Vaccination Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

319 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children how a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will obtain the swine flu vaccination; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5016/10]

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

Nursing Home Subventions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

320 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when nursing home subvention will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5017/10]

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

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

321 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue to persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5018/10]

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

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

322 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when assistance will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if the Health Service Executive has taken further action on foot of correspondence sent by this Deputy’s office to the chief executive officer on 12 January 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5019/10]

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

Question No. 323 answered with Question No. 281.

Thalidomide Survivors’ Compensation.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

324 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of thalidomide victims who reside here; the details of the supports provided for these persons; the details of funds administered by the State on behalf of the victims of the thalidomide drug; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5035/10]

There are 32 Irish victims of thalidomide, 28 of whom currently reside in the State.

Thalidomide preparations were marketed in Ireland from May 1959 to January 1962 when they were withdrawn from sale by the manufacturers. The preparations on sale in this country were manufactured by Chemie Grunenthal of Germany.

Irish victims of thalidomide receive compensation from the foundation set up under German legislation to provide compensation for victims of thalidomide.

The Irish Government decision of January 1975 granted, to each Irish victim of thalidomide, a lump sum of four times the equivalent German lump sum and a monthly allowance for life equivalent to the German monthly allowance.

The Irish monthly allowance, which has increased over the past 35 years, is paid by the Department of Health and Children and is currently between €514.59 and €1,109.46 per month.

The German and the Irish monthly allowance is tax-free and is not reckonable for State benefits. Each individual is entitled to a medical card and health services.

The Minister and Department officials have met with the Irish Thalidomide Association (ITA) on a number of occasions. The Association has made submissions to the Minister seeking additional compensation in the form of an additional lump sum payment, a substantial increase in their monthly payment and retrospection.

In May 2009, the Minister for Health and Children asked the Irish State Claims Agency to assess the ITA's requests in the context of Irish and International provisions for victims of thalidomide and in the context of Irish case law and precedent; and to advise the Minister accordingly. It is expected that the State Claims Agency will report before the end of February.

Any proposal which comes out of this process will need to be considered by Government.

Fluoride Levels.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

325 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in carrying out a study to determine the levels of fluoride in the population; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5036/10]

In 2007, the Health Service Executive (HSE) joined an EU Human Bio Monitoring programme.

The HSE will use this Human Bio Monitoring programme to collect information regarding the total exposure in the population to fluoride which will satisfy the Programme for Government commitment. I expect results from this programme in 2012.

The programme is due to commence in mid July, 2010.

Hospital Accommodation.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

326 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a new specialised unit for cystic fibrosis patients at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin 4; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5056/10]

A new ward block to replace existing accommodation is being developed at St Vincent's University Hospital, the national tertiary centre for the treatment of adults with cystic fibrosis which currently treats 50% of patients with the condition.

This facility will provide single room en-suite in-patient accommodation (100 rooms) and a dedicated day unit for people with cystic fibrosis, including 10 single day treatment rooms with en-suite sanitary facilities. Tenders for this development are currently under consideration. The Health Service Executive estimates that the construction, equipping and commissioning of this block will take approximately 18 months. It is intended that the development will become operational as early as possible in 2011.

Medical Cards.

Jack Wall

Question:

327 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5058/10]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

328 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be issued with a replacement medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5060/10]

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

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Finian McGrath

Question:

329 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [5063/10]

The Deputy may be aware that the Special Housing Aid for the Elderly Scheme previously operated by the Health Service Executive is no longer operational. The scheme was replaced by the Housing Aid for Older People (HAOP) in August 2008. This is now administered by the Local Authorities. The HSE no longer accepts applications under the old scheme. The issue of grant aid for home improvements, therefore, is a matter for my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The part of Deputy's question in relation to the level of provision of home help and meals on wheels, for the individual concerned, has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Service Staff.

Michael McGrath

Question:

330 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the appointment of an orthodontist (details supplied) in the Health Service Executive South. [5064/10]

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

Health Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

331 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the provision of out of hours dental care; if there is a facility available to treat patients in north Dublin when specialist or emergency intervention is required. [5065/10]

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

Róisín Shortall

Question:

332 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding access to the community welfare officer in a local health office (details supplied) in Dublin 5; if she is satisfied with the level of service being provided in the absence of a community welfare officer; and if there are immediate plans to make further staff and resources available to this local health office in view of the increasing demands being placed upon this service due to increased unemployment. [5068/10]

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

Medical Cards.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

333 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason persons (details supplied) in Dublin 8 were not awarded a medical card; if they can appeal this decision to grant a general practitioner visit card only; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5120/10]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

John O'Mahony

Question:

334 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for their operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5135/10]

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

Child Care Services.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

335 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Health and Children if an application has been approved for a grant towards the provision of child care facilities at a location (details supplied) in County Donegal; the position regarding same and when it is expected the facility will be completed. [5143/10]

I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006 — 2010, under which capital grant funding is made available to community and commercial childcare providers for the development of childcare facilities.

