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 10, inclusive, answered orally.

Substance Misuse Strategy.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

11 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the frustration of community based drug services with delays in response and delays in funding since the demise of the national drugs strategy committee and the subsuming of its powers and decision making capability into his Department; the loss of the expertise the NDSC had built up over the years; the steps he will take to speed up the delivery of services to the community drugs groups. [8247/10]

The Office of the Minister for Drugs (OMD) was established under the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 to facilitate greater cohesion in policy-making and service delivery. All financial matters are now overseen by the OMD, which includes the allocation of annual budgets to the Drugs Task Forces and associated payments.

The OMD formally approved funding to the Drugs Task Forces in regard to their 2010 allocations on 22nd December 2009. As part of the approval process, the relevant funding agencies were also advised. In this context, the Deputy should note that payments do not directly issue to projects from my Department. Rather, funding is channelled through various Departments and agencies which reflect the focus of the project(s) in question and those bodies have ultimate responsibility for the release of my Department's funding to the projects on the ground.

The timing and value of payments issuing from my Department to the relevant funding bodies is, of course, inextricably linked to the timing and value of their respective claims to the Department. In this regard, I would like to assure the Deputy that every effort is made to process and expedite payments in the timeliest manner. Payment is predicated on claims being made in the prescribed format and with all the requisite supporting information being provided.

Of the completed claims received up to last Friday, 12th February, I understand that, with the exception of one claim, all payments have issued. Claims are being received on an ongoing basis and are being processed accordingly.

The Deputy will, of course, appreciate that there are several factors that determine the release of funding, e.g. number and timing of payment runs and the subsequent transfer of funds through the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) system. While the EFT system represents significant benefits in terms of speed, there are set working days required to affect the transactions.

My Department is very aware of the significance of funding being with the projects as early as possible in the year to obviate any undue hardship. To support this, arrangements were made in December 2009 to provide salary advances for the first two weeks of January 2010 to those projects, identified by the Drugs Task Forces, that might have been under financial pressure.

While every effort is made by my Department to facilitate timely and prompt payments to drugs projects, it must be pointed out that this is also contingent on the co-operation and engagement of the other stakeholders involved. In all cases, cognisance is taken of due process while also respecting all appropriate and requisite financial parameters.

I fully acknowledge the work carried out by the former National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST) over the years, However, I do not believe that the expertise and knowledge garnered over the years has, in any way, gone to waste. A number of the former NDST representatives — from across the different sectors — now serve on the Drugs Advisory Group which was established under the new Strategy. The role of Group is to advise me on operational matters relating to the Strategy.

Finally, the Deputy will wish to note that, as previously indicated, it is my intention, during 2010, to review the funding procedures in place in relation to drugs initiatives to see whether any adjustments are necessary.

Community Development.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

12 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the commitment to the community supports for older people scheme in 2010; his views on whether older persons are not being adequately supported to live independently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8287/10]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

45 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the implementation to date of those areas of the revised programme for Government, for which his Department has responsibility. [8397/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 45 together.

My Department has funded and operated the Scheme of Community Support for Older People since mid 2002. Grant aid provided under this Scheme allows for the installation of socially monitored personal alert systems and other items of home security and has supported over 100,000 older people in recent years. The Deputy will recall that this Scheme was reintroduced last October after being suspended for a period while my Department carried out a review of its operation. That Review is now complete and I hope to be in a position to publish the report before the end of this month, once I have received the input of other relevant Departments and organisations working with older people.

My Department is also at an advanced stage in finalising arrangements for the implementation of a number of innovations to the scheme to address matters raised in the review. The revised scheme will seek to:

streamline its operation and make it easier for community groups to access grant support; and

broaden coverage to ensure that older people who are unable to provide this equipment from their own resources have access to grant aid.

Even with the suspension of the Scheme in 2009, 432 community groups received total funds of over €2.1m in 2009 with 6,523 older persons being provided with security equipment. The vast majority of these received grant support for the installation of socially monitored alert systems. I have made arrangements to keep the existing Scheme open and my Department is accepting applications for grant support. The arrangement will continue until such time as revised arrangements are in place. Information on the grants paid is updated monthly on my Department's website at www.pobail.ie.

On a broader front, Government policy is to support older people to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. To underpin this commitment, the Government has created the Office for Older People to support the Minster for Older People and Health Promotion to bring a more coordinated approach to issues relating to older people across the range of Government Departments and Agencies. In particular the Minister is developing a new National Positive Ageing Strategy and my Department is contributing to that work as well.

Responsibility for ensuring that older people can live independently and securely in their own homes and the delivery of services needed to ensure this is spread across a number of Departments and State agencies. An Garda Síochána and the Health Services Executive, as well as the Department of Social and Family affairs and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. With respect to my own Department, our focus is on assisting older people through ensuring community organisations and volunteering is supported to address gaps in service delivery where this is best done by local responses, and to ensure that older people are included in local activities and community life.

Question No. 13 answered with Question No. 8.

Gaeltacht na nDéise.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

14 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Michael D. Higgins den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén cinneadh atá déanta aige i leith mhaoiniú an Phlean Forbartha Teanga do Ghaeltacht na nDéise; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8362/10]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

21 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Jan O’Sullivan den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cathain a chuirfear áisitheoir pobail in áit i nGaeltacht na nDéise; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8363/10]

Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna Uimh 14 agus 21 le chéile.

Ar mhaithe le héifeacht agus comhthathú seirbhísí sa Ghaeltacht, tá cinneadh polasaí déanta agam aitheantas a thabhairt do phríomh-eagraíochtaí forbartha pobalbhunaithe a mbeidh ceantair fheidhme shoiléire acu sna ceantair Ghaeltachta éagsúla. Is iad na príomh-chúraimí a bheidh ar na heagraíochtaí pobalbhunaithe seo ná cláir oibre a fheidhmiú ina gceantair a chuimseoidh forbairt pobail, fiontraíocht phobail, an cuimsiú sóisialta agus an phleanáil teanga. Is é bunsprioc an pholasaí seo ná go mbeidh eagraíocht phobalbhunaithe amháin i ngach ceantar aiceanta Gaeltachta ag feidhmiú go héífeachtach agus á maoiniú ag an Stát dá réir. Ar ndóigh, beidh an Ghaeilge fite fuaite leis na réimsí éagsúla seo agus beidh earnáil na pleanála teanga criticiúil sa phróiseas i gcoitinne.

Maidir leis Na Déise, tháinig deireadh le scéim phíolótach pleanála teanga a bhí i bhfeidhm i nGaeltacht na nDéise agus maoinithe ag mo Roinnse ag deireadh 2009. Tuigim go bhfuil maoiniú ceadaithe ag Údarás na Gaeltachta do Chomhlacht Forbartha na nDéise mar chúnamh dóibh chun Oifigeach Forbartha a fhostú i nGaeltacht Phort Láirge chun plean forbartha an chomhlachta a chur i bhfeidhm sna míonna amach romhainn.

Mar atá a fhios ag an Teachta, tá an dréacht-Straitéis 20-bliain don Ghaeilge foilsithe ag an Rialtas agus faoi bhráid an Chomhchoiste um Ghnóthaí Ealaíon, Spóirt, Turasóireachta, Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta faoi láthair. Cuimsíonn an dréacht-Straitéis forbairt na pleanála teanga ar bhonn córasach agus cuimsitheach ag leibhéal pobail sa Ghaeltacht agus moltar ann go mbeidh stádas na Gaeltachta sa todhchaí bunaithe ar chritéir teanga. Tá sé i gceist, sa chomhthéacs sin, go mbeidh plean teanga ag gach ceantar Gaeltachta, Gaeltacht na nDéise ina measc, a thabharfaidh tosaíocht do ghníomhaíochtaí pleanála teanga a bhfuil gá leo le háit na Gaeilge mar theanga an phobail a chinntiú. Nuair a bheidh obair an Chomhchoiste curtha i gcrích, tá sé i gceist agam an dréacht-Straitéis a chur faoi bhráid an Rialtais le ceadú go críochnaitheach. Déanfar tuilleadh forbartha ar an bpróiseas pleanála teanga sa Ghaeltacht i gcoitinne i gcomhthéacs na Straitéise sin amach anseo.

Community Development.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

15 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on re-establishing a community partnership for the Dublin 12 area. [8246/10]

Following on from the winding-up of the former local development company for the Dublin 12 area, KWCDT Ltd, my Department has continued its commitment to the area by identifying and supporting the transfer of a number of key projects to Rathmines/Pembroke Partnership on an interim basis. An initial allocation of some €0.3m in additional funding has been provided in this regard under the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) for 2010.

My Department, together with Pobal, is working to ensure the maintenance of essential front-line services in Dublin 12. I understand a proposal on the future delivery of supports for the area is being prepared but I have no plans to establish a new local development company in the area.

State Agencies.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

16 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Eamon Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil nascadh foirmeálta idir Údarás na Gaeltachta agus Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta i bhfeidhm anois; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8360/10]

Tá nasc foirmeálta idir Údarás na Gaeltachta agus MFG Teo cheana sa mhéid is go bhfuil ceathrar comhalta agus feidhmeannach amháin ag an Údarás ar Bhord MFG Teo. Mar chuid de phróiseas chun a chinntiú go bhfuil gníomhaíochtaí Údarás na Gaeltachta agus MFG Teo araon á gcur i bhfeidhm ar an mbealach is éifeachtaí maidir le seirbhísí a sheachadadh do phobal na Gaeltachta agus luach ar airgead a thabhairt, shocraigh mé na cúraimí a bhí ar MFG Teo i ndáil leis an Scéim Shóisialta Tuaithe sa Ghaeltacht a aistriú go dtí Údarás na Gaeltachta i mí Iúil 2009.

I láthair na huaire, tá athbhreithniú cuimsitheach a dhéanamh ag mo Roinnse ar na socruithe reatha atá i bhfeidhm maidir le struchtúr agus maoiniú na n-eagraíochtaí difriúla atá ag plé le gnéithe éagsúla den fhorbairt pobail sa Ghaeltacht, ar a n-áirítear ach go háirithe an fhorbairt pobail féin, an fhiontraíocht phobail, an cuimsiú sóisialta agus an phleanáil teanga. Tá ról MFG Teo i ndáil leis na gníomhaíochtaí seo sa todhchaí á meas sa chomhthéacs seo.

Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

17 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the Údarás na Gaeltachta elections will be held. [8250/10]

As the last Údarás na Gaeltachta elections were held on 2nd April 2005, the next elections must, according to the provisions of the existing legislation, be held on a date between 1st April 2009 and 1st October 2010. Due to the ongoing work in relation to the draft 20-year Strategy for Irish and the possible implications for the functions of an tÚdarás, I am not yet in a position to make a decision with regard to a date for the next elections. If necessary, however, I will consider bringing a Bill before the House with a view to extending the term of office of the current members.

Straitéis 20 Bliain.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

18 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian O’Shea den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta chun a fhiafraí den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé sásta go bhfuil díospóireacht leathan phoiblí ar siúl i leith na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh [8358/10]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

20 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian O’Shea den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén clár ama atá aige maidir leis an dréacht deiridh den Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge a fhoilsiú; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8357/10]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

27 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Eamon Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta chun a fhiafraí den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil aon chinneadh déanta aige leasuithe a dhéanamh ar an Dréacht-Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8359/10]

Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna Uimh 18, 20, agus 27 le chéile.

Mar is eol do na Teachtaí, tá an dréacht-Straitéis 20-bliain don Ghaeilge foilsithe ag an Rialtas agus curtha os comhair an Chomhchoiste Oireachtais um Ghnóthaí Ealaíon, Spóirt, Turasóireachta, Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta le breithniú.

Tuigim gur pléadh an dréacht-Straitéis ag cruinniú den Chomhchoiste ar 20 Eanáir 2010, nuair a tugadh cuireadh d'eagraíochtaí áirithe Gaeilge a dtuairimí a chur in iúl. Tuigim freisin go mbeidh cruinniú eile den Chomhchoiste á tionól i nGaeltacht na Gaillimhe ar 26 Feabhra agus go bhfuil cuireadh tugadh d'eagraíochtaí Gaeltachta teacht os a chomhair.

Is é mo thuairim ná gur céim shuntasach eile í seo sa phróiseas leathan comhairliúchán atá curtha ar bun maidir leis an dréacht-Straitéis seo. Go dtí seo, reáchtáladh dhá shraith de chruinnithe poiblí ar fud na tíre, chomh maith le suirbhé ar-líne agus teagmhálacha díreacha le páirtithe leasmhara sna hearnálacha poiblí agus deonacha. Tuigtear dom gur féidir teagmháil a dhéanamh leis an gComhchoiste go díreach má tá tuairimí nó moltaí ag eagraíochtaí nó daoine maidir leis an dréacht-Straitéis.

Mar a thuigfidh na Teachtaí, go dtí go mbeidh an próiseas breithnithe tugtha chun críche ag an gComhchoiste, ní bheadh sé cuí domsa aon chinneadh a ghlacadh maidir le leasuithe ar an dréacht-Straitéis a mheas, ná clár ama a shonrú maidir le foilsiú na Straitéise féin.

Departmental Expenditure.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

19 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the savings in his Department’s payroll bill for 2010, arising from cuts in public sector pay announced in budget 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8392/10]

The anticipated savings in my Department's payroll bill for 2010, arising from adjustments in public sector pay announced in Budget 2010, are of the order of €880,000.

