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 5, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 6 to 44, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 45 to 51, inclusive, answered orally.

Waterways Ireland

Paul Connaughton

Question:

52 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the cost of recent court settlements regarding Waterways Ireland; if there are any other actions pending against Waterways Ireland; and if all actions have been settled against Waterways Ireland. [18963/10]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to actions arising from allegations of bullying and harassment in Waterways Ireland, raised initially in 2003. As previously stated on the record of this House, these allegations were the subject of an independent investigation carried out on behalf of my Department and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL). The outcome of the investigations, as is clearly shown in the joint statement issued from the Departments at the time, is that the bulk of the allegations made by the complainant were not upheld. I can arrange to have a further copy of that statement made available to the Deputy if he wishes.

As the Deputy may be aware, the individual who made the allegations in this case subsequently took a case against DCAL and Waterways Ireland in the High Court in Belfast. Waterways Ireland was represented by its insurance company. I am advised that, during the proceedings, DCAL and the insurance company agreed, without admission of liability, a full and final settlement of £50,000 plus costs to be paid on a 50/50 basis. Waterways Ireland did not have to meet any of the settlement or costs from its own budget. I understand that the matter of costs is under discussion between the plaintiff, the insurance company and DCAL at present. I am also advised that Waterways Ireland is not aware of any further actions in this case.

I am happy to say, as did my predecessor, that Waterways Ireland as an organisation has my full confidence and I am satisfied that the difficulties it faced are behind it. Indeed, the facts and background to these issues do not support much of the public commentary there has been in the past. In that context, I want to repeat on the record of this House my predecessor's offer of a full and confidential briefing on these issues for Deputies by senior officials in my Department.

For the sake of completeness, I should also mention that Waterways Ireland, by the very nature of the work it carries out and the amount of waterway, towpath and facilities open to the public, is exposed to a number of public and employer's liability claims. These range from work-related accidents to civil actions arising from alleged injuries to people using the facilities or passing over waterways property.

In 2009 Waterways Ireland paid a total of €1.89 million in settling such claims. One work-related accident from a number of years ago, in which an employee suffered very severe incapacity, accounted for €1.4m of this total. This claim was settled in advance of the case proceeding following Senior Counsel advices and with the agreement of the Attorney General's Office. The remaining €490,000 relates to 15 separate employer and public liability actions — 5 relating to employees and 6 to members of the public, as well as 4 property-related actions. In 2010 a total of €119,445 has been paid in relation to injuries to 1 member of staff and 2 members of the public, as well as 2 property-related matters.

While Waterways Ireland remains strongly committed to maintaining high standards of health and safety, the nature of its operations means that there will be always be exposure to claims of this nature, which will continue to be managed by Waterways Ireland in accordance with standard procedures.

Volunteer Sector

Seán Barrett

Question:

53 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he is satisfied with the level of volunteerism here and his plans to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18938/10]

I can assure the Deputy that the Government continues to advance a range of measures that support voluntarism, 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, these centres registered over 13,000 volunteers and over 870 volunteer-involving organisations. This represent an increase of over 70% on the numbers registered in 2008. It is also worth noting 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 include:

a cross-border volunteering initiative launched last year involving the GAA, Voluntary Arts Ireland and the Church of Ireland, which seeks to benefit the community on both sides of the border, especially marginalised and disadvantaged groups, through a strong network of local volunteers;

the Young Social Innovators Initiative, which involves transition year students identifying social needs and developing strategies to address them through engagement with local, community and statutory organisations;

funding 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; and

support 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.

The Deputy will be aware that 2011 has been designated as the European Year of Volunteering, with the overall purpose of encouraging and supporting — notably through the exchange of experience and good practices — efforts to create the conditions for civil society conducive to volunteering in the EU and to increase the visibility of voluntary activities.

My Department will be supporting the European Year and has appointed Volunteering Ireland (VI) as the national co-ordinator with responsibility for Ireland's participation in the initiative. VI is in the process of establishing a steering committee of relevant organisations from the community and voluntary sector, as well as State representatives. In carrying out its duties, VI will be required to closely consult and co-operate with a wide range of relevant stakeholders within civil society and, where appropriate, the national agencies or contact points of relevant community programmes.

National Drugs Strategy

Joe Carey

Question:

54 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the action he will take to combat the problem of head shops; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18931/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

81 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the discussions he has had regarding the response to head shops; the approach that he favours taking; and the timeframe within which it is expected the necessary legislation will be published and passed. [18910/10]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

242 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if it is possible to control items sold in head shops; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19096/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54, 81 and 242 together.

As I stated in reply to today's Priority Question No 48, I can strongly assure the Deputies that the Government is fully cognisant of the dangers posed by headshops and the psychoactive substances they sell, and I have been working closely with my Cabinet on colleagues on an inter-departmental basis to develop effective responses to the threats involved.

The Minister for Health and Children is introducing controls under the Misuse of Drugs Acts on a broad range of psychoactive substances, commonly referred to as "legal highs", which are sold in headshops and through the internet. These regulations will be introduced with immediate effect. This follows approval by the relevant EU authorities. The regulations will make the possession and sale of the substances involved illegal and subject to criminal sanctions.

Also, following cross-departmental consideration of the issues involved, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform brought legislative proposals to Government today to make it a criminal offence to sell or supply substances that are not prohibited under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but that have psychoactive effects on humans. These proposals were accepted by Government and it hoped to have legislation drafted before the summer recess.

In addition, the Government is responding to the problem of headshops on a number of other fronts. For example:

as part the current interdepartmental/agency response to the issue, relevant Departments and Government agencies are reviewing existing legislative provisions to establish whether headshops are in compliance with the legislative provisions applying;

An Garda Síochána and Revenue's Customs Service are closely monitoring the activities of headshops on an ongoing basis, with a view to ensuring that no substances currently illegal are being sold;

the HSE, in association with partner agencies under the National Drugs Strategy, is finalising a national drugs awareness campaign that will focus on the dangers of psychoactive substances available through headshops and the internet; and

the National Advisory Committee on Drugs has been asked to carry out some targeted research in this area.

I can assure the Deputies that I will continue to work closely with my Ministerial colleagues in vigorously pursuing all viable approaches to counter the threats posed by headshops and psychoactive substances.

Proposed Legislation

Mary Upton

Question:

55 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the measures he proposes to include in the Údarás na Gaeltachta Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19018/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the recently published draft 20-year Strategy for Irish was referred to the Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sports, Tourism and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and remains under consideration by it. I look forward to receiving the results of the Committee's deliberations in due course. Following consideration of the Committee's views, I will be re-submitting the draft Strategy to Government for final approval.

The Deputy will appreciate that any changes regarding the future powers and functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta will fall to be considered in the context of the Strategy. Accordingly, it would be premature of me at this stage to predict the contents of any proposed legislation arising from this process.

For the sake of completeness, I should add that I am examining the case at present for bringing a Bill before the House shortly with a view to extending the term of office of the currently elected members of Údarás na Gaeltachta. The last Údarás elections were held on 2 April 2005 and, in order to comply with the provisions of the existing legislation, the next elections must be held on a date between 1 April 2009 and 1 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, the Deputy will appreciate that it would be unrealistic to proceed at this point with setting a date for the next elections.

Rural Recreation Officers

Simon Coveney

Question:

56 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the rural recreation officer in each county; the number that have been appointed; the counties in which they have been appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18950/10]

My Department, along with Fáilte Ireland, funds the employment of 12 Rural Recreation Officers to promote walking activity in areas where there are clusters of suitable accessible walks and to undertake the work associated with the roll-out of the Walks Scheme, which is administered by my Department.

The Officers are employed by local development companies in Counties Kilkenny, Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon, Laois, Kerry, Tipperary, Cork, Wicklow, Mayo and Clare, as well as the Galway Gaeltacht. They are employed on three-year contracts, the first of which commenced from March 2008.

Departmental Schemes

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

57 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if there are issues between the rural social scheme and the community employment scheme; if these schemes run together or if that causes employment or funding issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19004/10]

As the Deputy is aware, I do not have responsibility for the management and operation of the Community Employment (CE) scheme.

I am not aware, however, of any current issues between the Rural Social Scheme and CE. In general, while the two schemes work independently of one another, there is good co-operation and ongoing liaison on the ground so that both schemes complement one another.

In relation to the Rural Social Scheme, for which my Department currently has responsibility pending its transfer to the Department of Social Protection, a strong focus is put on co-ordination with CE, as well as with the other schemes managed by the local development companies throughout the country.

At Departmental level, it may be noted that my officials co-operate on an ongoing basis with officials involved in the CE scheme.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Liz McManus

Question:

58 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if agreement has been reached regarding any budgetary changes that were necessary due to recent departmental changes; if so, the effect the changes have had on the budget of the Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19014/10]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

65 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the transfer of responsibilities from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Social Protection, as outlined in the Taoiseach’s announcement of 23 March 2010, will be completed; the administrative and other arrangements consequent on this transfer of responsibilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18971/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

74 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the recent changes to his Department; if all changes have now been completed; if all personnel have been transferred; if all printing has been concluded; the overall cost of such changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19011/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58, 65 and 74 together.

As the Deputies will be aware, as part of the restructuring of Departments and agencies announced by the Taoiseach in Dáil Éireann on 23 March last to ensure greater coherence and produce more efficient delivery, the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will become the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and will incorporate responsibility for social inclusion policy and family policy from the Department of Social and Family Affairs and for equality, disability, integration and human rights from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

The formal transfer of responsibility for social inclusion policy and family policy from the Department of Social and Family Affairs to my own Department has now taken place and an Order has been made in this regard. The Order cites that my Department has responsibility for these functions with effect from 1 May 2010 and the relevant personnel and staff working in these areas formally transferred to my Department from that date.

In relation to the transfer of responsibility for equality, disability, integration and human rights from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, my Department is continuing to liaise with the relevant Departments on this matter. I expect the formal transfer of these functions and consequent administrative and other arrangements arising on foot of the transfer of responsibilities to be finalised shortly.

The Deputies will also be aware that the changes in Departmental functions announced by the Taoiseach will have an effect on the Estimates of the Departments involved, including my own Department, and officials are currently liaising with the relevant Departments in relation to the transfer of relevant programme expenditure from one Department to another. All such transfers of funds will be carried out strictly on an Exchequer-neutral basis. Staff, and related administrative costs, will also be transferred between Departments, again on an Exchequer-neutral basis.

In relation to the specific query regarding printing, no such costs have arisen as the title of my Department has not formally changed as yet. Against this background, Deputies will appreciate that at present it is not possible to provide details in relation to costs arising as a result of the recent changes. It is my intention that all stationery currently held by my Department will be used to the greatest extent feasible. I have also directed my officials to ensure that any costs arising due to the name change of my Department are kept to a minimum and met from within existing resources.

Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 50.

Community Development

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

60 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he is taking to encourage and promote enterprise and community activity in rural communities; if he has assessed the benefits of such efforts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18972/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

78 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which he plans to develop and extend the schemes operated by his Department aimed at addressing the issue of urban or rural renewal with particular reference to the need to combat the situation arising from the current economic climate; the degree to which he further plans to increase expenditure in specific areas or headings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18920/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 78 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department was established to promote and support the sustainable and inclusive development of communities — both urban and rural — and it has responsibility for a wide range of programmes and schemes targeting community, local and rural development. The key principle underlying my Department's activities is the provision of support to enable communities to identify and address problems in their own areas. The purpose is to provide support to communities in the most appropriate way as they work to shape their own futures, address their own common goals and achieve their full potential.

In terms of encouraging and promoting enterprise and community activity, the Deputy will be aware from replies to previous Questions from him of a number of key programmes that my Department manages. These include:

The Rural Development Programme 2007-13, which will channel some €425m in funding for the purpose of improving the quality of life in rural areas and promoting the diversification of the rural economy.

The Rural Social Scheme, which provides resources to maintain and improve local amenities and facilities in rural communities, while communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fisherpersons. Currently, there is a provision for 2,600 participants on the Scheme and funding of the order of €46.4m is included for it in my Department's Vote this year.

The CLÁR Programme, which provides co-funding to help accelerate investment in selected priority developments in areas that have suffered significant depopulation. Funding of €8m is being provided for the Programme in 2010.

The Community Services Programme, which provides employment opportunities for people from disadvantaged groups, including people with disabilities, long-term unemployed, Travellers, lone parents and rehabilitated drug misusers. Some 2,700 people are employed in the 445 projects currently approved for funding. The Programme has a budget of €46m this year.

The Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP), which specifically supports individuals into employment and self-employment through education, training, work experience, job placement, enterprise and the social economy in urban and rural areas. Funding of €67.5m has been made available in 2010 for the LDCP.

The RAPID Programme, which, through its focus on deprivation and social exclusion, seeks to address the impact of the economic downturn on vulnerable communities and to provide opportunities for social and economic recovery.

Other significant programme areas include the work of Údarás na Gaeltachta; actions under the National Countryside Recreation Strategy; the rural development sub-theme of INTERREG IVA, the cross-border programme for territorial co-operation covering Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland; and the range of measures that support community activity.

With regard to the development/extension of schemes operated by my Department, the Government decided in the 2010 Budget, as part of its strategy to manage its way through the current severe economic crisis and to return the country to prosperity, to implement a series of reductions in spending on public services. Therefore, it is not possible to consider any new schemes at present. To the greatest extent possible, savings have been sought through efficiencies rather than through reductions in services and priority continues to be given to the provision of frontline services.

Finally, in terms of evaluating the impact of the different programmes, the Deputy should note that value for money reviews are underway or planned for a number of the above schemes, including the Rural Social Scheme, the Community Services Programme and the CLÁR/RAPID Programmes. The Rural Development Programme is also subject to ongoing evaluation, with a mid-term review scheduled to commence this month for completion by the end of 2010.

Other initiatives undertaken by my Department to ensure optimal benefits for expenditure, to reduce administrative overheads and to improve performance across the range of community programmes include:

a Value for Money Review of the Local Development and Social Inclusion Programme (LDSIP);

removal of the Regional Support Agencies from the CDP programme;

a cohesion process to amalgamate Partnerships and LEADER companies; and

a review of CDP clusters.

Further to this work, the LDSIP and the Community Development Programme have been re-aligned and integrated as the new Local Development Community Programme, which came into operation on 1 January 2010.

Údarás na Gaeltachta Elections

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

61 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the proposals he has regarding the Údarás na Gaeltachta elections which must take place in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19019/10]

The last Údarás na Gaeltachta elections were held on 2 April 2005. In order to comply with the provisions of the existing legislation governing an tÚdarás, the next elections must be held on a date between 1 April 2009 and 1 October 2010. Due to the ongoing work in relation to the draft 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 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. However, I am examining the case at present for bringing a Bill before the House with a view to extending the term of office of the currently elected members.

The Deputy may wish to note that I recently re-appointed three Údarás members, including the Chairperson, whose terms of office were due to expire on 18 April 2010, for a further three year period to 18 April 2013.

National Drugs Strategy

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

62 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of campaigns being funded by his Department or any agency within the remit of his Department highlighting the dangers of the use of illegal substances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18997/10]

As part of the effort under way at present across Departments and agencies to introduce controls on a range of psychoactive substances sold through headshops and through the internet, the HSE, in association with partner agencies under the Drugs Strategy, is finalising a national drugs awareness campaign that will focus on the dangers of psychoactive substances.

The Deputy will also be aware that raising awareness is a key element of the work of the Drugs Task Forces, in facilitating greater local and regional focus on drugs issues. From the funding allocated by my Department to the Task Forces, each has the discretion to support projects and initiatives aimed at creating greater societal awareness about the dangers of substance misuse. The nature, format, extent and frequency of such activities fall for decision by the individual Task Force. Many of the projects funded 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.

I am, of course, keenly aware that there is a variety of media through which the Task Forces disseminate information and promote their different activities and programmes. These range from website notices, local advertising, linkages with community forums/councils, as well as through Task Force members, notices on community focused websites, etc. I would, of course, always encourage Task Forces to promote and link in with any relevant campaigns and adopt an all-encompassing approach to reach the appropriate target audience.

The Deputy will be aware that prevention is one of the pillars of the National Drugs Strategy. Various prevention and education interventions are planned, focusing on young people — both in the school and the non-school setting — as well as on the overall population. A range of awareness campaigns is envisaged as part of this approach.

Inter-Parliamentary Co-operation

Sean Sherlock

Question:

63 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the meetings he has had or is proposing to have with Ministers with similar responsibilities in the Northern Ireland Assembly or the English, Scottish or British Parliaments; if such meetings have taken place; the matters discussed and the progress that has been made; if meetings are arranged; the agenda for the proposed meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19016/10]

My Department has a number of North/South co-operation areas under its remit and these — and indeed East/West co-operation under the auspices of the British-Irish Council — continue to be a strategic priority, particularly in the context of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements.

Principally, my areas of responsibility in this regard include the two North/South Implementation Bodies within my Department's remit — Waterways Ireland and An Foras Teanga (comprising Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster-Scots Agency/Tha Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch). I am scheduled to participate in the forthcoming meetings of the North/South Ministerial Council in both the Waterways and Language Sectoral formats on 26 May 2010 with my Northern counterpart, Mr. Nelson McCausland MLA, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, and an accompanying Minister, to progress relevant issues in relation to these Bodies. Prior to that, I hope to have an informal meeting with Minister McCausland in the coming week. This will be my first opportunity following my appointment to meet with Minister McCausland to discuss issues arising from our two Departments' joint responsibilities in this area.

As Minister with responsibility for Rural Development, I will also attend meetings of the North/South Ministerial Council in the Agriculture Sector. The next meeting, and my first, is envisaged for the autumn. An agenda will not be finalised until closer to the date.

Other relevant areas of co-operation include participation in the British-Irish Council. Responsibility for chairing and organising the sectoral group on the Misuse of Drugs rests with Ireland, through my own Department. The group has, on average, 3-4 meetings of senior officials and one Ministerial meeting annually. The most recent Ministerial meeting of the Group was hosted on 24 February 2010 by the Isle of Man. The meeting, which focused on issues related to addressing substance misuse in prisons, was chaired by my colleague, Mr John Curran, T.D., then Minister of State with responsibility for the Drugs Strategy. The issue of new psychoactive substances (so-called "legal highs") was also discussed at the meeting. Ministers agreed to meet again in spring 2011, with an agenda to be decided towards the end of 2010.

My Department also participates in the Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-Used Languages Working Group. This Group has looked at issues such as language transmission in the family, adult immersion, information and communications technology, language and physical planning, and language legislation. This sharing of experience has been of very real and practical benefit to us. A date for the next Ministerial meeting has not yet been fixed.

Finally, I might also mention that my predecessor, Mr Éamon Ó Cuív, T.D., accompanied the Taoiseach to the British/Irish Council Summit in Cardiff on 19-20 February 2009. At that meeting it was agreed to develop a joint document on the contribution of the Third Sector to Social Inclusion. The joint document on the subject was approved at a Ministerial meeting in Edinburgh on 25/26 March 2010, attended by Ireland at official level, and it was agreed that the subject merited further discussion and consultation among British/Irish Council members.

Programme for Government

Sean Sherlock

Question:

64 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the actions he has taken since March 2010 to ensure that the Programme for Government 2007 is being implemented by his Department; the matters he is addressing to ensure this; the progress made to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19015/10]

I can assure the Deputy that my priority over the coming period will be to progress the actions and commitments reflected in the Programme for Government and the Revised Programme for Government that relate to my functions and areas of responsibility in the re-configured Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. In this regard, work will commence shortly on the preparation of a new Statement of Strategy for my Department. In developing this new Statement of Strategy, my Department will take stock of progress made to date in meeting Government Programme commitments and decide how best to focus efforts over the coming period so as to achieve real results on the ground and deliver on our mandate.

Over its lifetime, the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs made significant progress in enhancing the cohesiveness and efficiency of delivery of various programmes that were transferred to it from other Departments. A similar challenge will face the new Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, but I am confident that the experience garnered in that context over recent years will prove invaluable in further enhancing the delivery of my Department's new social development and social inclusion programmes to the benefit of all our customers and stakeholders.

Question No. 65 answered with Question No. 58.

Clár Reachtaíochta

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

66 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Jan O’Sullivan den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an mbeidh reachtaíocht á foilsiú ag an Rialtas ar shainmhíniú nua ar cad is Gaeltacht ann agus ar athruithe ar theorainneacha na Gaeltachta; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [19023/10]

Faoi mar is eol don Teachta, tá an dréacht-Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge foilsithe ag an Rialtas agus tá sí faoi láthair idir chamáin ag an gComhchoiste Oireachtais um Ghnóthaí Ealaín, Spóirt, Turasóireachta, Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta le breithniú. Tuigtear dom go bhfuil an Comhchoiste ag déanamh scrúdú ar na saincheisteanna éagsúla atá tagtha chun cinn — ceist na Gaeltachta san áireamh. Tá mé ag súil le tuairisc ón gComhchoiste in am tráth.

Mar a thuigfidh an Teachta, go dtí go mbeidh an próiseas críochnaithe ag an gComhchoiste agus an Straitéis críochnúil glactha ag an Rialtas, níl sé ar mo chumas aon chinneadh a ghlacadh i ndáil le reachtaíocht maidir le sainmhíniú ná teorainneacha na Gaeltachta.

Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 50.

Community Development

Willie Penrose

Question:

68 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if matching funding is still available to community projects under the RAPID scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19008/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the RAPID Programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to tackling the spatial concentration of poverty and social exclusion within 51 designated RAPID areas nationally.

As has been outlined to the House on a number of occasions, it is a matter for individual Departments to report on the provision of funding and progress on delivery with respect to projects under their responsibility in the RAPID areas. In support, Pobal collects data from each RAPID area in respect of funding allocations received by projects from Government Departments and local state agencies. The latest data in respect of the Programme is available on Pobal's website under the RAPID section — http://www.pobal.ie/live/RAPID — and the Deputy may find it useful to review this information.

In the context of supporting small-scale projects identified locally by the Area Implementation Teams in each of the RAPID areas, the RAPID leverage schemes were initiated in 2004. These schemes are co-funded by the relevant agencies and fund projects that focus on community closed-circuit television, health and sports facilities, the provision of playgrounds and multi-use games areas and the provision of facilities in schools located in, or mainly servicing children from, RAPID areas.

Funding of €5m is being provided in my Department's Vote in 2010 to support a number of projects under the leverage schemes. My primary focus will be to ensure that the front-line services being supported by my Department — and especially those focused on the needs of the most socially deprived communities — are protected. Given that the schemes are demand-led, it is not possible to indicate the extent of demands during 2010. However, I am satisfied that this year's allocation will be sufficient to enable further good progress to be made with small-scale co-funded projects in RAPID areas this year.

Departmental Funding

Joe Costello

Question:

69 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the purpose of the €600,000 grants recently announced by him in relation to the various drugs tasks forces; if this money will enable premises to be opened in areas where previously there was no drugs awareness centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18998/10]

I recently made €600,000 in funding available for small-scale capital projects in Local and Regional Drugs Task Force areas. A total of €25,000 is being earmarked for individual Task Forces.

This funding is being provided under the Capital Premises Fund 2010, the purpose of which is to meet identified ‘once off' capital needs in existing Task Force projects. The funding is being targeted at small refurbishment works and/or the purchase of equipment.

Applications must be submitted for assessment to the relevant Task Force, each of which has been asked to ensure that information on the funding is circulated to all relevant parties in their areas.

The closing date for proposals to be submitted to my Department is Friday 11 June 2010 and it is hoped to have funding allocated to successful projects by end-July.

Community Development

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

70 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the RAPID and CLÁR programmes; the number of applications received for funding in respect of each programme in each of the past three years; the amount of funding drawn down in each year for each programme; his views on the benefit of both programmes; if consideration is being given to a review or any major changes in the way the programmes operate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18996/10]

In relation to the RAPID Programme, the Deputy should note that it is a matter for individual Departments to report on the provision of funding and progress on delivery with respect to projects under their responsibility in RAPID areas.

In 2004, my Department introduced the RAPID Leverage Schemes whereby it directly funds a number of measures such as the Local Authority Housing Estate Enhancement Scheme, the Physical Environment Improvement Scheme and the Playgrounds Scheme.

In relation to these Schemes, it should be noted that:

45 of the 46 RAPID areas applied for grants under the 2007/2008 Local Authority Housing Estate Enhancement Scheme;

35 of the 46 RAPID areas applied under the 2007/2008 Playgrounds Scheme; and

Applications were also received from 45 of the 46 RAPID areas under the 2009 Physical Environment Improvement Scheme.

While my Department continues to process applications for payment, no new applications are currently being considered at present due to the high level of outstanding commitments.

My Department also co-funds a number of other Leverage Schemes, namely the Sports Capital Top-Up Scheme, the Community-Based CCTV Scheme, the Health Sector Co-fund Scheme and the Small Scale Capital Grants Scheme for Schools. However, it should be noted that applications for these schemes are processed by the lead Departments/Agencies — Tourism, Culture and Sport; Justice and Law Reform; the HSE; and Education and Skills, respectively.

The table below details the amount of funding paid out by my Department in the period 2007-09, as well as expenditure to date in 2010, in respect of each measure.

In order to ensure the continued relevance of the RAPID Programme, a review of RAPID area boundaries, including an analysis of data from Census 2006 across a range of socio-economic and deprivation indicators, has been undertaken to ensure that areas are appropriately targeting the most disadvantaged communities. Following the review, the Government approved the inclusion of five new towns in the RAPID Programme in 2009 — Ballina, Dungarvan, Enniscorthy, Mullingar and Rathkeale. The review also proposed changes to the boundaries of some of the other 46 RAPID areas and I anticipate that I will be bringing proposals to Government in this regard in the coming weeks.

In relation to the CLÁR Programme, the funding and co-funding provided to Government Departments, State agencies and local authorities accelerates investment in selected priority developments in areas that have suffered significant depopulation. These investments support physical, economic and social infrastructure across a variety of measures.

Information in relation to applications received and CLÁR funding provided over the last three years is set out below. For 2010, funding of €8m is available through my Department's Vote to support CLÁR activities.

Year

Applications received

CLÁR funding paid out

2007

691

21,329,361

2008

426

24,178,471

2009

40

13,598,246

I am satisfied that the approach of the CLÁR Programme in targeting infrastructural needs in depopulated areas, through co-funding arrangements with other bodies, has been successful. As resources permit, I will continue to assess the priority areas for the CLÁR Programme on an ongoing basis.

Finally, the Deputy should note that, as part of the on-going programme of value for money reviews that are carried out on my Department's programmes and schemes, an evaluation is currently underway on the CLÁR and RAPID Programmes.