In 2009, the group in question received capital grant approval of €600,000 under the NCIP. However, capital grant approvals under the NCIP are subject to satisfactory completion of all NCIP pre-contractual requirements including meeting the relevant timeframes which apply. I understand from Pobal, who assist my Office in implementing the NCIP, that the Group has not yet met these requirements. All NCIP capital grant applications must be at contract stage by 31 March 2010 and Pobal are currently working with the group to help them meet this deadline. I am not in a position to comment on whether or not the deadline will be met or on a completion date for the project.

Medical Cards.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

336 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5146/10]

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

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Joe McHugh

Question:

337 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in the aftermath of the ratification of the Adoption Bill, a dispensation will apply to couples who receive declarations for adopting children from Russia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5149/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

339 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in the aftermath of the ratification of the Adoption Bill, a dispensation will apply to a couple who will have had assessment by 1 March and local approval by 21 April; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5156/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 337 and 339 together.

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

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

I announced on 26 January my intention to bring forward at Committee stage an amendment to the Adoption Bill 2009 that will enable prospective adoptive parents to proceed with an adoption from a non-Hague or non-bilateral country, if prior to the establishment date, they have been issued with a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to adopt. The proposed amendment requires that the Adoption Authority (to be set up under the Act) would be satisfied that the particular adoption meets all the standards of the Hague Convention.

Health Services.

James Bannon

Question:

338 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason weekly transport has been withdrawn from an old age pensioner (details supplied) in County Longford to attend Longford Westmeath Regional Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5152/10]

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

Question No. 339 answered with Question No. 337.

Health Service Staff.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

340 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of diabetes service provision across the north-east region including the role and number of dedicated service providers; her plans to introduce a podiatrist post linked to the local diabetes service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5161/10]

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

Preschool Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

341 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to correspondence from a person (details supplied) in County Cork regarding the free preschool year under the early childhood care and education scheme. [5175/10]

I have responsibility for the implementation of the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which commenced earlier this year. The Valuation Office, which comes under the remit of the Minister for Finance, is responsible for interpreting and implementing the Valuation Act 2001. In July 2009 the Valuation Office clarified that the ECCE scheme will result in certain services participating in the scheme being considered exempt from commercial rates.

Services covered by the exemption must be solely and exclusively used for the provision of educational services which are available to the general public and the expenses incurred in providing these services must be defrayed wholly or mainly by the State. To assist services to avail of this exemption, in September 2009, participating services were asked by their local City and County Childcare Committee to complete a declaration form confirming whether or not they considered that they would meet these criteria. A list of services which declared that they considered that they would meet these criteria was then forwarded to the Valuation Office. If the person referred to the by the Deputy has not returned a completed declaration form on this matter, I would advise that he contact his local Childcare Committee who will assist him to make this return.

Community Pharmacy Services.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

342 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she has taken to reduce the cost of prescription drugs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5176/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

343 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the options open to her to control the price of prescription drugs from the production line to the consumer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5177/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 342 and 343 together.

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

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

Since September 2006 a larger basket of reference countries has been used for determining the prices of new products accepted for reimbursement under the State drugs schemes. The current agreements also permit price adjustments to reflect price changes in the reference countries. In 2009 I reduced the wholesale mark-up payable on medicines from 17.66% to 10% and reduced the retail mark-up payable under certain schemes from 50% to 20%. Savings from the measures have been estimated at €55 million for 2009 and €133 million on a full year basis.

Following recent discussions with pharmaceutical manufacturers, I am pleased to advise that agreement has been reached with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) on price cuts of 40% for a large number of drugs and medicines with effect from 1 February. In addition, the rebate paid by IPHA member companies to the Health Service Executive in respect of drugs supplied under the GMS scheme has been extended to include all community drugs schemes and increased from 3.53% to 4%. The combination of these measures plus consequent savings in wholesale and retail mark-ups are expected to result in savings of approximately €94m in a full year.

I am disappointed to say that APMI member companies have declined at this stage to offer any reductions in the price of the generic drugs and medicines that they supply at this time. The current agreement with APMI expires in September 2010 and it is my firm intention to obtain savings from APMI of at least an equivalent level to those secured from IPHA.

It is also my intention to introduce a system of reference pricing combined with generic substitution under the GMS and community drugs schemes. A working group, comprising of officials from my Department and the HSE, is progressing this initiative, which will encourage greater use of cheaper generic alternatives and lead to further savings in the State's drugs bill. I expect to see significant progress on this in 2010, including the identification and implementation of legislative and administrative changes required to give it effect. My Department and the HSE continue to examine all options for containing pharmaceutical expenditure.

Hospital Services.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

344 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the intensive care unit at a hospital (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and the future plans for the unit. [5280/10]

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

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

345 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the material and financial support received by a clinic (details supplied) in County Dublin; the role played by the Department, financial or otherwise in the site. [5298/10]

My Department has no responsibility in relation to the private hospital facility referred to by the Deputy and has not provided it with financial or other support.

Vaccination Programme.

Chris Andrews

Question:

346 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health and Children if where a child in first year in secondary school has had the first of the two required HPV vaccination injections privately, this child will receive the second injection through the State sponsored scheme. [5370/10]

There are important clinical considerations that arise from the Deputy's question in terms of the interchangeability of vaccines from different manufacturers, the duration between doses and the number received to date. Accordingly, these matters are best raised by the individual with her own doctor at the appropriate time.