Question No. 20 answered with Question No. 18.
Question No. 21 answered with Question No. 14.

Community Development.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

22 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the next phase in his Department’s rationalisation programme now that he has finalised the closure of community development programmes. [8245/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department was established in 2002 against a background of concern at the multiplicity of structures and agencies through which local and community development schemes and programmes are delivered. It inherited a number of local and community programmes with diverse structures, which had been operated under the aegis of several different Departments. Clearly, there was an inherent danger of fragmentation of services and the diffusion of resources.

The cohesion process initiated by my Department a number of years ago to address these issues resulted in a significant reduction of local delivery structures for a range of rural and local development programmes. Until last year, there were almost 100 Partnerships and LEADER companies operating and the cohesion process has resulted in that being reduced to a total of 53 entities providing full county-wide coverage across the country. Notwithstanding that achievement, my Department still has a significant reform agenda to advance. The next phase, which is underway, concerns improving and ‘joining up' the outputs of programmes, as well as further advancing the consolidation of community and local development structures.

In the context of the latter, my Department has seen the need to re-design its community development/social inclusion programmes, particularly the Local Development Social Inclusion (LDSIP) and Community Development Programmes (CDP), drawing on good international practice and to support the ongoing evaluation of the programmes. Both programmes had a community development element and were delivered through separate local delivery structures. These programmes came to an end on 31 December 2009 and have been superseded by a new programme, the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP). Funding of €67.5m has been made available in 2010 for the LCDP, which will provide more efficient and streamlined social inclusion service to those people in the country who need it most.

There is no rationalisation programme as such. As I have explained in the House on previous occasions, the decision not to continue the funding of a relatively small number of community development projects was made on foot of my Department's review of the CDP/LDSIP programmes. The new integrated LCDP require integrated service delivery and structures. In this regard, an implementation process involving community development projects and local development companies, supported by my Department and Pobal, is now under way.

As I have previously indicated, my primary concern is to make every effort to ensure that the front-line services provided by, or supported through, my Department — especially those providing tangible benefits for the most disadvantaged communities — are protected.

Jack Wall

Question:

23 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the community development programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8388/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

25 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the report of the independent community development programme appeals board. [8389/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 25 together.

As I outlined previously to the House, my Department has seen the need to redesign its community development/social inclusion programmes, particularly the Local Development Social Inclusion (LDSIP) and Community Development Programmes (CDP), drawing on good international practice and to support the ongoing evaluation of the programmes. Both programmes have a community development element and were delivered through separate local delivery structures. These programmes came to an end on 31 December 2009 and have been superseded by a new programme, the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP).

Funding of €67.5m has been made available in 2010 for the LDCP, which will provide more efficient and streamlined social inclusion service to those people in the country who need it most. I am pleased to have been able to ring-fence funding for community development projects for 2010 and to maintain it at 2009 levels. In few other areas of public spending has it been possible to do this.

The aim of the new programme is to tackle poverty and social exclusion through partnership and constructive engagement between Government and its agencies and people in disadvantaged communities. It will preserve elements of good practice from the CDP/LDSIP Programmes and will enable groups to objectively demonstrate the positive impacts they are securing for local communities. An implementation strategy, involving the stakeholders, is underway in preparation for LCDP roll-out over the course of 2010. Under the new programme, local development companies will be able to identify and meet the needs of communities and I have asked that particular attention be given to RAPID areas and to those areas where a CDP is no longer operating. My Department and Pobal will be providing a range of supports to ensure the process is successful.

In advance of proceeding to establish a single programme across CDPs and Partnerships, my Department undertook an evaluation of individual community development projects. Many of these projects span across two decades, with quite diverse activities. The objective of the review was to identify those projects that produce tangible, appropriate benefits for the communities they serve. The vast majority of projects fell into this category and have been provided with funding under the new programme in 2010.

Where projects were not recommended for continued funding, an appropriate appeals mechanism was provided and a CDP Appeals Board established. The Appeals Board completed its work on 29 January 2010 and, as the Deputy is aware, its report has been published on my Department's website at www.pobail.ie. Following the initial review by my Department, 29 projects were deemed non-viable. Of these, 24 projects submitted an appeal to the CDP Appeals Board, of which 10 were successful.

The Deputy will appreciate that it is now a matter for the voluntary boards of management in each case to decide the future strategy for their companies in light of the decisions of the Appeals Board. My officials have been in contact with each of the projects concerned and have indicated that if the company decides to cease operations and to wind-up, my Department will, without prejudice, seek to assist the directors in discharging their statutory responsibilities. While such assistance could include limited financial assistance in appropriate circumstances, due account would have to be taken of the nature and extent of any net liabilities incurred by the companies and the financial and regulatory limitations applicable to my Department.

It is intended that the new programme will be implemented nationally on an integrated basis and through new integrated structural arrangements involving the 53 local development companies and the remaining CDPs. As I have previously indicated, my primary concern is to make every effort to ensure that the front-line services provided by, or supported through, my Department — especially those providing tangible benefits for the most disadvantaged communities — are protected.

Substance Misuse Strategy.

Joe Costello

Question:

24 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the publication by the Health Research Board of research showing the number of deaths indirectly caused by drugs over the eight year period between 1998 and 2005; the number of such deaths in this period; the steps he is taking to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8394/10]

I welcome this report by the Health Research Board. It is a follow-on publication from the National Drugs Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) which was completed in late 2008. The NDRDI identified deaths in the 1998-2005 period that were directly and indirectly related to drug-taking and the recent publication goes into more detail on the indirect deaths.

The data presented shows an increasing number of deaths that are indirectly related to drug-taking, rising from 63 in 1998 to 167 in 2005. The total number of deaths over the period was 885. These deaths arose from traumatic and from medical causes and I extend my deepest sympathy to everyone affected by them.

I hope that this publication will serve to re-emphasise the message of the dangers of drugs. Apart from being a direct cause of death, drug-taking can cause heart attacks, strokes, seizures, chest problems and mental health problems, as well as leading to deaths involving accidents, hangings and violence.

Finally, the Deputy should note that work is underway on the drawing up of a National Overdose Prevention Strategy, as part of the response to tackling drug-related deaths, in line with Action 40 of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016.

Question No. 25 answered with Question No. 23.

Rural Development.

Denis Naughten

Question:

26 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he will take to facilitate the draw down of Leader funding from the integrated development companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8243/10]

Denis Naughten

Question:

44 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he will take to address the red tape associated with the drawdown of Leader funding from the integrated development companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8242/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 44 together.

Funding of the order of €425m is available over the lifetime of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-13 and all expenditure is subject to EU rules and regulations. In this context, a number of Local Action Groups (LAGs), formerly known as LEADER Companies, have been contracted by my Department to deliver the RDP and they must do so in compliance with those EU regulations.

The RDP Operating Rules which govern the day-to-day operation of the programme are, in turn, based on EU regulations and are subject to the same audit and verification requirements in Ireland, as in every other Member State.

The Deputy will appreciate that my Department is charged with ensuring that there is no misappropriation of funds and that all expenditure under the RDP is in line with the regulations as set out by the European Commission.

My Department is fully committed to making programme payment processes as efficient and effective as possible. In this regard, a robust system is already in place to ensure that payments are made to promoters as soon as all the relevant checks have been carried out.

All LAGs were fully aware of the regulatory environment that would operate when they submitted their applications to deliver the RDP in their areas of operation and all agreed to abide by the relevant rules in the contracts they signed in 2009. When I met the representatives of the LAGs last autumn, I invited them to make a submission to me in relation to any difficulties they had in relation to the implementation of the RDP. That submission is still awaited.

I can assure the Deputy that my Department is working closely with each LAG in order to streamline all required processes and to assist in maximising the impact of the RDP in their respective areas.

Question No. 27 answered with Question No. 18.

Substance Misuse Strategy.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

28 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the efforts that are being made by drugs task forces in communities to highlight the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse at regular information evenings; the way taskforces promote such events; the way they inform the wider community, not just persons already involved in drug addiction services; if such events are organised on a scheduled or ad hoc basis; his views on making such public events a requirement for each taskforce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8410/10]

As the role of the Drugs Task Forces is to facilitate greater local/regional focus on drugs issues and provide a more co-ordinated response to them, I recognise that raising awareness is a key element of their work.

The Deputy will be aware that each Drugs Task Force has an annual funding allocation from my Department for community-based drugs initiatives. From that allocation, each Task Force has the discretion to allocate funding to projects and initiatives based on the priorities it has identified for its respective area.

There are a significant number of projects being funded through the Task Forces which aim to create greater societal awareness about the dangers and prevalence of substance misuse. Many of the funded projects focus specifically on drug awareness, ranging from local drug awareness events to other initiatives such as "Awareness Weeks". Such measures have proven to be effective as many of them focus on the issues particular to their own localities.

As I have stated above, each Task Force can opt to fund various initiatives and I have not been prescriptive on how awareness raising should be addressed. The nature, format, extent and frequency of such activities fall for decision by the individual Task Force. Notwithstanding this, I am aware that there is a variety of media through which the Task Forces disseminate information and promote the different activities and programmes. These range from website notices, local advertising, linkages with community fora/councils, through Task Force members, notices on community focussed websites, etc.

The Deputy should note that dedicated funding was also provided by my Department to the Task Forces to run cocaine awareness campaigns to dovetail with the HSE's National Cocaine Awareness Campaign. A wide variety of activities was used to promote the campaign in the respective areas, including notices on public information events and information evenings with guest speakers. These included, amongst other media, leaflet drops and newsletters.

I would, of course, always encourage Task Forces to promote and link in with any relevant national campaigns and adopt an all-encompassing approach to reach the appropriate target audience.

Proposed Legislation.

Liz McManus

Question:

29 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the opening hours of head shops; if there is legislation regarding their opening hours; and if an age limit will be enforced on entry to such shops. [8400/10]

Liz McManus

Question:

38 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the issue of head shops. [8401/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 38 together.

I have voiced my concerns in regard to the activities of headshops and substances represented as "legal highs" sold in these outlets on numerous occasions since my appointment as Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy.

The problem of "legal highs" is not unique to Ireland and headshops are causing concern across Europe. A number of countries, including the UK, have taken action, each taking their own approach to the matter in line with their own laws and experiences. However, no EU Member State has come up with a comprehensive response thus far.

The issue of headshops and the substances they sell has been raised at a various fora and a number of avenues are being explored to ascertain what actions might be pursued to minimise any negative impact of the activities of these shops.

My colleague, Mary Harney, T.D., Minister for Health & Children — who has overall responsibility for the Misuse of Drugs Act, the primary legislation through which these substances can be regulated — has indicated that her Department is currently preparing regulations to introduce controls on a range of substances. These regulations will make the possession and sale of these substances illegal and subject to criminal sanctions. In preparing the required regulations, officials of the Department of Health & Children are consulting with the relevant authorities to ensure that any legitimate uses of the substances involved are not impinged upon. The intention is that the regulations will be drafted within a month but a three month notification process to the EU may be involved. In this context, the advice of the Attorney General is being sought by the Department of Health & Children before the regulations are implemented.

Meanwhile, the activities of headshops are also being closely monitored on an on-going basis by An Garda Síochána and Revenue's Customs Service with a view to ensuring that no substances that are currently illegal are being sold.

In addition, following correspondence with the Attorney General regarding other possible approaches to the matter, I have raised issues around public liability insurance, product liability insurance and consumer protection with the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, as well as planning issues with the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government. The matters involved are being considered by those Departments and I expect to have their views shortly.

Planning Authorities may, when granting planning permission, attach conditions in relation to opening hours, if they consider that this is in the interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area involved. However, in the case of many headshops, I understand that planning permission was not required as significant alterations were not involved in many cases and as a retail outlet usage continued to be involved.

I share the concerns of the Deputy regarding the degree of accessibility to headshops, and the opening hours involved, but I can assure her of my determination to pursue appropriate and comprehensive responses to counter the potential threats of these shops, and of "legal highs" more generally.

Substance Misuse Strategy.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

30 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the commitments that have been made by the Office of Minister for Drugs by leading Departments to tackle the drugs problems in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8299/10]

Joe Costello

Question:

31 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress to date in 2010 regarding the implementation of the national drugs strategy. [8395/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 31 together.

I am confident that the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy (NDS) 2009-2016 will provide a comprehensive response to problem drug use in Ireland, and good progress is being made on its implementation.

The Strategy seeks to tackle the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concerted focus on the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. This pillar approach has been retained from the previous NDS as (i) it has proven effective to date, (ii) it was widely supported during the consultation process on a new Strategy, and (iii) it dovetails with the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2009-2012. I believe that the actions set out in the Strategy will facilitate a planned and monitored approach to achieving the overall strategic objective.

As part of the NDS, I will be meeting twice a year with a number of Ministers and various senior officials who are tasked with implementing various actions. I completed the first round of such meetings before Christmas and as part of that process, I stressed the need for Departments and agencies to ensure that high priority is given to achieving the objectives of the Strategy. These meetings facilitated a good exchange of views, and they also focused on the importance of the continued effective implementation of other programmes that impact on the broader issues underpinning problem drug use.

A number of the actions of the NDS focus on co-ordination arrangements for its implementation, and some changes have been made to the institutional structures involved, including the establishment of an Office of the Minister for Drugs. I believe that these changes will streamline administration and facilitate more effective co-ordination and partnership.

