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 8, inclusive, answered orally.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Sean Sherlock

Question:

9 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if the policy of curtailing performance bonuses in all financial institutions covered under the Government guarantee, as outlined in section 5.16 of the Covered Institutions Remuneration Oversight Committee report, is being adhered to; if he will confirm that no bonuses have been sanctioned in 2009 or to date in 2010; if he will further confirm that he does not propose to sanction any bonuses in these institutions while the Government guarantee is in place, as recommended by CIROC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25643/10]

The Covered Institutions Remuneration Oversight Committee (CIROC), which was set up under the terms of the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme, reported to me on 27 February 2009. Its remit was to oversee all remuneration plans of senior executives of the covered institutions. For this purpose, remuneration included total salary, bonuses, pension payments and any other benefits received from a covered institution and its group entities, or otherwise received by a director or executive arising from the performance of his or her functions as a director or executive.

Specifically regarding bonuses at section 5.15 of its Report, CIROC recommended that no performance-related bonus awards should be made to chief executives and executive directors for 2008 or 2009 and for the period of the Government guarantee.

I wrote to the chairpersons of each of the covered institutions on foot of the publication of the CIROC report seeking immediate action from the Boards to revise remuneration plans, which included the recommendations on bonuses. These recommendations were then to be incorporated in revised remuneration plans of the covered institutions to reflect compliance with the Act. The responsibility for ensuring that the recommendations of CIROC are implemented is a matter for the individual covered institutions and, in particular, their respective remuneration committees.

It can be seen from the publication of the respective 2009 financial statements of the covered institutions that the recommendations of CIROC regarding executive bonuses are been implemented. There has been no change in Government policy on this issue and the prohibition of the payment of performance awards to senior executives continues in force.

The financial landscape of the covered institutions has changed considerably since February 2009. The State now has taken effective control or made substantial investment in 5 of the covered institutions and all of the covered institutions continue to obtain the advantage and benefits of the Government Guarantee. This effectively means that through the terms of the respective subscription agreements and/or relationship frameworks the Government has implemented further controls on remuneration policy, including performance awards for senior executive, at the respective covered institutions beyond the provisions of CIROC.

I should point out that performance awards in respect of previous years for some senior executives have been paid on the basis that a legal entitlement in accordance with employment conditions existed. Also, a small number of bonus awards to other cadres of employees, below senior executive level, at respective covered institutions have been made, and will continue to be made, due to particular circumstances. For example, I authorised payment of performance awards to some call centre staff where the award was an integral feature of their overall remuneration. In other cases, on the basis of legal advice, that pre-existing contractual rights had been established to bonus awards approval has been provided — and I stress only on this basis — to allow these liabilities to be met.

Legislative Programme

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

10 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance his views on the EU Commission’s Communication on Bank Resolution Funds, published on 26 May 2010; if and when he intends to introduce legislation providing for a bank resolution mechanism or living will for insolvent banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25642/10]

In my dealing with the banks I have clearly maintained the principle that the banks will contribute to the cost of State's support — the banks have been charged for the Government's guarantee of their liabilities and the NAMA Act provides for a levy on the banks should NAMA result in a loss for the taxpayer. In the context of the enhancement of supervision and the restructuring of the banking sector underway in Ireland, due consideration is of course being given to maintaining this principle, ensuring that the sector contributes its appropriate share, minimising as much as possible taxpayers' exposure to potential costs arising from State support of the banking sector.

One possible mechanism for ensuring that the financial sector bears these costs is set out in the European Commission's recent Communication on Bank Resolution Funds. The Commission's Communication supports the establishment of ex ante resolution funds, funded by a levy on the banks to facilitate the managed failure of ailing banks in an orderly manner. The Communication noted the importance of linkages between any resolution fund and a special resolution regime — suggesting that a resolution fund should form part of the toolbox of measures available to Member States in an EU crisis management framework for resolving institutions in difficulty.

I have indicated previously that I am examining options for the introduction of a legislative regime to deal in a systematic way with distressed financial institutions, to ensure the State has in place a range of tools to address problem institutions effectively in the interests of maintaining financial stability, minimising reliance on public moneys and ensuring continuity of key banking activities.

In view of the central role performed by central banks in resolution frameworks for financial institutions my Department is in consultation with the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator with a view to the development of draft legislative proposals, which I will consider in due course.

Work is also underway at the EU level in this area, and the Commission is expected to bring forward legislative proposals on the use of resolution frameworks for cross border institutions in early 2011. Included in the Commission's proposal for discussion are additional powers for supervisors to require the preparation by systemically important institutions of firm-specific contingency and resolution plans. Ireland is, of course, participating fully in the work at EU level to examine this and other possible elements of bank resolution tool-kits in a cross-border context.

Economic Policy

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

11 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if he will make provision for a substantial debate on the economy before the Dáil summer recess; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25623/10]

Given the scale of our economic and financial difficulties, debate on the economy and the financial system has naturally dominated proceedings in the Dáil over the past two years. This week alone, the debate on the confidence motion was essentially a debate on the Government's economic policy.

The arrangement of a debate such as the Deputy suggests in his question is a matter for the party whips. If the Dáil Schedule allows it, I would have no difficulty with such a debate. Indeed, I would be particularly interested to hear the Deputy's proposals for stabilising the public finances so as to restore domestic and international confidence in our economy; regaining competitiveness to create jobs; and repairing our banking system to provide credit for viable businesses.

These are the key pillars of the Government's strategy to return our economy to a sustainable growth path.

Most of the latest data suggest that the economy is stabilising and many commentators now expect growth to resume in the second half of this year. So the measures we have taken are beginning to bear fruit. We cannot be complacent, however. We still have many challenges ahead, particularly in relation to the public finances so that we can reduce the General Government Deficit below 3 per cent by end 2014.

We also continue to advance our strategy to repair the banking system. A key objective of recent Government actions in relation to the stabilisation of the financial sector has been the promotion of a stable and active banking system which supports the real economy. At a fundamental level the banking system is at the very core of a functioning economy and needs to be maintained in the interests of the economy and society at large.

The Government's entire economic strategy is ultimately about creating sustainable jobs. We are working to position Ireland as a global innovation hub — the best place for both multinational and Irish companies to start, grow and transform. These initiatives introduced by this Government will lay the foundations for future employment growth. We are also developing opportunities in the green economy, renewable energy and clean technology.

A key component of the Government's jobs strategy is to regain our competitive position which is critical to our future economic prospects. Our economy is flexible and resilient. Price levels and wages — including those for the public service — are all adjusting rapidly to the new circumstances and are contributing to an improvement in Ireland's competitiveness. We have also made significant investment in areas such as productive infrastructure which will enhance our competitiveness and capacity to grow. A high level of capital investment in critical infrastructure is being maintained which will help support the economy and jobs.

National Assets Management Agency

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

12 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on the preparation of a revised National Assets Management Agency business plan; when he expects the publication of a revised NAMA business plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25613/10]

The Board of NAMA has committed to the production of an updated business plan which it will submit to me by 30 June 2010 and which is expected to be published shortly thereafter.

The business plan is a matter for the Board. However, the CEO of NAMA has advised me that the Board when reviewing the business plan will take account of the actual data now available to it arising from the transfer of the first tranche of loans.

Public Service Agreement

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

13 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance the way it is proposed to measure progress against which refunds of public service pay will be made under the proposed public service agreement with the public service committee of Irish Congress of Trade Unions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24763/10]

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts, 2009 under which the pension related deduction and pay reductions were applied to public servants make provision for a review of the operation, effectiveness and impact of both Acts before 30 June 2011. In addition to the criteria set out in the Acts, the Public Service Agreement, which has now been ratified by the Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, provides that the reviews will take account of sustainable savings generated from the implementation of the Agreement in the public service. Those savings will be independently verified by an Implementation Body which is provided for under the Agreement. A report of the findings of the reviews must be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Implementation Body provided for under the Agreement will oversee progress on the implementation of the agreed transformation measures across the Public Service with a view to achieving early, sustainable and verifiable outcomes to the process. The Body will comprise an independent chair with 3 nominees each from Public Service Management and the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions respectively. The Government will engage immediately with the Public Services Committee to finalise arrangements for the implementation of the Agreement.

The sectoral agreements which form part of the overall Agreement set out a clear agenda for change within each sector. The measures provided for vary across each sector and it is not possible at this point to be prescriptive as to what measures of progress will be adopted in each case by the Implementation Body.

The Government is determined that public service management will be proactive and ambitious in delivering on the full range of productivity and change measures envisaged in the Agreement, and accepted as necessary by all parties to it. Strong oversight by the Implementation Body will be an important factor in this.

National Assets Management Agency

Billy Timmins

Question:

14 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance when he expects to publish the National Assets Management Agency business plan; and if he has discussed the key parameters with the Board following the decisions taken on the first tranche of loans. [24776/10]

The Board of NAMA has committed to the production of an updated business plan which it will submit to me by 30 June 2010 and which is expected to be published shortly thereafter. The business plan is a matter for the Board. However, the CEO of NAMA has advised me that the Board when reviewing the business plan will take account of the actual data now available to it arising from the transfer of the first tranche of loans.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

15 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance the number of National Asset Management Agency bonds that have been issued to date; the terms of same; the maturity of these bonds; the proportion of these NAMA bonds that are subordinated; the number of NAMA bonds that are envisaged for issue by year end and in total; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25633/10]

The transfer of the first tranche of loans, totalling €15.3 billion in loan balances, from the five participating institutions concluded on 31 May 2010. NAMA issued bonds to a value of €7.7 billion to the institutions, of which 5% are subordinated securities. The senior bonds mature in March 2011 and are extendible at the option of NAMA. They are Government-guaranteed Floating Rate Notes and pay interest at a rate of 6 month Euribor or 6 month GBP Libor. The subordinated bonds are callable perpetual fixed rate bonds which may be redeemed from March 2020 onwards. Interest is payable annually on the subordinated bonds if NAMA is considered to be achieving its objectives.

NAMA expects to acquire some €81 billion in loans from the five participating institutions by February 2011. It is not possible as yet to estimate the amount of bonds that will be issued as consideration for these loans given that a very thorough due diligence process must take place before the final acquisition values have been determined.

Financial Services Regulation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

16 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance his views on the reliability of auditing reports in terms of their content; the actions or reviews that are being taken by his Department in looking at the suitability of the content of auditing reports; the discussions that are being had at EU and international level, of which he is party, on amending the content of auditing reports to consider a broader range of factors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24534/10]

As I stated in answer to Question No. 76 of 28 April 2010, policy matters relating to the regulation of auditing and accounting bodies are the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.

The Deputy may wish to note that both of the preliminary reports into Ireland's banking crisis published last week — The Irish banking crisis: regulatory and financial stability policy 2003 — 2008, by the Governor of the Central Bank, and A preliminary report on the sources of Ireland's banking crisis, by Klaus Regling and Max Watson — have identified the need to further examine the role of auditors in the Irish banking sector.

One of the draft terms of reference for the statutory Commission of Investigation, set out by the Government on Wednesday 9 June, proposes that the Commission should give consideration to whether external auditors in each of the covered institutions commented in their audit reports or other communications to the institutions, on the failure to implement and adhere to appropriate standards and controls in the context of corporate governance and prudent risk management policy and procedures, or on the institutions' business models and strategies and business and lending practices.

It will be a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and the relevant regulatory bodies to consider and decide on the appropriate next steps in relation to any conclusions the Commission of Investigation may make in relation to the role of auditors.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

James Bannon

Question:

17 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that the covered financial institutions are meeting the needs of Irish business. [24699/10]

The only recapitalised banks which are significant lenders to the SME sector are AIB and Bank of Ireland. In relation to the credit package agreed in the recapitalisation of February 2009, both my officials and the Financial Regulator receive quarterly progress reports in relation to the lending commitments made. The performance of the banks in this regard was published in the NAMA supplementary information booklet (blue book) with both AIB and Bank of Ireland sanctioning more than €2.5bn each of new business in 2009.

In the context of NAMA and the associated recapitalisations I sought further contributions to economic recovery from the banks. In my statement on 30 March I announced further specific lending targets on the main business banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland. They will make available for targeted lending not less than €3 billion each for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs in both 2010 and 2011. The two banks have each submitted SME lending plans for 2010 and 2011 in light of the €3 billion target. These plans are being reviewed by my officials and Mr. John Trethowan, the Credit Reviewer.

A monitoring / reporting structure is being put in place which will ensure that banks honour their commitment to increase lending to the real economy.

Stability and Growth Pact

Martin Ferris

Question:

18 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance the approach being taken by him in respect of the Stability and Growth Pact; the timeframe he envisages for returning within the terms of the pact; the actions that need to be taken by him to bring Ireland back within the terms of the pact; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24535/10]

The Irish public finances, in particular tax receipts, have been very severely impacted by the sharp deterioration in our economy. Tax revenue in 2010 is expected to be in the region of €31 billion, a decline of nearly 35 per cent on the level of taxes received in 2007. The Government recognised early on that the gap that had emerged between revenues and expenditure was not sustainable. A multi-annual framework has been put in place to restore stability to the public finances and to reduce the General Government Deficit to below the 3 per cent of GDP Stability and Growth Pact limit by 2014. The European Commission, the ECB, the IMF, the OECD and respected international economic commentators are amongst those who have welcomed the plan.

The Government has already implemented significant measures to restore order to the public finances over the past two years. Beginning in July 2008, revenue raising and expenditure reducing measures designed to yield some €8 billion or 5 per cent of GDP in 2009 were introduced. In addition, Budget 2010 delivered further expenditure adjustments amounting to €4 billion or 2½ per cent of GDP.

As a result of the significant corrective action taken, Budget 2010 forecast the stabilisation of the underlying deficit in 2010, notwithstanding declining economic activity. Encouragingly, there are now signs that economic conditions are stabilising and positive growth is expected in the second half of the year. The latest Exchequer figures, for the period to end-May 2010, show that the budgetary plan is on target. Recent international developments highlight the importance of continuing along the path of fiscal consolidation and, while substantial progress has already been made, further measures will be required in the years out to 2014 in order to keep the corrective process on track.

The Government's focus now is on securing the necessary adjustments for Budget 2011 and work is underway in that regard. In terms of the amount involved, €3 billion was set out in Budget 2010 as the necessary adjustment for 2011. €1 billion of that is to come from the capital expenditure side. The balance of €2 billion will come from the current side of the Budget and will be a mix of expenditure and taxation measures. The precise breakdown of this adjustment is a matter for ongoing determination in the context of my formulation of Budget 2011 and at this stage of the year I do not intend to comment on the specifics of the 2011 Budget.

National Assets Management Agency

Liz McManus

Question:

19 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Finance the nominal amount of loans which have been transferred to the National Asset Management Agency to date; the amount of senior and subordinated NAMA bonds which have been issued to date; the aggregate proportion of NAMA bonds issued accounted for by the application of long-term economic value to loan transfers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25640/10]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

58 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the total nominal amount of loans transferred to the National Asset Management Agency to date; the total amount of senior and subordinated NAMA bonds issued to date; the aggregate proportion of NAMA bonds issued accounted for by the application of long-term economic value to loan transfers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25609/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 58 together.

The transfer of the first tranche of loans, totalling €15.3 billion in loan balances, from the five participating institutions concluded on 31 May 2010. NAMA issued bonds to a value of €7.7 billion to the institutions, of which 95% was senior debt and 5% was in the form of subordinated securities.

The Chairman of NAMA recently stated that a weighted-average LEV (long-term economic value) uplift of 11% was applied to the current market value of property underlying loans which were acquired as part of the first tranche. The first tranche weighted average uplift for loans was about 28%. The differential between the CMV and the LEV for loans is greater than that for property because the value for loans is dependent not just on the value of the property but also on the cash flows on the loans and the discount rate applicable to those cash flows and many of these loans have little or no cash flow.

Section 55 of the NAMA Act 2009 provides that NAMA will submit reports to the Minister for Finance every three months and that these will then be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. These reports are to include information on NAMA borrowings and bond issues.

Credit Statistics

Mary Upton

Question:

20 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance his views on the most recent monthly Private Sector Credit Statistics published by the Central Bank; his views on whether the decline in household and commercial debt is a function of weak demand for credit or weak supply of credit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25635/10]

Private sector credit growth and debt levels are monitored by the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland and details are published by the Bank in their monthly and quarterly bulletins. The most recent monthly statistics were published on 31 May 2010 with figures to the end of April 2010.

These showed the headline level of private sector credit outstanding to be €352.8 billion at the end of April 2010. This is a 12.7 per cent decline in the stock of private sector credit since the peak level of €403.9 billion in November 2008. The annual rate of change was minus 9.3 per cent, following a similar decline in March and minus 8.9 per cent in February. The decline reflects both valuation effects and repayments exceeding new lending.

Survey evidence from the main credit providers suggests both reduced demand for credit and continued tightening of credit standards by lenders for business lending during the first quarter of 2010. Credit standards on loans to households tightened for both lending for house purchase and consumer loans during the first quarter of 2010 and this was attributed to increased risk perception.

It is important from a policy perspective to ensure that viable businesses have access to credit. In this context, on 30 March I announced specific lending targets on the main business banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland. They will make available for targeted lending not less than €3 billion each for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs in both 2010 and 2011. The two banks have each submitted SME lending plans for 2010 and 2011 in light of the €3 billion target. These plans are being reviewed by my officials and Mr. John Trethowan, the Credit Reviewer.

Additionally, the Deputy will be aware that the Credit Review Office is available to review banks' decisions to refuse or withdraw credit to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It will provide an independent opinion of the banks' decisions on whether the credit should have been granted or not. In addition to dealing with individual cases, the credit review system will examine the credit policies and practices of the banks in respect of SMEs. This will help me to decide what further action might be necessary to secure the flow of credit. I intend to publish the analysis from the review process so that the performance of the banks participating in NAMA will be clear to all.

National Asset Management Agency

Catherine Byrne

Question:

21 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Finance the reason for the delay in publishing codes of practice for the National Asset Management Agency. [24706/10]

In accordance with section 35 of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009, NAMA, within three months of its establishment, submitted for my approval codes of practice on the conduct of officers of NAMA, servicing standards for acquired bank assets, risk management, disposal of bank assets and the manner in which NAMA is to take account of the commercial interests of credit institutions that are not participating institutions.

In accordance with commitments given to the EU Commission, relevant third parties, including the Commission itself, are being consulted. I expect these consultations to be completed in the coming weeks at which stage the codes will be finalised, approved and published.

Departmental Expenditure

Joe McHugh

Question:

22 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if he will publish options for spending savings in each Department for 2011 in order that there can be an informed debate about the optimum choices. [24752/10]

The Deputy can find a full examination of Departmental savings options in the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, published in July 2009. This list is still valid for 2011.

Financial Services Sector

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

23 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on prospective realignments within the Irish domestic banking sector; if he will provide updates with respect to the future of EBS, Irish Nationwide Building Society, Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Life and Permanent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25618/10]

The Deputy will be aware that, under EU State-aid rules, financial institutions in receipt of State aid must submit restructuring plans to the European Commission. To-date, plans have been submitted to the Commission in respect of Anglo-Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks and the EBS Building Society. A restructuring plan in respect of Irish Nationwide Building Society is due to be submitted to the EU in the near future. Irish Life and Permanent will also have to submit a viability plan to the Commission by 30 September, 2010.

Pending the European Commission's final decisions on the various plans, it is not possible at this stage to be definitive as regards possible realignments or development of the domestic banking sector. Any decision on the future of the domestic banking sector will be subject to the approval of the European Commission in the context of the restructuring process. These decisions will also be informed by the views of the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator and the NTMA. In that regard, the NTMA has been assigned responsibility to lead discussions, in consultation with my Department, with all interested parties on the restructuring of the financial system.

Appointments to State Boards

Joe Costello

Question:

24 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who applied, and were considered, for appointment to the Board of Anglo Irish Bank, as announced on 25 May 2010; the criteria used in the selection process; if he will confirm that the appointments were made under his authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25620/10]

Under the Relationship Framework the Board of the bank must obtain the prior approval of the Minister for any Board appointments it proposes. Further the Deputy will be aware that as a regulated entity, all proposed appointments to the Board of the bank require the approval of the Financial Regulator in accordance with fitness and probity requirements.

In this instance the Board recommended the appointment of the three Non-Executive Directors. The bank compiled a list of 10 potential candidates for these positions, having established the skill set and experience required in addition to the 12 candidates identified by the Department.

All candidates were assessed by the Board of the bank having regard to the following criteria:

1. Financial and banking experience to chair the Audit Committee,

2. Legal background; and

3. Experience of operating in the State sector.

Following this process the Board of the Bank identified three candidates for appointment, which were approved by the Financial Regulator and subsequently by me under the Relationship Framework.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Tom Hayes

Question:

25 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance his views on the findings of the bank inquiry that the Irish bank guarantee was cast too wide and took the question of optional loss sharing off the table; and if he accepts that he did not obtain a sufficiently broad range of advice in formulating its response. [25699/10]

In his report on the banking crisis Governor Honohan is very clear that an extensive guarantee needed to be put in place. The Governor does raise some questions regarding the scope of the guarantee relating to existing longer-term senior bonds and dated subordinated debt.

I have on a number of occasions discussed the question of the inclusion of dated subordinated debt in the guarantee and have been clear on the basis the decision was made. This was, in particular, the requirement to maintain access to wholesale capital markets and guard against the risk of a default for any of these liabilities which could arise from the non-payment of either principal of interest that would have had the effect of triggering the entire guarantee.

As far as opportunities for risk-sharing are concerned I understand that holders of subordinated debt in the three largest banks have suffered losses of more than €5 billion so far. In addition, credit rating agencies have downgraded subordinated debt in some of the Irish institutions on the basis that they expect further costs to be imposed on these bondholders. I have consistently made clear that there is no question of the guarantee for existing dated subordinated debt being extended beyond 29 September 2010 next.

Turning to the inclusion of the guarantee provided for existing senior debt on the 30 September 2008, it is not straightforward to assess what options were available for burden sharing and how that burden sharing could be achieved in practice. Moreover, there were significant risks from excluding existing senior bonds from the guarantee which could have resulted in the guarantee being called on other guaranteed securities with severe consequences for financial stability overall.

Apart from these issues, the fact remains that a comprehensive guarantee of bank liabilities was an established part of the standard toolkit for responding to systemic banking crises internationally. Sweden, which is often regarded as the template for successfully dealing with its banking crisis, provided a blanket guarantee of bank liabilities in the 1990s. In the current crisis Denmark, another small EU Member State, provided a very extensive guarantee including existing bonds early in October 2008. The Deputy may wish to note that the UK authorities provided a broad guarantee to existing senior bondholders in Northern Rock.

In overall terms as is evident from Governor Honohan's report, the guarantee preserved the stability of the entire banking system at a time that it was at serious risk of collapse. In the circumstances of September / October 2008, with markets characterised in the Governor's Report as hysterical, it was essential that the commitment provided by the Irish Government to stand behind our banking system was entirely credible, clear and consistent. In those circumstances, there were significant risks in an approach which sought to discriminate between different types of bank liabilities which resulted in the financial markets concluding that the guarantee was not market acceptable or indeed credible.

Very significant volumes of both short-term and longer-term funding were secured by the banks from wholesale capital markets in the weeks following the introduction of the guarantee. This has subsequently provided an important foundation to the funding of the banks and a bulwark against funding pressures that have arisen at various times since.

I am, therefore, fully satisfied that the Government's Decision in this matter was at that time informed by a sufficiently broad range of advice on the formulation of the guarantee and it will be a priority for me to ensure that it remains the case that Government decision-making on returning our banking system to health is fully informed by expert advice from the Governor of the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator and indeed the NTMA to which I have delegated significant roles in relation to the restructuring of the banks.

Social Levy

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

26 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Finance when he will publish his assessment of options for a social levy. [24746/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, I announced in the Budget that, with a view to restoring balance in the income tax system, to simplify it, to make it fairer and more broadly based, I intended to introduce a new system of just two charges on income viz.

a new universal social contribution to replace employee PRSI, the Health Levy and the Income Levy. This will be paid by everyone at a low rate on a wide base as a collective contribution to public services.

Income Tax will apply on a progressive basis to those with higher incomes reflecting their capacity to make a greater contribution.

The possible parameters of such a system have been under active examination by my Department in consultation with the Department of Social Protection, the Revenue Commissioners and other Departments concerned. A steering group and a variety of working groups have been established to carry out the necessary research. The steering group is nearing competition of its work and I expect the steering group report shortly.

On receipt of this report, and having considered its contents, I will then decide on the possible publication of a discussion paper on the issue.

Credit Union Sector

Jack Wall

Question:

27 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance his views on the significant increase in loan arrears in the Irish credit union sector, with payments not having been made on loans for ten weeks or more on 13.5% of outstanding loans; if he is concerned that some 20 credit unions could be in serious financial difficulties; if he intends to bring forward legislation to establish a resolution regime for credit unions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25624/10]

The Registrar of Credit Unions is responsible for the regulation and supervision of credit unions under the Credit Union Act 1997. The Registrar's statutory role under the Act relates to the supervision and oversight of the financial position and activities of credit unions on an ongoing basis. The Registrar reports to the Regulatory Authority in order to ensure that there is an early identification and response to any significant issues relating to the credit union movement or any individual credit union.

As the Deputy will recognise, the current economic downturn is adversely affecting the loan books of all financial institutions. Credit unions have withstood the financial crisis better than most financial institutions. The Registrar of Credit Unions has, however, indicated a sharp rise in arrears levels in the sector and a significant increase in the levels of loans being rescheduled as more members come under financial stress. The Registrar is working with individual credit unions to build reserves and provisions to strengthen their balance sheets and thereby protect members' savings. I am advised by the Registrar that there are around 20 credit unions with particularly high levels of arrears which the Registrar is monitoring closely due to regulatory concerns about the impact of high levels of arrears on their solvency positions.