Road Safety.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

347 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the reason the revised traffic signs manual has not been published to date in 2010 despite the fact that he previously informed Dáil Éireann that the manual should be published in the third quarter of 2006 and in view of the fact that he commenced a review of the traffic signs manual in late 2004 with the aid of consultants and the National Roads Authority was awarded a contract for the publication of the revised traffic signs manual in 2008; the definite date for the publication of the manual; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4454/10]

Work on the comprehensive review and updating of the Traffic Signs Manual is continuing. I understand that the content of the Manual is expected to be finalised during the second quarter of this year. Amendments to the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations and the Road Traffic (Signs) Regulations will then be required to underpin new provisions in the Manual.

Aviation Security.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

348 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if he is reviewing security measures at airports here in view of the recent security incident involving passengers travelling from Slovakia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4522/10]

Aviation security at EU airports is governed by EU Regulations (EC) Nos. 2320/2002, 300/2008 and 820/2008. These Regulations established common Community rules in the field of civil aviation security, in force since January 2003. These Regulations and a series of supplementary implementing Regulations have been adopted into our National Civil Aviation Security Programme (NCASP).

All Irish airports with commercial flights are required to comply with the requirements of the EU Regulations and the National Civil Aviation Security Programme. These requirements include measures for the screening of departing passengers, their cabin and hold baggage. The Regulations stipulate that all departing passengers and their cabin baggage shall be screened in order to prevent prohibited articles from being introduced into security restricted areas and on board aircraft. Similarly, all hold baggage and cargo is required to be screened prior to being loaded onto an aircraft.

I understand that a Garda investigation is underway into the circumstances surrounding the incident regarding the import of an explosive substance to Ireland from the Slovak Republic on 2 January 2010. I refer the Deputy to the reply of my colleague the Minister for Justice to Question No. 223 of 20 January 2010 regarding this incident. My Department also raised this issue at a meeting of the EU Regulatory Committee for Aviation Security in Brussels on 21 January last. It is clear that the incident in question arose as a result of an error during an airport security exercise at Poprad-Tatry airport in the Slovak Republic and in no way reflects on the operation of aviation security at Dublin airport. The Slovak authorities have apologised for the incident on a number of occasions since.

The operation of aviation security at Irish airports is subject to monitoring by my Department's Aviation Services and Security Division to ensure that airports meet the requirements laid down in EU Regulations. I am satisfied that aviation security practices and procedures implemented at Irish airports conform to European Union common rules and to the highest standards internationally. These practices and procedures are subject to monitoring by my Department and are also the subject of periodic reviews by international organisations, such as the EU Commission and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

It is not the practice to comment on specific security measures in place or that may be implemented at the State's airports or on monitoring activities carried out by my Department. However, aviation security arrangements at Irish airports are kept under continuous review by my Department and the National Civil Aviation Security Committee, which is chaired by a senior official from my Department. The Committee comprises representatives of government departments, State airports, airlines, An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, Customs and Excise, An Post, the Irish Aviation Authority, the Irish Airline Pilots' Association and the regional airports.

Rural Transport Services.

Sean Fleming

Question:

349 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Transport if funding will be provided for evening rural bus services in County Laois and the rural transport programme for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4531/10]

Pobal administers the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) on behalf of my Department and has responsibility for making the funding allocations to community transport groups. I have no role in deciding on specific funding allocations.

Public Transport.

Joe McHugh

Question:

350 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport his views on a petition (details supplied) that was presented to him in September 2008 in response to his Department’s consultation strategy on Transport 21; if he will undertake a feasibility study on this project; if the petition is still with his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4551/10]

The petition referred to in the Question was highlighted in the Deputy's submission to the public consultation process undertaken in 2008 on a future sustainable transport strategy for Ireland. The submission, which was made electronically, indicated that the petition would be forwarded by post. A summary of the more than 480 submissions to the consultation process is set out in the final strategy approved by the Government and launched by me in February 2009. As the strategy is a policy framework to guide travel and transport to the year 2020 it does not deal with specific projects such as the ones proposed by the Deputy. Full details of the submissions and the policy response are set out on www.smartertarvel.ie. Future investment in new road and railway networks are influenced by needs studies undertaken by the NRA and Iarnród Éireann. The present capital investment for these networks is set out in Transport 21 Programme. Given the existing priorities and the curtailed level of public funding for investment there are no plans to carry out feasibility studies on the projects referred to by the Deputy in his submission.

Finally, I understand that the Deputy's office was in touch some time ago enquiring whether the petition is still in my Department. There is no record of the petition being received in my Department.

EU Directives.

Joe Costello

Question:

351 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Transport if there are EU directives which require to be transposed into primary or secondary legislation; the list of such directives; the date they were drafted by the Commission; when he intends to transpose them into domestic law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4720/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the table below. While the EU Commission has, in large part, a monopoly on the initiation of legislation through proposals which include draft provisions, the dates of these drafts are not generally seen as significant and as such are not recorded in any centralised way by my Department. Many years may pass before a proposal is enacted into EU legislation and the enacted legislation may differ entirely from that draft.

No.

Title

Target Date for Transposition

1

Council Directive 2006/103/EC of 20 November 2006 adapting certain Directives in the field of Transport Policy, by reason of accession of Bulgaria and Romania.