A Drugs Advisory Group has been set up under the Strategy, with membership from across the statutory, community and voluntary sectors. This Group, which meets regularly, advises me on operational matters relating to the NDS and oversees and supports the work of the Drugs Task Forces.

An Oversight Forum on Drugs, which I chair, has also been established and meets on a quarterly basis. The primary role of the Forum, which has met twice to date, is the on-going high level examination of progress across the Strategy and addressing of any operational difficulties and blockages that arise. Following the next meeting in April, a comprehensive report on progress across the Actions of the Strategy will be circulated to Drugs Task Forces.

The current structural arrangements in place to support the implementation of the Strategy will, I believe, provide the basis for more robust monitoring of progress. They will also provide a mechanism to identify blockages at an early stage, thus allowing any problems to be followed up. I am determined that real progress will be made across the period of the Strategy with all sectors working in a co-ordinated and targeted way to achieve the implementation of the agreed actions.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 9.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

33 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the national substance misuse strategy; his views on the primary aim of this new document; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8409/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

43 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made regarding the production of a report on the way local drugs task forces will take over the responsibility of tackling issues surrounding alcohol abuse. [8248/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 33 and 43 together.

A Steering Group, comprising representatives of the statutory, community, voluntary and industry sectors, was established last November to develop proposals and make recommendations on a National Substance Misuse Strategy. The Group is jointly chaired by officials from my Department and the Department of Health and Children. The third meeting of the Group is scheduled to take place later this week.

The primary objective of the Group is:

to identify effective policies and actions to tackle the harm caused to individuals and society by alcohol use and misuse; and

to make proposals on a combined policy that will incorporate the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016, which was published last year.

In this context, the Steering Group will review existing policies and reports, including at EU and international level, and will set out an evidence-based framework through which to address the issues identified. While the Group will also be looking at what are the appropriate structures and frameworks for the effective and efficient implementation of the combined Strategy, the possible level of involvement of Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces in this regard has yet to be considered.

The Steering Group is due to submit its proposals to the Minister for Health and Children and myself by the end of October 2010. The combined Strategy will then be submitted to Government for consideration.

Finally, it should be noted that my Department has received 60 submissions from a range of organisations and individuals following the placing of an advertisement in the national newspapers in December last. The submissions are currently being reviewed and the issues arising will be considered by the Steering Group as part of its ongoing deliberations.

Care of the Elderly.

Willie Penrose

Question:

34 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the community support grants for older people; his views on the inclusion of a house alarm as part of the scheme; and if a person can apply directly to his Department for the scheme. [8402/10]

My Department carried out a review of the Scheme of Community Support for Older People in 2009. I hope to publish the review before the end of this month, once I have received the input of other relevant Departments and organisations working with older people.

My Department is also at an advanced stage in finalising arrangements for the implementation of a number of innovations to the scheme to address matters raised in the review. The revised scheme will seek to:

streamline its operation and make it easier for community groups to access grant support; and

broaden coverage to ensure that older people who are unable to provide this equipment from their own resources have access to grant aid.

The scheme is currently focused on the provision of monitored personal alert equipment and it is not proposed that this will be extended to cover house alarms. Personal alarms bring greater ease of mind to the user as they allow for direct two-way interaction with the monitoring station in the event of any concerns being raised by the user.

The scheme continues to accept applications for grant support and will remain open until such time as revised arrangements are in place. Information on the grants paid is updated monthly on my Department's website at www.pobail.ie.

Community Development.

Willie Penrose

Question:

35 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the area of volunteerism; his views on whether there has been an increase in volunteerism; and if he will allocate extra funding to this area. [8403/10]

The Government continues to advance a range of measures that support volunteering and active citizenship.

In line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Active Citizenship, this year my Department will provide funding of over €2.5m to 22 volunteer centres around the country. Two of these centres — in Clare and Longford — are being funded for the first time.

In 2009, the volunteer centres registered over 13,000 volunteers and over 870 volunteer-involving organisations. The figures represent an increase of over 70% on the numbers registered in 2008. It may also be noted that 61% of registered volunteers had never volunteered before and 69% were aged 35 years and under.

My Department also provides core funding for Volunteering Centres Ireland, which plays a central role in facilitating and supporting the development of the network of local volunteer centres.

In addition, other activities being supported in clued the following:

Last year, a cross-border volunteering initiative involving three groups — the GAA, Voluntary Arts Ireland and the Church of Ireland — was launched. These organisations, which have a strong network of local volunteers across Ireland, are using this network for the benefit of the whole community, and especially marginalised and disadvantaged groups on both sides of the border.

The Young Social Innovators Initiative involves transition year students identifying social needs and developing strategies to address them, requiring their engagement with local, community and statutory organisations. The key objective is to develop volunteering among young people and grow a cadre of volunteers for the future.

Funding is provided for Focus Ireland to support the placement of social science graduates, within the organisation, who wish to gain experience and to develop skills in working with people who are marginalised.

Support is also provided for Boardmatch, an organisation which aims to support the development of the voluntary and community sector in Ireland by strengthening boards of management and management committees of non-profit organisations.

Departmental Funding.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

36 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has requested or instructed organisations that are funded by his Department to cut the pay of employees along the lines provided for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009, although such employees are not public servants within the meaning of the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8393/10]

I have issued no such request or instruction as I am not the employer of the persons concerned. Employees of non-public service organisations do not come within the scope of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009.

Reductions in programme or scheme allocations provided by the Exchequer may mean that the boards of local development companies or other similar entities form the view that pay reductions may be necessary in the context of the level of income available to them. This would be a matter for the companies or entities themselves as employers, in consultation with their employees.

Ministerial Appointments.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

37 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the way it is intended that the board of Udarás na Gaeltachta or Udarás na Gaeilge will be appointed or elected following the promised legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8364/10]

Any changes regarding the powers and functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta or its Board structure will fall to be considered at the appropriate time in the context of the 20-year Strategy for Irish. As the recently published draft Strategy remains under consideration by the Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sports, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, it would be premature of me, at this stage, to predict either the type of governance structure that will be put in place to oversee the operations of the organisation or the method of selection of members to same.

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 29.

Substance Misuse Strategy.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

39 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the position regarding the dial to stop drug dealing campaign; the effectiveness of same; and if extra funding will be allocated. [8399/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Dial to Stop Drug Dealing campaign ran in three phases — across 15 Local and Regional Drugs Task Force areas — in 2008 and 2009. To the end of last week, there were 5,845 calls made to the confidential line, with 1,627 reports being generated to the Gardaí.

Calls are spread right across the country, including areas that have not directly run a campaign, which highlights the fact that the confidential number is open to all to use regardless of the area one comes from. I understand that, in some cases, calls from areas that have already run campaigns are still being made to the confidential line.

The campaign has been well received by operational Gardaí deployed in the area of drug policing. I understand that the information received has led to seizures and is expected, ultimately, to lead to a number of prosecutions. It has also corroborated existing intelligence with regard to individuals and organised criminal networks. As such, the campaign provided a consistent channel for information to be passed from concerned members of the community right to the desk of those responsible for investigating drug offences.

A secondary consequence of the campaign, is the "silent effect" which must also be given due recognition. From a supply reduction perspective, those involved in the sale and supply of controlled substances take cognisance of how such campaigns increase their vulnerability and the likelihood of them coming to the attention of Gardaí. Though difficult to gauge, there is no doubt that this effect reduces open drug availability.

Due to the success of the campaign, I have again made funding available in 2010 to keep the phone line open. Over the coming months, I will be reviewing various options for further promotional campaigns, perhaps through a more centralised approach or through potential linkages with other campaigns and fora.

State Agencies.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

40 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Michael D. Higgins den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cathain a bheidh reachtaíocht foilsithe faoi Údarás na Gaeilge nó Údarás na Gaeltachta; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8361/10]

Beidh aon leasuithe a bheidh le déanamh ar chumhachtaí agus ar fheidhmeanna Údarás na Gaeltachta le meas i gcomhthéacs an dréacht-Stráitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge a foilsíodh le déanaí. Mar go bhfuil an dréacht-Stráitéis sin fós á meas ag an gComhchoiste um Ghnóthaí Ealaíon, Spoirt, Turasóireachta, Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta, ní féidir liom ag an bpointe seo amscála cruinn a shonrú le haghaidh Bille nua a thabhairt os comhair an Tí.

Questions Nos. 41 and 42 answered with Question No. 9.
Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 33.
Question No. 44 answered with Question No. 26.
Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 12.

Departmental Funding.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

46 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the availability of grants for community organisations to upgrade their community facilities, in view of their importance to community life. [8408/10]

Due to the continuing pressures on the public finances, the Programme of Grants for Locally Based Community and Voluntary Organisations was suspended at the end of February 2009. My Department has no plans to re-open the Scheme to new applications at present and, accordingly, organisations may wish to pursue alternative channels to secure grant support for the upgrading of community facilities.

One possible alternative is the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-13, under which funding of €425m is available to improve the quality of life in rural areas and facilitate the diversification of the rural economy. Under the RDP, Local Action Groups (LAGs) distribute funding to community groups and individuals in rural areas for a range of activities. One of the measures funded is the provision of ‘Basic services for the economy and rural population’ for which nearly €50m has been made available over the lifetime of the RDP. The objective of this measure is the identification and provision of appropriate cultural and leisure facilities for local communities.

Interested community organisations should contact their local LAG which may be able to assist. Contact details for all of the groups are available on my Department's website by following the link. http://www.pobail.ie/en/RuralDevelopment/RuralDevelopmentProgramme2007-2013/ContactsforLocalActionGroupsforLeader2007-2013/

Ministerial Correspondence.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

47 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8468/10]

In the time available it is not possible to provide the information requested.

Job Creation.

Frank Feighan

Question:

48 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the job opportunities her Department have for the towns of Mohill and Ballinamore in County Leitrim; if all such towns are part of the focus for State agencies in seeking employment giving enterprises. [8473/10]

In the time available it is not possible to provide the information requested.

Community Employment Schemes.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

49 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the grounds on which the basic pay rate for community employment participants has been reduced by €12.70 per week; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this represents a reduction of 5.7% compared with the 4% general reduction in social welfare payments; her views on whether it is equitable that CE participants should be subjected to a higher reduction in rates than social welfare claimants; if she has instructed FÁS to make such reductions; the steps she will take to restore the relativity between social welfare claimants and CE participants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8475/10]

The Social Welfare linked allowances paid to participants on Community Employment (CE) programmes were reduced in Budget 2010 in line with the Budget reductions to Social Welfare recipients. The FÁS additional allowance paid to CE participants has been reduced from €24.40 and €48.80 per week to €20 and €40 per week respectively. These adjustments, along with a reduction in funding in respect of training and materials for those on CE programmes from €1,500 to €750 per head per annum, are necessary to fund increased activation measures in 2010 including an additional 500 CE places to bring the total number of places to 23,300.

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.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Finian McGrath

Question:

50 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support a matter (details supplied). [8482/10]

FÁS and my Department are in regular contact concerning the provision and enhancement of a range of supports and services to the unemployed, including graduates, to assist them into employment. This includes the provision of job search services and a wide range of training and work experience interventions designed to provide unemployed individuals with the opportunities to upskill and enhance their employability.

This year my Department will fund the provision of approximately 147,000 training and work experience places for the unemployed. This compares to the 66,000 places provided in 2008. In addition, this year FÁS will be placing a strong focus on providing training to priority cohorts of the unemployed including those who are under 35 years of age.

Included in the 2010 provision for the unemployed is the FÁS Work Placement Programme. Last year, the Tánaiste and her colleague Minister Hanafin jointly launched the programme to provide unpaid work experience opportunities for the unemployed. There are two streams under this programme, one of which is exclusively for unemployed graduates. Individuals volunteer to participate in the programme and if they have been in receipt of social welfare payments they may retain these payments subject to the normal social welfare rules applying. However, individuals who are unemployed and not receiving social welfare are also free to participate in the programme.

In addition, I should point out the new Labour Market Activation Fund is specifically intended to assist in the creation of substantial training and education provision targeting specific priority groups among the unemployed, namely — the low skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors — such as construction, retail and manufacturing sectors, with particular emphasis on the under 35's and the long-term unemployed.

Ministerial Correspondence.

Finian McGrath

Question:

51 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support a matter (details supplied). [8484/10]

In the time available it is not possible to provide the information requested.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

52 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8513/10]

My Department encourages staff to donate blood in the following ways. Arrangements are made periodically with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) to transport staff by bus — during working hours — to the IBTS donation clinic. Emails issue to staff advising them of the arrangements and appointments are made for staff wishing to donate blood. Staff are required to clock out when leaving the office to donate blood but may subsequently be credited (by their line manager) for the time involved.

Redundancy Payments.

Brian Hayes

Question:

53 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 will receive their statutory redundancy from her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8523/10]

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 1 December, 2009 claiming inability to pay on behalf of the employer. 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.

It is clear that these interventions are having an impact in that for example the numbers of claims processed and paid by the Redundancy Payments Section in 2009 and 2010 respectively amounted to 29,802 and 50,664.

The Tánaiste and I are monitoring closely the impact of these changes against the continuing influx of redundancy claims. However, 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.

Jack Wall

Question:

54 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding an application for statutory redundancy in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8548/10]

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 1 December, 2009 claiming inability to pay on behalf of the employer. 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 co-operation 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.

It is clear that these interventions are having an impact in that for example the numbers of claims processed and paid by the redundancy payments section in 2009 and 2010 respectively amounted to 29,802 and 50,664.