Rapid Programme — Expenditure

Object Account

Expenditure 2007

Expenditure 2008

Expenditure 2009

Expenditure 2010 (to date)

41040 — RAPID — Housing Est.

602,036.82

425,027.44

1,296,815.54

41050 — RAPID — Playgrounds

1,479,561.31

1,013,758.31

1,699,985.08

1,559,995.72

41060 — RAPID — Top Up Sports Cap

1,674,523.00

1,209,032.00

2,672,548.97

1,096,800.00

41075 — RAPID — Traffic Measures

388,493.04

302,277.80

911,284.04

41080 — RAPID — Health Sector Co-Fund

485,743.66

267,423.27

40,000.00

41085 — Small Scale Grant for Schools

175,331.00

3,967,711.61

1,388,703.43

41090 — RAPID — Community CCTV Co-Fund

510,301.50

989,047.50

1,055,265.00

140,000.00

41095 — Signage

0.00

29,040.00

1,944.00

Total

5,315,990.33

8,203,317.93

9,066,546.06

2,796,795.72

Dormant Accounts Fund

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

71 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding dormant accounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19001/10]

The Dormant Accounts Fund Acts provides for an annual transfer by credit institutions and insurance undertakings of monies in accounts determined to be dormant into the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAF). Since its establishment in May 2003 to end-March 2010, the net transfers to the DAF have totalled some €326m.

The value of the DAF at end-March 2010, net of liabilities, was some €42m. This excludes the amount of some €46m currently maintained in a Reserve Account to meet reclaims and to cover expenses. The reserve is currently set at 15% of the total monies received by the Fund and not yet reclaimed.

The Dormant Accounts Board has prepared a revised Disbursement Plan as required by the legislation. This plan provides the overall framework within which decisions on disbursements are made and funding allocated. Allocations from the DAF are prioritised towards those areas and persons designated as most disadvantaged. I anticipate that I will be bringing the Board's new Plan to Government for approval in the coming weeks.

Further details of the projects to which funding has been allocated to date and a summary of the status of the DAF are available on my Department's website www.pobail.ie/en/ DormantAccounts. For the Deputy's convenience, I am arranging to have a copy of the summary table forwarded directly to him.

Community Development

Michael Ring

Question:

72 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding that has been approved for each rural development programme in the country under the new round of allocations; the amount of funding that has been drawn down by them to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18922/10]

In my Department's Vote for 2010, funding of €40m is being provided for the roll-out of the Rural Development Programme 2007-13, approximately €27m of which is being allocated directly for project funding.

The table below details the overall RDP allocations for each of the 36 Local Action Groups, which are delivering the programme on my Department's behalf, as well as their administration allocations for 2010. Total expenditure to date this year is also shown.

The Deputy should note that the Groups are being allocated project funding on a first come/first served basis this year in an effort to maximise project expenditure and impact. This approach will facilitate flexibility to assign funding to projects that can be completed in 2010.

Local Action Group

Overall Programme Allocation 2007-2013

Admin Allocation2010

Total expenditure to date in2010

Avondhu/ Blackwater Partnership Limited

9,057,810

271,734.44

136,608.23

Ballyhoura Development Limited

11,673,519

350,205.75

323,400.43

Carlow County Development Partnership Limited

8,878,177

266,345.44

101,694.61

Cavan Part & County Monaghan Area Part

12,035,118

387,053.72

164,369.68

Clare Local Development Company Limited

14,028,529

420,856.08

208,974.01

Comhar na nOileáin Teoranta

4,642,415

173,395.41

62,286.33

Donegal Local Development Company Limited

12,831,901

384,957.22

264,265.99

Fingal LEADER Partnership

7,766,780

233,003.52

140,553.78

FORUM Connemara

9,668,965

290,069.10

103,301.36

Galway Rural Development Company Limited

15,257,985

457,739.78

173,087.94

Inishowen Development Partnership

8,286,143

248,584.41

88,068.14

I.R.D. Duhallow

10,315,943

309,478.45

128,647.85

Kildare (Cill Dara ar Aghaidh Teoranta)

12,282,448

368,473.62

159,297.46

County Kilkenny LEADER Partnership Limited

11,523,729

345,712.04

212,734.77

Laois Community & Enterprise Development

10,993,608

329,808.41

150,324.98

Leitrim Integrated Development Company

10,845,497

326,565.07

182,204.52

Longford Community Resources Limited

8,714,110

261,423.43

112,251.01

Louth LEADER Partnership

8,839,815

265,194.58

115,408.88

Mayo North East LEADER Partnership

10,751,894

322,556.98

228,318.59

Meath Partnership

12,748,771

382,463.32

171,620.55

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teoranta

17,278,809

518,364.53

215,467.87

North & East Kerry LEADER Partnership Teoranta

10,558,882

316,766.62

105,915.85

North Tipperary LEADER Partnership Company

9,708,008

291,240.39

204,445.27

Offaly Integrated Local Development Company

11,520,489

345,614.84

258,341.17

Roscommon Integrated Development Company

12,838,021

385,140.82

171,686.03

County Sligo LEADER Partnership Company

10,888,673

326,660.35

180,158.83

South East Cork Area Development Limited

10,641,494

319,244.98

156,325.99

South Kerry Development Partnership Limited

12,370,667

371,120.20

171,979.30

South Tipperary Local Development Company Limited

11,106,187

333,185.78

255,195.00

South West Mayo Development Company Limited

12,150,007

364,500.39

152,443.05

Waterford LEADER Partnership Limited

10,558,519

316,755.73

187,921.36

West Cork Development Partnership

14,601,149

438,034.69

409,876.01

West Limerick Resources

9,997,751

299,932.68

159,887.66

Westmeath Community Development

10,987,060

329,611.97

223,267.74

Wexford Local Development

12,515,565

375,467.14

231,062.65

County Wicklow Partnership

11,135,560

334,066.97

131,584.27

Total

399,999,998

12,061,329

6,442,977

Charities Act 2009

Joan Burton

Question:

73 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of regulations as determined by the Charities Act 2009 needing ministerial sanction that have been implemented to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18995/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the Charities Act 2009 is structured in such a way as to allow for commencement, by Ministerial order, of its individual provisions on different dates over a period of time. However, commencement of the majority of the Act is contingent on a Charities Regulatory Authority being in place. To date, section 99, which regulates the sale of Mass cards, and some technical sections (sections 2, 5 and 10) of the Act have been commenced with effect from 1 September 2009 (SI No. 284 of 2009).

The Charities Act 2009 provides for the making of up to 25 separate sets of regulations by the Minister, once section 4 (which contains the provisions enabling the Minister to make regulations under the Act) has been commenced. My Department is taking legal advice at present in relation to the possible commencement of certain further provisions of the Act, including section 4.

My Department is currently rolling out an implementation plan for the Act, which will ensure that the essential elements are in place to enable the introduction of the statutory regulatory framework provided for in the legislation. The drafting of regulations in anticipation of the establishment of the new Charities Regulatory Authority is, of course, a key part of that work. In other countries, it has taken a number of years after enactment of the legislation for the new regulatory system to be fully introduced. This is likely to be the case in Ireland also.

Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 58.

Recreational Facilities.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

75 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if supports are available for skateboard parks in view of the importance of such facilities for communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19002/10]

There are no programmes or schemes within my Department's remit that specifically provide funding for skateboard parks.

However, the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013 has funding of €425m available to be allocated to qualifying projects up to the end of 2013. One of the objectives of the RDP is to identify and provide appropriate cultural and leisure facilities to local communities not otherwise available to them and, in principle, it is possible that skateboard parks could be eligible under the RDP.

There are 36 Local Action Groups contracted, on my Department's behalf, to deliver the RDP throughout the country and these Groups are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the individual Group's local development strategy and in line with my Department's operating rules and EU regulations.

An Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge

Brian O'Shea

Question:

76 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian O’Shea den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an mbeidh díospóireacht ann sa Dáil ar an Straitéis 20 Bliain don nGaeilge roimh shos an tSamhraidh; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [19021/10]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

80 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian O’Shea den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an mó cruinniú den Fhochoiste Rialtais don nGaeilge a bhí ann in 2010. [19022/10]

Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna Uimh 76 agus 80 le chéile.

Mar is eol don Teachta, tá an dréacht-Straitéis 20 Bliain don nGaeilge foilsithe ag an Rialtas agus curtha os comhair an Chomhchoiste Oireachtais um Ghnóthaí Ealaín, Spóirt, Turasóireachta, Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta le breithniú. Tuigim go bhfuil an Comhchoiste tar éis roinnt cruinnithe a thionól le grúpaí agus eagraíochtaí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta chun deis a thabhairt dóibh a gcuid tuairimí a chur in iúl. Tá mé ag súil le toradh an phlé a rinne an Comhchoiste a fháil in am tráth. Sa chomhthéacs sin, níor thionóladh aon chruinniú don Choiste Rialtais i 2010 go dáta.

Maidir leis an gceist faoi dhíospóireacht a bheith sa Dáil faoin Straitéis, cé go mbeinn lán-oscailte dá leithéid, tuigfidh an Teachta, ar ndóigh, gur gnó é sin don Dáil féin.

Anti-Drug Dealing Campaign

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

77 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the recent report on the Dial to Stop Drugs campaign; if he will continue to support this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19005/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the Dial to Stop Drug Dealing campaign ran in three phases, across fifteen Local and Regional Drugs Task Force areas, in 2008 and 2009. To date, there have been 6,468 calls made to the confidential line, with 1,780 reports being made to the Gardaí.

The report the Deputy refers to is a comprehensive evaluation of the campaign and highlights the obvious and tangible benefits of the phone line, e.g., providing valuable drug dealing information to the Gardaí. In addition — and equally important — it noted the intangible benefits of the safe and anonymous contact with Gardaí afforded to concerned citizens and communities. Allied to this is the definitive sense of community empowerment that has been cited repeatedly by Drugs Task Forces.

Due to the success of the campaign, funding has been made available by my Department 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 forums. In the interim, the line will remain open for all to use.

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 60.

Grant Payments

Willie Penrose

Question:

79 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of grants provided under the two programmes of grants for community and voluntary organisations during the past three years; his plans to expand this funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19009/10]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the Programme of Grants for Locally-based Community and Voluntary Organisations, which provides support to smaller community and voluntary organisations to a) meet the refurbishment costs of community premises, b) purchase office and centre equipment to enhance the services provided, and c) enhance the capacity of volunteers and staff working in the community and voluntary sector with support to offset the costs of training and research.

Funding of some €13m has been paid to groups under the Programme in the years 2007 to 2009 as follows:

2007 — €6.5m;

2008 — €3.5m; and

2009 — €3.1m.

The Programme was suspended for new applications on 28th February 2009 and, given the ongoing pressure on public funds, I do not envisage it re-opening in the near future.

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 76.
Question No. 81 answered with Question No. 54.

Freedom of Information

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

82 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of applications under the Freedom of Information Act that his Department has received in each of the past three years; the number of staff assigned to deal with such issues; the increase, if any, due to recent departmental changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19010/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, as part of the restructuring of Departments and agencies announced by the Taoiseach in Dáil Éireann on 23 March to ensure greater coherence and produce more efficient delivery, the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will become the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and will incorporate responsibility for social inclusion policy and family policy from the Department of Social and Family Affairs and for equality, disability, integration and human rights from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The process of transferring functions and changing Departmental titles is currently being progressed by the Department of Finance and it is envisaged that this process will be completed shortly. The Deputy will appreciate, therefore, that until the transfer of functions process is complete, it is not possible to provide the information requested in relation to any anticipated increase in the volume of requests made to my Department under the Freedom of Information Acts.

My Department has a designated Freedom of Information Officer, whose role is to provide support to staff responsible for processing and making decisions on requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Acts. The number of requests made to the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs under the Freedom of Information Acts since 1st January 2007 is set out in the table below:

Year

No. of requests received

2007

27

2008

53

2009

38

2010 (to date)

22

Community Services Programme

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

83 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of community services programme-funded day care centres; the number of such centres opened over the past three years; if discussions have taken place with any agency regarding the funding of such centres; if so, the result of such consultations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19006/10]

The Community Services Programme (CSP) provides a contribution towards the costs of engaging staff to provide services delivered by community and voluntary organisations. In general, the CSP will only contribute to the delivery of a service where other sources of non-public revenue are earned by the organisation by way of sales of goods, services charges or fees. Some 450 organisations have been approved for inclusion in the CSP to date with estimated employment levels of some 2,700 persons.

My Department has identified 18 organisations supported by the CSP that provide a range of day and respite care services for older people. I am advised that this number has remained constant over the past three years, as has the level of positions funded.

I am not generally aware of discussions having taken place with agencies, as referred to by the Deputy, but would be glad to look further into the matter if the Deputy wishes to provide further details.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

84 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Jan O’Sullivan den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an mó scéim atá aontaithe anois faoi Alt 11 d’Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [19024/10]

Tá 101 scéim teanga céaduaire, a chlúdaíonn 186 comhlacht poiblí ar fad, daingnithe faoi alt 11 d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla ó tháinig an tAcht i bhfeidhm i 2003. Anuas ar sin, tá 30 céadscéim teanga céaduaire eile, a chlúdaíonn 35 comhlacht poiblí, á n-ullmhú. Ní miste dom a rá chomh maith go bhfuil 9 dara scéim teanga daingnithe faoi alt 15 den Acht go dtí seo agus go bhfuil fógra eisithe chuig 56 comhlacht eile faoi alt 15 den Acht ag ceangal orthu dréacht dara scéim teanga a ullmhú agus a sheoladh chugam le daingniú.

Tá plé leanúnach ar siúl idir oifigigh mo Roinn-se agus na comhlachtaí poiblí i gceist chun an próiseas maidir le haontú agus daingniú a gcuid scéimeanna a thabhairt chun ceann scríbe a luaithe agus is féidir. Táim dóchasach go n-éireoidh linn roinnt mhaith de na scéimeanna sin a dhaingniú i rith na bliana seo.

Drugs Task Forces

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

85 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans to offer support to communities involved in combating drugs; the extent to which the programme was successful in 2009; the degree to which expenditure is likely to be specifically targeted in 2010; the degree to which he has on hand requests for funding in respect of such purposes; his further plans to respond positively to such requests in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18919/10]

As has been previously outlined to the Deputy, the majority of expenditure allocated to community groups through my Department for drugs initiatives is channelled through the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces. Under this process, applications for funding are made directly to the Task Forces.

In 2010, in excess of €31m in current funding is being made available to fund the activities of the Task Forces, of which €21.045m is being allocated to the Local Drugs Task Forces and €10m to the Regional Drugs Task Forces. This funding will support some 500 initiatives that the Task Forces have prioritised for investment in their respective areas. In addition, I recently announced that funding of €600,000 is being made available for small-scale capital projects in the Task Force areas, building on the success of a similar initiative in 2009.

In 2009, 340 projects under the Local Drugs Task Forces were supported to the value of nearly €22m. Almost €10m was expended to support 146 projects in Regional Drugs Task Force areas. Further funding in 2009 also supported the following:

14 cocaine-specific projects (approx. €0.555m);

10 rehabilitation-specific projects (approx. €0.350m); and

3 drug-related projects dealing with homeless people (€0.460m).

In addition, capital expenditure of nearly €2.12m in 2009 supported 6 large scale projects, predominantly in the Regional Drugs Task Force areas, including targeted funding for Limerick City. Nearly 100 small-scale projects in 23 Task Force areas were supported with a total allocation of €552,000 to cover the costs of refurbishments, renovations and the purchase of equipment. Furthermore, under the once-off Regional Youth Initiative, 6 projects were funded in 2009 to the value of €0.471m.

The Deputy should also note that 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.

While the overall funding for the Task Forces this year is less than it was in 2009, I am satisfied that this investment will continue to address problem drug use in a meaningful and real way and protect front-line services to the greatest extent possible.

Place Names Database

Michael Ring

Question:

86 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made to date on his Department’s work regarding place names; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18921/10]

As I indicated in my reply to a similar Question on 1 April 2010, the Placenames Branch of my Department undertakes research, with the support and guidance of An Coimisiún Logainmneacha, in order to establish the correct Irish language forms of the placenames of Ireland and to publish them for official and public use.

The Department is engaged in a comprehensive research programme to provide Irish versions for all placenames in the State on a county basis. Seven counties have been completed and published under this programme to date, namely, counties Kilkenny, Limerick, Louth, Monaghan, Offaly, Tipperary and Waterford. Work is complete in counties Dublin, Galway, Cork, Wexford and Leitrim, while research is at an advanced stage in a number of other counties, namely, Sligo, Clare, Longford and Kerry.

The recent work of the Branch also includes providing Irish language versions of the administrative placenames in the Gaeltacht Areas of Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Mayo, Meath and Waterford and it has just completed work on some 6,200 non-administrative names in these areas as shown on the Ordnance Survey's historical large-scale maps.

A signal achievement of the Placenames Branch in recent years has been the launch in late 2008, in collaboration with Fiontar DCU, of the Placenames Database of Ireland at www.logainm.ie. This free online searchable database has information on over 100,000 official placenames and has proved very popular with the public, with an average of 130,000 hits recorded each month.

Trade Statistics

James Reilly

Question:

87 Deputy James Reilly asked the Taoiseach the value of imports and exports in euro and as a percentage of GNP with the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the eurozone and the rest of the world each year from 1995 to 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18899/10]

The information requested by Deputy O'Reilly is presented in the tables below which show the Republic of Ireland's external trade for the years 1995-2009.

Tables 1 & 2 show the value of the Republic of Ireland's trade in millions of euro with the Eurozone area; Great Britain and Northern Ireland; the US and the rest of the world. The export values are listed in Table 1, whilst the import values are listed in Table 2.

Tables 3 & 4 show the trade data from Tables 1 & 2 as a percentage of GNP for the respective years.

Table 1

Exports

Exports Total

Year

Eurozone

UK

US

Rest of World

€ million

1995

15,321.9

9,014.3

2,881.8

8,112.1

35,330.1

1996

15,514.0

9,493.7

3,573.4

10,031.7

38,612.8

1997

17,925.1

11,054.9

5,050.2

10,837.8

44,868.0

1998

24,234.3

12,920.6

7,742.6

12,424.3

57,321.8

1999

26,821.7

14,690.2

10,336.8

15,107.5

66,956.2

2000

31,163.2

18,869.8

14,227.8

19,628.1

83,888.9

2001

32,994.9

22,629.8

15,694.4

21,370.8

92,689.9

2002

35,698.3

22,463.8

16,509.4

19,003.7

93,675.2

2003

33,836.5

14,843.1

16,939.2

16,457.3

82,076.1

2004

35,496.9

15,198.7

16,555.6

17,158.3

84,409.5

2005

37,839.6

15,351.8

15,474.8

18,066.0

86,732.2

2006

36,388.2

15,565.8

16,182.0

18,636.0

86,772.0

2007

36,661.3

16,742.8

15,825.0

19,997.0

89,226.1

2008

34,725.6

15,864.3

16,674.3

19,130.2

86,394.4

2009

34,876.5

13,510.9

17,584.6

17,550.4

83,522.5

Table 2

Imports

Imports Total

Year

Eurozone

UK

US

Rest of World

€ million

1995

5,020.5

9,264.6

4,607.5

7,288.2

26,180.8

1996

5,566.0

9,901.4

4,395.5

8,616.6

28,479.5

1997

6,474.8

11,358.3

4,922.6

10,107.9

32,863.5

1998

7,427.0

13,466.5

6,362.5

12,458.9

39,715.0

1999

8,486.0

14,626.5

7,383.7

13,830.7

44,327.0

2000

11,224.6

17,613.2

9,148.5

17,922.4

55,908.6

2001

11,645.5

20,481.1

8,699.5

16,558.0

57,384.1

2002

11,420.6

20,120.2

8,517.7

15,569.4

55,627.9

2003

10,257.1

14,704.5

7,416.4

15,486.6

47,864.5

2004

11,551.1

16,034.7

6,984.4

16,534.9

51,105.2

2005

12,721.4

18,270.9

7,999.9

18,472.5

57,464.7

2006

14,276.2

19,424.6

6,808.1

20,348.2

60,857.2

2007

15,445.9

20,869.2

7,050.6

20,119.7

63,485.5

2008

14,308.0

19,202.7

6,762.8

17,311.1

57,584.6

2009

10,460.3

13,617.9

7,839.4

12,918.4

44,836.1

Table 3

Exports

Exports Total

Year

Eurozone

UK

US

Rest of World

% GNP

1995

32.6

19.2

6.1

17.3

75.2

1996

29.9

18.3

6.9

19.3

74.5

1997

30.2

18.6

8.5

18.2

75.5

1998

35.3

18.8

11.3

18.1

83.6

1999

34.9

19.1

13.5

19.7

87.2

2000

34.9

21.1

15.9

22.0

93.9

2001

33.7

23.1

16.0

21.8

94.6

2002

33.5

21.1

15.5

17.8

87.9

2003

28.7

12.6

14.4

13.9

69.5

2004

28.1

12.0

13.1

13.6

66.9

2005

27.6

11.2

11.3

13.2

63.2

2006

23.9

10.2

10.6

12.2

56.9

2007

22.7

10.4

9.8

12.4

55.3

2008

22.5

10.3

10.8

12.4

55.9

2009

26.5

10.3

13.4

13.4

63.5

Table 4

Imports

Imports Total

Year

Eurozone

UK

US

Rest of World

% GNP

1995

10.7

19.7

9.8

15.5

55.8

1996

10.7

19.1

8.5

16.6

54.9

1997

10.9

19.1

8.3

17.0

55.3

1998

10.8

19.6

9.3

18.2

57.9

1999

11.0

19.0

9.6

18.0

57.7

2000

12.6

19.7

10.2

20.1

62.6

2001

11.9

20.9

8.9

16.9

58.6

2002

10.7

18.9

8.0

14.6

52.2

2003

8.7

12.5

6.3

13.1

40.5

2004

9.2

12.7

5.5

13.1

40.5

2005

9.3

13.3

5.8

13.5

41.9

2006

9.4

12.7

4.5

13.3

39.9

2007

9.6

12.9

4.4

12.5

39.4

2008

9.3

12.4

4.4

11.2

37.2

2009

8.0

10.4

6.0

9.8

34.1

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

88 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings that he was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings he attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in his place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19131/10]

For the period in question, my predecessor, an Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D., attended three scheduled European Councils and one Informal European Council. Since I took office, there have been eight scheduled European Councils and six Informal or Extraordinary European Councils. I have attended all fourteen of these meetings. There were also two meetings of the Heads of State or Government of the Euro Area Member States, both of which I attended.

In addition I have I also attended meetings between the European Union and other key regions, such as the Eastern Partnership Summit and the Union for the Mediterranean Summit.

Details of the meetings attended by my predecessor and I over the past three years are set out below:

European Council Meetings — Details of attendance from June 2007 to May 2010

Details of Meeting

Date

Taoiseach in Attendance

Location

European Council

21/22 June 2007

Bertie Ahern T.D.

Brussels

Informal European Council

18/19 October 2007

Bertie Ahern T.D.

Brussels

European Council

13/14 December 2007

Bertie Ahern T.D.

Brussels

European Council

13/14 March 2008

Bertie Ahern T.D.

Brussels

European Council

19/20 June 2008

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Union for the Mediterranean Summit

13/14 July 2008

Brian Cowen T.D.

Paris

Extraordinary European Council

1 September 2008

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Meeting of Heads of State or Government of the Euro Area

12th October 2008

Brian Cowen T.D.

Paris

European Council

15/16 October 2008

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Informal European Council

7th November 2008

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

European Council

11/12 December 2008

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Informal European Council

1 March 2009

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

European Council

19/20 March 2009

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Eastern Partnership Summit

7th May 2009

Brian Cowen T.D.

Prague

European Council

18/19 June 2009

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Informal European Council

17 September 2009

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

European Council

29/30 October 2009

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Informal European Council

19 November 2009

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

European Council

10/11 December 2009

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Informal European Council

11 February 2010

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

European Council

25/26 March 2010

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Meeting of Heads of State or Government of the Euro Area

7th May 2010

Brian Cowen T.D.

Brussels

Unemployment Levels

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

89 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Taoiseach the most recent unemployment figures at the Tallaght social welfare office, Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19220/10]

The Live Register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseekers Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Figures are published for each county and local social welfare office.

The most recent Live Register figures available are for March 2010. The table below contains the numbers signing on in Tallaght local office on the last Friday of March 2010.

It should be noted that the Live Register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance.

Persons on the Live Register in Tallaght Local Office by sex and age, March 2010

Male

Female

Both sexes

Under 25 years

1,601

873

2,474

25 years and over

5,660

2,150

7,810

All ages

7,261

3,023

10,284

Economic Competitiveness

James Reilly

Question:

90 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will provide an index showing Ireland’s change in competitiveness with the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the eurozone and the rest of the world each year from 1995 to 2009; the way the change in competitiveness is affected by exchange rate movements and by changes in the general price levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18900/10]

Measuring competitiveness is complex and requires an assessment of the full range of factors which enable firms to improve their productivity levels and compete in international markets. There are a number of international indices of competitiveness produced by international bodies, each with their own methodological constraints. The National Competitiveness Council's annual report, "Benchmarking Ireland's Performance", provides a comprehensive assessment of Ireland's competitiveness.

Taking a narrow view of competitiveness in terms of real effective exchange rates or price and labour costs is only one part of such an assessment. In this context the Central Bank in collaboration with the European Central Bank have developed a whole economy relative cost index, the Harmonised Competitiveness Indicators (HCIs), which provide an indication of trends in competitiveness. The nominal HCI is a nominal effective exchange rate for the Irish economy that reflects, on a trade-weighted basis, movements in the exchange rates vis-à-vis 56 trading partners. The real HCI (deflated by consumer prices) takes into account relative price changes along with exchange rate movements. The table below presents the data for the period 1995-2010, indexed to January 1995.

Harmonised Competitiveness Indicators for Ireland (HCIs) Indexed to 1995

Nominal HCI

Real HCI

1995

100.0000000

100.0000000

1996

101.1569645

100.1539968

1997

107.0831644

104.7683951

1998

100.0559429

96.96116841

1999

102.8059632

99.647066

2000

94.47624453

93.77630533

2001

93.66730177

94.37036338

2002

92.23568996

95.77472406

2003

99.91679504

106.4380709

2004

107.0372547

114.6902756

2005

108.0074388

115.8064085

2006

104.3572645

111.7806597

2007

106.4869467

114.9072085

2008

112.2811943

120.7418793

2009

113.5452813

121.3825494

2010

114.3403397

116.8666855

Source: Central Bank/Forfás.