Q1 2010

2

Directive 2007/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 amending Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community’s railways and Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure.

Q1 2010

3

Directive 2007/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the Community.

Q1 2010

4

Directive 2006/126 on driving licences

Q2 2010

5

Directive 2008/57/EC on the interoperability of the rail system within the Community (recast)

Q4 2010

6

Directive 2008/96/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 19th November 2008 on road infrastructure safety management

19th November 2010

7

Directive 2008/110 of the European Parliament and the Council of 16 December 2008 on safety on the Community’s Railways (Railway Safety Directive)

Q4 2010

8

Directive 2008/106/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the minimum level of training of seafarers (recast)

2010

9

Directive 2009/20/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the insurance of shipowners for maritime claims

Q4 2011

10

Directive 2009/16/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on port State control (recast)

31/12/2010

11

Directive 2009/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector and amending Directives 1999/35/EC and 2002/59/EC

31/5/2011

12

Directive 2009/45/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on Safety Rules and Standards for Passenger Ships (Recast)

2010

13

Directive 2009/17/EC Of The European Parliament and Of The Council of 23 April 2009 amending Directive 2002/59/EC establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system

Q3 2010

14

Directive 2009/21/EC of The European Parliament and of The Council of 23 April 2009 on compliance with flag State requirements

Q2 2011

15

Directive 2009/15/EC of The European Parliament and of The Council of 23 April 2009 on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administrations (recast)

Q2 2011

16

Commission Directive 2009/112/EC of 25 August 2009 amending Council Directive 91/439/EEC.Commission Directive 2009/113/EC amending Directive 2006/126/EC (Fitness to Drive)

August 2010

17

Directive 2009/62/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 relating to the space for mounting the rear registration plate of two or three-wheel motor vehicles.

Q1 2010

18

Commission Directive 2009/19/EC of 12 March 2009 amending, for the purposes of its adaption to technical progress, Council Directive 72/245/EEC relating to radio interference (electromagnetic compatibility) of vehicles

Q1 2010

19

Commission Directive 2008/89/EC of 24 September 2008 amending, for the purposes of its adaptation to technical progress, Council Directive 76/756/EEC concerning the installation of lighting and light-signalling devices on motor vehicles and their trailers.

Q1 2010

20

Council Directive 2009/13/EC implementing the Agreement concluded by the EC Shipowners’ Association and the European Transport Workers’ Federation on the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and amending Directive 1999/63/EC on the organisation of seafarers’ working time.

31/12/2010

21

Directive 2009/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on the installation of lighting and light-signalling devices on two or three-wheel motor vehicles.

Q1 2010

22

Directive 2009/79/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on passenger hand holds on two-wheel motor vehicles.

Q1 2010

23

Directive 2009/78/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on stands for two-wheel motor vehicles.

Q1 2010

24

Directive 2009/80 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on the identification of controls, tell-tales and indicators for two or three-wheel motor vehicles

Q1 2010

25

Commission Directive 2009/108/EC of 17 August 2009 amending, for the purposes of adapting it to technical progress, directive 97/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on certain components and characteristics of two or three-wheel motor vehicles.

Q1 2010

26

Directive 2009/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009 on Airport Charges

1 March 2011

27

Directive 2005/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Directive 2009/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties for infringements

16.11.2010

28

Commission Directive 2009/26/EC of 6 April 2009 amending Council Directive 96/98/EC on Marine Equipment

31/03/2010

Coast Guard Service.

Michael Ring

Question:

352 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Transport the way access for the Achill Coast Guard to the Joint Coast Guard and Fire Brigade Rescue Centre on Achill Island, County Mayo will be progressed in view of the fact that the caretaker’s agreement has been rejected by Mayo County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4736/10]

The Director of the Coast Guard and the Director of Services for Mayo County Council are currently dealing directly on the matter. They met on 17 December 2009 and substantial progress has been made. A resolution of the final outstanding legal issue is being investigated by both sides.

Taxi Regulations.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

353 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport his views on amending the taxi regulations regarding taxi roof signs (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4740/10]

This is a matter for the Commission on Taxi Regulation and not one in which I have any role.

Road Network.

John O'Mahony

Question:

354 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Transport if he will make funding available to Mayo County Council to repair the dangerous roads in County Mayo as a result of the recent weather conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4893/10]

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.

Proposed Legislation.

Denis Naughten

Question:

355 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport his plans to commence section 13 of the Road Traffic Act 2002. [5148/10]

I have no plans to commence section 13 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 at this time.

Financial Services Regulation.

Joan Burton

Question:

356 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether the current legal framework for dealing with illegal moneylenders is appropriate; if he proposes to make any amendment or bring forward any proposals in this area; the number of persons that have been prosecuted, convicted, fined and imprisoned for offences relating to illegal money lending in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4457/10]

The regulation of moneylending is a matter primarily for my colleague, the Minister for Finance. Legislative provisions relating to moneylending are contained in the Consumer Credit Act 1995. I am advised that no-one can act as a moneylender unless a licence to engage in such activity has been granted by the Central Bank/Financial Regulator. In circumstances where a member of An Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds to suspect that someone is operating as an unlicensed moneylender then that member can, under the terms of the Consumer Credit Act 1995, question without warrant such an individual and remove from that person any documentation necessary for further investigation. It has not been possible within the timeframe to gather the statistics requested by the Deputy. I will however revert to the Deputy in due course when the information requested comes to hand.