The challenge at this time is for credit unions to be sensible and prudent while continuing to assist their members as far as possible. They should trust that the regulatory requirements and guidelines issued by the Registrar of Credit Unions are for their benefit and they should revert to the Registrar at an early stage should they encounter difficulties. The Registrar has issued requirements, circulars and guidance notes to credit unions in an effort to build a sector with adequate reserves and liquidity, with sensible and prudent credit policies and accounting practices that ensure a true and fair view of the books of the credit union is presented. Many credit unions are operated by non-professionals and volunteers and it is most important that the guidelines issued are followed and that the Registrar is consulted if there are any difficulties in this regard. The Registrar will assist any credit union in working through their difficulties over time.

I am examining options for the introduction of a legislative regime to deal in a systematic way with distressed financial institutions, to ensure the State has in place a range of tools to address problem institutions effectively in the interests of maintaining financial stability, minimising reliance on public moneys and ensuring continuity of key banking activities. In the context of work underway by my Department and the Central Bank in this area the appropriate treatment of Credit Unions is under consideration.

Proposed Legislation

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

28 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance his views on recent developments in the eurozone; when he expects to bring forward legislation to allow for Irish participation in the €750 billion stabilisation fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25622/10]

The European Council has taken a number of steps in recent weeks and months to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area. There is also a broad understanding that economic governance within the euro area needs to be improved. The Commission recently issued a Communication (2010) 250 on reinforcing economic policy coordination. The President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy has established a Task Force to look more closely at reform and is considering many of the Commission's proposals.

The Task Force — of which I am a member — has met twice already and is looking at a number of issues, including a crisis resolution mechanism for the euro area, addressing macroeconomic imbalances, reinforcing the Stability and Growth Pact and enhanced budgetary coordination. In discussing these issues, a general view is emerging that all avenues for improvements that could be advanced quickly should be considered, while taking account of national budgetary procedures and the role of national parliaments. The President will provide an interim oral report to the European Council today, Thursday 17 June. A final report will be made to the European Council in October. I look forward to further engagement with this important process.

In relation to the European stabilisation fund, in the wake of the crisis in Greece, the Ecofin Council decided at an Extraordinary meeting on 9 May 2010 to establish a comprehensive package of measures in order, if needed, to financially support Member States in difficulties caused by exceptional circumstances beyond their control and to safeguard financial stability in Europe.

The support measures which amount in total to €750bn consist of:

TheEuropean Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) based on Article 122 of the Treaty providing up to €60 billion in loans or credit lines which could be very rapidly mobilised, if needed. The Regulation setting up the EFSM has already been enacted by the Ecofin Council. The Mechanism will be administered by the Commission and be guaranteed by Member States through the EU Budget.

TheEuropean Financial Stability Facility, an inter-governmental agreement by euro area Member States to provide up to €440 billion in additional loans or credit lines, if required, via a special purpose vehicle (SPV). Member states would guarantee the funding raised by the SPV to finance loans under the Facility. Guarantees issued by Member States would be in the same proportion as their ECB capital shares, similar to the case of the Euro Area Loan Facility for Greece. Ireland’s share of the guarantees would amount to just over €7bn.

The funding costs including principal and interest repayment will be the responsibility of the beneficiary member state. Financial assistance is in all cases to be subject to strong policy conditionality.

The IMF have also committed to provide up to a maximum of €250 billion in loans to euro area Member States on a country by country basis, in the manner that the IMF recently agreed a package with the Greek Government.

I welcome all of these measures. They are important for the EU, the euro area and for Ireland. Their overriding purpose is to safeguard financial stability. Legislation is required to provide for Ireland's participation in the European Financial Stability Facility.

On 25 May 2010 the Government approved Ireland's participation, along with other euro area Member States, in the intergovernmental agreement setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a necessary step in creating the Facility. The Government also agreed to the issuing of guarantees associated with the SPV, if needed, on a joint and pro-rata basis with the other shareholders in the SPV.

The SPV which will raise funds, if needed, to provide loans to beneficiary Member States was established on 7 June 2010 as a limited liability company under Luxembourg law (Société Anonyme) and it will be known as the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). At present Luxembourg is the only shareholder but shares will be distributed in due course to all Euro Area Member States including Ireland.

On 15 June 2010, the Government approved the publication of the European Financial Stability Facility Bill 2010 and subject to agreement with the Whips Office, I propose to introduce it in the Dáil towards the end of next week. The main purpose of the Bill is to provide for Ireland's participation in the Facility and to issue guarantees, if required, subject to the terms of the related Framework Agreement which I signed last week. The Agreement, which will be scheduled to the Bill, sets out the parameters for the Facility and the relationships between the participating Member States. The Articles of Association for the SPV will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas at the same time as the Bill.

Public Service Reform

Simon Coveney

Question:

29 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance if he has developed a strategy for restructuring the public service to deliver significant savings in order that front line services will be protected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24716/10]

The Government's strategy for change in the Public Service is set out in its statement,Transforming Public Services. Transforming Public Services built on the recommendations of the OECD Review of the Irish Public Service and report of the Task Force on the Public Service. Its overall theme is a more integrated Public Service having greater connectivity and linkages across Departments and agencies to deliver an improved level of performance for customers together with greater connectivity. The Transformation agenda is being headed by a Cabinet Committee chaired by the Taoiseach, and Minister of State Calleary has been given responsibility for driving the Transformation Agenda.

Transforming Public Services puts the citizen and the delivery of front line services at the centre of our public services. It presents a blueprint for a cohesive Public Service, focused on common goals, with greater co-operation and reduced boundaries between sectors, organisations and professions. The focus is on a much greater integration of services around user needs and far greater efficiency in internal data sharing and administration through shared service models aimed at achieving significant savings. Transforming Public Services also envisages a more flexible labour market and talent pool with a facility to redeploy staff across sectoral boundaries to areas of greatest priority.

The Croke Park Agreement provides a shared vision of how the Transformation agenda will be implemented. LikeTransforming Public Services, the Agreement recognises that a more integrated Public Service that is leaner, more effective and more focused on the needs of the citizen is required to contribute to the process of returning Ireland to economic growth and prosperity. In the context of reduced numbers and resources, the Public Service will be reorganised and Public Servants will show greater flexibility and mobility in working across traditional boundaries.

Commissions of Investigation

Frank Feighan

Question:

30 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to seek an agreed terms of reference with the leaders of the Opposition on the banking inquiry. [24729/10]

Joan Burton

Question:

41 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance when the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Service is to be invited to consider the preliminary reports on Ireland’s banking crisis prepared under the direction of Klaus Regling and Patrick Honohan respectively; when he expects the terms of reference and draft Government order to establish the statutory Commission of Investigation into the Banking Crisis will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25636/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 41 together.

The Government agreed at its meeting on Wednesday 9 June that the preliminary reports, The Irish banking crisis: regulatory and financial stability policy 2003 — 2008, by the Governor of the Central Bank, and A preliminary report on the sources of Ireland's banking crisis, by Klaus Regling and Max Watson, be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

These reports are preliminary, scoping reports, which are intended to point the way to more detailed examination of specific issues by a statutory Commission of Investigation. In line with the framework for investigation announced by the Government last January, the Government has published draft terms of reference for a statutory Commission of Investigation, for consideration by the Oireachtas.

The Government has invited the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Service to provide its views on the draft terms of reference and, in this context, that Committee has already held two separate hearings on the preliminary reports with the authors of those reports. When the Committee has provided its views on the terms of reference, it is proposed that the final terms of reference be put to a vote of both houses of the Oireachtas in the form of a draft Government Order to establish the Commission of Investigation. I have previously indicated that the Government proposes that a resolution approving the draft Government Order be voted on by both Houses by the end of June.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Willie Penrose

Question:

31 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on the progress being made with the viability and business plans for the credit institutions covered by the bank guarantee submitted to the EU Commission for consideration; when he expects opinions to be issued by the Commission in relation to each of the credit institutions concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25610/10]

Under EU State aid requirements the financial institutions which were recapitalised by the State; Allied Irish Banks, Anglo Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland, were obliged to submit restructuring plans to the European Commission within six-months of receiving Government assistance. The Bank of Ireland Plan was submitted to the Commission on 30 September 2009, the Allied Irish Banks Plan was submitted on 13 November 2009, and the Anglo Irish Bank Plan was submitted on 30 November 2009.

Considerable discussion, dialogue and exchange of information is continuing in respect of the restructuring plans that have already been submitted as the Commission undertake their assessment of the plans in line with the applicable state aid rules. Negotiations in respect of the Bank of Ireland plan are at an advanced stage, and a decision is expected from the European Commission by mid-2010. AIB has adjusted the content of its plan to reflect the new capital requirements announced by the Financial Regulator in March, while Anglo Irish Bank, on foot of a request by the Commission, submitted a revised plan on 31 May 2010. It is too early to assess when final approval of the restructuring plans for these institutions will be granted by the Commission.

The Deputy may also wish to note that, as I indicated in my Banking statement of 30 March 2010, two further financial institutions — EBS and INBS due to their participation in NAMA and recent recapitalisations are required to submit restructuring plans to the Commission. The EBS plan was submitted to the Commission on 31 May 2010, and the INBS plan will be submitted by 22 June.

Anglo Irish Bank

Michael Noonan

Question:

32 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance if he will arrange to present full details of the worked costings of keeping Anglo Irish Bank as a going concern, compared to an orderly wind down of that bank. [24759/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

46 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of the restructuring plan of Anglo Irish Bank to split into a good bank and a bad bank; the cost that will be incurred by the State if Anglo Irish Bank is split into a good bank and a bad bank in terms of the costs of nationalisation, recapitalisation and restructuring; the cost of a wind-down of the bank over ten years and over 20 years and of liquidating Anglo over a year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24530/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 46 together.

As I emphasised in my Banking Statement on 30 March, finding a long-term solution for Anglo Irish Bank is by far the biggest challenge in resolving the banking crisis. The sheer size of the bank means there are no easy or low cost options.

As set out in the statement the bank's new management and board have estimated, an immediate wind-up would lead to a fire-sale of assets resulting in a permanent additional and unnecessary loss of upwards of €30 billion. In addition, the State would have to provide a large sum of cash — in the order of €70 billion — up-front to meet the deposits, bondholders and the liabilities due to the Eurosystem.

This assessment carried out by the bank in the context of the preparation of its restructuring plan makes clear that a longer term wind-down is not in the taxpayers' interest. In addition to the capital losses that would be sustained, a long-term wind-down of the bank over ten years could expose the State to funding obligations approaching €30 billion.

The realisation of the costs involved under these scenarios and the wider disruption to the financial system would generate enormous instability for the State with unforeseeable but potentially long-lasting damage to the overall economy.

As the Deputies will be aware, the bank's revised restructuring plan prepared by its new senior management team was submitted to the European Commission at the end of May. Following a very comprehensive and detailed evaluation of strategic restructuring options, the bank has identified as its preferred option, in terms of minimizing the future cost to the taxpayer, to carve out a smaller and stronger bank, leaving the remainder in the form of an asset management and recovery company. It is envisaged that the new going concern entity would be prepared for sale in due course. This option holds out the prospect of reducing the impact on the taxpayer and yielding some value in the future when the bank is sold out of State hands.

The Chair and the CEO of the bank provided further details on the bank's restructuring plan and the various options presented in the plan at their appearance at the Finance and Public Service Committee yesterday. As the plan remains under consideration by the European Commission and in light of the commercial sensitivity of much of the information contained in the plan, it is not possible to present full details of the costs of maintaining the bank as a going concern as compared to the orderly wind down of the bank.

As I have consistently reiterated, the sums required to rescue the bank are enormous but the costs of winding it down are even greater. The current bank strategy of seeking to devise a way to realise value for the taxpayer out of the remains of the old bank means the State could at least get some return, in time, recouping some of its assistance.

Fiscal Policy

Emmet Stagg

Question:

33 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Finance the proportion of the €3 billion budget adjustment for 2011 that he plans to be accounted for by revenue raising measures; and the proportion by cuts in current spending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25631/10]

The Government has a multi-annual plan to restore order to the public finances by reducing the General Government deficit to below 3 per cent of GDP by 2014. Budget 2010 was the latest phase in that plan, delivering corrective measures totalling €4 billion, the majority of which were on the spending side. The end-May Exchequer Returns are broadly in line with our budgetary targets and the Budget targets for the year as a whole remain valid. My Department will assess the position further in light of the end-June Exchequer Returns.

The Government's budget strategy has been welcomed, by the European Commission amongst others, and has earned Ireland significant credibility, something of immense importance given developments internationally in recent weeks.

The Government's focus now is on securing the necessary adjustments for Budget 2011 and work is under way in that regard. In terms of the amount involved, €3 billion was set out in Budget 2010 as the necessary adjustment for 2011. €1 billion of that is to come from the capital expenditure side. The balance of €2 billion will come from the current side of the Budget and will be a mix of expenditure and taxation measures. The precise breakdown of this adjustment is a matter for ongoing determination in the context of my formulation of Budget 2011 and at this stage of the year I do not intend to comment on the specifics of the 2011 Budget.

Banks Recapitalisation

Deirdre Clune

Question:

34 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Finance if the EUROSTAT classification of the recapitalisation of Anglo Irish Bank in 2009 has implications for the projected general deficit in 2010 and later years; and if the EU Commission has confirmed that the existing deficit correction over the period to 2014 is still acceptable under the eurozone obligations. [24711/10]

Initially the Irish authorities, with regard to Eurostat guidelines, classified the investment of €4bn by the Government in Anglo Irish Bank in 2009 as a financial transaction and, as such, it did not affect the general government balance. However, since then the Irish authorities have reviewed the matter in light of later information and concluded that the transaction should be considered a capital injection rather than a financial transaction. In the course of making the Maastricht returns this information was relayed to Eurostat.

This resulted in the general government deficit being re-calculated to be 14.3% of GDP. The underlying General Government Balance excluding this technical reclassification is 11.8% of GDP, which is broadly in line with the Budget day estimate.

This reclassification is a once-off adjustment that only impacts on 2009 and does not affect the forecast for a General Government Balance of around 11 ½ % of GDP for 2010, nor does it impact on later years.

In April of this year the EU Commission issued its opinion on Ireland's Stability Programme Update. This, along with the other Member States programmes, was considered at Ecofin. Our Programme, which sets out our plan to have a General Government deficit below 3% of GDP by 2014, was welcomed. The Ecofin Council endorsed the substantial consolidation measures which we have undertaken and called on us to rigorously implement the budget for 2010.

Therefore, the target of 2014 to reduce the general government deficit below 3% of GDP remains valid.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Richard Bruton

Question:

35 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the extent of State aid that has been involved in the bank guarantee scheme since it commenced operation; and if there are plans to recoup this aid for the Exchequer. [24780/10]

As the Deputy is aware, since 29 September 2008, the State has guaranteed certain liabilities of credit institutions in Ireland initially under the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme (the ‘CIFS' Scheme) but more recently under the Credit Institutions (Eligible Liabilities Guarantee) Scheme (the ‘ELG' Scheme).

The Eligible Liabilities Guarantee (ELG) Scheme, which commenced on 9 December 2009 following Oireachtas and EU State aid approval introduced important changes to the Guarantee for financial institutions bringing it more into line with the mainstream approach to similar guarantees in other EU Member States.

The ELG Scheme is intended to facilitate the ability of credit institutions in Ireland to issue debt securities and take term deposits with a maturity post-September 2010 of up to five years, on either a guaranteed or unguaranteed basis.

The ECB pricing recommendations on government guarantees for bank debt apply to liabilities guaranteed under the ELG Scheme. This is the standard pricing arrangements which now applies to all Guarantee schemes securing approval of the European Commission in line with the applicable State aid rules. The exact remuneration payable to the State is dependent on a range of factors such as the maturity profile of the liabilities and the extent to which institutions chose to make unguaranteed issuances, however the fee will be charged at a higher rate than under CIFS. The average fee for short-term bank debt now stands at 0.5% under the new scheme.

The yield to the Exchequer in respect of guarantee fees as remuneration from the institutions for the availability of the State Guarantee is expected to amount to at least €1 billion over two years from September 2008. To date €718 million in respect of the CIFS scheme and €90.5m in respect of the ELG scheme has been collected from the covered institutions.

The fees charged to guaranteed institutions have been approved by the European Commission and help ensure the compatibility of the guarantee schemes with EC state aid requirements. Other than in relation to the payment of these fees by the institutions participating in the guarantee schemes the issue of recouping the state aid provided under the schemes does not arise.

National Pensions Reserve Fund

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

36 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the investment to date by the National Pension Reserve Fund in banks (details supplied); the market value of these investments; the way any gain or loss on these investments will impact on the Exchequer balance and the general Government balance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25641/10]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

64 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance the total investment to date by the National Pension Reserve Fund in Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks respectively; the total market value of these investments; the way any gain or loss on these investments will impact on the Exchequer balance and the general Government balance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25615/10]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

69 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the mechanism and terms for the conversion of preference shares in banks (details supplied) held by the National Pension Reserve Fund to ordinary shares; the outcome of the warrants in the case of such a conversion; the steps that will be taken to protect the warrants from devaluation as a result of dilution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25632/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 36, 64 and 69 together.

On 30 March 2009, I directed the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission to invest €3.5 billion in preference shares issued by Bank of Ireland and on 12 May 2009 I directed the Commission to invest €3.5 billion in preference shares issued by Allied Irish Banks plc (AIB). I gave these directions under the Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2009 ("the 2009 Act"), having consulted the Governor of the Central Bank and the Regulatory Authority and having decided that the investments were required in the public interest to prevent potential serious damage to the financial system in the State and to ensure the continued stability of that system.

These investments were in perpetual preference shares with an annual non-cumulative fixed dividend of 8% payable in cash or, in the case of non-payment by either bank of the cash dividend, ordinary shares in lieu. The preference shares could be repurchased at par up to the fifth anniversary of the issue and at 125% of face value thereafter. Warrants issued with, but detachable from, the preference shares gave an option to purchase up to 25% of the enlarged ordinary share capital of each bank (following exercise of the warrants). The warrants were exercisable at any time from the fifth to tenth anniversary of issue of the preference shares or immediately prior to any takeover or merger of the bank concerned, whichever is earlier. The number of ordinary shares which could be acquired pursuant to the exercise of the warrants was subject to anti-dilution protection in line with market norms for warrants. Accordingly, the warrants will be proportionately adjusted for any increase or decrease in the number of ordinary shares in issue resulting from a subdivision or consolidation of units of ordinary shares. The warrants will also be proportionately adjusted for any capital distributions by the bank and for certain bonus issues or rights issues by the bank.

In February and May 2010, the Fund received ordinary shares in Bank of Ireland and AIB in lieu of cash as payment of the first dividend on its preference share investments. The payment was made in the form of ordinary shares as the European Commission has requested that discretionary coupon payments on Tier 1 and Upper Tier 2 capital instruments in Bank of Ireland and AIB not be paid while it considers each bank's restructuring plan. The number of shares issued in each case represents the amount of the annual preference share dividend divided by the average share price in the 30 trading days prior to the date of issue.

On 30 March 2010 I gave details to the House of the further capital needs of the banks in order to meet the Financial Regulator's requirement of a Tier 1 capital ratio of 8%, of which 7% must be equity.

As regards Bank of Ireland, on 25 April 2010, again having consulted the Governor of the Central Bank and the Regulatory Authority and, having decided that it was required in the public interest to prevent potential serious damage to the financial system in the State and to ensure the continued stability of that system, I issued directions to the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission under the 2009 Act to convert part of its €3.5 billion holding of Bank of Ireland preference stock into ordinary stock as part of the capital raising exercise announced by the bank on 26 April. The details of the transaction are as follows:

Placing/ Conversion (Step 1)

The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) subscribed for 576 million units of ordinary stock. In exchange for this stock the NPRF converted 1,036 million units of preference stock at their issue price of €1.00 into ordinary stock.

Warrant cancellation

The NPRF received €491 million in cash in return for the cancellation of the warrants issued in conjunction with the preference stock.

Rights Issue (Step 2)

The NPRF participated in the Bank of Ireland rights issue taking up the full allocation to which it is entitled at a price of €0.55 per unit of ordinary stock. In order to exercise the rights, the NPRF converted a further 627 million units of its preference stock into ordinary stock.

Fees

The NPRF received €52 million in fees for its participation in the transaction.

Change in dividend rate on preference stock

The dividend rate on the remaining preference stock increases from 8.00% to 10.25%.

The transaction involved no new investment by the NPRF in Bank of Ireland and was funded entirely via conversion of preference stock. Including the cancellation of the warrants issued in conjunction with the preference stock and fees, the NPRF has received total cash income of €543 million from Bank of Ireland for participation in the transaction.

The NPRF's directed investment in Bank of Ireland now consists of:

1,900 million units of ordinary stock valued at their current market price (36% of the bank's ordinary stock in issue); and

1,837 million units of preference stock held at their issue price of €1.00 paying an annual dividend of 10.25%.

As regards AIB, the NPRF's directed investment in AIB now consists of:

3,500 million units of preference shares held at their issue price of €1.00 paying an annual dividend of 8.00%;

198 million ordinary shares valued at their current market price (18% of the bank's ordinary stock in issue)

In my statement to the House on 30 March, I said that the Regulator had determined that AIB must raise additional equity capital of at least €7.4 billion by the end of the year to meet the new base case capital standards and that, as the first step in meeting its capital needs, AIB would immediately commence the process of sale of overseas assets. The disposal proceeds will provide significant capital but may not be sufficient to address the full requirement. To the extent that the gap is not filled by the private sector, the State is willing to convert some or all of its preference shares as required on terms to be agreed that will provide full value for the State. Depending on the structure of the capital raising and the extent of private participation, no new Exchequer funding may be required. But if additional money is required, it will be provided by way of ordinary equity. Any additional capital requirement will be met from the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

The NPRF Commission will continue to publish information on the overall return on and value of the investments it holds in credit institutions at my direction in its quarterly Performance and Portfolio Updates.

As regards the treatment of changes in the value of the NPRF, the contribution of the NPRF to the General Government Balance is made up of the interest and dividends which it earns on its investments, less any costs associated with the administration of the fund. Any changes in the nominal values of investments held by the NPRF are not considered to be income or expenditure, as they affect the value of the stock of NPRF assets and do not have an impact on the General Government Balance. The payment to Government of ordinary shares in lieu of a dividend is considered as income in national accounting terms and, therefore, improves the General Government Balance by the same amount as if the Fund had received the dividend payment.

Personal Debt

Terence Flanagan

Question:

37 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance when policy proposals from the committee to examine debt problems of mortgage holders and householders will be published. [24734/10]

As the Deputy is aware, in late February, I announced the establishment of an Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Hugh Cooney, an insolvency accountant.

The Group is initially exploring the feasibility of a range of possible options for improving the level of mortgage support to homeowners in difficulty. When this phase of the work is completed, the Group will then address the issue of Personal Debt.

I understand that the Group will be ready to report to me regarding its recommendations on the mortgage arrears issue by the end of June and I envisage that the report will be published shortly after that.

Anglo Irish Bank

Paul Connaughton

Question:

38 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he or his Department was aware of efforts made to present a misleading impression of the balance sheet and accounts of Anglo Irish Bank. [25694/10]

The Directors of the bank are responsible for the preparation of financial statements including the balance sheet and accounts. Further, independent auditors audit the financial statements in accordance with the relevant legal and regulatory requirements and international standards as adopted by the European Union and report in this context.

Neither I as Minister for Finance nor my Department ever approved of the transaction referred to in the Deputy's question nor had I or my Department any role in it.

As the Deputy will be aware in April 2009, Irish Life and Permanent confirmed that none of the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator or the Department of Finance had approved the transaction. Once I became aware of the transaction I referred the issue to the Financial Regulator.

This issue is currently under investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) and the Garda authorities, and is a matter for the Garda Síochána and the ODCE. The Deputy will appreciate these investigations must be allowed to take their course and in that context it is important to ensure that no comment is made that has any potential whatsoever to prejudice future civil or criminal actions.

Bank Levy

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

39 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance his views on the introduction of a bank levy, as proposed by the Internal Markets Commissioner; his views on whether the funds of any prospective bank tax should be part of an EU-wide fund or under national control; the relevant position that Ireland will be adopting on these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24531/10]

Consideration of how to ensure that the financial sector contributes to the cost of dealing with crises is under way in various fora internationally. In addition to the Communication from the European Commission referred to by the Deputy, the IMF is also examining this issue, at the request of the G20 and is due to present its final report to the G20 summit later this month. The Communiqué from the recent G20 Finance Ministers meeting on 5 June 2010 in Busan recognised that there is a range of policy approaches, and agreed to the development of principles reflecting the need to protect taxpayers, reduce risks from the financial system, protect the flow of credit in good times and bad, taking into account individual country's circumstances and options, and helping promote level playing field.

One possible mechanism for ensuring that the financial sector bears the costs is a bank levy, as set out in the Commission's Communication on Bank Resolution Funds. The Commission's Communication supports the establishment of ex ante resolution funds, funded by a levy on the banks to facilitate the managed failure of ailing banks in an orderly manner and suggests that a resolution fund should form part of the toolbox of measures available to Member States in an EU crisis management framework. It is important to note that an objective of the Commission's proposal, in conjunction with its wider proposals on a crisis management system, is to mitigate the burden on the taxpayer arising from financial crises. As acknowledged in the Commission Communication, it would be difficult at present to initiate a single pan European resolution fund.

In my dealing with the banks I have clearly maintained the principle that the banks will contribute to the cost of State's support — the banks have been charged for the Government's guarantee of their liabilities and the NAMA Act provides for a levy on the banks should NAMA result in a loss for the taxpayer. In the context of the enhancement of supervision and the restructuring of the banking sector under way in Ireland it is my intention to ensure that the sector contributes its appropriate share, thereby minimising as much as possible taxpayers' exposure to potential costs arising from State support of the banking sector.

Tax Code

Martin Ferris

Question:

40 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if the €200 levy on car parking facilities provided to employees by their employers will apply to Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas; if this levy will apply to former Oireachtas Members who still have parking rights; if this levy will be reclaimable as an expense item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24536/10]

When the levy is introduced, each employee who has an entitlement to use a parking space provided directly or indirectly by his or her employer, and in an area designated as covered by the levy, is liable to pay. It will apply to Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas who have parking in such an area.