For comparisons with the Euro area and other countries, the data is presented for the period 1999-2009, (with 2000 being the base year for comparisons). The data below covers Ireland vis-a-vis the UK, the Euro area, the US and Japan, which covers close to 90 per cent of our trading partners.

Exchange rates deflated by total economy unit labour costs.

Real

Relative Indices

IRELAND vis-à-vis:

Euro area

UK

US

Japan

1999

98

108

101

115

2000

100

100

100

100

2001

103

103

99

115

2002

100

103

104

130

2003

102

114

126

152

2004

105

114

142

168

2005

109

118

146

182

2006

112

119

148

202

2007

112

119

161

229

2008

115

142

179

224

2009

107

147

166

185

Source: Central Bank.

Both exchange rate movements and changes in general price levels impact directly on our relative cost competitiveness. As the euro appreciates or depreciates vis-à-vis the currencies of our non-eurozone trading partners, so too does our competitiveness improve or disimprove. With the depreciation of both UK Sterling and the US Dollar, Eurozone goods and services, including Ireland's, become more expensive relative to goods and services produced in those countries for sale in both domestic and foreign markets. The more recent appreciation of the dollar and strengthening of sterling vis-à-vis the euro have helped to improve our competitiveness. There is little that the Government can do directly in relation to influence exchange rates, although increased exports to the Eurozone can reduce exposure to currency fluctuations and increase certainty for internationally trading enterprises.

In terms of changes in general price levels, a fall in domestic prices relative to prices in other countries will impact the price competitiveness of domestic firms. In this context, since January 2008, Ireland has regained competitiveness as domestic inflation has remained below that of our main trading partners.

In terms of domestic inflation, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell by 3.1 per cent in the twelve months to March 2010. The Irish HICP — the harmonised European measure of consumer prices — fell by 2.4 per cent in the year to February 2010, the largest decline in the euro area, compared with an overall EU increase of 1.4% and an increase of 3.0% in the UK. This narrowing in the differential in prices is very much to be welcomed and clearly will help the competitiveness of Irish businesses. A further reduction in prices is forecast for the remainder of this year compared with low growth across the EU on average, meaning our cost competitiveness position in relation to our trading partners is continuing to improve.

Taking account of both the recent falls in relative prices and more favourable exchange rate movements vis-à-vis key trading partners, Ireland's real harmonised competitiveness (HCI) in February 2010 was 2.26% below the January 2005 level.

Further strengthening Ireland's competitive position will foster economic growth. I am working with my colleagues in Government to further embed the improvements already achieved and to strengthen Ireland's relative international competitiveness position.

Departmental Expenditure

Noel Coonan

Question:

91 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the amount he anticipates that his Department will spend on converting Department titles on websites, headed paper, application forms, information booklets, wall charts and so on as a result of the recent changes in several Department titles; the length of time this will take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18648/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the name of my Department was officially changed on 2nd May last. Every effort has been made to keep costs, which will be provided from within my Department's existing resources, to a minimum. Where possible, work associated with the name change has been undertaken in-house, by the staff in my Department.

The vast majority of the tasks, associated with my Department's name change, have already been completed, and any outstanding work will be completed over the coming weeks. It is not possible to give a final cost of the changes at this point.

Redundancy Payments

Enda Kenny

Question:

92 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding statutory redundancy payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18686/10]

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 lump sum claim for the individual concerned on 15 July 2009.

In instances such as this, where the employer does not formally wind the company up but goes into informal insolvency and is unable to pay the statutory redundancy entitlements, the Department seeks from the employer evidence of inability to pay the entitlements to the employees. This involves requesting a statement from the company's Accountant or Solicitor attesting to the inadequacy of assets to make the redundancy payments and, the latest set of financial accounts for the company. The employer is also asked to admit liability for the 40% liability attaching to the company arising from the redundancy payments. If this information is provided to the Department, the employees are paid their redundancy entitlement from the Social Insurance Fund. Upon payment, the Department pursues the company for the 40% share that the company would ordinarily have been expected to pay to the employees. In the present instance, some but not all of the necessary documentation has been provided and my Department is in contact with the employer's solicitor in relation to an outstanding issue. If this is resolved to satisfaction, it should be possible to authorise the claim for payment shortly.

If the necessary supporting documentation required from the employer is not provided to my Department, the employee will be advised by my Department to take a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) against the employer to seek a determination establishing the employee's right and entitlement to redundancy. Once such a determination is available, the Department is then in a position to make the payment to the employee concerned. Should the outstanding documentation be provided by the employer during the period while the case is pending a hearing before the EAT, this would allow the claim to be processed by my Department in the usual way.

Job Losses

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

93 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the discussions he has had with a company (details supplied) regarding their restructuring plans and implications for jobs at the Limerick plant in Castlemungret; when he first became aware of the restructuring proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18691/10]

My Department was notified by Enterprise Ireland on the 4th May of the proposed redundancies in Irish Cement, a subsidiary of the CRH group, and my officials have informed me that a voluntary redundancy package is being negotiated with the Unions involved. Irish cement has plants in Platin, County Louth and Castlemungret, County Limerick and the redundancies will be shared across both plants. The company will maintain a core work force in both plants with full employment for the remaining employees. The agency will continue to monitor the situation and keep me up to date on developments.

County Enterprise Boards

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

94 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will clarify the financial situation with city and county enterprise boards, especially Limerick City Enterprise Board, which cannot issue grants to viable business start-ups due to lack of funding, with less than half of the calendar year completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18742/10]

The 2010 financial allocation to Limerick City Enterprise Board, and to each of the other 34 individual Enterprise Boards, is derived from the final allocation set out for my Department in the Revised Estimate as published on 18 February 2010. The 2010 budget allocation for the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) is €28.3m of which €14.994 is allocated for Capital Expenditure. This compares to a 2009 capital allocation of €14.229 which, however, was supplemented by an additional €6m made available under the Department's capital carryover process. No such carryover provision was available for 2010.

Exchequer funding is allocated between the 35 CEBs by the Central Coordination Unit (CCU), based within Enterprise Ireland, on the basis of a standard allocation to each CEB as well as an allocation that is determined mainly by population but which also takes account of issues such as local unemployment trends, capacity to spend, existing commitments and regional spread.

I have asked for a report from Limerick CEB on the exact level of demand for funding and I will review the situation when this information is available.

Redundancy Payments

Leo Varadkar

Question:

95 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the cost of redundancy rebates awarded to an airline (details supplied) for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18743/10]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

97 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the cost of redundancy rebates awarded to a company (details supplied) for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18747/10]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

98 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the cost of redundancy rebates awarded to a company (details supplied) for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18748/10]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

99 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the cost of redundancy rebates awarded to a company (details supplied) for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18749/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 95 and 97 to 99, inclusive, together.

I regret to advise the Deputy that I am precluded, by virtue of data protection considerations, from providing the Deputy with the company-specific information he has requested. It has always been, and continues to be, my Department's policy and practice not to disclose details of redundancy rebate payments made in the case of specific companies.

For the Deputy's information, I set out in Tables 1 and 2 respectively the number of claims received by my Department in the years 2002 to 2009 and the amount of monies paid out of the Social Insurance Fund in those years.

Table 1: Actual Statutory Redundancies for years 2002 to 2009 and up to end April 2010

Year

Number of Redundancy Claims

2002

24,432

2003

25,769

2004

25,041

2005

23,156

2006

23,684

2007

25,459

2008

40,607

2009

77,001

2010

23,593*

*Provisional figures.

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

Year

Expenditure on Statutory Redundancy

(€000)

2002

53,978

2003

88,933

2004

152,162

2005

149,172

2006

166,483

2007

183,328

2008

193,711*

2009

336,404*

2010

159,002*

*Provisional figures.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

96 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the reason for the delay in payment to employees of a company (details supplied) in Dublin 7. [18745/10]

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 number of lump sum claims for the former employees of the company concerned on 12 February, 2010. These claims await processing. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees, such as in this instance, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from September 2009. In the interest of fairness and equity to all claimants, claims are dealt with in order of date of receipt.

The impact on business of the severe economic circumstances currently pertaining has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the level of Redundancy Payment claims lodged with my Department. This has impacted significantly on the capacity to maintain the customer service targets that previously obtained. The scale of the challenge on the Redundancy side is evident from the statistics that show incoming redundancy claims in 2009 amounted to 77,001 which represents a threefold increase over the level of claims lodged in 2007 and earlier years. In 2007, 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 in the Department in 2009 to alleviate the pressures on the Payments area include:

almostdoubling the number of staff through reassignment to a current level of 52 full time equivalents;

prioritisation of the Department'sovertime budget towards staff in the Section to tackle the backlog outside normal hours;

establishment of aspecial call handling facility in NERA to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses concerned about their payments.

Better quality information relating to current processing times on the Department's website;

Engagement with the Revenue Commissioners to facilitate theoffset of redundancy rebate payments by employers against existing outstanding tax liabilities which those employers owe to the Revenue Commissioners.

The backlog and waiting times remain at unacceptable levels. However, improvements are evident. I should point out that my Department has, in 2009, processed 50,664 claims, up 70% on 2008. During the period 1 January 2010 to 30 April, 2010, 23,593 claims were received and 27,592 were processed. In the year to date, inroads have been made on the backlog of claims on hand, which reduced from 41,168 at the end of January to 36,333 at the end of April 2010.

Responsibility for the payment of redundancy and insolvency payments is due to be transferred to the Department of Social Protection. The intention is to transfer by Government order, the payment functions arising under the Redundancy Payment and Insolvency Payment schemes. In transferring the functions between Departments, it is the intention that this will operate seamlessly and without any adverse impact on the service levels being experienced by individuals or the business community awaiting payment of redundancy claims.

Questions Nos. 97 to 99, inclusive, answered with Question No. 95.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

100 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the cost of redundancy rebates in 2009; the breakdown per employer when the total payment exceeded €0.5 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18751/10]

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 in respect of redundancy rebate claims in 2009, an amount of €247.89m was incurred by way of expenditure from the Social Insurance Fund in 2009. I regret that I am unable to provide the Deputy with the employer-specific information he has requested as it is the Department's custom and practice not to release company specific information of this nature. However, I can advise the Deputy that in total, 33 companies received in excess of €0.5m by way of redundancy rebate payments from the Social Insurance Fund in 2009.

Work Permits

Noel Ahern

Question:

101 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will clarify the employment permit system for foreign workers in this country; if he will allow foreign workers to own their work permits in order that they can change employer; if he will grant this for a limited number of long stay workers who are here for five, seven or ten years; if he will allow transfer of a work permit to a new employer free of charge when an employer goes out of business or lays off workers; and if he will allow transfer in the case of a person (details supplied) who is here ten years, has a valid permit, has an offer of employment and so on. [18814/10]

It is current Government policy to issue new work permits for highly skilled, highly paid positions or for non-EEA nationals who are already legally resident in the State on valid employment permits or where there is an officially recognised scarcity of workers of a particular type or qualification. There are no restrictions on non-EEA nationals changing employer after a period of one year. The Department already facilitates those who wish to change employers with new employment permits. Last year, it issued almost 1,500 employment permits in respect of employees changing to new employers.

A fee is charged for the processing of an Employment Permit on a sliding scale, from €500 to €2,250, based on the duration of the Permit. Spouses/Dependants of principal Work Permit holders who were resident in the country prior to June 2009, charitable organizations, unlimited permits (where a Permit holder has spent five or more years with one employer) and non-EEA Nationals married to EEA Nationals are exempt from these fees. Full details of all fees applicable are set out on my Department's website at www.deti.ie. Fees may be refunded to the applicant if the application is refused or withdrawn prior to the issuing of the permit.

However, a properly controlled employment permit system requires that permits be issued to a specific employee for a specific job with a specific employer. To do otherwise would not only risk abuse of the employment permit system but would make it much more difficult to ensure that employers observed the employment rights of employees.

In addition, the previous Minister of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, An Tánaiste Mary Coughlan TD, in conjunction with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, announced on the 28th August 2009 that it will not be necessary for those who have been working lawfully and who have held an employment permit for 5 consecutive years to have an employment permit to remain in employment. On presentation of the relevant documentation to the Immigration Authorities they will now be facilitated with a the appropriate endorsement.

In the specific case raided by the Deputy, the person concerned may attend Garda National Immigration Bureau headquarters at Burgh Quay, or his local Immigration Officer, to ascertain his eligibility to obtain a the appropriate endorsement which may then entitle him to full access to the labour market without recourse to a Work Permit.

Industrial Development

Simon Coveney

Question:

102 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the schemes used by his Department or its agencies to attract companies of a certain sector to the Dublin docklands area; the former schemes that are no longer in existence which were used to attract sector-specific companies since the Dublin docklands regeneration project began; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18839/10]

At present the Industrial Development agencies under the aegis of my Department use a range of schemes to attract internationally-traded Financial Services operations to all parts of the country. The schemes used are the same ones as are used to promote investment and employment in manufacturing or in other internationally-traded service operations.

The schemes available to Financial Services companies in the Irish Financial Services Centre in Dublin Docklands are the same, and at the same aid rates, as those available elsewhere in Dublin.

For the country as a whole, schemes fall into a number of categories. Regional aid is paid, in areas where it is allowed under EU State aid rules, in the form of capital or employment grants or in the form of preference shares, and the amount payable is linked to the level of investment or to the numbers to be employed in the operation. However, since 1 January, 2007, regional aid is no longer payable in Dublin, and therefore not in the IFSC. Other categories of aid are payable on a uniform basis across the country. These include grants to support Research Development and Innovation, Training grants, and SME supports such as to carry out market research or towards participation in trade fairs.

Therefore, the category of schemes no longer available in the IFSC, or elsewhere in Dublin, is regional aid. When the IFSC was originally established, regional aid was paid in the form of 10% corporation tax. When the 10% corporation tax rate was phased out, regional aid became payable in forms such as capital grants or employment grants. The rate for regional aid in Dublin fell to 17.5% in 2000 and to 0% from 1 January, 2007.

Departmental Funding

Terence Flanagan

Question:

103 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18858/10]

My Department does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses but provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland, through whom assistance is delivered directly to businesses. The CEB's unique role positions them as a first point of contact for persons wishing to set up in business and therefore I would advise the person to contact their local CEB in the first instance to discuss the needs of his business with the relevant staff of the Board.

To be eligible for CEB grant support an enterprise must be in the commercial sphere, must demonstrate a market for the proposed product/service, must have a capacity for growth and new job creation and must not employ more than 10 people. CEBs can provide both financial and non-financial assistance to a project promoter. The forms of financial assistance, which are available, subject to certain restrictions and conditions, include Priming Grants, Business Expansion/Development Grants, and Feasibility/Innovation. The CEBs give priority to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector and must always give consideration to any potential for deadweight and displacement arising from a proposed enterprise.

In addition, the CEBs deliver a range of non-financial supports to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow. The promoter is advised to contact their local CEB; the Dublin City Enterprise Board to discuss what options may be available to him and his business. The Board is located at 5th Floor, O'Connell Bridge House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2. Phone No: 01 6351144 Fax No: 01 6351811 Email: info@dceb.ie. Website: www.dceb.ie

Employment Rights

Martin Ferris

Question:

104 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his views on the fact that employers are allowed to claim an inability to pay agreed wage rates; and that the State will in effect be forced to subsidise them through the family income supplement. [19083/10]

Adjustments in the gross wages of employees in the private and public sectors have occurred as a consequence of the severity of the current economic recession. The recession is having a direct impact on the level of agreed pay settlements in almost all areas of the private sector and this has also been reflected in the provisions of the Employment Regulation Orders that have been agreed by the Joint Labour Committees that are responsible for determining statutory minimum wages to cover vulnerable workers in sectors such as agriculture, hotels, catering, and retail sectors.

There is currently no provision in legislation whereby an employer can plead inability to pay the wage rates agreed either under the Joint Labour Committee or Registered Employment Agreement systems.

The Family Income Supplement (FIS) scheme is administered by the Department of Social Protection and matters relating to the scheme are appropriate to my colleague the Minister for Social Protection.

FIS is designed for employees on low wages and not as a support for employers. Some employees on low wages, whether employed in the public or private sector, regardless or whether or not they are employed in sectors protected by statutory minimum wages, can avail of support under the FIS scheme, provided the eligibility criteria are met.

Family Income Supplement (FIS) is a weekly tax-free payment for families, including one-parent families, at work on low pay. It is designed to make up 60% of the difference between net family income and the income limit which applies to a particular family size in order to maintain a basic standard of living. The purpose of FIS is to support families on low earnings, providing an incentive for them to remain in employment. Adjustments in earnings may affect an individual's eligibility for FIS depending on their income levels and family circumstances.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

105 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings that he was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings he attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in his place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19124/10]

The Council formations for which my Department has particular responsibilities are the Competitiveness Council and the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (ESPHCA).

Since my appointment as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, there have been no meetings held of either the EU Competitiveness Council or the ESPHCA Council. The next meeting of the Competitiveness Council, which I intend to attend, is due to take place on 25th/26th May, 2010. The next meeting of the ESPHCA Council is due to take place on 7th and 8th June, 2010. Representation at this Council will be decided in the coming weeks.

The following Tables lists the number of Competitiveness Council and EHSPCA meetings and previous Ministerial attendees or otherwise for the last three years:

Competitiveness Councils May 2007 – March 2010

Date

Attendance

21 – 22 May 2007

Deputy Permanent Representative

25 June 2007

Minister Micheál Martin, T.D

28 September 2007

Minister Michael Ahern, T.D.

22 – 23 November 2007

Minister Michael Ahern, T.D.

25 February 2008

Minister Micheál Martin, T.D.

29 – 30 May 2008

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, T.D.

8 June 2008 (Special Council on European Institute of Technology)

Deputy Permanent Representative

25 – 26 September 2008

Deputy Permanent Representative

1 – 2 December 2008

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, T.D.

5 – 6 March 2009

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, T.D.

28 – 29 May 2009

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, T.D.

24 – 25 September 2009

Minister Conor Lenihan, T.D.

3 – 4 December 2009

Deputy Permanent Representative

1 – 2 March 2010

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, T.D.

ESPHCA Councils May 2007 – March 2010

Date

Attendance

30 May 2007

Minister Tony Killeen, T.D

5 December 2007

Minister Billy Kelleher, T.D.

29 February 2008

Minister Billy Kelleher, T.D.

9 June 2008

Minister Billy Kelleher, T.D.

2 October 2008

Minister Billy Kelleher, T.D.

16 – 17 December 2008

Minister Billy Kelleher, T.D.

9 – 10 March 2009

Minister Billy Kelleher, T.D.

8 – 9 June 2009

Deputy Permanent Representative (employment and consumer aspects)

30 November – 1 December 2009

Minister Dara Calleary T.D.

8 March 2010

Minister Dara Calleary T.D.

Job Creation

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

106 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the action he has taken to create employment in the Tallaght region, Dublin 24; if his attention has been drawn to the need for such initiatives in view of the rise in unemployment in Tallaght; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19219/10]

Enterprise Ireland continues to work closely with the other Government agencies and South Dublin County Enterprise Board towards job creation in Tallaght. Since 2008, Enterprise Ireland has approved €29 million approximately and made payments of €19,284,627 to client companies in the Tallaght and South Dublin region. In addition, the agency is offering a range of New Funding Supports this year including:

The Job Expansion Scheme

Lean Initiative Programme

New Market Research Programme

Key Manager Grants

Continuation of the ESF

The objective of theJob Expansion Scheme is to help Enterprise Ireland client companies achieve increased employment through increased sales and international trade. This will be a competitive fund and three calls for proposals will be advertised during 2010. To promote Innovation and Competitiveness, Enterprise Ireland in 2010 will roll out a Lean Initiative Programme. This initiative will cover supports ranging from small consultancy supports to transformational organisational programmes to companies in established manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. The New Market Research Programme provides grant aid for established companies planning a market research programme to develop new market opportunities. Also, the agency’s new Key Manager Grant is available to client companies. The grant provides grant support towards employing a key Manager. The grant provides support for up to a maximum duration of 1 year and the maximum salary is €80,000 with rates of50%, 40% and 30% for small, medium and large companies respectively.

During 2010, South Dublin CEB will continue to support enterprise development in the area through the provision of both direct and indirect assistance and will ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development.

Over the past 5 years, IDA Ireland's focused strategy for South Dublin, including Tallaght, has been to promote the County as part of an integrated East Region with access to a population base of 1.5 million people. Tallaght and South County Dublin are well equipped to compete with other areas for potential foreign direct investment, with superb infrastructural facilities at Citywest and Grange Castle, and a third level Institute of Technology at Tallaght. Both of these business parks are easily accessible to the population of Tallaght and the environs.

Grange Castle Business Park, close to Clondalkin, is being developed by South Dublin County Council as a world-class business park. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc (formerly Wyeth Biopharma) has established the world's largest biopharma campus facility and invested €1.8 billion and currently employs approximately 1,300 highly skilled people. It is envisaged that Grange Castle Business Park will attract a cluster of pharmaceutical and biotechnology developments at the leading edge of technology. Planning Permission has also been approved for an Advance Integrated Circuit Manufacturing and Research facility at Grange Castle. This will be an invaluable tool for the future marketing of Grange Castle as a potential source of high quality and large-scale employment for the area. With a clustering of IT projects taking place at the National Digital Park, South Dublin has the potential to become home to a number of projects at the top end of the value chain, providing employment for highly trained and highly qualified workers.

Fiscal Policy

Michael McGrath

Question:

107 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the measures he plans to introduce for the farming sector to offset the increase in costs imposed on the sector by the carbon tax. [18777/10]

The application of carbon tax to Marked Gas Oil, which at times is referred to as ‘green diesel' or ‘agricultural diesel' came into effect from 1 May. The carbon charge in this instance is approximately 4 cents per litre and I do not intend to introduce any compensatory measures.

A number of Government Departments, including my Department are exploring options for how best to offset the impact of the carbon tax on low-income households. A number of options are being explored including improving the energy efficiency of low-income households which will help offset increases in fuel prices arising from carbon taxation.

Tax Code

Joe McHugh

Question:

108 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if a person who receives a State disability pension is exempted from carbon tax on home heating oil; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18658/10]

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

The only reliefs from the carbon tax are for those companies that participate in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

A number of Government Departments, including my Department are exploring options for how best to offset the impact of the carbon tax on low-income households. A number of options are being explored including improving the energy efficiency of low-income households which will help offset increases in fuel prices arising from carbon taxation.

Flood Relief

Paul Connaughton

Question:

109 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance the programme for the drainage of the Dunkellin River, Loughrea, County Galway; if this river will be drained in 2010; the steps the Office of Public Works have to take before drainage commences on this river; if the money is available for such drainage, the proposed cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18670/10]

The Office of Public Works has commissioned consultants to carry out a Flood Study on the Dunkellin river and its tributaries. The study, which is expected to be completed in June 2010, will identify practical mitigation measures to reduce the flood risk in the catchment. A programme of works will then be drawn up and circulated to all stakeholders including the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Western Regional Fisheries Board and riparian landowners. The timescale and costings of mitigation works cannot be determined until, in the light of any observations, decisions have been reached on the proposals.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

110 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance, further to Questions Nos. 92, 103 and 116 of 28 April 2010, if the interim deficit reduction targets for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 still apply; if they will be changed as a result of the EUROSTAT decision; if he expects they will make a similar determination regarding the money he plans to give to Anglo Irish Bank in 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18727/10]

As you are aware, the decision to reclassify the injection of €4 billion into Anglo Irish Bank has resulted in the General Government Deficit being re-calculated to be 14.3% of GDP. The underlying General Government Balance excluding this reclassification is 11.8% of GDP, which is broadly in line with the Budget day estimate. This decision was taken by the Irish authorities and communicated to Eurostat in the course of the transmission of statistical data at the end March 2010, and subsequently published by Eurostat as part of its notification of deficit and debt data for Member States for 2009.

The reclassification of the €4 billion to Anglo in 2009 is a once-off adjustment that only impacts on the 2009 General Government Deficit and does not affect the Budget day forecast for a General Government Deficit of around 11 ½ % of GDP for 2010, nor does it affect the forecast deficit targets for subsequent years. In that context, Ireland's fiscal targets for the future years have not changed in light of these statistical returns.

The issuance of promissory notes to Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society has been made to ensure that both institutions continue to meet their regulatory capital requirements. It is envisaged that the first payment of monies to either of these institutions will be in 2011, and further payments will then be made on a phased basis over the next 10 to 15 years. The issuance of these promissory notes has impacted fully on the General Government Debt in 2010. These recapitalisations have been made pending the agreement of the respective restructuring plans with the EU commission. Until these restructuring plans have been agreed, and the impact, if any, on the General Government Deficit is fully examined it is not appropriate to include these in any measure of the General Government Deficit. As such, they have been classified as financial transactions, and this decision can be reviewed when further information is available at a later stage.

Proposed Legislation

Leo Varadkar

Question:

111 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he will amend the Freedom of Information legislation to include An Garda Síochána, the vocational educational committees, the National Treasury Management Agency and the newly established National Asset Management Agency; if not, the reason for the failure to include these bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18730/10]

Officials in my Department are currently examining the issues arising from the intended extension of Freedom of Information provisions to specific functions in An Garda Síochána.

The Vocational Education Committees will be brought in under the Act in the next extension to the Act which is currently being worked on by officials of my Department.

With regard to the National Treasury Management Agency I do not propose to extend FOI to this body for reasons of commercial sensitivity. In relation to the Agency's role as the State Claims Agency, most of its work is covered by legal privilege and it is considered that a partial application of FOI to the State Claims Agency would not be warranted.

NAMA has a commercial mandate to obtain maximum value for the taxpayer and, to achieve this objective it is required to enter into complex commercial negotiations with financial institutions and developers, the nature of which requires in many instances a high degree of commercial confidentiality and therefore it is not appropriate to extend FOI to this body.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

112 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he will amend the Freedom of Information legislation to include the enforcement functions of the Health and Safety Authority; the road safety functions now carried out by the Road Safety Authority; the functions of the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds now performed by the Property Registration Authority and the proposed removal of the enforcement function of the National Employment Rights Authority; if not, the reason for the failure to include these bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18731/10]

The enforcement functions of the Health and Safety Authority includes investigations into the breaches of the Health and Safety Act and involves collaboration with An Garda Síochána in the prosecution of such breaches of the Act through the Courts. It is therefore not appropriate that this function should be covered by the FOI Act as disclosure of records in this area of activity could compromise such enforcement activities. All of the other functions of the HSA are covered by the FOI Act.