Road Traffic Offences.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

357 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received reports on developing a programme of alternative correction or rehabilitation programmes for road traffic offences in particular targeting high risk offenders as mandated under action 119 of the Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012; when he will publish the reports; the targets timeline for the introduction of such programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4500/10]

Action 19 of the Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012 provides for research and evaluation to be carried out on alternative correction/rehabilitation programmes for a range of road traffic measures. Of particular significance in progressing the initiative is the need for incentives for offenders to participate in such programmes, in particular, whether participation will be taken into account when the court is deciding on sanctions following conviction. This will have implications for road traffic legislation, which is the responsibility of the Department of Transport, and the legislation may require amendment in order to facilitate and promote this. My Department and the Road Safety Authority are consulting on how best to progress this action.

Residency Permits.

George Lee

Question:

358 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the renewal of a residency visa in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 14; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4502/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that I am aware of the case of the person in question. I understand that the permission to remain in the State granted to the person in question under the IBC/05 Scheme was renewed, as a temporary measure, for a further three month period on 26 January, 2010. The person concerned is advised to present at the offices of the Garda National Immigration Bureau in Burgh Quay two weeks prior to the expiry of this permission in order to have it extended for a further three years.

Sexual Offences.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

359 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the Criminal Law Act 1997 section 7(2) and section 176 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, he will confirm that the officials of the Catholic Church and their agents will be investigated and where the Director of Public Prosecutions deems it, prosecution will ensue; the proposals he has to track and supervise sex and child abuse offenders once released from prison; when a full sex offenders register will be implemented; if it is possible to extend the Health Service Executive’s role along with that of the Garda and accomplish supervision of sex and child abuse offenders once released from prisons. [4542/10]

The Garda Commissioner has assured me that pursuing the perpetrators of abuse, whenever it may have occurred, is an absolute priority for An Garda Síochána. A number of perpetrators who have come to the attention of An Garda Síochána have already been brought to justice, proceedings are pending against others and a number of investigations are ongoing. The Commissioner has appointed Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahoney to examine the findings of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation relating to the handling of complaints and investigations by both Church and State authorities, to carry out such investigations and inquiries as he deems appropriate and to report to the Commissioner with his recommendations. The Commissioner will then consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions as to what issues arise in the context of criminal liability. The Commissioner has directed that the investigation be concluded at as early a date as possible.

The Sex Offenders Act 2001 contains a comprehensive series of provisions aimed at protecting children and other persons. The Act makes persons convicted of a range of sexual offences subject to notification requirements under its Part 2. The provisions of the Act also extend to any offenders convicted abroad of the same range of sexual offences who enter the State. An Garda Síochána has a system in place for the monitoring of persons subject to these requirements. The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit monitors and manages the notification provisions. The Unit maintains all information relating to persons who have obligations under the Act. There is a nominated Garda Inspector in each Garda Division who has responsibility for the monitoring of persons subject to the requirements of the Act in their Division. As soon as the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit is advised by a relevant authority, such as the Irish Prison Service, the Courts Service or a foreign law enforcement agency, of the impending release or movement of sex offenders into their area this information is immediately passed to the nominated Inspectors, who are advised of information relevant to their Division.

A High Level Group set up by my Department and involving An Garda Síochána, the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service and the HSE is examining the arrangements in place for the management of sex offenders with a view to strengthening inter-agency co-operation and further enhancing public protection and safety. The group's remit includes a review of the procedures and legislation relating to the assessment, monitoring and supervision of convicted sex offenders. I am currently reviewing the criminal law on sexual offences, including the provisions of the Sex Offenders Act 2001. Should the need for changes to the law in this area be identified, I will bring proposals to Government seeking approval for the preparation of appropriate amendments to the legislation.

Citizenship Applications.

Dan Neville

Question:

360 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will process an application for naturalisation in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Limerick. [4546/10]

Valid applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in January 2007.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 24 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that processing of both applications is ongoing and the files will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Drug Seizures.

Martin Ferris

Question:

361 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the breakdown of each category of illegal drug seized in the Tralee and Listowel Garda Divisions, County Kerry, over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4548/10]

In the time available it has not been possible to compile the statistics which the Deputy has requested. I will communicate further with him when the information sought is to hand.

Garda Investigations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

362 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support the proposal to have the death of a person (details supplied) reinvestigated. [4552/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation into the death of the person referred to by the Deputy was the subject of an intensive review in 2004.

I am further informed that the Commissioner recently 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 Deputy will appreciate that, as the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Registration of Title.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

363 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a mapping issue will be dealt with in the Land Registry in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4576/10]

Seymour Crawford

Question:

364 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a land registry dealing number (details supplied) will issue to a person (details supplied) in view of the fact that it was lodged in April 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4577/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 363 and 634 together.

I can inform the Deputy that under the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority (PRA) was established as and from 4 November, 2006. The PRA replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions.