The Tánaiste and I are monitoring closely the impact of these changes against the continuing influx of redundancy claims. However, 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.

Job Creation.

Frank Feighan

Question:

55 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans for the provision of extra jobs in Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon. [8612/10]

In the time available it is not possible to provide the information requested.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

56 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cloud computing systems that are in use in her Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8632/10]

There is no formal definition of cloud computing. However, in the widely used context of systems which allow organisations to outsource computer applications which are used to manipulate and store data, my Department does not use any cloud computing systems.

Flood Relief.

Frank Feighan

Question:

57 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works has carried out an investigation on the recent flooding along the rivers Shannon and Suck; the terms of reference; and when this investigation will be completed. [8504/10]

The Office of Public Works (OPW), in conjunction with Galway and Roscommon county councils, is currently undertaking an inspection of the River Suck and its tributaries in order to identify practical measures to reduce the flood risk in the short term. This inspection, which commenced in January of this year, is expected to be completed by April 2010.

The OPW has requested local authorities to identify for 2010 their prioritised minor flood relief works, which, subject to compliance with certain criteria, may be funded by OPW.

As regards the long-term, the OPW has commenced the process of commissioning consultants to carry out a comprehensive flood risk assessment and management (FRAM) study of the river Shannon catchment. The study is expected to commence by mid -2010, and a draft long term flood risk management plan will be produced by the end of 2014.

The OPW will lead the Shannon FRAM, but will undertake the study in partnership with the local authorities, and will involve all stakeholders in assessing the flood risk, constraints and objectives, and in developing long-term solutions aimed at mitigating all significant flood risk factors in the Shannon area.

Public Service Contracts.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

58 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance his views on a number of proposals (details supplied) which would see small local companies apply for and construct State funded projects. [8617/10]

National guidelines for contracting authorities in relation to minimum standards for suitability criteria for construction contractors interested in tendering for public works projects are being developed by my Department and, when available, will be published on the Department's construction website www.constructionprocurement.gov.ie. These guidelines will take account of the principles of transparency, proportionality and fairness under the EU treaty.

It should be noted that about 60% of all capital expenditure on public works projects is spent on projects that have a value of €500,000 or less and this percentage is increased to about 80% when the project threshold is raised to €5 million. It is evident therefore that there are already a significant number of projects available in the market place to suit small to medium sized businesses including local businesses. However, I do recognise that there is need to improve transparency and provide greater access to these contracts and to this end my Department has issued guidelines under the Government's Capital Works Management Framework requiring that all public works projects valued at €50,000 or more be advertised on eTenders, the national public procurement website.

As regards the inclusion of a local labour clause in public works contracts contracting authorities must be mindful of their obligations under EU law in awarding public works contracts in excess of €5 million. In this regard the European Court of Justice has indicated that contract conditions relating to the employment of long-term unemployed persons is compatible with EU directives if it has no direct or indirect discriminatory affect on tenders from other member states. Any conditions of this kind must be made known to all potential tenderers.

State Property.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

59 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the capital value for the property portfolio of the Office of Public Works for the year 2009; the basis on which this has been computed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8493/10]

The Capital value of property portfolio of the Office of Public Works has not been finalised for the year 2009. The capital value, as attributed for the purpose of the appropriation account, of the OPW property portfolio at 31 December 2008 was €2.9 billion approx.

Basis of Portfolio Valuation:

For the major part of the portfolio, valuation estimates are based on building cost norms and standard land values have been used. Prestige buildings such as Dublin Castle, Leinster House and the National Gallery are valued differently given their unique status.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

60 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8515/10]

My Department does not have a formal policy in relation to staff donating blood during normal working hours. However, a number of the Department's staff have been donating blood to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service on a regular basis for many years. Subject to meeting the business needs of the areas concerned, the Department is happy to facilitate this ongoing practice.

Complaints Procedures.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

61 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the options available to a person who wishes to seek redress for poor delivery of services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8531/10]

My Department maintains a well-publicised, accessible, transparent and simple-to-use system of dealing with complaints about the quality of service provided. Similarly, a simple-to-use system of appeal/review for customers who are dissatisfied with decisions in relation to services is maintained.

Complaints about our standards of service delivery addressed to our Quality Customer Service Officer, (via standard mail or e-mailed to the customer feedback area of our website) are examined in conjunction with the relevant QCS liaison officer. If the customer is unhappy with the outcome, he or she can have the case reviewed by a more senior officer or an officer from a different division of the Department. Complaints are dealt with promptly, confidentially and sympathetically, with due regard to the sensitivities of the complainant and the rights of the person against whom the complaint has been made.

It should be noted that recourse to this complaint procedure by a member of the public will not infringe upon his/her right to approach the Office of the Ombudsman.

Electronic Payments System.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

62 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance when he will adopt the new single euro payments areas scheme; when he plans to end domestic schemes; the transition phases involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8537/10]

Payments systems deal with the transfer of money (funds) between bank accounts. While each member state has effective payments systems at national level, the integration of the single market in financial services has been hindered by the lack of cross-border interoperability between national payments systems. For some years now the payments industry has been working to improve the dynamics of cross-border business activity by developing a pan-European electronic payments system for payments in euro. It is called SEPA (the single euro payments area).

SEPA will be an area where consumers, companies etc can make and receive electronic payments in euro in Europe — whether between or within national boundaries, under the same basic conditions regardless of location.

The key components of SEPA are the new payments systems for:

SEPA Credit Transfers (SCT), that is, making payments electronically from or into bank accounts, including the use of internet or telephone banking and which was launched on 28 January 2008;

the SEPA Cards Framework, also launched on 28 January 2008; and

the SEPA Direct Debit Scheme (SDD), which was launched on 2 November 2009.

SEPA relates only to electronic payments and industry has a key role to ensure that competitive SEPA-compliant services are placed on the market. The Irish Payments Services Organisation, which administers domestic payment schemes on behalf of Irish banks, has put in place a national SEPA migration plan for the industry here. I look forward to the industry's roll out of each of the above components of SEPA.

Notwithstanding this, Government policy is to promote the increased use of electronic payments throughout our economy. In promoting this policy objective, I have reduced stamp duty on combined ATM cards from €10 to €5 in budget 2009, building upon changes in the previous year's budget. I also increased stamp duty on cheques, from 30 cent to 50 cent per cheque, to further disincentivise cheque usage.

In relation to my own Department's involvement in the SEPA project, the Deputy may be aware that the Payment Services Directive (PSD) provides the necessary legal framework to support the implementation of SEPA. It came into effect on 1 November 2009 and my Department transposed it through the European Communities (Payment Services) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 383 of 2009) to enable Ireland to apply the PSD's provisions by that date.

As regards plans to end domestic schemes and transition periods, there is currently no specific end-date for SDD and SCT migration. Notwithstanding this, the Deputy may be aware that the ECOFIN Council Conclusions of 2 December 2009 considered that establishing definitive end-dates for SDD and SCT migration would provide the clarity and the incentive needed by the market and asked the Commission, in collaboration with the ECB and in close co-operation with all bodies concerned, to carry out an assessment of whether legislation is needed to set binding end-dates for SDD and SCT and to come up with a legislative proposal should this assessment confirm the need for binding end dates. My Department is monitoring the position and will assess any such proposal in due course.

Flood Relief.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

63 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application for assistance towards a housing relocation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway in view of the fact that their home was flooded; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that it has been decided by the Office of Public Works and Galway County Council that there is no obvious method of drainage which would alleviate future flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8558/10]

The evaluation of housing needs is primarily a matter for the relevant housing authority, in this case Galway County Council.

OPW officials carried out a preliminary, visual inspection of the subject property, in relation to the flooding problems, and will undertake further surveys to identify whether any practical alleviation measures can be taken to reduce the flood risk in this situation. Completion of this work will inform further decisions in this case.

Public Sector Remuneration.

Finian McGrath

Question:

64 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [8561/10]

The reductions to the pay of all public servants, including teachers, announced in my Budget Statement of 9 December 2009 were legislated for through the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009, and were implemented with effect from 1 January 2010. Section 3 of the Act provides that in calculating the pension entitlements of those in receipt of public service pensions or those retiring before 31 December 2010, or a later date specified by ministerial order, the pay reductions provided under the legislation will be disregarded.

I do not consider it appropriate to speculate on future measures that may impact on public servants' income.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

65 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of property based tax reliefs for 2007, 2008 and 2009; the estimated cost for 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8602/10]

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

Scheme

2007

€m

Urban Renewal

109.3

Town Renewal

34.6

Seaside Renewal

8.0

Rural Renewal

48.5

Multi-storey car parks

9.6

Living over the Shop

3.0

Enterprise Areas

2.8

Park & Ride

1.4

Holiday Cottages

12.4

Hotels

118.0

Nursing Homes

18.3

Housing for the Elderly/Infirm

2.6

Hostels

0.72

Guest Houses

0.02

Convalescent Homes

0.5

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

12.0

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

1.8

Buildings used for childcare purposes

9.8

Psychiatric Hospitals

0.1

Mental Health Centres

0.0

Student Accommodation

42.0

Total

435.4

I am advised by Revenue that they are not yet in a position to provide data for 2008 in respect of tax costs of area and property incentives, as all tax returns filed for that year have not been processed. For the same reason, I am not in a position to provide the data requested by the Deputy for the year 2009.

As regards projections for 2010 and 2011, projections for income tax receipts are based on assumed movements in macro-economic parameters and not by reference to the costs of individual tax reliefs. Accordingly, I am not in a position to provide the projected cost data requested by the Deputy for the years 2010 and 2011 in relation to the above-mentioned reliefs.

Joan Burton

Question:

66 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the expected end date for investment and expected end date for each of the property based tax reliefs that is the final year in which relief can be claimed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8603/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the termination dates for the various property-based incentive schemes vary depending on the scheme and are set out in the following table.

These termination dates are the dates by which the construction or refurbishment work on a building has to be carried out if the expenditure that is attributable to that work is to qualify for tax relief. Where a building is not completed by the termination date the expenditure attributable to any construction or refurbishment work that takes place after this date cannot qualify for tax relief.

In the case of nursing homes, convalescent homes, hospitals and mental health centres, two alternative termination dates have been included in the table. The earlier date relates to projects where no planning permission is required. The later date relates to projects where planning permission is required. There are also two alternative dates for the scheme for child care facilities that is being terminated by the Finance Bill 2010.

There are no set dates by which a person has to acquire a tax incentive property in order for tax relief to start to be claimed. Tax relief can only start to be claimed after a building has been completed and the building leased or owner-occupied for the purpose required by the particular scheme.

Once a building has been leased or owner-occupied and is in use for the required purpose, tax relief can be claimed over varying periods. In the case of capital allowances, tax relief is given over a set period depending on the particular scheme. For example, capital allowances for nursing homes are given at the rate of 15% of the qualifying expenditure for the first six years and 10% in year seven, whereas the allowances for commercial buildings under the rural renewal scheme are generally claimed over a 14-year period. In the case of residential accommodation, owner-occupier relief is given over a ten-year period, whereas ‘section 23' relief for rental accommodation may be given either immediately or over an indefinite period as it depends on the investor having sufficient taxable rental income to absorb the relief.

From the foregoing, it will be clear that it is simply not possible to provide an indication of the final year in which tax relief under these schemes will be claimed as the start year for relief can vary from building to building and the relief period applicable likewise can vary within some of the schemes.

Schemes

Termination Date

Urban Renewal 1994

30 April 1999

Temple Bar Area

31 December 1999

Seaside Resort

31 December 1999

Islands

31 December 1999

Customs House Dock

30 June 2000

Enterprise Areas

31 December 2000

Countrywide Refurbishment

31 July 2008

Urban Renewal 1999

31 July 2008

Town Renewal

31 July 2008

Rural Renewal

31 July 2008

Multi-storey Car Parks

31 July 2008

Living over the Shop

31 July 2008

Park and Ride

31 July 2008

Third Level Buildings

31 July 2008

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

31 July 2008

Hotels continue to qualify for capital allowances but over 25 years instead of over 7 years.

31 July 2008

Holiday Cottages

31 July 2008

Student Accommodation

31 July 2008

Nursing Homes

30 June 2010 or 30 June 2011

Housing for elderly/infirm

30 April 2010

Convalescent Homes

30 June 2010 or 30 June 2011

Hospitals

30 June 2010 or 30 December 2013

Mental Health Centres

30 June 2010 or 30 June 2011

Mid-Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure Scheme

31 May 2013

Childcare Buildings

31 March 2011 or 31 March 2012 (Finance Bill 2010)

Specialist Palliative Care Units

Scheme awaiting Commencement Order

Joan Burton

Question:

67 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the remaining legacy Exchequer cost of property based tax reliefs, up to 2020, on the basis of investments already made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8604/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information provided in tax returns on the annual amounts of claims for property based tax reliefs is not sufficiently detailed to provide a basis for deriving an estimate of the remaining legacy cost to the Exchequer. I am not therefore in a position to provide the information requested by the Deputy.