Retired persons are exempt from the levy where a space continues to be provided to them for occasional use. However, in circumstances where a retired person is engaged in employment by his or her former employer, or indeed by any other employer, the retired person will be liable to pay the levy if the space is within a designated area.

The levy will not be reclaimable as an expense item.

Full details of the operation of the levy have been made available by the Revenue Commissioners in a Guidance Document on their website.

Question No. 41 answered with Question No. 30.

Public Service Contracts

Alan Shatter

Question:

42 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which public service contracts are allocated to domestic small and medium enterprises; the way this proportion compares to other EU countries; if he plans policy initiatives to make contracts more accessible to Irish SMEs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24771/10]

Studies indicate that in smaller Member States, small and medium enterprises tend to win a high percentage of public contracts. EU studies indicate that about 65% of Ireland's public contracts, by value, is won by SMEs. This compares to between 30% and 35% for bigger Member States such as the UK, France, Germany and Spain. The figures relate to larger contracts advertised in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU). Such contracts comprise between 25% and 30% of the total public procurement market.

Smaller contracts, generally between €50,000 and the OJEU publication threshold, are advertised on the national public procurement website (www.etenders.gov.ie ) or, if of lower value, awarded following competition between an adequate number of suitable companies directly invited to tender. Indicative figures show a very high proportion of this market segment is won by domestic enterprises.

Government recognises the important business opportunities that public service contracts represent for business enterprises in the local and national economy and encourages participation to the greatest extent possible. Significant measures have been introduced which make it easier for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to bid for public contracts. Among these are:

the wide advertising of public procurement opportunities via the national public procurement website (etenders) which is now the established reference point for all procurement opportunities;

the issue of email "alerts" directly to registered suppliers when contracts that might be of interest to them are advertised;

the simplification of the tendering process through theetenders website having a facility to pre-qualify tenderers and to submit tenders online;

the provision of more training for the "professionalisation" of public purchasers. In recent years, sixty officials from forty organisations have undergone training in spend profiling and corporate procurement planning. A two year Masters qualification in Strategic Procurement is being offered by Dublin City University since September 2006 and an IPA Course is also available. Such initiatives are providing key public purchasers with the skills to appropriately promote whole of Government objectives and policies through the State's purchasing power.

More recently, the National Procurement Service (NPS) was established within the Office of Public Works. The Service is working closely with all areas of the public sector to promote efficiencies and economies in public procurement expenditure. It is acutely aware of the issues for SMEs and has commenced the process of:

encouraging organisations to advertise low value contracts on etenders in order to promote SME participation in association with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO), standardising contract and tender documents;

educating SMEs through up-skilling by means of seminars/workshops/website;

in association with the Department of Finance, reviewing appropriate levels of financial capacity required for public contracts;

working with the CSSO and the State Claims Agency in examining the levels of public liability insurance required;

working with Enterprise Ireland to encourage SMEs to tender for as many public contracts as possible;

encouraging SMEs in the use of electronic tendering on etenders which requires no more than a personal computer and Internet access and does not involve the expense of specialist software

encouraging early advertising upcoming procurement opportunities.

Finally, my Department, in consultation with the NPS, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and other stakeholders in the public procurement market, has developed guidance for contracting authorities on measures to facilitate SME participation in the public procurement market. This will be published shortly.

National Asset Management Agency

John Perry

Question:

43 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Finance if he expects the National Asset Management Agency to accommodate social objectives in the course of its work; and the way these objectives will be established and funded. [24767/10]

NAMA has a commercial remit and generating a return for the taxpayer is a key objective. However, within this context NAMA will seek to facilitate public bodies seeking the creation of desirable developments that encourage vibrant sustainable communities. I have previously indicated that such bodies could be given first option for a limited period on properties which NAMA has acquired. Where it can be shown that providing units for social and affordable housing needs can create a commercial proposition for NAMA, then NAMA may play a role in the provision of social and affordable housing. I understand that officials of NAMA have had some contact with officials of the Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government, local authorities and other public bodies to explore the scope for such arrangements.

Remediation of Industrial Sites

David Stanton

Question:

44 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question Nos 60 and 81 of 10 March 2010, regarding the membership of the Office of Public Works working group to manage and develop Haulbowline, the names of the representatives from his Department and the Departments of Defence, Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and Finance on this group; if the group has now met and begun working on its report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22252/10]

David Stanton

Question:

56 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question Nos 60 and 81 of 10 March 2010, if the terms of reference of the Office of Public Works working group to manage and develop the former Irish Ispat site at Haulbowline have now been finalised; the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22253/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 56 together.

In mid-April 2010, the Office of Public Works (OPW) convened the first meeting of the Working Group set up to develop a structured and coherent approach to the further management and development of the site at Haulbowline. The Terms of Reference for this Working Group are as follows:

1. to consult with the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces with regard to their future requirements for the site, and any security issues, which need to be considered;

2. to outline the developing issues, particularly technical constraints, site boundary issues, zoning issues, and regulatory requirements of the site;

3. to develop, following local consultation, a comprehensive list of possible future uses;

4. to assess the likely cost/benefit scenario for any likely proposal, and to ensure that the preferred option shows good value for money;

5. to endeavour to report to government within a six month timeframe.

It is important to note that the Terms of Reference of the Working Group are confined to looking at possible future uses for Haulbowline Island. The Terms of Reference do not include matters relating to contamination or matters relating to remediation or containment measures on the site. Such matters will be considered in light of the Government's consideration of the recommendations of the Group as to the future use of the site.

Cork County Council continue to discharge site management responsibilities on an agency basis.

The Working Group is chaired by the OPW Commissioner in charge of Property Management. The other members of the Group are Principal Officers from the following Sections/ Departments:

Property Management Branch, Department of Defence

Enterprise Strategy and Inward Investment Unit, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation

Waste Policy Section, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Sectoral Policy Division, Department of Finance.

Commissions of Investigation

Seymour Crawford

Question:

45 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Finance if there are consequences for any persons in leadership positions arising from the two bank inquiry reports that have been published. [25700/10]

The Government agreed at its meeting on Wednesday 9 June that the preliminary reports, The Irish banking crisis: regulatory and financial stability policy 2003 — 2008, by the Governor of the Central Bank, and A preliminary report on the sources of Ireland's banking crisis, by Klaus Regling and Max Watson, be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

These reports are preliminary, scoping reports, which are intended to point the way to more detailed examination of specific issues by a statutory Commission of Investigation. The Government has, in addition, published draft terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation, for consideration by the Oireachtas. It is proposed that the final terms of reference be included in a Government Order to be voted on by both Houses of the Oireachtas before being signed by the Taoiseach. It will be a matter for the Commission, when established, to investigate those issues set out in the terms of reference, in accordance with its powers under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 and, in this regard, I do not wish to pre-empt any findings the Commission may make.

It might also be noted that the report by Messrs Regling and Watson distinguishes between issues that lend themselves to a formal process of investigation and issues that are, in general, less amenable to a legally-oriented process of investigation and may be more appropriate to policy review.

The Government has published a draft terms of reference for a statutory Commission of Investigation having regard to the recommendations of both preliminary reports. The Oireachtas will be invited to vote on a resolution approving a draft Government Order to establish a Commission in due course.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 32.

Disabled Drivers

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

47 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the reason only one fuel claim per year is now going to be permitted for disabled drivers claiming refund of excise duty on motor fuel use in qualifying vehicles under the Disabled Drivers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25533/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, following a review of the Disabled Drivers scheme, some changes in the administrative arrangements have been gradually introduced to achieve efficiencies and to simplify the process for disabled claimants, so that claiming is easier and more customer-friendly. The changes included dispensing with the submission of receipts with every fuel repayment claim and, more recently, moving to one claim per annum rather than up to 3 claims a year as had been the practice previously.

The volume of fuel repayment claims had been very high. During 2009, 29,410 claims were processed involving a total repayment of €6.9 million. The average repayment on each claim was therefore just €234. The reduction in the claim period from four monthly (max of 3 claims per annum) to one claim per annum was aimed at reducing the volume of paperwork being dealt with under the scheme and thereby achieving efficiencies. The change will reduce the amount of claims being processed by at least half and allows for the provision of a more efficient and responsive service across all aspects of the Disabled Drivers schemes. It is also in line with the generality of tax repayments. In view of the low average value of claims, the change was considered feasible and should not cause undue difficulty for claimants. In fact, the change has been welcomed by many claimants.

Where particular difficulty is being experienced by a disabled claimant, Revenue will give favourable consideration to making an interim repayment, as an exception, on a case by case basis.

Tax Code

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

48 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the financial implications for the State arising out of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding VAT liability for the National Aquatic Centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21070/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are aware of the recent Supreme Court decision involving the leasing of the premises in Dublin known as the National Aquatic Centre. However, in keeping with the obligation on them to respect the right of all persons to have their tax affairs dealt with in confidence, the Commissioners are unable to comment on the tax affairs of any of the parties involved in the Supreme Court case.

Departmental Staff

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

49 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the steps he has taken to strengthen capacity in his Department in regard to banking and insurance; the number of such specialists employed in the Department; the date on which they were engaged and their qualifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25605/10]

Since 2008 the staffing levels in the Financial Services Division of my Department, within which responsibility for banking and insurance lies, have increased from 34.20 to 51.73 (whole time equivalents) in 2010 — a 51.5% increase. In addition to an overall increase in staffing levels within these areas, my Department has so far recruited the services of three experts in the financial services area, through a combination of direct employment and secondment from both private and public sector.

In October 2009, the Government approved the appointment of a banking analyst, with extensive knowledge and experience in the banking field, on a 3 year employment contract. This specialist has a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and also a Masters in Economic Science. In addition, my Department has recently secured the services (since 1 March 2010) of a banking accountant for a period of 12 months through an agreed secondment arrangement, at no cost to my Department. He has a B. Comm degree, and is also a qualified accountant. Finally, the Department has also engaged, on secondment from the Office of the Attorney General, a Senior Legal Advisor to the Department solely on financial services matters. The Legal Advisor has Bachelor of Civil Law and Barrister at Law degrees, and in addition to his experience in the Office of the Attorney General, he spent a number of years as a barrister in private practice.

I am continually reviewing the need for further recruitment of specialists into these areas. In addition, as deputies will be aware, I have looked at my overall resources on banking and have reallocated considerable functions to the NTMA, which has also engaged a number of new banking experts for this purpose. Overall, therefore, my resources in relation to the banking area, including specialist expertise, have increased significantly, and I anticipate that it will increase further.

Banks Recapitalisation

Arthur Morgan

Question:

50 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the reasons behind the additional €2 billion capital contribution to Anglo Irish Bank; if he will be required to adjust the promissory note to Anglo Irish Bank again; if there will be an adjustment of the promissory note to Anglo Irish Bank above €10.3 billion; if so, the amount of same; if there is a cap on the amount that can be adjusted on the promissory note; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24529/10]

As indicated in my Banking Statement on 30 March 2010 Anglo Irish Bank will need further capital which could be of the order of €10bn. On 31 May 2010 an additional €2bn in capital support was provided to Anglo Irish Bank. This took place by way of an adjustment to the existing Promissory Note of €8.3bn which issued to the Bank on the 31 March 2010. This brings the total value of the Promissory Note to €10.3bn. As set out in my Banking Statement, it is clear that the bank will have a further capital requirement in 2010, which it is expected will be met by increasing the value of the Promissory Note. The bank's assessment is that an additional capital requirement of approximately €10bn is projected to arise in respect of the bank reflecting such factors as the need to cover additional capital requirements depending on the haircut on forthcoming transfer of assets to NAMA, the scale of the losses arising on the remainder of Anglo's loan book, and any capital costs arising under a restructuring of the bank. As the Deputy will appreciate, EU State aid approval would be required as appropriate for any amount above that approved by the European Commission thus far.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

51 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the amount that each of the Irish banks included in the recapitalisation plan of 30 March 2010 has lent to small business this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25689/10]

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

59 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance if each of the Irish banks have achieved their requirements for lending to small business as set out under the recapitalisation plan of 30 March 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25688/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 59 together.

In the context of NAMA and the associated recapitalisations I sought further contributions to economic recovery from the banks. In my statement on 30 March I announced further specific lending targets on the main business banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland. They will make available for targeted lending not less than €3 billion each for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs in both 2010 and 2011. The two banks have each submitted SME lending plans for 2010 and 2011 in light of the €3 billion target. These plans are being reviewed by my officials and Mr. John Trethowan, the Credit Reviewer and are the subject of ongoing discussions. Banks are expected to make the credit available immediately and not to wait until the plans are finalised. In the context of last year's recapitalisation, both my officials and the Financial Regulator receive quarterly reports in relation to the lending commitments made by AIB and Bank of Ireland. The most recent report I have covers the first quarter of 2010 and it shows that AIB lent €618m to SMEs while Bank of Ireland advanced €582m.

Bernard Allen

Question:

52 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Finance the discussions he has had with the EU regarding the package of recapitalisation proposals for banks (details supplied). [24751/10]

In accordance with EU State aid requirements, my officials formally notified the European Commission of the recapitalisation of Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks on 11 March 2009 and 22 April 2009, respectively. In both cases the Commission concluded that the measures in question constituted State aid pursuant to the relevant state aid articles of the EC Treaty. Consequently, both banks were required to submit restructuring plans to the European Commission within six-months of receiving Government assistance. The Bank of Ireland Plan was submitted to the Commission on 30 September 2009 and the Allied Irish Banks Plan was submitted on 13 November 2009.

Considerable discussion, dialogue and exchange of information is continuing in respect of the restructuring plans that have already been submitted as the Commission undertake their assessment of the plans in line with the applicable state aid rules. Negotiations in respect of the Bank of Ireland plan are at an advanced stage, and a decision is expected from the European Commission by mid-2010. AIB has adjusted the content of its plan to reflect the new capital requirements announced by the Financial Regulator in March. It is too early to assess when final approval of the restructuring plans for this institution will be granted by the Commission.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

53 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance the changes to the payment rates for the eligible liabilities guarantee and credit institution financial support bank guarantee schemes which have taken place over the past year or are envisaged; his views on new directions from the EU as to the minimum level of such guarantee fees; the way these changes are likely to impact on the public finances; the guarantee income envisaged from these guarantee schemes for 2010, 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25637/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, at the time the Credit Institutions Financial Support (CIFS) Scheme was put in place, I highlighted the intention that guarantee fees of at least €1 billion would be raised in respect of the two year period of the guarantee. In the context of the six month review of the charge under the CIFS Scheme, which was undertaken by my Department in September 2009, and given the shortfall in monies raised from the charge to that date, the charge factor levied on each institution was reviewed and new, higher rates were applied over the remainder of the Scheme. It remains my intention that €1bn will be raised under CIFS and ELG by end September 2010 and it is expected that this target will be reached.

I introduced a revised guarantee scheme, the ELG Scheme, in December 2009. Any new debt issued or new deposits taken after the date that participating institutions joined that scheme are guaranteed under ELG. The formula for calculating the guarantee fees paid under ELG is based on European Central Bank recommendations on government guarantees for bank debt dated 20 October 2008, available athttp://www.ecb.int/pub/pdf/other/recommendations_ on_guaranteesen.pdf . In line with the ECB recommendations above, the fee structure is differentiated for institutions based on their credit ratings for liabilities with a maturity of greater than one year. A flat rate fee of 50bp applies to all liabilities of less than or equal to one year.

On the future arrangements for fees, the European Commission last month published a staff working document on the application of State Aid rules on Government Guarantee Schemes covering bank debt to be issued after 30 June 2010. The pricing structure outlined in the document is being taken into account in ongoing discussions between the Department and the European Commission on the prolongation of the ELG Scheme which are expected to be concluded shortly. This will be dependent on the exact phasing of the exit strategy for the guarantee. It is not possible to make any assessment of the level of possible guarantee fees that may be collected for 2011 and 2012 as this will depend on the availability and scope of any guarantees and the level of guarantee fees approved under EU State aid rules.

Flood Relief

Denis Naughten

Question:

54 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the progress to date on availing of EU funds to assist with 2009 flood damage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25690/10]

My Department made an application to the EU Commission on 27th January 2010 for funding under the EU Solidarity Fund based on estimates of damage received from Departments and local authorities. The application was formally acknowledged by the Commission on 24th February 2010. The EU Solidarity Fund does not fund full reconstruction nor does it fund prevention works. It funds emergency operations to allow a rapid return to normal living conditions. A regional application was made as the estimate of the extent of the damage does not meet the Solidarity Fund's threshold of 0.6% of GNI or 935.5m euro for a national disaster. There are specific criteria which must be met to ensure a successful regional application to the EU Solidarity Fund. These criteria include the majority of the population of the region being affected by the disaster and serious and long lasting effects on the region's economic stability and living conditions. My Department, with the assistance of other Departments and agencies, has finalised the costs underpinning the application. The finalised application was sent to the Commission on 15th June 2010. The Commission will now assess the application, in light of the eligibility criteria, to determine if aid from the Solidarity Fund will be made available.

Financial Services Regulation

Joe Costello

Question:

55 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the total annual cost of regulating the Irish financial sector; the extent to which those entities regulated by the Financial Regulator cover the costs of this regulation; the way this cost coverage varies across different financial sectors, domestic banking, insurance, IFSC-based banking and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25619/10]

The Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (CBFSAI) is governed by the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and the Treaty of Rome and is not directly responsible to me for the cost of financial regulation. However, the Central Bank Act 1942 requires my approval for an annual statement by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA) of proposed income and expenditure specifying the amounts to be raised by levies in respect of financial regulation. Once I have approved it, the statement is laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. In addition, the annual report of the IFSRA which shows the outcome of income and expenditure in the previous year is laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas each year.

The CBFSAI has advised me that over the three-year period from 2007 to 2009 some 50 per cent of the total costs of the Financial Regulator have been met by the imposition of levies on the industry. The balance of the total annual costs is provided by the CBFSAI in accordance with Section 33(L) of the Central Bank Act 1942. In 2009, the CBFSAI bore the full cost of certain securities market supervision activities carried out within the Financial Regulator. These costs, totalling €3.4 million, were excluded from the Net Industry Funding levies issued to the industry in 2009. In addition, under the provisions of the Central Bank Act 1942 (Section 33J) Regulations 2009, a supplementary levy was imposed on credit institutions covered by the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme 2008 which is designed to recoup 100 per cent of the costs of the more intensive level of supervision necessary to ensure compliance by relevant credit institutions with the provisions of the Scheme. There is also a cap on the amount of the levy payable by Credit Unions equivalent to 0.01% of a credit union's total assets.

The Budget of the Financial Regulator for the year ended 31 December 2009 amounted to €63.59 million of which €34.5 million was to be funded by way of a subvention from the CBFSAI. The following table shows the contribution from each industry category.

Industry Category

Net 2008 Surplus/ (Deficit)

2009 Budget Funding Requirement

2009 AFR

€000

€000

€000

A: Credit Institutions

(470)

18,108

18,578

B: Insurance

253

5,549

5,296

C: Intermediaries

(40)

2,200

2,240

D: Securities Firms

(38)

2,022

2,060

E: Collective Investment Schemes and Service Providers

(99)

4,099

4,198

F: Credit Unions

0

1,769

1,394*

G: Moneylenders

11

271

260

H: Approved Professional Bodies

0

5

5

I: Exchanges

9

158

149

J: Bureau de Change/ Money Transmitters

(27)

91

118

K: E-Money Providers

0

0

0

L: Default Assessment

n/a

n/a

n/a

M: Home Reversion Firms/Retail Credit Firms

0

251

251

Total

(401)

34,523

34,549

Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 44.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael Creed

Question:

57 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the way he has arrived at the estimate of €10 billion further recapitalisation of Anglo Irish Bank; and if he expects this to fall due to be committed before the end of the guarantee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24719/10]

As I pointed out in my Banking Statement on 30 March, the unavoidable reality is that the bank has incurred losses from its large-scale property lending and needs substantial further capital. I also made clear that unpalatable as it is, only the taxpayer can provide this capital and in view of the huge costs of an immediate liquidation or wind-down of the bank which I set out in my statement this was the least worst option in light of the imperative of continuing to maintain overall financial stability. I made clear that there is simply no alternative that meets the bank's unavoidable obligations at a lower cost consistent with the maintenance of the hard-won stability of the banking system in Ireland.

For that reason in addition to the promissory note provided to the bank at that time, to take account of the bank's losses to date, I confirmed that the bank will need further capital to cover future losses and accomplish the restructuring of the bank and its balance sheet and this was estimated at that time to be of the order of the figure referred to in the Deputy's question. In my statement I drew attention to the fact that notwithstanding very substantial work underway on the bank's restructuring Plan, there are still significant uncertainties about this figure including; the size of the discount on all of its loans transferring to NAMA, the scale of future losses on its loans that are not transferred to NAMA and the exact nature and the scope of any split of the bank under its plans and the EU Commission Decision on the plan.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the estimate provided at end-March remains the bank's base case estimate of the additional capital required, taking into account the further capital support provided at the end of May. The figure was included as part of the bank's restructuring plan submitted to the European Commission at the end of May. Work is continuing with the bank involving the NTMA, the Financial Regulator and my Department to refine this estimate in the context of ongoing discussions with the Commission on the restructuring plan. However, the uncertainties I referred to in my banking statement remain, in relation to for example the loan-by-loan assessment of the bank's loans transferred into NAMA.

I wish to reiterate that while the sums required to rescue the bank are enormous the costs of winding it down are even greater. The current bank strategy of seeking to devise a way to realise value for the taxpayer out of the remains of the old bank means the State could at least get some return, in time, recouping some of its assistance. I can again assure the House that the bank shares my overriding objective to maximise the potential return for the taxpayer in recognition of the State support.

Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 19.
Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 51.

Fiscal Policy

Jack Wall

Question:

60 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance his views on the most recent employment, unemployment, participation and emigration trends and their impact on the public finances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25625/10]

According to the latest Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), released earlier this week, the number of people in employment in Ireland fell by 108,000 (-5.5 per cent) in the year to the first quarter of 2010. While there is no doubt that this is a disappointing figure, it should be noted that the rate of employment loss is slowing compared to last year, when employment fell by 8.1%. A total of 275,000 people were classified as unemployed in the QNHS for the first quarter of 2010. The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.9% in Q1 2010, down from 13.3% in Q4 2009. Labour force participation rates have declined, falling by 1.3 percentage points, year-on-year, in the first quarter of 2010. The decline was more pronounced for males, declining by 2.0 percentage points, reflecting the strong difficulties in the male-dominated construction sector and the challenges of re-skilling this group.

The numbers of non-Irish nationals in the labour force is estimated to have declined by an annual 53,500, or 15.9 per cent, in the first quarter of 2010. A significant amount of this is due to outward migration. Considerable anecdotal evidence would point towards the outward migration of Irish nationals also. While firm data are not yet available, the annual CSO release, Population and Migration Estimates, will be available in the Autumn, and will provide more comprehensive data on current migration trends. As our economy improves, and employment growth returns, I would hope that much of the short-term outward migration by Irish nationals will be reversed. In terms of the public finances, I would point out that labour market trends are broadly in line with expectations, and these developments have been taken into consideration in terms of the forecasts for Government revenue and expenditure.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

61 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the funds that have been earmarked for capital injections into Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society for 2010; if this money is to be borrowed at market rates; the way this is expected to impact on the general Government balance for 2010 and beyond; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25627/10]

To date in 2010, I have issued a Promissory Note with a principal amount of €10.3 billion to Anglo Irish Bank. I have also provided capital of €2.7 billion to Irish Nationwide Building Society which comprises €100 million for Special Investment Shares and a Promissory Note of €2.6 billion. The recapitalisation of INBS and Anglo Irish Bank has been made pending the agreement of the respective restructuring plans for those institutions with the EU Commission. In that context, the Promissory Notes have been classified for the time being as financial transactions with no effect on the General Government Balance in 2010. This decision can be reviewed as necessary following the outcome of discussions with the Commission on the restructuring plans. Although the Promissory Notes were issued this year, no money in respect of the Notes will be borrowed in 2010 as the first redemptions, involving the payment of the first 10% of the principal amounts, will not arise until March 31st 2011. It is envisaged that the principal amount of the Notes and the accrued interest on the Notes will be payable over a ten to fifteen-year period and that the money will be borrowed as required in the normal way by the issuing of bonds by the National Treasury Management Agency.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

62 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance his views on the introduction of an international tax on speculative currency transactions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24532/10]

While there are no specific proposals for a speculative currency transaction tax, considerations of how to ensure that the financial sector contributes to the cost of dealing with crises is underway in various fora internationally. The IMF is due to report to the G20 Summit later this month. In a preliminary report in April the IMF focused on two possible contributions from the financial sector:

A Financial Stability Contribution levy (FSC) to pay for the fiscal cost of government support of the sector.

This would be linked to a resolution regime to avoid moral hazard. This is intended to complement the regulatory and supervisory reform package, and

Financial Activities Tax (FAT) — a broader tax levied on the profits of financial institutions to curb risk taking behaviour, tax the externalities and pay for the broader cost of financial crises. Revenue generated by the FAT would be part of general government revenues while revenue from the FSC could be part of general revenues or used to finance a dedicated resolution fund.

The European Commission's recent Communication supports the establishment of ex ante resolution funds, funded by a levy on the banks to facilitate the managed failure of ailing banks in an orderly manner and suggests that a resolution fund should form part of the toolbox of measures available to Member States in an EU crisis management framework. It is important to note that an objective of the Commission's proposal, in conjunction with its wider proposals on a crisis management system, is to mitigate the burden on the taxpayer arising from financial crises. As acknowledged in the Commission Communication, it would be difficult at present to initiate a single pan European resolution fund.

In my dealing with the banks I have clearly maintained the principle that the banks will contribute to the cost of State's support — the banks have been charged for the Government's guarantee of their liabilities and the NAMA Act provides for a levy on the banks should NAMA result in a loss for the taxpayer. In the context of the enhancement of supervision and the restructuring of the banking sector underway in Ireland it is my intention to ensure that the sector contributes its appropriate share, thereby minimising as much as possible taxpayers' exposure to potential costs arising from State support of the banking sector.