The Road Safety Authority is not currently under the FOI Act but will be considered for inclusion in the next extension to the Act which is being worked on by my officials.

The Property Registration Authority will be brought in under the Act as part of the above mentioned extension process.

The legislation setting up the National Employment Rights Authority as an independent body is currently being worked on. The proposed exclusion of its enforcement function from the FOI Act is a mirror of the provision contained in section 74 of the HSA Act to specifically protect law enforcement records against disclosure. It is intended that all other functions of the body will come in under the Act.

Fiscal Policy

Leo Varadkar

Question:

113 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the reason self-catering apartments rented to tourists and university and college accommodation rented to tourists between college terms are not subject to local authority rates in the same way as hotels and bed and breakfasts; his plans to review and amend the Valuation Act on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18733/10]

I should point out that bed and breakfasts are exempt from rates under the Valuation Act 2001. Self-catering apartments and university and college accommodation are deemed to be domestic premises under the Valuation Act 2001 and therefore not rateable.

The Act does provide for the rating of apart-hotels i.e. apartments used for the purposes of the trade of hotel-keeping. These units of accommodation are in the main apartments adjoining or adjacent to an hotel and are available for rent to customers in the same way as hotel bedrooms.

As the Deputy is no doubt aware, the Commission on Taxation has submitted proposals with regard to extending the rates base. All taxes, potential taxation measures and expenditure measures are constantly reviewed in the context of the annual Budget and Finance Bill process, and the Commission's recommendations will be further examined in that context.

Deposit Guarantee Scheme

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

114 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the bank guarantee scheme for depositors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18778/10]

The existing statutory Deposit Guarantee Scheme ('DGS') covers retail deposits with all credit institutions authorised in Ireland (including credit unions) up to a maximum of Eur100,000 per qualifying depositor per institution. The DGS does not have an end-date and will continue to apply after 29 September 2010.

On-demand deposits over Eur100,000 and all corporate deposits are currently guaranteed until 29 September 2010 under the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee (ELG) Scheme. This date is subject to six-monthly approval by the European Commission under state aid rules as is the case with all European guarantee schemes. This Scheme is due to be reviewed by the Commission before 1 June 2010. Term deposits made with participating institutions after they joined the Scheme can be guaranteed for the full term of the deposit even if this extends beyond 29 September 2010, subject to a maximum term of 5 years.

A list of the institutions that have joined the ELG Scheme and the dates they joined can be found on the website of the NTMA (www.ntma.ie) who act as operators of the Scheme on my behalf and can also be accessed on my own Department’s website.

Departmental Staff

Noel Ahern

Question:

115 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the sickness arrangements in the public service; and if the practice (details supplied) is standard. [18805/10]

I refer to the position regarding the sick leave policy in the civil service, for which I have responsibility.

The decision whether sick leave is to be granted to an officer and whether it is to be with or without pay is a matter for the Head of the Department. The production of a medical certificate does not in itself entitle the officer to sick leave.

Full pay during properly certified sick absence, provided there is no evidence of permanent disability for service, may be allowed up to a maximum of six months in one year and half pay thereafter, subject to a maximum of twelve months' sick leave in any period of four years. Sick leave with pay at pension rate may be granted to an officer where the sick leave with pay allowable under the ordinary regulations has been exhausted. The payment of pension rate of pay is subject to the condition of a reasonable prospect of a resumption of duty, with an ability to render regular and effective service.

Tax Code

Noel Ahern

Question:

116 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the regulations regarding taxation of tax exiles; the rules regarding residency, the number of days which can be spent here per year, the Cinderella clause and so on; if the changes as per the Finance Bill 2010 are now in place; and if he will report on the matter specifically in relation to revised regulations in the UK; if our revised regulations are still more generous than UK rules; if the main differences will be outlined; if further revision of our regulations will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18813/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that there is nothing in Irish tax law which makes reference to ‘tax exiles'. I am assuming that the reference by the Deputy to ‘tax exiles' is a reference to Irish domiciled individuals claiming to be non-resident for tax purposes.

A person is regarded as resident in the State for tax purposes in a tax year if he or she spends:

183 days in the State in that year, or

280 days in aggregate in that tax year and the preceding tax year.

An individual who is present in the State for 30 days or less in a tax year will not be treated as resident for that year unless he or she elects to be resident. Also, for years up to and including 2008, a day will only count if the individual is present in the State at the end of the day, referred to as the Cinderella rule.

This rule for residence purposes was changed in Finance (No. 2) Act 2008. For tax year 2009 and subsequent tax years, an individual will be regarded as present in the State for a day if he or she is in the State at any time during the day, not just at midnight.

The taxation of individuals in the State is in line with that prevailing in most other OECD jurisdictions, that is to say:

Individuals who are resident in the State for tax purposes (based on the number of days of presence in the State) are taxable here on their worldwide income; and

Individuals who are not resident here for tax purposes pay tax here only on income arising in the State and on income derived from working here.

I presume the Deputy's reference to The Finance Bill 2010 changes relates to the Domicile Levy. This levy applies for the tax year 2010 and subsequent years with the first returns due to be filed by 31 October 2011. The levy applies where the following conditions are met:

The individual is domiciled in and is a citizen of the State in the tax year;

The world wide income of the individual for the tax year is more than €1,000,000;

The individuals liability to income tax in the State for the tax year is less than €200,000; and

The market value of Irish property on the valuation date, 31 December in the tax year, is greater than €5,000,000.

I understand that UK tax residence and ordinary residence rules rely heavily on Case Law, unlike the Irish position which is more clearly set out in Statute Law by reference to the number of days spent in the State in a tax year or a combination of tax years. The UK has a statutory 183-day "override" test: an individual who is present in the UK for more than 183 days in a tax year will be tax resident for that year, regardless of whether he or she may be non-resident under general case law-derived principles. I understand that, for 2008/09 onwards, a day's presence in the UK is counted only if the individual is present at the end of the day (at midnight).

In relation to the Deputy's query about a further revision of our regulations, it should be noted that, as with other areas of taxation, the rules are constantly kept under review.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

117 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if there are plans to abolish vehicle registration tax; if so, the date same will take effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18827/10]

I have no plans to abolish VRT. In that regard it must be recognised that in Ireland VRT is an important source of revenue for the Exchequer; for example yielding around €1.3bn in 2006, €1.4bn in 2007 and €1.1bn in 2008. The receipts for 2009 at €375 million reflected the contraction in economic activity.

As the Deputy will be aware, it would not be possible to abolish VRT without raising the equivalent amount of money from other sources. The possibility of introducing widespread road pricing has at times been mentioned; however, any such measure is realistically still some way off. Increasing excise on petrol and auto-diesel has also been put forward. Abolishing VRT and collecting the same amount of revenue, that would have been raised in a normal year, from another source would, for example, require an excise, inclusive of VAT, increase on both petrol and auto-diesel of 25 to 30 cent per litre. There is no evidence that such measures would be any more agreeable to the public than VRT is, and indeed each brings their own, if different, set of problems and difficulties.

Tax Collection

Finian McGrath

Question:

118 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [18845/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the underpayment arose due to the fact that the taxpayer was in receipt of a Tax Credit for a number of years to which he was not entitled.

Payment was requested in full settlement, however the Revenue Commissioners are prepared to collect the arrears by reducing his other tax credits over a four-year period.

House Prices

James Reilly

Question:

119 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the amount that the price of houses would have to fall in order for the financial system to be at risk, according to the stress tests undertaken for the financial stability report in 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18898/10]

Results on the two stress-testing exercised relating to the impact of house price decline on the banking system were reported in the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland's (CBFSAI) Financial Stability Report 2004. The stress-testing exercise contained in the signed article in section 3 of the report examined how Irish banks would perform as a result of simultaneous moves in a number of risks relating to the Irish economy. The stress-testing exercise involved the CBFSAI presenting a range of economic indicators to the banks and asking them to interpret what effect these would have on their performance. In relation to house prices it was assumed that under the stress scenario house prices growth would amount to 12 per cent in 2003 before declining by 2 per cent and 8 per cent in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The decline in house prices coupled with the other economic variables produced the broad findings that, at that point in 2004, the banks involved could weather the hypothetical scenarios.

Secondly the results of the stress test testing exercise formed the basis of an analysis of the first-round effects on the banking system of falling house prices which was contained in Box D in page 31-23 in section 1 of the Report. This looked at the issue of house prices in isolation. Using loan to value data collected as part of the stress testing exercise, banks' exposure to hypothetical house price falls was estimated. This involved making assumptions about potential defaults rates and declines in house prices. Based on the amount by which the mortgage book had been amortised relative to nominal house prices at the end of 2003, it was the assessment at the time that it would take a 40 per cent decline in house prices coupled with 50 per cent default rate to erode the stock of provisions. In terms of profits it would require the combination of house prices declining by 55 per cent and a default rate of 50 per cent before the banks involved in the stress test would record a loss.

The Deputy may wish to note that, as set out in the Financial Stability Report, there were important limitations inherent in the stress testing exercise. The exercise referred to in the Deputy's question contributed to the CBFSAI's analysis of financial stability at that time, which included a detailed examination of the health of the banking system and as highlighted in the Governor's statement in the report, the CBFSAI's central expectation, based on the CBFSAI's assessment of the risks facing both the household and non-financial corporate sectors, as well as the shock absorption capacity of the banking system, was that the banking system's state of good health would not be compromised over the medium term horizon.

Tax Code

Michael Creed

Question:

120 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the reason mortgage relief, as currently available, is not guaranteed for the full seven-year period; the further reason, in certain circumstances, that persons can be denied a payment for up to 11 months of the first year of their application; if he will investigate the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork and ensure that the payment is guaranteed for a period of 84 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18914/10]

The position is that an individual's entitlement to mortgage interest relief is calculated by reference to a year of assessment, which is defined in the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 as a calendar year i.e. from 1 January to 31 December. It should be noted that where an individual takes out a qualifying home loan during the year, the interest accruing on the day from which the qualifying home loan is taken out to 31 December of that year qualifies for one full year's tax relief. The individual is entitled to avail of the full annual ceiling at the appropriate rate. However, in some circumstances individuals may not benefit from the full relief as their interest repayments may not reach the annual ceiling; this situation can arise in any of the years in which there is an entitlement to relief.

I am advised by Revenue that in the case in question the first year of assessment for which the mortgage qualified for relief was 2004. Relief applies for the first seven tax years, 2004 to 2010 (inclusive), at the first-time buyer rate. Those whose entitlement to relief would otherwise expire in 2010 or after, will continue to qualify for relief at the appropriate rate until end 2017, as provided for in the Finance Act 2010. In the case in question, therefore, relief will apply from 2011 until 2017 at the non-first time buyer rate.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

121 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings that he was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of meetings he attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in his place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19126/10]

As Minister for Finance, I engage frequently with European colleagues and in the present fast changing economic climate I am in frequent contact with European Ministerial colleagues and also with various European Commissioners that hold economic and /or financial dossiers, including the Commissioners for Economic and Monetary Affairs and for Internal Market and Services respectively. Finance Ministers of the sixteen Eurozone Member States meet in the Eurogroup on the eve of Economic and Financial Affairs Council meetings to discuss economic, monetary issues and other issues that relate to the euro area. Since my appointment in May 2008 there have been 24 Eurogroup meetings convened and I have attended 21 of them. Ireland was represented at senior official level, normally by the Irish Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) member at the meetings which I could not attend.

Ecofin usually meets monthly. Formal Ecofin Council meetings usually take place on Tuesdays, the day when meetings of the Cabinet generally take place in Dublin and, therefore there are times when I need to be in Dublin and cannot attend Ecofin meetings. In my absence, Ireland is represented at Ecofin by Ireland's Permanent Representative to the EU. Ireland's EFC member would also attend. Since my appointment in May 2008, there have been 25 Ecofin Council meetings convened of which I have attended 15. The recent informal Ecofin was convened by the Spanish Presidency in Madrid in April. Due to the sudden closure of Irish airspace which prevented anyone travelling from Dublin, Ireland was represented at this meeting by the Irish Ambassador to Spain.

Garda Stations

Denis Naughten

Question:

122 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 237 of 23 March 2010, the position regarding this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19160/10]

Tender documents are scheduled to be available in late May 2010, following which competitive bids will be sought. The Office of Public Works expects to place a contract and to make substantial progress onsite in the second half of the year.

Departmental Contracts

Joan Burton

Question:

123 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the contracts that have been signed between a company (details supplied) and his Department or State agencies under the aegis of his Department; the details of any such contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19167/10]

My Department has not entered into any contracts with the company in question. In respect of bodies under the aegis of my Department I have been informed by the National Treasury Management Agency that it frequently enters into contracts related to debt management transactions with Goldman Sachs companies as market counterparties. In addition, the NTMA recognised Goldman Sachs International as a Primary Dealer in Irish Government bonds in February 2010. This brought the number of Primary Dealers to fourteen:

Barclays Capital, London

BNP Paribas, London

Calyon, Paris

Citigroup Global Markets, London

Davy Stockbrokers, Dublin

Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt and London

Goldman Sachs International, London

HSBC, Paris

ING Bank NV, Amsterdam

J.P. Morgan, London

Nomura International plc, London

Royal Bank of Scotland, London

Société Générale, Paris

UBS Limited, London

The National Pensions Reserve Fund's (NPRF) long-term strategic asset allocation is broken down for investment purposes into a number of investment mandates. In most cases the NPRF Commission has outsourced the management of these mandates to specialist investment management institutions. The contract for the Fund's North American Growth mandate was awarded to Goldman Sachs Asset Management International. This mandate represents 1.4% of the NPRF. The Fund also has an investment in a Goldman Sachs Asset Management currency pooled investment vehicle. This represents 0.2% of the NPRF.

Goldman Sachs has been engaged by the NTMA to provide advice in relation to certain aspects of the banking system functions delegated by the Government to the NTMA in March. Under the Central Bank of Ireland Act 1942 (as amended), the management of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland and the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority is a matter solely for the Board of the Bank, the Regulatory Authority and the Governor and is not a matter in which I have a role. However, I will ask the Bank if it has recently engaged the company referred to and will revert to the Deputy in writing.

Financial Services Regulation

Michael McGrath

Question:

124 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied) by an organisation in County Cork. [19207/10]

The concerns outlined in the correspondence enclosed by the Deputy refer to the amendment to Section 35 of the Credit Union Act 1997 contained in the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010 which is receiving its second stage reading in Dáil Éireann at present. Section 35 imposes limits on credit unions in relation to longer-term lending. The restrictions contained in Section 35 of the Credit Union Act 1997 are an important asset and liability instrument which has protected the financial stability of the credit union movement over many years. The need for such a mechanism will be addressed in the forthcoming Strategic Review of the Credit Union Sector in Ireland but in the immediate future it is necessary to address ongoing issues with regard to Section 35 now. The matter was considered by my Department following consultation with the two credit union representative bodies — the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) and the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) — and with the Registrar of Credit Unions. I have decided that, in addition to extending from 20% to 30% the proportion of a credit union loan book that may be in respect of loans over five years, it is necessary now to give the Registrar of Credit Unions powers to require credit unions to have appropriate liquidity, provisioning and accounting requirements in place.

The Registrar of Credit Unions has advised the credit union representative bodies that he will take a balanced and proportionate approach on the implementation of the Section 35 requirements. There will also be transitional arrangements operated by the Registrar. In this regard, he has provided an outline to ILCU and CUDA of the type of transitional arrangements and clarifications that will be issued at the time of implementation. These cover matters such as timing of reporting, transitional provisions for minimum provisioning requirements, use of trial periods for rescheduled loans, circumstances where a full provision may not be required on a rescheduled loan provided that the loan is still performing and circumstances under which the level of provision held on a rescheduled loan can be reviewed. The transitional arrangements will help ease the position for credit unions up to the close of the financial year ending in September 2011. They will also allow time for credit unions to adjust to the new regime. The responsibility for provisioning for bad and doubtful debts remains with the board of directors of each credit union who must ensure that, in accordance with the provisions of the Credit Union Act 1997, the annual accounts give a true and fair view of the financial position of the credit union.

There is a balance to be struck between meeting members' needs to reschedule loans and ensuring the stability of the credit union sector overall. It is in the interests of all credit unions that the stability of the sector is safeguarded. I am satisfied that the proposals being brought forward in connection with the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010 are appropriate and will achieve this fundamental aim.

Pension Provisions

Róisín Shortall

Question:

125 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the introduction of a pension insolvency minimum guarantee scheme. [19314/10]

In the document "Further Measures to Support National Recovery through Social Partnership" (June 2009), the Government tabled a number of proposals in relation to pensions including the establishment of a Pensions Insolvency Minimum Guarantee Scheme (PIMS), which would provide for minimum payments to those schemes participating in the Pension Insolvency Payments Scheme or PIPS, subject to an overall cap. The Government has made no decision about the implementation of this scheme. The PIPS has been introduced by the Government and is being run on a pilot basis for three years. The PIPS is a targeted initiative designed to provide special assistance to certain defined benefit pension schemes. The terms of the scheme are contained in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009 and require, among other things, that the scheme be operated cost-neutrally for the Exchequer and be available to pension schemes that are winding-up in deficit with an insolvent employer. Where a pension fund is in deficit and the parent company is insolvent, pension trustees will have the option of buying annuities under PIPS — the Government will pay the pensions purchased by the capital sum paid into the Exchequer by the trustees. It is open to any pension scheme that meets the criteria to apply to participate. An explanation of PIPS, including details of the application procedure, is contained on the Department of Finance web site.

Tax Yield

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the total receipts to date from carbon tax; the projects on which these moneys were spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19328/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the total receipts from the carbon tax for the period January to April 2010, in respect of petrol and auto-diesel only, is €53.1 million, i.e. €48.4 million from the carbon charge and an estimated €4.7 million in respect of VAT. It is estimated that the carbon tax, inclusive of VAT, will yield approximately €250 million in 2010. The revenue will, amongst other things, be used to boost energy efficiency, to support rural transport and to alleviate fuel poverty.

Urban Renewal Schemes

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

127 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the special tax designation for urban renewal throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19330/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that most of the area-based tax incentive schemes such as urban renewal schemes have been terminated. The most recent urban renewal scheme was the Integrated Area Scheme that was introduced by Finance Act 1998 and terminated on 31 July 2008. Under this scheme, tax relief is available in respect of the construction or refurbishment of residential accommodation, both owner-occupied and rented (i.e. section 23 relief), and of commercial premises that have been certified by the relevant local authority as being consistent with the aims, objectives and criteria of that local authority's Integrated Area Plan.

The qualifying period originally terminated on 31 December 2002 but this termination date was extended on a number of occasions subject to certain conditions. For example, the final extension from 31 July 2006 to 31 July 2008 depended on the following conditions being met. In the case of commercial projects, a binding contract in writing, under which expenditure on construction work was to be incurred, had to be in place for the particular project on or before 31 July 2006. Work to the value of 15% of the actual construction costs had to be carried out on, or before, 31 December 2006, with compliance being certified by the relevant local authority on, or before, 30 March 2007. While local authority certification was not required in the case of residential projects, there was still a requirement for work to the value of 15% of the actual construction costs to have been carried out on, or before, 31 December 2006. In addition to these conditions, a limit has been placed on the amount of expenditure incurred after 31 December 2006 that could qualify for tax relief. This limit is 75% of the expenditure incurred during 2007 and 50% of the expenditure incurred between 1 January 2008 and 31 July 2008.

Construction work can continue on a building that had not been completed by 31 July 2008 but the expenditure attributable to any work that takes place after that date cannot qualify for tax relief. Tax relief can only start to be claimed after a building has been completed and the building leased or owner-occupied for the required purpose. 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.

The areas designated for the scheme (by Order of the Minister for Finance) are in line with recommendations made by a special Expert Advisory Panel appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and are based on the various Integrated Area plans prepared by local authorities. Set out below is a list of the cities and towns that were designated for the scheme. I would point out that only certain areas within those cities and towns were designated. If the Deputy needs information on the precise areas that were designated, details can be found in the relevant Statutory Instrument . Each Statutory Instrument contains a map of the relevant designated area. They are available at www.irishstatutebook.ie. Alternatively, the relevant local authority can provide information on any designated areas within its remit.

URBAN RENEWAL

A total of 78 Integrated Area Plans (IAPs) were submitted by local authorities under the Scheme and the Expert Panel recommended approval of 49 of these as follows. The sub-areas recommended by local authorities for designation have been reduced in many cases.

City

City

Cork City Council

Galway City Council

Blackpool/Shandon

3 suburban LA estates

City Docks Area

Dublin City Council

Limerick City Council

Ballymun

1 large central area

HARP

Inchicore/Kilmainham

Waterford City Council

Liberties/Coombe

Periphery of commercial centre

North East Inner City

Millennium/O’Connell St

County — Towns

County — Towns

Carlow

Louth

Carlow

Drogheda, Dundalk

Clare

Mayo

Shannon

Ballina

Cork

Meath

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

Navan

Donegal

Monaghan

Buncrana

Monaghan

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

Offaly

Dún Laoghaire

Birr, Tullamore/Clara

Fingal

Sligo

Balbriggan, Nth. West Blanchardstown

Sligo

Galway

South Dublin

Tuam

North Clondalkin, Tallaght

Kerry

Tipperary NR

Tralee

Roscrea, Thurles

Kildare

Tipperary SR

Athy, Kildare

Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary

Kilkenny

Waterford

Kilkenny

Dungarvan

Laois

Westmeath

Portlaoise

Athlone, Mullingar

Limerick

Wexford

Newcastle West

New Ross

Longford

Wicklow

Longford

Arklow, Wicklow

Tax Code

Sean Sherlock

Question:

128 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if a person may write off a particular expense (details supplied) against a tax liability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19344/10]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health Services

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

129 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and type of emergency beds at present available for young persons under 18 years who are out of home in Dublin and in the rest of the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18650/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Asylum Applications

Brian Hayes

Question:

130 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of unaccompanied minors claiming asylum who arrive here and who are currently in secondary schools; the number of same who have been transferred from Dublin on reaching the age of 18 years; the number of same who are in secondary education and have to leave the relevant school due to the fact that they have been transferred from Dublin to other parts of the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18982/10]

My colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, has provided the statement below, of asylum applications from unaccompanied minors from January 2000 to the end of March 2010.

Asylum applications from Unaccompanied Minors 2000-2010 (31/3)

Year

Applications Received

2000

302

2001

600

2002

288

2003

271

2004

128

2005

131

2006

131

2007

94

2008

98

2009

56

2010 (31/3)

11

I regret that due to industrial action in the Health Service Executive, I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to the remainder of this Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospitals Building Programme

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

131 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will approve the construction of the planned new hospital at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18662/10]

The proposal by the National Rehabilitation Hospital to build a new and extended facility needs to be considered within the context of a national policy for the delivery of neuro-rehabilitation services. My Department and the Health Service Executive established a Working Group to develop a policy / strategy for the provision of neuro-rehabilitation services. Its terms of reference include the development of an appropriate policy framework for neuro-rehabilitation and a preferred model of care for the provision of neuro-rehabilitation services. It is expected that the Report of the Working Group will be finalised in Summer 2010.

In the current economic situation, there is a need to ensure that all developments are planned and implemented to give best value for money and with the most appropriate mix of national, regional and local services. Any proposal to further develop neuro-rehabilitation services must also be considered in the context of the current economic climate, available revenue and capital funding and competing priorities for limited funding.

Health Services

Michael Creed

Question:

132 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children when consultation will take place with representatives of dentists regarding the recent curtailment of dental services to persons with medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18678/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has informed dentists of the changes to the Dental Treatment Services Scheme and will be providing ongoing clinical guidance and advice to individual dentists in relation to these changes. The HSE is currently in the process of appointing an Interim Oral Health Lead/Clinical Director. It is my intention to meet the Irish Dental Association after this appointment is made in order to discuss this and other issues.

Medical Cards

James Bannon

Question:

133 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18685/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Services for People with Disabilities

Enda Kenny

Question:

134 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department offers a funding scheme in which a disabled person (details supplied) in County Mayo may pursue a third level course with an international correspondence school on a part-time basis from home; if her attention has been drawn to any other funding scheme that may be appropriate in this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18687/10]

I am unaware of any assistance available in the health sector appropriate to the case outlined by him. I understand from the Department of Education, that supports from that Department are not applicable to part-time or distance courses.

Hospital Staff

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

135 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of consultant rheumatologists here; the plans there are to appoint more; the waiting times for outpatient appointments for rheumatologists in each publicly-funded hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18693/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

National Treatment Purchase Fund

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

136 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a private company is used by the National Treatment Purchase Fund to arrange for CT scans to be carried out in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin; the further reason the NTPF does not order the scans directly from the hospital; if this will be considered in order to save an unnecessary intermediary and the cost thereof; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18694/10]

The NTPF's primary remit is to facilitate patients who have been waiting longest for treatment on hospital waiting lists. The Fund is obliged as a matter of policy, to source at least 90% of treatment from the private hospital system. The purchase of capacity from the public hospital system is to allow for activity in areas, such as paediatric surgery, which cannot be carried out in private hospitals, but this activity must not adversely affect core services. In 2009, the NTPF sourced 6% of its activity from the public hospital system.

In addition to arranging inpatient care, the NTPF has conducted a number of out-patient initiatives including arranging diagnostic procedures. The NTPF has such an arrangement in place with St Vincent's University Hospital for the referral of some public patients for radiology investigations. These services are provided in a private clinic, in line with the Fund's general approach to the purchase of services for public patients.

Patient Statistics

Bernard Allen

Question:

137 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons discharged from acute hospitals in the Mid-Western Health Board area on a hospital by hospital basis and in each case the nursing homes these patients were discharged to on contract by the Health Service Executive; and the procurement practices in place to obtain the best rates possible from those nursing homes and the safeguards in place to ensure standards. [18705/10]

The new Nursing Homes Support Scheme commenced on the 27th October 2009. The scheme was introduced in order to address the inequity in the treatment of public and private long-term nursing home residents and in order to alleviate the financial hardship being experienced by long-term residents in private nursing homes. The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is now the single system of financial support for long-term nursing home care and the HSE can no longer contract beds in private nursing homes for such care. The scheme applies to public, private and voluntary nursing homes and allows individuals to choose their own nursing home, subject to it being able to cater for their particular needs.

In order to participate in the scheme, private nursing homes must negotiate and agree a price for the cost of care with the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). Part of the NTPF's role in these negotiations is ensuring value for money for both the individual and the State.