Joan Burton

Question:

68 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of hotel capital allowances to date; the total cost for 2007, 2008, 2009; the expected cost for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8605/10]

Joan Burton

Question:

69 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of hotel capital allowances to date in 2010; the total cost for 2007, 2008, 2009; the expected cost for 2010; the value of accelerated capital allowances for hotels that is those that are still within the clawback period; the number of hotels that have given rise to these tax breaks since they were introduced; the number of hotels which gave rise to these tax breaks that were still in business at the conclusion of the clawback period. [8606/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 69 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the cost to the Exchequer of hotel capital allowances 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 for which this information is available. The relevant figures of cost to the Exchequer are set out in the following table alongside the figures for numbers of claimants:

Costs to the Exchequer of Hotel Capital Allowances

Year

Tax Cost

Numbers of claimants

€m

2004

37.7

611

2005

67.0

1,038

2006

106.6

1,515

2007

118.0

1,893

The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax foregone at the 42% rate for 2004 to 2006 and 41% for 2007 in the case of individuals and 12.5% in the case of companies for all years. The figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax.

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 are not available. I am advised by Revenue that they are not in a position to provide data for 2008 and 2009 as the tax returns for those years are either being processed currently or are not yet due.

As regards projections for 2010, projections for income tax receipts are based on assumed movements in macro-economic parameters and not by reference to the costs of individual tax reliefs. Accordingly, I am not in a position to provide the projected cost data requested by the Deputy for the year 2010 in relation to the above-mentioned relief.

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested on tax returns does not require the number of qualifying hotels to be specified or to distinguish between accelerated allowances and other capital allowances. Accordingly, the specific information requested by the Deputy in respect of these matters is not available.

It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return form 12 is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return form 11.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

70 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if the recent warning issued by his Department to other Departments with regards to the purchase of cloud computing services stems from any particular incident; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8625/10]

On 4 February 2010 the National Public Procurement Operations Unit (NPPOU) through the eTenders system issued a message to members of the eProcurement Network (public sector buyers on eTenders) stating that where the use of cloud computer systems are being considered, that it is essential to obtain prior legal advice due to the risk of liability to the State in areas of data protection, confidentiality and security.

The NPPOU considers this to be prudent advice to any prospective buyer of software or any other data management systems. Ensuring that the data is protected is a legislative requirement on all public bodies.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

71 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8634/10]

No public cloud-based systems are used by my Department as all systems are hosted and operated internally.

Medical Cards.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

72 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for medical card renewal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [8483/10]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances.

James Reilly

Question:

73 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the average cost of a hearing aid; the average production cost of a hearing aid; the average mark-up for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8495/10]

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

Medical Cards.

John O'Mahony

Question:

74 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be awarded their primary medical certificate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8496/10]

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.

Jack Wall

Question:

75 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8506/10]

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

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

76 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children her policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8517/10]

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) arranges dedicated time slots during normal working hours intermittently throughout the year for staff of my Department to give blood donations. All staff are made aware of arrangements by Office Notice and are encouraged to donate blood. In addition when blood stocks are low or when there is a shortage of a particular blood type staff are advised and encouraged to attend the IBTS clinics. Staff on flexi-time are awarded any working time lost while donating blood.

Medical Cards.

Jack Wall

Question:

77 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8522/10]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

Mary Upton

Question:

78 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the percentage of the Health Service Executive disability fund that has been used to purchase services from private for profit disability organisations; the providers used to provide these services and the amount each service provider received in payment for the services; the planned spend by the HSE on such services for 2010; the service agreements required to be entered into by the providers; if they are required to provide annual audited accounts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8528/10]

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 Service Allowances.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

79 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist in having a person (details supplied) in County Cork assessed for a specific allowance. [8546/10]

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.

Pension Provisions.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

80 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the legal instrument which allows a distinction to be drawn on the application of the pension levy for employees of voluntary bodies with pension schemes on the basis of whether or not those voluntary bodies receive funding for core Health Service Executive services or non core HSE services; and if she will set out the position in respect of bodies who receive funding for both core and non core HSE services. [8550/10]

Section 1 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009 states that a "public service body" includes:

(i) a body (other than a body specified or referred to in the Schedule) that is wholly or partly funded directly or indirectly out of money provided by the Oireachtas or from the Central Fund or the growing produce of that Fund and in respect of which a public service pension scheme exists or applies or may be made,

This section covers service providers covered by section 38 of the Health Act 2004. In such cases employees are considered public sector employees; the employer adheres to public sector pay scales and numbers and employees have access to public sector pension schemes as defined in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009.

However the above section does not cover bodies that are grant-aided by HSE under section 39 of the Health Act 2004. Employees of such bodies are not public sector employees and therefore do not have access to public sector pension schemes as defined in the Act. The pension related deduction therefore does not apply therein.

The Department of Finance, as the sponsoring Department of the legislation, makes the final decision in any case where there is ambiguity or uncertainty about the status of a body for the purposes of this legislation.

Medical Cards.

John Perry

Question:

81 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will be awarded a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8557/10]

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

Hospital Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

82 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that resources needed for additional beds and staffing at Beamont Hospital, Dublin, for the kidney transplant unit will be provided in order to maximise the number of transplants which can be performed; if all kidneys that become available here are used here. [8620/10]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

83 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of co-operation there is between the health systems in the North and South of Ireland with regard to kidney transplants; if there is scope for further co-operation; the discussions she has had with her counterpart in the Northern Executive on this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8621/10]

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

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

84 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the cloud computing systems that are in use in her Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8636/10]

Currently there are no cloud computing technologies in use by the Department of Health and Children. My Department continues to make extensive use of the Government Network facilities to provide external connectivity where required and currently have no plans to make use of cloud computing technologies.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

85 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Transport his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8520/10]

My Department organises periodic visits to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service at their Blood Clinic on D'Olier St, Dublin 2, for any staff who wish to donate blood.

Staff who have to leave the office during working hours are required, in principle, to clock out and clock back in on returning. A manager may however authorise staff to leave the building without clocking out for official purposes.

All staff in my Department are e-mailed periodically to encourage them to give blood. My Department considers blood donation to be a commendable individual undertaking and facilitates staff to donate blood by way of an authorised absence during office hours.

Job Creation.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

86 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport if he has had discussions with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding the failure by the State and the Dublin Airport Authority to secure 500 jobs at Dublin Airport; the discussions he has had with the Dublin Airport Authority regarding this matter; the action he will take to ensure that such difficulties do not occur again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8600/10]

I have of course kept in close contact with the DAA and my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on this matter. As the Deputy knows, the Tánaiste met the Ryanair chief executive earlier this week. Despite the disappointing outcome of that meeting, I can reiterate the assurances given by the Tánaiste regarding the willingness of the DAA to facilitate Ryanair investment at alternative sites to Hangar 6.

The jobs referred to by the Deputy are "in the gift" of Ryanair. All relevant State Agencies have been and continue to be more than willing to facilitate that Company in the provision of a site or hangar facilities to accommodate those jobs. The insistence of Ryanair on the use of Hangar 6 which is leased to another company despite alternatives being available and offered to Ryanair is very regrettable.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

87 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8639/10]

There is no agreed formal definition of cloud computing. However the term is often used to encompass systems which allow organisations to outsource computer applications used to manipulate and store data. My Department does not use such systems.

Visa Requirements.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

88 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the recent comments by the chief executive of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council that the State is losing significant jobs and revenue in the tourism industry due to visa requirements for countries such as China and India; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8624/10]

While promotion of tourism in Ireland is primarily a matter for the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and associated agencies, I am aware of recent media coverage of comments by the Chief Executive of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council (CTTC). In fact, officials of my Department have already met with the Chief Executive of the CTTC to discuss matters of mutual interest and lines of communication in this important area will be kept open.

As with all visa services in all countries worldwide, the central concern is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country's vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime, while at the same time not placing unnecessary or unreasonable obstacles in the way of those who intend travelling for legitimate purposes and who are likely to abide by the terms of their visa. Each visa application is decided on its own merits and I believe that, in most cases, my Department achieves this balance. Visa approval rates for some of the countries mentioned in recent media reports and, in particular, in some of the countries mentioned by the Deputy, bear this out. Approval rates for visa applications of all types processed through some Irish overseas Visa Offices in 2009 were:

New Delhi (serving India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal) — 90%.

Beijing (serving China, Cambodia, Mongolia) — 86%.

London (serving all visa required nationals based in the UK) — 98%.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

89 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of behaviour orders that have been handed down to children each year to date in 2010 in the context of anti-social behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8207/10]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

90 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of civil orders that have been handed down to adults each year to date in 2010 in the context of anti-social behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8208/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 90 together.

Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults, was commenced on 1 January, 2007. Part 13 of the Act, which relates to anti-social behaviour by children, was commenced on 1 March, 2007. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by adults and children. With regard to children, these range from a warning from a member of An Garda Síochána, to a good behaviour contract involving the child and his or her parents or guardian, to referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and finally to the making of a behaviour order by the Children's Court. With regard to adults, they include a warning and the making of a civil order by the court.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, up to 31 January, 2010, 1,461 behaviour warnings were issued to adults and 1,103 to children. Thirteen good behaviour contracts were issued to children. In addition, three civil orders (in respect of adults) and three behaviour orders (in respect of children) have been issued by the courts.

In setting up the regime the intention was that these interventions would address the problem behaviour. If they succeed, there will be no need to apply to the courts for an order. It is only if they fail to lead to a behaviour adjustment by the person in question, that a court order will be applied for.

Citizenship Applications.

Dan Neville

Question:

91 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) and if the application be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8466/10]

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily to hand. I will write to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Registration of Title.

Michael Creed

Question:

92 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when two cases (details supplied) before the land registration authority will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8470/10]

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 subject of this question, 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 query has been forwarded to the PRA for attention and direct reply via the above mentioned service.

Child Abduction.

Denis Naughten

Question:

93 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will establish the EU wide 116000 telephone hotline for missing children; his views on amalgamating the response to calls to the number with an existing service; if he has discussed this with his UK counterpart; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8499/10]

I am informed that the telephone number to which the Deputy refers has been reserved by the European Commission as a common missing children telephone hotline for the entire EU. It is made available by national telecoms regulators to organisations capable of providing such a service. This is therefore a matter primarily for the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

The Deputy may wish to note that following my request to the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to assess the need to establish a dedicated Missing Persons Unit within An Garda Síochána, including a response similar to Amber Alert, and to report their findings to me, the Inspectorate published its report earlier last year. One of its main recommendations was that an emergency alert system for missing children, similar to the Amber Alert system in place in other countries, should be established.

I gave the go ahead for the implementation of this recommendation. An Garda Síochána is committed to its implementation, and they are currently exploring options to achieve the most appropriate structure to give effect to the recommendation, taking account of progress at international level in the development of alert systems for missing children.

Crime Prevention.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

94 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied with the criminality guidelines applied in the matter of vetting by the Private Security Authority in deciding whether to grant licences under the appropriate legislation with particular reference to qualification criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8502/10]

The Private Security Authority (PSA), established under the Private Security Services Act 2004, is the regulatory body with responsibility for regulating and licensing the private security industry. The Authority is an independent body under the aegis of my Department. My Department is therefore not involved in the day to day running of the Authority and the processing of licence applications is a matter solely for the Authority.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the vetting of applicants is an integral part of the licensing process. In the case of contractor licensing, all directors of a company, the partners in a partnership, all sole traders and any shareholder in a company with a shareholding of 20% or more are vetted, on the Authority's behalf, by An Garda Síochána. All applicants for individual licences also go through the vetting process.

With regard to the Authority's criminality guidelines, as referred to by the Deputy, I am informed by the Authority that when deciding whether to grant a licence to a person with a relevant conviction, it will take the following into account: nature and seriousness of the offence(s) involved; the length of time since completion of sentence; overall interests of the public good; relationship of the crime to the purpose of requiring a licence; age of person before and after offence; conduct of person before and after the offence; and evidence of rehabilitation.

I am further informed by the Authority that although written guidelines are used to assist them in making a decision, they are in no way bound by these guidelines and may decide, where it deems the conviction(s) renders an applicant unsuitable to hold a licence, to refuse an application.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

95 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8518/10]

My Department encourages staff to donate blood and ensures that staff who do so are at no disadvantage (time-wise) as a result.

Garda Investigations.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

96 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received a report from the Garda authorities into their investigations into last week’s fire in Capel Street, Dublin 1; his views on whether the matter has consequences for head shops generally. [8538/10]

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the Garda investigation into the incident referred to by the Deputy is ongoing. This investigation team is based at Store Street Garda Station and is being assisted by specialist units from under Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services, including the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau and Garda Technical Bureau. The investigation is ongoing and it is, therefore, inappropriate to comment further on it at this time.

Garda Vetting.

Denis Naughten

Question:

97 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedure for a contractor to apply for Garda clearance when they are working in a number of schools on an ongoing basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8555/10]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting for a large number of organisations in Ireland registered with the Gardaí for this purpose and which employ persons in a full-time, part-time, voluntary or training capacity to work with children and/or vulnerable adults. All schools in this jurisdiction are registered within the established systems to receive Garda vetting services in respect of applicants for positions in schools, including contractors who, by virtue of their employment in such positions, may have substantial, unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults.

The system in place is that a registered organisation sends applications in respect of applicants directly to the GCVU for processing. Such applications are made with the consent of the vetting subject. The results are then transmitted directly from the GCVU to the registered organisation. The employing body then makes its own decision in respect of the suitability of an applicant or contractor for the position in question.