Tax Code

Phil Hogan

Question:

63 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance his response to proposals to introduce a property tax to help fund local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22402/10]

As I have stated previously, I believe there is little or no scope for increases in marginal income tax rates, so it will be necessary to examine other ways of broadening our tax base. A property tax is one means of doing so. As the Deputy will be aware, the Government has already successfully introduced a levy on second homes which yielded of the order of €63 million in 2009 and €18 million to date in 2010. The Deputy will be aware that the introduction of this more general property tax represents a major structural change in the tax system and as such would have to set in the wider context of the overall tax burden on individuals, the compelling need for base broadening measures and current market conditions. In terms of moving to a more general tax on property, the form of taxation will have specific regard to the commitment in theRenewed Programme for Government to introduce a Site Valuation Tax for non-agricultural land, following the necessary valuation and registration process.

Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 36.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

65 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the total liabilities currently guaranteed under the credit institutions financial support guarantee scheme; the total liabilities currently guaranteed under the eligible liabilities guarantee scheme; the total liabilities he expects to be guaranteed under ELG scheme before 30 September 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25612/10]

Returns for the end of April were submitted to the Financial Regulator on 28 May and are being analysed at present. The end May figures are not yet available. As of the end March, liabilities guaranteed under the Covered Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme (CIFS) amounted to €130 billion while liabilities under the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme (ELG) amounted to €139 billion. I would expect further amounts of the eligible liabilities currently covered under CIFS to rollover into ELG as they mature however as the Deputy is aware, asset-covered securities and dated subordinated debt, which together amounts to €11.8 billion at end March, cannot be covered under the ELG.

Tax Code

Seymour Crawford

Question:

66 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Finance if he will remove the travel tax as a gesture to the industry and to encourage more tourists to visit here in view of the problems encountered by airports and airlines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20431/10]

I have no plans to abolish the air travel tax. The air travel tax was one of a number of Budgetary measures introduced recently that was necessary in the context of an overall response to the fiscal challenges we face. I have stated before that the impact of the tax on passenger numbers is being overstated.

Fiscal Policy

Damien English

Question:

67 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance the lessons that have been drawn by him from the failure to achieve the key targets of his Department in economic growth, fiscal sustainability, bank stability and public service reform in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24725/10]

While the past few years have been difficult for us all, with many challenges to be addressed, this Government has developed, and is implementing successfully, a number of strategies to tackle effectively the budgetary, banking and competitiveness issues we face. These strategies have been welcomed by many commentators and by bodies such as the European Commission, the OECD and the IMF.

In broad terms, Ireland's economic difficulties in recent years can be traced to a loss in cost competitiveness and a dramatic deterioration in demand in our major trading partners. The deficit in the public finances mainly reflects unsustainable levels of public expenditure as compared to the revenues being generated, although support for the banking sector has also had an impact. The recent reports by the Governor of the Central Bank and by Mr Regling and Mr Watson shed light on the origins of these difficulties and are to be welcomed in that context.

It is also worth noting that many other countries — especially advanced countries — have found themselves in a similar position to Ireland, although I fully recognise that the scale of the problems here is larger than elsewhere.

In relation to competitiveness, Government policy is supportive of promoting an export-led recovery in Ireland. Price levels and wages — including those for the public service — are all adjusting rapidly to the new circumstances and are contributing to improving Ireland's competitiveness. We have also made significant investment in areas such as productive infrastructure which will enhance our competitiveness and capacity to grow.

In terms of the public finances, decisive expenditure-reducing measures have been implemented, and demonstrate the Government's resolve to restoring sustainability to the public finances. Repairing the tax base is also part of the approach. I want to stress that the Government remains determined to implement appropriate measures in the 2011 Budget and in later years in order to reduce the deficit below 3 per cent by end-2014.

In relation to banking, the Government has agreed significant reform to ensure that the structures for financial regulation meet the Government's objectives for the maintenance of the stability of the financial system, for effective and efficient supervision of the financial sector and for the safeguarding of consumer interests. The key change is the establishment of a new single, fully integrated regulatory institution, the Central Bank of Ireland, which will be responsible for both the supervision of individual firms and the overall stability of the financial system. This development is in addition to a series of measures which will help ensure the stability and liquidity of the banking system, which will maintain and rebuild the capital position of our systemically important banks; and which will address the issue of confidence in the asset quality of the banking system via the National Asset Management Agency.

In relation to Public Service reform, it should be remembered that the OECD, in its 2008 review of the Irish Public Service, gave a generally positive assessment of the Irish Public Service and the role it has played in our national development. Following the OECD Review and the report of the Task Force on the Public Service, the Government developed a strategy for the delivery of change in the Public Service which is set out in Government Statement on Transforming Public Services (TPS). The overall theme of TPS is a more integrated Public Service having greater connectivity and linkages across Departments and agencies to deliver an improved level of performance for customers together with greater connectivity. The Transformation Agenda is being headed by a Cabinet Committee chaired by the Taoiseach, and Minister of State Calleary has been given responsibility for driving the Transformation Agenda.

On foot of these policy measures, domestic and international confidence in the Irish economy has been enhanced and there is now general agreement that the Irish economy will begin to expand once again from the second half of this year. More generally, we are positioning the economy to be able to take advantage of the emerging global recovery and we will continue to work hard to ensure we chart a way forward for this country that will be sustainable and that will underpin living standards and employment in the future.

Mortgage Arrears

Joan Burton

Question:

68 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on the significant increase in mortgages in arrears for 90 days or more, now totalling 32,321; if he will provide an update on the progress made by the interdepartmental mortgage arrears review group; if he envisages a need for legislation to implement the recommendations of this group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25606/10]

The continued rise in arrears levels is disappointing, but in line with expectations. The numbers in arrears and the amount of lending involved are still at relatively low levels. Mortgage arrears are reckoned to track unemployment, with a lag of 6 months or so and the expectation is that mortgage arrears should stabilise in the course of this year as the unemployment position improves.

The figure of 32,321 mortgages in arrears in excess of 90 days referred to by the Deputy does not equate to the actual number of homeowner in arrears. This is because an estimated 20% of homeowners have two or more accounts, which are included in the figures quoted by the Deputy and reported by the Financial Regulator for period ended March 2010. Examples of this are where the mortgage is divided into part-fixed and part-variable or where a second account was opened to cover spending on an extension.

As has been stated on many occasions in this House, it is a priority of the Government to ensure that as far as possible that difficulties in relation to mortgage arrears do not result in legal proceedings for home repossession. I am confident that the support measures been taken by Government, including the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, the Mortgage Interest Subsidy Scheme and the services provided by MABS, are having a positive effect in this regard.

I note from the Financial Regulator's most recent data on mortgage arrears and repossessions that there has been a decrease of almost 31% in the number of applications to the Courts by mortgage lenders for legal repossession of properties in arrears, compared with figures for end quarter 2009.

In February this year, I announced the establishment of an Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Hugh Cooney, as a follow up to the Government's commitment under the Revised Programme for Government.

The Group has been in contact with various stakeholders on the mortgage arrears issue, and is preparing to submit a report to me by the end this month. Until the Group reports to me with its recommendations I am not in a position to say if legislation will be required.

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 36.

Credit Provision

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

70 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance if he will lay the small and medium enterprise lending plans of banks (details supplied) before the Houses of the Oireachtas; the way the banks worked out their lending plans by geography and sector; the considerations and criteria that were used in the organisation of lending plans by geography and sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24533/10]

As the Deputy is aware, both AIB and Bank of Ireland have each submitted SME lending plans for 2010 and 2011 in light of the €3 billion target. These plans are being reviewed by my officials and Mr John Trethowan, and are the subject of ongoing discussions.

It is my firm intention that summary versions of the plans when finalised will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. However, the detailed contents include commercially sensitive information which will have to be redacted prior to publication. I do not consider it to be in the public interest to divulge the sectors or geographical areas which individual banks consider offer the best prospects for growth. This information would be of particular commercial benefit to their competitors.

General Government Deficit

Róisín Shortall

Question:

71 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance his views on the publication by EUROSTAT of 2009 data on EU governments’ deficits and debt burdens which showed Ireland to have had the biggest general government deficit of any EU member state for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25628/10]

On April 22nd Eurostat published fiscal data which showed a General Government Deficit of 14.3% of GDP for Ireland in 2009. This figure is a revision of the Budget day estimate of 11.7% of GDP due to a technical reclassification of a €4 billion investment by the government in Anglo Irish Bank.

However, there is no additional borrowing as a result of this technical reclassification. The underlying General Government Balance excluding this reclassification is 11.8% of GDP, which is broadly in line with the Budget day estimate.

This reclassification is a once-off adjustment that only impacts on 2009 and does not affect the forecast for a General Government Balance of the order of 11½% of GDP for 2010. That said, it is important to note that our deficit is very high and this is why we have taken the various series of measures since July 2008 to strengthen the budgetary position. Furthermore, it points to the need for continued fiscal discipline and further adjustments.

In that context, Ireland's fiscal targets have not changed in light of these statistical returns, and the Government's agreed target to reduce the General Government Deficit to below 3% of GDP by 2014 still stands.

National Assets Management Agency

Brian O'Shea

Question:

72 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance the timeline for the transfer of loans to the National Assets Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25614/10]

The transfer of the first tranche of loans from the five participating institutions concluded on 31 May 2010. Tranche 2 will begin to transfer this month. NAMA is on schedule to complete all transfers by the end of this year and by February 2011 at the latest.

Banks Recapitalisation

Brian O'Shea

Question:

73 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance if he expects Allied Irish Banks to have difficulty with its capital raising plans during 2010; if he is preparing contingency plans for the nationalisation of Allied Irish Banks in the event that private capital raising becomes unfeasible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25616/10]

On 30 March 2010 I gave details to the House of the further capital needs of the banks in order to meet the Financial Regulator's requirement of a Tier 1 capital ratio of 8%, of which 7% must be equity. In the case of AIB I said the Regulator has determined that AIB must raise additional equity capital of at least €7.4 billion by the end of the year to meet the new base case capital standards. As the first step in meeting its capital needs AIB has commenced the process of sale of overseas assets. The disposal proceeds will provide significant capital but will not be sufficient to address the full requirement. To the extent that the gap is not filled by the private sector the State is willing to convert some or all of its preference shares as required on terms to be agreed that will provide full value for the State. Depending on the structure of the capital raising and the extent of private participation, no new Exchequer funding may be required. But if additional money is required, it will be provided by way of ordinary equity. Any additional capital requirement will be met from the National Pensions Reserve Fund. As I have stated previously, if sufficient private capital is not available it is possible that the State will have a majority shareholding in AIB as a listed entity.

Decentralisation Programme

Richard Bruton

Question:

74 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which the halting of decentralisation has left the Government in possession of sites, leases or underoccupied buildings; the costs of the acquisition, the leases and the constructions that are not fully occupied; and if there is a strategy in place for managing this portfolio to minimise the cost to the taxpayer. [24781/10]

As announced by the Minister in this 2009 Budget Statement of 14 October 2008, the Government decided to review aspects of the decentralisation programme in 2011. The Commissioners of Public Works had purchased sites at 11 locations that are the subject of 2011 review. The outcome of this review will inform how the development of these sites will be progressed.

Details of the 11 locations are as follows:

Location

Price

Site Area (Acres)

(€)

Carlow

1,440,000

1.1

Cavan

2,900,000

10.8

Claremorris

2,500,000

2.7

Drogheda

12,400,000

2.1

Dungarvan

2,100,000

3

Edenderry

1,500,000

2.1

Knock

390,000

6

Mullingar

8,250,000

5.3

Thurles

967,500

6

Thomastown

1,800,000

3.1

Waterford

8,000,000

3

Total Cost

42,247,500

There are no construction costs associated with these sites and no contractual commitments to purchase any other site.

No long term Leases, (without break options), have been taken in locations where decentralisation is under review.

Short term Leases are in place in 5 of the above locations, Carlow*, Cavan, Claremorris, Thurles and Tubbercurry (for Charlestown original location was Knock Airport). All of the short term leased premises are occupied by advance parties from the relevant Departments.

(*The Lease in Carlow is for a 20 year term with a break option in year 5.)

Expenditure and occupancy details of the short term premises in these locations are set out in the table below:

Location

Annual Rent

Fit-out Cost

Occupier

Occupancy

Carlow

369,436.00

2,068,000.00

Enterprise Trade & Employment

90

Cavan

125,798.00

196,000.00

Communications Energy & Natural Resources

65

Claremorris

68,712.00

725,106.00

Office of Public Works

30

Thurles

114,801.40

262,271.00

Garda Vetting

73

Thurles

186,186.00

1,267,000.00

Garda Fines

65

Tubbercurry

174,893.00

402,318.00

Community Equality & Gaeltacht Affairs

100

Thomastown

n/a

n/a

H.S.A hold their own Lease in Kilkenny

33

Advance offices, occupied by the relevant Departments, have been leased in Athy, Clifden, Dundalk, Portarlington, Roscrea and Shannon. These locations are pending the review of the programme in 2011 but no sites have been acquired by OPW at these locations.

Expenditure and occupancy details of the advance offices are set out in the table below:

Location

Annual Rent

Fit-out Cost

Occupier

Occupancy

Athy

231,554.00

493,000.00

Revenue

73

Clifden

Lease not held by OPW

n/a

Pobail

25

Dundalk

96,000.00

190,000.00

SEI

11

Portarlington

73,500.00

0

Data Protection Commissioner

23

Portarlington (offices in Portlaoise refer)

69,661.00

357,952.00

NCCA Equality Tribunal

128

Roscrea

108,000.00

0

Equality Authority

16

Shannon

Lease not held by OPW

n/a

Enterprise Ireland

66

Credit Union Sector

Mary Upton

Question:

75 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance the progress made to date with the strategic review of the credit union sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25634/10]

The Deputy will be aware that I have requested the Financial Regulator to carry out this Strategic Review of the Credit Union Sector in Ireland, that the Project is being managed by the Registrar of Credit Unions and that my officials are liaising closely with him in relation to the project. (Your similar PQ Ref. 17227 dated 28 April 2010 refers.)

The Registrar has received tenders from the firms on the short-list of tenderers which were invited to tender. These are currently being reviewed in order to select the most suitable candidate to undertake the review. We continue to expect that the selection process will be completed by June 2010, that work will begin shortly thereafter, and that a report on the full project will be available by end-March 2011.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Willie Penrose

Question:

76 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the total amount, and the terms, of promissory notes transferred to date by the Government to Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society; the total amount for which he expects to issue promissory notes during 2010; the way these promissory notes affect the General Government Balance in 2010 and beyond; the date on which the first payments fall due; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25611/10]

To-date, I have issued Promissory Notes with a principal amount at €2.6 billion in the case of Irish Nationwide Building Society and €10.3 billion in the case of Anglo Irish Bank. The Notes are payable, on demand from the institutions concerned, at the rate of 10% of the principal amount per annum over a ten-year period commencing on March 31st, 2011, from the Central Fund.

An annual coupon, linked to Government bond yields, is payable to INBS and Anglo Irish Bank on the outstanding principal balance of the Promissory Notes. The coupon is payable in order to ensure that the principal amounts of the Promissory Notes can be recorded at "fair value" in the respective balance sheets of both institutions in line with accountancy requirements. At my discretion, the interest coupon can be paid each year from the Central Fund or, alternatively, deferred and rolled up into the principal amount. Any unpaid interest which is rolled up in this manner will fall due to the institutions concerned only after payment of the original principal amounts. The full repayment/redemption period of the Promissory Notes may, therefore, extend beyond ten years.

The timing and extent of the provision of further capital to Anglo Irish Bank remains under consideration. The question of issuing further capital to INBS has not arisen for consideration up to this point in time.

As a consequence of the issuing of the Promissory Notes, General Government Debt is increased by €12.9 billion in 2010. There will, however, be no actual Exchequer borrowing associated with these transactions for 2010 as the first payment will not arise until March 31st, 2011. The 2010 recapitalisation of these institutions should be seen in the context of the restructuring plans for both institutions. Pending agreement on these plans, it is appropriate not to include the Promissory Note amounts in the General Government Balance measure until the matter can be reviewed on foot of any decision made by the European Commission on these plans.

General Government Deficit

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

77 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance if he will estimate the general Government deficit for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, inclusive of capital injections to Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25638/10]

On April 22nd this year Eurostat published a revised estimate of a General Government Deficit of 11.5% for Ireland in 2010. The forecasts for the General Government Balance for the years 2011 to 2014 published in Budget 2010 remain unchanged.

The 2010 recapitalisation of Irish Nationwide Building Society and Anglo Irish Bank has been made pending the agreement of the respective restructuring plans for those institutions with the EU Commission. Until these plans have been agreed, it is not appropriate to include the Promissory Notes issued to these two institutions in any measure of the General Government Balance. In that context, the Promissory Notes have been classified as financial transactions, and thus have no effect on the General Government Balance in 2010. This decision can be reviewed as necessary following the outcome of discussions with the Commission on the restructuring plans.

The re-classification of the capital injection in Anglo Irish Bank in 2009 of €4bn impacted on the General Government Balance only in 2009 and had no effect on the estimate for subsequent years. Any potential future re-classifications of injections into financial institutions would also affect only the year in which that might occur and would not affect the forecasts for future years.

Price Inflation

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

78 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance his views on the return of inflation on a month-by-month basis under both the consumer price index and the harmonised index of customer prices measures in the first five months of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25617/10]

The Deputy is correct to note that both the consumer price index (CPI) as well as the harmonised European measure (HICP) have risen since January of this year. Much of this effect is seasonal. Consumer prices almost always rebound in February and March after the January sales. The CPI has risen by more than the HICP, mainly due to the rise in market mortgage interest rates after the exceptionally low levels of 2009.

On a year-on-year basis the CPI has fallen by 1.1 per cent in the twelve months to May, while the HICP fell by 1.9 per cent over the same period. The declines are very broad-based, with falls recorded across 9 of the 12 main CPI sub groups. This is helping to bring about a welcome improvement in Irish competitiveness at this time.

At Budget time last December my Department forecast that a further modest fall in consumer prices was likely this year, followed by low, but positive, inflation in 2011 and in following years. The data in the year so far support these projections.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

79 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the amount, extent and value of support offered, promised or given to each of the financial institutions arising from the guarantees; the conditions under which such support was offered; the degree to which the financial institutions have responded by way of service to customers; the extent to which future support is likely to be required by the same or other financial institutions; the eventual or likely cost to the State if known; if any other financial institutions or entities have indicated a financial support requirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24791/10]

As the Deputy is aware, since 29 September 2008, the State has guaranteed certain liabilities of credit institutions in Ireland initially under the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme (the ‘CIFS' Scheme) but more recently under the Credit Institutions (Eligible Liabilities Guarantee) Scheme (the ‘ELG' Scheme). Both Schemes set out extensive terms and conditions. The CIFS scheme applies comprehensive information and monitoring provisions to the credit institutions covered by the scheme and provides for enhanced coordination and reporting between the Central Bank, the Regulatory Authority and my Department so as to ensure the realisation of the Scheme's objectives. These provisions in turn apply to the ELG Scheme. Directions may also be issued in respect of commercial conduct and transparency under both schemes.

The ELG Scheme, which commenced on 9 December 2009 following Oireachtas and EU State aid approval introduced important changes to the Guarantee for financial institutions bringing it more into line with the mainstream approach to similar guarantees in other EU Member States. The Scheme is intended to facilitate the ability of credit institutions in Ireland to issue debt securities and take term deposits with a maturity post-September 2010 of up to five years, on either a guaranteed or unguaranteed basis.

The amount of liabilities guaranteed under the CIFS Scheme stands at €130bn in total at end March 2010 and the amount of liabilities guaranteed under the ELG Scheme stands at €139 in total at end March 2010. The amount of liabilities guaranteed for each individual institution is sensitive commercially for the institutions and I have therefore confined my reply to aggregate figures.

The State receives a fee from the institutions in return for the guarantees. The fee under the ELG Scheme is in line with the current ECB pricing recommendations on government guarantees for bank debt. The average fee for short-term bank debt now stands at 50 basis points under the ELG scheme. The fee structure for liabilities with a maturity of greater than one year is differentiated for institutions based on their credit ratings for liabilities.

The yield to the Exchequer in respect of guarantee fees as remuneration from the institutions for the availability of the State Guarantee is expected to amount to at least €1 billion over two years from September 2008. To date €718m in respect of the CIFS scheme and €90.5m in respect of the ELG scheme has been collected from the institutions.

The fees charged to guaranteed institutions have been approved by the European Commission and help ensure the compatibility of the guarantee schemes with EC state aid requirements.

I will continue to keep this most important area under review. The bank guarantee scheme includes strict terms and conditions on covered institutions to ensure that the public interest, which includes the general consumer and small business sector, is protected. By putting guarantees in place we have removed a major obstacle to financial institutions continuing to play their proper role in facilitating viable enterprises and individuals with credit where it is sought consistent with prudent and proportionate lending behaviour.

In terms of the continuation of financial support in the future in the form of the guarantee, I have said that I intend to make an announcement shortly on the future of guarantee when negotiations with the EU Commission are concluded on the end June review under state aid rules.

Appointments to State Boards

Sean Sherlock

Question:

80 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance his views on the recent appointments of persons (details supplied) as non-executive directors of the bank to the board of directors of Anglo Irish Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25626/10]

Under the Relationship Framework the Board of the bank must obtain the prior approval of the Minister for any Board appointments it proposes. In this instance the Board recommended the appointment of the individuals referred to in the Deputy's question, and submitted names including background details, for approval.

Further the Deputy will be aware that as a regulated entity, all proposed appointments to the Board of the bank require the approval of the Financial Regulator in accordance with fitness and probity requirements.

The recent board appointments were all made in adherence to this process and the appointment was approved by the Financial Regulator and subsequently by me under the Relationship Framework.

Work Permits

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

81 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will give consideration to a business (details supplied) in County Kildare seeking work permits in respect of persons. [26050/10]

The Employment Permits Section of my Department processes applications in respect of the different types of employment permits (Green Cards Permits, Work Permits, Spousal/Dependant Permits and Intra-company Transfer Permits). All applications are processed in line with the Employment Permits Act 2006.

I wish to inform the Deputy that these applications were refused on the 9/11/2009 on the grounds that it is current Government policy to issue new employment 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. Furthermore, it appeared from the information submitted in support of the applications that the prospective employees were already working for this employer without having a valid employment permit. Under the Employment Permits Act 2006 it is an offence for both an employer and an employee to be party to the employment of a non-EEA without a correct and valid employment permit.

The employer appealed this decision on the 30/11/2009. Having examined the appeal, the Appeals Officer upheld the original decision in April 2010 and the fees were refunded to the applicant. In these circumstances, therefore, I regret that it is not possible to re-visit this case.

FÁS Training Programmes

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

82 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the action he is taking to assist the redundant workers (details supplied) who have appealed to him in recent contacts for assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26085/10]

The specific issue raised concerning the training of workers and apprentices now falls within the remit of my colleague, An Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Ms Mary Coughlan, TD, who also now has responsibility for FAS.

In regard to job creation at Dublin airport and related services, last September, the establishment of Dublin Aerospace Ltd, a new aviation maintenance provider supported by Government through Enterprise Ireland, was announced. The company commenced operations with 70 initial employees recruited, with the number anticipated to grow to 226 jobs.

The Garage business unit of SR Technics has been taken over by the M50 Truck and Van Centre who were successful in securing the airside vehicle maintenance contract from SR Technics.

Aer Lingus have decided to undertake line maintenance operations previously contracted to SRT. A number of employees have transferred from SRT to the new line maintenance operation at Aer lingus.

On 3rd June, I announced that the aircraft maintenance firm, Eirtech Aviation, is to create 71 jobs in Dublin Airport over the next three years. The project is supported by Enterprise Ireland. Eirtech Aviation will provide aircraft refurbishment, painting and engineering to commercial airlines, as well as private and business class aircraft operators and aircraft leasing companies.

The Government, through IDA Ireland, are committed to continued marketing of Ireland as a location for companies interested in establishing aircraft maintenance and aviation engineering businesses, while Enterprise Ireland have and will continue to support indigenous companies.

Tax Code

Finian McGrath

Question:

83 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [26042/10]

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.

Banks Recapitalisation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

84 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent of funds provided to support the banking service to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25986/10]

On 30 March, the Financial Regulator outlined the new capital requirements for all Irish banks and I made a full statement on the capital needs of the covered institutions. The plans outlined in that statement are currently being implemented.

The Government has provided capital to five banks since the start of 2009 and I will outline these injections by individual institution below. In February 2009, both AIB and Bank of Ireland were recapitalised with €3.5bn each. The funds were provided by a purchase of Preference Shares (Tier 1) by the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission.

Bank of Ireland has recently completed a capital raising exercise which encompassed a debt-for-equity swap, a placing with institutional shareholders, a conversion of the Government's preference shares and a rights issue. In all, €3.42bn was raised, €1.76bn was raised from the private sector and €1.66bn by converting that amount of the preference shares. In addition, the NPRFC has received €543m in fees and payments for the warrants and the interest rate on the remaining preference shares has risen from 8% to 10.25%.

The Government nationalised Anglo Irish Bank in January 2009 and has to date put in capital totalling €14.3bn. This comprises a direct capital injection of €4bn and €10.3bn by way of a promissory note payable over ten to fifteen years.

The State on 28 May injected €100m into EBS through a Special Investment Share.

On 31 March, the State subscribed for a Special Investment Share to the value of €100m in INBS and issued a Promissory Note for €2.6bn which will be payable over ten to fifteen years.

National Debt

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

85 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the national debt, public and private in each of the past five years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25987/10]

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has advised that the national debt for the period from end-2005 to end-May 2010 was as follows:

Year-End

€bn

2005

38.2

2006

35.9

2007

37.6

2008

50.4

2009

75.2

End-May 2010

82.9

The NTMA advise that the national debt is a measurement of the indebtedness of the Exchequer i.e. the total outstanding amount of principal borrowed by Central Government and not repaid to date less liquid assets available for redemption of those liabilities at the same date. The national debt, therefore, is a measurement of the public debt of the Exchequer.