The Deputy will be aware of the service to TDs and Senators which provides information on the current status of applications, such as the subjects of these questions, which was introduced in May 2006. The service provides a speedier, more efficient and more cost effective alternative to submitting Parliamentary Questions. It is operated by the PRA and is available all year round.

I can further inform the Deputy that his queries have been forwarded to the PRA for attention and direct reply via the above mentioned service.

Crime Levels.

George Lee

Question:

365 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the fact that gardaí in Dublin South are telling victims of burglary that there has been an increase in burglaries due to the fact that criminals are looking for gold to sell in the many cash-for-gold establishments (details supplied) that have sprung up recently; if this is taking place nationwide; the strategy in place to combat this; his views on ensuring that persons must provide proof of ownership before being allowed to claim this cash for gold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4579/10]

Neither my Department nor An Garda Síochána have any function in relation to the regulation of legal transactions in gold. Furthermore, the informal purchase of gold is not specifically regulated in criminal legislation.

I have not been informed of any increase in burglaries due to the fact that criminals are looking for gold. However, I will keep this matter under review.

However, if members of the public have suspicions that goods being sold or traded may have been stolen, the correct action is for these suspicions to be referred to An Garda Síochána for investigation.

An Garda Síochána enforce the provisions of the criminal law in respect of theft and robbery, including theft and robbery of jewellery and precious metals. While the informal purchase of gold is not specifically regulated, the circumstances under which gold is being bought or sold may indicate the commission of certain offences, for example the handling of stolen property and or the possession of stolen property, which are offences under sections 17 and 18 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001 respectively.

Land Registry.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

366 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the recent report on the shredding of historic and valuable documents, some dating from the late 19th century, which are to be destroyed as part of the Property Registration Authority’s move toward e-conveyancing; the reason for destroying these valuable documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4604/10]

I am informed by the Property Registration Authority (PRA) that it has no plans to shred historic and valuable documents. Since 1981 the Land Registry has been creating a computerised register to replace the former paper register. As part of the process of computerisation all paper folios have been scanned and indexed and the full archive of the original paper folios dating back to 1891 is now safely stored off-site and preserved for posterity. These can be accessed for research purposes, if required.

The newspaper article to which the Deputy refers appeared in The Irish Times on 23 December, 2009. The documents referred to in this article were “Land Certificates” only. Section 73(1) of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006 provided that no new Land Certificates should be issued after 1 January, 2007. Section 73(2) of the Act provided that with effect from 1 January, 2010, all Land Certificates should cease to have force or effect. However, in the three year period 1 January, 2007 to 31 December, 2009, existing Land Certificates continued to have full force and effect and for this reason they were required to be lodged with any application for registration (dealing) in the Land Registry and could not be returned to the lodging party on completion of the application.

It should be noted that in the vast majority of cases, Land Certificates are computer print-out copies of the title registers (folios) and have no particular historic significance or intrinsic value. However, in a number of cases where the Land Certificate had been lodged in the PRA with an application, requests were made to the PRA to preserve a Land Certificate because of its' historical or sentimental value to the lodging party. In addition, the PRA itself implemented a policy of review and identification of Land Certificates which might have a historical or particular archival interest. These Land Certificates have been preserved and are retained in the Customer Services Unit (CSU) in the PRA's Chancery Street office.

As section 73(2) of the Act came into effect on 1 January, 2010 any Land Certificate which was lodged with an application for registration up to 31 December, 2009 is being returned to the lodging party on completion of the application. Similarly, where a Land Certificate was retained in the PRA at the request of the registered owner, arrangements may now be made to return the Land Certificate to the person registered as the owner of the property as of 31 December, 2009. In all such cases the Land Certificate will be accompanied with a letter explaining that it is no longer a legal document of title and cannot be pledged by way of security for borrowings.

Firearm Licences.

John Deasy

Question:

367 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of legally held handguns that have been licensed in each Garda division since the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4669/10]

I understand from the Garda Authorities that the total number of handguns licensed since the enactment of the legislation referred to is approx 450. This figure includes both restricted and non-restricted firearms and would, of course, include firearms for which certificates were previously held.

The Divisional breakdown requested by the Deputy is not available at the moment due to ongoing development works on PULSE, but will be at a later date. I will write to the Deputy when the information becomes available.

Citizenship Applications.

Jack Wall

Question:

368 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 189 of 21 January 2010, if correspondence (details supplied) will be noted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4675/10]

On 27 May 2008, the person concerned, through his legal representative, submitted an application to remain in the State on the basis of his parentage of an Irish born Child. He was notified by letter dated 29 May 2008 that there was no procedure in place through which applications to remain in the State could be made on the sole basis of parentage of an Irish born child. He was further informed that as a person who was illegally present in the State, 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 reasons why he should not have a Deportation Order made against him. Representations were received from the person concerned at that time.

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

The letter dated 16 December 2008, referred to by the Deputy, is an acknowledgment issued by a representative of my Department to the legal representative who submitted additional representations, dated 5 December 2008, on behalf of the person concerned.

Child Maintenance.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

369 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to introduce legislation to ensure that child maintenance enforcement orders are processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4689/10]

The provisions in the law for ensuring that payments continue to be made by spouses in support of their dependent spouses and children are comprehensive. They include enabling powers for the courts to order attachment of the earnings of a debtor spouse, to order the securing of payments to the maintenance creditor, to order the payment of lump sums and to order arrears of maintenance to be paid by instalments.