In addition to the new Nursing Homes Support Scheme, on the 1st July 2009 new Care and Welfare Regulations for Residential Care Settings for Older People came into force. The Regulations underpin the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland http://www.dohc.ie/issues/nursing_home_inspection/standards.pdf and enabled the Health Information and Quality Authority to commence an independent system of registration and inspection of all nursing homes from that date. Over 170 reports of inspections have been published to date.

The number of persons discharged from acute hospitals in the Mid-Western Health Board area on a hospital by hospital basis and the nursing homes to which they were discharged is a service matter. I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Appointments

Bernard Allen

Question:

138 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on the request for an outpatient appointment at Cork University Hospital in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [18706/10]

The scheduling of patients for hospital treatment is a matter for the consultant concerned in each case and is determined on the basis of clinical need. Should the patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he/she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant involved. However, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) operates an out-patient referral programme in a number of hospitals for certain specialties. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Medical Cards

Róisín Shortall

Question:

139 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if, with regard to the primary care reimbursement service in Finglas, she will provide data in respect of the number of new medical cards issued and the number of applications renewed in respect of over 70 years and of individuals and families under 70 years of age for each of the past six month period back to the start of 2008. [18707/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

140 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the actual savings incurred to date in 2010 since the commencement of the centralisation of medical cards to the primary care reimbursement service in Finglas, north Dublin. [18708/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Finian McGrath

Question:

141 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No 141 of 28 April 2010, if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [18713/10]

In the normal course of events, my Department would have asked the Health Service Executive (HSE), which has operational responsibility for the medical card and GP visit card benefits, to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to Parliamentary Question 17235/10. However, because of the current industrial action which is affecting the HSE, it was not possible for the Executive to supply the requested information to the Deputy. The current industrial action is not preventing the processing of medical card and GP visit card applications in the HSE.

Preschool Services

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

142 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children if children aged between three years and three years and two months will qualify for the free preschool childhood care and education scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18750/10]

I have responsibility for implementing the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which was introduced in of January this year. Children will qualify for the scheme where they are aged more than 3 years and 2 months and less than 4 years and 7 months at 1 September each year. This means that children born between 2 February 2006 and 30 June 2007 will qualify for the free pre-school year in September 2010. The upper age limit does not apply where children are developmentally delayed and would benefit from participating in the pre-school year at a later age or where a child cannot start primary school until a later date due to the enrolment policy of the local primary schools.

The majority of children participating in the scheme would be expected to commence primary school between the age of 4 years and 3 months and 5 years and 6 months. The age range for eligibility under the scheme is designed to allow parents the opportunity to take up the free school place at a time that is more suitable to them. It is also necessary to the objectives of the scheme that the free pre-school provision is delivered within a structure which supports the best delivery of pre-school education. This requires a reasonably consistent age range of children attending and it is considered that the age range is appropriate.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Pat Breen

Question:

143 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she would put extra resources into the Health Service Executive to help it to clear the backlog of applications for the fair deal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18755/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Casemix Management Systems

Olwyn Enright

Question:

144 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount a hospital (details supplied) has been penalised or awarded under the Health Service Executive Casemix management system between 2005 and 2010 inclusively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18761/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

145 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount a hospital (details supplied) has been penalised or awarded under the Health Service Executive Casemix management system between 2005 and 2010 inclusively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18762/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

146 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount a hospital (details supplied) has been penalised or awarded under the Health Service Executive Casemix management system between 2005 and 2010 inclusively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18763/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Olwyn Enright

Question:

147 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons waiting to receive a service, therapy, appointment or surgery under each category of service provided in a hospital (details supplied), both inpatient and outpatient; the average length of wait in each category in 2008,2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18774/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Mental Health Services

Noel Ahern

Question:

148 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the psychiatric services currently operating on Dublin’s northside; the structural or organisational changes that are taking place; the reason a person (details supplied) has been moved to a new team and location; if this was the result of their medical condition or category, location of their home address or other; and if it will be arranged that they will be allowed to continue with the existing team and location. [18815/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Vaccination Programme

Noel Ahern

Question:

149 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify her announcement on January 2010 regarding the HPV vaccination programme for girls currently in first year; if the programme will start before the summer or afterwards; if it applies to girls currently in first year; if it will be administered to girls now in first year who will be in second year in the Autumn and who may only be reached after the summer; and when the programme will proceed to next stage. [18826/10]

Michael Noonan

Question:

159 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the anti cervical cancer vaccination programme will be introduced for girls in schools; the way that the programme will be phased; when the first phase will commence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18881/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 and 159 together.

The HPV vaccination programme for first year girls in secondary schools will, as promised, start before the end of this school term with the first schools being visited during the week of 17th May 2010 and the programme being commenced in the remainder of schools in September next. During this calendar year all girls currently in first year and those entering first year in September will be offered the vaccination. Those students who receive their first vaccination in school this May will be offered their second dose through HSE vaccination clinics in July and their third dose in school in the autumn. The programme will continue after this commencement phase with vaccine being offered to all girls in first year in secondary school each year.

Home Help Service

Finian McGrath

Question:

150 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [18831/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive, it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course. However, I would also recommend that you inform the family mentioned that it is open to them to contact their local health office directly to seek personal assistance / home supports, assistance towards the cost of clothing and to obtain an application form for the motorised transport grant.

Medical Cards

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

151 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there is a delay in the approval and processing of a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and the reason that correspondence from both this person and this Deputy has not been responded to. [18836/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Michael Ring

Question:

152 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved a medical card. [18849/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospitals Building Programme

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

153 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of building the new Health Service Executive community nursing hospital in Ballincollig, County Cork, including the purchase of the site; when she expects it will be fully equipped; and the anticipated cost of the equipment. [18853/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

154 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is the case that the new Health Service Executive community nursing hospital in Ballincollig, County Cork, which was built with public funds, is to be put out to tender to be run by a private operator as a profit-making business; and if so, when she anticipates that this will happen. [18854/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

155 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has adopted a general policy that hospitals built with public money will be handed over to private operators, or if this practice will cease when the public service recruitment embargo is lifted. [18855/10]

I have no plans to introduce a general policy of the type referred to by the Deputy. If he wishes to raise a particular issue or service in this regard I will respond further to him.

Health Services

Jack Wall

Question:

156 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will have dental treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18867/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Children in Care

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

157 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to an issue (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18870/10]

The Independent Review Group on Child Deaths has commenced its work. It is intended that the Group will complete its work within a period of six months.

The HSE is in the process of validating details regarding the deaths of children in care over the last ten years. I would expect that the case referred to by the Deputy will be included as part of the validated list to be supplied to the Review Group. I will arrange to have the matter brought to the attention of the HSE.

Medical Cards

Mary Upton

Question:

158 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 who has a medical card must pay a €75 tax on a one-day hospital procedure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18878/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 149.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

160 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be reached on an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18892/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Service Staff

Paul Connaughton

Question:

161 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children when the new general practitioner will take up his or her post in Aughrim, Ballinasloe, County Galway; if it will be in the terms of reference of employment to attend weekly at Aughrim Health Centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18894/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services

Joe Carey

Question:

162 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reverse the changes made to the dental treatment services scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18897/10]

The decision to limit the funding available to the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) was made in view of the current position of the public finances and the 60% increase in expenditure in the DTSS over the past five years. The HSE has introduced measures to contain DTSS expenditure at the 2008 level of approximately €63 million. This reflects the imperative to achieve overall reductions in public expenditure while providing essential health services to patients. The HSE will monitor the ongoing effect of these changes from a clinical and budgetary perspective.

Health Service Allowances

Michael Creed

Question:

163 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is entitled to a mobility allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18913/10]

I regret that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive, it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course. However, I would also recommend that you inform the individual mentioned that it is open to them to contact their local health office directly to obtain an application for mobility allowance.

Hospital Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

164 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17. [18976/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Pre-school Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

165 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [18977/10]

I have responsibility for implementing the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which was introduced in January of this year.

As I pointed out the Deputy in my previous reply, children aged more than 3 years and 2 months and less than 4 years and 7 months at 1 September each year are eligible for the ECCE scheme. There is no provision under the scheme for children to avail of the free pre-school year who are below the qualifying age. There is provision to make exceptions for children who are required to start primary school when they are older than 5 years and 7 months because of the local schools enrolment policies.

In the case referred to in details attached to your question, where a parent was granted an exception, the parent in question advised my Office that there was a particular high intake of children into the Junior Infants class in the local national school in September 2009. As a result and in the interest of spreading the high numbers more evenly, several parents, with the approval of the school, opted to start their children in the school from September 2010. Following consideration of the circumstances as outlined, it was decided to allow the exceptions on the grounds of the school's enrolment policy.

As stated in my previous reply, the child in question is not eligible to avail of the scheme in September 2010 but will be eligible in September 2011.

Medical Cards

Olwyn Enright

Question:

166 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding patients diagnosed with cancer who have applied for medical cards; if there is a specific application process in place for such patients; if not, if she will be in a position to put in place such a process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18981/10]

When the new arrangements regarding the centralising of the medical card and GP visit card application process to the Health Service Executive's Primary Care Reimbursement Service are completed, the Executive will be aiming for a turnaround time of 15 days or less for all medical card applications. Emergency applications will be dealt with immediately, with a card issuing within 24 hours.

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the specific information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

167 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nursing home applicants and residents that have declined to sign up for the nursing home scheme; the funding mechanism by which they are covered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18990/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

168 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nursing home applicants and residents that have signed up for the nursing home support scheme; the amount that has been awarded by the State under the nursing home support scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18991/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Official Engagements

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

169 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 117 of 31 March 2010, when she will reply to this question;the reason she is unable to answer a question regarding a meeting that she attended. [18993/10]

I met with a delegation from the Justice for Magdalenes group recently, together with officials from the HSE and from my Department. The HSE has undertaken to make enquiries regarding the various matters which have been raised by the group with regard to the role of the health boards. I will revert to the group on the completion of those enquiries.

Health Services

Joe Costello

Question:

170 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 has not received the medical treatment they require; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19027/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards

Sean Sherlock

Question:

171 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19032/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

172 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of Health Service Executive Circular 008/10 in respect of cuts to the dental treatment services scheme, she will advise of the types of circumstances in which a person in need of denture repairs will be deemed to have a clinical emergency entitling them to reimbursement under the scheme. [19044/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

173 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19053/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Proposed Legislation

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

174 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to amend the Medical Practitioners Act 2007; the discussions she has had regarding same with interested parties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19086/10]

It is expected that two minor technical amendments to the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 will be included in legislation later this year. The Medical Council recently wrote to my Department seeking certain amendments to the Medical Practitioners Act 2007. This matter is currently being considered. The Medical Practitioners (Professional Indemnity)(Amendment) Bill 2009, a private members Bill in the name of Deputy James Reilly, was debated at second stage in the Dáil in October 2009. I undertook at that time to examine the issues raised in the Bill relating to professional indemnity cover for medical practitioners and to revert to Deputy Reilly. I have since convened a group of interested stakeholders and consultations on the issues raised are ongoing.

Hospital Services

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

175 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the statistics from the mid-west sexual assault treatment unit were not included in the annual report of the national sexual assault treatment units which she launched recently, despite the fact that 40 forensic medical examinations were carried out at the unit in Limerick; when the Limerick unit will be properly recognised and properly funded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19089/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Services for People with Disabilities

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

176 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that cutbacks in the funding to an organisation (details supplied) in County Limerick will affect the availability of services for adults with intellectual disabilities in the mid-west region; if she will address this shortfall in order that vulnerable people will have a service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19090/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Ambulance Service

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

177 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that upskilling for paramedics not just for advanced paramedics who work in the ambulance service is provided on the same basis as EU norms; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19092/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

178 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on fears expressed in County Donegal for the safety of elderly people as a result of cutbacks in the home help service; the way she plans to protect the home help service throughout the country from the effect of budget cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19093/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Finian McGrath

Question:

179 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [19104/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Census of Population

Finian McGrath

Question:

180 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will support the Irish Autism Action Group with the request on the census (details supplied). [19111/10]

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has statutory responsibility for the carrying out of the census of the population in Ireland. The CSO has advised my Department that it is not possible to include a specific question on autism or autistic spectrum disorder in the 2011 census questionnaire. The Department of Health and Children does not collect information on children identified with autism and Aspergers on a national or international basis. Information pertaining to diagnosis is specifically excluded from the National Intellectual Disability Database as the database is not designed as a medical epidemiological tool. Accordingly the database does not record the incidence of autism or any other disability.

The other matter raised in the Sunday Tribune Newspaper in relation to the allocation of resources for autism and the collection of autism statistics is a matter for the Health Service Executive. However, I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Service Allowances

Róisín Shortall

Question:

181 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of domiciliary care allowance applications in each of the five years up to 1 April 2009; the number of these that were declined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19118/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive, it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

182 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings that she was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings she attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in her place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19128/10]

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council normally meets in formal session on two occasions during each Presidency period of six months. Health matters are discussed in detail at one of these formal Councils. The following table gives the information requested by the Deputy.

Year

Number of EPSCO Councils

Number of EPSCO Councils (Health)

Number Attended by Minister

Number Attended by Officials in place of Minister

2007

3

2

1

1

(Minister represented by Minister of State at Department of Health and Children)

2008

4

2

2

(Minister represented by Minister of State at Department of Health and Children at one of these)

2009

5

4*

3

1

2010 (to date)

1

0

n/a

n/a

*2 of these meetings were called specifically to discuss the Influenza Pandemic (H1N1) 2009.

Hospital Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

183 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the instance of exstrophy-epispadias complex here; if surgical correction of this condition is available here; if not, if she will explore the possibility of making such surgery available on an all-Ireland basis through co-operation with the health authorities in the Six Counties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19209/10]

The figures available to my Department indicate an incidence rate of approximately 1 in 10,000 births over the period 2004 -2008, but caution must be exercised in relying on these figures given the small numbers involved. The requirement for cross border co-operation will be considered conjointly by the Department of Health and Children and the HSE in the light of currently available services.

In relation to the availability of surgical correction of this condition here, I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Departmental Bodies

Dan Neville

Question:

184 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the professions which have completed registration to the Health and Social Care Professionals Council and qualify to use the title of a designated health and social care profession and where the determination of complaints relating to their fitness to practice has been completed under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005. [19210/10]

The ongoing regulatory programme undertaken by my Department has seen the introduction of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, providing for statutory registration for twelve designated health and social care professional grades, as follows:

Clinical Biochemists

Dieticians

Medical Scientists

Occupational Therapists

Orthoptists

Physiotherapists

Podiatrists

Psychologists

Radiographers

Social Care Workers

Social Workers

Speech and Language Therapists

The structure of the system of statutory registration will comprise a registration board for each of the professions to be registered, a Health and Social Care Professionals Council with overall responsibility for the regulatory system and a committee to deal with disciplinary matters. Arrangements for the establishment of the first of these registration boards are currently being finalised.

Part 6 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, entitled "Complaints, Inquiries and Discipline", refers to issues concerning Fitness to Practice. The Act sets out the grounds on which a complaint may be made to the Council, i.e. professional misconduct, poor professional performance or a failure to comply with a term or condition of registration imposed under this Part etc. As soon as practicable after receiving a complaint, the Council shall refer the complaint to a preliminary proceedings committee for its opinion on whether there is sufficient cause to warrant further action being taken in relation to the complaint. Following this consideration, the Act provides for steps to be followed if, in the opinion of the preliminary proceedings committee, the complaint does not warrant further action. If a preliminary proceedings committee is of the opinion that there is sufficient cause to warrant further action being taken there is the option to:

(a) refer the complaint for resolution by mediation or other informal means, or

(b) refer the complaint to a professional conduct committee or a health committee.

The Council may apply to the Court for an order directing a registration board to suspend the registration of a person against whom a complaint has been made if the Council considers that the suspension is necessary to protect the public until further steps are taken in relation to the complaint. It should be noted that this part of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 has yet to be commenced. Part 6 of the Act will need to be commenced in advance of the opening of the first register.

Medical Cards

Pat Breen

Question:

185 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19211/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Suicide Incidence

Dan Neville

Question:

186 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the numbers of suicides in the first three quarters of 2009 and the corresponding figures for 2008. [19213/10]

Data on mortality is compiled by the Central Statistics Office and published in the Annual and Quarterly Reports on Vital Statistics. The number of suicides in the first three quarters of 2008 and 2009 are shown in the following table:

Suicide Figures by Quarter

Year

Quarter 1

Quarter 2

Quarter 3

2008

75

95

109

2009

106

122

126

Note: 2008 and 2009 figures are by year of registration and are provisional.

The provisional figures presented for the 1st three Quarters of 2009 show an increase on the figures for the same period in 2008. However, the figures for 2008 were lower than previous years. Caution should be exercised in comparing the 2009 statistics with 2007 or 2008 as these figures are also provisional and will be subject to change following the outcome of Coroners' inquests.

General Medical Services Scheme

Michael Noonan

Question:

187 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason she removed cytamen solution from the list of eligible medicines under the general medical scheme; if her attention has been drawn to the hardship this has caused to persons with medical cards who are anaemic; if she will restore the medication to the list; if she will recommend an alternative generic substitute which medical card holders may obtain; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19214/10]

The Health Service Executive has advised that there had been a supply shortage with Cytamen. Alternative arrangements for patients were put in place during this time. The supply issue has now been resolved and the drug is again available under the General Medical Service Scheme.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Michael Noonan

Question:

188 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the long waiting list for urologist services in the mid-western health region; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that only two urologists serve the region; the plans that the Health Service Executive has to make further appointments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19215/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your parliamentary question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Special Educational Needs

Michael Noonan

Question:

189 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the allocation made to a school (details supplied) in County Limerick is insufficient and that on its current spending profile funds will run out in October 2010; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that further staff cutbacks are not possible; if she will provide the school with the necessary additional funds it requires; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19216/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Service Allowances

Jack Wall

Question:

190 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the hardship that will be incurred by persons using oxygen who now have had the financial allowance removed by her; when the allowance will be reinstated in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19318/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards

Sean Sherlock

Question:

191 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19319/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

192 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19320/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

193 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork was correctly assessed in view of their income; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19321/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

194 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19322/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

195 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19323/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

196 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19324/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

197 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19325/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

198 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19326/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Michael Creed

Question:

199 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is entitled to a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19347/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

200 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [19350/10]

I regret that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive, it is not possible for the Executive to supply the information requested. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course. However, I would also recommend that you inform the individual mentioned that it is open to them to contact their local health office directly.

Preschool Services

James Reilly

Question:

201 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is an appeals process for children who fall under the three years three months rule to receive the early child care supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19353/10]

I have responsibility for implementing the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which was introduced in January this year and which replaced the Early Childcare Supplement. This scheme provides for a free pre-school year for qualifying children before they commence primary school.

Children will qualify for the free pre-school year place when they are aged more than 3 years and 2 months and less than 4 years and 7 months on 1 September each year. This means that children born between 2 February 2006 and 30 June 2007 will qualify for the free pre-school provision in September 2010. The upper age limit does not apply where children and developmentally delayed and would benefit from participating in the pre-school year at a later age or where children cannot enroll for primary school until they are more than 5 years and 7 months because of the local primary schools enrolment policies and parents can seek exemptions on either of these grounds. There is no provision to waive the lower age limit.

Willie Penrose

Question:

202 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the grants that are available for the provision of sessional preschool facilities by persons who wish to provide same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19356/10]

I have responsibility for implementation of the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP) which is a multi-annual programme to improve the availability and quality of childcare options, primarily through capital grant-aiding the construction and refurbishment of childcare facilities. As you are aware, following the review of Government expenditure last year, a decision was taken not to approve any further capital grant applications and to close the NCIP to new applications. As a result, while capital grant funding amounting to €30 million to meet existing NCIP commitments is continuing to be paid in 2010, no other capital funding is currently available to my Office. The position in regard to future capital grant funding will be reviewed later this year.

Port Capacity

Michael McGrath

Question:

203 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide details of the national co-ordination of capital developments undertaken by various Irish ports with a view to ensuring that each port’s plans are consistent with the overall national policy on ports and that the appropriate level of capacity is developed. [18780/10]

The provision of adequate and efficient port capacity is an important element of ports policy and my Department has commissioned a number of studies on the matter over the last decade. The Ports Policy Statement published in 2005 outlines that the provision and funding of port capacity is best driven by the commercial port companies themselves in response to the demands of the market. The Dublin Port Study carried out by my Department under the NDP and published in August 2009 provides the most recent analysis of future traffic and capacity projections at our commercial seaports. The study highlighted the need to develop significant additional port capacity by 2025 — 2030. Such is the nature of the expected future demand, the capacity required will necessitate the provision of significant developments, such as that envisaged at Dublin or Bremore, in addition to other projects around the State currently under consideration. My Department continues to monitor both the capacity situation at our ports and the continuing progress on the various development proposals at our ports.

John Deasy

Question:

204 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport the number of shipping movements through the Port of Waterford from 2005 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19084/10]

John Deasy

Question:

205 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport the tonnage of cargo passing through the Port of Waterford from 2005 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19085/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 204 and 205 together.

The Central Statistics Office publishes a comprehensive annual report entitled "Statistics of Port Traffic". This report covers such matters as the number and size of vessels and the gross tonnage and type of tonnage handled at each port in the State, including the Port of Waterford. This report is available on the Office's website, www.cso.ie, which includes archived reports dating back to 1998. The figures for the preceding year are usually published in July, and figures for 2009 should be available then. Figures for 2010 are not yet available. The Irish Maritime Development Office also publishes shipping traffic statistics on a quarterly basis and these are available on its website www.imdo.ie.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

206 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings that he was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings he attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in his place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19132/10]

The details are:

Transport Council Date

2007

2nd October

Minister was represented by officials

29th/30th November

Minister was represented by officials

2008

7th April

Minister attended

13th June

Minister attended

9th Oct

Minister of State attended

9th Dec

Minister of State attended

2009

30th March

Minister of State attended

11th June

Minister was represented by officials

9th October

Minister was represented by officials

17th December

Minister attended

2010

11th March

Minister was represented by officials

4th May

Minister was represented by officials

Citizenship Applications

Terence Flanagan

Question:

207 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18671/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in September 2008. All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 26 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. Additional resources have been allocated to the Citizenship Division of my Department in order to reduce backlogs and provide a better quality service to all applicants. This has had a positive impact on processing times and has enabled certain categories of applicant to be dealt with more expeditiously. These include refugees, spouses of Irish citizens and minors.

Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that processing of the application is at an advanced stage and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course. The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Tom Hayes

Question:

208 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18832/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in July 2007 and I decided in my absolute discretion to grant a certificate of naturalisation. The person in question was informed of this decision in a letter issued to him on 23 April, 2010. A certificate of naturalisation will issue to the person concerned on receipt of documentation requested to finalise his application.

Garda Recruitment

Paul Connaughton

Question:

209 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if successful candidates to join An Garda Síochána who have been called and have passed their medical and physical tests can be expected to be called for training; if so, when this is likely to occur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18669/10]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

219 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the next recruitment round for An Garda Síochána will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18835/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

221 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when advertising will commence for the next intake of gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18865/10]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

225 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the most recent available figures relating to the strength of An Garda Síochána; his views on the consequences which the current moratorium on Garda recruitment may have on the force when replacing the numbers of gardaí retiring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19034/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 209, 219, 221 and 225 together.

At the latest date for which comprehensive figures are readily available, there were 14,523 fully attested members of An Garda Síochána with a further 229 recruits in training. The Garda Commissioner is closely monitoring the levels of Garda strength around the country, taking into account the level of retirements and recent attestions of student. I have consulted with the Garda Commissioner and my colleague the Minister for Finance on when a resumption of Garda recruitment might be necessary so as to keep Garda numbers up to approved levels. My priority is to maintain Garda operational strength and, therefore, I am planning to commence recruitment to the Force by the end of the year. A recruitment drive will be necessary to compensate for retiring members and to keep Garda numbers up to approved levels and I expect an advertisement to be published in the media in the coming months. I am informed by the Garda authorities that applicants selected by the Public Appointments Service and who have successfully undergone a Physical Competency Test, a Medical Examination and also Character Vetting will remain on a panel and are available to be offered positions as Garda Trainees in a future intake.

Garda Operations

Finian McGrath

Question:

210 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [18674/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the location referred to is in the Raheny Garda District. I am further informed that local Garda management is not aware of any incidents of the type referred to by the Deputy having occurred at this location. Any such incident reported to An Garda Síochána will be subject to investigation. A member of the local Community Policing Unit is allocated specifically to the area referred to and regularly meets local residents. The area is subject to regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, Including the Community Policing Unit, the Garda Mountain Bike Unit and the local Detective and Drugs Units, supplemented as required by the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel. Local Garda management closely monitors and keeps under review patrols and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in the area, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. Current policing strategies are designed to prevent crime, public order offences and anti-social behaviour, and community policing is a central feature and core value of policing policy. This will ensure an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life for residents.

Departmental Correspondence

Jack Wall

Question:

211 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the information requested by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be determined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18692/10]

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

Commercial Rent Reviews

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

212 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to abolish the upward only rent review clauses in existing leases; if this will be done retrospectively and the periods for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18712/10]

The Deputy will be aware that I have introduced legislation which ensures that, for business leases entered into on or after 28 February of this year, the inclusion of upward only rent review clauses is effectively prohibited. Similar action in relation to existing leases was not possible for legal and constitutional reasons. I am conscious of the difficulties which are being faced by those who are parties to existing leases where the traditional arrangement applies. The arrangement which has evolved over the years in relation to commercial rent reviews is that such reviews take place every five years on an upwards only basis. It is important to note that these arrangements are not mandated by any legislative requirement. Rather, they represent well settled practice in this area. I am strongly of the view that a flexible and pragmatic approach should be taken to rent reviews which arise in relation to existing leases. It is not in anyone's interest that vacancy rates increase to an unacceptable level because of a reluctance to offer sensible concessions to traders who are in difficulty.

Visa Applications

Deirdre Clune

Question:

213 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the application of a person (details supplied) in County Cork for a six week extension to a working holiday authorisation; the reason there is a delay; when this person will expect to receive a response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18714/10]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that to date they have not received an application for further leave to remain in the State from the person mentioned by the Deputy. The Working Holiday Authorisation which is issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs is available to young people who wish to stay in Ireland for an extended holiday and who are afforded the opportunity to work casually in order to fund their stay. It is granted for the duration of one year and is non renewable.