Decentralisation Programme

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

86 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the cost of former proposals on decentralisation including the cost and or acquisition of buildings, sites or other development costs associated therewith; the degree to which disposal of surplus building has been achieved; the prices received; if same were in line with market trends; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25989/10]

As announced by the Minister in this 2009 Budget Statement of 14 October 2008, the Government decided to review aspects of the decentralisation programme in 2011. The Commissioners of Public Works had purchased sites at 11 locations that are the subject of 2011 review. The outcome of this review will inform how the development of these sites will be progressed.

Details of the 11 locations are as follows:

Location

Price

Site Area (Acres)

(€)

Carlow

1,440,000

1.1

Cavan

2,900,000

10.8

Claremorris

2,500,000

2.7

Drogheda

12,400,000

2.1

Dungarvan

2,100,000

3

Edenderry

1,500,000

2.1

Knock

390,000

6

Mullingar

8,250,000

5.3

Thurles

967,500

6

Thomastown

1,800,000

3.1

Waterford

8,000,000

3

Total Cost

42,247,500

There are no construction costs associated with these sites and no contractual commitments to purchase any other site.

No long term Leases, (without break options), have been taken in locations where decentralisation is under review.

Short term Leases are in place in 5 of the above locations, Carlow*, Cavan, Claremorris, Thurles and Tubbercurry (for Charlestown original location was Knock Airport). All of the short term leased premises are occupied by advance parties from the relevant Departments.

(*The Lease in Carlow is for a 20 year term with a break option in year 5.)

Expenditure and occupancy details of the short term premises in these locations are set out in the table below:

Location

Annual Rent

Fit-out Cost

Occupier

Occupancy

Carlow

369,436.00

2,068,000.00

Enterprise Trade & Employment

90

Cavan

125,798.00

196,000.00

Communications Energy & Natural Resources

65

Claremorris

68,712.00

725,106.00

Office of Public Works

30

Thurles

114,801.40

262,271.00

Garda Vetting

73

Thurles

186,186.00

1,267,000.00

Garda Fines

65

Tubbercurry

174,893.00

402,318.00

Community Equality & Gaeltacht Affairs

100

Thomastown

n/a

n/a

H.S.A hold their own Lease in Kilkenny

33

Advance offices, occupied by the relevant Departments, have been leased in Athy, Clifden, Dundalk, Portarlington, Roscrea and Shannon. These locations are pending the review of the programme in 2011 but no sites have been acquired by OPW at these locations.

Expenditure and occupancy details of the advance offices are set out in the table below:

Location

Annual Rent

Fit-out Cost

Occupier

Occupancy

Athy

231,554.00

493,000.00

Revenue

73

Clifden

Lease not held by OPW

n/a

Pobail

25

Dundalk

96,000.00

190,000.00

SEI

11

Portarlington

73,500.00

0

Data Protection Commissioner

23

Portarlington (offices in Portlaoise refer)

69,661.00

357,952.00

NCCA Equality Tribunal

128

Roscrea

108,000.00

0

Equality Authority

16

Shannon

Lease not held by OPW

n/a

Enterprise Ireland

66

Actual disposals realised in excess of €350m and these sales were well in line with market trends.

A list of Disposals are set in the following tables:

Date

Property

Location

Sale Amount

5th May 2004

Lad Lane

Baggot Street, Dublin

22,500,000.00

30th August 2004

Former Revenue office

14-16 Lord Edward St.

8,780140.48

15th September 2004

72-76 St. Stephen Green

Dublin 2

52,300,000.00

TOTAL 2004:

83,580,140.48

Date

Property

Location

Sale Amount

10th August 2005

St. John’s Road

Dublin 8

44,916,551.79

21st December 2005

26-27 Eden Quay

Dublin 1

4,205.015.90

TOTAL 2005:

49,121,567.69

Date

Property

Location

Sale Amount

17th February 2006

Former Veterinary College, Shelbourne Road

Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

171,558,110.36

30th June 2006

Faculty Building, Shelbourne Road

Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

35,891,460.19

August 2006

Parnell West Hotel

Parnell Square, Dublin 1

7,236,190.32

27th October 2006

Former Social Welfare office, Gardiner Street

Dublin 1

2,500,299.18

TOTAL 2006:

217,186,060.05

Date

Property

Location

Sale Amount

7 December 2007

Land adjacent to RHK

John’s Road, Dublin 8

500,056.38

TOTAL 2007:

500,056.38

Disabled Drivers

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

87 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when it is expected to act on the recommendations of the inter-departmental group dealing with the disabled passengers tax concession 1994 regulations; if he will indicate the exact status of the report; if any immediate action is intended on foot of the recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25990/10]

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and Vehicle Registration Tax (up to a certain limit), and exemption from motor tax, on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities.

The disability criteria for these concessions are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. To get a Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled within the terms of these Regulations.

Some 13,500 people benefited under the scheme in 2009 at an overall estimated cost of €56 million. Any changes would have to be considered in the context of the annual Budget.

Flood Relief

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

88 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which flood relief and flood prevention and flood damage cost have been calculated with a view to seeking assistance from the European Union with particular reference to addressing the problems arising from rain damage in November 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25992/10]

My Department made an application to the EU Commission on 27th January 2010 for funding under the EU Solidarity Fund based on estimates of damage received from Departments and local authorities. The application was formally acknowledged by the Commission on 24th February 2010. The EU Solidarity Fund does not fund full reconstruction nor does it fund prevention works. It funds emergency operations to allow a rapid return to normal living conditions.

A regional application was made as the estimate of the extent of the damage does not meet the Solidarity Fund's threshold of 0.6% of GNI or 935.5m euro for a national disaster. There are specific criteria which must be met to ensure a successful regional application to the EU Solidarity Fund. These criteria include the majority of the population of the region being affected by the disaster and serious and long lasting effects on the region's economic stability and living conditions.

My Department, with the assistance of other Departments and agencies, has finalised the costs underpinning the application. The finalised application was sent to the Commission on 15th June 2010. The Commission will now assess the application, in light of the eligibility criteria, to determine if aid from the Solidarity Fund will be made available.

Price Inflation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

89 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he has identified by reference to the consumer price index or other mechanisms the precise cause or causes of inflation in the economy in each of the past ten years to date; the precise degree of inflation in each of the contributory causes; the degree to which he proposes to address such issues directly with a view to restoration of competitiveness throughout the economy in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25993/10]

Over much of the last decade, inflation in Ireland exceeded that in the euro area as a whole. Some of this was due to convergence effects. Exchange rate movements also had an impact. In addition, the strength of demand and the low level of unemployment pushed up domestic prices.

Over the last two years this situation has reversed. On a year-on-year basis the consumer price index (CPI) fell by 1.1 per cent in the twelve months to May, while the harmonised index of consumer price (HICP) fell by 1.9 per cent over the same period. The declines are very broad-based, with falls recorded across 9 of the 12 main CPI sub groups. Many prices in the services sector are showing an unprecedented year-on-year decline too. Between 2008 and 2010, the European Commission expects consumer prices to have risen by about two per cent in the euro area but to have fallen by about 3 per cent in Ireland. This is helping to bring about a welcome improvement in Irish competitiveness at this time.

Crime Prevention

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

90 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the degree to which he alone or in conjunction with his EU colleagues have provided or intend to provide adequate protection against money laundering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25994/10]

EU action in the area of anti-money laundering is primarily contained in the Third Money Laundering Directive (Directive 2005/60/EC). Primary responsibility for domestic legislation in the anti-money laundering area lies with the Minister for Justice and Law Reform who has transposed the Directive into Irish law in the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 which was signed into law on 5 May 2010. The Act also consolidates the existing money laundering provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1994. The provisions of the new Act will be commenced shortly.

The Criminal Justice Act 1994 imposed obligations on financial institutions and, more recently, on lawyers, accountants and auctioneers to identify their clients and report suspicious transactions to the Garda Siochana and to the Revenue Commissioners.

The new legislation strengthens the existing anti-money laundering legislation by, among other requirements, widening the offence of money laundering, establishing a system of compliance monitoring by competent authorities, requiring designated persons to identify the beneficial ownership of unlisted companies and trusts and introducing the concept of a risked based approach which will enable designated persons to concentrate resources on higher risk areas.

The new legislation will also strengthen the powers of the Financial Regulator by allowing him to impose administrative sanctions for breaches of its provisions. The Financial Regulator is also devoting substantial additional resources to the inspection of credit and financial institutions to ensure compliance with their anti-money laundering obligations.

Apart from the Third Money Laundering Directive the EU has also introduced regulations to ensure full identification of persons transmitting funds by wire transfer (EC Regulation 1781/2006) and to require declaration of large cross-border cash movements (EC Regulation 1889/2005). These Regulations have direct effect in all Member States.

The issues of money laundering and criminality generally are also regularly discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council.

Mortgage Arrears

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

91 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the progress that has taken place in the matter of new provisions to assist homeowners who through no fault of their own have fallen into arrears and who may find themselves in danger of repossession; if it is intended to introduce measures as promised during the passage of the National Assets Management Agency legalisation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25995/10]

The Renewed Programme for Government sets out the Government's commitments for introducing new measures to protect families having difficulties with their mortgage repayments and personal indebtedness under the headingsProtecting the Family Home and Helping Those in Debt. I have spoken extensively about the Government’s intentions in this regard, including during the passage of the National Asset Management Agency legislation as referred to by the Deputy.

Repossessions in Ireland continue to be low and a comparison of repossession figures for Irish Banking Federation members who are the mainstream lenders, not including sub-prime lenders, with figures from the UK Council of Mortgage lenders shows that UK repossession rates per 100,000 mortgages at thirty times those in Ireland.

In addition, I note from the Financial Regulator's most recent data on mortgage arrears and repossessions that there has been a decrease of almost 31% in the number of applications to the Courts by mortgage lenders for legal repossession of properties in arrears, compared with figures for end quarter 2009.

The Deputy will be familiar with the support measures in place to assist those homeowners in difficulty. These measure include the Financial Regulator's Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears which requires lenders to wait at least 12 months from the time arrears first arise before applying to the courts to commence enforcement of any legal action on repossessions; the Mortgage Interest Subsidy Scheme which provides money, subject to a means test, towards the interest payments on a home mortgage; and the services provided by the Money Advice Budgeting Services (MABS). MABS is the main Government funded service which provides assistance to people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems.

The Deputy will be aware that in February this year, I announced the establishment of an Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Hugh Cooney. As part of its work, the Group has held discussions on mortgage arrears issue with stakeholders representing lenders and borrowers. I understand that the Group will be ready to report to me with its recommendations on the mortgage arrears issue by the end of this month.

Tax Returns

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

92 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which the various revenue receipts are in accord with predictions or otherwise; the measures taken to address emerging issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25996/10]

The table shows the performance of the main tax-heads against profile for the first five months of the year. As the Deputy can see, in overall terms, €12,117 million in tax revenue was collected, meaning there is a shortfall of €148 million or 1 per cent. Thus, tax revenues are broadly in line with expectations at this point in the year and the budgetary targets for the year as a whole remain valid. Non-tax revenue receipts at €176 million are also in line with expectations at the end of May.

End May 2010 — Analysis of Taxation Receipts

Performance against profile at end-May 2010

Year-on-Year Performance

Annual Target

Exchequer Tax Receipts

End-May Target*

End-May Outturn

Excess/ Shortfall

Excess/ Shortfall

End-May 2010

End-May 2009

Y-on-Y Change

2010 Target

2009 Outturn

Y-on-Y Change

€m

%

€m

€m

%

€m

€m

%

Income Tax

4,439

4,220

-219

-4.9

4,220

4,634

-8.9

11,530

11,835

-2.6

VAT

4,821

4,873

52

1.1

4,873

5,306

-8.2

10,090

10,670

-5.4

Corporation Tax

726

748

22

3.0

748

1,139

-34.3

3,160

3,900

-19.0

Excise**

1,731

1,704

-27

-1.6

1,704

1,754

-2.8

4,514

4,703

-4.0

Stamps

284

244

-41

-14.3

244

294

-17.3

975

930

4.9

Capital Gains Tax

84

111

27

32.0

111

189

-41.4

340

542

-37.3

Capital Acquisitions Tax

98

115

17

16.9

115

106

8.2

240

254

-5.6

Customs

82

83

1

1.2

83

88

-6.0

200

209

-4.1

Levies

0

0

1

1

1

Unallocated Tax Deposits***

21

21

18

Total

12,265

12,117

-148

-1.2

12,117

13,529

-10.4

31,050

33,043

-6.0

Any apparent small discrepancies due to rounding of constituent items.

*End-month targets for taxation and expenditure have been published on the Department of Finance's website.

**The profile for Excise Duties includes an amount of €1m in respect of the Employment Training Levy.

***Unallocated Tax Deposits are distributed to relevant tax-heads over the course of the year and as such are not part of the annual target.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

93 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the degree to which tax receipts, including excise duty from the motor industry under the various headings has fluctuated over the past five years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25997/10]

Over the last two years tax receipts have been severely impacted by the sharp deterioration in the economic environment. The table sets out the trend in tax receipts over the last five years and the 2010 forecast for tax revenue:

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010 Budget forecast

Total Exchequer Tax Receipts €m

39,254

45,539

47,249

40,777

33,043

31,050

Year-on-Year change

10%

16%

4%

-14%

-19%

-6%

The totals include receipts from Excise Duty — details of which are set out in the following table:

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010 Budget forecast

Excise Duty €m

5,233

5,589

5,838

5,443

4,703

4,514

Year-on-Year change

6%

7%

4%

-7%

-14%

-4%

This includes:

VRT €m

1,149

1,287

1,406

1,121

375

365

Year-on-Year change

21%

12%

9%

-20%

-66%

-3%

Excise Duties are payable on a wide range of products, as well as certain premises and activities. These include (but are not limited to) charges arising on products such as mineral oils, alcoholic beverages and manufactured tobacco. In addition, Excise Duty includes receipts from the air travel tax, the carbon tax and from betting and licenses for retailing of liquor. Receipts from Vehicles Registration Tax (VRT) are also a component of Excise Duty.

The Revenue Commissioners have provided details of VRT receipts for the period 2005 to 2009 and these figures are also set out in the above table. The figures provided are on a Revenue Net Receipts basis, which differ from Exchequer receipts due to timing and accounting issues. The forecast for 2010 is also included. VRT represented 22% of overall Excise Duty receipts in 2005 and this had fallen to 8% of total Excise Duties by 2009. The decline in VRT receipts is due to both a reduction in activity and price as well as changes in the tax policy regarding vehicle emission levels.

At end-May 2010, €12,117 million in total tax receipts were collected against a target of €12,265 million. This included Excise Duty receipts of €1,704 million, against a target of €1,731 million. VRT receipts to end-May amounted to €226 million.

In addition, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government have provided the following data on motor tax receipts from 2005-2009 and their estimate for 2010.

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010 forecast

Motor Tax Receipts €m

800

878

957

1,059

1,057

1,025

Year-on-Year

7%

10%

9%

11%

-0.2%

-3%

Fiscal Policy

Joan Burton

Question:

94 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he accepts that the inappropriate fiscal and economic policies that he has pursued, and specifically the role played by property based tax breaks in distorting investment decision making and feeding the plain vanilla property bubble, are highlighted in both the Honohan and Regling-Watson reports on the banking crisis here; if he accepts that the ongoing cost of these property based tax breaks are, as identified by him in a parliamentary reply last year, in the order of €440 million per annum; if he further accepts that the role of property based tax breaks, and other tax breaks targeted at wealthy individuals, should be included for consideration by the proposed commission of investigation into the banking collapse here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25969/10]

As I have already outlined in my responses to the Regling/Watson and Honohan Reports, I accept the broad thrust of the reports' recommendations in relation to fiscal policy.

That said as far back as 2004, the then Minister for Finance announced a review of tax incentive schemes.

Three studies were commissioned in 2005 as part of this process, one by Goodbody consultants, one by Indecon Economic consultants and one internal review by the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners.

Both the Indecon study and the Goodbody study recommended the termination of the schemes with a transitional extension of the expiry date for the tax incentive schemes. Indecon recommended, in most cases, a five-year extension of the July 2006 construction deadline.

In December 2005, the Minister for Finance announced the termination of most of the schemes with transitional arrangements which drew on the Goodbody and Indecon recommendations.

These transitional arrangements provided that for projects already in the pipeline where planning application conditions had been met, the 31 July 2006 deadline was extended to 31 July 2008. In addition the amount of capital allowances available would be reduced to 75% in 2007 and 50% in 2008.

Since 2006, it has been Government policy to carry out "cost benefit analysis" on major tax expenditure schemes.

I have continued the process of dismantling these tax expenditures since my appointment as Minister for Finance. In the Supplementary Budget in April 2009, I terminated the property related accelerated capital allowance schemes in the health sector. This covered Private Hospitals, registered Nursing Homes, Convalescent Homes and associated residential units as well as mental health centres. In addition in Budget 2010 I terminated the scheme for childcare facilities.

In Finance Act 2010 the restriction of reliefs measure will severely curtail the amount of tax reliefs that can be used to reduce the income tax liability of those on high incomes. It will ensure that, in addition to PRSI and levies, those with high incomes and using reliefs will have an effective income tax rate of about 30%. This measure applies to a list of specified reliefs, including property based reliefs, the use of all of which has been curtailed as a result of this change.

In relation to the fiscal and economic policies pursued by the Government, it should be noted that General Government surplus was recorded in ten of the 11 years between 1997 and 2007. Over the same period the a General Government debt was reduced from 64% of GDP to 25% of GDP in gross terms and, in net terms was closer to 14% of GDP at end-2007.

The Regling-Watson report acknowledges that the Irish economy caught up with and surpassed average EU living standards during the past decade. Despite our recent economic difficulties Ireland remains a high income country with nominal GDP per capita forecast to be approximately 29 per cent higher than the eurozone average this year. The overall level of employment still remains high and is over 35 per cent higher than it was in 1997.

In relation to the recommendations for further investigation by a statutory Commission of Investigation, it should be noted that the report by Messrs Regling and Watson distinguishes between issues that lend themselves to a formal process of investigation and issues that are, in general, less amenable to a legally-oriented process of investigation and may be more appropriate to policy review.

In this context, the Government has published a draft terms of reference for a statutory Commission of Investigation having regard to the recommendations of the preliminary reports. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Service has been invited to provide its views on the draft terms of reference and the Oireachtas will be invited to vote on a resolution approving a draft Government Order to establish a Commission by end of this month. It will be a matter for the Commission, when established, to investigate those issues set out in the terms of reference, in accordance with its powers under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.

In relation to those issues which the preliminary reports considered more appropriate for policy review, the Government accepts the seven key policy lessons outlined in Part IV of the report of Messrs Regling and Watson. The Government proposes to invite the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Service for its views on these key policy lessons and an appropriate motion will be tabled in both Houses shortly.

Proposed Legislation

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

95 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if he will give an update on his dealings with the credit union movement in respect of concerns being expressed regarding proposals for section 35A and 35B of the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26024/10]

I assume the Deputy seeks an update on events since his similar PQ Ref No 22257/10 answered on 26 May 2010.

I met with the credit union representative bodies on 26 May 2010 and again on 8 June 2010. I have informed them that I am listening to the views of credit unions and of elected representatives on the Section 35 issue and that I will reflect on what I have heard. I will make a statement at Committee Stage of the Central Bank Reform Bill to the effect that I am considering some changes to the proposed Section 35A that will link more closely the powers conferred by the new Section 35A to the framework required for implementing the new rescheduling arrangements. If I decide to introduce amendments, this will be done at Report Stage.

I understand that all members of the House are being lobbied by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) on this issue. The ILCU campaign material makes a number of points on which I would wish to comment. When the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010 was published on 30 March this year, ILCU welcomed the new initiative in its press release that day stating "This new arrangement is good for our members and good for credit unions". ILCU has since formed a different view. That is, of course, its right. The credit union sector is not immune to the economic downturn. It needs to be safeguarded to ensure that it can continue to provide assistance to its members in the current difficult economic climate while at the same time lending only within its capacity to do so. The Government's intention is to facilitate relaxation of the lending limits in conjunction with appropriate regulation of the sector to achieve this objective.

In my address to the ILCU Conference in April 2009, I expressed my wish to help members who are experiencing difficulty in meeting loan repayments due to unfavourable changes in their financial circumstances in the current economic environment. I stated that any solution would be subject to the over-arching consideration that the financial position of a credit union is not undermined, the security of members' savings is maintained and accurate reporting of the financial status of a credit union is not jeopardised. Re-scheduling of repayments to a level which is affordable to members should be possible in carefully monitored and controlled circumstances. Of course, each credit union must fully and properly recognise arrears situations where they exist. Where members are in difficulty the process of facilitating them must be transparent to board members and regulators so that a credit union is never in doubt as to its own position. This continues to be my view and the proposed amendment to Section 35 seeks to achieve the desired result.

The credit union sector has been seeking relaxation of the Section 35 lending limits in an effort to facilitate borrowers who have run into difficulties in repaying their loans and need to have them rescheduled to allow for repayment over a longer period of time. The lending limits are set in primary legislation. Together with the measures to balance the increased flexibility in relation to rescheduling, they must apply to all credit unions in a uniform way. However, as I have indicated above, my Department and the Registrar are exploring ways of meeting the key concerns of the representative bodies.

Also, as I indicated to the Dáil during the second stage debate on the Central Bank Reform Bill, the Registrar of Credit Unions will take a balanced and proportionate approach to the implementation of any new Section 35 requirements and he has set out for the credit union representative groups transitional arrangements and clarifications on the implementation approach. The Registrar also wrote to all credit unions on 24 May 2010 indicating that the transitional arrangements will include a 15% provisioning requirement up to 30 September 2011, trial periods, exceptions with regard to top-up loans and relaxation of the 100% provisioning requirement in respect of rescheduled loans which have missed two or more payments. This should help to ease the position for credit unions in the current financial year and the next financial year ending in September 2011 and allow time for credit unions to adjust to the new regime. I may suggest to the Registrar that he consider refining the provisioning requirement so that it is reduced to 10% from the date of commencement to 30 September 2010. Overall, the Registrar will take account of individual circumstances in credit unions in exercising the powers being given to him in the Bill. There is no question of a“one size fits all” approach as is being suggested by the League.

As indicated by the Registrar during his appearance on 27 May 2010 before the Joint Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs, a Regulatory Impact Assessment within the meaning of the term as set out in the Better Regulation Guidelines prepared by the Department of the Taoiseach was not carried out. However, as he also indicated, an internal analysis was carried out. This examined the level of provisions which are held against rescheduled loans. The Registrar indicated that he will make this analysis available to the Joint Committee.

Suggestions have also been made that there was insufficient consultation on this matter. There was, however, extensive and detailed consultation on the measures now being brought forward. Following general discussions in early 2009, the detailed views of credit union representative groups on the Section 35 issue were sought and obtained in the summer of 2009. The provisions to be included in the requirements to be made by the Registrar have already undergone considerable adjustment following discussions between the Registrar of Credit Unions and both credit union representative bodies.

Concerns have been raised in relation to the need for the Registrar of Credit Unions to consult with the representative bodies before introducing requirements. As a matter of general practice, the Registrar consults with the credit union representative bodies before introducing regulations or requirements in relation to any aspect of credit union regulation and I understand that he intends to continue with this approach. However, the independent position of the Registrar of Credit Unions in carrying out the duty of financial regulation is not open to question and the Registrar has the statutory powers and responsibility to introduce, if necessary without consultation, regulatory requirements in the interests of the well-being and stability of the sector. For this good reason, a requirement for the Registrar to consult with the sector is not included in the legislation. Neither is it appropriate to provide for an appeals mechanism. Such a device would render the provisions ineffective and inoperable as decisions of the Registrar would become subject to constant review.

There is a balance to be struck between meeting members' needs to reschedule loans and ensuring the stability of the credit union sector overall. We are not seeking to have a credit union sector which is over-regulated. However, we must act now in a prudent and preventative manner. It is in the interests of every credit union in the country that the stability of the sector is safeguarded. The proposals being brought forward in connection with the Bill will achieve this fundamental aim.

Sentencing Policy

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

96 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the maximum penalties available in summary proceedings or following trial on indictment in respect of smuggling of cigarettes and other tobacco products; when these penalties were last increased; if he is satisfied with the range of penalties; if he is satisfied that appropriate cases are being brought on indictment; if he is satisfied himself with the penalties imposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26054/10]

The offence of smuggling of cigarettes or other tobacco products is normally prosecuted under section 119 of the Finance Act 2001, which relates to the evasion or attempted evasion of excise duty.

Where a person is convicted following summary prosecution, the Court may impose a fine of €5,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both. The amount of the fine was last increased by the Finance Act 2008.

The fine that may be imposed on conviction on indictment was increased substantially by the Finance Act 2010, so that it would better reflect the seriousness of the offence. If the value of the goods involved is €250,000 or less, the Court may impose a fine not exceeding €126,970. If their value is greater than €250,000, the maximum fine is three times the value. A term of imprisonment of up to 5 years may also be imposed.

There is provision also, in section 13 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1967, for certain cases prosecuted on indictment to be dealt with in the District Court, in specified circumstances. In such cases, the fine on conviction was increased to €5,000 by the Finance Act 2010. Prior to that, a fine not exceeding €1,269 could be imposed. The maximum term of imprisonment in such cases is 12 months.

The Finance Act 2005 provides for other offences relating to cigarettes and other tobacco products, including offering for sale or keeping for sale or delivery packs of cigarettes or roll-your-own tobacco that don't have the requisite tax stamp on them. The fines on summary conviction for those offences are generally the same as those for offences under section 119 of the 2001 Act and, as in that case, the current fine of €5,000 was introduced by the Finance Act 2008. For cases prosecuted on indictment, an increased fine of up of €126,970 was brought in by the Finance Act 2010.

I believe that the penalties are set at a level which constitutes a significant deterrent to smuggling and other tobacco-related offences.

The decision as to whether cases are prosecuted summarily or on indictment is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions, having regard to considerations such as the seriousness of the alleged offence and the value of the goods involved. The penalty to be applied in a particular case following conviction is, of course, a matter for determination by the Courts, having regard to all the relevant circumstances.