While the law generally operates successfully in this area I am aware that difficulties have arisen in some cases because of the effect of a judgment of the High Court last year notwithstanding that the Enforcement of Court Orders (Amendment) Act 2009 made changes in the law consequent on that judgment. I am in consultation with the Attorney General with a view to developing early proposals for further legislation in this respect.

EU Directives.

Joe Costello

Question:

370 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there are EU directives which require to be transposed into primary or secondary legislation; the list of such directives; the date they were drafted by the Commission; when he intends to transpose them into domestic law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4717/10]

It is not possible to provide the information sought by the Deputy at this time. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Prison Committals.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

371 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has data regarding the number of ex-servicemen that are in custody in jails here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4746/10]

Prisoners on committal to prison are not obliged to provide any detail on their previous employment history. Such information is not routinely recorded by the Irish Prison Service. Accordingly, it is not possible to provide the information requested.

Tax Code.

Joe McHugh

Question:

372 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the powers that the Garda Síochána has in respect of penalising, fining, and confiscating the vehicles of Northern Ireland car owners who drive in this jurisdiction with no displayed taxation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4756/10]

All members of An Garda Síochána are tasked with the enforcement of relevant road traffic legislation, including the Road Traffic and Road Transport Acts. This may occur as part of specific road traffic law enforcement activity or general policing activity.

Section 41(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1994, as amended, provides for the making of regulations authorising the detention, removal and storage of vehicles and their subsequent release or disposal when used in a public place. A member of An Garda Síochána is authorised to detain a vehicle when he or she is of the opinion that the vehicle is being used without valid insurance, road tax or driving licence.

Under Department of Finance legislation the registration of vehicles is the responsibility of the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that their officers, who are based at numerous locations in the State, carry out regular and ongoing checks to identify and deal with breaches of vehicle registration tax regulations in connection with the use of foreign registered vehicles in the State. They also carry out coordinated national enforcement campaigns under finance legislation to detect infringements of law in this area.

Garda Stations.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

373 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 398 and 399 of 24 June 2003, the progress made since that date. [4759/10]

The Garda accommodation programme is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána and it is brought forward in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. Garda accommodation requirements are considered in the context of the Garda Síochána's identified accommodation priorities and in light of available resources.

I will write to the Deputy as soon as possible with the most up to date information from both the Office of Public Works and the Garda Síochána on the station in question.

Legal Aid Service.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

374 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost to the Exchequer to date in 2009 of fees (details supplied) in relation to the ongoing Traveller feud in Tralee, County Kerry, which involves 32 individual legal aid applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4867/10]

The courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid having regard to the criteria set out in the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962. The Deputy will appreciate that eligibility for legal aid in criminal cases is determined by the Judge hearing the case and that I have no function in this regard. Whether or not an applicant is a member of the traveller community is not a consideration in determining eligibility; nor is personal information of that nature retained in respect of individuals to whom legal aid is granted.

Bullying in the Workplace.

Noel Ahern

Question:

375 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding bullying in the wider public service; if complaints of bullying must be against a named individual or if cases can be taken against a bullying culture in an organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4884/10]

The formulation of policies for dealing with complaints of bullying in the civil service, or the wider public service, does not fall within the remit of my Department. Complaints that arise within my Department are dealt with in accordance with the Department of Finance policy document "A Positive Working Environment: An Anti-Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Bullying Policy for the Civil Service".

Departmental Reports.

John O'Mahony

Question:

376 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 172 of 21 January 2010, when a reply will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4894/10]

I can inform the Deputy that the information requested in Question No. 172 of 21 January, 2010 is in the final stages of preparation. I expect to be in a position to forward the information to the Deputy shortly.

Mental Health Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

377 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received a copy of the children’s mental health coalition manifesto; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5006/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 365 and 366 on Tuesday 26th January, 2010. While my office has since received proposals from this group, I understand this is primarily for my colleague Minister of State, Deputy John Moloney, who has responsibility for mental health issues.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

378 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when residency and stamp four will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5020/10]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his recent Parliamentary Question, No. 169 of Thursday, 3 December 2009, in this matter.

The up to date position is that a representative of my Department has written to the person concerned in recent days seeking clarification on a number of matters. The case of the person concerned can be further considered upon receipt of a response from the person concerned to the issues raised in that communication.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

379 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if specific provision will be made in respect of residency and accommodation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 14. [5021/10]

I regret to advise the Deputy that it is not possible to provide a response to his Question at this time. The information sought by the Deputy will be provided at a later date.