Citizenship Applications

Pat Breen

Question:

214 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18717/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2006 and I decided in my absolute discretion to grant a certificate of naturalisation. The person in question was informed of this decision in a letter issued to him on 29 October, 2009. A certificate of naturalisation was sent via registered post to the person in question on 25 February, 2010.

Deportation Orders

Pat Breen

Question:

215 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18719/10]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 30 September 2007. She was given permission to remain in the State until 30 September 2008 and has remained in the State since that date without permission. In accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 19 November 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of submitting written representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned.

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

Asylum Support Services

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

216 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the person who is responsible for inspecting hostels (details supplied) to ensure conditions are satisfactory and quality of the food is also satisfactory; the number of these inspections that are carried out; if the hostels are advised of the date of inspection beforehand; and if the inspection team sees the preparation of the meals. [18797/10]

The Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department has responsibility for the accommodation of asylum seekers under the Government policy of direct provision and dispersal. As of 2 May, 2010, there are 6,337 persons residing in 50 centres located throughout the State under contract to RIA.

RIA engages independent external assessors, with expertise in areas such as fire safety and food preparation, to conduct comprehensive inspections of all centres at least once a year. These inspections are always unannounced. The inspectors look at all aspects of the accommodation centre in relation to the proprietor's obligations under the contract. Reception, staff cover, menus, food preparation, facilities being provided, maintenance of the property and fire and safety issues are subject to inspection.

Further to the above, RIA has an internal Inspections Unit which also conducts inspections which, resources allowing, are carried out on a twice yearly basis. These inspections are also unannounced. While inspectors (both internal and external) do not oversee the preparation of meals, they are obliged to sample either the mid-day or evening meal. External inspectors inspect the food preparation areas and report their observations in relation to hygiene and good practice to RIA. Aside from the formal inspection regime outlined above, all centres are subject to other unannounced visits by RIA staff, including senior management, to ensure that standards are being maintained. The maintenance of standards is also facilitated by ‘clinics' carried out in centres. This involves staff from RIA holding meetings with residents in centres on a one-to-one basis. These afford residents an opportunity to comment on accommodation and operating standards as well as facilitating discussion on other issues.

Any diminution in standards which comes to the attention of the RIA is immediately followed up. Proprietors are instructed to make any changes and improvements deemed necessary. Follow-up inspections are also arranged as appropriate. In cases where standards stipulated in the contract have not been met and the proprietor has not made sufficient efforts to remedy the situation, the contract may be terminated.

A number of asylum seeker accommodation centres have received the Excellence Ireland Quality Association mark, or equivalent. Although RIA welcomes the recognition of standards shown by the EIQA award, and notwithstanding the stringency of its own contractual requirements, it does not oblige operators to obtain it. The following table outlines the level of inspections and information clinics carried out on RIA centres over the past 3 years. The ratio between internal and external inspections during this period was 57% : 43% respectively.

Year

No. of centre Inspections completed

2007

100

2008

139

2009

145

In respect of the two centres specified by the Deputy in her question, inspections were carried out as per the following table.

2010

2009

2008

2007

Centre 1 (HH)

None to date

2 × internal +1 × external

1 × internal +1 × external

1 × external

Centre 2 (GC)

1 × internal

1 × internal +1 × external

1 × internal +1 × external

1 × internal +1 × external

Residency Permits

Joe Carey

Question:

217 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will approve an application for EU spousal recognition in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18833/10]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the application by the person concerned for residence in the State based on EU Treaty Rights was reviewed and that a decision was issued by registered post to the person concerned on the 6th April, 2010.

Garda Recruitment

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

218 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the rules, regulations and possibilities in respect of members of the police force in the United Kingdom transferring here under his jurisdiction; if any such transfers have taken place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18834/10]

Under current regulations on admission and appointment to the Garda Síochána, recruitment to the Garda rank is open to all citizens of the EEA, although there is no provision for serving members in police forces in other States to apply directly for posts at higher ranks. Under an Intergovernmental Agreement on Police Co-operation between Ireland and the UK, however, provision is made for members from the Garda Síochána and the PSNI to apply for posts in the other Force at ranks above Inspector. Giving effect to this will require changes to the current Garda regulations, and my Department is in ongoing discussions on this with the Garda Commissioner, the Garda representative associations and the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland Office. Under this Agreement, personnel exchanges between the Garda Síochána and the PSNI are already in place, and a Garda Superintendent was recently seconded to the PSNI.

Question No. 219 answered with Question No. 209.

Citizenship Applications

Seán Power

Question:

220 Deputy Seán Power asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on the application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18861/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in August 2009. All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 26 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale.

The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Question No. 221 answered with Question No. 209.

Visa Applications

Michael Ring

Question:

222 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform how an American citizen might remain in this country beyond the 90 day holiday visa granted on entry. [18868/10]

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 176 on 29 April 2010 in which I stated that it is the policy of my Department not to extend a permission to remain to persons who are admitted for a period of 90 days or less on a short stay visit, save in very exceptional and unforeseen circumstances. The reason for that policy is that an extension of visitor's permission should not generally arise in circumstances where the person has accurately and fully disclosed their purpose for intending to come to the State at the visa application stage and/or to the immigration officer at the port of entry. Where exceptional and unforeseen circumstances arise, the person may contact their local immigration officer to seek to extend their permission to remain.

Where the person seeking a change of status is of a nationality that is not visa required, some additional latitude may be applied on a case by case basis where that person's circumstances have changed since their arrival in the State. If the Deputy has a particular case in mind he should advise that person to apply in writing to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service at 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 setting out their changed circumstances in detail.

Garda Operations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

223 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [18869/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is within the Coolock Garda District. I am further advised that local Garda management is aware of difficulties being experienced in the locality and of illegal parking in the vicinity of the location referred to and is dealing with the matter. The area is subject to regular patrols by uniform and plain-clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit, supplemented by the District Garda Mountain Bike Unit and Traffic Corps personnel. The provisions of the Road Traffic Acts are fully enforced, with fixed charge penalty notices being issued or criminal proceedings initiated where appropriate.

Local Garda management closely monitors patrols, and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in this area to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. The situation will continue to be kept under review.

Legal Aid Service

Olwyn Enright

Question:

224 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the guidelines for free legal aid; if student maintenance grant payments are included for the purpose of free legal aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18872/10]

I have no responsibility in this matter. Under section 7(3) of the Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995, I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which the Legal Aid Board is or may be concerned. I understand that a detailed description of the means-testing regime is set out in the Legal Aid Board's leaflet on Financial Eligibility (Leaflet Number 13), which can be accessed through the Board's website, www.legalaidboard.ie, and can also be issued by the Board to potential applicants on request.

Question No. 225 answered with Question No. 209.

Residency Permits

Jack Wall

Question:

226 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for long-term residence in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19079/10]

An application for long term residency from the person in question was received in my Department on 24 November 2008. A letter, requesting further documentation, issued to the person concerned on 29 April 2010. Processing of the application will continue on receipt of these documents. It is likely, therefore, that a decision will be reached on the application in the coming months.

Citizenship Applications

David Stanton

Question:

227 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on an application for citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19114/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in June 2007. All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 26 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that processing of the application is ongoing and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Departmental Reports

Michael Ring

Question:

228 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if any progress has been made in relation to a consultation paper (details supplied); the recommendations that have been made; and the recommendations that will be followed. [19117/10]

I understand that the Law Reform Commission intends to publish its Final Report on Personal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement by the end of 2010 and that shortly it will publish an Interim Report on some early initiatives that it has developed with the assistance of a Working Group.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

229 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings he was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings he attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in his place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19129/10]

Since my appointment as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in May 2008 there have been 17 Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council meetings, nine of which I have attended. Minister of State Conor Lenihan attended two Council meetings on my behalf. In the remaining instances, I was represented by Ireland's Permanent Representative to the EU and senior officials of my Department. I regard the work of the Council as being of the highest importance and attend where possible, having regard to my overall official commitments at the time.

Citizenship Applications

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

230 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; when a decision will be made on this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19169/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in September 2007. All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 26 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that processing of the application is at an advanced stage and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

231 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19204/10]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 7 November 2003. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), he was entitled to remain in the State until his application for asylum was decided. His asylum application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 17 May 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. Representations were submitted on behalf of the person concerned at that time and subsequently.

Following the consideration of his case under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), a decision was made to grant the person concerned permission to remain in the State, subject to certain stated conditions, for a six month period, to 5 January 2010 with this decision conveyed to the person concerned by letter dated 3 July 2009. The conditions included elements that the person concerned would obey the laws of the State and would not become involved in criminal activity.

Subsequently, it came to light that the person concerned had come to the attention of An Garda Síochána. Consequently, he was notified, by letter dated 4 January 2010, that the Minister proposed to revoke his permission to remain in the State. This communication advised the person concerned of his entitlement to submit a written response to this proposal with any such response to be considered before a final decision was taken. The person concerned, through his legal representative, has submitted a response to this proposal and a decision will be made in the near future as to whether the permission to remain granted to the person concerned will be revoked or renewed. Once a decision has been taken, this decision, and the consequences of the decision, will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Visa Applications

Pat Breen

Question:

232 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 171 of 29 April 2010, the position regarding a visa application in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19212/10]

I refer the Deputy to my previous reply to Parliamentary Question Number 171 of 29 April 2010, the information provided in relation to visa application number 2947162 remains correct as stated. I am informed by the Visa Section of my Department that the person in question has made a new visa application under visa reference number 3760742. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a visa has been granted to the person referred to under this reference .

Passport Applications

Paul Connaughton

Question:

233 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a person currently working as an aid worker in the Sudan is entitled to a second Irish passport given that their current passport will expire in the near future and they believe that if they were to wait until the expiry date to apply it would be too late for them to travel home on leave by the time the passport was granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18655/10]

A passport can be renewed before its expiry date. However, as it is currently not possible to guarantee a turnaround time for the processing of passport applications, because of the ongoing industrial action in the Passport Service, I have issued instructions and announced that passport applicants may submit a photocopy of the photograph page of any existing valid passport being renewed, with the application form and retain the existing passport. The person in question should make contact with the Honorary Consul General of Ireland in the Sudan to submit the passport application. When the new passport is produced and available for collection in Khartoum the applicant will then be asked to submit the old passport for cancellation.

The contact details are as follows:

Honorary Consul General of Ireland

DAL Food Division

No. 1/15 Block 4F, Industrial Area

Khartoum North

P.O. Box: 807, Khartoum 11111

Sudan

Telephone: +249-1-5511-7886

Fax: +249-1-8544-4847

Email: ireland.consulate.krt@gmail.com

Human Rights Issues

Joe Costello

Question:

234 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that thousands of Roma are being repatriated to camps in Kosovo from Germany, without a housing or medical programme being put in place; if he will raise this matter at the next EU Council of Ministers meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19097/10]

The Government takes a close interest in the situation of the Roma in Kosovo. The Taoiseach raised the living conditions of the Roma when he met with President Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaci during his visit to Kosovo on 22 December 2008. My officials regularly pursue the issue at senior level within the EU both in Brussels and in Kosovo. An official of my Department met last October with the Head of Operations of the European Commission Liaison Office (ECLO) in Kosovo. This is the EU body charged with co-ordinating national and international efforts to secure long-term sustainable solutions to the difficulties facing the Roma community in Kosovo. Our Ambassador in Budapest, who is accredited to Kosovo, followed up on the matter with the EU Presidency in Pristina last November. This issue was also discussed during the visit of EU Special Representative / International Civilian Representative (ICR), Mr Pieter Feith, to Dublin on 13 April.

As the Deputy is aware, not all EU Member States recognise Kosovo. Accordingly, there is no agreement between the EU and Kosovo on readmission of citizens. However, a number of Member States are working with the authorities in Pristina on a bilateral basis. The European Commission is helping the Government of Kosovo by strengthening its capacity to regulate and manage the readmission of its citizens. This includes addressing issues such as better allocation of resources as well as coordination between central and municipal levels.

My Department has been in touch in recent days with the Head of Operations at the European Commission Liaison Office (ECLO) in Pristina who has confirmed it is not the intention that Roma, recently returned to Kosovo, will be housed in the contaminated camps at Osterode and Cesmin Lug in North Mitrovice. These are currently in the process of being closed down in a project drawn up jointly by ECLO and USAID in cooperation with the Government of Kosovo. The project is being implemented by an NGO (Mercy Corps Scotland) on behalf of ECLO and USAID. The shared objective of ECLO and USAID is the complete closure of the Osterode and Cesmin Lug camps and the resettlement and reintegration of the 140 Roma families living there. ECLO and USAID have contributed €5m and €2.5m respectively to resolve this humanitarian problem. The project also includes provision for medical services and the treatment of children from the camps as well as access to education and other social services. The project started on 1 February and will be carried out over two and a half years.

The Deputy will also wish to be aware that Ireland has supported a broad range of projects to assist the Roma community in the Western Balkans region, including Kosovo. From 2005 to 2009, Irish Aid allocated €850,000 towards development and educational projects with the Roma community in Kosovo. In addition, Ireland contributed €200,000 to the World Bank's Roma Education Fund, which works in eleven countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Kosovo.

Straitéis 20 Bliain

Pat Breen

Question:

235 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Pat Breen den Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha an bhfuil sé i gceist aige go mbeidh ról ag Gaeil thar sáile agus Ambasáidí na hÉireann i gcur chun cinn na teanga mar chuid den Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge; agus más ea, cén ról praiticiúil atá leagtha síos leis seo a chur i gcrích sa Straitéis; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [19112/10]

Leagann Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge amach líon réimsí gníomhaíochtasa a rachaidh chun leasa na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta sna 20 bliain atá romhainn.

Ar cheann de chuspóirí na dréacht-Straitéise tá tacú le cur chun cinn is le múineadh na Gaeilge thar lear, trí mo Roinnse agus tríd an Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta. Ní leagann an Straitéis aon sainról síos do Mhisin Éireannacha agus dá bhfoirne; ach tá ról suntasach cheana féin ag na Misin Éireannacha i gcur chun cinn na Gaeilge, go háirithe trína ngníomhaíochtaí cur chun cinn cultúrtha. Mar shampla:

An Astráil: Bíonn ranganna Gaeilge ag club Gaelach Sydney do leibhéil éagsúla gach seachtain. Bíonn Scoil Geimhridh as Gaeilge acu gach bliain in Sydney freisin, rud a fhaigheann tacaíocht airgeadais i ndeontas ó leithroinnt chultúrtha bhliantúil ár nArd-Chonsalachta in Sydney. Osclaíonn Ambasadóir na hÉireann in Canberra agus Ard-Chonsal na hÉireann, ar a sheal, an ócáid chónaithe seo a mhaireann thar an deireadh seachtaine. Fairis sin tá grúpa gréasán-bhunaithe, www.iorarua.com , atá gníomhach ag cur na Gaeilge chun cinn agus a dtacaíonn an Ard-Chonsalacht in Sydney leis.

An Bhreatain: Fóirdheonaíonn an Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta múineadh na Gaeilge do dhaoine fásta in Ollscoil Cambridge, Coláiste na hOllscoile Mhuire in Twickenham agus san eagras náisiúnta Coláiste na nGael. Bíonn Ambasáid na hÉireann i Londain i ndlúth-theagmháil leis na grúpaí sin agus bíonn ócáidí go rialta san ambasáid agus bronnadh Fáinní mar dhuaiseanna.

Éascaíonn an Ard-Chonsalacht i nDún Éideann cruinnithe agus imeachtaí i rith na bliana uile le heagrais Ghaeilge na hAlban, agus eagrais eile mar iad, le cuairteanna ó Éirinn nó/agus atá bunaithe in Albain. Bíonn ranganna Gaeilge agus gníomhaíochtaí a bhaineann le Gaeilge á n-eagrú in Albain, go háirithe faoi urraíocht Ollscoil Ghlaschú. Eagraíonn Ollscoil Dhún Éideann ranganna Gaeilge do dhaoine fásta.

An Bhulgáir: In 2008, chuir Ambasáid na hÉireann in Sóifia tús le Seachtain na Gaeilge tráth na Féile Pádraig. Tugadh léachtaí faoin nGaeilge i dtrí ollscoil Bhulgáracha agus bronnadh ábhar foghlama Gaeilge.

An tSín: Aonad na hÉireann thar Lear i mo Roinnse a mhaoiníonn Cumann an Phobail Éireannaigh in Shanghai, agus úsáidtear cuid den airgead sin do ranganna cultúrtha ar a mbíonn ranganna Gaeilge.

Poblacht na Seice: Cuireann Lárionad an Léinn Éireannaigh in Ollscoil Shéarlais, Prág, cúrsaí Gaeilge ag leibhéil éagsúla ar fáil do mhic léinn. Agus na cúrsaí críochnaithe acu, seasann na mic léinn is fearr scrúdú idirnáisiúnta a eagraítear i gcomhar le hOllscoil na hÉireann, Maigh Nuad. Tugtar scoláireachtaí do na mic léinn is fearr torthaí chun dianchúrsaí samhraidh a dhéanamh i nGaeltachtaí Thír Chonaill nó Chonamara. Tugann an Ambasáid an oiread tacaíochta agus cabhrach agus is féidir don lárionad. Ó mo Roinnse agus ón Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta a mhaoinítear an lárionad.

An Ghearmáin: Bíonn Ambasáid na hÉireann i mBeirlín ag obair chun go bhfaigheadh na lárionaid acadúla a mhúineann Gaeilge an oiread cabhrach agus is féidir chun oideachas trí Ghaeilge a chothú is a éascú. Tá an Ambasáid ag obair go dlúth leis an Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta chun maoiniú ó Chiste na Gaeilge sa Roinn a áirithiú do raon leathan institiúidí agus ollscoileanna ina múintear an Ghaeilge sa Ghearmáin. Fairis sin, neartaíonn an Ambasáid scéim an Chiste, agus tacaíonn léi, le clár bronnta leabhar (mar shampla, foclóirí Gaeilge agus acmhainní eile) agus le tacaí múinteoireachta (dlúthdhioscaí, cluichí, srl.) a fhaigheann sí ó fhoinsí comhpháirtiochta éagsúla in Éirinn (lena n-áirítear Foras na Gaeilge). Chomh maith leis sin thacaigh an Ambasáid le tionscnaimh neamhspleácha, amhail an scéim "Gaeltacht Europe" a bhfuil faoi naisc níos láidre a chothú idir chumainn Éireannacha ar Mhór-Roinn na hEorpa a mhúineann an Ghaeilge.

Mhaoinigh an Ambasáid rannpháirtíocht údar Gaeilge mar chuid den tionscnamh "mionteangacha, mórlitríochtaí" ag Aonach Leabhar Leipzig le blianta beaga anuas. D'aistrigh sí téacsanna litríochta Gaeilge go Gearmáinis óna buiséad cultúrtha agus chlóigh sí iad.

Fairis sin, oibríonn an Ambasáid go dlúth leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna chun mic léinn a roghnú do scoláireachtaí samhraidh Gaeilge.

Lucsamburg/an Bhruiséil: Múintear an Ghaeilge go caighdeán na hArdteiste/Baccalaureate Idirnáisiúnta sa Scoil Eorpach i Lucsamburg, agus i Scoileanna Eorpacha uile na Bruiséile (4 cinn), agus urraíonn Ambasáid na hÉireann i Lucsamburg duais don mhac léinn leis na torthaí Gaeilge is fearr sa Baccalaureate gach bliain. Chomh maith leis sin, tá Cumann Gaelach Lucsamburg thar a bheith gníomhach, agus tacaíonn an Ambasáid lena chuid imeachtaí go rialta, ina measc léacht bhliaintúil le Gaeilgeoir aitheanta. Tacaíonn an Ambasáid agus Buan-ionadaíocht na hÉireann sa Bhruiséil le Seachtaine na Gaeilge gach bliain, agus leis an léacht bhliantúil faoin nGaeilge a bhíonn ar siúl sa Bhruiséil tráth na Féile Pádraig freisin.

Alba: Éascaíonn an tArd-Chonsalacht i nDún Éideann cruinnithe agus imeachtaí i rith na bliana uile le heagrais Ghaeilge na hAlban, agus eagrais eile mar iad, le cuairteanna ó Éirinn nó/agus atá bunaithe in Albain. Bíonn ranganna Gaeilge agus gníomhaíochtaí a bhaineann le Gaeilge á n-eagrú in Albain, go háirithe faoi urraíocht Ollscoil Ghlaschú. Eagraíonn Ollscoil Dhún Éideann ranganna Gaeilge do dhaoine fásta.

An tSualainn: Bíonn cúrsaí Sean-Ghaeilge, Meán-Ghaeilge agus Nua-Ghaeilge san Earnáil Cheilteach in Ollscoil Uppsala, príomh-lárionad léann na Gaeilge sna críocha Lochlannacha. Ní fada ó rinne an dámh athbhreithniú curaclaim chun an t-ábhar a dhéanamh níos tarraingtí agus níos so-rochtana do mhic léinn a bhfuil fúthu é a thógáil mar mhodúl nó mar ábhar breise le príomh-ábhar léinn eile. D'éirigh cuíosach maith leis na hiarrachtaí sin agus mhéadaigh siad líon na mac léinn. Coinníonn Ambasáid na hÉireann i Stócólm dea-chaidreamh le Roinn na Ceiltise agus thug sí tacaíocht airgeadais chun a cuid gníomhaíochtaí a neartú. Thug an tAmbasadóir cuairt ar an dámh go minic chun bualadh leis an bhfoireann múinteoireachta agus leis na mic léinn, a fhaigheann cuirí go rialta chuig imeachtaí na hambasáide.

Na Stáit Aontaithe: Tá eagras ealaíona Éireannach in Washington DC, Solas Nua, a eagraíonn ranganna Gaeilge. Tacaíonn Ambasáid na hÉireann in Washington agus Cultúr Éireann le Solas Nua. Is iomaí áit eile in SAM a mhúintear an Ghaeilge, go minic mar chuid de chláir sa léann Éireannach in ollscoileanna. Thacaigh Ard-Chonsalacht na hÉireann go mór leis an dá phríomhionad Éireannacha in Chicago, is tá múineadh na Gaeilge mar chuid den chlár sa dá cheann acu.

I Nua-Eabhrac, léirítear ard-mheas ar ról agus ar úsáid na Gaeilge san obair agus i ngníomhaíochtaí na Consalachta. Is féidir é sin a dhéanamh de bharr shaineolas na foirne Consalachta sa Ghaeilge. Reáchtáltar gnó na Consalachta sa dá theanga agus bíonn fáil ar sheirbhísí agus ar fhoilseacháin iontu araon. Mar chuid de ghnó cultúrtha na Consalachta, eagraítear clár imeachtaí a thugann deis d'fhoireann na Consalachta agus do pháirtithe leasmhara eile araon an Ghaeilge a labhairt agus éisteacht lena mbíonn ar siúl as Gaeilge. Oibríonn an Chonsalacht i Nua-Eabhrac i ndlúth-chomhar le Roinn na Gaeltachta agus le Coimisiún Fulbright chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn i scéimeanna teangacha iasachta Fulbright na n-institiúidí rannpháirteacha, go háirithe NYU agus CUNY.

Is iomaí Ambasáid a thacaigh, go praiticiúil agus le maoiniú, le féilte áitiúla agus ócáidí cur chun cinn Éireannacha. D'éascaigh ambasáidí eile scannáin Ghaeilge a thaispeáint, chomh maithe le drámaíocht, ceol agus filíocht na Gaeilge.

Faoi láthair tá mo Roinnse ag scrúdú bealaí praiticiúla eile chun go dtacóidh Misin Éireannacha thar lear leis an nGaeilge.

Mar atá a fhios at an Teachta, tá stádas mar theanga oifigiúil oibre de chuid an AE ag an nGaeilge ó 1 Eanáir 2007. An comhaontú chun an stádas sin a thabhairt isteach, tugann sé maolú d'institiúidí an AE ón dualgas gach dlí agus téacs AE a aistriú go Gaeilge, faoi réir ag athbhreithnithe tréimhsiúla féachaint an gá leanúint leis an maolú sin. Is gá an maolú chun cabhrú leis na hinstitiúidí AE an cumas is gá a thógáil chun na seirbhísí cuí a chur ar fáil as Gaeilge. Tá faoi Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge go gcealófaí an maolú sin go hiomlán uair éigin roimh an mbliain 2030, agus oibreoidh an Rialtas lena áirithiú go mbeidh líon imleor de dhaoine cáilithe ar fáil don éileamh earcaíochta is gá chuige sin. Tá obair ar siúl cheana féin in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, agus in DCU/Ollscoil Chathair Átha Cliath chun raon cúrsaí a chur ar fáil chun freastal ar na riachtanais sin, le tacaíocht an Rialtais.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

236 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of Council of the European Union meetings he was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings he attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in his place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19127/10]

The Council of the European Union is a key decision-making institution of the EU, at whose meetings all EU Member States are represented. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, and in my earlier Ministerial portfolios, I have represented Ireland frequently at Council meetings. Between May 2007 and November 2009 there were twenty-seven meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council. Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty there have been six meetings of the General Affairs Council and six meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council. Since May 2007 there have also been seven informal meetings of Foreign Ministers, the so-called "Gymnich" meetings. All of these are meetings which Foreign Ministers would normally attend.

Since becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs in May 2008 I attended eleven meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, four meetings of the General Affairs Council, four meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council and four "Gymnich" meetings. My predecessor as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern T.D., attended eight meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council between May 2007 and May 2008 and two "Gymnich" meetings. On the occasions when I was unable to attend these meetings, Ireland has normally been represented by a Ministerial colleague of mine, almost always the Minister for State for European Affairs, Dick Roche TD. On three occasions over the last three years it was not possible for any Minister to attend one of these meetings. On each of these three occasions Ireland was represented by the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the European Union.

In addition to Council meetings, it was the practice up until the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009 for Foreign Ministers to attend European Council meetings. Between May 2007 and May 2008 my predecessor as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern T.D., attended three of these. Between May 2008 and November 2009 I attended seven European Council meetings.

Departmental Staff

Finian McGrath

Question:

237 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will support a matter (details supplied). [19352/10]

The organisation in question was established to provide a specific service to civil and public servants. In 2001, the organisation had need of a person with specific expertise to fill a vacant position. A member of staff of my Department had the requisite skills and experience and it was agreed that the staff member would be seconded to the organisation with effect from October 2001. I am informed that the staff member concerned did not work in the Passport Office. The cost of salary is recouped from the organisation concerned and there is no net cost to my Department associated with this secondment.