Tax Code

Róisín Shortall

Question:

97 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners have powers to seize property or attach conditions to the sale or transfer of an estate to recover the unpaid tax of a deceased person; and if so, the statutory provision allowing for this. [26077/10]

Where a person dies, their personal representatives are liable for any unpaid taxes. In the case of Income Tax the statutory provisions allowing for this are set out in sections 1047 and 1048 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 and there are broadly equivalent provisions in legislation governing the other taxes.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they will normally assess and seek to recover unpaid taxes from the personal representatives if not paid out of the estate of a deceased person. Their approach to the recovery of tax debt in any specific case is influenced,inter alia, by the likely costs of recovery and the prospects of such recovery action being successful.

Recovery action by Revenue will normally be by way of legal proceedings instituted in accordance with section 960I of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 [which may ultimately impact on the sale or transfer of the assets or property in a deceased person's estate] or by way of attachment under section 1002 of the same Act.

Ministerial Engagements

Joe McHugh

Question:

98 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied from his discussions with Chancellor Osborne in London and Minister Wilson in Stormont that the June 22 British emergency budget will not have deleterious implications for this State’s economy, for the Border economy, or for the Thirty-two County economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26079/10]

The Irish Government is strongly committed to practical and mutual beneficial North/South cooperation. Minister Wilson and I have met on a number of occasions and we discussed matters of mutual interest, including the economic challenges facing both jurisdictions and the potential for improved outcomes through North South co-operation. I met with Chancellor Osborne at recent meetings in Brussels and I expect to continue to meet him and the other European Finance Ministers at future ECOFIN Council meetings. However, I have no plans to meet either the Chancellor or Minister Wilson in the context of UK Budget due on the 22nd of June.

Tax Code

Frank Feighan

Question:

99 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance when tax relief at source on a mortgage will be granted to a person (details supplied) for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009. [26173/10]

I am advised by Revenue that a claim for relief was first received by them on 2 June 2010. The person in question switched mortgage lender in 2007 but the full entitlement to mortgage interest relief had already been paid for that year so no additional relief is payable for that year. Relief for 2008 and 2009 has been paid into the person's nominated bank account. Arrangements have been made for payment of the relief for the current year at source through the lender in the normal way.

Noel Ahern

Question:

100 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the regulations on VAT exemptions for pensioners in respect of house improvement projects; if the exemption is granted on age grounds of the pensioner or on the medical need of the work carried out; if a VAT exemption can be awarded to a pensioner living alone who had new windows installed as of necessity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26214/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that legislation does not provide for an exemption from VAT for pensioners in respect of house improvement projects.

However, Value Added Tax (Refund of Tax) (No 15) Order 1981 does provide for the refund of VAT on qualifying goods that are purchased for the exclusive use of disabled persons suffering a specified degree of disablement.

The age of the applicant is not relevant but to qualify for a refund the applicant must have a specified degree of disablement as defined in the Refund Order.

"Qualifying goods" are goods, which are aids or appliances, including parts and accessories, specially constructed or adapted for use by a disabled person. The provisions of the Order extend to works carried out on homes to adapt them to make them more accessible for disabled persons.

To qualify for a refund under the order an application would have to meet both criteria. In order to ascertain whether a VAT refund applies in the case in question, the person might contact the Revenue Central Repayments Office, TEK II Building, Armagh Road, Monaghan on 047 632100.

Proposed Legislation

Billy Timmins

Question:

101 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the Child Care (Amendment) Bill (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26187/10]

I am currently giving consideration to the legal position with regard to the provision of aftercare services, having regard to the existing legislative provisions as set out in the Childcare Act 1991.

I have received legal advice which confirms that the obligation contained in Section 45(4) of the Child Care Act 1991 is in substance mandatory. The legal advice is that the Act creates a statutory power and the HSE, as recipient of this power, must put itself in a position where it can exercise the power should the need arise. Section 45(4) of the Child Care Act allows me to write to the HSE and instruct it in this or in any other regard. I intend to do this and will in parallel continue to examine legislative options.

In line with the Government commitment as reflected in the Ryan Implementation Plan funding of €1.0m was set aside by the HSE in its 2010 Service Plan, for the development of aftercare services in 2010.

Care of the Elderly

Jack Wall

Question:

102 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if applications for the home care package are still being accepted; if so, the procedures to which a person (details supplied) in County Kildare should adhere in seeking such a payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26023/10]

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

Hospital Services

Tom Hayes

Question:

103 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans regarding continuing and expanding the services in Our Lady’s Hospital, Cashel, County Tipperary; the plans in the programme for Government for this hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26030/10]

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

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

104 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has not received a response in respect of their medical card application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26057/10]

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund

Jack Wall

Question:

105 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will receive an appointment for a surgical procedure or if the person qualifies under the National Treatment Purchase Fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26081/10]

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

Vaccination Programme

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

106 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive in Tallaght, Dublin, is refusing to provide the BCG injections to new babies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26084/10]

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

Health Services

Sean Fleming

Question:

107 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children when speech therapy will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26093/10]

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

Sean Fleming

Question:

108 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children when speech therapy will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26094/10]

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

Care of the Elderly

M. J. Nolan

Question:

109 Deputy M. J. Nolan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a hospital (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26114/10]

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

Olwyn Enright

Question:

110 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 10 and 41 of 27 May 2010, the reason any outstanding applications made under the former special housing aid for the elderly scheme in counties Laois and Offaly were not completed under the funding allocation of €500,000 from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in July 2009; the further reason there are outstanding applications under this scheme waiting to be processed and the further reason she did not apply for additional funding to complete these outstanding applications; if she will provide a breakdown of the proportion of this €500,000 allocation spent in counties Laois and Offaly; if she has spent any of this €500,000 allocation on other schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26122/10]

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

Question No. 111 withdrawn.

Health Services

Billy Timmins

Question:

112 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied). [26126/10]

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

Medical Cards

Billy Timmins

Question:

113 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of persons (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26128/10]

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

Health Services

Billy Timmins

Question:

114 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow. [26132/10]

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

Billy Timmins

Question:

115 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the orthodontic waiting time for students in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26133/10]

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

Billy Timmins

Question:

116 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the orthodontic waiting time for students in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26134/10]

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

Hospital Services

Billy Timmins

Question:

117 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the dental services at Baltinglass Hospital, County Wicklow; the number of times the dentist attends; the number of students waiting to be seen there; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26135/10]

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

Billy Timmins

Question:

118 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the physiotherapy service at Baltinglass Hospital, County Wicklow; the number of times the physiotherapist attends; the number of persons on the waiting list and the length of time they are waiting for an appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26136/10]

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

Billy Timmins

Question:

119 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the occupational therapist service for the west Wicklow area; the number of persons on the waiting list and the length of time they are waiting for an appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26137/10]

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

120 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons treated under the National Treatment Purchase Fund in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26158/10]

The following table indicates the total number of in-patients treated and radiological investigations arranged by the NTPF in each year from 2002 to 2009 and to the end of May 2010.

Year

Patients treated per year including Radiology

2010 to end of May

7,894

2009

22,370

2008

23,927

2007

22,069

2006

16,931

2005

14,580

Hospitals Building Programme

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

121 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost to date of the co-location programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26159/10]

The Renewed Programme for Government re-affirms the Government's commitment to the current co-location programme. Preferred bidders have been selected for six co-located projects at Beaumont, Cork University, Limerick Regional, St. James's, Sligo and Waterford Regional Hospitals. Project agreements have been signed for the Beaumont, Cork, Limerick and St James's projects. Two other projects are at earlier stages of the procurement process.

The co-location programme is a complex public procurement process. It is a matter for each successful bidder to arrange its finance under the terms of the relevant Project Agreement. The co-location initiative, like other major projects, has to deal with the changed funding environment. The HSE is continuing to work with the successful bidders to provide whatever assistance it can to help them advance the projects. There is a requirement on each of the successful bidders to pay a non-refundable deposit to the HSE on the signing of the project agreement. The intention of this requirement is to allow the HSE to recoup the expenses that it has incurred in this context.

Health Service Staff

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

122 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which staffing at all levels throughout the Health Service Executive is sufficient, adequate or otherwise to meet current and future requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26160/10]

The Government has made clear that a critical part of its strategy to restore the public finances is to achieve sustainability in the cost of delivering public services relative to State revenues. To help achieve this goal, it will be necessary to restructure and reorganise the public service and to reduce public service numbers over the coming years. This requires that the moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the health service will continue to apply until the numbers have fallen to the level set out in the Employment Control Framework for the health sector.

The Framework for 2010-2012 gives effect to the Government decision on employment policy in the public sector and provides that there will be a net reduction in employment of 6,000 from March 2009 to the end 2012 and consequential pay roll savings. Based on numbers reductions already achieved in 2009, the net target reduction to end 2012 is 4,560 WTE. Therefore, the net target reduction in numbers in 2010, and in the following two years, is 1,520 whole-time equivalents.

The Government decision has been modulated to ensure that key services are maintained insofar as possible in the health services, particularly in respect of children at risk, older people, persons with a disability and cancer services. Therefore, the Framework provides for a number of grades and posts that are exempt from the moratorium on recruitment and promotion. In addition, the HSE also has the capacity under the Framework to fill some exceptions from the general moratorium provided it achieves the overall target reductions. This provides some degree of flexibility to protect key services once the overall target reduction is being met.

In order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery, the reorganisation and restructuring of work is required. The redeployment and reassignment of staff, optimal skill mix and scheduling of services will be an essential part of this process. The Public Sector Agreement reached between public sector unions and management will play an important role in this. The agreement provides for greater flexibility, an extended working day and redeployment of health sector staff. Ultimately, this will have a positive impact on the provision of health services and will allow the transformation agenda to continue.

Infectious Diseases

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

123 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will indicate the number of incidents of MRSA and related infections reported in each of the past three years to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26161/10]

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

In March 2007, the HSE launched a National Infection Control Action Plan. Over the period of the Plan the HSE aims to reduce HCAIs by 20%, MRSA infection by 30% and antibiotic consumption by 20%. The number of MRSA bloodstream infections across the public and private hospital sector for the past three years are — 536 cases in 2007, 435 in 2008 and 355 in 2009. This shows a significant decrease of over 33% between 2007 and 2009; the rate of reduction in 2009 over 2008 is over 18%. Data for the first quarter of 2010 is currently being analysed by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and will be published shortly.

Data on alcohol hand gel usage which is an important part of the hygiene effort shows a twofold increase from 2006 to 2009. The Guidelines for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Hospitals in Ireland aims to promote the sensible prescribing of antibiotics. Data on antibiotic consumption collected by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows a welcome decrease in antibiotic consumption in hospitals in 2008 for the first time since 2000. Data for 2009 is currently being finalised by the HPSC and will also be available soon.

Since May 4th 2008, C. difficile is a notifiable disease: all cases have to be reported to the relevant Department of Public Health. Guidelines for the Surveillance, Management and Control of C. difficile-associated Disease were published in May 2008.

In May 2009 I also approved publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority's (HIQA's) National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections. These Standards include all key areas of importance in the control of HCAIs and the HSE is well advanced in its preparations for HIQA to commence its initial monitoring review under the Standards later this year.

In addition to the above mentioned developments, in December 2008, the HSE published new Environmental Building Guidelines to inform infection control policy in all new builds and refurbishments. I am satisfied that significant steps are being taken to reduce the rates of Healthcare Association Infections, including MRSA and C. difficile and to treat them promptly when they occur.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

124 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons currently awaiting hip replacement operations who have not yet been given an appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26162/10]

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

Cancer Incidence

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

125 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has studied the incidents of cancer levels recorded on a county by county basis throughout the country; if she has made any policy decision arising from such study with particular reference to the areas wherein the highest instances are recorded;; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26163/10]

The National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) is a statutory body established in 1991. It has been collecting comprehensive cancer information for the whole population of the Republic of Ireland since 1994. This information is used in research into the causes of cancer, in education and information programmes and was used in the planning of the National Cancer Control Strategy to deliver the best cancer care to the whole population.

In 2009 the NCRI published An Atlas of Cancer in Ireland 1994-2003. The Atlas is based on cancers which were diagnosed during 1994-2003 and registered with the National Cancer Registry. It shows geographical and socioeconomic variations in cancer risk across Ireland and concludes that many of the variations observed are likely to relate to social, economic, cultural and environmental differences between subgroups of the population. These differences may include variations in well-known risk factors such as tobacco smoking and diet or in screening participation, for example, among others. They underline the importance of prevention and early detection in cancer control.

In this regard, national population screening programmes for both cervical cancer and breast cancer are now in place and I announced in January this year that planning would commence for the introduction of a national colorectal cancer screening programme in 2012. Last year I introduced a ban on the in-store advertising of tobacco products and a ban on the display of tobacco products. Earlier this month, I announced my intention to seek Government approval to draft a Bill restricting the use of sunbeds. All of these measures, together with the work being done by the National Cancer Control Programme in the reorganisation of cancer services, underline this Government's commitment and my commitment as Minister for Health to cancer prevention, early detection and continuing improvements in cancer survival for people no matter what part of Ireland they live in.

Health Service Allowances

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects the backlog of applications for rent and mortgage support to be cleared; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26164/10]

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

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

127 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the full extent of services currently available at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin; the extent to which the scale of services and procedures has been extended or reduced in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26165/10]

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

Ambulance Service

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

128 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if ambulances are being purchased and or paid for and put in storage awaiting operational decisions; the number of such ambulances, if any; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26166/10]

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

Hospital Facilities

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

129 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and location of hospital facilities including wards, beds, theatres or other back-up facilities which are currently unused or decommissioned; the degree to which such activity has altered in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26167/10]

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

Private Health Insurance

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

130 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost to private health insurers occasioned by the public and private health sectors in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; the extent to which health insurance costs fluctuate over this period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26168/10]

Private health insurers and private hospitals, both of which operate in the commercial private sector, do not routinely submit the data requested to my Department. Average price increases for private health insurance policies for the period in question are provided in the following table.

Year

BUPA/Quinn Increases

Vhi Increases

VIVAS/Hibernian/AVIVA Increases

2004 / 2005

6.0%

3.0%

n.a.

2005 / 2006

9.0%

12.5%

7.5%

2006 / 2007

0.0%

12.5%

6.7%

2007 / 2008

8.2%

8.5%

10.2%

2008 / 2009

16.0%

23.0%

6% – Oct 2008 €128 per adult (net of trs) – Jan 2009

2009 / 2010

15.0%

8.0%

12%

Notes:

1. In each row increases took effect between September of the first year and March of the second year.

2. Increases are those announced by the insurers as "average increases" except for the Quinn increase in 2007 /2008 (see note 3). Percentage increases vary significantly by products.

3. Quinn did not announce an average increase in 2007 / 2008. Quinn had a range of different increases / reductions in the core price for different plans, removed the group discount for most people and introduced a charge for monthly premiums. The figure included here is the increase in average premium paid per person, which will include the effect of upgrading / downgrading.

In relation to the premium paid per insured person over the period in question, the average increases are as follows:

Year

%

2004-2005

5.6

2005-2006

9.5

2006-2007

10.4

2007-2008

8.3

2008-2009

11.5

Data on the split between the public and private sector is not generally collated. However, it is estimated that of the estimated €1.7bn to be paid out in claims by all insurers in 2010, about €400m would be paid to public hospitals (about 7% of the estimated Exchequer allocation this year to acute hospital services), €810m to private hospitals, €380m to hospital consultants (in addition to the public pay bill for consultants of €450m) and €100m for other services.

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

131 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the procedures that exist, if any, to monitor and test the various practices operational throughout the Health Service Executive with particular reference to administration; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26169/10]

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

Care of the Elderly

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

132 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she has taken or proposes to take to increase home-help hours in line with the requirements as set out by domestic and medical standards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26170/10]

The fundamental policy of the Government is to support older people to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. This is realised through a range of community services such as Home-Help, Home Care Packages, Meals-on-Wheels, and Day/Respite care. Without these supports, many older people would spend longer in acute hospitals, or would be admitted to residential care earlier than might be necessary.

The HSE has responsibility for the delivery of the Home-Help service, in line with the HSE National Service Plan 2010. This Plan, approved in February last, commits the Executive to provide 11.98 million Home-Help hours nationally this year to over 54,000 people. The target for 2010 for Home-Help hours is unchanged over the 2009 figure.

Arising from an independent Evaluation of Home Care Packages, published by the Department in December last, the HSE recently established a Task Group to progress this year various improvements in home care provision generally. These include:

introduce standardised access and operational guidelines for the delivery of Home Care Packages;

adopt a voluntary code of Quality Guidelines for Home Care Support Services for Older People; and

progress a new Procurement Framework for home care services.

The various Guidelines now being prepared are intended to allow the HSE adopt a more standardised approach nationally to the provision of home care services, including Home Help, and to improve these services from the point of view of provider and recipient alike. The Deputy's reference to linking increased Home Help hours to certain domestic or medical standards is unclear. If he wishes to clarify the proposed increase with the standards in question, I would be happy to consider the matter further.

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to provide a community welfare office as promised at Naas, County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26171/10]

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

Health Service Allowances

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications for supplementary allowance or mortgage or rent support currently awaiting a decision; the duration of the waiting time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26172/10]

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

Hospital Services

Billy Timmins

Question:

135 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26175/10]

As this case has just been brought to my attention it will now be handled by my Department in line with the Patient Safety Protocol which was adopted in September 2008.

The protocol deals with correspondence relating to issues of patient safety from patients, doctors, health service staff and solicitors. It is managed by the Chief Medical Officer on my behalf, given that a medical assessment is required, if any potential safety issue emerges.

Health Services

Billy Timmins

Question:

136 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26177/10]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Noel Ahern

Question:

137 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify the position regarding reports that Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9 recently closed two wards of 60 beds and the reason that this decision was necessary; the allocation to the hospital in 2009 and in 2010; the number of beds in the hospital; the make up same; the number of beds allocated to consultants private use; the number of high dependency or intensive care unit beds; the number on waiting lists for surgery; and her views on the line openly expressed by senior staff that they are basically only catering for emergencies and cancer; and when a person (details supplied) will receive surgery. [26200/10]

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

Vaccination Programme

Noel Ahern

Question:

138 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify the position regarding special teams set up last year to deal with the swine flu outbreak; the level of staff involved in these teams at their highest point; the staff that are still involved; when they will be disbanded; the person who must give the order or direction to wind down or disband in view of the fact that it appears various units of the Health Service Executive still use the swine flu excuse for lack of progress on their normal activity levels; and if she will report on the backlog at the HSE appeals system, including area medical offices and medical review committees which reportedly are in huge arrears due to withdrawal of swine flu staff. [26201/10]

The public pandemic vaccination campaign came to an end on 31st March 2010. Following a full assessment of the current situation, the risks of a second wave, the availability of vaccine and other factors, the National Public Health Emergency Team decided, following advice received from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, that those in the "at risk" groups should continue to be vaccinated. This means that up to September 2010, the vaccine will continue to be made available to those in the "at risk" groups including all those travelling to the southern hemisphere during the upcoming influenza season, but this will be done through GP's and Maternity Units.

With regard to the other issues raised, I wish to advise that as these are service issues, they have been referred to the Health Service Executive who will reply directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards

Noel Ahern

Question:

139 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify the position regarding the processing of medical card applications; if she will confirm that existing cards are still valid until the renewal process including appeal is completed; the reason applications are being refused to persons on basic social welfare payments only; the further reason that renewal applications in respect of a person (details supplied) has been refused. [26202/10]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances

Noel Ahern

Question:

140 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will outline the services to which patients with MS are entitled; and in relation to a person (details supplied) who is confined to a wheelchair if the district nurse can be scheduled to call on them regularly; if the health services including overtime are involved in providing or supporting changes to their driveway ramp; if funding has been provided for a special medical bed estimated at €3,000; if an amended correct medical card for a person (details further supplied) can be provided. [26203/10]

Under the Health Act 1970 the Health Service Executive may arrange for the supply, without charge, of medicines and medical and surgical appliances to people with specified conditions, for the treatment of that condition, through the Long Term Illness Scheme (LTI). The LTI does not cover GP fees or hospital co-payments. The specified conditions include multiple sclerosis. Applications for the LTI are made to the local Health Service Executive office.

As the Deputy's questions concerning the individual named in the details supplied relates to service matters I have arranged for the questions to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Mental Health Services

Noel Ahern

Question:

141 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will outline the psychiatric services currently operating on Dublin’s northside; the structural or organisational changes taking place; the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9, a patient for six years who has developed confidence with their medical team and physical locations which they visit is being moved to a new team and location; if it is being done because of their medical condition or category, location of their home address or other reason; and if it can be arranged that they be allowed to continue with the team and location they are used to. [26204/10]

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

Medical Cards

Noel Ahern

Question:

142 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 whose application for an over 70 years medical card took ten months to process and who has medical expenses of €1,817 during the seven months they would have been eligible for a card and has submitted same to the Health Service Executive; if she will arrange a refund for this person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26205/10]

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

Noel Ahern

Question:

143 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if there are statistics available on the period of time for which medical cards are issued; if a greater number of cards are now only being issued for one year; the reason this is so; the reason for such short time periods; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26206/10]

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

Hospital Staff

Noel Ahern

Question:

144 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of ear, nose and throat consultants that are attached to Temple Street Children’s Hospital Dublin 1; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is a 12 month delay in ENT outpatient appointments and if she will prioritise the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [26207/10]

Noel Ahern

Question:

145 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will refer to the waiting list for ear, nose and throat consultant outpatient appointments at Temple Street Hospital, Dublin 1 which are currently of 12 months duration; if she will provide details of delays for appointments at other children’s hospitals in Dublin for ENT; the number of ENT consultants working in Temple Street Hospital; if they are currently in work; the reason there is such a delay; the plans she has to improve matters; and if the National Treatment Purchase Fund can be used to improve matters and specifically in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [26208/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 144 and 145 together.

As indicated to the Deputy in my previous responses, it was not possible to answer the original questions due to industrial action. This industrial action has now ceased and as these are service matters the questions have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Subject to the resources made available to it, the National Treatment Purchase Fund arranges treatment for patients who have been on a surgical waiting list for more than three months. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Health Services

Noel Ahern

Question:

146 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will outline the details of the Health Service Executive dental service to include the annual cost of same; the staff levels of dentists, nurses and other staff involved; the level and numbers of patients treated; the average daily number of patients treated per dentist; the average cost taking into account all overheads and so on of each treatment visit; if any analysis of the system has been completed and cost comparison carried out with the private dentist system; if details of comparison can be outlined; the reductions in cost that have been budgeted for in 2010 with the HSE service; and the reason the more efficient private dentist scheme has been forced to produce the savings. [26209/10]

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

Noel Ahern

Question:

147 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will outline the details of the recent cutbacks in dental services to medical card holders; the advice that should be given to constituents in urgent need of treatment for gum disease and so on who are refused free treatment and unable to pay the relevant fees; if alternative help or service is available from community welfare officers, Health Service Executive Dental Service, Dublin Dental Hospital or elsewhere; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26210/10]

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

Questions Nos. 148 and 149 withdrawn.

Medical Cards

Noel Ahern

Question:

150 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify the position with regard to appeal cases to the Health Service Executive for medical card cases in Dublin’s northside; the reason applicants were told to send appeals to Walkinstown, Dublin, when it appears that Kells, County Meath is the correct venue; the location at which the Walkinstown appeals now stand; if she will have them sent to Kells; if the appeals can now be sent to Kells; if files in PCRS that are required to hear appeal cases can now be sent to Kells; when the appeal cases in Kells will be dealt with; the reason they must be ignored because of a vacancy; and if North Dublin appeal cases can now be dealt with. [26215/10]

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

Housing Support Schemes

Noel Ahern

Question:

151 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify the position regarding persons (details supplied) who fled the private home due to domestic violence and state the housing support available to them; if they are entitled to rent allowance; if it is correct that they were refused rent allowance because they are not on a local authority housing list and the local authority will not accept them in view of the fact that they are still legally part owner of the original family home; and the assistance that can be given. [26225/10]

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

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Joe McHugh

Question:

152 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport if he has corresponded with the European Maritime Safety Agency in relation to an oil spill (details supplied) in the Gulf of Mexico; if he is collaborating with the EMSA to anticipate any threat to Irish waters that arise from this oil spill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26069/10]

The Department of Transport is in regular contact with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) concerning the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the fate and trajectory of the slick. It is considered unlikely that it will have any environmental impact on our shorelines.

EMSA provides daily reports to the Coast Guard of the Department of Transport on the pollution response mechanisms that have been put in place to counteract the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. EMSA also use satellite surveillance to detect and monitor marine pollution in our Exclusive Economic Zone.

Public Transport

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

153 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the number of additional buses that have been allocated to Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus under the National Development Plan 2007 to 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26017/10]

Under Transport 21 my Department has provided funding to Dublin Bus towards the purchase of 100 additional buses and 200 replacement buses and to Bus Éireann for the purchase of 160 new buses and 79 replacement buses in the years 2006-2008

Road Traffic Offences

Noel Ahern

Question:

154 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Transport if there is any legislation which protects pedestrians from being splashed by vehicles during wet weather; if there is any requirement on motorists to slow down and avoid splashing pedestrians; if he will introduce such a requirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26221/10]

There is no specific legislation in place relating to this issue. However, driving in such a manner as to splash a pedestrian may be considered, in certain circumstances, as driving without due care and attention, under the terms of Section 52 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (as amended by Section 50 of the Road Traffic Act 1968). Whether or not a specific incident constitutes ‘driving without due care and attention' would depend on the specific circumstances, for example whether the driver had no safe alternative such as slowing down or avoiding the water. The maximum penalty for driving without due care and attention is a fine of €2,000 and/or three months imprisonment.

I have no plans to introduce specific legislation in this area, and I do not believe that such legislation would be either necessary or practicable.

Citizenship Applications

Phil Hogan

Question:

155 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in processing an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26100/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 168 on the 29 April, 2010. The position remains as stated.