Visa Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

98 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a travel document will issue to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8575/10]

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.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

99 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8576/10]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

100 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if and when family reunification will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8577/10]

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily to hand. I will write to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

101 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the progress to date in determination of application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8578/10]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

102 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date and the expected outcome in determination of application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8579/10]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

103 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date and likely outcome in the matter of application for residency and family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8580/10]

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily to hand. I will write to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

104 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date and the expected outcome in the determination of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8581/10]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

105 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date and the outcome in the determination of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8582/10]

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily to hand. I will write to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

106 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in the matter of the determination of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8583/10]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

107 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will progress the residency process in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8584/10]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his earlier Parliamentary Question, No. 263 of Tuesday, 13 October 2009, in this matter. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

108 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if stamp four will be renewed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8585/10]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

109 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in respect of an application for residency in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8586/10]

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.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

110 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in respect of an application for citizenship and family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8587/10]

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily to hand. I will write to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

111 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date and expected outcome in the matter of application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8588/10]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his earlier Parliamentary Question, No. 688 of Wednesday, 16 September 2009, in this matter. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

112 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a residency application in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8590/10]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

113 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in determination of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8591/10]

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.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a certificate of naturalisation will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8592/10]

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily to hand. The information sought will be provided at a later date.

Visa Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

115 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a travel document will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8593/10]

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.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

116 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if and when residency will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8594/10]

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.

Garda Deployment.

Michael Ring

Question:

117 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when gardaí will be replaced at a location (details supplied) in County Mayo. [8597/10]

Responsibility for the allocation of all personnel within the Force rests with the Garda Commissioner, in consultation with his senior management team. Resource levels are constantly monitored, in conjunction with crime trends and other demands made on An Garda Síochána and the situation is kept under continuing review.I will write to the Deputy with any updated information that becomes available to me on the location referred to in the question.

Residency Permits.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

118 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if will ensure that the Irish born child residence permit holders rendered temporarily undocumented due to the breakdown in communication between the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and the Garda National Immigration Bureau are not penalised for this mistake by having this period of time deducted from their reckonable residency for naturalisation purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8622/10]

Registrations under the IBC renewal process will not be backdated by the Garda National Immigration Bureau so it is in the interests of all persons renewing permission to ensure that they have no gaps in their residency.

Tourism Employment.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

119 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the recent comments by the chief executive of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council that the State is losing significant jobs and revenue in the tourism industry due to visa requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8623/10]

While promotion of tourism in Ireland is primarily a matter for the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and associated agencies, I am aware of recent media coverage of comments by the Chief Executive of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council (CTTC). In fact, officials of my Department have already met with the Chief Executive of the CTTC to discuss matters of mutual interest and lines of communication in this important area will be kept open.

As with all visa services in all countries worldwide, the central concern is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country's vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime, while at the same time not placing unnecessary or unreasonable obstacles in the way of those who intend travelling for legitimate purposes and who are likely to abide by the terms of their visa. Each visa application is decided on its own merits and I believe that, in most cases, my Department achieves this balance.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

120 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8637/10]

My Department does not use cloud computing systems.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

121 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8516/10]

Approximately every three months, my Department's Human Resources Section circulates a notice to all staff to encourage them to make blood donations. These notices normally follow calls by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service for donors. The Blood Transfusion Service provides transportation for Dublin-based staff members of my Department who attend Blood Donation Clinics.

My Department does not deduct clock time from staff who donate blood during normal working hours.

Passport Applications.

Michael McGrath

Question:

122 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will support the case of a person (details supplied). [8534/10]

The Passports Act 2008 sets out the legislative basis for the regulation and issuing of passports. In accordance with the Act, the Minister may specify how a passport application may be made (Section 6). The Minister may require an applicant to provide such information and documents as he or she considers necessary (Section 7(2)). A statutory declaration or sworn affidavit as to the accuracy and correctness of the information supplied may also be required (Section 7(3)).

General information on the application process is set out in the notes accompanying the application form and also on www.passport.ie .

The various requirements of the application process must be complied with before a passport may issue. Particular attention should be paid to the requirements to produce all necessary documentation to establish citizenship and parental/Guardian consent.Resolution of such matters following the birth of a child born in a location which is not the normal place of residence of both parents and in which Ireland has no permanent representation may take some additional time. Ireland's Honorary Consul's in Thailand, either in Bangkok or Phuket, will assist in every way possible to expedite an application for a travel document.

I would advise that the person contacts the Passport Office in advance of travel to clarify the documentary evidence that would be required in order to ensure the timely processing of the application.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

123 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8635/10]

My Department does not currently use any cloud computing systems.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Frank Feighan

Question:

124 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position regarding a swimming pool (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [8611/10]

I understand that a revised Feasibility Report was approved for Ballaghadereen pool in October 2007, leaving Roscommon County Council to proceed to the next stage, the preparation of the Preliminary Report, which is still awaited by the Department.

Sports Funding.

Dan Neville

Question:

125 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8503/10]

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

A network of 33 LSPs have been set up throughout the country by the Irish Sports Council (ISC) to coordinate and promote sport at local level especially amongst specific target groups such as older people, girls and women, people with disabilities, unemployed people, and those who live in identified disadvantaged communities. The special dormant accounts funding was in addition to the annual funding provided to the LSPs by the ISC for programmes and initiatives aimed at increasing participation in recreational sport.

Of the €2.5 million allocated from the dormant accounts fund for the SIDO scheme, €800,000 was provided through my Department's Vote in 2008 and over €1.3 million in 2009. The final provision of €395,000 from the dormant accounts allocation is included in the 2010 Vote of my Department.

The continued funding of the SIDO scheme is being considered by the ISC in the context of the distribution of its budget for 2010.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

126 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8508/10]

The Department participates in various blood donation campaigns organised by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS).

Information in relation to the blood donation campaigns is circulated periodically in the Department in Dublin and transportation to the D'Olier Street clinic is organised by the IBTS for staff of the Department who wish to donate.

Posters and flyers supplied by the IBTS are displayed and circulated in the Department's building in Killarney in advance of blood clinics arriving in the area to encourage staff to donate blood at the clinics.

Staff who donate blood during normal working hours are not required to clock out.

Tourism Industry.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

127 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the discussions he has had or plans to have with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on the loss of jobs and revenue in the tourism industry due to visa requirements for countries such as China and India; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8624/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, immigration policy is primarily a matter for my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and its implementation is a matter for the relevant authorities, including the Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

New and Developing Markets, such as India and China, are potentially of significant importance to Irish tourism. Tourism Ireland, which is responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas, conducted a review of New and Developing Markets (including India, China and 17 other markets) that was completed in late 2007. This review found that visitors from these markets stay twice as long as the average holidaymaker, have the highest spend per visit, have a higher propensity to travel throughout the island of Ireland and make significant economic contributions to many elements of the tourism sector. It also highlighted the potential for increased tourism from Asia and the Middle East and set significant targets — to attract a total of 475,000 visitors from New and Developing Markets by 2013. While these targets were set in a very different global economic context, they highlight the long-term potential of these markets.

Obviously, to fully exploit the opportunities presented, Ireland needs to be competitive on all fronts. Visitors from these countries typically require visas to enter Ireland. I am advised that the ability of potential visitors to secure the necessary visas in an efficient and cost-effective manner, when compared with our competitor destinations, is an important element of our competitiveness. In that context, the Recovery Actions recommended by the Tourism Renewal Group in its Framework for Action put forward a number of options to explore, having regard to the complexity of immigration policy and administration.

My Department has engaged with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in relation to these and related issues on an ongoing basis, most recently while following up on the Report of the Tourism Renewal Group.

The Deputy will appreciate that migration and border controls are complex and sensitive, affecting not only tourism of various kinds but also labour market policies and inward investment, within the overall context of sovereignty. However, I am confident that, working in partnership, the immigration authorities and the tourism bodies can ensure that the visitor experiences of Ireland compare with any of our competitors.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

128 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8627/10]

My Department does not employ cloud computing systems.

Substance Misuse Strategy.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

129 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the names of all community organisations based in Dublin 8, 10, 12 and 20 receiving funding under the national drugs strategy; the funding received by those organisations in 2009; the funding allocated for 2010; the source of this funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8494/10]

I am arranging to have the information sought by the Deputy compiled and it will be forwarded directly to her as a matter of priority.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

130 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8510/10]

While there is no formal policy in place in my Department in relation to the donation of blood by staff during normal working hours, I can confirm to the Deputy that staff who wish to donate blood during normal working hours are facilitated. For health and safety purposes, staff members on the flexitime system must clock out on leaving my Department's buildings. However, those leaving to donate blood can claim back the time it takes (of the order of 1-2 hours generally) to make the donation.

While my Department has facilitated group donations by staff in the past, and maintains a positive approach in this regard, it has no specific measures in place to encourage the donation of blood as the issue is considered to be essentially a matter for personal decision by individual staff members.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

131 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the expenditure by his Department on a county basis in each of the past three years and to date in 2010 under the RAPID programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8565/10]

I am arranging for the information requested by the Deputy to be compiled and it will be provided directly to him as a matter of priority.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

132 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the expenditure by his Department on a county basis in each of the past three years and to date in 2010 under the CLÁR programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8566/10]

Expenditure by my Department on a county basis under the CLÁR Programme for the period 2007-10 (to date) is set out in the following table.

Expenditure by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs by county under the CLÁR Programme for the period 2007-10 (to date)

County

2007

2008

2009

2010 (to date)

Total

Carlow

96,632.90

133,935.36

230,568.26

Cavan

1,044,000.83

721,885.34

243,889.13

2,080.00

2,011,855.30

Clare

1,010,825.82

2,112,053.08

1,555,133.83

4,678,012.73

Cork

1,740,705.59

2,563,896.86

1,537,061.68

23,455.06

5,865,119.19

Donegal

1,974,962.70

1,669,662.64

2,535,214.14

6,000.00

6,185,839.48

Galway

1,200,589.03

2,399,486.91

1,277,348.29

21,511.32

4,898,935.55

Kerry

1,671,757.81

2,125,042.48

868,204.11

4,665,004.40

Kilkenny

216,170.81

51,293.50

267,464.31

Laois

109,067.04

149,763.33

26,000.00

284,830.37

Leitrim

1,587,227.03

1,514,200.35

1,257,700.48

5,995.25

4,365,123.11

Limerick

264,996.56

443,205.46

89,860.95

798,062.97

Longford

563,690.76

277,893.93

50,219.17

891,803.86

Louth

220,943.42

110,590.78

8,000.00

339,534.20

Mayo

5,434,527.33

4,297,180.68

2,290,647.64

223.34

12,022,578.99

Meath

71,248.93

102,434.50

16,100.28

189,783.71

Monaghan

817,111.96

1,022,568.43

167,113.96

2,006,794.35

Offaly

35,244.12

294,233.79

47,300.33

376,778.24

Roscommon

1,993,496.38

2,309,019.02

1,101,104.41

15,000.00

5,418,619.81

Sligo

459,783.05

1,088,932.32

277,123.97

1,825,839.34

Tipperary

364,786.95

307,055.82

120,162.58

44,000

836,005.35

Waterford

310,474.16

277,351.07

3,401.25

591,226.48

Westmeath

126,118.40

177,538.71

126,659.91

430,317.02

Wicklow

15,000.00

25,000.00

40,000.00

Total

21,329,361.58

24,174,224.36

13,598,246.11

118,264.97

59,220,097.02

Drugs Task Forces.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding disbursed by his Department to or through the various bodies involved in combating the drugs problem; the number of placements and-or rehabilitation programmes provided for in this context in each of the past four years and to date in 2010 throughout County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8567/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding disbursed by his Department to or through the various bodies involved in combating the drugs problem; the number of placements and-or rehabilitation programmes provided for in this context in each of the past four years and to date in 2010 on a county basis. [8568/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

135 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent of funding provided by his Department to various groups involved in the fight against drugs throughout County Kildare in each of the past four years and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8569/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

136 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent of funding provided by his Department to various groups involved in the fight against drugs throughout the country on a county basis in each of the past four years and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8570/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 to 136, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the majority of expenditure allocated to community groups through my Department for drugs initiatives is channelled through the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTFs). The areas covered by the Task Forces are detailed below. The annual funding allocations are not made on a county basis but rather on a Task Force basis. As a result, while some of the projects funded may be county specific, others provide benefits broadly across the Task Force region as a whole.

In excess of €31m is being made available to fund the activities of the Task Forces in 2010, of which €21.045m is being allocated to the Local Drugs Task Forces and €10m to the Regionals. This funding will support nearly 500 initiatives in the Task Force areas in 2010. Of this funding, in the region of 50% will support projects with a treatment and rehabilitation focus. This is broadly similar to the ratio in 2008 and 2009 where total funding allocated was €34.6m and €32.5m respectively. The Deputy should note that these sums include additional dedicated funds, originally approved in 2008, to support rehabilitation initiatives in Task Force areas. In 2006 and 2007, the funding allocated was over €26m and €29m respectively. In the case of this funding, the ratio for treatment and rehabilitation focussed projects was over 30%. In addition to the Task Force monies, funding of €425,000 in 2010 will be provided to support three homeless-related rehabilitation projects in Dublin City.

Under the Premises Initiative Fund, which addresses the accommodation needs of community projects in Task Force areas, over €5m was approved in the period 2006 to 2009 in respect of 37 capital projects, a number of which focus on rehabilitation. In addition, reflecting the priorities set out in the new National Drugs Strategy, particularly in the area of treatment and rehabilitation, dedicated funding of over €1.4m was provided for eleven large scale projects across the country in 2009. The majority of the funding covered refurbishment works, including a number of HSE treatment clinics in key targeted areas where methadone treatment waiting lists were the most problematic. Furthermore, Dormant Accounts funding of €1.56m was approved in 2009 for 80 substance misuse projects with a family support focus in the Task Force areas, building on the recognition of the key role that supportive families play in the rehabilitation process.