Departmental Expenditure

Noel Coonan

Question:

238 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the amount she anticipates her Department will spend on converting Department titles on websites, headed paper, application forms, information booklets, wall charts and so on as a result of the recent change in her Department’s title; the length of time this will take; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18646/10]

As stated in response to questions answered on the 31 March and 20 April 2010 on this subject, most of the resultant changes from the re-naming of the Department will be implemented in-house by the existing staff of the Department. These include work on the Department's website, changing email addresses and re-titling the Department's customer charter. Provision had already been made this year for the purchase of new headed paper which is required under the Department's Irish Language Scheme.

It is estimated that costs of approximately €15,000 may arise in relation to the purchase of new name plaques and signage. This amount is estimated based on the existing signage types in use. However, as part of the competitive tendering process to address the replacement of this signage, various alternative signage types and quotations will be considered and the final expenditure may be under this estimated amount. These costs will be met from within the Department's existing Vote.

National Archives

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

239 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the measures she will take to ensure that the National Archives have adequate storage space; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18862/10]

It is recognised that storage facilities in the National Archives are not ideal and my Department is working with the Director of the Archives and the Office of Public Works in order to provide both medium term solutions for collections storage and to plan for permanent solutions as the availability of resources permits. Space that has been vacated by the Land Commission is currently being fitted out as an additional storage area in the Bishop Street building for the National Archives.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

240 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings that she was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings she attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in her place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19133/10]

Since my appointment as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in March this year, there was one formal meeting of the Education, Youth and Culture Council which I was entitled to attend on 10th May 2010. I had planned to attend this meeting but unfortunately I was unable to do so due to pressing domestic tourism commitments relating to the volcanic ash disruption. Senior officials deputised on my behalf at this meeting. For the Deputy's information, I participated in an ad hoc video conference with EU Tourism Ministers on 28 April to discuss the impact on tourism business across the EU as a result of the volcanic ash disruption.

Departmental Expenditure

Noel Coonan

Question:

241 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount he anticipates that his Department will spend on converting Department titles on websites, headed paper, application forms, information booklets, wall charts and so on as a result of the recent changes in several Department titles; the length of time this will take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18649/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, as part of the restructuring of Departments and agencies announced by the Taoiseach in Dáil Éireann on 23 March last to ensure greater coherence and produce more efficient delivery, the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will become the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and will incorporate responsibility for social inclusion policy and family policy from the Department of Social and Family Affairs and for equality, disability, integration and human rights from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

The formal transfer of responsibility for social inclusion policy and family policy from the Department of Social and Family Affairs to my own Department has now taken place and an Order has been made in this regard. The Order cites that my Department has responsibility for these functions with effect from 1 May 2010.

In relation to the transfer of responsibility for equality, disability, integration and human rights from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, my Department is continuing to liaise with the relevant Departments on this matter. I expect the formal transfer of these functions and consequent administrative and other arrangements arising on foot of the transfer of responsibilities to be finalised shortly.

In relation to the specific query regarding the costs associated with converting my Department's title on websites, headed paper, application forms, information booklets, wall charts and so on as a result of the recent changes, no such costs have arisen as the title of my Department has not formally changed as yet. The Deputy will appreciate, therefore, that at present it is not possible to provide the details requested by him in relation to the costs associated with renaming my Department. I can confirm to the Deputy, however, that all stationery currently held by my Department will be used to the greatest extent feasible. I have also directed my officials to ensure that any costs arising due to the name change of my Department are kept to a minimum and met from within existing resources.

Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 54.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

243 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings that he was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings he attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in his place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19121/10]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to meetings of the Council of the European Union held under its various configurations. During the three year period referred to by the Deputy, my Department did not hold primary responsibility in respect of any of the Council's configurations.

Inland Waterways

Willie Penrose

Question:

244 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the date for the official opening of the Royal Canal from Dublin through to the River Shannon; if in this context it is the intention of Waterways Ireland to have at least seven people to act as patrol and supervising personnel along the stretch of canal from Killucan, County Westmeath through to the Shannon; if he will ensure that consideration is given to the many suitable candidates for such responsible positions who are available in counties Westmeath and Longford to take up such positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19203/10]

A date for the official opening of the Royal Canal is under discussion at present and will be announced in due course, following agreement with all the relevant parties.

In relation to the staffing matters raised, I understand that, in the first instance, Waterways Ireland is giving consideration to taking on up to 10 people on a temporary basis to assist in the initial commissioning of the waterway. The duties of such people would include assisting with the passage of boats through locks, as well as a range of other general duties.

Recruitment to Waterways Ireland is a matter for the Body itself, in compliance, of course, with relevant public sector requirements, and I have no direct role in such matters.

Community Development

Ulick Burke

Question:

245 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding made available through the RAPID programme in Ballinasloe, County Galway from 2007 to 2009; the list of projects benefiting from these funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19311/10]

The RAPID leverage schemes were initiated in 2004 in order to support small-scale projects identified locally by the Area Implementation Teams in each of the RAPID areas. These schemes are co-funded by the relevant agencies and support projects that focus on estate management, graffiti removal, traffic calming, community closed-circuit television, health and sports facilities, and the provision of playgrounds. The table below sets out details of RAPID leverage funding by my Department in Ballinasloe from 2007 to 2009. Ongoing co-funding of projects approved under the schemes will continue in 2010, subject to resources.

I am satisfied that the impact of the programme has facilitated RAPID communities in Ballinasloe in taking greater ownership of local development, and has also enabled state organisations to work together to improve the quality of life for local people.

RAPID leverage funding by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in Ballinasloe from 2007 to 2009

2007

36314 — Ballinasloe Town AFC

48,000.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

45,000.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

3,525.98

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

8,694.27

Total

105,220.25

2008

30381 — Ballinasloe GAA Club

36,000.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

17,500.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

5,000.00

Total

58,500.00

2009

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

11,250.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

10,124.99

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

19,125.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

3,375.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

1,125.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

60,000.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

75,000.00

30381 — Ballinasloe GAA Club

33,000.00

31037 — Ballinasloe Rugby Football Club

19,500.00

45999 — Ballinasloe Show Ltd

21,000.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

5,007.38

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

6,250.00

16633 — Ballinasloe Town Council

15,000.00

Total

279,757.37

Grant Payments

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

246 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number and nature of applications for grant aid from his Department by the various voluntary or community based groups throughout County Kildare in 2010; the extent to which this compares with previous years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19333/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department operates a wide range of grant programmes and schemes and details of these are available on my Department's website at www.pobail.ie. Some of the schemes are administered directly by my Department and others are administered on behalf of the Department by various bodies and groups, where applications for funding are submitted directly to the bodies/groups in question.

In relation to the applications administered directly by my Department, under the Scheme of Community Support for Older People (CSOP), 9 groups from County Kildare applied for funding in 2009 and all were approved for funding. 10 applications from groups in County Kildare for funding have also been received under the CSOP to date in 2010. 9 of these applications were successful and 1 is currently being assessed.

In 2009, 9 groups from County Kildare applied for funding under the programme of grants for locally-based community and voluntary organisations ("Once-off Grants") and 7 groups were approved for funding. No applications were received in 2010 and the scheme is currently closed to applications.

3 Community Development Projects in County Kildare were allocated funding under the Community Development Programme in 2009 and also under the new Local and Community Development Programme in 2010.

The Kildare Local Development Company, Cill Dara Ar Aghaigh Teo, was allocated €1.1 million for the delivery of the Local Development Social Inclusion Programme (LDSIP) in 2009. It has been allocated funding of €0.98 million for delivery of the new Local and Community Development Programme in 2010.

It should be noted that applications for funding for drugs initiatives in County Kildare are made to the South West Regional Drugs Task Force (RDTF).

Finally, for completeness, I wish to confirm to the Deputy that funding under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is provided through integrated local development companies and that a total of €12.28 million has been indicatively approved for rural development purposes under this programme in County Kildare.

Departmental Funding

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

247 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he is satisfied that all funding awarded by his Department in each of the past five years to date in 2010 has been drawn down and spent in accordance with the heading or sub-head under which it was awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19334/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

248 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent of funding accruing to his Department in each of the past five years to date in 2010; the schemes on which such funding was spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19335/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

249 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the quantified direct benefit accruing to the community through the various schemes operated by his Department in the past two years to date in 2010; the extent to which it is intended to extend or expand the most effective elements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19336/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

252 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent of new schemes contemplated by his Department in 2010 to address issues arising from the current economic climate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19339/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

253 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number, category and nature of applications for various forms of grant aid through schemes operated by his Department in each of the past four years to date in 2010; the extent to which all such payments and related activities have been drawn down, are pending or inconclusive in any way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19340/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

254 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the precise extent and nature of expenditure by his Department under each heading directly or through bodies under his aegis in each of the past three years to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19341/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

255 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of programmes and schemes currently operated by his Department; the extent to which such schemes are curtailed in comparison to previous years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19342/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 247 to 249, inclusive, and 252 to 255, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy will be aware from a number of previous replies, my Department operates a wide range of grant programmes and schemes and details of these are available on my Department's website at www.pobail.ie. The Deputy will also be aware that information in relation to funding/expenditure by my Department in each of the past five years is available in the published Annual Estimates Volumes and Appropriation Accounts. In addition, details of payments made from subheads part-funded from the National Lottery are listed on my Department’s website. My Department’s expenditure is subjected to yearly audits by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office and, accordingly, I am satisfied that all expenditure is appropriate to the relevant subhead.

Against this background, the Deputy will appreciate that funding is provided each year to a very large number of individuals, groups, bodies and agencies. I do not consider that the allocation of staff resources that would be required to fully list and detail all of these allocations, as requested, could be justified, particularly in the context where a significant amount of the relevant information is already available on my Department's website or in the annual Appropriation Accounts that are laid before the Oireachtas. If the Deputy has a particular query regarding specific groups, bodies or agencies, I will, of course, be happy to provide the relevant information to the extent feasible.

With regard to 2010 allocations by comparison to 2009, the Government decided in the 2010 Budget, as part of its strategy to manage its way through the current severe economic crisis and to return the country to prosperity, to implement a series of reductions in spending on public services. Therefore, it is not possible to consider any new schemes at present. To the greatest extent possible, savings have been sought through efficiencies rather than through reductions in services. The individual breakdown of these reductions for my Department at a subhead level is provided in the Revised Estimates Volume for 2010.

Finally, in terms of evaluating the quantified direct benefit, or impact, of the different programmes, the Deputy should note that value for money reviews are underway or planned for a number of my Department's schemes, including the Rural Social Scheme, the Community Services Programme and the CLÁR/RAPID Programmes. The Rural Development Programme is also subject to ongoing evaluation, with a mid-term review scheduled to commence this month for completion by the end of 2010.

Other initiatives undertaken by my Department to ensure optimal benefits for expenditure, to reduce administrative overheads and to improve performance across the range of community programmes include: a Value for Money Review of the Local Development and Social Inclusion Programme (LDSIP); removal of the Regional Support Agencies from the CDP programme; a cohesion process to amalgamate Partnerships and LEADER companies; and a review of CDP clusters.

Further to this work, the LDSIP and the Community Development Programme have been re-aligned and integrated as the new Local Development Community Programme, which came into operation on 1 January 2010.

Community Development

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

250 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans for the operation and development of the CLÁR programme for the remainder of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19337/10]

In 2010, the CLÁR Programme will continue to provide funding and co-funding to Government Departments, State agencies and local authorities to accelerate investment in selected priority developments in rural areas that have suffered significant depopulation.

The anticipated spend for the Programme in 2010 is approximately €8m. The main areas where expenditure is likely are supports for water services and infrastructure, support for sports facilities and the development, refurbishment and improvement of health centres and facilities in CLÁR areas.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

251 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans for the operation and development of the RAPID programme for the remainder of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19338/10]

Through its focus on deprivation and social exclusion, the RAPID Programme will continue to address the impact of the economic downturn on vulnerable communities and to provide opportunities for social and economic recovery.

In order to ensure the continued relevance of the Programme, a review of RAPID area boundaries, based on an analysis of data from Census 2006 across a range of socio-economic and deprivation indicators, was undertaken to ensure that areas are appropriately targeting the most disadvantaged communities.

Following the review, the Government approved the inclusion of five new towns in the RAPID Programme in 2009 — Ballina, Dungarvan, Enniscorthy, Mullingar and Rathkeale. The review also proposed changes to the boundaries of some of the other 46 RAPID areas and I expect to bring proposals to Government in this regard in the coming weeks.

In 2010, funding of €5m has been allocated for the RAPID leverage schemes, whereby my Department co-funds with other Departments and agencies a range of small-scale local projects such as playgrounds, traffic measures, health facilities, CCTV and sports facilities. In this regard, I can assure the Deputy that my primary focus will continue to be to ensure that the front-line services provided by, or supported through, my Department, and especially those focused on the needs of the most socially deprived communities, are protected.

Questions Nos. 252 to 255, inclusive, answered with Question No. 247.

Social Welfare Appeals

Richard Bruton

Question:

256 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection the length of time it takes to determine an appeal for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5; his plans to tackle the backlog that has developed. [18635/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned has been referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in the case. The person concerned will be notified when the necessary arrangements have been made.

There has been a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There has been an increase of a further 46% in the number of appeals received in the first quarter of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals.

The average time taken to process all appeals (i.e. those decided summarily and by way of oral hearing) was 24 weeks. However, if allowance was made for the 25% most protracted cases, the average time fell to 15.8 weeks. This represents an increase of 2 weeks in the time taken to process appeals when compared to 2008, but must be seen in the context of an increase of 46% in the number of appeals received during 2009.

The processing time for appeals covers all phases of the appeal process including the submission by the Department of its comments on the grounds for the appeal, further examination by the Department's Medical Assessors in certain illness related cases, further investigation by Social Welfare Inspectors where required and circumstances may also arise where further information is sought from the appellant. I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that having regard to the various phases of the appeal process, the varying complexities of the matters appealed to them and the demand led nature of the workload, a definitive target time is not feasible.

To deal with the increased workload being experienced by the Social Welfare Appeals Office, two additional Appeals Officers were appointed during 2009. The possibility of assigning further additional resources on a temporary basis is currently under consideration.

In addition, changes have recently been made to processes in the Social Welfare Appeals Office with a view to achieving additional productivity. I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping the outcome of these changes under continuous review to ensure the optimum throughput of appeals with full regard to due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Joe Carey

Question:

257 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will reverse the changes made to the PRSI dental treatment benefits scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18897/10]

This decision to limit the funding available to the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) was made in view of the current position of the public finances and the 60% increase in expenditure in the DTSS over the past five years. The HSE has introduced measures to contain DTSS expenditure at the 2008 level of approximately €63 million. This reflects the imperative to achieve overall reductions in public expenditure while providing essential health services to patients. The HSE will monitor the ongoing effect of these changes from a clinical and budgetary perspective.

Michael Creed

Question:

258 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has had their supplementary welfare allowance and rent allowance withdrawn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18916/10]

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

Social Insurance

Joe McHugh

Question:

259 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social Protection the legislative alteration that has brought about the situation whereby PRSI does not cover dental treatment and medical card; his views on whether PRSI should cover dental treatment and medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19091/10]

The current budgetary position necessitated the changes made to social welfare benefits, including treatment benefits, in Budget 2010.

From 1st January 2010, treatments available under the optical and dental elements of the scheme are limited to the free examination. There has been no change to the medical appliances element of the scheme. Over 2 million PRSI contributors are eligible for the free dental and optical examination and medical appliance benefit in 2010. In 2009 over 418,000 customers claimed a free dental examination at a cost of over €14 million. In addition 219,000 free eye examinations, at a cost of almost €5.5 million were also provided. There were also 7,500 treatments under the medical appliance scheme, at a cost of over €7.5million. Similar levels of applications can be expected this year. The continued provision of a free examination will allow people to have regular check-ups and help ensure the early detection of disease and other health issues.

Questions relating to benefits available under the medical card scheme are a matter for my colleague the Minister for Health and Children.

Departmental Expenditure

Noel Coonan

Question:

260 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount he anticipates that his Department will spend on converting Department titles on websites, headed paper, application forms, information booklets, wall charts and so on as a result of the recent changes in several Department titles; the length of time this will take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18645/10]

The estimated cost of rebranding the Department in terms of stationery costs, website amendments, changes to signage, information booklets, etc. is €35,000 approx.

Amendments to application forms and information leaflets will take immediate effect following the annual print, which was deferred in this instance from April until May to take account of the change of name. There will be no extra cost for these changes.

In the case of other changes such as headed paper and envelopes, some of these will take effect immediately, and some will be on a phased basis over the coming weeks, spending on the levels of stocks to be used up.

Social Welfare Benefits

Róisín Shortall

Question:

261 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the budget provided in 2010 for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance; and the anticipated start date for the scheme. [18680/10]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme (BSCFA) is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive (HSE). The scheme operates from between the beginning of June to the end of September each year. It is estimated 340,000 children will benefit from the scheme in 2010 at a cost of almost €83m.

Social Welfare Appeals

James Bannon

Question:

262 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18683/10]

Payment of invalidity pension, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that he was capable of work. An appeal was opened and in the context of that appeal, his case was reviewed by a second Medical Assessor who also expressed the opinion that he was capable of work.

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, in the light of this second medical opinion, that office decided to afford him an opportunity of setting out the complete and up to date grounds of his appeal. On receipt of his response the relevant departmental papers will be requested from the Department and the appeal will then be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister of Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

James Bannon

Question:

263 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18684/10]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, following receipt of the grounds of appeal from the person concerned, the relevant Departmental papers and comments of the Department have been sought. On receipt of its response the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister of Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Michael Ring

Question:

264 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will confirm receipt of an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [18704/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that Office. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister of Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Pension Provisions

Brendan Howlin

Question:

265 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the non-contributory State pension application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18710/10]

State Pension (Non-Contributory) is a means tested payment for persons over 66 years of age. All income is assessable as means and this includes cash income, income from employment/self-employment, private pensions, foreign pensions, the value of any property (excluding the claimant's own home) and the value of any investments, monies held in financial institutions and capital, which the claimant or his/her spouse may have.

The person concerned was 66 years on 22 September 2009. Her husband is a farmer and owns an 80 acre holding. In order to determine the level of income from the farm she was requested by the Social Welfare Inspector to provide recent accounts for the farm. The Inspector was referred to her husband's accountant who advised that the most recent accounts were in respect of the 2002 tax year.

Both the person concerned and the accountant were requested to provide an up to date statement of income and expenditure for the holding. This information was not provided and therefore it could not be established if she has an entitlement to State pension non-contributory. A decision advising her that her application was rejected as she failed to provide information to establish her means issued to her on 3 November 2009.

If the information sought by the Social Welfare Inspector is now provided her entitlement can be reviewed.

Proposed Legislation

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

266 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to draw up an amendment to the Civil Registration Act 2004 which would allow Irish people who have died abroad to have their deaths registered here; his views on amending section 39 of this Act to allow this registration in Ireland where families produce the necessary proof of death abroad. [18711/10]

It is intended to propose to make a number of amendments to the Civil Registration Act, 2004 and, in this context, I will review the current provisions in relation to the registration in this country of deaths of Irish people which occur outside the State.

Social Welfare Appeals

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

267 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will expedite an appeal against a decision not to award carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; if he will grant an early oral hearing; the reason in the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18715/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned has been referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in the case. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

There has been a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There has been an increase of a further 46% in the number of appeals received in the first quarter of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister of Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

268 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 287 of 27 April 2010, the reason this question submitted in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare was not accepted as an appeal; if this question will be accepted on appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18799/10]

Further to my response to PQ 16558/10 on 27 April 2010 in relation to the person concerned, I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having considered all the available evidence, disallowed the appeal on the grounds that he is not habitually resident in the state for social welfare purposes.

Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of the Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts. If there is any new evidence or new facts pertinent to this case that was not brought to the attention of the Appeals Officer during the determination of this appeal, they may be submitted to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for further consideration.

Additionally, the Chief Appeals Officer has power under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 to revise any decision where it appears to him that the Appeals Officer's decision was erroneous by reason of some mistake having been made in relation to the law or the facts. In making a request for such a review an appellant must set down the reasons why he or she believes a mistake was made having regard to the application of the law or the facts.

The Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 also provides that any person who is dissatisfied with either the decision of the Appeals Officer or the outcome of the review carried out by the Chief Appeals Officer may appeal that decision and/or outcome, as the case may be, to the High Court on any question of law.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister of Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Code

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

269 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 287 of 27 April 2010, if habitual residence grounds is part of a bilateral arrangement with the UK or US or other EU member states whereby applicants who satisfy this clause are otherwise deprived of payment on centre of interest grounds; the extent to which reference is made to such in any bilateral arrangements; if interim measures have been put in place to meet the requirements of persons suffering hardship as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18800/10]

A claimant for any of the following social welfare payments must satisfy the habitual residence condition: jobseeker's allowance, one parent family payment, disability allowance, carer's allowance, widow/er's (non-contributory) pension, guardian's payment (non-contributory), State pension (non-contributory), blind pension, supplementary welfare allowance (except urgent or exceptional needs payments), domiciliary care allowance and child benefit.

The bilateral agreements on social security between Ireland and other countries apply only to contributory pensions and (in the case of the agreement with the United Kingdom ) certain other contributory benefits. Therefore none of the schemes to which the habitual residence condition applies come within the scope of these agreements.

Arrangements for coordination of social security for employed and self-employed persons moving between EU/EEA Member States are governed by EU Regulations. These EU Regulations provide that special non-contributory cash benefits (such as jobseeker's allowance, disability allowance, etc.) are payable only under the legislation of the country of habitual residence. While, under the Regulations, there are some special rules for Child Benefit and for Supplementary Welfare Allowance, these only apply in the case of people who have established an attachment to the workforce in Ireland. I understand that the person concerned in this case has not worked here.

The determination of a person's habitual residence is made in accordance with Section 246 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended) which directs the deciding officer to consider all the circumstances of the case, including five specified factors which have been derived from European Court of Justice case law. These factors are:

(a) the length and continuity of residence in the State or in any other particular country;

(b) the length and purpose of any absence from the State;

(c) the nature and pattern of the person's employment;

(d) the person's main centre of interest, and

(e) the future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances.

Supplementary welfare allowance payments under the urgent needs or exceptional needs provisions have never been subject to the habitual residence condition. I have no plans to introduce any further exceptions to the habitual residence condition, as the purpose of introducing this condition in the first place was to ensure that a person whose habitual residence is elsewhere or who has had no attachment, or insignificant attachment, to the work force since arrival in Ireland, does not receive ongoing support from the social welfare system.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

270 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding invalidity appeal in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18801/10]

Payment of invalidity pension, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work. An appeal was opened and in the context of that appeal, her case was reviewed by a second Medical Assessor who also expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, in the light of this second medical opinion, that office decided to afford her an opportunity of setting out the complete and up to date grounds of her appeal. On receipt of her response the relevant departmental papers will be requested from the Department and the appeal will then be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister of Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

271 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when unemployment benefit will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18803/10]

The jobseeker's benefit claim of the person concerned has been awarded with effect from 5 th April 2010. The first payment was made on 30th April 2010.

Pension Provisions

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

272 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow is entitled to an old age pension or free schemes on foot of contributions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18804/10]

In order to qualify for a State Pension (Contributory), a minimum of 260 paid reckonable contributions is required, from either employment or self-employment.

The person concerned applied for State Pension (Contributory) in February 2010. His claim was disallowed on 25th February 2010 on the grounds that he does not satisfy the contribution condition as he only has a total of 109 paid contributions.

A completed application for Household Benefits was received in this Department from the person concerned on 18 March, 2010. A means test has been issued to him in respect of his wife. On receipt of the information requested a decision will be made on his application.

Noel Ahern

Question:

273 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the entitlement to a widow’s pension for a person who already has a State contributory pension in their own right; the reason both payments are not awarded even though contributions have been made for both; if this decision has ever been legally tested; if it has been examined by any internal or external group, task force, report and so on; and the recommendations and findings of same. [18806/10]

The social welfare system is primarily a contingency-based system, with entitlement based on defined contingencies, such as sickness, unemployment, old age or widowhood. Primary social welfare legislation provides that only one social welfare payment is payable at any one time. While it can happen that a person may experience more than one contingency at the same time — for example, an unemployed person may become sick — a general principle applies whereby even if a person experiences more than one of the contingencies at any one time, he or she only receives one of those payments. This principle is common to social security systems across the world.

However, the legislation also provides that regulations may be made to enable more than one of the payments to be paid concurrently and, where applied, it is usually in the context of short-term benefits. For instance, persons in receipt of widows/widowers pension can, at the same time, receive short-term social insurance benefits such as illness benefit or unemployment benefit, at half rate.

In terms of the examination of the current process of single payments by any group or task force the most recent review of these schemes in contained in The report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes (June 2009) which recommends changes to the eligibility conditions of social welfare schemes to eliminate second welfare payments, so that claimants already in receipt of a primary weekly social welfare payment should not qualify for payment under another scheme. The Group also recommends that the Department of Social Protection includes explicitly the role of the Widows’/Widowers’ Pension if it undertakes a future review of working-age social transfers in this context. No legal challenge has been undertaken to date in this regard.

Social Welfare Benefits

Noel Ahern

Question:

274 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the entitlements to benefits of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; if rent allowance and family income supplement will be awarded at same time as back to work scheme; and if all entitlements are awarded to this person. [18818/10]

The Back to Work Allowance (BTWA) scheme is designed to assist the long term unemployed, lone parents, people with disabilities and other social welfare recipients to return to the workforce. There were two strands to the scheme, the Back to Work Enterprise allowance for the self-employed and the Back to Work Allowance for employees. The Back to Work Allowance strand was closed to new applicants from 1st May 2009.

A person who qualifies for jobseeker's benefit may have immediate access to the Short Term Enterprise Allowance, provided they have 104 contributions paid or have established entitlement to statutory redundancy from their latest period of employment. It is payable at the same rate and for the same duration as jobseeker's benefit. The qualifying period required for access to the Back to Work Enterprise allowance scheme, for people on the live register, has been reduced from 2 years to 12 months provided a person has an underlying entitlement to jobseeker's allowance. If a person does not have an underlying entitlement to jobseeker's allowance they can access the scheme in accordance with the current qualifying conditions. The allowance is paid on a reducing scale over 2 years; 100% of a person's social welfare payment in year 1 and 75% in year 2.

A person receiving a back to work allowance as an employee may qualify for family income supplement. In these cases the social welfare payment is assessable as means. The claimant must be in employment as an employee, under a contract of service; self-employment does not qualify as employment in this context. The spouse or partner may however be self-employed and income from such self-employment is assessed in relation to the income condition.