Crime Statistics

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

156 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prosecutions, convictions and closure orders obtained under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26013/10]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.

I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

Garda Strength

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

157 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of promotions at sergeant, inspector, superintendent, chief superintendent and assistant commissioner ranks that have been approved and are currently being filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26015/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the moratorium on recruitment and promotions in the Public Service applies to the Garda Síochána, both sworn members and civilian support staff. The situation is continually kept under review in consultation with the Garda Commissioner and derogations can be sought in exceptional circumstances from the Minister for Finance.

I recently received sanction from the Minister for Finance for the filling of approximately 170 vacancies in the supervising ranks in An Garda Síochána. There will also be consequential vacancies arising from these promotions and sanction from the Minister for Finance to fill these vacancies has been obtained.

In total there have been 227 promotions so far and there are currently competitions being held for the promotion of Sergeants to the rank of Inspector, which are expected to be finalised shortly.

Garda Deployment

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

158 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí assigned to the emergency response unit, regional armed support unit, organised crime unit, Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda national drugs unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26016/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 30 April 2010, the personnel strength of the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda National Drugs Unit was 36 and 54 respectively.

For security and operational reasons, it is Garda policy not to comment on the number of Gardaí assigned to the Emergency Response Unit, the Regional Armed Support Unit or the Organised Crime Unit.

Citizenship Applications

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

159 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a citizenship application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26038/10]

An 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 December 2006.

On examination of the application submitted it was determined that the person in question did not meet the statutory residency requirements as set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended. The person concerned was informed of this in a letter issued to her on 13 June, 2007, 16 July, 2007 and again on 12 October, 2009.

It is open to the person concerned to lodge a new application for a certificate of naturalisation with the Citizenship Division of my Department if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements.

Pat Breen

Question:

160 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 236 of 27 April 2010, 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. [26053/10]

The certificate of naturalisation was issued to the person referred to in the Deputy's Question via registered post on 29 April, 2010.

Asylum Applications

Brian O'Shea

Question:

161 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for leave to remain in the State in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26070/10]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 5 October 2005. 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 28 November 2006 that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

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

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

Brian O'Shea

Question:

162 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26086/10]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 15 June 2007. 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 28 September 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

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

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

Brian O'Shea

Question:

163 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26087/10]

The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order following a comprehensive and thorough examination of his asylum claim and of his application to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations were received from the person's legal representative asking that his Deportation Order be revoked, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended). This application is under consideration at present. When a decision has been made on that application, that decision, and the consequences of that decision, will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

164 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will return the documents sent by persons (details supplied) in County Waterford regarding their residency application of one of the spouses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26089/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that all original documents that were on file have been returned to the person concerned.

Citizenship Applications

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

165 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 189 of 9 June, 2010, when a decision will issue. [26115/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 189 on the 9 June, 2010. The position remains as stated.

Residency Permits

Brian O'Shea

Question:

166 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the family reunification application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26118/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the first named person to whom he refers was granted permission to remain in the State in July of 2005 under the revised arrangements for the non-EEA parents of children born in Ireland prior to 1 January, 2005, known as the IBC/05 Scheme. This permission is currently valid until 12 July, 2010. The person in question is advised to attend her local Immigration Office in order to have that permission to remain in the State extended.

The second named person entered the State on 14 September, 2006 and applied for asylum on 15 September, 2006. This application was refused by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner on 3 October, 2006 and that decision was upheld by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal on 30 November, 2007. The person in question subsequently made an application for subsidiary protection under the European Communities (Eligibility of Protection) Regulations, 2006 S.I. No. 518 of 2006. This application was refused and the person concerned was informed of that decision by letter dated 6 January, 2009. A Deportation Order was subsequently made in respect of the person concerned. The effect of the making of a Deportation Order is that the person who is the subject of the Order is required to leave the State within a specified period and to remain thereafter out of the State. The person in question was deported on 11 March, 2010 following detailed consideration of an application under section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999.

I should add that an express condition of the IBC/05 Scheme is that the granting of permission to remain under the Scheme does not confer any right or legitimate expectation on any person, whether related to the person granted permission or not, to enter or remain in the State. All applicants granted permission to remain under the Scheme signed an undertaking to this effect.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency or family reunification in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26138/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the person to whom he refers was granted permission to remain in the State in September of 2005 under the revised arrangements for the non-EEA parents of children born in Ireland prior to 1 January, 2005, known as the IBC/05 Scheme. This permission is currently valid until 22 September, 2010. I should add that the granting of permission to remain under the IBC/05 Scheme does not confer any entitlement or legitimate expectation on any other person, whether related to the person granted permission or not, to enter or remain in the State. All applicants granted permission to remain under the Scheme signed an undertaking to this effect.

It is, however, open to all non-EEA nationals, who are resident outside the State, and who are visa-required to enter the State, to apply to their nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate for an entry visa. Comprehensive guidelines on making a visa application can be found on the website www.inis.gov.ie.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the residency application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; if the proposal to revoke refugee status will be reconsidered in view of the fact that all information sought was correctly and honestly replied to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26140/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that a proposal to revoke refugee status was issued to the person referred to by the Deputy on 31 March 2010 and copied to her solicitors. Subsequently, she authorised a different solicitor to act on her behalf. A letter dated 4 June 2010 issued to her new solicitors allowing a further 10 working days in which to provide any further representations. Until the time allowed has expired, no further consideration of this case will be made. At that stage, all information on file including all representations received will be considered and she will be informed of the outcome.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

169 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedure to be followed to regularise residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26143/10]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the husband of the person concerned made an application for residence in the State based on his marriage to a French national on 17 June 2009. The legal representative for the person concerned was informed of the decision to refuse this application on 20 August 2009.

The decision to refuse this application is currently under review and on 14 May, 2010 EU Treaty Rights section wrote to the legal representative for the applicant requesting further documentation in relation to their client's application for residence in the State.

To date EU Treaty Rights section has not received a reply from the applicant or their legal representative.

Asylum Support Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will arrange accommodation transfer to Mosney Accommodation Centre, Julianstown, County Meath, in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22. [26144/10]

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the provision of accommodation to asylum seekers.

The Agency does not, and indeed could not, implement the Government decision to disperse asylum seekers as evenly as possible throughout the country by offering asylum seekers their choice of location as to where they are be accommodated pending consideration of their application.

Nonetheless, I understand that the Agency does attempt to accommodate particular asylum seekers in particular locations where their normal day-to-day requirements can be met to the greatest possible extent.

I am also informed that a transfer to the locations mentioned in the Question is not possible in this particular case.

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

171 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26145/10]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 25 January 2008. 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 12 February 2010, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

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

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

Deportation Orders

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

172 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will use his discretion to set aside proposals to deport in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26146/10]

I am satisfied that the application for asylum made by the person concerned was fairly and comprehensively examined before a decision to refuse it was arrived at. I am equally satisfied that the representations she submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), together with all refoulement issues, were given the fullest consideration before her Deportation Order was made. This being the case, the decision to deport her is justified.

However, if new information or circumstances have come to light which have a direct bearing on her case and which have arisen since the original decision to deport was made, there remains the option of applying to me for revocation of the Deportation Order pursuant to the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). However, I wish to make it clear that any such application would need to be supported by information or documentation which was not presented, nor was capable of being presented, to me before the decision to deport was made.

The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

173 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date and the expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26147/10]

The persons concerned, a married couple, entered the State separately and applied for refugee status. The husband claimed asylum on 29 December 2004 while his wife, accompanied by four minor children, claimed asylum on 15 March 2004. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the persons concerned were entitled to remain in the State until their respective asylum applications were decided. Their individual asylum applications were refused following the separate consideration of their cases by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

They were separately informed, he by letter dated 23 March 2005 and she by letter dated 17 November 2004, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of them and their children. They were each given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of Deportation Orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why Deportation Orders should not be made against them and their children.

Following separate consideration of their cases, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, Deportation Orders were signed in respect of the persons concerned and their children on 15 September 2005. These Orders were served by registered post requiring them to ‘present' at the Offices of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) on Thursday 10 November 2005, in order to make arrangements for their removal from the State.

The persons concerned initiated Judicial Review proceedings in the High Court challenging the decisions to make Deportation Orders in respect of them. The Deportation Orders made in respect of the persons concerned were subsequently quashed by the High Court.

On 23 April 2008 the persons concerned were invited to submit updated representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why Deportation Orders should not be made against them and their children. Representations have been received on behalf of the persons concerned.

The position in the State of the persons 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 files are passed to me for decision. Once decisions have been made, these decisions and the consequences of the decisions will be conveyed in writing to the persons concerned.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

174 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding residency status in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26148/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person concerned is the subject of a Family Reunification application made in April 2010.

The application was forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996.

On completion of the investigation the Commissioner will prepare and forward a report to my Department and on receipt of the Commissioner's report the application will be considered further.

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

175 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a citizenship application in respect of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26149/10]

Valid applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in May & November 2006 and I decided in my absolute discretion not to grant certificates of naturalisation. The persons in question were informed of this decision and the reasons for refusal in letters issued to them on 16 February, 2010.

It is open to the persons concerned to lodge new applications for certificates of naturalisation with the Citizenship Division of my Department at any time. However, they should bear in mind the reasons for refusal of their previous applications.

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

176 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26150/10]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 11 August 2004. 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 14 November 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 by the person concerned at that time.

The person concerned was subsequently notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006).

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

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

Travel Documents

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

177 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a temporary travel document will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26151/10]

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) informs me that they have no record of an application for a temporary travel document having been received in respect of the person concerned based on the information supplied by the Deputy.

The procedures to be followed when applying for a temporary travel document are outlined on the websitewww.inis.gov.ie by selecting Immigration and then Travel Documents. The application form and details on how to apply for a temporary travel document are all available there.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

178 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding family reunification or residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26152/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that a letter issued to the person referred to by the Deputy on 11 May 2010.

I am further informed by INIS that on receipt of a response to this letter, the case will be considered further.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

179 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding residency and family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied ) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26153/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy made a Family Reunification Application in respect of her four grandchildren in August 2009. The application was forwarded to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. The investigation was completed in February 2010 and a report was forwarded to INIS. There are currently some issues that need to be resolved with regard to the application and INIS will be in contact with the person referred to in due course.

Deportation Orders

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

180 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; if an early decision is anticipated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26154/10]

The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order following a comprehensive and thorough examination of his asylum claim and his application to remain temporarily in the State. The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State.

Representations were received from the persons' legal representative asking that his Deportation Order be revoked, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended). This application is under consideration at present. When a decision has been made on that application, that decision, and the consequences of that decision, will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

181 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding residency in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26155/10]

Persons who have been legally resident in the State for over five years on the basis of work permit/work authorisation/work visa conditions may apply to the Immigration Division of my Department for a five year residency extension. In that context they may also apply to be exempt from employment permit requirements.

It should be noted that dependants of applicants who have been successfully granted long term residency can themselves apply for long term residency provided the applicant has been legally resident in the State for over five years. Such persons will be granted a Stamp 3 (Dependants stamp) for five years. This particular long term permission does not grant an exemption from employment permit requirements.

An application for long term residency was received from the person referred to by the Deputy on 24 April 2009. An examination of the documentation supplied with the application indicated that the applicant registered in the State on the 13 October 2005, and consequently, the person concerned did not meet the residency requirements for long term residency at the time she applied.

Processing of this application was completed in May 2010 and a letter advising the applicant of the outcome was issued to her on 20 May 2010.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

182 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26156/10]

There is currently no application pending in my Department for residency in the case of the person whose details were supplied.

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

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

183 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a valid application for citizenship will be considered in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26157/10]

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 March 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. However, I understand that the person concerned is a refugee. In accordance with the Government's obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, every effort is made to ensure that applications from persons with refugee status are dealt with as quickly as possible.

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.

Deportation Orders

Brian O'Shea

Question:

184 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 160 of 9 June 2010 if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26189/10]

I refer the Deputy to the Reply given to his Parliamentary Question No. 160 on Wednesday 9 June 2010. When a decision has been made on the application, that decision, and the consequences of that decision, will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Visa Applications

Billy Timmins

Question:

185 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 566 of 20 April 2010, the position regarding a long-term visa in respect of persons (details supplied); the location to which the application should be sent, that is Dublin or Belgrade. [26195/10]

The position regarding a long term visa in respect of persons referred to remains as stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 566 of 20 April 2010. The persons concerned created on-line visa applications on 12 and 13 March 2010. However, the necessary documentation in regard to their applications was not submitted within the required timeframe and the on-line applications have now lapsed. Accordingly, it is open to the individuals to make fresh applications on-line through the Automated Visa Application and Tracking System (AVATS) and submit the necessary documentation to the Irish Embassy in Belgrade.

Garda Vetting Services

Noel Ahern

Question:

186 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on the work of the Garda control vetting unit and confirm that there is currently an average 72-day delay for form processing; if this is the worst it has ever been; his plans to bring this service up to date; the reasons for the delay; his plans to correct the situation; and the emergency plans he has for people who want urgent vetting documentation when they have job offers and so on. [26224/10]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting for a large number of organisations in Ireland registered with the Gardaí for this purpose and which employ persons in a full-time, part-time, voluntary or training capacity to positions where they would have substantial, unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults. The GCVU has managed a substantial increase over recent years in the numbers of vetting applications it receives — 187,864 in 2007; 218,404 in 2008 and 246,194 in 2009. The processing time for vetting applications fluctuates during the year due to seasonal demands when the volume of applications received from certain sectors can increase. Additional time may be required to process an individual vetting application in cases where clarification is required as to the details provided or where other enquiries need to be made, for example, when the person in question has lived and worked abroad. There will always be a reasonably significant time period required to process a vetting application. However, the Gardaí make every effort to reduce this to the minimum possible consistent with carrying out the necessary checks. I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the average processing time for valid vetting applications received at the GCVU may vary from four to five weeks in periods of lower demand to up to about 12 weeks at times when demand is particularly high.

The allocation of Garda resources, including personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner. An additional five persons were assigned to the Vetting Unit recently, bringing the total to 83 personnel currently assigned there, including six Gardaí and 77 Garda civilian personnel. A further five additional personnel are being recruited on a temporary basis and it is intended that these persons will commence work shortly. Overall, this represents a very significant increase in the level of personnel assigned to the unit, which stood at only 13 before the current process of development in Garda vetting began in 2005.

Sports Events

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

187 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she will report on her discussions with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association about the possibility of bringing the men’s world amateur boxing championship to Dublin in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26012/10]

Departmental Funding

Terence Flanagan

Question:

188 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will deal with a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26107/10]

In 2008, specific funding was allocated to assist in the development of new responses to address the issue referred to by the Deputy. Funding to existing projects and other related projects was also increased to support their strengthening and enhancement. Since then, I am glad to say that the projects have become an integral part of the annual operations of the relevant local/regional structures and continue to address the identified needs in their communities.

With regard to addressing additional needs as referred to by the Deputy, I am not in a position to provide dedicated funding in this regard, given my Department's ongoing commitments regarding the funding allocations for sectoral initiatives in this area. However, the relevant local/regional structures have the discretion, should they so chose, to adapt, broaden or refine these initiatives based on identified existing or emerging local or regional needs. The Deputy will appreciate the difficulty in responding more specifically to the matters raised by him within the constraints of a ‘details supplied' Question.

Social Welfare Fraud

Olwyn Enright

Question:

189 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social Protection if he plans to investigate the reduction in people signing for social welfare payments during the period in which flights were grounded by the ash cloud; if this reduction has been brought to his attention by his officials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26018/10]

In any given week, there will be a number of jobseekers who do not attend their Social Welfare Local Office to ‘sign on' the live register for various reasons. For example, the person may have, without notifying the Department, taken up employment, taken a holiday, may be unwell or have forgotten to attend their Local Office, given that signing is done on a four-week cycle and therefore not on the same date each month.

In such cases, the Department suspends the jobseeker payment of the person who has not signed until their reason for not signing has been established. Where the Department is satisfied that the person continues to fulfil the qualifying conditions for the jobseekers scheme, their payment is restored. In some instances, claims are referred for further investigation. These measures were applied in cases where customers failed to sign during the week of flight disruption. Table 1 below shows that the numbers failing to sign during the period of flight disruption was not significantly different from other weeks in same four-week signing cycle.

Table 1

Week ending

Number due to sign

Non-signers

Percentage non-signers

21 February 2010

151,920

3,311

2.2%

21 March 2010

63,985 Signing was excused for customers due to sign on St Patrick’s Day.

2,470

3.9%

18 April 2010

151,060 Week in which there was flight disruption.

3,515

2.3%

16 May 2010

147,435

3,269

2.2%

13 June 2010

152,188

3,809

2.5%

Social Welfare Benefits

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

190 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26071/10]

An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on 17th February 2010 from the person in question. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that her child was not medically eligible for DCA. A letter issued to the person in question on 28th April 2010 where she was advised of the decision to refuse DCA. In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed or they may appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within 21 days.

In this case the applicant submitted additional medical information in respect of her claim on 10th May 2010. DCA section forwarded this to the Social Welfare Appeals Office and requested that an appeal be registered against the decision not to grant DCA. The applicant will be notified of his appeal registration number by SWAO in due course. As part of the appeal process, the application will be reviewed by a Medical Assessor who will take the new medical evidence into consideration.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

191 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the delay in approving rent subsidy in respect of a person (details supplied). [26097/10]

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 Welfare Appeals

Paul Kehoe

Question:

192 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Social Protection when an oral hearing will take place in respect of a person (details supplied); the steps he is taking to reduce the waiting time for these hearings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26101/10]

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.

A number of initiatives are currently underway designed to enhance the capacity of the office to deal with the current caseload and inflows. In that regard:

2 additional Appeals Officers were assigned to the Office in 2009,

A number of additional staff are being assigned to the administration area of the Office,

The organisation of the Appeals Officer's work has been changed so as to increase productivity,

A project to improve the business processes in the office is underway and a number of improvements have already been implemented,

Significant enhancements are being made to the Office's IT and phone systems.

Notwithstanding these measures, it is clear that further additional staff will be required in the short term to address the backlog that has developed. Any such staff must be very experienced and be in a position to operate without significant training. Therefore it has been decided to use experienced retired staff strictly on a short term basis to supplement the current resources. The Social Welfare Appeals Officer 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

Michael Ring

Question:

193 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection if income from maintenance was always fully assessable when calculating eligibility for family income supplement in view of the fact that there had been no expressed mention of maintenance in the earlier editions of the booklet SW22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26111/10]

The legislative provisions for family income supplement, FIS, are contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 — Chapter 11 of Part II Section 227 to 233 as amended and the Social Welfare(Consolidated Payments Provisions)Regulations, 2007 Section 172 to 177 as amended.

Under these provisions all income is assessable when calculating eligibility for FIS with the exceptions of income from the following:

Child Benefit;

Carer's Allowance;

Guardian's payments;

Supplementary Welfare Allowance;

Rent Allowance for tenants affected by the de-control of rents;

Domiciliary Care Allowance;

Foster Child Allowance;

Income from casual employment by the Health Service Executive (HSE) as a home help;

Income from a charitable organisation;

Income from providing accommodation to students studying Irish in Gaeltacht areas under a scheme administered by the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Income from maintenance payments is not excluded from the FIS means test and is therefore assessable in full. There has been no change in the legislation concerning the assessment of maintenance payments for the FIS means test in the lifetime of that scheme.

The SW22 was updated in early 2009 to make the position clearer regarding the assessment of maintenance payments for FIS.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

194 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason rent support has been terminated in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26139/10]

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:

195 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection whether revised arrangements for qualification for old age pension on the basis of pre-existing partnership enabled a person (details supplied) in County Kildare to qualify for contributory old age pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26141/10]

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

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

have at least 260 paid contribution weeks, from employment or self-employment, since entry into insurance;

satisfy the yearly average condition.

The person concerned applied for State pension (contributory) in December 2008 and was refused on grounds of having insufficient paid contributions.

Although the person concerned has registered self-employment contributions for one year (1999/2000), these are in respect of a period after her 66th birthday and therefore cannot be taken into account when assessing entitlement.

The Department does not have any record of a request for recognition of retrospective partnership on behalf of the person concerned. If she wishes to be considered for a retrospective partnership, she is advised to apply in writing to the Scope section within my Department.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

196 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason child benefit has been disallowed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26142/10]

The person concerned qualified for child benefit on the basis of her employment under EU Regulations 883/04 and 987/09. A review of her child benefit claim revealed that she is no longer in employment and must therefore satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition in order to retain her child benefit payment. Payment was disallowed as she does not satisfy the HRC condition.

Noel Ahern

Question:

197 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will clarify the position regarding the payment of jobseeker’s allowance or supplementary benefit to homeless persons; if he will further clarify that homeless persons do qualify for payment; the way in which they get over the problem of not having an abode in view of the fact that they frequently attract sympathy that they do not qualify for State payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26220/10]

Any person can apply for jobseeker's benefit or allowance but will only receive payment if they satisfy all the conditions of the schemes, including being available for and genuinely seeking work. Homeless persons have the same entitlements under the social welfare system as any other persons and are subject to the same qualifying conditions. If homeless persons are unemployed but capable of and genuinely seeking work, then they can apply for a jobseeker's payment providing they can provide an address, such as a hostel or a temporary place of residence, at which they can be contacted if necessary.

An address is required from the customer to establish, inter alia, the customer's means, availability for employment and to issue payment. The jobseeker's claim is not awarded for payment until the person's address is verified. Where a person presents at a Social Welfare Local Office and states that they are homeless, that is, unable to give an address because they do not know where they are spending the night, the Local Office refers the person to the Community Welfare Officer. If a person does not fulfil the conditions for any of the Department's primary weekly payments, they may be eligible for a basic supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) payment, subject to qualifying conditions, if their means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants.

The SWA scheme also provides for a weekly supplement to meet specific needs such as rent and/or mortgage interest supplement, diet supplement, heating supplement, or a once-off payment to help with the cost of any exceptional needs a person may have which they could not reasonably be expected to meet from their own resources, such as support to those requiring assistance with a rent deposit. One of the most important supports provided to homeless people through the social welfare system is assistance with rent deposits to enable them to secure private rented accommodation.

Local authorities have responsibility for the provision of accommodation for homeless adults as part of their overall housing responsibility and the Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible for the health and care needs of homeless adults. The HSE is responsible for meeting the accommodation and other needs of homeless children under the age of 18.

As homeless persons have the same entitlements under the social welfare system as any other persons and are subject to the same qualifying conditions, there is no definition of homeless or homelessness required for social welfare purposes. Neither I nor the Department has any function in relation to determining if a person is regarded as homeless. This is a matter for the housing authorities under Section 2 of the Housing Act, 1988.

Persons regarded by a housing authority as being homeless have access to the rent supplement scheme without the need for a housing needs assessment or without having any previous history of renting. In addition, where a person applies for rent supplement, the amount of supplement payable is subject to a limit which is determined by the type of accommodation required and the location of the accommodation. Where a person is homeless or at risk of homelessness, these limits can be exceeded. These special provisions were introduced specifically to assist homeless persons in accessing the rent supplement scheme.

Noel Ahern

Question:

198 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Social Protection if persons (details supplied) who fled their private home due to domestic violence are entitled to rent allowance; if it is correct that they were refused rent allowance because they are not on a local authority housing list and the local authority will not accept them in view of the fact that they are still legally part owner of the original family home; and the assistance that can be given. [26226/10]

The payment of rent supplement does not require the applicant to be on a local authority housing list. Where a claimant's safety and well-being are at risk Community Welfare Staff have been provided with special discretionary powers in such cases to expedite the award of rent supplement. In these cases the normal qualifying criteria are waived to ensure the provision of suitable and secure accommodation for the person concerned.

An Teanga Gaeilge

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

199 D’fhiafraigh An Teachta Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin den Aire Cosanta an aontaíonn sé go mba chóir go mbeadh An Chéad Chath ar an Rinn Mhór i nGaillimh ag feidhmiú go hiomlán trí Ghaeilge arís; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [26062/10]

Foilsíodh Acht na dTeangacha Oifigúla i 2003, agus thug sé, inter alia, spreagadh mór don Ghaeilge in Óglaigh na hÉireann. Ina dhiaidh sin, d'fhoilsigh Óglaigh na hÉireann a bheartas i leith na dteangacha oifigiúla i Samhain 2004, áit a bhfuil béim leagtha ar 1 Cn Cois mar an bpríomhaonad laistigh d'Óglaigh na hÉireann ina dhéantar úsáid na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn.

Deir na húdaráis Mhíleata dom gur gnách go ndéanann 1 Cn Cois earcú ó na ceantair Ghaeltachta de Bhriogáid an Iarthair, Conamara ach go háirithe, agus go coimeádtar an Ghaeilge bheo san aonad dá bharr sin. Tuigeann gach comhalta pearsanra seirbheála an tábhacht a bhaineann leis an aonad ó thaobh tacaíocht a thabhairt don Ghaeilge. Cosúil le haonaid eile in Óglaigh na hÉireann, freagraítear gutháin 1 Cn Cois as Gaeilge agus i gcás go mbíonn duine a ghlaonn ag iarraidh comhrá a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge, féadann 1 Cn Cois comhaltaí pearsanra a chur ar fáil chun é sin a dhéanamh. Nuair a thug mé cuairt ar an I Cn Cois le déanaí bhí áthas orm go raibh deis agam chomhrá trí Ghaeilge le cuid de na baill d Óglaigh na h-Éireann.

Ábhar bróid do 1 Cn Cois é go gcoimeádtar a stádas mar an bpríomhaonad do labhairt na Gaeilge laistigh d'Óglaigh na hÉireann agus déanfar gach iarracht, ar gach leibhéal, a chinntiú go dtabharfaidh daoine a fhreastalaíonn i 1 Cn Cois an-mheas ar ár dteanga dhúchais.

Waste Disposal

Tom Hayes

Question:

200 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures he has taken regarding the increased incidence of fly-tipping across the country; if additional staff or funding has been allocated to tackle this issue; the number of prosecutions that have taken place in relation to illegal fly-tipping; and if his attention has been drawn to problems of this nature in South Tipperary. [26029/10]

Enforcement actions against illegal waste activity are a matter for the local authorities and the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE). I am satisfied that appropriate powers and resources are available to these enforcement authorities. I have no specific information on illegal dumping problems in South Tipperary.