In relation to County Kildare, which forms part of the South West Regional Drugs Task Force (SWRDTF) area, the SWRDTF allocations to projects for the years 2006 to 2010 is set out in the following table. The Drugs Education and Prevention Initiative (SW 1) has a regional brief but focuses on the Kildare area. The Counselling Services (SW 2 and SW 3) and the Diversionary Fund (SW 6) figures are specifically for Kildare (with the exception of the 2010 figures, this is the project's full allocation for 2010 and has not been allocated to date). The ARAS (SW-8&11) project is funded by the SWRDTF with bases in Newbridge, Celbridge, Maynooth and Athy. The Under 18s project focuses on the Kildare and West Wicklow areas. In addition, capital premises funding of €22,354 in 2007 and €25,000 in 2009 was provided for the Kildare area. I am also informed the SWRDTF has not had any specific rehabilitation projects.

SWRDTF Budget Allocations — SWRDTF — Kildare Specific

Code

Project Name

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010 Alloc.

Comments

SW-1 1

Regional Drugs Education & Prevention Initiative

101,734

155,106

146,634

144,524

108,724

Regional Brief — Kildare Focus

SW-2

Community Counselling Pool

24,444

12,000

12,000

87,620

62,539 (Regional)

Counselling Pool — Kildare areas

SW-3

JLO Counselling Pool

15,996

0

SW-4

Task Force Budget

160,000

113,000

184,000

160,000

160,00

Task Force Operational Budget — Regional Brief

SW-6

Diversionary Fund

126,800

45,099

37,740

36,448

15,000 (Regional)

Innovation Fund — Kildare areas

SW-8

CAT Kildare West Wicklow

203,000

340,112

523,700

415,747

ARAS Project, Newbridge, Celbridge, Athy Bases — Regional brief, excluding Dublin

SW-11

Abbey Project

66,301

SW-9

Under 18s

20,000

58,221

104,459

150,000

Under 18’s Project based in Naas, hosted by ARAS — Regional Brief, excluding Dublin

Dormant Account Funding

Cocaine Awareness funding received in 2008 — 20,000.

Family Support applications — 3 Projects receiving funding in October 2009 — ARAS, Cuan Mhuire and KCEP €63,700 (Kildare)

Capital Premises Funding

Capital Premises Funding — 2007 — €22,354 (Kildare)

Capital Premises Funding — 2009 — €25,000 (Kildare)

Once-Off Funding

SW-10 Harm Reduction Research — 2008 — €40,000 (Regional)

Local Drugs Task Force areas

Ballyfermot

Ballymun

Blanchardstown

Bray

Canal Communities

Clondalkin

Cork City

Dublin North East

Dublin 12

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

Finglas-Cabra

North Inner City

South Inner City

Tallaght

Regional Drugs Task Forces

Area Covered

East Coast Area

Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown & East Wicklow.

North City Dublin and Co.

North Dublin City and Fingal.

South-Western Area

South Dublin City, South Dublin, Kildare & West Wicklow.

Midlands

Longford, Westmeath, Offaly & Laois.

Mid-West

Clare, North Tipperary & Limerick.

North-Eastern

Monaghan, East Cavan, Meath & Louth.

North-Western

West Cavan, Donegal, Sligo & Leitrim.

Southern

Cork County and Kerry

South-Eastern

Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary South & Waterford.

Western

Mayo, Roscommon & Galway.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

137 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding provided by his Department other than under the headings of RAPID or CLÁR schemes throughout County Kildare to voluntary or statutory groups, bodies or agencies in the past three years and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8571/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

138 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding provided by his Department other than under the headings of RAPID or CLÁR schemes on a county basis to voluntary or statutory groups, bodies or agencies throughout the country in the past three years and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8572/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

139 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the value and number of grant applications received in his Department under various headings from various community groups in County Kildare in respect of schemes operated by his Department and eligible for payment in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8573/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

140 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the value and number of grant applications received in his Department under various headings from various community groups throughout the country in respect of schemes operated by his Department and eligible for payment in 2010 on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8574/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 137 to 140, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy is aware, my Department administers and delivers a wide range of programmes and measures, descriptions of which are available on its website at www.pobail.ie. In addition, details of payments made from subheads part-funded from the National Lottery are listed on my Department's website.

My Department's provisional gross expenditure outturn for 2009 is €458.863m and the following table provides a breakdown for each programme area.

Provisional Outturn 2009 (€m)

Programme Area

Expenditure

€m

Developing Communities

160.832

Tackling Drugs Misuse

39.377

Rural Development

92.691

Gaeltacht and Islands Development

86.745

Promotion and Maintenance of the Irish Language

8.935

North-South Co-Operation

52.880

Administration

17.403

Total

458.863

While expenditure under these programme areas takes place countrywide, it is not possible to give a full county-by-county breakdown of this expenditure. For example, a number of my Department's programmes are delivered through agencies and other intermediary bodies that operate across county boundaries and in respect of which there is no comprehensive or detailed breakdown on a county basis held by my Department. In addition, groups and organisations that receive grants directly from my Department are not necessarily constituted on a single-county basis.

In view of the wide range of my Department's schemes and programmes and the large volumes of applications received thereunder on an ongoing basis, I am not satisfied that the work involved in compiling and collating the breakdown of expenditure sought by the Deputy would be feasible or justified. However, if the Deputy has any specific queries relating to a particular scheme, I would be glad to seek to provide him with relevant information in that regard.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

141 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8629/10]

My Department does not use any cloud computing systems.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

142 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when jobseeker’s allowance will be restored to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [8458/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

143 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8460/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Niall Collins

Question:

144 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding an appeal against the discontinuance of a disability benefit claim in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8469/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Tom Hayes

Question:

145 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will issue on an application for family income supplement in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8465/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals.

David Stanton

Question:

146 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when an appeal will be considered in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8467/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Niall Collins

Question:

147 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will expedite a disability allowance claim in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8471/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Dan Neville

Question:

148 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8474/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

149 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her views on whether those who complete third level education with the assistance of back to education allowance have better employment prospects thereafter; and if research is available confirming this. [8491/10]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

150 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of students who are in receipt of the back to education allowance who are in third level education. [8492/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 and 150 together.

A range of studies, both Irish and international, have shown the importance of third-level education in enhancing an individual's prospects of obtaining sustainable employment. Participation in the third level strand of the Back to Education Allowance, which has a second and a third level strand, affords people the opportunity to obtain a qualification that they would not otherwise acquire. At the end of December 2009, there were 20,808 participants in total on the scheme and, of these, 10,351 were in the third level strand.

A comprehensive evaluation of the scheme, published in September 2005 as the "Report of the Working Group on the review of the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) Scheme" stated, inter alia, that the objective in setting up the scheme was to help unemployed social welfare recipients, by way of education and training, to improve their prospects of acquiring sustainable employments and that, in line with government policy, this remained the primary objective of the scheme. The effectiveness of the scheme was also considered in the Report which concluded that the evidence, from the various surveys and analyses studied, indicated that two thirds of participants progressed to employment or further education and that the majority of participants in the scheme who obtained a third level qualification were engaging with the labour market.

As there is a continuing need for people who are welfare dependent to be given a route into education, and subsequent sustainable employment, I am satisfied that the Back to Education Allowance Scheme continues to meet its objectives. The qualifying conditions are designed to target available resources at those most in need of support.

Jack Wall

Question:

151 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding an application for rent allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8498/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

152 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8519/10]

My Department encourages and supports staff wishing to make blood donations. Staff donating blood usually do so through group donations, which involve a staff member volunteering to act as liaison with the Blood Transfusion Service to display promotional material and arrange transport to donor clinics. Any time loss incurred by individuals in the arranging or donating of blood may be claimed as a time credit. The Department's Personnel Branch is available to advise managers on any issues concerning the facilitation of blood donation. In addition, one of the Departmental staff publications published an article from the Blood Transfusion Service last August with information on becoming a platelets donor. Group donations in my Department are on-going and in 2009 I understand that there were 8 such donations from 3 of the offices in Dublin alone, which resulted in 46 donations.

Pension Provisions.

David Stanton

Question:

153 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if an application for State pension has been received in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; when a decision will issue on this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8521/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

154 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding an application for illness benefit in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8532/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Pat Breen

Question:

155 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when an application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8539/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Niall Collins

Question:

156 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding persons who have lost their job and are unable to obtain their P45 or P60 from their former employer; the way in which they can claim their social welfare entitlements. [8545/10]

Any person who becomes unemployed should attend their local social welfare office immediately. It is not necessary to have either a P45 or a P60 to make a jobseeker's claim. However, the person should bring some documentation from the employer confirming the termination of employment. In some cases the P45 and/or P60 may be necessary for the purpose of obtaining details of PRSI contributions paid but the local office staff will advise the customer if that is the case. No customer who has paid PRSI contributions while working will be disadvantaged by any delay by the employer in providing either a P45 or P60.

If it is the case that an employer has failed to collect or make a return of PRSI contributions to Revenue, then the matter will be investigated by a Social Welfare Inspector to establish entitlement. In such cases it may be possible for the person to receive jobseeker's allowance — a means-tested payment — until the entitlement to jobseeker's benefit has been established.

Jack Wall

Question:

157 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding a jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8553/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

158 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when supplementary welfare allowance will be reinstated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8563/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

159 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the progress to date in the determination of eligibility for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8564/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Tom Hayes

Question:

160 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will issue on a carer’s allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8595/10]

Tom Hayes

Question:

163 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision on domiciliary care allowance appeal will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [8607/10]

Tom Hayes

Question:

167 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will issue on a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8619/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160, 163 and 167 together.

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Tom Hayes

Question:

161 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will issue on an application for child benefit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8596/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Pension Provisions.

Tom Hayes

Question:

162 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a decision will issue on a contributory state pension application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8598/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Question No. 163 answered with Question No. 160.

Pension Provisions.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

164 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding an application for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8608/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Departmental Correspondence.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

165 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs further to previous Parliamentary Questions (details supplied) in regard to the previous replies which in each instance stated that due to staff action currently being taken the information sought is unable to be provided, when a full answer will be available on each of the referenced questions. [8609/10]

Due to industrial action currently being taken by the Public Service Executive Union and the Civil and Public Services Union, I am unable to indicate when a full answer will be available on these questions

Social Welfare Benefits.

David Stanton

Question:

166 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons on disability payments who are engaged in rehabilitative employment; the percentage of these persons of the total number of disability payment recipients; the number of persons who engaged in rehabilitative employment each year respectively since 2005; the numbers who returned to work each year respectively following successful rehabilitative employment; the percentage of persons who successfully return to work following rehabilitative employment; if she conducts reviews and so on of the success of rehabilitative employment as a means of getting persons off disability payments and returning to work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8618/10]

Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Question No. 167 answered with Question No. 160.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

168 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the cloud computing systems that are in use in her Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8638/10]

There are no cloud computing systems in use in the Department and no current plans to deploy any.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

169 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Defence his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8511/10]

My Department is fully supportive of the Irish Blood Transfusion Board (IBTB) and the important work that it does. There is an ongoing commitment by my Department to facilitate and organise groups of staff to donate blood at the IBTB clinics about twice a year. Health and Safety regulations require staff to clock out when away from their place of work. However, when clinics are scheduled during normal working hours, the time taken by staff when giving blood is subsequently credited to their clocks.

IBTB promotional material highlighting the importance of blood donation is regularly displayed in my Department and distributed to staff to encourage more people to donate blood.

Departmental Expenditure.

John Cregan

Question:

170 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Defence the reason the application dated 5 January 2010 for permanent instructors allowance for instructors of a company (details supplied) in County Cork has not been sent forward to the director of training for authorisation from the date they qualified as instructors up until the date they were paid on a full-time basis with effect from 10 November 2008 despite a previous application being signed off by the director of training from the day they qualified as instructors. [8540/10]

The military authorities advise me that an application for payment of the instructors allowance has been received. The basis and circumstances of the application are currently under investigation.

Defence Forces Allowances.

John Cregan

Question:

171 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Defence if he will ensure that an issue relating to the single men living on rations payment will be resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8541/10]

A claim has been received from the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA) in relation to this matter. In accordance with normal procedures the Association's claim is being dealt with under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme (C&A Scheme) for members of the Permanent Defence Force and is the subject of correspondence between the Department and the Representative Association. The Deputy will appreciate that as discussions under the C&A Scheme are confidential to the parties involved it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

172 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Defence the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8630/10]

There are no cloud computing systems in use in my Department.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

173 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the target he has set for 2010 for the transfer of persons in receipt of rent supplement to the rental accommodation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8547/10]

A provisional target for 2010 of 8,000 households to be transferred from rent supplement to the Rental Accommodation Scheme and other forms of social housing has been agreed between my Department and the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Planning Issues.

Joe McHugh

Question:

174 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the possible Exchequer and EU funding avenues for local authorities’ development and servicing of allotments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8462/10]

I am not aware of any specific Exchequer or EU funding available for local authorities for the operation of an allotment scheme.Given the absence of primary legislation governing the provision or management of allotments, I am considering introducing amending provisions in the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 to give planning authorities the discretion to include objectives in their development plans which will facilitate the establishment and regulation of allotments in their areas.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

175 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8514/10]

Staff have in the past been facilitated to attend blood donation clinics in Dublin as a group during normal working hours to provide blood donations, and on an informal basis time was allowed for this. My Department's Dublin offices are close to the D'Olier Street blood donation clinic which is open from 9.30 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on Friday.