Commencement of Legislation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

380 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the dates on which the Criminal Justice Surveillance Act, 2009, the Criminal Justice Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 2009 and the Criminal Justice Amendment Act 2009 were signed into law by the President following the passing of the legislation; when the enactment and commencement order was signed by the Minister in each case thereby giving full effect to the implementation of the legislation; the extent to which he made regulations or created statutory instruments in respect of any of the Acts; if he gave any directions or instructions or if he issued any circular that may have the effect of restricting the full implementation of any part, sector or sub section of any of the Acts which may in turn impede the efforts of the gardaí in the fight against organised gangland crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5022/10]

The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 was enacted in full on 23 July 2009. Section 14 of this Act inserted a new provision, section 26A, into the Criminal Justice Act 2007 which introduces post-release (restrictions on certain activities) Orders which can be applied by a court to persons convicted of certain offences. Under the provision, the Minister shall prepare a scheme specifying two or more categories of restrictions and conditions that may be imposed by way of such an order. A draft of the Scheme must be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and this was done on 19 January 2010. A resolution seeking the approval of both Houses to the draft Scheme will be put before the Houses in due course. No directions, instructions or circulars have been issued in respect of the Act.

The Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act came into force on the 12 July 2009 following its signing into law by the President. All of the provisions came into force on that date. S.I. No. 275, which prescribes the form of written records of approval granted under sections 7 and 8 of the Act, was signed by the Minister on 20 July 2010. No directions, instructions or circulars have been issued in respect of the Act.

The Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009, was enacted on 21 July 2009, and, having regard to the variety of matters coming within this enactment, provision was made for the sections to be commenced by Order of the Minister. Most of the Act is in force, as indicated in the detailed Table below. Other than in respect of the provisions referred to in the Table, those sections not commenced at present, are: sections 36, 38, 47, 52, and Part 3 of the Act (sections 21 to 24 inclusive); that Part relates to the Schengen Information System. No directions, instructions or circulars have been issued in respect of the Act.

Measures giving effect to the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009

Statutory Instrument

Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 Orders for Commencement

Date of Commencement

S.I. 310 of 2009

(essentially covering Commencement of the Act, and provisions relating to Firearms) sections 1,2,3, sections 25 to 27, sections 29 to 33, sections 34 35,37 and 39; section 40 — insofar as it inserts new sections A and B after section 9 of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990; sections 41 to 44.

1 August 2009, except for section 34, which came into effect on 1 January 2010

S.I. 293 of 2009

Section 28 (re transitional period for firearms licensing)

27 July 2009

S.I. 330 of 2009

Part 2 of the Act (sections 4 to 20 re European Arrest Warrant), and miscellaneous provisions in Part 5 — sections 45 and, 46; sections 48 (other than paragraph c(iii) thereof), 49, 50 and 51.

25 August 2009

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

381 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the order for deportation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5023/10]

I refer the Deputy to my previous reply to his earlier Parliamentary Question No. 166 of Thursday, 2nd April, 2009. The judicial review proceedings referred to therein were finalised on the 25th January, 2010.

The deportation order remains valid and I am satisfied that the decision to deport is justified. However, if new information or circumstances have come to light, which have a direct bearing on this case and which have arisen since the original decision to deport was made, there remains the option of applying to me for revocation of the deportation order pursuant to the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended. However I wish to make clear that such an application would require substantial grounds to be successful.

The effect of the Deportation order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

382 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5024/10]

I refer the Deputy to his recent Parliamentary Question, No. 270 of Tuesday, 13 October, 2009, and the written Reply to that Question. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

383 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether the imminent threat of female genital mutilation in the event of deportation is considered ground for a full review of an application for residency and refugee status or the exercise or his discretionary powers in such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5025/10]

The Deputy might wish to note that fears relating to female genital mutilation are regularly advanced to support asylum applications for Subsidiary Protection and in representations submitted under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

Where such fears are represented as part of an asylum claim, it is a matter for the two statutory independent refugee status determination bodies, namely the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, to investigate such claims and, in each individual case, to make a recommendation to the Minister as to whether each applicant/appellant should, or should not, be declared to be a refugee, as defined in Section 2 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended). Such investigations will have regard for the claims made by the applicant/appellant and measured against reputable, objective, up to date information relating to the applicant/appellant's country of origin. I, as Minister, ultimately decide whether to grant or refuse refugee status, based on the recommendations of the aforementioned statutory bodies and in accordance with the provisions of Section 17 of the same Act.

The Deputy might also wish to note that where an asylum application is refused at both first instance and appeal stages, the unsuccessful applicant is then afforded the opportunity to apply, separately, to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for Subsidiary Protection in the State, in accordance with the provisions of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006. Where such an application is made which contains an alleged fear of serious harm for reasons relating to female genital mutilation, the application is considered on the basis of its individual merits, having regard for the claims made by the applicant and measured against objective, reputable up to date information relating to the applicant's country of origin.

In addition to the above, each unsuccessful asylum applicant is afforded the opportunity, pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), to submit written representations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform setting out reasons as to why a Deportation Order should not be made against him/her. Any such representations submitted are considered under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. Where such representations represent issues relating to female genital mutilation, a detailed consideration is carried out to assess the validity of such claims having regard to the prevailing conditions in that person's country of origin.

In light of the above, the Deputy will appreciate that the State has a very comprehensive mechanism in place for the examination of cases where a fear of female genital mutilation is advanced by a person as part of an asylum application or as grounds to support a case to remain in the State.

The Deputy will also appreciate that in the absence of specific details being provided, it is not possible to comment on the case or cases to which he might be referring.

Citizenship Applications.

Phil Hogan

Question:

384 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision for naturalisation will be decided on in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5