The 2005 report of the OEE, The Nature and Extent of Unauthorised Waste Activity in Ireland, identified the unauthorised collection and fly-tipping of waste as a problem area which needed to be further tackled. The extent of fly-tipping is not, however, quantified in the report. The report drew attention to the measures already being taken, including the appointment of some one hundred and twenty additional enforcement officers across the local authorities who continue to be funded by my Department, and the stepped up enforcement activity generally being led by the OEE and the local authorities. It also identified additional actions which would further support the effort to stamp out this socially and environmentally unacceptable practice, such as a "man in the van" advertisement campaign and use of covert cameras. Non-routine actions are now commonplace, and include vehicle checkpoints and use of CCTV cameras for identification of offenders at fly-tipping hotspots. The implementation of these actions is coordinated on an ongoing basis by the OEE through its National Enforcement Network.

In addition, in April 2010, my Department informed local authorities that additional funding will be provided towards the costs associated with staff deployment for enforcement related activities. This will further underpin enforcement efforts in 2010.

In terms of enforcement activity, the data for 2008 indicate there were 19,269 routine litter patrol investigations, 27,825 on the spot fines issued and 608 litter prosecutions. In addition, 12,000 non-litter waste complaints inspections and a further 2,434 other inspections for fly-tipping waste, burning or other surveillance purposes were undertaken by the local authorities. There were 8,151 waste enforcement notices issued and 695 prosecutions initiated but a breakdown as to how many of these related to fly-tipping is not available. Overall, this represents a very significant quantum of enforcement, consistent with the findings of the OEE's Focus on Environmental Enforcement in Ireland, covering the period 2006 to 2008, which indicates that the handling of waste-related complaints has significantly improved.

I have recently introduced new measures designed to underpin further the effort to combat litter. I have allocated €1.5 million over three years in support of a new initiative, the Tourist Season Anti Litter Grant Scheme, to assist local authorities in their efforts to tackle litter pollution at key tourist destinations and on key access routes during the peak summer period. It is the responsibility of the local authorities to decide and prioritise where these resources are utilised.

I have also recently announced the establishment of an Action Group to tackle the problem of rural and roadside litter. The Group will comprise representatives from my Department, the Department of Transport, the National Roads Authority, local authorities, Fáilte Ireland and the Office of Environmental Enforcement, and is being tasked with reporting back with specific recommendations to underpin further progress in this area.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

201 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a sewerage scheme for Kilkerrin-Cárna area in the south Connemara Gaeltacht area, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26039/10]

The Water Services Investment Programme 2010 — 2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water and sewerage services infrastructure in County Galway. While provision is made to commence contracts to the value of some €130 million in the county during the period of the Programme, it was not possible to include the Carna or Kilkieran Sewerage Schemes amongst the priority contracts and schemes selected for inclusion.

The new Programme aims to prioritise projects that target environmental compliance issues and support economic and employment growth as envisaged in the Government's policy document Building Ireland's Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Revival. A key input to the development of the Programme was the assessment of needs prepared by local authorities, including Galway County Council, in response to my Department's request to the authorities in 2009 to review and prioritise their proposals for new capital works in their areas. These were subsequently appraised in the Department in the context of the funds available and key criteria that complemented those used by the authorities. Inevitably, through this process, certain projects that had been proposed had to give way to others that are more strategically important at this time.

Departmental Agencies

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

202 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide an update on the terms of reference of his review of the Environmental Protection Agency; the make up of the review and the person being invited to make submissions to this review and if he intends an independent review of the agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26119/10]

To implement a commitment in the Programme for Government in 2007, re-iterated in the renewed Programme for Government in October 2009, a review of the Environmental Protection Agency commenced in February 2010 following the appointment of members on 2 February 2010.

The review's terms of reference are as follows: i) To review the legislation governing the EPA, including the licensing functions and the processes in place to ensure public participation and the various remedies and sanctions available to the EPA for enforcement provided in the Acts, and to identify any necessary improvements in the legislation; ii) To assess the performance of the EPA against the mandate which it was given when it was originally established in 1993, in relation to the expanding goals which have been set for it in the past decade and in comparison with best practice elsewhere, and to identify any necessary improvements in the EPA's procedures and approaches; iii) To assess the scope of the EPA's mandate and whether it could be strengthened to include other areas; iv) To review the resources allocated to the EPA in relation to current obligations and further functions that may arise, on foot of EU legislation; v) To assess the structures and governance of the EPA (including the operation of advisory committees and whether non-executive directors should be provided for; and vi) To re-assess the ongoing relationship between the EPA and other parts of the environmental governance structure in Ireland, having regard to the environmental challenges facing Ireland and developments in society. The Review Group has decided that, in progressing its work, seven broad thematic perspectives will be used. These themes are as follows:

1. Legislative Framework;

2. Legislative Compliance;

3. Licensing, Management and Assessment;

4. Environmental Research and Information;

5. The Relationship between the Environmental Protection Agency and its stakeholders;

6. Governance, Internal Structure and Resource Allocation Issues;

7. An International / Comparative Agency Perspective.

A public consultation was announced on 22 February 2010 and it will finish on 18 June 2010 as the original closing date was extended due to increased public demand. I would welcome as wide a range of submissions as possible from environmental protection interest groups, public sector bodies, and members of the public to ensure that the review is as inclusive as possible.

The Review Group have been asked to report to me by the end of the year and I am satisfied that they will be in a position to do this. Further details about the review are available on my Department's website atwww.environ.ie

Water Charges

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

203 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the proposed timescale for the introduction of water charges and the expected level of charge or the parameters of such a charge being considered or recommended by his officials or others; if he envisages the charges being levied and collected in a similar way to the current waste charges; the way the charges will be applied to single family dwellings, a house divided into self-contained units, and an apartment block and the person responsible for payment in each of these types of dwellings whether owned or rented privately or through local authorities or housing agencies; if charges will be levied on bored wells or waste water collection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26176/10]

In December 2009, following a decision by Government, I informed the House that I would be bringing forward proposals for the installation of water meters in households served by public water supplies. These proposals will give effect to the commitment in the renewed Programme for Government to introduce charging for domestic water in a way that is fair, significantly reduces waste and is easily applied. I expect to bring these proposals to Government in the coming weeks.

The proposals will include draft legislation to remove the prohibition on charging for domestic water services and will also address the arrangements for the delivery of the water metering programme, cost estimates and how these costs are to be financed, as well as plans for the development of a pricing structure for domestic water services. I will provide further details on these matters following their consideration and approval by Government. As is the case currently with water charges for the non-domestic sector, the domestic water charge will comprise a charge for both the water supply service and the wastewater treatment service. There are no proposals to charge households providing their own water supply from private sources such as a bored well.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Dan Neville

Question:

204 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the provision of an updated sewerage scheme for Pallasgreen, County Limerick. [26188/10]

I refer to the reply to questions Nos. 337 and 342 of 5 May 2010 which sets out the position on the Pallasgreen, Bruff and Hospital Sewerage Schemes.

Local Authority Funding

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

205 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will confirm that he will hold funding for homeless services in Dublin at 2009 levels at very least, pending the implementation of the plan to reconfigure homeless services in Dublin, in view of the fact that this plan is designed to meet his own commitments of ending long term homelessness and the need for persons to sleep rough. [26197/10]

My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Funding provided by my Department in this context relates to the recoupment of 90% of approved expenditure by housing authorities on accommodation for homeless persons, with the balance being funded from housing authorities' own resources. The HSE has responsibility for funding in relation to health and care services for homeless persons.

While the overall provision for housing for next year will be determined within the context of the annual Estimates for Public Services, my focus in shaping that provision will continue to be on the prioritisation of accommodation and accommodation-related support needs of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged households, including homeless people, older people and people with disabilities.

Local Government Charges

Noel Ahern

Question:

206 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will clarify the situation regarding the second home tax; if there is an exemption from the tax in a case in which a house occupied by a childless elderly couple has been transferred or sold to other siblings but when the new owner does not have effective ownership in view of the fact that both the elderly couple have a right to occupation in the house for life. [26217/10]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, which gives effect to the €200 charge on non-principal private residences, defines "owner" at section 1 as "a person . . . who . . . is entitled to receive the rent of the property, or where the property is not let, would be so entitled if it were so let".

Where a property is willed or gifted to an individual and a right of residence is retained by the original owner or occupier, I have been advised that liability to pay the charge depends on whether the right of residence is exclusive. If the right of residence is exclusive and the owner does not have an entitlement to seek or receive rent, he or she is not an "owner" within the meaning of the Act until that right ceases to affect the property. In such a case, there would be no liability for the charge.

Noel Ahern

Question:

207 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if any review has been made of the tax on second homes; and if consideration has been given to introducing a graduate rate on the basis of owners age, if they are an old age pensioner, income or second property size; if a statement can be made on the matter specifically in relation to complaints from elderly pensioners who own barely habitable country cottages which have been willed to them from within families and are being retained as holiday homes for sentimental reasons and for siblings living abroad who like to stay in the home place on occasional visits here. [26218/10]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, which sets out the detail of the €200 charge on non-principal private residences, is structured from a starting position of a universal liability for the charge in respect of residential property. It goes on to exempt certain properties and owners from the charge, the most significant exemption being where a property is occupied by the owner as his or her sole or main residence on the liability date.

If a property is not occupied by the owner as his or her sole or main residence, it is generally the case that the property is available to the owner as a source of economic or other benefit. In a case where a property is being retained as a holiday home for relatives, there is a direct benefit to those relatives from the property being in the owner's possession. In these circumstances, an annual charge of €200 is modest.

In devising the charge, it was intended that it should be as simple and straightforward to administer as possible. I have no plans to introduce graduated rates which would unnecessarily complicate the administration of such a modest charge.

Salmon Fisheries Management

Joe McHugh

Question:

208 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his Department, the Northern Minister for Agriculture and the Loughs Agency will provide loss-of-earnings compensation to the 18 Lough Foyle salmon fishermen who do not participate in the salmon hardship fund; if he acknowledges that the livelihoods of these persons are undermined by the ban on salmon fishing in the river for 2010; if he will commit to providing loss of earnings compensation on the basis of an average of 2007, 2008 and 2009 returns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26078/10]

This recent suspension of commercial fishing in Lough Foyle was considered necessary in order to comply with the EU Habitats Directive and falling salmon numbers. No funding provision has been made by either Department to compensate fishermen affected by the suspension.

The commercial nets-men who have not been issued with licences in 2010, were made aware when the salmon hardship package was offered in 2007 that if they did not accept the package, that any future suspension or closure of the fishery would not attract hardship payments.

If the stocks improve, it may be possible to permit the taking of salmon in the future.

Grant Payments

John O'Mahony

Question:

209 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a decision will issue on an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26010/10]

The person named has 13 animals for consideration under the 2009 Suckler Welfare Scheme. Under the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme, herds of more than 10 cows, the animals must be weaned in at least two separate groups with at least five days between the weaning of each group. Based on the information provided by the applicant all of the animals were weaned on the same day and are not, therefore, eligible for payment.

An appeal has been submitted by the applicant and is currently under consideration. The applicant will be informed of the outcome of this appeal when it is concluded.

Agricultural Training Courses

Denis Naughten

Question:

210 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of suckler welfare scheme participants who failed to register their attendance at the Teagasc suckler course; his plans, if any, to allow for the late completion of such a course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26076/10]

Since the Suckler Welfare Scheme was introduced in 2008 in excess of 37,000 farmers have participated in the training courses provided in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme. My Department is arranging for further training sessions to be provided this year for those participants who have not already received training.

Grant Payments

Pat Breen

Question:

211 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to Parliamentary Question No. 845 of 20 April 2010, 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. [26113/10]

Payment under the Young Farmers' Installation Scheme will be issued shortly by my Department to the person concerned.

John O'Mahony

Question:

212 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their payment under REP Scheme 4; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26124/10]

Payment will issue to the person named within ten working days.

Third Level Fees

Mary Upton

Question:

213 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will address the concerns of a person (details supplied) regarding fees for a master’s degree; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26011/10]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

224 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the rules governing university fees for postgraduate students who are Irish citizens but who have not been resident here for more than five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26059/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 and 224 together.

The position is that my Department is involved at a sectoral level in the context of budgetary discussions regarding overall funding and proposals for fee changes in relation to the higher education sector. However as the Deputies may be aware higher education institutions are autonomous bodies and the criteria governing the level of tuition fees to be charged, in cases where students do not qualify for free fees and in the case of postgraduate study, are determined by the institutions. As such, post-graduate level fees are set by individual higher education institutions and accordingly I have no role in this matter.

I would point out that Section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, provides tax relief, at the standard rate of tax, for tuition fees paid in respect of approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including certain approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in E.U. Member States and in non EU countries. The application form (I.T. 31 Form) to claim tax relief on tuition fees is available from the Revenue Commissioners

School Staffing

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

214 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of post-primary and primary schools principals that have been appointed in north Dublin in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26014/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available in my Department in the format requested.

School Curriculum

David Stanton

Question:

215 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will consider the provision of module of Irish sign language as part of the transition year programme as a means of raising awareness of the language to young people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26021/10]

There are no plans at present to include Irish sign language as a specific subject within the national curriculum in primary and post-primary schools in the Junior Certificate, or established Leaving Certificate programmes. Irish Sign Language is one of the optional modules available within the Leaving Certificate Applied programme.

However, the Transition Year Programme, which is available to schools on an optional basis provides a flexible menu of options designed to further support pupils' personal and social development, to provide a bridge between junior and senior cycle and to offer a broad educational experience which can aid the maturing process. As part of this, there is scope for schools to offer a programme on sign language.

Irish sign language (ISL) has formal recognition in the Education Act 1998. Under that Act, it is a function of the Minister for Education and Science to ensure, subject to the provisions of the Act, that there is made available to each person resident in the State, including a person with a disability or who has other special educational needs, support services and a level and quality of education appropriate to meeting the needs and abilities of that person. This includes provision for students learning through ISL.

A number of initiatives which seek to promote, develop and implement ISL in order that it will achieve greater recognition and use in the education system are currently in place. These include: the special schools for the deaf have been encouraged in relation to the use of sign language in class; funding is available for training of teachers in ISL; my Department has provided funding for an ISL weekly home tuition service whereby deaf tutors visit the homes of deaf pre-school children and deaf school-going pupils to provide training in ISL for the deaf children, pupils, their siblings and parents.

Special Educational Needs

David Stanton

Question:

216 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of tutors currently employed by her Department’s Irish sign language weekly home tuition service; the number of families availing of this service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26022/10]

53 tutors are providing training to the 117 families approved for support under the Irish Sign Language home tuition scheme.

Third Level Places

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

217 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of students who commenced study to date under the programme of part-time postgraduate third-level places for unemployed workers which commenced in September 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26031/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

218 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of students who have commenced study to date under the programme of part-time undergraduate places for jobless workers which commenced in September 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26032/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

219 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of places that will be made available and funded by her Department under the programme of part-time postgraduate third-level places for unemployed workers in the academic year 2010/2011 commencing in September 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26033/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

220 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of places that will be made available and funded by her Department under the programme of part-time undergraduate places for jobless workers in the academic year 2010/2011 commencing in September 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26034/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 to 220, inclusive, together.

1,752 unemployed people were supported to embark on part-time higher education courses that support the goals of the ‘Smart Economy' from September 2009. 1,122 of these students undertook programmes at undergraduate level and 630 undertook programmes at postgraduate level.

A preliminary analysis by the HEA of information received to date from participating institutions shows that the majority of students are male and aged between 26 and 40 with previous qualifications at NQF 6 or above. Some 50% of participants were previously employed in the engineering, manufacturing or construction sectors. Over 70% were between 6-12 months on the live register and 55% indicated that their motivation for undertaking the programme was to enhance their career prospects.

The position in relation to additional activation initiatives in the higher education sector for the 2010/11 academic year is being considered having regard to the outcomes of the Activation Fund process as well as the significant further increase in demand for full time higher education places, including from unemployed people.

Corporate Governance

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

221 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the State agencies under the aegis of her Department to which the 2009 Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies applies; if all these agencies have submitted assurances and reports confirming compliance with the code in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26035/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

222 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if the boards of State agencies under the aegis of her Department which are required to implement the new Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies have formally adapted the code at a board meeting; if they have undertaken training to ensure proper implementation of the code; the monitoring procedures they have put in place to ensure proper compliance with the code; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26036/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

223 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if her Department has reviewed the compliance by State bodies that come under its remit with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies; the State bodies that have not achieved full compliance; the reason for same: the action taken by her Department; the results of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26037/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 to 223, inclusive, together.

The revised and updated Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, published by the Department of Finance in May 2009, which contains the framework agreed by Government for the internal management and the internal and external reporting relationships of commercial and non-commercial State bodies was forwarded to all bodies under my Department's aegis.

Corporate Governance arrangements, including ongoing monitoring are overseen by the appropriate Line Divisions of my Department. This process is underway in respect of State Bodies under the aegis of my Department in the context of the Revised Code of Practice.

Question No. 224 answered with Question No. 213.

School Libraries

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

225 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the schools that will be affected by her recent announcement regarding the termination of the contracts of junior certificate school programme librarians; the number of children that will be affected; and the number of jobs that will be lost. [26063/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

226 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has assessed the impact on literacy levels that her decision to terminate the contracts of junior certificate school programme librarians will have. [26064/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

231 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will reverse the decision to terminate the contracts of junior certificate school programme librarians to protect and continue the literacy improvements their work is helping to achieve. [26104/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 225, 226 and 231 together.

Currently there are 30 schools included in the Demonstration Library Project. The full list of schools is provided hereunder:

Donegal — Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola

Meath — Beaufort College

Waterford — Colaiste Chathail Naofa

— St. Paul's Community College

Wexford — Enniscorthy Vocational College

— Wexford Vocational College

Wicklow — Abbey Community College

— St. Kilian's Community School

Cork — Terence MacSwiney Community College

Dublin — Larkin Community College

— Mount Carmel Secondary School

— Kylemore College

— Colaiste Eoin

— Patrician College

— St. Kevin's College

— Riversdale Community College

— Collinstown Park Community College

— St. Kevin's Community College

— Jobstown Community College

— Killinarden Community School

— St. Aidan's Community School

— Marino College

— Colaiste Dhulaigh

— St. Paul's C.B.S.

— Presentation Secondary School

— C.B.S. James' Street

— Plunket College

— Trinity Comprehensive School

Galway — Galway Community College Limerick

— St. Enda's Community School

There are approximately 11,000 students in schools with Demonstration Libraries, with 2,500 of these participating in the Junior Curriculum Support Programme. Of these schools, 21 currently host librarians employed on a fixed term contract due to expire at the end of August 2010.

Library staff, like other public servants in the Education Sector, other than teachers and SNAs, are subject to the public sector recruitment moratorium. As the Deputy is aware, exemptions from the moratorium are, in the context of the public finances, a matter for serious deliberation. However, I am pleased to say, that having considered the matter it has been decided to retain the library staff for the coming school year.

Teaching Qualifications

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

227 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the Teaching Council does not recognise two postgraduate courses as suitable qualifications to be a maths teacher here (details supplied); if she will instruct the Teaching Council to recognise these courses in view of the importance of maths teachers having specific qualifications in the teaching of maths; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26067/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, the Teaching Council is the body with responsibility for establishing and maintaining standards in the teaching profession in this State, including the recognition of qualifications for teacher registration.

My officials have made enquiries with the Teaching Council regarding this matter. The situation is as follows: Admission to the register of teachers is governed by the Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2009, which were approved by the Minister for Education and Science in November 2009. In terms of post-primary registration (Regulation 4), applicants must hold a degree carrying at least 180 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits, gained following a course of study of at least 3 years, which enables the holder to teach at least one curricular subject. The Teaching Council's view is that the qualifications referred to in this question, from NUI Maynooth, do not meet these requirements. However, the Council has indicated to NUI Maynooth that holders of undergraduate qualifications in Mathematics (who do not meet the Council's requirements), in addition to the NUI Higher Diploma in Mathematics, could be considered on an individual basis for registration purposes. The Council is currently carrying out a Review of programmes of initial teacher education in the State.

Third Level Fees

Olwyn Enright

Question:

228 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 634 of 1 June 2010, if she will confirm whether a person (details supplied) meets the criteria in terms of being unemployed and entitled to remain on and receive free fees on their programme of study under the labour market activation programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26068/10]

Under the Labour Market Activation (LMA) initiative almost 1,800 unemployed people were supported to embark on part-time undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from September 2009 in areas that support the goals of the ‘Smart Economy'.

Subject to institutional requirements regarding passing exams and course progression, students who are unemployed, i.e. on the Live Register, are entitled to remain on and receive free fees on their programme of study. If a student gains employment, they will not be required to pay fees for the academic year during which they get a job, however fees will be charged for any subsequent academic years. The fee level is set by each individual institution and information on the fee to be charged for individual courses is available from the institution concerned.

All students participating on these programmes who continue to meet all Department of Social Protection criteria on eligibility for Job Seekers Benefit and Job Seekers Allowance are entitled to retain their payments while studying on the programme. However participation on a programme does not in itself create an entitlement to a social welfare payment.

Schools Building Projects

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

229 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26090/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 2.5 rating.

Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is now available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on my Department's website.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Pension Provisions

Beverley Flynn

Question:

230 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will be made on an application for pension increments in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [26098/10]

The pension benefits of the person in question have been revised and are planned for inclusion in his next pension payment.

Question No. 231 answered with Question No. 225.

Third Level Courses

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

232 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to the fact that two separate degrees are available in chemical engineering in two third level institutions (details supplied); the total number of undergraduate students each of these degree courses; her views on whether the current situation represents an optimum use of public funds; if her further attention has been drawn to any proposals that will result in a more efficient use of public funds in chemical engineering in Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26108/10]

The total number of students undertaking the BSc in Chemical and Process Engineering in UCC is currently 91 (2009/10 data) and there are 87 students undertaking the BSc in Process and Chemical Engineering in Cork IT.

Decisions in relation to the provision of specific programmes of study are a matter for individual higher education institutions and are taken having regard to a wide range of factors including the overall level of demand from students and, in the skills area, employer needs. In this context the fact that two neighbouring institutions deliver 2 similar qualifications does not mean this constitutes a less than optimum use of public funds.

Higher education institutions are increasingly working together and collaborating in order to respond to the diverse needs of students and other stakeholders. The two institutions referred to by the Deputy have a strong track record of working together and signed a formal Memorandum of Co-operation in November 2009. This includes joint delivery and awards of qualifications, extensive research co-operation and the sharing of research facilities and the promotion of greater access to higher education in Cork city and the wider region.

The Higher Education Strategy Group which is finalising its work is examining all aspects all aspects of the higher education system including the overall coherence of the system and how it can be best developed over the coming decades.

School Provision

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

233 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the steps she will take to deliver additional school places in Lucan, County Dublin, to meet the shortfall of second level places for children finishing primary level education there; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26116/10]

My Department has increased post-primary school capacity in the Lucan area with the provision of recently completed building projects. This includes the opening of a new post-primary school in Adamstown in September 2009 which has capacity to cater for up to 1,000 pupils. These recently completed projects, in addition to currently planned extension projects, will assist in reducing pressure for pupil places in the short to medium term.

Forward Planning Section of my Department is analysing demographic trends and the impact for school infrastructure provision on an ongoing basis. Based on this analysis of current demographic trends it is anticipated that there will be a need for a further post-primary school in the Lucan area in the medium term. More detailed analysis will be required in order to determine an optimum date for the commencement of that school.

Schools Building Projects

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

234 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the way school building projects are to be prioritised in coming years to meet the need for additional school places throughout the country at primary and second level; the steps being taken to ensure that there is openness and transparency in the way schools are prioritised for building; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26117/10]

The Forward Planning Section of my Department has carried out a study of the country to identify the areas where, due to demographic changes, there may be a requirement for significant additional school provision at both primary and post-primary levels over the coming years. This study has been conducted using data from the Central Statistics Office, the General Register Office and the Department of Social Protection with reference to recent schools' enrolment data. The study indicates that the requirement for additional primary provision in the coming years is likely to be greatest in more than 40 identified locations across the country based on significant changes to the demographics of those areas.

Forward Planning Section is in the process of carrying out detailed analysis and reports for each of these locations in order to identify the school accommodation requirements for each area up to and including the school year 2014/2015. The progression of all large scale building projects arising from Forward Planning Section's analysis of accommodation needs will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

As the Deputy will be aware, all applications for capital funding are assessed in the Planning and Building Unit of the Department. The assessment process determines the extent and type of need presenting based on the demographics of an area, proposed housing developments, condition of buildings, site capacity etc. leading ultimately to an appropriate accommodation solution.

As part of this process, a project is assigned a band rating under published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects. These criteria were devised following consultation with the Education Partners.

Projects are selected for inclusion in the School Building and Modernisation Programme on the basis of priority of need. This is reflected in the band rating assigned to a project. In other words, a proposed building project moves through the system commensurate with the band rating assigned to it.

There are four Band Ratings overall, of which Band One is the highest and Band Four the lowest. Band One projects, for example, include the provision of buildings where none currently exist, but there is a high demand for pupil places while a Band Four project makes provision of desirable but not necessarily urgent or essential facilities. Each Band rating has a number of sub categories which more specifically describes the type of works needed and the urgency attaching to them.

Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works are now available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

Special Educational Needs

Olwyn Enright

Question:

235 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the grant assistance available for primary school students with a specific speech and language impairment for the purchase of computer equipment for the home to help with reading, speaking and overall education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26120/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resources to schools to support pupils with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. SENOs also make recommendations to my Department where assistive technology is required.

Schools may apply to the NCSE for the provision of assistive technology required to support pupils who have been assessed as having a special educational need that requires specific assistive technology support in order to access the curriculum. The technology is the property of the school and the use of the equipment in the home is at the discretion of the school. Funding is not available to my Department for the provision of computer equipment in a pupil's home.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.