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme provides for a weekly or monthly supplement to be paid in respect of rent to any person in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs. The supplementary welfare allowance scheme is administered by the community welfare service of the Health Service Executive on behalf of the Department.

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support, to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. A person participating on a back to work allowance scheme can continue to receive rent supplement subject to their satisfying the standard means assessment rules.

There is no record of an application for family income supplement from the person concerned. Due to staff action currently being taken in the HSE, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy in relation to the entitlement to rent supplement from the person concerned.

Child Support

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

275 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Social Protection if the details of a person (details supplied) will be permanently updated on his Departments database. [18841/10]

Letters issue on a regular basis to parents who receive Child Benefit as part of the Department's ongoing customer service and control work. Parents are asked to verify that they continue to reside in Ireland, that they satisfy the conditions for Child Benefit and that all details held by the Department are correct. The record, relating to the person concerned has been updated on the Department's database following confirmation in March 2010 that she is now an Irish citizen.

Social Welfare Benefits

Finian McGrath

Question:

276 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a matter (details supplied). [18844/10]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme (SWA) provides for a supplement to be paid in respect of mortgage interest to any person in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs. The scheme is administered by the community welfare service of the Health Service Executive on behalf of the Department.

The purpose of mortgage interest supplement is to provide short term support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only. Each application for mortgage interest supplement is determined by a community welfare officer taking account of the relevant legislative provisions and on the basis of the merits of each individual case.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael Ring

Question:

277 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason an appeal submitted by a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has not been registered as being received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office. [18848/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned has now been registered in that Office. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister of Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Pension Provisions

Terence Flanagan

Question:

278 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18852/10]

The homemaker's scheme makes qualification for the state pension (contributory) easier for those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties. The scheme which was introduced in and took effect from 1994 allows up to 20 years spent caring for children under 12 years of age or incapacitated adults to be disregarded when a person's social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes.

To be eligible for the homemakers scheme, a person must permanently live in the State, be aged under 66, have started insurable employment or self-employment on or after the age of 16 and before the age of 56, not work full-time, although a person can work and earn less than €38 gross per week, care for a child (under 12) or an incapacitated person on a full-time basis.

The scheme will not, of itself, qualify a person for a pension. The standard qualifying conditions, which require a person to enter insurance ten years before pension age, pay a minimum of 260 contributions at the correct rate and achieve a yearly average of at least 10 contributions on their record from the time they enter insurance until they reach pension age, must also be satisfied.

Homemaking periods through child benefit applications are automatically registered when a person submits their pension application.

The National Pensions Framework which was launched in March 2010 will introduce a system of homemaker's credits to replace the current disregard from 2012 and allow backdating to 1994 for the purpose of the averaging system that will continue until 2020. This means that people reaching pension age after the credits are introduced will have credits rather than disregards applied to their records to cover periods of care since 1994 (up to a maximum of 20 years).

Upon introduction of the total contributions approach in 2020, the maximum number of credits applicable for pension purposes will be 520 (i.e. 10 years). It is intended that a standard approach will apply to the various categories of people who receive credited contributions, including jobseekers and people with disabilities.

The person concerned is in receipt of child benefit and as such she is automatically entitled to the homemakers scheme. Her claim for child benefit is treated as an application to be registered as a homemaker. She will be registered as a homemaker for the periods that she spends providing full-time care to her children up until their 12th birthday providing she is not in full-time employment or in receipt of any social welfare credits. Homemaking periods through child benefit applications are registered when a person submits their application for state pension (contributory).

As the person concerned will not reach pension age until after 2020 her application for state pension (contributory) will be determined under the new system as outlined in the National Pensions Framework.

Social Welfare Code

Richard Bruton

Question:

279 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection if the rules governing the retention of secondary benefit have changed; and the eligibility of a person on a one parent family allowance to retain rent supplement after taking up a community employment scheme. [18856/10]

The conditions for those taking up either an employment or training opportunity were subject to a number of improvements in 2007 which included the replacement of the retention arrangements under the rent supplement scheme. Under the current arrangements a person participating on community employment (CE) scheme can continue to receive rent supplement subject to their satisfying the standard means assessment rules. Where a person has additional income in excess of the standard supplementary welfare allowance weekly rate of payment, the first €75 of such additional income together with 25% of any additional income above €75 is disregarded for means assessment purposes. This ensures that those returning to work or participating in training schemes are better off as a result of taking up such an opportunity.

Social Welfare Benefits

Terence Flanagan

Question:

280 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18871/10]

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

Richard Bruton

Question:

281 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will explain the difference between the means test for a spouse claiming jobseeker’s allowance and for a child and in particular the exclusion of a mortgage allowance from the spouse’s means test and the application of a 60% assessment rate on residual income compared to 34% for a child; and if he will indicate the payment made under these means tests to a child and to a spouse where the earner has the average industrial wage and where the earner has twice the average industrial wage. [18885/10]

Jobseeker's Allowance is a means tested social assistance scheme operated by my Department. For means test purposes, account is taken of the income and assets of both the claimant and his or her spouse/partner including the earnings of the spouse. In the case of a single claimant aged under 25 years of age, account is also taken of the value of any benefit and privilege enjoyed by that person by virtue of residing with a parent or step-parent.

Where a spouse/partner has earnings from employment, earnings less PRSI contributions, pension contributions and trade union subscriptions are assessed as means. In addition, the first €20 per day is also disregarded, subject to a maximum of €60 per week and 60% of the balance is assessed where a claimant or a spouse/partner has income from employment.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) ceased to publish data on average industrial earnings a number of years ago. In the most recent report by the CSO on Earnings and Labour Costs, average weekly earnings per employee generally was €691.27 in Quarter 3 of 2009 (preliminary estimate). Where the spouse or partner of a jobseeker's allowance claimant was earning this amount (average weekly earnings in the workforce generally) or twice this amount, there would be no entitlement to jobseeker's allowance as the means assessed would exceed the maximum level of entitlement under the scheme. This is based on a couple with no dependent children.

No account is taken of mortgage repayments in calculating means for social assistance schemes generally, including jobseeker's allowance. This would be inappropriate given that there is a specific social assistance scheme, the mortgage interest supplement scheme, which provides, subject to certain conditions, support for people who have difficulty meeting their mortgage repayments and whose means are insufficient to meet their needs. The mortgage interest scheme takes into account all of the person's income, including social welfare income when calculating levels of entitlement. Accordingly, the net effect of disregarding mortgage interest repayments in calculating means for jobseeker's allowance purposes would be to reduce the level of entitlement to mortgage interest supplement as the income of the person would be higher due to a higher level of jobseeker's allowance being in payment. Mortgage Interest Supplement is not payable to people in full time employment.

Where a single claimant aged under 25 years of age is living with a parent or step-parent in the family home, an assessment is made of the yearly value of any benefit and privilege enjoyed by that person by virtue of residing with a parent or step parent. The value of the benefit and privilege assessed is based on the level of the parents' income.

Parental income includes income from all sources including most social welfare payments. Deductions are allowed for income tax, pension levy, income levy, PRSI, superannuation/PRSA contributions, private health insurance contribution, union dues and rent/mortgage payments. An additional €600 per week is disregarded in the case of a two parent family and 34% of the balance is assessed as the weekly value of the benefit and privilege enjoyed. This means test differs substantially from the means test for jobseeker's allowance (and other social assistance schemes) where a claimant and/or his or her spouse is in employment. The purpose of the benefit and privilege arrangements is to assess a value of the benefit derived by claimants under the age of 25 from residing in the parental home having allowed for reasonable parental personal outgoings including rent or mortgage repayments.

Where parental income was equivalent to average weekly earnings (€691.27), no means would be assessed as net family income after tax and PRSI would be less than €600 per week. Assuming no other means, jobseeker's allowance at the maximum rate applicable to the claimant's age would be payable. If parental income was equivalent to twice average weekly earnings, means of €126 per week would be assessed. This calculation is based on the (parental) couple having no dependent children, no rent or mortgage repayments and being a single earner PAYE household.

In this instance, jobseeker's allowance would not be payable in the case of an 18 to 22 year old as means would exceed the maximum rate of jobseeker's allowance payable while jobseeker's allowance of €40 per week would be payable in the case of a 22 to 24 year old inclusive. In this regard, it should be noted that a minimum payment of €40 per week is payable where a person assessed with the value of benefit and privilege has an underlying entitlement to a rate of jobseeker's allowance of less than €40 per week.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

282 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is entitled to rent relief. [18895/10]

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

Free Travel Scheme

Martin Ferris

Question:

283 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason funding can not be made available to private transport providers in order to subsidise the cost of bus travel for persons attending cancer care treatment from the Kerry region. [18902/10]

The current free travel scheme operated by the Department provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 90 private transport operators.

The free travel scheme is based on using spare capacity on existing conventional public transport services. The scheme is not intended to support specialist hospital transport.

Social Welfare Benefits

Dan Neville

Question:

284 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18979/10]

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

Róisín Shortall

Question:

285 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will expedite a decision. [19048/10]

The person concerned applied for a Disability Allowance on 6 April 2010. Her claim was assessed by a medical assessor from this Department and she was found to be not medically suitable for Disability Allowance. The person was also assessed with weekly means of €459.13 from her husband's salary. As this exceeds the statutory limit of €385.70 per week for payment of Disability Allowance in this case and as she was found not medically suitable for Disability Allowance, the person's claim has been refused.

A letter has issued to her 10 May 2010, advising her of this decision and of her right of appeal to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office, D'Olier House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2, within 21 days.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

286 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of a weekly payment of the supplementary welfare allowance. [19076/10]

There are currently 41,332 recipients of a basic weekly supplementary welfare allowance payment. This includes 3,846 individuals who are in accommodation supplied by the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform and receive a direct provision allowance which is paid under the basic supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

Social Insurance

Róisín Shortall

Question:

287 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of employers availing of the employers’ PRSI exemption as announced in Budget 2010; and the number of employees covered. [19088/10]

Full details of the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme, including the application procedure, will be announced shortly. It will be administered by the Department of Social Protection. The scheme will run for the calendar year 2010 only. However, any qualifying employment created in 2010 will be eligible for the scheme, which will be structured so that employment created prior to the launch can participate for 12 months forward from the time of launch and employment created later in the year will participate for 12 months to the corresponding date in 2011.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

288 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings that he was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings he attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in his place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19130/10]

From the beginning of 2007 there have been ten meetings of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council of the European Union. It is the practice for the Employment and Social Affairs items to be taken on one day of this two day meeting, and Health and Consumer Affairs to be taken separately on the other. In relation to the former, the subject matter covers topics which span the interests of a number of Irish government departments — Social Protection; Enterprise, Trade and Innovation; and Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Representation at the Council is decided on the basis of the items to be discussed, and it is often the case that Ministerial attendance from this Department is not considered necessary.

During the period in question Minister Hanafin attended two meetings of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, with officials from this Department attending five others.

Social Welfare Benefits

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

289 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection when he will make the adjustment in social welfare payments to compensate for recipients having to pay carbon tax after losing the fuel allowance. [19205/10]

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources which has overarching responsibility for the energy portfolio has convened an inter-departmental/agency group on Affordable Energy to coordinate and drive Government policy in this area.

This group will make recommendations as to the precise package of measures including any income support measures that should be put in place to assist those at risk of fuel poverty. The work is being carried out in the context of the Affordable Energy Strategy which is due to be finalised for Government consideration by the end of June 2010. This will allow for any proposed measures to be implemented when the heating season starts again at the end of September 2010.

Ulick Burke

Question:

290 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will receive their rent subsidy; the rate of payment that will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19312/10]

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

Pension Provisions

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

291 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the way a partnership to qualify for State pension will be recognised in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19332/10]

No application for commercial partnership status has been received in the case of the person mentioned (details supplied). However, the Department will now initiate a commercial partnership insurability investigation and a local Social Welfare Inspector will be in touch with the person shortly to arrange an interview.

Social Welfare Code

Róisín Shortall

Question:

292 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the projected saving in each of the next five years arising from his decision to restrict the one-parent family payment to parents where the youngest child is less than 13 years. [19346/10]

The current duration of the One-Parent Family Payment, whereby a lone parent can receive the One-Parent Family Payment until their child is 18 — or 22 if in full-time education — without any requirement for them to engage in employment, education or training, is not in the best interests of the recipient, their children or society.

My Department has undertaken a comprehensive review of the One-Parent Family Payment and developed proposals that are designed to: prevent long-term dependence on welfare and facilitate financial independence; recognise parental choice with regard to care of young children but with the expectation that parents will not remain outside of the labour force indefinitely; and include an expectation of participation in education, training and employment, with supports provided in this regard.

To meet these social policy objectives, I will be introducing changes to the One-Parent Family payment in the forthcoming Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2010. For new customers, from early 2011, it is proposed that the One-Parent Family Payment will be made until the youngest child in the lone parent family reaches age 13 years. For existing recipients of the payment there will be a phasing-out period to enable them to access education and training and to prepare them for their return to the labour market.

The estimated savings that will arise from the implementation of this provision will be mainly long-term and will amount to €1.1 million in 2011, €5.5 million in 2012, €12.5 million in 2013, €20.7 million in 2014 and €26.2 million in 2015.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Question:

293 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason basic welfare supplement allowance was suspended in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19349/10]

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

Defence Forces Property

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

294 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 172 of 21 April 2010, the status of the relevant properties including whether they are for sale or if they have been handed back to the Office of Public Works. [19098/10]

The properties referred to are Rockhill Military Post, Letterkenny, Lifford Military Post, Connolly Barracks, Longford, Monaghan Barracks and Magee Barracks, Kildare.

These properties are owned by the Department of Defence and the Office of Public Works has no role in their management. The current position in relation to Rockhill Military post is that it is being prepared for public sale although an agreement is in place with another Government agency for the purchase of part of the lands. Lifford Military post is under negotiation with another Government agency. An agreement is in place to dispose of part of Connolly Barracks, Longford to a Government agency and some interest has been recorded in the remaining portion of the barracks. An agreement for sale is also in place in relation to Monaghan Barracks. Magee Barracks has not been made available for sale yet.

European Council Meetings

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

295 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Defence the number of Council of the European Union’s meetings that he was entitled to attend in the past three years; the number of Council meetings he attended; the number of same that were attended by officials in his place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19122/10]

There is no separate Defence Minister's Council. However, twice a year — once during each presidency — Defence Ministers attend the General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting, which comprises Foreign Ministers of the member States — now called the Foreign Affairs Council following the coming into effect of the Lisbon Treaty. Since January 2007, there have been seven such meetings, four of which have been attended by the Minister for Defence. The other three were attended by a senior official from the Department.

Defence Forces Training

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

296 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Defence if there are more joint training exercises planned and the cost in the context of the Defence Forces allocation to participate in the Nordic Battlegroup in 2011. [19355/10]

The Nordic Battlegroup 2011 has not undertaken any joint training exercises to date. The Nordic Battlegroup 2011 will be on standby for 6 months commencing on the 1st January 2011 and it is the intention that the Defence Forces will participate in two (2) joint training exercises in advance of the standby period. The first exercise, entitled ‘Initial Effort', will take place during the period 18-31 October 2010 while the second exercise, entitled ‘Joint Action', will take place during the period 08-21 November 2010.

These joint training exercises will both take place in Sweden and the projected total cost for the involvement of Irish Defence Forces personnel has been estimated at approximately €800,000.

State Airports

Pat Breen

Question:

297 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Defence the respective sizes of both the proposed public safety zones and the existing red zones contained in the South County Dublin development plan as well as the ratio of the said public safety zones to the red zones expressed as a percentage in respect of each of runways 05, 11, 23 and 29 at Casement Aerodrome in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19357/10]

The area of the Public Safety Zone for Runway 05 is 3.21 hectares, for Runway 23 is 1.6 hectares, for Runway 11 is 3.65 hectares and for Runway 29 is 2.68 hectares. A comparison of these areas with the Red Zones is not practical due to the contours of the land encapsulated by these Zones. I have arranged for the deputy to receive visual representations of the Safety Zones comparing them to the Red Zones.

Grant Payments

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

298 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when a hen harrier scheme payment will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19025/10]

Payments are made on the basis of approved farm plans. I understand that the applicant's plan is currently with his farm planner for finalisation. When the final plan is submitted, the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department will process the application and, if in order, payment will be made.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Phil Hogan

Question:

299 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of money owed to each local authority in respect of outstanding unpaid claims by the local authorities for costs incurred in progressing projects under the water services investment programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18663/10]

Validated claims under the Water Services Investment Programme for recoupment of expenditure to the value of €6.3 million, as set out in the following table, are currently being processed for payment to the local authorities involved this month.

County/City Council

Claims for payment

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown

1,789,244

Galway County

637,896

Limerick City

3,500,000

North Tipperary

94,668

Roscommon

176,375

Westmeath

102,780

Total

6,300,963

I refer to the reply to Question No 908 of 19 January 2010 in relation to the processing of claims to validation. As indicated in that reply, additional claims are on hands relating to final accounts for completed schemes. These require greater time to examine and validate for payment, but generally represent a small proportion of annual spending.

Litter Pollution

Sean Sherlock

Question:

300 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if any statutory authority exists to provide statutory marine environmental protection monitoring obligations regarding beach litter from shipping traffic in Irish coastal waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18673/10]

Under the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009, local authorities are responsible for the prevention and control of littering in their functional areas. While the legislation does not place specific obligations, in relation to beach litter from shipping traffic in Irish coastal waters, on local authorities, the authorities, as a matter of course, take appropriate actions, including the deployment of environmental enforcement teams and specialist back-up if required, to deal with any litter deposited on beaches that may present an environmental hazard.

There is also legislation in place governing the management of ship generated waste under International and EU law. Ireland is a party to the MARPOL Convention, an International Convention which provides for, among other things, prevention of pollution of the sea by garbage from ships. This Convention is in force in national law under the Sea Pollution Act 1991. Annex V of the Marpol Convention provides that Ships and Ports must have proper procedures and facilities in place for the management and disposal of garbage.

Under EU law, Ireland manages the reporting and discharge of ships' wastes, which include garbage, for shipping traffic in EU waters. Directive 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues, transposed into national legislation under the European Communities (Port Reception Facilities for Ship-Generated Waste and Cargo Residues) Regulations 2003, provides that ships must report, to their port of destination, whatever garbage is on board for discharge at that port. Ports must provide garbage reception facilities for ships, so as to eliminate the discharge of garbage from ships at sea.

My Department is in the process of transposing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive into Irish law. The purpose of the Directive is to establish a framework within which Member States must establish objectives aimed at achieving or maintaining good environmental status in the marine environment by 2020 at the latest. One of the criteria to be developed for the initial assessment of good environmental status is litter in the marine environment and it will be the responsibility of each Member State to establish standards for this criterion by 2012. This will, in turn, lead to the definition of specific measures to be applied (if required) in marine waters, by the appropriate authorities.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Phil Hogan

Question:

301 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the second phase of the Newport water scheme will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18695/10]

The Newport Regional Water Supply Scheme is included as a scheme to start construction during the period of the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library. My Department has already approved the funding to enable North Tipperary County Council to award the contract for this Scheme; accordingly, the timing of the commencement of the contract is a matter for the Council.

My Department requested local authorities, including North Tipperary County Council, to submit applications earlier this year setting out their borrowing requirements to progress their water services projects in 2010, and a decision on those applications, including in respect of the Council's share of the Newport Scheme costs, will issue to the relevant local authorities shortly.

Urban Designation

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

302 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if in view of the significant increase in population in the Drogheda area he will introduce legislation, if necessary, to grant Drogheda city status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18696/10]

Significant population growth occurred in many large towns during the last intercensal period; Drogheda's experience during this period was not atypical.

Drogheda Town Council has a considerable range of functional responsibilities. I have no plans to designate Drogheda as a City Council. However the issue of town government is among a broad suite of local government matters which are being considered in the context of the finalisation of the White Paper on Local Government.

Planning Issues

Leo Varadkar

Question:

303 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a small child care business with fewer than ten children based in a private home, which now intends to relocate into a planned extension of the house; the circumstances under which the local authority might grant a relaxation or dispensation in accordance with section 4 of the Building Control Amendment Act of 2009 requirement to secure a Disability Access Certificate, in view of the fact that the cost of installing an adult disabled toilet for this small child care business will make the project cost prohibitive and would be unnecessary as none of the customers are adults; if any guidelines have been issued to local authorities on this; his reasons in making provision for local authorities to grant a relaxation or dispensation as the local authority cannot offer any guidance to the applicant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18732/10]

Article 20 D of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2009 sets out the requirements for a Disability Access Certificate (DAC). The DAC, which is issued by the Building Control Authority, came into effect on 1 January 2010 and indicates compliance with Part M of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations, currently Part M 2000. Guidance has been issued by my Department to the Building Control Authorities in the form of two Circular Letters dated 10 September 2009 and 16 November 2009 respectively.

A DAC is required in respect of certain categories of works or buildings, including buildings where there is a material change of use, which includes a material alteration. The underlying philosophy on which the requirements of Part M is based is that buildings should be accessible and usable by everyone, whether working in or visiting a building, including people with disabilities. Part M requires adequate provision of accessible sanitary conveniences where sanitary conveniences are provided in a building.

The granting of a dispensation or relaxation from the requirements of the Building Regulations, including Part M, is a matter for the relevant Building Control Authority.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

304 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of capital funding provided to local authorities from 2002 to date in 2010 to prevent leakages in the water distribution system; the percentage this amounts represents of the total capital investment in water infrastructure over the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18764/10]

The Water Services Investment Programme has focused over the past ten years on improving the quality and capacity of water services infrastructure to meet the needs of the growing population and economic demand, and to address environmental compliance. The upgrading of existing water mains and the provision of new mains have arisen both in the context of new or upgraded infrastructure in water supply projects financed under the general Water Services Investment Programme as well as projects undertaken under the Water Conservation Sub-Programme.

Total Exchequer expenditure from 2002 to date in 2010 on the provision of water supply infrastructure has been €1.622 billion, of which some €155.2 million has been spent on water conservation works, representing almost 10% of the total spend.

Most local authorities have completed or are close to completing the initial phases of their water conservation programmes, which involved putting water management and active leakage control systems in place to monitor water use and tackle water losses throughout the supply networks. This provides the platform for intensive investment in mains rehabilitation which is a key priority under my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, which provides for the commencement of contracts involving network rehabilitation with a value of some €320 million over the next three years. A copy of the Programme is available in the Oireachtas Library.

EU Directives

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

305 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he has taken to reverse the derogation it currently has from the European Union in relation to domestic water charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18765/10]

Article 9 of the Water Framework Directive requires Member States to have in place water pricing policies to provide adequate incentives for users to use water services efficiently. Article 9 also states that a Member State shall not be in breach of the Directive if it decides, in accordance with established practices at the time of adoption of the Directive, not to apply the provisions of Article 9 for a given water use. The Government's Water Pricing Policy at the time of the adoption of the Directive in October 2000, which required local authorities to recover the cost of providing water services from the users of these services, with the exception of households using the services for domestic purposes, was considered to be consistent with the requirements of Article 9.

The renewed Programme for Government contains a commitment to introduce charges for domestic water use in a way that is fair, significantly reduces waste and is easily applied. It will be based on a system where households are allocated a free basic allowance, with charging only for water use in excess of this allowance. I will be bringing proposals to Government on this matter in the coming weeks.

Architectural Heritage

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

306 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the actions he is taking to preserve and protect the historical 1916 site at 14 to 17 Moore Street in Dublin 1; if he will appreciate the clear interest by many in this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18857/10]

I refer to the Adjournment taken in the House on 21 April, 2010. I have, in the meantime, given consent under the National Monuments Acts to the proposed works to protect and maintain the fabric of the buildings. The position is otherwise unchanged.

Local Authority Staff

Phil Hogan

Question:

307 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if only engineers holding a civil engineering degree level eight National Framework of Qualifications can be appointed to water services operations management roles in local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18860/10]

Section 160 of the Local Government Act 2001, enables me to declare appropriate qualifications for a specified employment under a local authority or for such of the employments as belong to a specified class, description or grade. While qualifications have not been declared for Water Services Operations Management, the above-mentioned legislation also enables a local authority, with my consent, to fix the qualifications for any employment as necessary.

National Heritage Areas

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

308 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide a map of the proposed area of the Hill of Tara World Heritage Site; the reason he did not conduct a transboundary consultation for the UNESCO nomination since Eamhain Mhacha is one of the royal sites of Ireland; if he will demand that a transboundary environmental impact assessment is performed on the N2 Slane by-pass due to the cross-Border nature of the road and that a world heritage site is at stake; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland and the UK are bound by the ESPOO convention and EU directive; and if he will make a statement on the N3 Slane by-pass’s proximity to Brú na Bóinne. [18887/10]

The Tara Complex has been included in Ireland's new Tentative List of potential nominees to the World Heritage List submitted to UNESCO as part of the Royal Sites of Ireland series.

The proposed nomination of the Tara Complex as part of the Royal Sites of Ireland series will require the preparation of comprehensive nomination documentation including a management plan for the property. Consideration of the land area involved will take place at that stage. Consultation with the relevant stakeholders including the local community will be an important part of the process.

A nomination to the World Heritage List takes considerable time to prepare and each property nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List is subject to evaluation by UNESCO, normally, over an 18 month period.

It is a matter for the United Kingdom authorities to decide whether to include Eamhain Mhacha (Navan Fort — the royal site for the kings of Ulster) in County Armagh in the United Kingdom Tentative List. In this regard, my Department has been in contact with the United Kingdom Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in relation to the possibility of the inclusion of Eamhain Mhacha on the United Kingdom Tentative List. If Eamhain Mhacha is included on this Tentative List then my Department will discuss further the possibility of a transnational Royal Sites of Ireland serial nomination to the World Heritage List with the relevant United Kingdom and Northern Ireland authorities.

Council Directive No. 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, as amended by Council Directive No. 97/11/EC, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Environment Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the 1991 ESPOO Convention) are reflected within various legislative provisions. As regards the preparation and submission of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by a road authority it is a matter for that authority to send a copy of the EIS to the transboundary State concerned, where applicable.

My role as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in relation to development applications is confined to that of statutory consultee under the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended, where a proposed development may impact on the natural or built heritage. In the context of my role as statutory consultee within the planning process, Meath County Council notified my Department of its application to An Bord Pleanála for approval in relation to a proposed road development consisting of a bypass of the village of Slane. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared for the proposed N2 Slane bypass road project. A submission was made to An Bord Pleanála by my Department following consideration of the EIS. The considerat