Planning Issues.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

176 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a matter (details supplied) and the concerns expressed to him regarding this appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8526/10]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

177 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a matter (details supplied); if his officials undertook a site visit in respect of this appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8527/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 and 177 together.

As Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, I am generally precluded under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 from exercising any power or control in relation to any individual matter with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned. My role in relation to development applications is confined to that of statutory consultee under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2006 where a proposed development may impact on the built or natural heritage. The planning application for a mixed use development in Drogheda, referred to in the Questions, was submitted to me in that context.

In the context of my role as statutory consultee within the planning process, the observations of my Department were communicated to Drogheda Borough Council prior to its decision of 18 May, 2009, to grant planning permission with conditions for the proposed development. Having reviewed the decision of the Council, my Department took the view that the observations made on the development were not adequately addressed by the conditions attached to the grant of planning permission and an appeal was lodged with An Bord Pleanála on 12 June, 2009, against the grant of permission.

The determination of the appeal is a matter for An Bord Pleanála and a decision by the Board is awaited. My Department undertook two inspections of the site area on 16 April 2009 and 26 May 2009. Further to the decision of Drogheda Borough Council to grant planning permission for the development, a third site inspection was undertaken on 17 December 2009.

Professional Bodies.

Phil Hogan

Question:

178 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he is satisfied with the manner in which the Building Control Act 2007 has been implemented regarding the registration of non-Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland architects; if the new registration process will be fully completed before officially launching a register of architects; his views on whether the premature launch of this register will have significant consumer choice or market distortion effects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8530/10]

Responsibility for implementation of the registration provisions of the Building Control Act 2007 in respect of architects, including the official register, is a matter for the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI), as registration body. I am currently examining a submission from the RIAI on all registration fees under the Act in respect of architects and I hope to reach a decision on that submission shortly. The ongoing implementation of the Act is kept under review by my Department.

Departmental Correspondence.

Michael McGrath

Question:

179 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will respond to correspondence from a person (details supplied). [8535/10]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 222 of 11 February 2010. A response to the representations made by the individual concerned will issue shortly.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

180 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide the data available to him in relation to rents charged under the rental accommodation scheme by each local authority with a breakdown by bedroom number and by housing type. [8549/10]

Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) tenants are charged rents based on a housing authority's differential rent scheme and the rent payable is calculated mainly by reference to household income. The differential rent schemes vary from authority to authority. The making and amending of rent schemes for social housing are the responsibility of local authorities as an integral part of their housing management functions.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Michael Ring

Question:

181 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when funding will be allocated to local authorities for the housing aid for the older people scheme, the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability and the mobility aids housing grant scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8552/10]

I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 339, 340 and 341 of 3 February, 2010. The position remains unchanged.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

182 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a sewerage scheme in respect of a village (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8562/10]

The Spiddal Sewerage Scheme was included for funding in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007 — 2009. My Department is currently awaiting the submission of Galway County Council's revised Preliminary Report for the scheme.

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

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

183 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8633/10]

Cloud computing systems are not deployed in my Department.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

184 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8509/10]

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily to hand. I will write to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

185 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8628/10]

Cloud computing is one of the fasting growing IT sectors and offers significant benefits to users by allowing access to high level business applications and reduced costs. I am keen to see the development of such benefits in the management of information services within my own Department. In the development of such a new approach we would of course carry out the necessary due diligence to ensure data protection, confidentiality and security. Our paper outlining technology actions to support a knowledge society sets out some of the benefits that could accrue to the state from the development of cloud computing services here. I am now working within my own Department and with other Government Departments to ensure that we realise some of these opportunities.

Grant Payments.

Denis Naughten

Question:

186 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will receive his payment; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8480/10]

Due to industrial Action by staff in my Department,I am not in a position to provide a reply to this question.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

187 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8507/10]

My Department enables and encourages all staff to donate blood during normal working hours. Those staff who donate blood during office hours do not lose time on their monthly flexitime balance.

Grant Payments.

Denis Naughten

Question:

188 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the single farm payment issued in each year in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon; the value of entitlements on the holding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8554/10]

The person named was allocated 19.48 Single Payment entitlements to the value of €53.40 each in 2005. The EU Regulations governing the Single Payment scheme provide that a farmer must use his/her entitlements at least once over a three year period otherwise they are lost to the National Reserve. A farmer uses entitlements by declaring one hectare of land per entitlement per year on a Single Payment application form. The person named did not declare any land on a Single Payment application form in the years 2005, 2006 or 2007 therefore her entitlements were surrendered to the National Reserve in 2008. The person named does not currently hold any Single Payment entitlements.

Denis Naughten

Question:

189 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when application forms will be available for the 2010 single farm payment national reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8556/10]

A meeting of the Single Payment Advisory Committee will take place shortly with a view to making recommendations on the arrangements for the 2010 National Reserve. Applications forms will then be made available with a closing date of 17 May 2010.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

190 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8626/10]

The Department has no cloud computing systems.

Departmental Properties.

Brian Hayes

Question:

191 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of privately run preschool or Montessori facilities in buildings or on lands owned by his Department on which no rent is paid; if this practice exists and if his attention has been drawn to it; the number of tenancy agreements in place between his Department and private preschool providers on which rent is paid and where formal legal arrangements are in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8459/10]

I am advised by my Department that a central list is not maintained of the agreements referred to by the Deputy. This reflects my Department's understanding that such practices do not generally occur on sites under my ownership. My Department is aware of a long standing agreement to allow a Montessori school occupy a portion of a school building in Dublin. It is my Department's intention to formalise the necessary legal arrangements in the coming months.

Special Educational Needs.

Brian Hayes

Question:

192 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science to state the number of special needs assistants on the payroll in February 2010 in comparison to February 2009. [8464/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is provided on a quarterly basis. Some 8,541 special needs assistants were employed in primary schools in March 2009. Some 8,392 special needs assistants were employed in primary schools in December 2009. In March 2009, some 2,012 special needs assistants were employed in all second level schools including VECs. Some 1,950 special needs assistants were employed in such schools in December 2009.

Schools Building Projects.

Brian Hayes

Question:

193 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the 78 projects announced as commencing construction in 2009 which have completed the tendering process; the number on which construction will begin in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8472/10]

The current position with regard to the 78 projects I announced is as follows: 11 projects have been completed and handed over to the school authorities; 25 projects are under construction; 28 projects are at tender stage; and 14 projects are at pre-tender stage. I expect the 28 projects at tender stage to progress to construction in the first half of 2010. The 14 projects at pre-tender stage will proceed to tender and construction as soon as possible.

School Staffing.

Michael Ring

Question:

194 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Question No. 319 of 20 January 2010, when a reply will issue. [8476/10]

The National Council for Special Education has advised my Department that a response will issue to the Deputy within the coming week in relation to the matter raised by him.

Higher Education Grants.

Joe Carey

Question:

195 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will grant the appeal for third level maintenance grant for tuition fees for the 2009-10 academic year in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8477/10]

A reply has issued from my Department to the correspondence referred to by the Deputy.

School Accommodation.

David Stanton

Question:

196 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has received a request from a school (details supplied) in County Cork regarding the need for a new classroom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8478/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the school to which he refers has made an application to the Department for additional accommodation for September 2010. The application is under consideration by the Department and a decision will issue to the school in due course.

Schools Building Projects.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

197 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Question No. 234 of 11 February 2010, if the tender report has been completed; if the preferred contractor has been chosen; and if so, when the contractor will be on site. [8490/10]

The tender report has been received by my Department and is being examined. When the tender process is complete and assuming there are no issues arising the project will progress to construction. It is envisaged that the completion contractor will be on site before Easter.

Local Contributions.

Seán Power

Question:

198 Deputy Seán Power asked the Minister for Education and Science the way the local contribution is calculated when school building projects are being assessed for their monetary contribution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8497/10]

Under the general funding arrangements for school building projects, the amount of the local contribution for extensions or refurbishments is 10% of the total project cost with the contribution being capped at €31,500. The level of the local contribution for schools with disadvantaged status is 5% of the project cost subject to a maximum amount of €12,500. The local contribution for new school buildings is 5% of the cost up to a maximum contribution of €63,000 or €12,500 in the case of special or disadvantaged schools.

Schools Building Projects.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

199 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding an extension for a school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8505/10]

The Department is in receipt of an application for major capital funding for an extension to the school referred to by the Deputy and it is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and has been assigned a band 2.5 rating. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Departmental Staff.

Frank Feighan

Question:

200 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Education and Science his policy regarding staff who donate blood during normal working hours; if staff are required to clock out when giving blood; the measures that are in place to encourage staff to donate blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8512/10]

As part of our corporate social responsibility, and mindful that maintaining the blood donor panel is a major challenge, my Department has for many years supported the efforts of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS). The IBTS normally contacts my Department on an annual basis appealing for voluntary blood donations. The personnel section e-mails all staff setting out the proposed date for blood donations and asking for those who wish to donate to inform personnel and indicating their preferred time. Personnel then co-ordinates this information and informs the IBTS of the number of staff members who have volunteered. Staff are facilitated to attend the IBTS on the day and, where appropriate, credit is given to staff on the flexi system.

School Enrolments.

Brian Hayes

Question:

201 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some post primary schools require a deposit when a student’s name is being considered for admission; if this is legal practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8524/10]

At post-primary level, it is a fundamental principle of the Free Second Level Education Scheme that no charge be made in respect of:

(a) instruction in any subject of my Department's Programme for Secondary Schools;

(b) recreation or study facilities where all pupils are expected to avail themselves of them as part of the school programme.

(c) any other activity in which all pupils are required to take part.

Voluntary contributions by parents of pupils in recognised schools are permissible provided it is made absolutely clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay and that, in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition. The manner in which such voluntary contributions are sought and collected is a matter for school management, however their collection should be such as not to create a situation where either parents or pupils could reasonably infer that the contributions take on a compulsory character.

I am aware that some schools do charge a booking fee when considering applicants for enrolment and where this is done it should be for no more than a nominal amount and refundable following a decision on enrolment.

Departmental Offices.

Mary Wallace

Question:

202 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans being advanced by his Department or its agencies to utilise office space in a town (details supplied) in County Meath; the stage of these plans; the services that are to be provided to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8525/10]

I understand that this particular issue refers to the possible use of the office space in question for the delivery of adult education provision.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department funds adult education provision through annual grants to Vocational Education Committees (VECs) which deliver provision locally. The procurement of accommodation and organisation of courses is a matter for each VEC which, subject to its budget, decides the nature and extent of the adult education provision to be delivered in its area.

In relation to this particular issue, I understand from the relevant VEC that discussions with the local authority in the town are at an exploratory stage.

School Staffing.

Brian Hayes

Question:

203 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will confirm that a gael scoil or Gaeltacht school can obtain an administrative principal post with 158 children while other national schools require 179 children; the reason this distinction is made in terms of the staffing schedule; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8533/10]

The key factor for determining the level of resources provided by my Department at individual school level for any school year is the pupil enrolment at the previous 30 September. The enrolment is applied to a staffing schedule which issues annually from my Department.

Administrative principal status in primary schools applies on the appointment of the 7th mainstream class teacher. Under the current staffing schedule for ordinary and Gaeltacht schools the enrolment warranted for the appointment of the 7th mainstream teacher is 179 pupils. The corresponding enrolment under the staffing schedule for Gaelscoileanna is 158 pupils.

The Deputy will be aware that there are a range of measures in place in the education sector to promote Irish which includes a more favourable staffing schedule in Gaelscoileanna. The relevant staffing schedules are available on my Department's website.

Primary Education.

Michael McGrath

Question:

204 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will investigate an issue raised regarding a primary school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8536/10]

The issue to which the Deputy refers is currently being investigated and an official from my Department will be in touch with the school shortly.

Public Sector Pay.

Mary Upton

Question:

205 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will reply to correspondence (details supplied) in relation to exemption from pay cuts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8551/10]

For the purposes of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009, Universities are public service bodies. A public servant is defined in the Act as a person who is employed by, or holds any office or other position in, a public service body. Consequently, employees of Universities including the person referred to by the Deputy are comprehended by the Act. Remuneration payable by or on behalf of a public service body to its employees, irrespective of funding source or employment status, falls to be reduced in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

School Accommodation.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

206 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding an application for a school refurbishment grant in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8610/10]

My Department has received an application for additional accommodation from the school to which the Deputy refers. The application is under consideration and a decision will issue to the school authority in due course.

State Examinations.

Brian Hayes

Question:

207 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if the project work for the technology subject for the junior certificate examination could be completed by December every year so as to ensure that students can concentrate in January and February on the written aspects of the upcoming mock examinations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8615/10]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations, determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations and making arrangements for the marking of work presented for examination. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Brian Hayes

Question:

208 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if the Examination Commission, in consultation with his Department, can release junior examination results to students at the same time as the leaving certificate examination so that students can select their subjects for the leaving certificate based on performance in the junior certificate exam; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8616/10]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations, determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations and issuing the result of examinations. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Computerisation Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

209 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science the cloud computing systems that are in use in his Department; the safeguards that are in place regarding personal information and public data on those systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8631/10]

In response to the Deputy's question, there are no cloud computing systems in use in the Department.